P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


3 held for plot to attack dera chief
Are part of gang targeting NRIs
Tribune Reporters

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 14
The district police today nabbed three persons for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to attack chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Though the three had been arrested on charges of being involved in various crimes, their recent activities have led the police to suspect that they could be conspiring to attack the dera chief.

The SSP, Dr Kaustubh Sharma, said the police was carrying out an investigation to ascertain the exact intent of the three persons who had reportedly been motivating people against the dera chief. The three had been identified as Inderjit Singh, a resident of Bassi Pathana, Jaswant Singh and Gurdeep Singh, alias Tinku, of Kharar. The three are members of a gang of contract killers and robbers and are facing various criminal charges.

Though the three were arrested under the charges of robbing a local businessman and possessing illegal weapons, the police said it was possible that the gang was carrying out criminal activities to collect funds for an attack on the dera chief. The matter is still being investigated, Dr Sharma said.

The SSP said the police had secured a three-day remand of the three accused and they were being interrogated. Meanwhile, it was learnt that Jaswant Singh, who worked is a driver of a school bus, had recently been nominated president of a local gurdwara, following which he became quite vocal against the dera chief. He had even started giving “siropas” (robe of honours) to motivate people against the dera chief, the police said.

Jaswant was a drug addict and had been spending huge amounts of money on drugs despite the fact that he was drawing a salary of Rs 3,200. The SSP said the credentials of the other two were being verified.

The three had been arrested by a police team on the basis of a tip-off. They were riding a motorcycle when the police arrested them near Nandpur Kalaur village. The police recovered two 315 calibre revolvers and a 12 caliber pistol from their possession.

The three have confessed to having robbed at least 17 persons in and around the district. They also admitted that they had accepted a supari for killing an NRI and kidnapping a person from Nabha.

Bassi Pathana: Superintendent of police (D) Samsher Singh Boparai said the gang members had struck a deal with an NRI based in Belgium to eliminate his partner in India.

They had conducted a recce of the area in Balachaur where their target lived. Their plan to eliminate the NRI failed as he fell ill and got admitted in a private hospital in Chandigarh.

The gang had also struck a deal with another NRI in Australia to kidnap a resident of Gurditpura village, near Nabha, and to get certain papers signed from him. They had got advance in both deals and were to strike soon. They had been awarded a contract to kill a villager, living in an area near Ambala. He had a land dispute with the person who had hired the killers. The gang was to get 6 acres in lieu of contract money. 


SAD, Cong to vie on cricket field
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 14
Political rivalry between the Shiromini Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress will now show in the playground. But this time instead of fighting over political issues, they will compete for a noble cause. On March 15, teams of the SAD and the Congress, comprising their members of Parliament (MPs) and MLAs, will take on each other in the shortest version Twenty20 cricket match to help disabled sportspersons of the state.

The match, being organised by Paraolympic Committee of Punjab (PCP), will be held at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here.

The teams will be led by their respective party presidents — Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who is also president of the PCP, said, “yes, the match between the two major political parties has been scheduled next month as we got the nod of the parties’ chiefs, who will be the non -playing skippers of the teams”.

“The funds, being raised during the match will be spent on the welfare of handicapped sportspersons of the state. Besides, we will try to provide the sports facilities as well as infrastructure for these players”, said Sippy Sidhu, secretary- general of the PCP.

Apart from political bigwigs, the organisers are trying to rope in some to Bollywood stars along with sportspersons to be present on the occasion. “Talks are on with Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Jimmy Shergill, Kapil Dev, Shoaib Akhtar, Bishen Singh Bedi and others”, said Sidhu.

The commentators will be Jaspal Bhatti and Bhagwant Mann. The teams are yet to be finalised”, said Sidhu. 


Moga Sex Scandal
Victims allege corruption by senior cops
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
If reliance is placed on the assertions of victims in the Moga sex scam, senior police functionaries not only demanded money in accordance with the implicated person’s status, but also haggled over amounts.

Among the drawn in were not just jewellers, but also a sportsperson. Money was also charged, to help a neighbour out, from a political leader owing allegiance to the ruling party.

