P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


DC’s info officer gets notice under RTI Act
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 6
The state Information Commission has issued a notice to Gurdaspur deputy commissioner’s public information officer (PIO) to show cause why penalty should not be imposed upon him at the rate of Rs 250 per day of delay, subject to a maximum of Rs 25,000.

Information commissioner Rupan Deol Bajaj issued a show-cause notice to the PIO under Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act for delay in providing the required information to the applicant, Gauree Dayal Sharma of Kotha Bhim Sain in Dinanagar of Gurdaspur district.

In a two-page notice, a copy of which is with The Tribune, Bajaj stated that the written explanation for the same might be sent to the commission before the next date of hearing (January 9).

The notice stated that the commission had issued a notice dated September 11, 2007, to the PIO, in response to which the PIO sent a letter dated October 9, 2007, to the applicant with a copy to the commission.

In this letter, the PIO made a reference of two earlier letters dated June 1 and September 14, last year. It added that the PIO stated that it had been mentioned in these letters that with regard to his application dated February 22, 2007, information was attached with file in the C and FA branch and these papers might be collected after payment of due fees.

However, the applicant stated that he had received the letter dated October 9, 2007, only and not the earlier two letters.

The commission observed that even if letters dated June 1 and September 14 had been sent as stated by the PIO, no fees should have been demanded as it is mandatory to supply the information without fee in case the information is not provided within the stipulated period of 30 days which has been far exceeded.

Sharma had submitted an application at the DC’s office on February 22, last year, under the RTI Act, 2005, to get information about action taken on his complaint submitted to the DC on July 16, 2005, against Dina Nagar Municipal Committee, executive officer Manjinder Singh and junior engineer Rajesh Sahni.

The complainant further stated that he should have been provided the required information by March 29 last year under the RTI Act, but the PIO failed to do so.

Sharma alleged in his complaint to the DC that the committee had constructed a nullah in May-June 2005 from old Nanonangal road to the left side of Kothe Bhim Sain for the outlet of waste water in violation of rules and regulations.

He had also sent a reminder to the authorities concerned, including the commissioner of Jalandhar division and Gurdaspur DC, on July 16 and August 31, 2005 about his complaint. 


Girl moves HC over wearing karha

London, January 6
A 14-year-old Sikh girl, who was suspended from school in South Wales for wearing a karha, has filed an appeal in the high court challenging her school's refusal to allow her to wear it. 

Sarika Singh has been excluded from Aberdare Girls School for two months after she refused to remove her karha. She had to spend the same amount of time being taught in isolation.

Liberty, the human rights group, has filed the plea on her behalf. It argues that the school has breached race relations and human rights laws.

The school prohibits the wearing of any jewellery other than watches and plain ear studs, The Times reported.

Earlier, Sarika was first suspended for a week in November 2007 after she refused to remove her karha. On her return to school after completion of the suspension, she was turned away again over the karha.

"We are very, very disappointed," said Sarika's mother Sinita after a 20-minute meeting with headmistress Jane Rosser.

Sarika, who is the only Sikh student at the school, was accompanied by her mother, and a representative from the Valleys Race Equality Council, an organisation supported financially by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission

Liberty is providing legal representation to the family. Its spokesman said the group's solicitor Anna Fairclough stated that this case was different because Sikhs were recognised under law as an ethnic and religious group - so the case falls under the Race Relations Act and also the Human Rights Act. — ANI 


Punjabi NRI Sammelan
Law on unscrupulous travel agents soon
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Punjab is working on bringing out a legislation that will check exploitation of Punjabis at the hands of unscrupulous travel agents and curb illegal immigration from the state. A mechanism will soon be in place to redress various issues raised by the NRIs in the Punjabi NRI Sammelan.

This assurance has been given to the NRIs by advocate-general Hardev Singh Mattewal. In fact, what he has said to the NRIs, if implemented in letter and spirit can prove to be the panacea for all ills being faced by them.

