‘Overwhelming’ response to PSEB strike
Mohali, November 21
There was not much work at the cash counters, complaint centres and other public dealing offices.
A majority of the employees chose to sit on a dharna outside the office buildings.
Many of those who had come to the board’s office here were told to come tomorrow. Very few applications were received and no electricity bills could be paid.
Since the complaint centres were not functioning, callers from Industrial area here where electricity supply was disrupted were not attended to.
Senior officials of the board had to attend to complaint calls. Sarwan Singh, a resident of Phase V said the SDO himself attended to the complaint call from the sector.
The union members are protesting against the unbundling of the board and its privatisation. They demanded the ban on recruitment be lifted and better working facilities provided to the employees.
Patiala: More than 55,000 Punjab State Electricity Board employees participated in one-day statewide strike which ended on Wednesday night.
The claimed 80 to 95 per cent ‘success’ of the strike, notwithstanding, there was no visible impact of the strike at the PSEB head office here where working was almost normal.
The PSEB employees had gone on a 24- hour strike from Tuesday night. The strike call was given by the PSEB Employees’ Joint Forum.
The employees’ leaders, including, Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Surinder Singh Pehalwan, Manjit Singh Chahal, Karam Chand Bhardwaj, Vijay Kumar, Faljit Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Birj Lal and Amrik Singh claimed success of the strike was between 90 to 95 per cent in Muktsar, Tarn Taran, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Hoshiarpur and Sangrur circles.
They said the cash counters and complaint centres of the PSEB remained closed across the state and that hydel projects and thermal plants also witnessed the ‘full impact’ of the strike. Two other employees’ organisations---the TSU and the Power Employees Federation also supported the strike as their members reportedly participated in the strike.
TSU leader Sukhwant Singh Sekhon said power supply remained affected in certain areas in Gidderbaha and Abohar for more than 72 hours owing to strike by the employees.
On the contrary, employees working in the PSEB head office here attended office as normal. Similarly, strike could not yield ‘desired’ results at Jalandhar- based Shakti Sadan office of the PSEB, in Ludhiana and at the Ropar thermal plant.
Agitating employees held a rally in front of the circle office of the PSEB here and alleged workers were being subjected to false implication in police and other cases and they were being victimised by the PSEB management which, was resorting to transfers.
Hoshiarpur: All PSEB employees observed strike in the state today to oppose industrial and economic policies of the central government and the Power Act, 2003.
In a press note here this afternoon, leader of the employees joint forum, PSEB, Om Parkash claimed all farmer organisations had supported the strike of the employees and participated in rallies and dharnas. Cash collection centres remained closed and none of the employee was present at the complaint centres to attend complaints and fix faults.
According to information from all headquarters of the state, including Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala, Amrtisar suburban and city, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana, Khanna, Ropar, Mohali, Patiala, Sangrur, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepur, Bathinda and Muktsar circles, 80 per cent employees participated in the strike today. Reports of complete strike from Bathinda and Ropar thermal plants and Jogindernagar and Mukerian hydel projects were also received here, claimed Om Parkash.
PSEB employees protest
Bassi Pathana, November 21 All complaint centres, cash collection centres and offices remain closed and people who had come to clear their electricity bills, last date of which fell today, had to face great difficulty. Trade union leaders warned the government against the division of the board and privatisation. They said employees of the board would strongly oppose the move of the government and start an indefinite strike by taking the other employee unions into confidence. The work in all the government offices in the state would come to stand still. They also demanded to scrap the Bijli Act 2003, all transfers, suspensions and criminal cases against the employees. They also demanded fresh recruitments and jobs for the dependents of the deceased employees. Baldev Singh Damheri, vice-president, BKU (Lakhowal), supported the cause of the employees and urged the government not to privatise the board.
Bassi Pathana, November 21
All complaint centres, cash collection centres and offices remain closed and people who had come to clear their electricity bills, last date of which fell today, had to face great difficulty.
Trade union leaders warned the government against the division of the board and privatisation. They said employees of the board would strongly oppose the move of the government and start an indefinite strike by taking the other employee unions into confidence. The work in all the government offices in the state would come to stand still.
They also demanded to scrap the Bijli Act 2003, all transfers, suspensions and criminal cases against the employees.
They also demanded fresh recruitments and jobs for the dependents of the deceased employees.
Baldev Singh Damheri, vice-president, BKU (Lakhowal), supported the cause of the employees and urged the government not to privatise the board.
Patiala, November 21
Thousands of PSEB employees are on a warpath agitating against the privatisation of the board. About 50,000 employees observed a state-wide strike today. They were demanding the reversal of the ongoing unbundling of the PSEB.