One of the implicated jewellers claimed that he was asked to leave the city by an acquaintance after informing him about his name’s appearance in the sex scam on April 26, 2007. Though the jeweller claims he was innocent, the fear of ignominy, and the police, made him leave the city on May 8, last year.

Subsequently, he along with another person appeared in the top cop’s office where his statement was recorded. Later, a team of police officers arrested him. He was produced in court the next day and remanded to judicial custody. He further claims his father, subsequently, informed him that a deal had been clinched with another senior police functionary through a relative for Rs 6 lakh and the money was to be delivered on May 23, 2007. The money was handed over to the relative; and an application was submitted. Three days later one of the girls allegedly involved in the scam submitted an affidavit in his favour and he was released, the jeweller asserted, adding he had never seen the girl earlier.

The jeweller’s relative, a goldsmith, has added that on May 14, last year, he came to know about the arrest. The implicated person’s father requested him to extend help in the matter. As he had cordial relations with the senior police functionary, he was able to clinch a deal.

In the other mater, a political leader has also stated that he was informed about the whisking away of a neighbour, who was also a goldsmith. On the request of the goldsmith’s family, he called a cop and was told that one of the girls had filed a complaint against the accused. As the matter was serious, he was asked to talk to the senior police officer.

After calling him to his office, the officer assured him of taking appropriate action after initiating an inquiry. The goldsmith, after reaching home later, told him that a false complaint was filed after he had refused to give one of the girls gold articles on credit. Afterwards, the senior police officer told him categorically that the matter could be solved if he was ready to pay up.

The leader asserted that he told the officer he was against illegal gratification. But after the goldsmith’s relative insisted that self-respect was more important than money they compelled him to go to the police officer again, where Rs 5 lakh were demanded. After he told the officer that the goldsmith could not afford that much, the officer said he would not accept a single penny less than Rs 3 lakh.

Afterwards, Rs 2.50 lakh were handed overt to him. On request, he kept the amount, but two days later called up to demand Rs 10,000 more. The money was paid and since then the police have not called up the goldsmith, he further added.


Shahpur Kandi to be treated as national project
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The water resources ministry’s proposal on national projects has been cleared by the Cabinet, with the government deciding to provide grant to the extent of 90 per cent of the cost of these projects.

Fourteen projects, including Shapur Kandi in Punjab, will be treated as national projects.The government has also decided to provide financial assistance to projects which had spilled over from the 10th Plan and new projects taken up in 11th Plan under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programmes (AIBP) with a total outlay of Rs 43,700 crore.

Water resources minister Saiffudin Soz said here that three national projects, including Shahpur Kandi, are “ongoing” and had faced paucity of funds or technical assistance. Teesta Barrage and Gosikund in Maharashtra are other two ongoing projects which will get 90 per cent funds from the Centre.Most of the projects declared national are in North India.

These include Bursar on Chenab, second Ravi Beas Link, Ujh multipurpose project, Gypsa project on Chenab, Lakshar Vyasi on Yamuna, Kishau on a tributary of Yamuna, Renuka in Yamuna basin and Ken Betwa river linking project.

The projects in the north-east include Noa-Dehang Dam project and Upper Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and Kulsa Dam project in Assam. The cost of the national projects, which will have benefits of irrigation, power and storage, has been estimated at Rs 53,200 crore.

Asked about the absence of southern states from the list of national projects, Soz said the projects had been approved under a laid-down criteria and the ministry was open to getting more proposals if these confirmed to the norms.

Spelling out the three-point criteria for projects to be treated as national, he said these could be international projects where usage of water in the country was required by a treaty or where planning and early completion of the project was necessary in the interest of the country. Inter-state projects including those related to inter-linking which were pending due to issues relating to sharing of cost, rehabilitation and power production could also be treated as national projects. Besides, intra-state projects with additional potential of more than 2,00,000 hectares and with no dispute regarding sharing of water can also fall in this category.

An inter-ministerial steering committee will be formed to monitor these projects and decide on inclusion of new projects.

Soz said the Cabinet’s decision would help to augment irrigation facilities in the country and to achieve the targets under Bharat Nirman. He said some of the projects declared as national had strategic importance and added that projects of the Yamuna basin were important from viewpoint of environment, drinking water and Commonwealth Games.