“We are not here to listen to political speeches, we were born and brought up here and know how much importance is to be given to politicians. Most of us are here in the hope that the government actually gets down to redress the issues and problems being faced by the NRIs. And I think the whole matter was summed up by Mattewal,” said a member of the UK delegation.

Mattewal, who chaired the technical sessions on legal perspective for NRIs, apparently struck the chord in almost every NRI’s heart. “I thought he was speaking for us rather than the government. He understood the sentiments, perceived the problems well and assured us that there would be a solution,” said Inderpal Singh Athwal, general secretary of the SAD, Canada.

Mattewal assured the NRIs that all 1,300 cases of proclaimed offenders would be reviewed within the next two months. He added that with a view to ensuring speedy justice to the NRIs, two family courts were being set up at Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur.

President of the SAD, Canada, Kehar Singh Gill said, “If the government just takes cares of the issues raised by Mattewal, a majority of the problems common to most NRIs would be resolved.” 


Apologise for ignoring Obhrai: Southall MP
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 6
Organisers of the Punjabi NRI Sammelan should apologise for not inviting Deepak Obhrai, the highest-ranking Indo-Canadian in the present Canadian government, to attend the two-day sammelan held at Chandigarh and Jalandhar.

Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall Virendra Sharma expressed these views while talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of the conference in Jalandhar today.

According to reports published in some newspapers today, Obhrai, an MP from Calgary East and parliamentary secretary to foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier, had expressed resentment about being ignored by the Punjab government for the sammelan. He said, “Why was I not invited? Am I not a Punjabi? Is it because I am a Hindu Punjabi, not a Sikh Punjabi?”

However, Sharma said, “I don’t think that not inviting him is a deliberate move of the organisers. It might not be the reason that he was not invited because he is a Hindu Punjabi. I am also a Hindu Punjabi, but I am invited”.

At the same time, he said the organisers should take note of his resentment.

Sharma further said, “I hope the organisers will apologise for ignoring him and not forget to invite him in further such sammelans”.

“Obhrai might have not been invited due to some communication gap,” NRI Sabha patron Surjit Singh Rakhra said.

Rakhra said, “We have invited almost each and every prominent NRI irrespective of his or her affiliation to any political party. Even then we feel sorry for ignoring him and will take care in future”.  


NRIs doubt govt’s capacity to deliver on its vision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
“The Badal government has a vision. It was proved at the presentation made at the Punjabi NRI Sammelan here yesterday. However, does it have resources, preparation and commitment to deliver it?” This was the most repeated question by NRIs, especially those who have achieved success in political and other fields abroad.

What reflected from almost every NRI’s voice at the conference was the collapsing of the administrative system in the state. NRIs showed lack of trust and faith in the system. They had many stories to tell of their woes.

Admitting the fact, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “The truth is that there is no commitment from the bureaucracy, neither from the politicians and nor from the people”.

Virendra Sharma, Labour Member of Parliament in the UK, said, “The vision was a wonderful idea, but to fulfil that vision was what mattered the most. Projection of a vision was one thing, but to convert that into reality was another”.

“Even if the government achieved 60 or 70 per cent of what was presented as vision for the next four years today, it would be the best thing to happen in the state,” he added.

He said the presentation of the vision should have come from the bureaucracy and not from a political party. The impression has gone around that it was a party’s vision and not that of the government, he added.

“Politicians come and go, but bureaucracy is a permanent thing. Presentation of vision by the bureaucracy would have given a better message to the NRIs,” 
he added.

There was an impression among the NRIs that there was a lot of political and bureaucratic corruption in Punjab. The system would have to be cleansed, he said.

Neena Sanghera, an NRI from California, expressed similar views. She said the Badal government had promised a lot.

Most of the NRI delegates were unhappy as they said that their representatives did not get much chance to speak at the conference. “It was a show dominated by Punjab politicians. Our people got little time to speak”, some of the NRIs stated. 


