P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SGPC suspends asstt secy
Team formed to probe charges
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
SGPC president Avtar Singh today placed Daljit Singh Bedi, assistant secretary, under suspension with immediate effect. Earlier, he was transferred from the publicity wing to the Golden Offset Press following charges of moral turpitude.

The SGPC chief has also constituted a high-level fact-finding committee comprising Dyal Singh Kolyanwali, Rajinder Singh Mehta, Sant Tek Singh Dhanoula, Surjit Singh Garhi and Jagrup Singh Dhillon (executive members), who will submit the report within five days - two days before the annual general house meeting of the SGPC. The SGPC secretary, Harbeant Singh, has been made coordinator of the committee.

However, Bedi pleaded that he was victim of some conspiracy. He alleged that he had been receiving threats from some persons holding high posts. He said he had already brought the matter to the notice of higher-ups in the SAD and SGPC. 


Chimney Heights’ change of land use cancelled
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Giving another setback to former Punjab DGP, SS Virk, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) yesterday decided to cancel change of land use permission granted by the previous Amarinder Singh government to Chimney Heights resort owned by Virk and his family, including his brother Col RDS Virk (retd).

More than 18 months after the change of land use (CLU) permission was given by the previous Congress regime, GMADA carried out a survey on November 6 this year and yesterday instructions were issued to cancel the CLU permission for alleged violation of certain conditions.

The original permission was to convert 10.5 acres of land meant for industrial use into recreational use. This is located on the Chandigarh-Patiala highway. Lands in this area are valued at anything between Rs 6 to Rs 8 crore per acre and a resort of this size enjoys a market value in excess of Rs 75 crore. In a way, this means, the resort is now under the category of “illegal structures”, said sources in GMADA while adding that this does not mean that the resort faces the bulldozers in immediate future as the matter may be decided at the “highest level”. It remains to seen if GMADA will conduct similar on-the spot surveys to check the legality of other resorts owned by high-profile families in the same area.

While granting the CLU the government had imposed conditions which the GMADA survey team now claims have been violated, hence the cancellation was ordered. One of the conditions said the fee as imposed by the government would have to be deposited. GMADA has noted that Chimney Heights had been asked to deposit Rs 2.05 crore as fee for CLU permission. About Rs 88 lakh had been deposited and the rest is pending. Notably, a sum of Rs 42 lakh payable as conversion fee and Rs 5.25 lakh as licence fee have been paid in full. Another charge is that mandatory first instalment of the external development charges was not paid fully. The pending payment is a violation, says the GMADA order.

GMADA says Col Virk in his application had claimed that there were no changes in the existing industrial shed that was built nearly two decades ago. The report of the survey conducted on November 6 says some construction was carried out two to three years ago and hence the claim was wrong.

Another condition was that Chimney Heights take permission that the resort is located on a scheduled road as classified under Section 143 of the Punjab regional and town planning and development act. The resort is not located on a scheduled road and lastly the forest department was to issue a no-objection certificate.

The GMADA order says Col Virk had claimed that he had a NOC from the forest department, but, a copy of the same has not been provided.


Government Rajindra Hospital
Emergency steps needed to stem rot
No effort to check exodus of doctors
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
The Government Rajindra Hospital, once attracting patients from all over the region, has fallen on bad days. Lack of funds, government apathy and shortage of super-specialists are some of the reasons which have contributed to the slide of the hospital from glory.

Several super-speciality departments, including cardiology, urology and nephrology, exist only for academic purposes. These departments are woefully short of staff, particularly the senior faculty, which has resulted in a sharp fall in the number of patients visiting the hospital.The M Ch courses in paediatrics surgery and plastic surgery have been closed down since there are no senior faculty members available to guide the students.

The M Ch course in the Department of Urology,which had been planned to be introduced long back, continues to be hanging in the balance. Several senior faculty members of the hospital have left the hospital in the past decade and started nursing homes.The government has done precious little to stem the rot and there has been no effort to check the exodus of doctors from the hospital.

