P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Border villagers’ demands genuine, says Patil
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chanduwadala (Gurdaspur), February 8
Union home minister Shivraj Patial today gave a patient hearing to farmers and residents of villages on the Indo-Pak border and felt that their demands were genuine and should be taken seriously.

Accompanied by Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, additional director-general (BSF), G.S. Gill, AIG (BSF) I.G. Rangan, DIG (BSF) S.S. Sandhu, deputy commissioner Gurkirat Kirpal Singh and SSP Lok Nath Angra, the home minister took a round of some fields at the village on the Indo-Pak border.

While telling him their woes, farmers of these villages demanded shifting of the fence to the zero line, compensation for their crops across the fence (ranging between Rs 2,500 to Rs 16,000 annually), 24-hour power supply, better education and healthcare facilities, reservation in job for the residents of these villages. The villagers also demanded passes for women so that they too could go to their land holdings across the fence.

Patil said he was apprised of the problems being faced by the farmers by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the UPA government would give all possible help in this regard.

The home minister also assured the BSF jawans, posted at the border, that he would take up the issue of providing them perks and facilities on a par with the Army at the Cabinet meeting scheduled for February 11 in Delhi.

Later, he addressed a rally, Sadbhawana Divas, organised at the Gurdaspur grain market to commemorate the death anniversary of Prabodh Chander, a freedom fighter and father of Ashwani Kumar, union minister of state for industry. He laid stress on social solidarity and communal harmony.

Paying homage to Prabodh Chander, Patil said Punjabis were on the forefront in the freedom struggle and had contributed alot in the freedom struggle and were doing the same while defending the borders.

Praising Ashwani Kumar for organising the rally, Patil said such rallies should be held all over the country because social harmony was need of the hour.

Besides Bhattal, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, PPCC vice-president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, former Congress ministers Tejpratap Singh, Avtar Henry and several other Congress leaders also paid tributes to Prabodh Chander. Ashwani Kumar also read out the messages of the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister with regard to Prabodh Chander’s contribution to the freedom struggle. 


Corporate healthcare goes tie-up way
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Cost cutting and expeditious commissioning of projects is the new mantra in corporate healthcare. Most of the corporate health care providers in the country are now looking at setting up brownfield projects across the country. The rising cost of land and other infrastructure has led to these corporates deciding that a greenfield project in health care is to be initiated only where they are unable to find a suitable partner for a tie-up.

They are looking at joint ventures, strategic tie-ups and acquisitions of small healthcare services providers, and thus make their foray in the tier II and tier III towns of the country.

Market leader Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals is looking at setting up diagnostic and health care centres across the country on a franchisee basis and through tie-ups with the existing hospitals/service providers.

President of Corporate Development, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Anil K, Maini said this business model would work well, as they would be able to get the project off the ground fast, than they would in case of creating a new infrastructure.

“We will be involved in the management of hospitals, while the best medics in these cities would ensure quality in service. If the hospitals are built well and have the latest equipment, it makes sense to tie up with them,” he said.

Though the group is coming up with greenfield projects in Bhubaneswar and proposes to have projects in Srinagar and Jammu, it is looking at tie-ups with local hospitals in Ranchi, Vadodara and Kanpur. In this region, Apollo clinics at Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Chandigarh have been started as brownfield projects.

Wockhardt Hospitals, too, is looking at a similar business model to expand its base within the country.

Pradeep Thukral, head, International Marketing, told The Tribune that most of the new hospitals to be launched in the tier II and tier III towns will be brownfield projects.

“In most of the cities, excellent infrastructure in health care has been created by charitable trusts or a conglomeration of doctors. We plan to enter into a joint venture with these organisations, take over the management and upgrade their services. We have already tied up with CMC, Ludhiana, and the Wockhardt-CMC Cardiac Centre will become operational later this year,” he said, adding that another greenfield project would be launched in Amritsar.

With quality healthcare and brand image being a major concern, these corporates are also training the staff at all their brownfield projects, outlining a work protocol and auditing the staff.