NRIs favour Sukhbir as CM
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Former Mayor of Hounslow, Darshan Singh Grewal, now in India to participate in the ongoing Punjabi NRI Sammelan, has said a majority of the NRIs feel that Sukhbir Singh Badal, working president of the SAD, should take over as Chief Minister of Punjab. 

“It is my personal opinion, but seconded by most NRIs I have met here who have been discussing the state of politics in Punjab”.

Grewal said the Cabinet comprising “young and dynamic” leaders was aware of the state of affairs around the world owing to their frequent travel. “Their perception is of the world level and they can steer Punjab out of financial and agrarian crisis”.

He also expressed the desire to relocate to India to be part of the political system. Grewal, who initially proposes to test political waters here by bringing in some projects for the welfare of the Punjabis in the Malwa region, said he was not averse to contesting elections, albeit as an independent, before joining the political mainstream.

“There is a great need to clean the political mess in this country. The political system is degraded and compared to the system in the UK you can call it a mess. But I am confident if my son, who is about 18 now, looks after my business interests back in the UK, I will be able to participate in Punjab politics. Even though I have a lot of commitments back home, if it is to happen, I would like to contest from Dhanaula, where I was born and raised”, he said.

Commenting on the NRI sammelan, Grewal said, “Even if 80 per cent of what has been promised is achieved, I will call the show a success”.

Encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the government in inviting NRIs to Punjab for investment and participating in the state’s growth, Grewal said he proposed to get a study conducted for identifying areas in the Malwa belt that don’t have clean drinking water, so that he can invest in a water treatment plants. His prime focus areas are Sangrur, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepur districts.

Grewal said,"We will be setting up these treatment plants with the help of local NGOs and of course the assistance of Punjab government as per its policy of offering matching grants would be of immense help to us”.

The next thing on Grewal's agenda is setting up a sports academy back home in the UK. Grewal, who has already worked out most of the modalities of the academy, will select talented sportspersons from Punjab and take them to the UK for a year of professional and advanced training from foreign coaches.

Grewal also demanded that NRIs be allowed entry into India without visas as has been the case in the UK and some other European nations.  



Indirect election of sarpanches
Congress to oppose govt move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Punjab Congress has taken an exception to the reported move of the SAD-BJP government of holding “indirect election of sarpanches”.

Spokesman of the Punjab Congress former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, in a statement here today, asked the government to clarify the exigency which compelled it to opt for indirect elections to the Panchayti Raj institutions.

“This move seems to be an indicator of the fall in the popularity graph of the alliance government which is perhaps scared of facing direct elections to this most important grassroot-level democratic institution. This unwarranted, uncalled for and unfortunate proposal shows mala fides of the ruling party for narrow political ends,” the statement reads.

Kang stressed the proposed amendment to the provisions of the Act pertaining to direct election of sarpanches and their reservations for SC/BC and women by indirect elections through panches will lead to instability, horse-trading and undue pressure by government functionaries jeopardising development of the villages and implementation of development schemes. Sarpanches will remain under the constant fear of their removal by “faction-ridden panches” has caused resentment and unrest among rural masses.

Kang added that after terrorism and Presidential rule in the state, the Congress government headed by late Beant Singh had held direct elections for sarpanches in 1993. By comprehensive enactment covering panchayat samitis and zila parishads, the Congress government replaced the Gram Panchayat Act 1952 by the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act 1994 in the spirit of provisions of 73rd Constitution Amendment, 1992, which was enacted for greater participation of people and more effective implementation of rural development and Panchayati Raj system.

Direct elections were held under this Act by the Akali government in 1998 thereby endorsing the spirit and objectives of the Act and later in 2003, the elections were held on the same pattern by the Congress government.  


Dera-SAD row to shadow BMC elections
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
The first election to the 50-member Bathinda Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be a test for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP government as tension between followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and SAD supporters has refused to die down.