Referring to the issue, Capt Kanwaljit said, “We have to look out for the options for enhancement of power generation so that power shortage could be tackled in an effective manner. The government should direct the PSEB to enhance its efficiency. At the same time, solution could be sought by holding amicable talks with all the parties concerned. We need short-term, mid-term and long-term policies for tackling power deficiency as electricity is the axis of development in a state like Punjab.”
Capt Kanwaljit said Punjab was generating 5500 MWs whereas the demand was touching the mark of 9,500 units.
“In the peak of paddy season, we have to purchase power at a high rate of Rs 7 per unit which is further sold to consumers at the rate of Rs 3 per unit. This difference, coupled with transmission losses of about 30 per cent, causes a loss of Rs 2,500 crore to the state. Moreover, not a single unit has been added to the existing generation capacity during the last five years and this has worsened the situation,” opined the minister.
Expressing his concern over the slow pace of development in Punjab due to “wrong policies” adopted during the last 5-6 six years, Capt Kanwaljit said Punjab had been lagging behind on this front so much so that it had come down from the first position in the country to fifth.
“You can make an assessment from the fact that Punjab is marching ahead with annual economic growth of about 2.5 per cent, whereas the average economic growth of India stands at nine per cent and some states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are witnessing even 10 per cent economic growth per year. When we had left the government in 2002, Punjab was at the first position. We need special schemes to curb this negative growth. Punjab has to be investor friendly. In order to drag this slow growth rate to eight per cent, we have to invest at least Rs 10,000 crore in the next 10 years in infrastructure development. But Punjab is devoid of financial resources to achieve this target. So soliciting of investment could be the potential alternative,” remarked the minister.
Failure to Keep Record of Pregnant Women
Ropar, November 21
The machine was confiscated for three days on the charge that proper record of pregnant women coming for tests was not being maintained.
Bhatti said raids would also be made at other centres of the district to check the violation of government order on the use of ultrasound machines in respect of female foeticide.
As per recent government direction, ultrasound centres have to keep record of the patients coming for scanning at the centres.
The ultrasound test cannot be done till the patient produces his/her photo identity in the form of ration card, voter identity card or any other such document.
However, the compulsory condition of producing photo identity card for carrying ultrasound test is creating problems for patients.
Pregnant women and other patients are refused tests by the clinics and put to inconvenience for photo identity cards.
Migrant labourers are the other section affected by this decision. They either do not have photo identity proof or have left these in home states.
As per government direction, they cannot get ultrasound test done till they produce the identity card.
The doctors have demanded the government should first create awareness among the patients on photo identity cards for ultrasound scan test.
Problems of migrant labourers or patients from other states on a visit to the state should also be taken care of.
Bhattal takes on CM on Adarsh schools
Chandigarh, November 21
She said the same money could be spent on the improvement of infrastructure and other education facilities in the existing schools that were crying for attention.
“We are not against setting up such schools, but instead of spending Rs 5 crore each on the 141 sanctioned schools amounting to Rs 705 crore and another Rs 250 odd crore in terms of land donated by panchayats, this money should be first spent on inducting 15,000 school teachers, improving the infrastructure and fulfiling elementary needs of education”.
Bhattal made this observation while sharing a report on the state of schools in Punjab prepared by Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Congress MLA from Bholath here today.
She said “Badal is going hammer and tongs, talking about the new school concept, little realising that the politicians and well-to-do people don’t send their children to government schools, their children study in well known public schools.”
Police role in murder case: Villagers block highway
Pathankot, November 21
Villagers were protesting against the police role in ongoing investigations in the Pawan murder case. They alleged the police had been shielding certain accused in the case and maintaining pressure on the innocent villagers to solve the case with a compromise.
The protesters alleged the DSP,(rural), ignored the affected family while conducting investigation in the case.
Moreover, the police had been shielding the main accused Naraian Singh alias Kallu in the case, alleged Tarsem Lal and Preeto Devi.
Pawan Kumar alias Pammi was stabbed to death by a group of armed Gujjars of a 'dera' nearby on September 10, while his cousin Vijay Kumar had received stab injuries in the clash.
The police had arrested six persons- Mahashu, his wife Jhanu, their daughter Summa, Narian Singh alias Kallu, his son Mehtab Singh alias Monti and Bhaua - of the Gujjar community and cases under Sections 320, 307, 324, 148, 149 of the IPC and the Arms Act were registered against them at Sujanpur police station.
The protesters also alleged the undertrial prisoners in the case were enjoying VIP facilities in the Pathankot sub Jail and demanded their shifting to the district Jail at Gurdaspur.