Dr Shika Sharma, managing director of Dr Shikha Sharma’s Nutri Health System, is also expanding her base from seven clinics to 25 clinics by the end of this year on a similar business model. With a major focus on Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, she says they will be training doctors of the hospital(s), wherever they have a tie-up.

“We will also launch an online auditing of staff. Besides, we are also getting into the functional food business (cereals, biscuits and flours), for which we will tie up with some companies, who will make food products of our specifications,” she said.


Medical Tourism
Infrastructure holds the key: Experts
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Improved connectivity in the wake of the coming up of the international airport at Mohali and the availability of excellent health infrastructure are set to convert the region into a medical value tourism hub, experts said here today.

Shivinder M. SinghTalking to The Tribune on the sidelines of a conference on medical value tourism at the CII here, Shivinder M. Singh, CEO and managing director of the Fortis Health Care Limited, said the international airport was the fundamental requirement for flourishing the medical value tourism in any part of the country.

In the backdrop of the vast potential of the health sector in the region, the Fortis was planning to set up three health cities and several hospitals in Punjab.
Shivinder M. Singh

The CEO urged the government agencies to upgrade the basic infrastructure such as road, airports and bus stands to give a fillip to the medical value tourism.

The bad infrastructure is like Achilles’ heel of the country, he added.

Ashish BhatiaEchoing similar sentiments, Ashish Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer(COO) of the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre Limited, New Delhi, asserted that India had all the ingredients of emerging as a major medical value tourism centre.

Besides reasonable cost of medicare, high-quality equipment, highly qualified doctors and trained paramedical staff made India the perfect destination for the medical value tourism.

Ashish Bhatia

However, India needed to get its marketing strategy right to vie with big third world players, including Singapore, Thailand and the UAE.

The attempts by certain unscrupulous hospitals to employ touts for fetching patients would only bring a bad name to the country and seriously mar country’s chances of emerging as a leading medical value tourism destination, he asserted.

With more and more hospitals, including the Fortis and the Grewal Eye Institute, getting the internationally accepted JCI certification, the patients would naturally flock to these centres for advanced medicare.


Sukhbir, Iqbal Singh, SGPC chief hold closed-door meeting
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
In a significant development, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, chief, Damdami Taksal, and Avtar Singh, SGPC chief held a closed-door meeting at Nanaksar Dera in New Delhi today.

Talking to The Tribune, Giani Iqbal Singh said it was agreed in principle to form a seven-member high-powered committee, including jathedars of all five Takhts to bring about Panthic unity on the Nanakshahi calendar.

The meeting also resolved that a consensus would be evolved to work out a uniform Sikh maryada which should be implemented by all five Takhts and different factions of the Sant Samaj.

To give a practical shape to the proposals, as agreed upon by Sukhbir, the SGPC, the Damdami Taksal and the SAD, a meeting of the Sikh clergy is likely to be held here on February 13. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, who is currently on a religious tour to France, would call the meeting after his return on February 12.

Sources pointed out that the meeting lasted for more than 2 hours. Jathedar Iqbal Singh briefed the SGPC chief and Sukhbir on issues causing Panthic controversies .

Jathedar, Patna Sahib, reportedly told the SAD chief that it was Jathedar Vedanti who had decided not to invite him to the meeting of Sikh high priests held at Akal Takht recently. However, the SAD chief assured him that he would ensure that all jathedars were invited for the meetings of Akal Takht. The two granthis of the Golden Temple would also be involved in framing a uniform maryada.


Pingalwara Complex
100-yr-old trees cut to make way for rooms
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
The Pingalwara Society here today received flak from the general public and various social organisations for axing more than 100-year-old trees in the Pingalwara complex. The society has chopped four trees, including a peepal and a banyan, in the front courtyard of the complex for constructing waiting rooms for donors of the charitable society.

Some of the leading NGOs and social workers associated with the society said they were shocked that the very institution which had launched a campaign for planting trees to make the environment clean, besides establishing a nursery of its own at the Mannawala complex and other areas, were brutally cutting century-old trees. They said these trees had heritage value for the esteemed institution. Even some of the employees who had been associated with the society for the past couple of decades were shocked over the decision of the society.