About the facilities available in the hospital, the less said the better. The 1,000-bed capacity hospital is faced with a fiscal crisis due to lack of funds. The emergency wing of the hospital virtually has no medicines at its disposal. The hospital, which is attached with the Government Medical College here, is the oldest referral hospital in the state. However, the situation has deteriorated to such a level that doctors are helpless in running even the emergency services without outside support. The Emergency Department is not allocated funds separately and has very limited medicines at its disposal which are worth a few thousand rupees only. These too are used only in case of an acute emergency when there is no time even to make a phone call for medicines from outside, claim sources.

The incinerator in the hospital has been non-functional since its installation over 10 years ago. Medical waste is dumped in a corner in front of the main building of the hospital. The dumping of medical waste in the open, which was carted by the Municipal Corporation, has been a source for the spread of infection. The incinerator purchased in 1991 was never used. The sources said while earlier it could not be used due to a dispute between the private firm which had supplied it and the Public Works Department, the high cost of operation went against it later.

The incinerator room, situated at the ground near the doctors’ hostel has a wild growth all around it as it has been lying unattended for years. Stray cattle have a field day, feasting on dumps of garbage in the hospital and there is shortage of staff of different categories to maintain cleanliness. 


Boparai offers to quit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
After a prolonged stand-off with political bosses in Punjab, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Swaran Singh Boparai, today conveyed his decision to quit his post.

Boparai met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today and said he had decided to quit, well-placed sources confirmed the development to The Tribune here tonight, while adding that Boparai would be submitting a formal resignation letter to Governor of Punjab Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), who is the chancellor of the university. He also met the Governor in this regard, the sources confirmed.

Since March this year when the ruling SAD-BJP combine was voted to power, there has been a kind of tussle to get Boparai removed. Within days of the new regime taking over Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Dr K.S. Aulakh, resigned, alleging political interference in the affairs of the university. Later, Boparai had gone on record saying that the “top political family of Punjab” is behind the trouble on the campus in Patiala. The chief minister even made a statement last month, saying that the government would write to the Governor against the vice-chancellor.

The proverbial last straw on the camel’s back was an occurance about four weeks ago when a sub-committee formed by the Punjabi University Syndicate recommended the reversal of some decisions taken by Boparai during the past five years.

In a report submitted to the university by chairman of the sub-committee Prem Singh Chandumajra - a defeated SAD candidate -- the members recommended the re-induction of students, teachers and employees who had been suspended by Boparai. 


Nayagaon Land-grab Case
‘IGP shielding convict’s family’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Adding a twist to the controversy, the petitioner in the Nayagaon’s land-grab case today alleged that Punjab’s IGP Sanjiv Gupta had not only acquired properties across the country, but was also gaining out of protection being granted to the family of an attempt-to-murder convict.

In a reply to Gupta’s application seeking directions for being impleaded as a party in the alleged land-grab matter, filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, petitioner Kuldip Singh said he was collecting further evidence to show a 15-acre farm was being developed, along with a palatial house, by the Punjab Police in Chanidgarh’s periphery near Forest Hill Golf Club Nayagaon under Gupta’s supervision. The petitioner added that Rana Iqbal Jolly owned the land.

He also alleged Gupta purchased tracts of land in Siswan village and has invested in a resort in Kasauli. The same was registered with the Himachal Pradesh tourism department in the name of Vikram Jolly, son of Rana Iqbal Jolly. The petitioner also alleged that honest investigation would reveal that Gupta and his wife jointly owned a house in Panchkula. He also alleged that during his tenure as Jalandhar SSP, Gupta forcibly occupied the house of an NRI Pakhar Singh near Ganna farm in Jalandhar. He also forcibly took possession of tracts of land in Jalandhar and later got them transferred to local religious dera.