SP Pathankot Harpreet Singh, denied shielding any accused. He, however, claimed a fair inquiry was being conducted in the case.
Amritsar, November 21
The approach lights of the runway will also have to be replaced with a superior ones.Early morning fog has already started disrupting the schedule of several international flights taking off from Rajasansi and there appears to be no other alternative but to go ahead with the installation of better devices. The passenger traffic here has witnessed a tremendous growth in recent years.
Arun Talwar, airport director, said the proposal had been finalised in view of the difficult flying conditions at the airport during winter.
While the existing category I instrument is effective up to 200 feet, the category II would give direction to pilots up to 50 feet. The busier airports have category III equipment, which guides pilots till they hit the runway.
Work on replacement of the approach lights has already begun, he said.
The length of the runway is being extended by 369 m to a total length of 3,658 m. With it, other accessories like the runway lights will also have to be shifted and modified as per the new parameters.
The Rajasansi Airport is already offering international flights to Europe, West Asia, the USA, the UK, Afghanistan, Sharjah, Ashgabat, Tashkant and Moscow. But the domestic circuit is restricted to Delhi only.
“The training of a pilot to make him handle the category II equipment costs around Rs 30 lakh, an investment most airlines may not like to make,” said an airport official.
Ashwani Arora, station manager, Air India, said since Rajasansi airport caters to mostly international flights, the pilots flying in and out of here were equipped to use the category II equipment as they had to land in countries where airports already had the facility.
“No intensive training is needed for the proposed equipment. In fact, it has been our long pending demand that the system should be immediately upgraded,” he added.
Tributes paid to Justice Pathak
Chandigarh, November 21
In a statement issued by the organisation, foundation members said in the death of Justice Pathak they had lost a pillar of strength.
The foundation disclosed that it was through the persuasion of Justice Pathak that resulted in the inclusion of all below poverty line (BPL) families for enhancement in the quantum of Rs 1430 crore to Rs 4300 crore, enabling every elderly person to have Rs 200 per month as central government’s contribution and Rs 200 per month as state government’s contribution.
Justice Pathak, the foundation disclosed, was also instrumental in getting Dalai Lama for associating with the foundation’s proposed international conclave.
Meanwhile, Punjab MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in his condolence message to the Tribune Trust family expressed his grief over the death of Justice Pathak. He described Justice Pathak as a visionary.
Health dept officials raid central jail
Patiala, November 21 The raid and subsequent sampling of food items, it was learnt, was conducted on the directions of Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla who had taken a serious view of the general complaints of the prisoners that they were not getting good food in the jails of Punjab. A team of health officials, led by food inspector Daljit Singh, conducted the raid on the jail premises in the afternoon. The team remained inside the jail for about an hour and collected samples of a number of food items, health department sources revealed. The samples, it was learnt, will be sent to one of the food testing labs of the region.
Patiala, November 21
The raid and subsequent sampling of food items, it was learnt, was conducted on the directions of Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla who had taken a serious view of the general complaints of the prisoners that they were not getting good food in the jails of Punjab.
A team of health officials, led by food inspector Daljit Singh, conducted the raid on the jail premises in the afternoon.
The team remained inside the jail for about an hour and collected samples of a number of food items, health department sources revealed.
The samples, it was learnt, will be sent to one of the food testing labs of the region.
Oppn SGPC members to meet today
Amritsar, November 21 Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, had also called a meeting of the SGPC members of his party here tomorrow. The meeting of the opposition SGPC members would be attended by members from Haryana under the leadership of Didar Singh
Nalwi. Among others who would attend the meeting included former SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta, two members from Patti who had won the election with the support of Harminder Singh Gill, general secretary, PPCC, Karnail Singh Panjoli and confidants of late Gurcharn Singh Tohra, some SGPC members close to Ravi Inder Singh, president, SAD (1920), and certain supporters of Daljit Singh Bittu, ousted senior vice-president of SAD (A).
Amritsar, November 21
Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, had also called a meeting of the SGPC members of his party here tomorrow.
The meeting of the opposition SGPC members would be attended by members from Haryana under the leadership of Didar Singh Nalwi.
Among others who would attend the meeting included former SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta, two members from Patti who had won the election with the support of Harminder Singh Gill, general secretary, PPCC, Karnail Singh Panjoli and confidants of late Gurcharn Singh Tohra, some SGPC members close to Ravi Inder Singh, president, SAD (1920), and certain supporters of Daljit Singh Bittu, ousted senior vice-president of SAD (A).
Rajpura railway station to be revamped
Rajpura, November 21
This was stated here today by the general manager of the Railways Shri Parkash, who today visited Rajpura and Sirhind railway stations to take stock of the situations prevailing there.
