P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Adopt govt schools, CM urges pvt institutions
Our Correspondent

Nabha, November 7
Punjab Public School, Nabha, today held a function to mark the 47th Founder’s Day. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was the chief guest. Badal called upon the managements of public schools to adopt one government school each in their vicinity to impart quality education to the deprived students to enable them to compete with public and convent-educated students.

The function started with the school anthem followed by the school orchestra. Headmaster Commodore I. L. Syal highlighted the achievements of the school in the annual report.

He said in the past 47 years the school had achieved distinction in academics, sports and co-curricular activities. Commodore Syal said many of the ex-students of the school had excelled in their chosen fields of profession and it was a matter of great pride for the PPS family that at present there were 13 Generals in the Army and two were Admirals in the Navy.

In his address Badal called upon the students to excel not only in the field of education but in sports too. He exhorted the students to learn the maximum and to be strong to face the challenges of life. Terming Punjab Public School as the best in Punjab, he said it was a red letter day in his life on being present at the Founder's Day function of the school as chief guest.

The Chief Minister was alarmed at the poor literacy rate and high dropout rate in the state. He said the main thrust of his government was on education and soon Adarsh schools, having standards at par with public schools, would be opened in all constituencies to give the poor and the meritorious students equal opportunities to get best education.

Hailing the school for developing all round personality of students, a majority of who had the rural background, the Chief Minister said students of his native village Badal had brought laurels by winning gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and the world university competition.

He felt happy that the head boy of the school was from his constituency. He distributed prizes to students and teachers for their performance in various fields. This year’s role of honour was conferred on Lt Gen Tej Sapru.

At the end of the function students gave an impressive display of PT, gymnastics, aerobics, school band, choreography and horse riding.


UN officials inspect Tung Dhab drain
Ask DC to get it cleaned
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 7
Representatives of the United Nations Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Wide Fund (WWF) inspected the Tung Dhab drain affecting the health of residents living near it.

Led by UN representatives, Dr Winson, members of the delegation also met DC Kahan Singh Pannu seeking steps to clean the drain of pollutants, including heavy metals and chemicals, being discharged into the drain by units, Municipal Corporation, Guru Nanak Dev University, Army and people of the Central Jail area of the city. The delegation also urged the DC for shifting the site of the water treatment plant outside the periphery of Mahal village.

Anish Dua, professor of zoology, GND varsity, who is working on the project for one year said the delegation also urged the local NGOs to create awareness among residents living near the drain to urge the local administration to implement the project on priority.

The study by university scientists had suggested that untreated pollutants in the drain had been harming residents’ health. The scientists had reported damage to DNA of residents of Mahal village, at 500 metres from the drain. The DNA damage can cause premature ageing and cancer.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Society organised a seminar at Mahal village today to create awareness among villagers to demand the cleaning of the drain for which the Centre had sanctioned Rs 82 crore under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, besides asking industrialists to set up water treatment plants in their units.

Councillor Gurjit Singh announced that a rally would be organised at Gumtala village to create awareness among people living near the 6-km-long drain. 


Dairying is the future of state, says paper
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 7
Dairying is the future of Punjab. Higher growth rate in milk production (at least 4.5 per cent annually) and better returns on investment suggest definitely that more and more farmers in the state are opting for dairying as a commercial venture.

This is one of the important findings of a paper “A roadmap: enhancing production, productivity and income from dairying in Punjab”, prepared by Dr Vijay Kumar Taneja, vice-chancellor of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

Punjab has a per capita availability of milk as 332 kg against a national average of 82.4 kg per year. Milk accounts for 85 per cent of the animal protein in the state. It has been pointed out that increase in population of cattle, both of buffaloes and cows, during the past 10 years has been negligible, suggesting that cattle and buffalo population has stabilised. Subsequent increase in productivity would only come from technological inventions, breeding, reproduction, nutrition, health management and delivery of services and technologies.

The findings show that the proportion of females to males is 90:10 for buffaloes and 82:18 for crossbred cattle in the state. This clearly shows that young male children, both of cows and buffaloes, are either disposed off or made to die. Male calves need to be put to optimum use for improving profitability of dairy farming.

It has been suggested that the minimum number of cattle in a dairying venture should be 15 to make it a better profitable venture. Cost-effective technologies, fodder seed, quality semen, silage making, vaccine and urea treatment of straw and bio gas plants are some of the suggestions for improving the status of animal care.

It has been pointed out in the paper that higher incidence of reproductive problems are mainly due to low energy diets and mineral deficiency. Available data indicates that only 11 per cent of the farmers feed mineral mixtures while another 33 per cent feed only common salt. Movement of quality germ plasm, both of buffaloes and cows, from Punjab to other states is a matter of concern.