Residents of the town are waiting for the elections to be announced anytime before April-end. Political observers say the MC elections will reflect the mood of the electorate in the Malwa region and set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections to be held a few months later. The Punjab government recently gave an affidavit in the high court saying the elections to the BMC will be held before April 30.

The elections to the BMC were postponed last year due to tension following clashes between the Dera followers and SAD activists. The 35-seat Municipal Council here was upgraded to Municipal Corporation in 2003, but the elections for the BMC were not held.

The SAD wanted to counter-influence the Dera, particularly in the Bathinda belt that generally sets the voting trend in the Malwa region where the party was trounced during the Assembly elections last year. The BJP activists were, however, hesitant to come out openly against the Dera, but the top leadership of the SAD has at public meetings launched a direct attack on the Dera chief.

Political observers claim that the Dera followers were lying low at the moment and might give a call for vote against the SAD candidates in the BMC elections when the time comes.

Except this time no particular political party has ever been returned to the Assembly from the Bathinda constituency. The Congress and the SAD have been occupying the seat by rotation.

However, the continuing tension between Dera followers and SAD activists was expected to cast its shadow on the BMC elections in which the Congress was trying to get the benefit. 


NRI Investment
Badal should lead by example: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Simranjit Singh Mann today said senior political leaders such as Parkash Singh Badal had no right to ask NRIs to invest in Punjab. He said first leaders like Badal themselves should make investment in the state.

Mann said Badal and his son had made a huge investment in Haryana. “Why had they not invested money in Punjab?” he asked. “I have also come to know that leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had invested money in Himachal Pradesh. If these political leaders are not ready to invest in Punjab and keen to invest elsewhere, how others, including NRIs, would develop confidence to invest in the state,” he said.

He said the NRIs would not like to invest at a place where political corruption ruled. 


Another case of police torture?
Mystery shrouds death of Lehragaga man
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 6
Mystery shrouds the death of a Lehragaga resident, Sunil Kumar. Whether he died due to police torture or some other reason needs to be probed.

As per the family of Sunil, he was picked up by the Tohana police (Haryana) at about 3 pm from Lehragaga yesterday in connection with a case. The police dropped him at about 8 pm last night at his house at Lehragaga and told the family that he was sleeping and should not be woken up. However, at about 11 pm when a member of the family tried to wake him up, he was found dead.

Arun Pal Singh, SSP, said Sunil’s wife had given a statement to the police that his husband had been taken to Tohana, but he had been brought back to Lehragaga by another resident Mohinder Singh and some others from Tohana in the evening. Later, he took his meals and slept. During night he suddenly started breathing heavily and after that he died.

The SSP said the post-mortem examination of the body had been conducted at the Sunam civil hospital.

Dr Sanjay Bansal said during the post-mortem examination the team found a minor injury on the chest of the deceased but not serious enough to cause death. Moreover, no ribs were found fractured. He said the viscera had been sent to the chemical examiner, Kharar, for examination. 


Chawla launches polio drive
Tribune Reporters

Gagomahal (Ajnala), January 6
Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state health minister, inaugurated a 3-day pulse polio drive at Gagomahal village situated on the Ajnala-Ramdas road by administrating polio drops to a child today. More than 1,399 vaccination booths had been set up in border district of Amritsar by the Health Department, out of which 687 booths covered rural areas and 712 booths in the municipal area of Amritsar, covering a total of 3,46,409 target children, out of whom 1,72,483 children were in urban areas and 1,73,926 in rural areas.

Giving details of the polio campaign, Lehmber Singh, civil surgeon, said 64.61 per cent of the children in the district had been given polio drops on the very first day. The health workers would move from door to door from tomorrow to cover the remaining children in every nook and corner of the district, he added.

He said in spite of the inclement weather, the health workers had been able to give polio drops to the children in the district, which was equivalent to last year’s figure.

