P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Lalu agrees, railway stations to be upgraded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
Union railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav today agreed to create world-class railway infrastructure in Punjab by upgrading railway stations and constructing over and underbridges in the state. Yadav gave an assurance to this effect to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in New Delhi.

Badal urged the railway minister for the raising and re-modelling of 17 submerged railway bridges in Muktsar, Ferozepur and Bathinda districts.

Badal also raised the conversion of cattle crossing gate at Biring Khera village in Lambi block of Muktsar district into a manned railway crossing gate. He assured Yadav that the state government was willing to deposit Rs 1.2 crore.

He also demanded the Gidderbaha railway underbridge from Malout be remodelled on priority as funds had already been deposited by the state government with the Ministry of Railways. Badal also pointed out that the construction of railway overbridge in Gidderbaha should be cleared by the Railway Ministry as the state government was ready to bear 100 per cent expenditure of this project besides execution of this project on its own. He also asked Yadav to set up a railway station at Daula village in Gidderbaha block in 
Muktsar district.

The Chief Minister also impressed upon Yadav to approve a tourist luxury train in the state. The state had already deposited Rs 3 crore out of total share of Rs 13 crore for it. He asked the union railway minister to direct the Railway Board for signing an MoU in this regard as per earlier terms and conditions of 50:50 sharing between the state government and the Ministry of Railways.

Badal also urged Yadav to set up gradation of railway stations of Jalandhar and Ludhiana as per international standard.

Badal requested Yadav to direct the Freight Corridor Corporation of India to decide location of logistics parks on the Ludhiana-Ambala section. He also demanded a railway lines from Tarn Taran to Goindwal, Rama Mandi to Maur Mandi . For these projects survey has already been conducted by the Ministry of Railways. Likewise Patti-Amritsar-Khemkaran-Malanwal (Ferozepur-Jalandhar) line should be provided with altrnative routs from Delhi-Bathinda- Amritsar-Jammu.

Badal urged Yadav to sanction a rail- road bridge on Sutlej at Makhu on the Ferozepur-Jalandhar section. He also sought approval for the construction on both sides of the railway lines. He also demanded sanction of railway under bridge at Anaj Mandi in Kurali of SAS Nagar (Mohali). The Chief Minister sought Yadav’s intervention for early clearance of the proposal for the construction of 18 railway bridges in different districts of the state for smooth movement of vehicular traffic at 
railway crossings.


Bhindranwale continues to stoke political fire
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
The ghost of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale continues to haunt Punjab. Several years after accepting that he is no more, he continues to kindle Punjab’s political fire. On his birth anniversary that falls on February 12, political elements in the state want to use him to draw attention.

The Shiv Sena (Hindustan) that had opposed the putting up of his portrait at the Sikh Museum in the Golden Temple complex has now given a call to observe his birth anniversary as anti-terrorist day. On the other hand, the SAD (A) is inviting people to come to Fatehgarh Sahib to celebrate his birthday. All this has became a cause for concern for the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, forcing SAD president Sukhbir Badal to issue statements saying that there is no fear of revival of militancy in the state.

On the contrary, SAD and BJP leaders are alarmed at the rising incidents of violence having a direct bearing on militancy. It started with the recovery of RDX near Jalandhar shortly before the state elections and continued in the form of attack on the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda. It is the Shingaar blast and the recent attack on Dera chief that has caused the alarm bells to ring among the security forces.

The real cause of concern for the Punjab Police are the major terrorist attacks during the past one year of the SAD-BJP rule. Though most of the people do not think that militancy will revive, political observers who do not wish to come on record say this is simply wishful thinking as every ingredient that was available for militancy to spark then is available now too.

Though it may be politically unwise for the SAD-BJP alliance to acknowledge the lurching threat from terrorism, it will perhaps be prudent to debate the issue in the forthcoming Budget session.


Damage to hoarding resented
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 9
Resentment prevails among activists and members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) over the vandalism of a hoarding of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by unknown persons here last night. The board was put up at a chowk, in front of city police station, by the SAD (A) in connection with the birthday of Bhindranwale to be celebrated at Fatehgarh Sahib on February 12.

In an application to the police here, SAD (A) office-bearers have stated that a board, regarding birthday of Bhindranwale, had been put up at the Barra Chowk, which had been damaged by some miscreants to disturb peace. They also expressed apprehension that some Hindu organisations wanted to disturb peace in the town. They demanded an inquiry into the incident.

General secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh said here today that the board of Sant Bhindranwale had been damaged under a “conspiracy” to disturb peace in the state. He said it was a matter of concern that the board had been damaged in front of the main gate of the local city police station where policemen were on duty round the clock.