Enhancing productivity in buffaloes and crossbred cows is critical to increase income from cattle, Dr Taneja said.

He said: “Of the total milk produced, around 55 per cent is used only for domestic consumption, 31 per cent is handled by unorganised sector and only 14 per cent by the organised sector. In the fast changing scenario, it is expected that by 2025, approximately 55 per cent of the total milk produced will be handled by the organised sector”.


No population panel meeting held so far
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Are our political executives sensitive to problems related to population? No, they are not. One can draw this conclusion on the basis of information available in this regard. Following the declaration of the national population policy in 2000, the Punjab Population Commission was set up in 2001.

The commission is headed by the chief minister by virtue of the office held by him. However, since its constitution in 2001, not a single meeting of the commission has been held till date. This has happened when Punjab is facing grave problems related directly to its population. In fact, name the problem related to Punjab and it exists in the state.

Asked about not holding the meetings of the commission, a senior officer of the state government said “meetings were fixed a number of times but could not be held for one reason or the other.” Who cares, that is the attitude.

Among the most glaring problems are of female foeticide and gender bias, infant mortality and maternal mortality, obesity, child labour, low literacy rate among poor sections of society, internal and external migration, problems of old age persons, high incidence of diseases like cancer, drug abuse and so on. There are issues of institutional delivery and child healthcare.

Sex ratio in Punjab is so skewed that it has become a biggest concern. Among the 15 districts having highly imbalanced sex ratio, 10 are in Punjab. There are 876 women for 1000 men in the state. Female foeticide has assumed serious dimensions and it has become a root cause of sex-ratio imbalance in the state. And then infant mortality rate in Punjab is 44 per 1000 live births while it is 14 in Kerala. Maternal mortality rate is also high in Punjab. It is 1.78 per 1000 live births whereas it is just 1.10 in Kerala.

As far as obesity is concerned its percentage is highest in Punjab. Whereas 37.5 per cent women are either overweight or obese, 30.3 per cent men are suffering from this problem. Literacy rate among Dalit population in Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar and Faridkot districts is just 35 per cent. It is half of the total literacy rate in the state.

And then, there is problem related to migrant population. Thousands of poor people migrate to this part of the country from poverty-stricken states. Such migrants face several kinds of problems. Then lot of people are migrating from Punjab to other countries and likewise they also face problems.

The commission was set up in the state to deal with all these issues. Its job was to create a mechanism and frame policies to tackle these problems related to the population. Revitalisation of systems like health and family welfare was its primary task. However, the health delivery system in Punjab is in doldrums.

The commission was to examine all the existing problems and to take remedial measures to resolve those problems related to the population. 


Cricket part of women’s lives in rural Pak
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Attari, November 7
Vice-chairperson of the women cricket wing of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Shireen Javed said here today that cricket had caught the fancy of rural women in Pakistan in a big way.

Only 121 fans arrive

Stringent visa restrictions and costly cricket tour packages has led to a few Pakistani cricket fans (only 121) crossing over to this side at the joint check post here on Wednesday to watch the Indo-Pak one dayer at Mohali on November 8.

Most of the fans appeared unfazed by the imposition on emergency in Pakistan. Taking no chances after the disappearance of half-a-dozen Pakistani fans in 2004, the police made sure to take down their antecedents and even got them photographed this time.

Shireen crossed over to India at the Attari joint check post to watch the Indo-Pak cricket match scheduled for November 8 in Mohali. In an interview with The Tribune, she said contrary to the misconception that women in Pakistan were averse to participating in sporting activity, large number of them from the far-flung areas of Peshawar, North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), Baluchistan and Hyderabad, had made cricket a part of their lives.

“The likes of Mumtaz, the captain of the women cricket team, are now role models for these aspirants who want to play cricket at the international level some day. We appreciate the performance of the Indian women cricket team, which is doing exceedingly well in the recent past. It is our endeavour to take the women’s cricket in Pakistan to the same level,” she said.

The qualifying rounds for the World Women Cricket World Cup, which were scheduled to be held in November, have been put off in the wake of emergency in Pakistan. “We have rich cricketing talent and our organisation have taken upon itself the crucial task of nurturing it.”

The process to identify upcoming new talent is on and selection sessions are being held at the school level to identify talented girls at the right age so that they could be groomed for playing in first class cricket.

“Ever since our body came under the PCB three years ago, we have enough funds to promote women cricket in Pakistan. Now, sponsors are also coming forward to advertise in women cricket matches, which in itself is an indication of changing perception about the game,” she added.