GURDASPUR: As many as 55 teams administered polio drops to 3.20 lakh children in the district. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, deputy commissioner, inaugurated the daylong campaign at the Civil Hospital here on Sunday. R.S. Rana, civil surgeon, said 1,842 booths, including 31 mobiles teams and 6,616 medical workers, had been pressed into service to ensure the campaign. 


Punjab to get 200 sq km industrial zone
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
In its bid to boost industrial growth in Punjab, the Centre is planning to set-up a 200 sq km fully equipped and ultra-modern special industrial zone in the state. 

At the same time the union government was not likely to extend or enhance the tax holiday for hill states like Himachal Pradesh after its expiry in 2009. The apparent motive behind the move is to provide a level playing field to all states with respect to industrial growth.

This was stated by union minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar today. “We have already identified as many as four places in Punjab for setting up industrial zones. One of these four places would be selected for the purpose. This proposed zone would be equipped with all modern and essential facilities like transport, power and better infrastructure so that the investors do not face any problem,” he said.

Expressing concern over the increasing number of unemployed youth in the state, Ashwani observed that though most of the Punjabi youths were educated but they were sans any vocational training. “ The ministry is taking steps to tackle this problem. All big private companies have been asked to hold job melas in rural and backward parts of the country so that youths could get an equal employment opportunity,” said Ashwani, who was here to attend a marriage. 


Gherao of Orbit Buses Today
90 leaders, workers of SAD (A) held 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 6
Ninety leaders and workers (according to the police 50) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were today held from Sangrur district by the police in the light of the proposed gherao of Orbit buses by the SAD (A) on January 7 throughout the state.

General secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh today said the police had arrested about 90 activists of the party by conducting raids in the early morning at their houses in the district.

Alloarkh claimed that the police had also arrested district president of the kisan wing of the party Avtar Singh Kular, district president of the Muslim wing of the party Wazir Khan, district vice-president Master Pargat Singh and district general secretary Gurnam Singh Bhinder.

Alloarkh said they would gherao Orbit buses in a peaceful manner at any cost as arrest of the party workers would not become hurdle in their programme. He also said the Badal government had “murdered” the democracy by arresting the party workers and leaders as everyone had the right to protest in a peaceful manner in democracy.

SSP Arun Pal Singh said the district police had arrested 50 workers and leaders of the SAD (A) to maintain law and order in the district tomorrow. He said they had been arrested under Sections 107 and 151, CrPC. 


MP against  hotel in Gobindgarh Fort 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Manohar Singh Gill, Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, has opposed giving  Gobindgarh Fort at Amritsar to hotelier Sant Singh Chhatwal for opening  heritage hotel there.

Gill told The Tribune today if the fort was given it would be a most unfortunate decision of the Badal government. He said fort was an important symbol of Punjab’s history and it could not be given to run a heritage hotel. In Rajasthan certain zamindars and small royal families had handed over their “garhis” (mini forts) to private parties to set up heritage hotels. However, Gobindgarh Fort should not be compared to those private “garhis” to set up a hotel.

Chhatwal yesterday stated he was prepared to build one of the best hotels at Amritsar, but he wanted the  government to hand over Gobindgarh Fort to him for this purpose.

Gill said he was not opposed to Chhatwal’s decision to invest in Punjab. “If he is keen to invest, he should buy some private land at Amritsar to set up hotel and no one would be having objection to it,”  he said.

Gill said the Punjab government should find out how many NRIs had invested money in past years in Punjab. “I have heard a lot about NRI investment but it would be good on the part of the state government to  prepare a report in this regard and to make it  public,” said Gill. 


ISI active reviving militancy in Punjab
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 6
The union Home Ministry has been reviewing the fallout of the developments in Pakistan, particularly ISI activities with regard to Punjab and other states. 

The ISI is reported to be activating its sleeping cells in India to divert attention from the internal problems in Pakistan.

Security agencies and intelligence reports point out that the ISI is activating its cells in Punjab for reviving militancy in the state.