The petitioner also added that Gupta purchased a flat in Gurgaon, in which Sukhbir Singh Sandhu’s sister was residing. A resident of Burj village in Amritsar district, Sandhu has been convicted and was undergoing five years rigorous imprisonment in a case registered in 2003. Sandhu, the petitioner added, was involved in firing at a police team of intelligence bureau. Petitioner also alleged Sukhbir and others of his family had full patronage and support of Gupta, who was `abusing' his official position to protect them.

The hearing on the petition, taken up by Justice Ranjit Singh, was today adjourned for December 14 after counsel-representing Punjab mentioned before the court that ADGP Law and Order has been asked to conduct inquiry into the matter and submit a report.

Appearing on behalf of the state, additional advocate-general Rupinder S. Khosla submitted that the state has taken a serious view of the matter and the reply would be submitted once the inquiry was complete.


NGO to help women become self-reliant in Gurdaspur
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Kahnuwan (Gurdaspur), November 16
After taking a lead in helping women in dairy development in Sangrur district, the Delhi-based Bisnouli Sarvodaya Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan has now shifted focus on Gurdaspur to make women of this border district self-reliant.

The NGO has come up with a project “Action for Micro-Credit and Rehabilitation” for an all-round rural development of the area through the introduction of micro-credit activities. It has laid emphasis on empowering women of rural areas by extending to them community development services, including primary health care through mobile dispensaries, social mobilisation by forming self-help groups and channelisation of micro-credit to the needy, under the project.

At a function, organised to distribute certificates among over 100 women undergoing training under the project launched in the area last year, secretary of the NGO Nandita Bakshi said the NGO had been working in Gurdaspur with a view to bringing positive socio-economical changes. It had formed self-help groups in villages of Kahnuwan block and imparted them training on cutting and tailoring, candle-making and dairy development besides providing them loans for running their trades at a small scale.

It is going to encourage dairy development among village women in a big way, she added.

She assured the villagers to give them loans without any mortgage or guarantee.

Besides sarpanch of Kahnuwan village Anita Thakur, those who addressed the function were project director of the NGO J.N. Rai and certain women.


Missing boy’s family stages protest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
Family members and well-wishers of Prabhjot Singh (3), who has been missing since October 27, protested against the alleged police inaction and blocked traffic at the Chatiwind Gate here today. They raised slogans against police officials and urged the higher authorities to recover the child.

The dharna could be lifted only after assurances were given by the police officials who reached the spot, but the traffic remained suspended for about an hour.

Prabhjot went missing when he had gone with his relative to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh here. The police has failed to trace the child.


Man hijacks stage to highlight dowry case
SSP denies police inaction
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 16
High drama was staged when a brother of a dowry victim virtually hijacked the stage at a function organised to celebrate National Legal Services Day today at Patti in Tarn Taran district.

Kuldeep Singh of Dhunda village said his sister Sapandeep Kaur was engaged to Amarjeet Singh of Tur village. The marriage was fixed for November 14 but when the boy’s family demanded a car and other costly items in dowry, the marriage was called off.

The drama took place in the presence of senior officials of the district administration and the judiciary, including S.R. Ladhar, commissioner, Jalandhar Division, deputy commissioner Ajoy Sharma and SSP P.K.Rai.

A one act play “Mitti Rudan Kare” was presented by the Jagruti Kala Manch as part of the programme. The moment the play got over, Kuldeep Singh snatched the microphone from the anchor and started narrating his story.

Accusing the district police of inaction, he alleged that the station house officer, Goindwal, failed to provide his family protection when they went to recover the dowry items which had already been given at the shagun ceremony.

The SSP said a case had already been registered under Section 406, IPC, and Section 4 of the Dowry Protection Act and the matter was being investigated. Denying police inaction, he said four persons had already been arrested in this regard.

The peogramme was organised in the courts complex. District and Sessions Judge S.P. Bangarh was also present on the occasion.