However, Padma Shri Inderjit Kaur, president of the society, said due to scarcity of space in the complex the trees had to be cut to make way for the rooms. She said there was pressure on the society for constructing the rooms as the NRIs who had generously donated funds for the institution wanted that there should be some place where they could take rest after travelling from far-off places. She said the society had a nursery of its own and distributed more than 50,000 plants every year. She added that she too felt pained at the felling of the trees.

But social activists opined that instead of cutting the trees, the society should have converted the present dispensary for the stay of the donors and shifted the dispensary to the backyard of the complex by constructing a new building.


Uniform relief for damaged crop okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The Punjab Cabinet today approved to grant uniform rate of relief for the loss of crops due to water logging or floods between 2002 and 2007 at the fixed rate of Rs.1000 per acre per crop.

Disclosing this here today a spokesman for the Punjab government said the enhancement of relief would entail additional funds to the tune of Rs.1,97,57,000 for Muktsar, Faridkot and Tarn Taran districts. It may be recalled that as a one-time package of relief for the farmers affected by the 'SEM' (Waterlogging) for which earlier an amount of Rs.2.41 crore had been sanctioned.

The Cabinet also decided to accord ex-post facto approval to the amended memorandum of understanding and also to acquire and transfer 304.04 acres of land (instead of 300 acres approved earlier) to the joint venture (JV) company for the development of international civil terminal at Mohali and also accord its approval for the acquisition of land required for the approach roads to be separately notified for acquisition by the department of housing and urban development.

Further the Cabinet approved the summoning of the Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from February 29 to March 26 instead of February 25 to March 19, 2008 as approved earlier. The session would now begin with Governor's Address on February 29. The Cabinet also authorized the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to finalise the schedule of the Budget Session beside approving the Governor's Address.

The Cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval for relaxation in guidelines of Punjab nirman programme for signing a memorandum of understanding with Naandi Foundation for supply of potable water in the Gidderbaha area.

The Cabinet also approved the amendment in section 18 (1) (i) of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 through the introduction of bill in the forthcoming session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The basic objective of the amendment is to enhance the minimum period of tenancy from six years to10 years in case of tenant of a land owner other than a small land owner, who has been in continuous occupation of land comprise in his tenancy.

Further the Cabinet approved amending section 1, 2, 5 and 45 of Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995 and rules 10 and 14 of Punjab Apartment and Property Regulations Rules, 1995 through the introduction of the bill in the forthcoming session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The Cabinet also approved the audit reports, Finance Accounts and Appropriation Accounts for the year 2006-07, besides making amendment in the Punjab Revenue Patwaris (Class-III) services rules, 1966. 


20 pc have left farming, claims Capt
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 8
Expressing concern over a large number of farmers abandoning cultivation as their mainstay of life, Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh here today said that more than 20 per cent of the cultivators had stopped farming in the state.

He said the ever-increasing input costs and reduced earning were forcing farmers to opt out of farming and adopt other trades.

Demanding a relief package for the state peasantry, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the sudden decline in the number of farmers in the state was fast attaining an alarming proportion and immediate corrective measures should be initiated by the union government to check this trend.

He rued that the union government was doing little for the state farmers even as it was doling out funds for states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Captain Singh said although the Centre had assured some funds for the state, so far there had been no concrete development in this regard.

The minister claimed that the state government and the Cooperatives Department, in particular, had initiated steps to rescue the farming community.

He said the department was promoting dairy farming in a big way, besides working on a project for cultivation, procurement and marketing of vegetables on a large scale. He said the work for the food processing park at Ludhiana was going on and a plant for basmati rice was being set up at Nawanshahr. 


Mittal for inquiry into sale of village common lands
Tribune News Service

Nangal, February 8
Former minister and senior BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal has demanded an inquiry into the sale of village common lands in Anandpur Sahib subdivision in the past five-year Congress rule.

He alleged that in the past five years, hundreds of acres common land had been sold by influential persons with connections.

Mittal has sought details from the district administration under the Right to Information (RTI).