Ministry officials said that projects whose disputes were pending in courts were unlikely to be decalred national projects. Besides, Shapur Kandi, which has irrigation potential of 33,000 hectares and power potential of 68 mw, the other national project in Punjab is the second Ravi-Beas Link. While Shapur Kandi involves an estimated cost of Rs 2500 crore, second Ravi-Beas link will cost Rs 1500 crore.


Cong leaders decry BJP MP for backing MNS
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, February 14
Reacting to the statement of Gurdaspur member of Parliament Vinod Khanna in which he has seconded Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's stand on 'chasing the north Indians out of Mumbai.

Senior Congress leaders, including former MLA Pathankot Raman Bhalla, have criticised Vinod Khanna saying he had been representing Punjab in Parliement while favouring the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Bhalla said Vinod Khanna should quit his post and join the MNS instead of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Vinod Khanna had brought a bad name to Punjab and to the BJP by issuing statement in favour of the Thackerays.

Vinod Khanna has supported Thackerays for their alleged involvement in attacks on north Indians in Maharashtra. He was interacting with media persons at Gurdaspur .

The statement has raised an another controversy on the role of the actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna in the state. Former MLA Pathankot Ashok Sharma and members of the District Congress Committee have also raised voice against MP Vinod Khanna.

Former member of the Punjab State Electricity Board and former MLA Pathankot, Raman Bhalla has also criticised Ashwani Kumar, union minister of state for industry for seeking end to free power sop to the farmers of Punjab.

Hoshiarpur: Former Punjab minister Naresh Thakur on Thursday condemned attacks by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists on the north Indian migrants and damage to their property in different parts of Maharashtra following which thousands of them had migrated to their states.

Thakur said it was most unfortunate MNS chief Raj Thackeray instigated his supporters to act against north Indians who were citizens of India.

Maharashtra is part of the Indian territory where people from almost all provinces had been residing and earning their livelihood.


Cong concerned over withdrawal of subsidies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Expressing concern at recent indications of stopping of free power to farm sector by the SAD-BJP government, Punjab Congress has warned such step shall be detrimental to the interests of farm economy and the agriculture sector at large.

The Congress party has taken serious note of the under-currents in the state Finance Department and the Punjab State Electricity Board exerting pressure on the government for the withdrawal of subsidies to the farmers.

Punjab Congress spokesman and former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang here today said their party felt such move would further deepen the crisis in the farm sector and already debt-ridden poor, small and marginal farmers would be the worst hit by this hasty move. He said the Punjab Congress would oppose this move of the SAD-BJP government.

Kang stressed under the prevailing circumstances the subsidies couldnot be done away with just one stroke. “We have to find out ways and means to compensate the poor farmers, as price of their produce had not increased proportionately. The compensation for farmers by on way or the other is necessitated due to consideration of the interests of the common man who has to be provided relief against the soaring prices”. He said agriculture was becoming a losing proposition as input cost had escalated multifold against the un-remunerative prices of the agricultural produce. To keep the nation self-sufficient in food we have to keep the granary full and for that the agricultural sector needs to be promoted and given priority. Instead of withdrawing the subsidies on power, the government should plug the existing loop-holes and gear-up the existing revenue collection system by efficient administration and adopting austerity measures.


No curb on quail breeding: Varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Reacting to a news-item, “Quail breeding raises hackles”, published in these columns on February 7, the public relations officer (PRO) of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, has clarified that the union ministry of environment and forest has “allowed the white form of Japanese quail for research and breeding purposes”. 

In a communication to The Tribune, the PRO has claimed that the permission for the same was granted vide a letter dated September 5, 2002, issued by S.C. Sharma, additional director-general of forests (Wild Life). A copy of the letter was sent to the chief wild life wardens of all the states and Union Territories, along with their Veterinary Departments.

The PRO has asserted that GADVASU started working on the development of white Japanese quails after receiving information in this regard. The intention was only to introduce a new bird to commercial poultry farming, but also to make quails readily available to population fond of eating its meat; discouraging in the process the hunting of wild quails.

He has added that quail meat is not only a delicacy, but also has medicinal value for some nervous disorders. It is rich in protein and minerals. Besides this, it contains vitamins and is low in cholesterol on per unit meat basis.