Cooperative Dept 
Plan to fill 15,000 posts
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh today admitted that there was an acute shortage of staff in the Cooperative Department, including Cooperative Banks, and Punjab Agricultural Development Banks. He said out of a total of 25,000 posts, around 15,000 posts, including those of officer, had been lying vacant in the department.

In a reply to a question, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said a proposal to fill these vacant posts, especially in banks, would be sent to the Cabinet for its approval in a month as staff shortage had been affecting the functioning of the department. Except Sugarfed, all other departments of the department were running in profit, he added.

The minister was here in connection with a state-level function organised to mark the 54th Cooperative Week celebrations by the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank on the premises of the Milkfed milk plant. Punjab PWD (B&R) minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa presided over the function.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the Japan Bank for International Cooperation had agreed to give a loan to Punjab at an interest rate of 2.5 per cent while talks in this regard were in progress with a Holland-based bank too. After taking a loan from any of those banks, the government would give loans to farmers at a rate of 7 per cent interest, in place of existing rate of 9 per cent.


Cops selected for UN mission await posting
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 16

Fifteen NGOs of the Punjab Police, who have cleared a written test for deputation under the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission, have been waiting for initiation of process for their new assignments.

While the Punjab Police personnel are yet to receive a communication from the Home Department of the union government, policemen of other states, ranking much lower on the merit list, have been reported to have reached places of their postings abroad.

Sources said 17 Punjab Police personnel had cleared the written test conducted on behalf of the UN in New Delhi in April. A merit list of selected candidates from all state forces was prepared. In all, 258 personnel were shortlisted.

No word from the authorities concerned has reached the Punjab Police personnel even after six months of their selection. The first batch of 16 personnel was asked to leave for abroad immediately after the selection.


Health insurance cover for workers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Punjab Government today adopted the Union Government- sponsored health insurance scheme for workers in the unorganized sector. A high-level meeting in this regard was held here today.

Sources said each such worker and his family would be provided with a health insurance cover worth Rs 30,000. However,75 per cent premium for the insurance would be paid by the Union Government and the remaining by the state government as its share. There are about five lakh families living below poverty line. 


Govt policies for rich only: Tushar Gandhi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
The Central and state governments have failed to ensure free and compulsory education for children up to 14 years of age.

This was stated by Tushar A. Gandhi, president of the All-India Children’s Welfare Manch and grandson of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, here today. He was in the city to launch a nationwide movement aimed at voicing the problems and rights of children after paying tributes to the martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

He said the recent statement of the National Human Rights Commission that child labour abuse in the country could not immediately be nixed was a shame for the country and society at large. His organisation would work on a three-pronged programme, launching a struggle for the rights of children, work with policy makers to frame policies for the uplift of the children of the downtrodden families.


Disabled by rules, society turns to Orkut
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 16
It is perhaps the best use Google's Orkut community networking could be put to.

Universal Disabled Caretaker Society from Padiala village, which houses more than 67 mentally challenged persons has put an appeal online seeking help for its inmates. 

Despite doing a yeoman's service, the institute is in legal tangle with the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), which has asked it to meet the norms laid for such an institute or face action. One of the norms is that such an institute be set up in a minimum of fice acres.

GMADA has repeatedly issued notices to the society in this regard. "We own just one-fourth of an acre. Being a private organisation, with no means to raise funds other than donations, we are unable to buy more land and meet the conditions," says president Shamsher Singh. 

He says the organisation received the last notice on October 17. "We are not being allowed to do any construction work at our premises. Even the forest department has declined help for a pathway on the pretext that we don't have a no-objection certificate," he says. 

The society has 67 inmates, 38 female and 29 male. While the youngest inmate is two days old, the oldest is a in his eighties. The inmates are either mentally unstable or have been abandoned by their families. Shamsher Singh has been working tirelessly with a group of like-minded people since 2003.

The appeal on Orkut has been put up by his wife Rajinder Kaur, who manages the website (www.caredisabled.org) of the organisation. The appeal posted on August 14 this year has received an encouraging response. 