Intelligence reports suggest that the ISI is pressing on militant leaders in Lahore to foment trouble in Punjab. But they are not getting much response from the local youth. Now there is more pressure from the ISI and reports point out that the ISI has been able to bring militant outfits closer to the Punjab borders. Security agencies are worried that the ISI will exploit the consolidation of the migrants from UP and Bihar in Punjab whose number is very large. The migrants have been the major targets of the militants during the decade-long militancy in Punjab. Some radical Sikh organisations have also been raising their voice against the settlement of the migrants in Punjab.

The intelligence reports suggest that the strategy of the ISI is to use the local modules and itself remaining in the background. This pattern was reportedly being followed by the ISI.

Although the state political leadership and the Punjab Police top brass have been claiming there is no possibility of revival of militancy in Punjab, but the Shingaar cinema blast on October 14 last year and subsequent arrests point out that the ISI is active in reorganising militant outfits.

Babbar Khalsa militant leaders Wadhawa Singh and Mahal Singh are reported to be in Pakistan, along with Paramjit Singh Panjwar and Dal Khalsa leaders and Ranjit Singh Neeta of the Khalistan Zindabad Force. Lakhbir Singh Rode of the International Sikh Youth Federation also keeps moving from Pakistan to other countries.

The Home Ministry is also consulting the security experts while reviewing the security situation in Punjab, UP and other states.

The police here has already arrested the main culprits of the Shingaar blast and their interrogation has revealed plans to revive militancy in Punjab. 


35,000 kids born every year have cleft lips, palates
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 6
India ranks the second in the world, after China, in the incidence of children having cleft lips and palate from birth and, according to estimates, there are more than 10 lakh people in India who have this deformity due to lack of awareness and poverty.

Satish Kalra, South Asia regional director of The Smile Train, a United States-based international charity which sponsored free surgery for poor children born with cleft lips and palates all over the world, stated this.

The organisation has helped 2.50 lakh for such surgeries all over the world with help from various hospitals.

He was here to celebrate the completion of 1,100 successful cleft surgeries at Amandeep Hospital here at a function organised today. Laxmi Kanta Chawla, minister for health and family welfare, was the chief guest of the function.

Chawla admitted that the government hospitals in the state did not have such facilities, including those of plastic surgery to remove this deformity. However, she added, the government would make a proposal in this regard to the Cabinet. She said she would also take up the matter with Tikshan Sood, minister for medical education and research, for providing such surgeries with the help of The Smile Train in medical colleges.

Meanwhile, Kalra, an NRI and now settled in Delhi, said Punjab had many patients with cleft lips and palates and a lot needed to be done for this. Every year there were 35,000 children born with this disease as it was not life threatening and nobody wanted to consider it a disease. Besides, superstitions among the residents also created problems.

Regarding the organisation, he said in seven years the programme was run in 72 countries having hundreds of partners. About 200 surgeons in association with organisations were operating on poor patients in the country. 


Metal-laden vegetables reaching homes 
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
People of Punjab face danger to their health as green vegetables like, spinach (palak), fenugreek (methi), mustard (sarson) and even coriander(dhania) are laden with heavy and toxic metals.

Of late, people of Punjab have started increasingly going in for fresh vegetables and making these a major part of their diet. But they are not aware that a number of leafy vegetables they have been taking for better health have in fact been doing more harm than good as these are found to be contaminated with heavy metals like chromium, nickel, lead, cadmium, zinc and iron.

The situation has become perilous in areas where these vegetables come from fields irrigated with untreated sewage or water released by units. People of small and medium townships are more prone to get affected by heavy metals, pathogens and carcinogenic elements present in vegetables, mainly due to lack of awareness.

Ironically, fields are being irrigated by farmers with sewage or water released by units in Patiala district right under the nose of the Patiala-based Punjab Pollution Control Board which claims to be a standard-bearer cleaner and environment-friendly Punjab, but has been turning a blind eye to this aspect of pollution.