Talking to The Tribune he alleged that village common lands were left by major land owners for common purposes. Now population of villages was increasing and so was the need for common land for collective purposes. However, ironically in the past five years, the village common lands had been transferred in the name of influential land owners on the pretext that these were now not needed for common use in villages.

Mittal also alleged that common lands had been transferred in the name of private owners in violation of Supreme Court orders. He said after acquiring information from the district authorities, he would write to the government to convert back the common lands in question back in the name of panchayats.


Cars running on LPG to be checked
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 8
Additional deputy commissioner (ADC) Dr Indu Malhotra today asked the district transport officer (DTO) to check all cars being run on the LPG in the district to tackle its shortage.

She also asked all SDMs of the district to check the LPG agencies in their respective areas. She gave these directions while presiding over a meeting of the district grievances redressal committee here. The directions were issued in view of the alleged sale of LPG refills on the black market and to regularise the supply of the LPG cylinders to the consumers in a proper manner.

At the meeting, district president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra alleged that in the black market, refills of the LPG were easily available at Rs 500 instead of Rs 300, while genuine consumers had been facing problems in getting the LPG supply. On this, the ADC ordered the district food and supply controller (DFSC) to investigate the matter.


No going back on Khalsa march: KAC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
“Come what may, Khalsa march will be taken out at Salabatpura (Bathinda), as per schedule on February 10”, said Bhai Mohkam Singh, convener, Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), while talking to The Tribune from an undisclosed place here today .

Dal Khalsa secretary general Kanwarpal Singh, who was with the KAC, said their activists would clear all hurdles, being created by the state government. They alleged that their houses in Amritsar were raided by the police.

They also appealed to the Sikh clergy to join the proposed protest march since they had announced the same in the wake of the directive issued from Akal Takht to oppose the activities of self-styled Sikh sants.

The KAC chief said it was unfortunate that the state police had ordered a crackdown on all those who had been opposing the activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.


Father, 3 sons await death for over four years
President fails to spare time to dispose of mercy petitions
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
Piara Singh (70) and his three sons, lodged in the high-security Central Jail here for the past about 17 years, await death every morning and sleep with a fear that the next morning will be their last.

The reason: their mercy petition has been pending in the office of the President of India since August 11, 2003. For the past over four years, the President has not been able to spare time to dispose of their petitions.

While all developed countries in the world have either done away with the capital punishment or innovated some measures to give a peaceful death to condemned prisoners, the Central government has not been able to work out such procedures even after 61 years of Independence. Senior legal luminaries are of the view that the President of India should not take more than six months to dispose of such petitions.

Earlier, Swarn Kaur (78), who had lost 13 members of her family, including an unborn child, had threatened to commit suicide, along with her remaining family members, in front of the President of India over suggestions of scrapping of death sentence to Piara Singh and his three sons Sabjeet Singh, Satnam Singh and Gurdev Singh. They are now lodged in the high-security cell as “condemned prisoners”.

It may be mentioned here that 18 persons (13 of Swarn Kaur’s family) were gunned down in an indiscriminate firing at Bhaini Baserke village, near Amritsar, in November,1991. Piara Singh and his sons had carried out the attack in retaliation of the killing of their family members.

While Piara Singh and his son Sarbjeet were brought to the local jail on November 26, 1991, they were awarded death sentence by the District and Sessions Judge on January 15, 1996. However, two other sons of Piara Singh Nihang were brought to the jail in 1996 and given death sentence in 2001. The High Court and the Supreme Court had dismissed their petitions, challenging the death sentence in 1996, 2001 and 2003.


Bus terminus at Amritsar inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
The newly constructed inter-state bus terminal at Amritsar named after Shaheed Madal Lal Dhingra was inaugurated by Punjab transport minister Master Mohan Lal today.

The bus terminal has been made handicapped-friendly, with separate toilets for physically challenged. Wheelchairs and ramps have also been provided for barrier-free movement inside the bus terminal.