The organisation members have approached Morinda MLA Ujagar Singh Badali. "I have made an appeal to the chief minister. I had also had a word with GMADA administrator Krishan Kumar, who promised us help but now has been transferred. 


Protest against discipline code
Erring students to face action on Nov 20
Tribune News Service

Kharar, November 16
The management of Guru Gobind Singh Modern Technology and Polytechnic College has bought yet another four days to take action against those students who pelted a bus with stones during their agitation on November 14.

Training and job placement officer Gurcharan Singh, to whom an inquiry into the episode has been marked, said the college counselled students of all the classes. “We approached the students and counselled them not to repeat any such thing,” he added.

It has also been decided that action will be taken against the erring students on Tuesday. The students appeared for their exams today.

The students had agitated against the college management's initiative to bring discipline on campus. Besides jamming traffic, they pelted a bus with stones, injuring the driver. Unknown students were booked in the case.


College scraps course abruptly
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
Students of the Bachelor of Physical Education course at the Government College of Physical Education, Patti (Tarn Taran), have been left in the lurch as the course has been “scrapped” after one year of its introduction.

A group of students said they had been given admission through a joint entrance test conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University in 2006, but the result for the first-year examination was declared on November 7. Thirtytwo students, who had cleared the examination, had been denied admission to second year of the course.

“Our future hangs in the balance as the decision has come as a bolt from the blue. We have taken up the issue with the university authorities, but to no avail,” said Gagandeep Singh, one of the students.

The foundation stone for the college was laid by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh last year and it was being run in the adjoining Government College for the time being. Construction of the new building is yet to begin and no regular principal has been appointed for the college. The same course is available at the Government College of Physical Education, Patiala, and some private colleges in the state.

Kuljeet Kaur of Hoshiarpur said most of the students enrolled for the course were from far-off cities of the state and in the absence of hostel facility on the campus they had spent the first year staying in paid accommodations. “After one year, we are told that the course no longer exists. This is a cruel joke,” she said.

Rajwinder Singh of Ferozepur said the fact that he and his fellow students had duly cleared the first year, they had a right to get admission in the second year. “According to unconfirmed sources, the college is likely to be handed over to a private party. But, even then our course should continue,” he said.

The students threatened to launch an agitation.

One of the members of faculty Vijay Sharma said the decision had been taken at the university level and he was not authorised to speak on the issue beyond that.


STC Dibrugarh paddlers dominate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
The SAI Inter-Regional Table Tennis Competition got under way at the table tennis hall, NIS, here today.

It was inaugurated by K. Malleshwari, Olympic medallist in women weightlifting, and L.S. Ranawat, executive director (A) and chairman of the organising committee.

Bhiqwani Mukerjee, chief coach and convener, welcomed the chief guest.
Teams from four regions participated in the competition. Malleshwari exhorted players to follow their aim.

The results: STC Dibrugarh (north east centre) b STC Patna (east centre) 3-0 (Hrishikesh Hogoi b Junaidur Rehman 11-4, 11-7, 5-11, 11-7; Boney Sonowal b Nawan Kumar 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8; Hrishikesh and Amlon b Rehman and Nawan Kumar 11-7, 11-8, 11-3).

STC Bangabre (south centre) b STC Kashipur (central centre) 3-1 (Ananth b Mohit Bisht 11-8, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9; Nihal b Dinesh Rana 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7; Mohit and Dinesh b Abhishek and Nihal 11-4, 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11; Nihal b Mohit Bisht 11-6, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9.


Football trials today
Tribune News Service 

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 16
Trials to select the district football team for the State Football Championship, scheduled to be held at Nawan Shahr from November 18 to 22, will be held at the ITI grounds tomorrow. Stating this here today, general secretary of the District Football Association Amar Singh said the trials would be held at 4 pm.

Aspiring players should report to Ranvir Singh Rana. The team would undergo a training-cum-preparation camp before leaving for the final competition. The players would be selected on the basis of their performance during the trials.


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