“Cricket is immensely popular in Pakistan but it has traditionally been a man’s game. The women cricketers are now working hard to have their moment of glory in the world cricketing scene.”


Power staff, farmers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 7
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees here today held a joint rally with organisations of farmers demanding the scrapping of the Electricity Act -2003 . Power board employees from all over Punjab started reaching Patiala from morning, and by noon the stretch of The Mall outside the head office of the PSEB had thousands of farmers and power board employees. The employees and the farmers held a rally outside the board head office where leaders of the Technical Services Union of the board and 
farmers’ representatives addressed the gathering.

Speaking at the rally, Gurdial Singh Bhangal,president, and Rameshwar Pasiana, senior vice-presidentof the union, demanded the scrapping of the decision of privatisation of the board. They said the decision had been taken under pressure from outside agencies and if the power board was disbanded, it would jeopardise the future of thousands of board employees who had put the board on 
an even keel.

The employee leaders announced strike by PSEB employees on November 21.


Seminar on state’s demography
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Institute of Sikh Studies will organise a two-day seminar on November 10 and 11 on the changing demography of Punjab at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Kanthala, near Tribune roundabout here.

Addressing a press conference in this regard, Dr Kharak Singh, a senior member of the institute, said Dr G.S. Kalkat, Urmaljit Kaur, R.S. Meena, Dr Balwant Singh Hansra, Pal Singh Purewal, R.S. Bawa, Jarnail Singh Arshi, Bhai Ashok Singh, R.S. Ghuman, Dr Gurmit Singh Sidhu and other scholars would take part in the seminar.

Dr Kharak Singh said because of lack of jobs in the state, Punjabi youth were migrating to other countries in search of livilihood. Their places were being taken by non-Punjabis.

He said as Punjab’s agriculture and industry was by and large dependent on migrant labour, they were required for this purpose. However, their use by politicians as vote banks was a matter of serious concern, said Dr Kharak Singh. He said all aspects related to Punjab’s demography, state’s culture and influence of various factors on it would be debated.

He said people of Punjab could not buy property in Himachal Pradesh, J and K and certain parts of Rajasthan. However, any one could buy property in Punjab. 


Sikh student sent home for wearing ‘kara’ 

London,November 7
A Sikh student of Indian origin has been excluded from her school in Britain for refusing to take off her ‘kara’ ( iron bangle).

The authorities at Aberdare Girls School in South Wales have barred 14-year-old Sarika Singh from attending her classes temporarily after she declined to remove her 'kara' which is a symbol of her faith, The Guardian reported here today.

"My kara is very important to me. It reminds me always to do good and not do anything bad, especially with the hands," Sarika was quoted by the daily as saying.

Unhappy with the decision of the school which has cited clear violation of uniform guidelines as reasons for her temporary exclusion, Sarika's family is planning to seek legal recourse soon.

Her mother, Sinita Singh, said she had already argued her daughter's case at a meeting with the governing body, but had been unsuccessful. "It is not jewellery — it is a symbol of our belief." However, the school authorities have declined to comment on the issue.

The dispute is the latest in a series of rows over the wearing of religious symbols in schools in Britain.Last year, Shabina Begum, a 15-year-old Muslim student, lost her battle to wear a jilbab, a long loose gown, in class.

Earlier this year, a 12-year-old similarly failed to gain the right to wear a full-face veil at a Buckinghamshire girls' school. Even in June this year, 16-year-old Lydia Playfoot lost her legal battle to be allowed to wear a Christian "purity" ring as a symbol of her chastity. — PTI


Hospital asked to put its act together
Emergency ward to be relocated 
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, November 7
A day after the pathetic conditions prevailing at AP Jain Civil Hospital were highlighted in these columns, a team of senior health officials of the Punjab Health System Corporation and state health department, yesterday conducted a surprise check at the hospital after which, they directed the concerned authorities to put their house in order.

A team comprising Dr Roshan Sankaria, managing director of the Punjab Health System Corporation and director, health, S. K. Bansal, visited the hospital and went around the wards interacting with patients. They also visited the emergency ward of the hospital which is now being run in the verandah after the building that housed it was declared unsafe.

The team also checked the records of the patients and the stock of medicines maintained by the hospital staff and found several discrepancies. They also expressed dismay over the upkeep of the wards, especially the toilets that appeared to have been left unattended to.

Roshan Sankaria lamented that the hospital authorities had failed to provide a clean atmosphere to the patients. He said it was important to maintain cleanliness at the hospital, but somehow, it had been overlooked by the staff.