A study by the Department of Biotechnology and Environment Sciences of Patiala-based Thapar University under Dr Dinesh Goyal has ascertained that vegetables in Patiala district, particularly vegetables grown in the vicinity of towns and villages like Patiala city, Rajpura, Dakala, Bhappal, Kami Kalan .

Navneet Jaj and Harmanjit Kaur, who conducted the study, were shocked to find that the very commonly used leafy crops such as spinach, fenugreek, mustard and cabbage had high concentration of heavy metals. The levels of concentration of these metals was more than permissible limits stipulated by the Indian Standard of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), 1954, and was far beyond European standards. The experts said though urban and rural people were becoming more health and environment conscious, they were either hardly aware of the perils posed by the contamination of vegetables, a major ingredient of diet. 



Rs 25,000 to be refunded to OYT applicants
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 6
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to refund deposit of Rs 25,000 to applicants of the OYT (own your tubewell) scheme, at the time of the issue of a demand notice to the prospective consumer.

The amendment has been made to regulate the release of tubewell connections under the scheme.

However, the applicants have urged the government to make further amendments in the procedure and direct the authorities concerned to inspect the quality of materials at the time of installation of the equipment.

Perusal of a memorandum from the office of the chief engineer (commercial) revealed that deposit of Rs 25,000 charged at the time of the registration of the application for connection under the OYT scheme would be refunded to the prospective consumer at the time of issue of demand notice.

Hailing the decision of the refund of deposit, farmers of the area have resented that the procedure had been made complicated by asking them to get the materials inspected from the MS Organisation.  


Govt to spend Rs 142 cr for setting up new schools
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 6
The Punjab government will spend Rs 142 crore for starting three model and one Adarsh school in each Assembly segment of the state during the current financial year, so that students of rural areas can get education facilities at par with the standard of public schools.

This was stated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing the valedictory function of a three-day health fair organised by Avinash Rai Khanna, MP from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency, in collaboration with the district administration under the National Health Mission Programme at Garhshankar, 40 km from here, today.

The Chief Minister said arrangements had been made for providing free education to brilliant students of the poor section in the model and Adarsh schools.

Referring to the shortage of teaching staff in government schools, Badal said necessary proceedings had been initiated for the recruitment of 14,000 teachers to fill all vacant posts in senior and secondary schools in the state.

Appreciating Khanna and the district administration for holding health fair, Badal emphasised the need for organising such health fairs in other parts of the state for providing health services to the people of far-flung areas.

He strongly condemned the involvement of youth in intoxication and female foeticide. There was a dire need to check the menace of female foeticide and make people aware about its ill effects. Female foeticide had badly hit the balance between the male and female population.

Later, Badal inaugurated the pulse polio campaign by administering polio vaccine to seven newborn babies and appealed to the people to get polio drops administered to their children to completely eradicate the disease.

Around 15 handicapped persons were given tricycles on this occasion.

Khanna said more than 14,000 persons were medically examined in this health fair. Also artificial limbs were provided to 16 handicapped persons.

Around 252 persons donated blood at the blood donation camp organised in the fair.

Punjab local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, MLA Sohan Singh Thandal, Jathedar Keshgarh Sahib Tarlochan Singh and many others also spoke on the occasion. 


Bid to grab property by armed men, one held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 6
Fifty persons armed with swords and sticks allegedly attempted to grab commercial property situated a few metres from Ram Bagh police station here late  last night.

The police foiled the attempt to grab a portion of the property of Vinod Kapur, a resident of Dayanand Nagar, here by erecting walls and gate. The accused reportedly kept three workers of the leather factory in illegal custody and locked them  in a room.

The incident came to light when the three workers, identified as Anokhi Ram and Ram Saran, both migrant labourers from Bihar, and Mangal Das, were released by the accused in the wee hours today. They reported the matter to Kapur who called the police which foiled the attempt. The accused tried to wall 150 yards of the property.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, district police chief, said one person had been arrested and a case registered against the accused. He added that the probe was on. 


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