Big cache of discarded weapons found
Tribune News Service

Mandi Gobindgarh, February 14
The district police today recovered a huge cache of discarded weapons, believed to have arrived here along with scrap material being imported by local junk dealers from the West Asian countries.

The recovery initially triggered panic among local residents, as a large number of rifles, shells and a rocket launcher were recovered. These had been dumped along a canal near Ladpur village. The weapons were spotted by some passersby in the morning, who immediately reported the matter to the police. A team of senior officials of the district police reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

SSP Kaustubh Sharma said most of the weapons recovered appeared to be discarded that led the police to conclude that these arrived here in a scrap consignment. He said it was likely that the scrap-dealer, instead of informing the police, decided to dump the weapons near the canal to avoid questioning.

He said the police was getting the weapons examined by ballistic experts and if required, these would be sent to the Army for verification. He said no explosives of any kind had been found in the discarded weapons so far.

The weapons that had been recovered included 140 small and large weapons, most of which had been dismantled, the SSP said. A team of forensic experts also reached the spot to examine the arms.


Exclusion of 32 Acres from Scheme
Assembly probe may rope in high-ups
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Probe into the alleged scam of exclusion of 32.10 acres from a development scheme at Amritsar by a Punjab Vidhan Sabha Committee is set to snowball into embarrassment for the Congress with indications senior party leaders were aware of what was being done by then local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.

Former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, who was invited to appear before the committee with the objective of assisting it with the probe into the scam, today met the committee members and assured chairman of the committee Harish Rai Dhanda of full support and assistance. He also put before the committee all relevant record and documents he had with him before the committee, it is learnt.

Though, the proceedings of the committee are being closely guarded, but it is learnt after discussion and examining the documents, the committee decided to be prudent to move further only after they examined the original record available with the Department of Local Bodies and the Amritsar Improvement Trust. Thus, the committee has ordered the record be presented before it.

The committee has ordered all pertinent and revolving record be placed before it on its next meeting scheduled for February 18.

From preliminary perusal of the available record, it appears everybody was aware about what was going on in Punjab Local Bodies. Bir Devinder Singh has sought special permission from the Pradesh Congress president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to assist the Vidhan Sabha committee as the case pertains to allegations against a fellow Congressman.

It was on the instance of Bir Devinder Singh the scandal had come to light. In the same matter the Privilege Committee of the House has already tabled a report in the House giving a finding that former Vidhan Sabha secretary Nachhattar Singh Mavi and under secretary Tara Singh had tampered with the record of the House to expunge the constitution of a House committee to probe this scam.

The SAD-BJP coalition government is very keen to complete the inquiry into the alleged scandal so that they can silence the opposition on the floor of the House by raising the findings of the inquiry committee. Indications that more Congress leaders may be in the know how of things, the findings of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha committee probing the scandal is likely to provide lot of fuel to lot of allegations and counter allegations between the ruling alliance and the opposition in the forthcoming budget session. The Congress has already decided to hold a camp of its legislators to be fully prepared to take on the ruling alliance during the session.


Combating Corruption
VB to refer cases of suspect officials to their depts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has adopted new method to strengthen anti-corruption cases. The bureau now is giving option to the departments of suspect officers and employees, either to launch departmental inquiry or the VB will register a case.

More than 24 such cases have been referred to the departments concerned in past three months, sources in the government said. The bureau had written to chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh to refer all such cases to the administrative secretaries of the departments to seek comments against the suspects in corruption cases before proceeding further.

The “option letters” either to have departmental action or register criminal case, have been sent in case of two IAS officers, three PCS officers and several other director and deputy director-level officers. The Departments of Rural Development, Transport, Food and Civil Supplies, Cooperative Bank, Health, Tourism, Punjab State Electricity Board, Revenue, among others, have been asked to exercise the option at the earliest against the functionaries. The option has also been sent to a couple of agro-marketing corporations.

All evidence on record and the inquiry report in each such case have been forwarded to the chief secretary, who is also secretary vigilance, for onward transmission to the respective departments. The VB has made it clear the department should give its comments and decide plan of action, however, the final decision will rest with the VB. This will mean the person, who is being booked can register his or her protest at the department level hence bring out transparency. Also the VB can reject the plea of the department that the employee be proceeded against departmentally.