Later, the officials went to the verandah which has now been converted into the emergency ward. They said it was important to continue with the emergency services and thus, temporary arrangements had to be made. However, they assured that the authorities were trying to find an alternate building where the emergency services could be shifted soon. 


Punjab govt concedes sarpanches’ demands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Conceding to the demands of the sarpanches, agitating for over a week, the Punjab government today ordered scrapping of flying squads. The government also promised to take back cases registered against three gram sevaks of Sangrur district.

The president of the Panchayat Association, Punjab, Sukhdev Singh Bare Ke, said the representatives of the five organisations associated with Rural Development and Panchayat Department, which were carrying out the agitation under the aegis of a joint action committee (JAC), today held a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal and Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of SAD, at the chief minister’s residence.

The CM agreed to the demand of the agitating members of the JAC and ordered scrapping of the flying squads with immediate effect, besides promising to cancel cases registered against three gram saveks of Ratour village of Sangrur district.

Badal also assured that he would direct the department concerned to give a sympathetic consideration to the demands of the panchayat members.

The JAC representatives ended over a week-long hunger strike after Chandumajra offered juice to them at the dharna site in Sector 17.

Announcing the lifting of the protest, Sukhdev Singh Bare Ke expressed satisfaction over the government’s decision.

He also stated the union would hold conventions at district-level to announce their victory.

They would celebrate the third anniversary of the Panchayat Association in Ludhiana on February 8, next year. 


Blood donation camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
As many as 164 units of blood were collected at a blood donation camp organised by the Bhakra Beas Management Board today to commemorate the death anniversary of late Major-Gen B.N. Kumar, a former chairman of the BBMB.

General Kumar was shot dead by militants. The camp was inaugurated by Manjusha Misra, wife of U.C. Misra, BBMB chairman. 


Drug Procurement 
HC pulls up Punjab
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
After holding that Punjab cannot hold to ransom the whole system of procurement and dispensation of the drugs to the public, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has allowed a writ petition filed by a pharmaceutical company challenging the return of earnest money deposited by it for the supply of drug kits as kit packages.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court on a petition filed by Vikrant Sales (P) Ltd. against the state of Punjab and others, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover ruled: We are amazed at the decision making process of the respondents, which at best seeks to defeat the very purpose for which the process of procuring drugs was initiated i.e. for the benefit of the people.

Clearly the state is within the rights to ensure the quality, for which stringent measures could be and ought to be provided, but it cannot hold the whole system of procurement and dispensation of the drugs to the public, to ransom merely because there exists some policy where the private operators are to be precluded and public sector undertakings are to be preferred.

In its petition, the company had earlier contended that the government of India provides funds to the government of Punjab for the purchase of drugs under the purchase preference policy for supply to primary health centers, community health centers and sub-centers within the state.

Initially, the purchase was confined to public sector companies, but due to difficulties faced by the state government in obtaining the kits from such undertakings, the government of India was requested to allow the procurement from the private companies for direct supplies to primary health centers and sub-centers.

The petitioner, subsequently, responded to an advertisement and his tender was found to be the lowest for the supply of certain kits. The company was accordingly assured that the contracts would be awarded to it. On November 21, the government of India permitted the state to go ahead with the purchase of medicines. But instead of completing the process, responded to a representation a public sector enterprise and issued the impugned letter dated January 16 and the earnest money was returned.

After hearing the arguments, the judges ruled: The petitioner, who had been awarded the contract on the basis of valid process initiated by the respondents had a legitimate right of expectation that the same contract would be awarded to him. Such a right could be deprived to him only on the basis of a decision supported by valid reasons.

The judges added: In the matters of public importance i.e. procurement of drugs and in view of fact that the central government had relaxed purchase of drugs from private parties to achieve public good, sticking to the stand of not granting tender to petitioner can not be termed to be in public interest.

The writ petition is allowed. The letter dated January 16 is quashed and the respondents are directed to immediately initiate the process of procurement of the requisite drug kits from the petitioner after complying with the necessary specifications.


Sukhbir for relief to border farmers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 7
Working president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal said here today that all was well with the SAD-BJP alliance and there was no conflict whatsoever between the two parties.

He was interacting with mediapersons after addressing a public rally at Sarai Amanat Khan.

Earlier, Sukhbir said the government would make efforts to get the compensation to the farmers whose land is across the fence on the Indo-Pak border. The compensation, introduced by the SAD during its previous tenure, was scrapped by the Centre. “The needs of the border areas would be well looked into by the state government,” he said.