Alloarkh said they had given an application to the SHO to initiate action against “erring” persons.


Cong raps govt for power crisis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
The Punjab Congress has condemned the SAD-BJP government for “failing to provide adequate power supply in the state”. Former minister and Congress spokesperson Jagmohan Singh Kang said the ruling alliance had failed to live up to its promise of 24-hour power supply.

He said agriculture and industrial sectors were facing huge power shortage and there was unprecedented short supply in cities and villages.

He also pointed out the DO letter written to the Punjab government by union power minister Sushil Shinde pointing out the deteriorating fiscal condition of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and expressing concern over accumulated fiscal loss of Rs 6,500 crore and debt burden of Rs 10,000 crore. 


Cong leaders flay Majithia’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
The Congress today came down heavily on Punjab’s information and public relations minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia for “childish and immature utterances” against the Congress and inviting the opposition to join the SAD-BJP alliance in the “Punjabi rally” to be held in Delhi later this month.

Taking a serious view of the minister’s statement at public functions, senior Congress leaders, including Lal Singh, Tej Parkash and Partap Singh Bajwa, said the Congress was a secular party having an independent identity with a long history of sacrifices and committed to the welfare of people of Punjab. On the contrary, SAD-BJP are communal parties having double standards who are more worried and concerned about the SGPC affairs in Haryana than the welfare of the farmers and public of Punjab, they said.

They said the Congress had always safeguarded the rights of farmers, Dalits and the common man and always been highlighting their demands and plight from time to time. They said rather Akalis should join hands with the Congress for presenting the case of Punjab farmers to the UPA government at the Centre instead of indulging in such political gimmicks.

They stressed that the Akalis were in the habit of putting the blame of their failures, mismanagement and misgovernance on the union government to divert people’s attention.

The Congress leaders said instead of training guns at the Centre, the SAD-BJP government should set its own house in order, which was crumbling because of unprecedented financial crunch. Within a short span of one year, the SAD- BJP government has brought the state to the brink of financial bankruptcy. Land prices had crumbled, no new projects were forthcoming, atta-daal scheme was a total failure, law and order had taken backseat and there was extreme power shortage in the state, besides many other hiccups. 


Khalsa Action Committee March
Tight security at Salabatpura
Tribune News Service

Bhai Rupa (Bathinda),February 9
To avoid any untoward incident during the proposed march of the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) in villages adjoining Salabatpura, the headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Punjab, the police today stepped up security arrangements by deploying commandos and riot-control vehicles in the area.

Despite tight security arrangements, members of the KAC said they were determined to hold the march to demand the arrest of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

Security personnel have been deployed in villages Gumti, Jalal, Dialpura Bhai ka, Kangar, Adampura, Saide ke, Alkade, Jangiana and Ghanda Banna from where the march is supposed to pass through.

Bhai Rupa village, from where the march is scheduled to start, has heavy police presence and Mansarovar Gurdwara in the village, where the akhand path by KAC activists is going on, has been cordoned off by armed cops.

The areas surrounding the dera headquarters at Salabatpura have been sealed and even media persons were not allowed entry today.

Residents of Bhai Rupa disclosed that members of KAC had requested the main gurdwara in the village to hold the akhand path, but it was refused. The path was then organised at Mansarovar Gurdwara. Residents also pointed out that they had nothing to do with the march.

Bahadur Singh, president, gurdwara committee, said they had been requested to organise the path, which they had done. “We are not involved in the march,” he said.


PACL Disinvestment
Workers back privatisation
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 9
The privatisation of government organisations is generally opposed tooth and nail by government employees working there. But in the case of Punjab Alkalis and Chemicals Ltd (PACL) unit at Nangal it is different. 

The Punjab government had recently announced its decision to sell it. About 500 employees of the organisation have welcomed the government move. They had in recent past written to the government to privatise the unit.

However, the employees have demanded that the unit should be sold to some good corporate house. The government should identify the buyer who can efficiently manage and run the unit for the welfare of employees.

The decision of the employees to welcome private sector is influenced by the fate of other public sector units of the state government. Just adjoining to the PACL are the ruins of the Punjab National Fertilisers Ltd. It was under government control and was closed due to accumulating losses and no diversification at the appropriate time. All retrenched workers are waiting for dues while the unit has been sold to some junk dealer. The decision to sell it has, however, been stayed by court.

The fate of Punwire, another public sector unit, was no different.