In a few weeks, the VB has received replies in three cases and the departments have recommended registration of criminal cases. Notably one such recommendation has been made in case of joint director and deputy director of the rural development. In other cases the VB will be waiting for logical outcome from the departments. In its option the VB had wanted the replies in 15 days but that has not happened.

Official sources admitted the procedure was slow but sure as there could be no allegations of political vendetta.


Akali MLA Bolaria dies in US hospital
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Raminder Singh Bolaria, a SAD member of the Legislative Assembly representing Amritsar South constituency died early morning today at Cleveland (USA).

He was suffering from liver ailment for a few months. His wife and son were with him when the end came.

Bolaria (50) was born on July 7, 1958 was fourth and youngest son of Gurbax Singh Bolaria. His was a landed well- to- do family. He did his schooling from St Francis school, Amritsar and then joined Guru Nanak Dev University for graduation. Early in life he choose politics as his vocation. He joined the Youth Congress in 1976 and became its vice-president in Punjab.

He became Municipal Corporation councillor in 1991 and served as its senior deputy mayor. A year ago he fought elections for Punjab Assembly from Amritsar South and won. He was popular with the youth and always stood by the down- trodden.

His body will be flown for cremation later during the week. He leaves wife Harinder Kaur, daughter Jyotbir and son Inderbir Singh Bolaria — first time councillor now and likely to follow his father in politics. His family, friends and people from his constituency and Amritsar will miss him.

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has expressed deep sorrow over the demise of MLA Amritsar (South) Raminder Singh Bolaria, who died of cancer yesterday in the USA, where he had gone for treatment.

In a condolence message, Badal said Bolaria was a grassroots leader who mobilised the rank and file of the Shiromani Akali Dal party during the Assembly election in 2007 in the Majha region. He conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family and prayed to the Almighty for peace to the departed soul.

Member Parliament and President Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal, Bikram Singh Majithia, information and public relations minister, Manoranjan Kalia, local government minister, Sucha Singh Langha, agriculture minister, and many other ministers also expressed shock at the demise of Bolaria.


Call for Punjab bandh on February 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The Anti-Privatisation Coordination Committee, comprising of 17 pro-farmer and pro-agriculture farm workers and supported by the various factions of the Bharti Kissan Union (BKU), has announced a Punjab bandh on February 19 to mark the protest against privatisation of the PSEB, roads infrastructure and sale of public property to run the government.

“It will be a peaceful bandh where we are making an appeal to the people to support the bandh. However, emergency services and barats, etc will be exempt,” Hardev Singh Sandhu, a member of the core team of the coordination committee, has announced.

The core committee that met here today with representatives from organisations like the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Bharti Kissan Union, Bharti Kissan Committee Central Trade Union, etc said the common man was suffering due to the programmes and policies of the government, which were were aimed at helping private organisations usurp valuable public property.

The SAD-BJP government had failed to fulfil its election promises like education for all, regular power, restoration of health infrastructure in rural areas and tackling the water pollution issue. They said the frequency with which toll plazas are coming up in the state, it would become impossible for a common man to commute a few kilometres without dishing out heavy amounts in toll tax.

The committee has sought the immediate scrapping of the Electricity Act 2003, saying that the Act that aims at privatisation of the electricity board has failed in other states.


Charges against docs withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Khanna, February 14
After conducting a thorough enquiry into alleged negligence during the treatment of patient Amarjit Dang of Amloh, the police has recommended cancellation of an FIR against Dr Ranjeet Khanna, Dr Dharam Pal and Dr Nitin Aggarwal of the Khanna nursing home. 

The police department had sought expert opinion from civil surgeon Ludhiana and the PGI, Chandigarh, following which it was found that that patient Amarjit was suffering from cancer of kidney and decision of the doctors to remove his kidney and give him other treatment was correct.

Even the postmortem report of the patient confirmed it to be a case of cancer and that he had died natural death.

Dr O.P.S. Kande, chairman, Legal Cell of the IMA, Punjab, urged the government not to initiate action against the erring police officials who had registered the case.


Patwaris stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
Members of the Sangrur tehsil unit of The Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, today staged dharna for three hours in front of the tehsil office here against the alleged “adamant attitude” of the director, land records, Punjab, regarding issuing refresher course certificates to the patwaris. 