He announced the setting up of a Punjab institute of sports on the lines of the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in the state. It would have four centres and would impart training in 10 games by world-class coaches.

He added the state government was planning to spend Rs 4,000 crore to repair and revamp the irrigation infrastructure. The present set-up, he said, was working 50 per cent below its capacity and a major water loss was taking place due to leakage in canals.

Sukhbir later inaugurated the Khasa-Bhakna double road.


1 dead in rail mishap; driver, assistant held
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 7
A major train mishap was averted at the Malerkotla railway station here today when the driver and his assistant changed the track of the train at a very high speed. One person was killed and several others were injured in the accident.

According to information, 3LJH passenger train from Hisar to Ludhiana had a stoppage at the Malerkotla railway station. When the train reached near the railway station, driver Jog Raj and his assistant Satnam Singh, who were allegedly in a drunken condition, changed the track of the train at full speed.

Due to the sudden jerk in the train, a passenger Anand Kishor, resident of Sangrur, fell off from the train. The train crushed him and he died on the spot. Many other passengers also received injuries.

The Sangrur Railway police has registered a case in this regard and arrested driver Jog Raj and assistant Satnam Singh.

Additional divisional Railway manager, Ambala, R. K. Saksena, reached the railway station with his team to enquire into the case. Blood samples of the driver and the assistant were also taken by the police.


Bus rams into tree, 9 injured 
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, November 7
A number of passengers onboard a private bus that was enroute from Jakwali village to Rajpura, had a miraculous escape this morning when the speeding bus got off the road and rammed into a tree.

Even as there were no causalities, nine persons wee injured while some sustained multiple fractures in the accident. However, their condition was stated to be out of danger.

The accident took place near Uppalheri village on national highway number 1 near Rajpura. The driver of the bus lost control of the vehicle following which it fell into a ditch before hitting the tree.

The passengers fell out from the bus due to the impact of the collision that resulted in injuries.

Those injured included Nirmal Singh, Malkiat Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sandeep Bawa, Karamjot Kaur, Harpal Singh, Kulwimder Singh and Hajinder Kaur. They were all rushed to AP Jain Civil Hospital from where some were referred to other hospitals.

Meanwhile, driver of the bus fled from the spot after the accident. A team of police officials reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

In another incident at Fatehgarh Sahib, 42-year-old Harvinder Singh Bittu of Nabipur village was killed in a road accident when the motorcycle he was riding, was hit by a speeding car near Sadugarh village on national highway number 1.

Harvinder was returning to his native village when the accident took place. The car was coming from Ambala.

He was immediately taken to the local civil hospital from where he was referred to PGI, Chandigarh. There he succumbed to his injuries this morning.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case against the driver of the car that caused the accident.


Computer teachers not paid salary
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 7
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal may not agree to the facts presented by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal on the financial condition of the state, but thousands of teachers and workers of the Forest Department have not been paid salary.

Spokesperson of the Computer Teachers Union C.S. Minhas alleged that they had not been paid salary for three months. Ever since the present government took over, they were being paid only one month’s salary after three months.

Despite assurances of the education minister, they had not got salary regularly, he alleged.

They were not being paid regularly, but their duties were being made stricter than those of regular teachers.

Meanwhile, daily-wage workers of the Forest Department also staged a dharna before the office of the DFO, Ropar, alleging they had not been paid for five months.


VC-Minister Tussle
Ranike talks to Sukhbir
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 7
Even as the Guru Nanak Dev University authorities today denied that it had refused to give permission to the Sports Department for using the university grounds for holding the State Games for Women, agitated Sports Minister Gulzar Singh Ranike took up the matter with working president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal.

While registrar of the university R.S. Bawa said the department had ignored the protocol by printing the name of the vice-chancellor as vice-president of the organising committee for the games at the serial number four, the minister justified it. “Is vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh a senior IAS officer whose name should have figured above the name of the secretary, sports?” Ranike quipped.

The minister said though the state government respected the autonomy of the university, the vice-chancellor should not forget that it was in the state of Punjab.

Ranike said he would produce the employees of the department who were not allowed to meet the vice-chancellor. The vice-chancellor had no “moral right” to refuse permission for encouraging sports.

Ranike said he would meet the Chief Minister after Diwali to seek “action” against the vice-chancellor for showing “arrogance”.

However, the registrar said no official of the department had met the vice-chancellor or talked him on the phone on any day regarding permission for holding the games on the university campus.

Bawa said the university received an application for the permission on October 29 whereas the invitation cards for the opening and closing ceremonies of the games had already been distributed by the organisers.


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