After taking a round of the Rajpura railway station, the GM said the Railways were planning to provide another entry point at the station.
The present entry point is located within the busy market which is not easily assessable. He said besides this, the Railways would also upgrade other existing facilities at the station including widening of the parking space, providing of sitting arrangements and revamping of the basic amenities at the station.
Earlier at Sirhind, the GM assured the representatives of the Hindu Organisation that the Railways would consider their demand of resuming 1 CN train that connected Ambala to Nangal through Sirhind.
He said the Railways were playing a proactive role in the development of the state and that more efforts would be put in to ensure better services to the masses.
Meanwhile, the GM also visited Ambala Cantonment railway station and inaugurated CCTV system. He said the system was also expected to be installed at the Chandigarh and Saharanpur railway stations by next year.
The GM said the system would go a long way in enhancing the security system at the railway station as it was based on modern technology which enables close monitoring of activities.
Shri Prakash said a proposal for increasing the speed of the trains on the Delhi-Amritsar and the Delhi-Chandigarh lines was being considered.
He said if there was requirement, then new ticket counters would be opened at the Ambala Cantonment railway station.
The Railways was holding talks with the Haryana Government for construction of 13 overbridges on the tracks passing through the state, he stated.
Divisional railway manager H.K. Jaggi, senior divisional commercial manager Karam Singh and RPF commandant S.Z. Khan were also present.
Directions issued for release of grant
Chandigarh, November 21 About 8,000 employees of these schools had not been getting salaries for the past eight months. Directions were issued today by Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, after a meeting with representatives of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other employee unions. Among the union leaders, who held a meeting with the chief secretary were Ashwani Kumar Sharma, Gurcharan Singh Chahal, N.N. Saini, Gurmit Singh and Amarjit Singh Kang.
Chandigarh, November 21
About 8,000 employees of these schools had not been getting salaries for the past eight months.
Directions were issued today by Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, after a meeting with representatives of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and other employee unions.
Among the union leaders, who held a meeting with the chief secretary were Ashwani Kumar Sharma, Gurcharan Singh Chahal, N.N. Saini, Gurmit Singh and Amarjit Singh Kang.
Medical college principal shifted to Jalandhar
Patiala, November 21
Kaur, who was said to have been close to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has been the director, Research and Medical Education (DRME), Punjab, and was also holding charge as principal of the medical college here.
When the SAD-BJP alliance came to power, she was removed from the post of the principal but continued to work as DRME.
Later, as she proceeded on leave, the charge of the DRME was given to Dr J.S. Dalal and she was again posted principal of the Government Medical College before being removed again.
She has been replaced by Dr Surinder Singh.
Sangrur dist’s three subdivisions sans SDMs
Sangrur, November 21
Besides, the post of assistant commissioner (AC) (grievances) and the executive magistrate (EM) is also vacant.
In the absence of regular SDMs at these subdivisions, functioning of the offices of the SDMs is affected, though the government had made temporary arrangements to look after the work in these subdivisions by giving additional charge to other PCS officers.
Sources in the administration said the assistant commissioner (general), was holding the additional charge of the SDM, Sangrur, while the work at Sunam and Lehra subdivisions was being looked after by the SDM, Moonak.
Due to the additional charge given to PCS officers, people of these subdivisions, especially Sangrur and Sunam, have been facing inconvenience. They had to wait for hours for the SDMs to get their work done.
Sources said the post of the AC (grievances) had been vacant for six months, while the post of EM for more than two years.
Due to non-posting of the PCS officers on these posts, the government seems to have ignored problems of people.
DGM orders probe into poor facilities
Malerkotla, November 21 Sharma told The Tribune on telephone from Chandigarh today there was no shortage of LPG gas with the corporation. He said we would improve functioning of the booking office very soon. A news item regarding shortage of LPG cylinders in Malerkotla and delay in supply of gas was published in The Tribune on Wednesday. The DGM said the gas must be available on the booking of two or
Malerkotla, November 21
Sharma told The Tribune on telephone from Chandigarh today there was no shortage of LPG gas with the corporation. He said we would improve functioning of the booking office very soon.
A news item regarding shortage of LPG cylinders in Malerkotla and delay in supply of gas was published in The Tribune on Wednesday.
The DGM said the gas must be available on the booking of two or three days.
5 food analysts honoured
Mohali, November 21
These analysts were honoured for their contribution and hard work, especially during the recent Diwali festival season.
The health department had earlier launched a special crusade to check the sale of adulterated food items, raw material for sweets in view of the heavy demand of these items during the festive season.
The special campaign launched by the department had been quite successful as a lot of seizures were made during the festival season.