The dharna was held under the presidentship of Sangrur Tehsil unit president Mitha Singh Rana.

The patwaris demanded issuance of refresher course certificates to them without appearing in a test. They said no department conducted test after holding refresher course for the employees whereas the director, land records, Punjab, was imposing a test on them to get refresher course certificates.

Other demands of the patwaris include supply of new furniture to them, supply of land record manual in Punjabi to them free of cost, and supply of computer system to those patwaris who had passed computer courses.

The patwaris were addressed among others by district president of the union Nirmal Singh, Sangrur tehsil president Mitha Singh Rana, former district president of the union Jugraj Singh, and district committee member Harmail Singh.


BSF to recruit women
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 14
The first-ever batch of women constables is likely to join the BSF by the end of next month recruitment process for which has begun.

Shyam Mehta, a BSF official, said yesterday at Qadian after the clearance of the plan to recruit women in the BSF for general duty by the Union Home Ministry the process had been on and women candidates had been asked to submit applications by March 15.

He highlighted the three-tier direct recruitment system in the BSF for the post of assistant commandant, inspector and constable.

He also said the BSF had launched an interaction project for cordial relations with people, under which sports competitions and medical camps were being organised in rural and border areas.


KMC to move SC against clean chit to K.P.S. Gill
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 14
Kuldeep Singh Bachre, a former special police officer (SPO), has taken a serious note of the affidavit filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the CBI regarding giving a clean chit to the former state police chief K.P.S. Gill for having no role in the human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra murder case.

The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) has said it would move the Supreme Court against the CBI giving a clean chit to Gill.

Bachre, who is an active in the KMC at his Bachre village, 4 km from here, yesterday said he as the main witness in the Khalra murder case had recorded his statement twice regarding the clear involvement of Gill. Bachre, who was with the patrol party of the SHO sentenced in the Khalra murder case, said he recorded his statement first in 1998 before the CBI, but the investigating agency did not submit the portion of his statement in the court. He added that in February, 2005, he recorded his statement in the court of Sessions Judge, Patiala M.K. Banger and on the basis of his statement seven policemen were sentenced and the court also condemned the CBI for torpedoing the case.

Jasbir Singh Padhri, chairman, Surinder Singh Ghariala, patron, Balwinder Singh Chabal, general secretary, KMC, who were present on the occasion said the KMC would move the Supreme Court against the move of the CBI and request it to involve Gill in the Khalra murder case.

The leaders said by giving a clean chit to Gill the CBI had lost not only impartiality, but also its faith among the minority communities of the country. 


Punjab mulls law on groundwater
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
On a petition expressing concern on the falling ground water levels in Punjab, state counsel today appraised the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the government was considering promulgation of necessary legislation in the matter.

Appearing before the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, counsel said the promulgation of the legislation was being considered on the basis of a model bill circulated by the union government to check indiscriminate over-development of ground water resources.

He added that government was aware of the consequences of over exploitation of ground water resources and the actively. Advocate Lieut-Col Naresh Kumar Ghai has filed a petition in the matter.

As he pointed out sufficient provisions already existed, including the ones under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, counsel assured the court that necessary law wuld be enforced before the ensuing rainy session. The case will now come up on March 31.


Students suffer as college staff put on poll duty
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 14
Students of both government colleges in the district are suffering as college staff have been put on duty to amend voter lists in the district. Principals of the two colleges at Ropar and Nangal have been taking up the matter with the district administration, but the staff have not been relieved.

Teachers of the colleges alleged most of the supporting staff of college laboratories had been put on election duty. At the Government College in Nangal, the entire supporting staff of the Physics Department had been put on election duty. Chemistry, botany and zoology departments had also got just one laboratory assistant for three B.Sc classes.

The teachers alleged the final examinations of graduation classes would commence from next month. They had to prepare the students for practical examinations. The supporting staff was also required.

Meanwhile, the teachers organised a dharna at Ropar to protest against the rationalisation scheme of the government.

Already due to the failure of the government to recruit college teachers after 1996, the government has facing staff shortage. It was difficult for one teacher to manage three classes of graduation courses, they said.