The PACL unit at Nangal produces caustic acid and chlorine gas using salt and water as raw materials. While salt is imported from Gujarat and Rajasthan water is available in abundance at Nangal from the Sutlej. Uninterrupted power supply is also available to the unit under agreement with the government. However, while the private units producing similar products are minting profit, the government-controlled unit here has minimum profits.

The workers here blame it on bureaucratic management of the unit and lack of modernisation. They want the management of the unit to go into private hands instead of facing a similar fate like that of workers of other government-run public sector units.

The government move to privatise the unit has, however, evoked sharp reaction from the Opposition. Congress MLA from Nangal K.P.S. Rana said the unit was now running into profit.

The government instead of privatising the unit should improve its management to ensure profits, he said and expressed apprehension that the government would try to sell the unit to some politically connected person. 


Some Health Bytes
‘Panjiri’ to expectant moms blamed for stroke 
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 9
‘Panjiri’, the special diet made with desi ghee and given to expectant mothers in Punjab, is believed to be one of the factors leading to stroke. This was highlighted on the second day of the third national congress of the Indian Stroke Association here today.

Dr Ashok Uppal, director, Uppal Neuro Hospital, and organising secretary of the association said the incidence of “venus stroke” caused by high-fat “panjiri” was high among pregnant women and the number of patients was on the rise.

“Under pressure from family and relatives, pregnant women often take an overdose of ‘panjiri’, which is made with ghee and dry fruits. This leads to thickening of blood, increasing chances of blood clot, which eventually results in paralysis,” he said.

Instead of focusing on a high fat diet, pregnant women should instead include the right proportions of proteins and vitamins in their diet at all stages of pregnancy to avoid occurrence of stroke, he advised.

Experts from India and abroad pointed out 85 per cent of stroke cases were preventable, provided patients s follow a healthy lifestyle. Once the problem starts, it is crucial to reach a proper medical set up in time so that the clot is dissolved in brain to stop damage.

Dr P.K. Sethi, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, said though risk factors for both haemorrhage and stroke were the same, still it was not clear when and how to prescribe anticoagulants and antiplatelets to patients in haemorrohagic stroke. Clear guidelines are lacking regarding who are the candidates to be prescribed the same.

Dr V.K.Misra from Sanjay Gandhi PGI, Lucknow, said patients of paralysis admitted to stroke ICU could get benefit if pressure in brain was reduced by osmotherapy.

Dr P.M.Dalal said India would soon have to bear enormous socio-economic burden due to rehabilitation of stroke survivors, because population was now surviving through peak years in the age of 55-56 years. Community surveys from many regions show crude prevelance rate of stroke in the range of 90-222 per 1,00,000 persons.

More than 50 neurologists, neuro-surgeons, neuro radiologists and neuro intensivists from India and abroad are taking part in the conference.

Dr Majaz Moonis, director, Stroke Services, Worcester (USA), explained how to diagnose stroke with limited resources in rural areas.


Radioisotopes prime source of cancer treatment: N-scientist
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 9
India being one of the world leaders in isotopes and radiation technology has been applying this programme to industry, health, research and daily life. In health care, particularly in cancer, it is the prime source of treatment. 

Dental, breast cancer and cervical cases are also treated using radioisotopes. Myth and fear about nuclear energy have to be dispelled from the public mind and this can be achieved via awareness programmes.

Nuclear scientist Dr A.K. Kohli, chief executive, Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT), Mumbai, stated this while inaugurating the two-day national seminar and exhibition on applications of radioisotopes and radiation technology at the Guru Nanak Bhawan auditorium of Guru Nanak Dev University here on Thursday.

The seminar was held under the aegis of the Department of Physics of the university in collaboration with the National Association for Applications of Radioisotopes and Radiation in Industry (NAARI), Mumbai, and the Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT), Mumbai, and sponsored by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Mumbai, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Mumbai, and the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Mumbai.

Kohli said another exceptional technique position emission tomography called PET had now been introduced which enabled molecular imaging. It helped not only in identifying cancer in early stages, but when used along with computed tomography, helped in accurately localising tumour.

Leakage/blockage detection in underground pipelines had been utilised at many places using radiotracers. Sterilisation of medical products by radiation was another application showing full potential.

He said India was the largest producer of mangoes in the world and 40 per cent of the world’s choicest mangoes were produced in the country. Last year USDA-APHIS accepted radiation processing as quarantine treatment of mangoes. This had enabled India to start the export of mangoes to the USA after 18 years and opened up many opportunities for those interested in setting up radiation processing plants and for mango exporters.

Dr P.J. Chandy, honorary secretary, and R. Parekh, vice-president, NAARI, Mumbai, highlighted the importance of application of radiation technology in daily and medical treatment. They also desired to collaborate with different institutions of national repute to make people aware of this scientific field.