Giving details of food samples analysed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act during the festival season from October 28 to November 15, 2007 Prof Chawla disclosed that a total number of samples obtained for khoya in Punjab were 75 out of which 47 were found adulterated.
Similarly, during this period, 197 samples of sweets were analysed, out of which 16 were declared adulterated. Tn out of the 16 samples analysed for paneer were found to be adulterated.
In case of milk, 22 samples were analysed, out of which 16 were found adulterated. All 5 curd samples analysed were found adulterated, whereas three out of the 12 samples obtained for desi ghee were found adulterated.
Prof Chawla added that a total of 369 samples were obtained during this particular period out of which 104 were found adulterated and further legal course had been pursued against the defaulters.
She said testing of these samples had become possible only due to the efforts of these public analysts, who had worked day and night to analyse the samples obtained by various district health authorities.
Uphaar: Probe sought into ‘misplacement’ of record
Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 21
Maintaining his family or relatives had never sought compensation for the lost lives, Phoolka announced reparation in connection with the death of his daughter and two granddaughters would be deposited in the Prime Minister's Relief Fund.
“The government must probe the alleged misplacement of records that had hindered speedy trial of the case," said Phoolka.
Sonika, Phoolka's daughter, Malvika and Sony, his granddaughters, along with three more members of Sidhu family had died in the Uphaar tragedy.
Govt offices closed for half day today
Chandigarh November 21
Chandigarh November 21
Meeting on Guru Gobind Singh Marg tomorrow
Chandigarh, November 21
Chandigarh, November 21
‘Last come, first go’ must for retrenching workers
Chandigarh, November 21
Pronouncing the orders on a bunch of three petitions filed by the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation employees, Justice S.D. Anand of the High Court has asserted: “There can be no dispute with the proposition that those employed for the execution of a project cannot claim retention in employment for all the time to come and they also cannot validly grudge their retrenchment on the extinguishing of the project. The only rider upon the authorities in the context is that in case of retrenchment, the principle of “last come, first go” has to be compulsively and meticulously followed.”
In one of the petitions, Jagtar Singh and others had contended that they had joined the corporation between 1977 and 1981 in different capacities in the Sangrur circle.
On September 29, 1987, they received a letter from the corporation informing them about their retrenchment with effect from October 31, 1987.
The petitioners had added that the corporation and other respondents had acted arbitrarily by retrenching them, while retaining their juniors.
Moreover, the corporation was retrenching the work charge staff by adopting “pick and choose” method and the principle of “first come last go” was not followed by the corporation.
After going through the records and hearing the arguments in the matter, the judge ruled: “A common seniority list (all categories) of the employees was placed on file. The petitioners in all the petitions, in their wisdom, refrained from offering a denial by filing a rejoinder…. The present is a case in which the respondents have categorically denied that anyone junior to the petitioners had been retained in service while ordering the petitioners’ retrenchment.
“In that view of things, it was incumbent upon the petitioners in all the petitions to demonstrate, by record-based illustration, the identity of their juniors in the relevant category who had been retained in service. That was a condition precedent before they could claim relief in these petitions.”
Rejecting the pleas of the petitioners, the judge added: “It is apparent that the petitioners have not been able to prove that any one junior to them has been retained in service while ordering their retrenchment. These writ petitions are completely bereft of merit and are ordered to be dismissed.”
Suspects go underground in forgery case
Gurdaspur, November 21
Soon after the arrest of the two for their alleged involvement in the case of corruption and forgery, some other suspects in the case have reportedly gone underground.
Sources reveal that the named persons have been seeking legal opinions regarding their safety in the case.
In an effort to elude the Vigilance Bureau, the suspects named in the case have taken shelter from their political leaders in Chandigarh, Delhi and other cities. A majority of the suspects reportedly work with Congress and the BJP leaders from Pathankot. To rescue their men, certain politicians from Pathankot comprising former MLAs Ashok Sharma and Rama Bhalla and Dinesh Mahajan, a senior Congress leader, reportedly remained at the office of the DSP (VB) at Gurdaspur yesterday.
Certain suspects and members of the board of directors of the bank being close associates of transport minister Master Mohan Lal Sharma are reportedly hiding in Chandigarh.
The bureau has registered cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and various sections of the IPC against Dhariwal civic body’s former chief Satish Kumar, Harjinder Kaur, Thappa, Surinder Kumar, Sita Rani and Kuldeep Arora and members of the board of directors of the bank Veena Gupta, Sanjiv Sharda, Bishambhar Dass, Dinesh Sharma, Vikas Gupta, Darshan Sharma, Usha Sharma and Vinay Kumar at Gurdaspur.