The teachers threatened agitation in case the government went ahead with rationalisation in government colleges.


Now, courses in animation, gaming
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 14
All five universities of the state are engaged in the exercise of identifying courses in animation, gaming and visual effects, following a communication from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 

The courses are being developed in the context of NASSCOM and FICCI estimates that the national revenue for the specific sector would be approximately Rs 3,700 crore by 2010 and the required manpower during the corresponding period would be approximately 30,000.

Based on the communication from the secretary of the ministry, chief secretary of Punjab Ramesh Inder Singh has sought views on starting courses in animation, gaming and visual effects in colleges of fine arts and add-on courses in normal colleges, besides schools.

The office of secretary, information and broadcasting, Asha Swarup has said currently formal education in animation, gaming and visual effects is missing from list of recognised courses in majority of the colleges in the country. Apart from the animation course run by Film and Television Institute of India at Pune, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and Whistling Woods, Mumbai, there is hardly any full-time training course available in the sector.

Certain private institutions have started courses in animation and related areas and preliminary reports indicate good response to these as well as decent placement avenues.

Sunny, a student at a local academy, said government recognised courses would be handy for getting jobs in the government sector. However, job-seekers in the private sector needed to be skilled in their profession than seeking jobs on mere degrees.

The Punjab government has been asked to take necessary action for starting suitable courses in these sectors with the ITIs being upgraded under the Ministry of Labour or in colleges of fine arts run by different universities.

Additional secretary Uday Kumar Verma, in a communication dated January 16, has said in order to bolster the capacity to provide training on the earlier mentioned sectors, the ministry is establishing a national centre of excellence for imparting training of international standards.


NDA Exam
Admn scheme to prepare students
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 14
The district administration has started a pilot project to coach youngsters to qualify for admission to the National Defence Academy (NDA).

Talking to The Tribune, deputy commissioner Ajit Singh Pannu said they were pained to know that a large number of seats in defence academies in the country were vacant for want of suitable candidates. It was a matter of shame for us that Punjabis, who take pride in their martial traditions, were now shy of donning the uniform, he pointed out.

The matter was discussed with the District Sainik Welfare Board and the Education Department in the last session. It was decided that five government schools in Nakodar, Wadala, Alawalpur, Gakhal Dhariwal and Jalandhar would be declared nodal schools for selecting students for appearing in the NDA examination.

As many as 200 students appearing for their plus two exams had been identified to be having the potential to clearing the examination. Ten lecturers from these schools were asked to impart training to them in various skills, he added.

Pannu said after an intense year-long training, 59 students were found to be qualified to take the examination and the batch would take their NDA examination on April 18.

To make sure that these students had access to the best trainers, the services of Major-Gen G.S. Sohi (retd) were sought. He, along with Brig K.S. Dhillon (retd) and Lieut-Col Manmohan Singh (retd), deputy director, sainik welfare, and 15 lecturers, will conduct special classes from April 1-17 for these students after their board exams in March, he added.

In case of economically weak students and those coming from far-off areas, the administration will bear the cost of board and lodging, he added.

The scheme would be replicated in other districts if a fraction of the candidates make it to the academy.

From this session, the number of the nodal schools has been increased to seven and will include the government schools at Nihalewala and Phillaur. Coaching classes will begin in all these schools from May 1 to June 5 and 100 students would be selected from here, he said.


NRI shot a day before marriage
Contract killing, says family
Neeraj Baggaa
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 14
Two youths, Jasbir Singh and Harpreet Singh, were shot while they were returning from the marriage function of their sister. It is believed that the refusal of Jasbir to marry his girlfriend cost him his life.

The two were shot from a pointblank range by an unidentified youth last evening. Jasbir had arrived here from Canada two months ago and his marriage was scheduled to take place today.

Members of his family alleged that it was a contract killing done at the behest the family of Aman Gill, residing in Canada. Jasbir and Aman had been close friends. However, Jasbir refused to marry her for her suspect ‘character’, the family alleged.

Meanwhile, rumours are rife in the native village of Jasbir, Saideke, that he had decided to marry with the bride from Lande village in the Baghapurana block following offer of Rs 21-lakh dowry.

A police party had raided the ancestral residence of Aman at a village in Ludhiana district.


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