An exhibition highlighting advancement in the field of radiation technology was inaugurated by Kohli.


Electro-homoeopathic course not approved: Minister
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 9
Punjab minister for medical education and research Tikshan Sud has stated that the institutes running electro-homoeopathic courses and treatment centres in Punjab were not approved by the government.

The minister was talking to The Tribune following a function at the Fortis hospital. He added that those running such centres had approached the government for approval, but no final decision had been taken. “These centres are not functioning with the consent of the government,” he said.

When asked about the steps being taken by the government to improve the quality of nursing education in the state, the minister said the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration had been asked to survey the demand for nurses from Punjab and suggest accordingly. He said the government had issued no objection certificates (NOCs) to many institutes to start nursing courses. “But we would ensure that these institutes impart quality education. We are also encouraging students from other states to come to Punjab and take admission here,” he said.

When pointed out that the Akali-BJP-led government in the state had issued NOCs to institutes without the requisite approval of the Indian Nursing Council (INC) and in come cases even without the affiliation of the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, the minister shot back, “The matter is in the court and I would not like to comment on it.”

Tribune readers would recall that in a controversial decision, the department of medical education and research had issued NOCs to many institutes to run BSc and post-basic BSc nursing courses in the state. These institutes neither had the affiliation of the university nor the approval of the INC. When the decision was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab government took the stand that nursing institutes in Punjab did not require INC approval.

“INC approval is required only if nurses from Punjab want to work in other states,” said the minister, defending the controversial decision of his department.

When asked if this stand of the government amounted to taking nursing students for a ride who would not be able to take up jobs in other states or abroad, the minister’s repeated response was that the matter was sub-judice and he did not want to talk about it.

In response to a question regarding the online conduct of the pre-medical entrance test (PMET), the minister said all efforts were on to conduct PMT online this year. “But in case we are not able to conduct the test this year, it would be definitely conducted online from next year onwards,” he said.


Community Reserves
‘Implement Act effectively’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 9
Welcoming the Punjab government’s notification to declare the Kathlaur Kaushalya Wildlife Sanctuary, Keshopur Chhamb Community Reserve in Gurdaspur district and Lalwan Community Reserve in Hoshiarpur as protected areas, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage said there was a need to properly implement the provisions of the existing Act.

Dr Sukhdev Singh, state convener of the trust, said the Punjab Human Rights Commission’s notice to the Punjab Pollution Control Board on discharge of sewage and industrial waste into the Sutlej near Ludhiana was also commendable. However, he added, that the way the wetlands already protected under the law were totally neglected was a cause for concern.


Class VIII social science syllabus changed
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 9
The Punjab School Education Board has changed the social science syllabus of Class VIII. The new syllabus will be implemented in all schools affiliated to the board from the coming session. The changed syllabus has been conceived on the basis of the national curriculum framework recommended by the Human Resource Development Department, said board chairman Dalbir Singh Dhillon.

The nod to the new syllabus was given by members of the board during a meeting held recently.

The syllabus has been modified to include a large number of current important issues. The geography section of includes a large portion on environment and energy resources. Another new addition would be a chapter on disaster management.

The history section has a segment on the role of the British in promoting education in India. While a large part of the syllabus retains the study of civilisation and related activities, students would also be learning much more of the pre-Independence India.

The members of the board also agreed to introduce Korean language as part of the scheme of studies in foreign languages offered to Class X and XII examinations. 


Strict steps to check copying, says board chairman
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
Strict steps will be taken to check copying in different examinations to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board in February, March and April this year. This was stated by board chairman Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon while talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of a function `Whehra Shaguna Da’ organised by Lyallpur Khalsa Collegiate Senior Secondary School here today.

Instead of staff of schools, the services of principals and lecturers of different colleges would be taken for checking the menace of copying and they would be made superintendents of examination centres and members of flying squads, he added.

Further, the district administration would also be asked to provide help by imposing Section 144, CrPC, in and around examination centres to check movement of outsiders near the centres. The district administration would also be asked to randomly check different centres and send a daily report to board head office, he said.

Dr Dhillon said semester system would be introduced in some of the classes from the next 2008-09 session.

He said the services of some private companies would be hired for preparing and distributing certificates and detailed marks of class V.

Earlier at the function, five meritorious students of different classes Roopdeep Kaur, Manu Puri, Sunil Kumar, Ravleen Kaur and Jasmeet Kaur were honoured.

While Dr Dhillon was the chief guest, the vice-president of Lyallpur Khalsa Educational Institutions Chanan Singh Chitti presided over the function.


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