Speaking at the function, Master Mohan Lal said 19 of the total 32 bus stands in the state had been equipped with modern facilities and work was on to upgrade all of them to provide better facilities.


Health workers to get incentives
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
The state government would give incentives to the health workers who inform the health department about drug abuse and female foeticide in their respective areas.

Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state health minister, announced this at a function held here today to distribute certificates to 750 health workers of the three border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran.

Chawla said those health workers who provide information about drugs and synthetic milk being sold in the state would be given Rs 1,100 and Rs 2,100, respectively.

She said these workers, besides working as health workers, would also provide information about the illegal activities being run in various parts of the state.

Some health workers from Gurdaspur district, who found their names missing from the list, protested against the decision of the health authorities in selecting the candidates. They lodged their protest when Chawla was distributing the certificates. They alleged that the health authorities had called them to join the function, as their names had been included in the list. However, they were shocked to find their names missing later.

The health minister was able to pacify them by announcing that 750 more health workers were to be recruited during the coming days and the list was being finalised by the health authorities and assured them that the names of the deserving candidates would be considered.

A play was also staged by local artistes, led by Gurinder Makna, to create awareness on drug abuse and foeticide.


Compassionate Appointments in PCS
HC asks Punjab for synopsis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Taking up a matter pertaining to the appointment of PCS officers on compassionate grounds, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked Punjab to prepare a synopsis of seven such cases mentioning extraordinary circumstances “which compelled the state to give compassionate appointments”.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court on an appeal filed by “PCS officer” Vinay Bublani, a high court Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, also asked for the memorandums submitted before the Cabinet in the matter.

In the appeal, scheduled to come up for further hearing on March 27, Bublani had challenged the orders of a single judge dated November 8, 2006, vide which certain appointments on compassionate grounds were quashed, “being contrary to the Punjab Civil Services (executive branch, class-I) Rules, 1976”. A direction was also given to absorb them elsewhere as per their entitlement under the relevant instructions.

The appellant had claimed that he was appointed to the PCS after his father Hari Om Bublani was shot by the militants in April 1991. Going into the background of the matter, the appellant had contended that the council of ministers took a decision to offer appointments to him and others as their parents had sacrificed their lives.

Subsequently, the Punjab Public Service Commission issued advertisement on June 19, 1993, for 18 posts to PCS (executive branch), along with 46 posts of allied services. After the writ petitioner, Naresh Dubey, was selected, he filed a petition, which was allowed by the single judge in November, 2006.

It might be recalled that the single judge, taking up a review petition, had observed: “I am of the opinion that there is no ground to review judgement dated November 8, 2006. At the time of rendering the judgement, the government records relating to all the appointees were perused and it was noticed that the cases of all the appointees had emanated from the assurances given by the functionaries of the state and appointments were given without adhering to the relevant rules.”


Teachers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 8
Activists of the Sarkari School Sikhiya Bachao Manch held a dharna in front of the deputy commissioner office complex here today against the alleged anti-people education policies of the state government and in favour of the demands of teachers.

The dharna was addressed among others by district president of the Democratic Teachers Front Tarsem Lal, district president of the ETT Teachers Union Sukhvir Singh. The protesters also submitted a memo to the assistant commissioner (General) Amandeep Bansal.


Man caught smuggling drugs to addict son in jail
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
In probably the biggest-ever attempt to smuggle narcotics in a jail, a resident of Katari village in Payal subdivision was caught supplying as many as 10,000 tablets used as intoxicants to his drug addict son, who is facing trial in several cases of snatching and robbery.

While parents generally seek to keep children away from drugs, the accused, Jagtar Singh, allegedly modified two 15-kg tins to smuggle 10,000 tablets into the jail.

Jagtar Singh emptied the two tins and placed one into the other. He filled the space at the bottom of the first tin with the tablets. In the second tin, eatables and desi ghee were kept in small jars.

Deputy superintendent, Jails, V. K. Khanna said the man was caught when an unusual sound of came from the tin after it was emptied during checking. A closer investigation exposed the modification.

The police has booked Jagtar under the Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act on the complaint of jail superintendent Kuldip Singh.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |