RTI Query
Mayor’s pilot car puts MC in a fix
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
The use of a Maruti Gypsy as a pilot car by mayor Shawet Malik has put the Amritsar Municipal Corporation in a bind.

Jagdish Singh, a social activist, sought information from the municipal corporation under the Right to Information (RTI) Act whether the mayor and the municipal commissioner were authorised to use pilot vehicles.

The assistant commissioner, who is also the public information officer, has provided a list of vehicles owned by the municipal corporation and their allocation to different officers.

Jagdish Singh said as per this information, the Maruti Gypsy which the mayor is using as pilot is, in fact, allotted to his office superintendent.

When contacted, municipal commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda said the matter was being looked into and a decision on the use of Gypsy as a pilot vehicle by the mayor would be decided as per official norms.

Meanwhile, Jagdish Singh said he had decided to approach the state information commissioner as he claimed to have pictures of the vehicle being used as a pilot car with red flags on top of it. He said he was also seeking clarification if the mayor was authorised to use a pilot car as the corporation had given a vague reply to the clarification sought by him.

“It is common knowledge that the Gypsy moves with the mayor’s official vehicle wherever he goes in the city. It was only after I sought information on the matter that the Gypsy was withdrawn for some days. These days, the mayor is out of the country,” he said.

Jagdish Singh, who is the general secretary of Bag Ramanand Welfare Association, has demanded resignation of the municipal commissioner for his ignorance on the issue. “Even after weeks of this matter coming to light, he is silent on it despite the fact that it is for him to ensure that rules are adhered to,” he said.

Mayor Shawet Malik was not available for comments on the issue.



Clean water on govt agenda, says Majithia
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
The state-level committee of the Punjab government has approved projects for tackling the problem of impure water in 779 water quality affected habitations through 588 water schemes spread over Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepore districts.

Water supply and sanitation and public health minister Bikram Singh Majithia stated this to the media after laying the foundation stone of four water supply schemes at Dhing Nangal, Begewal, Kotla Saidan and Jhande to be set up at a cost of Rs 1 crore in the Majitha constituency.

Majithia said the central government had released Rs 24.11 crore to provide safe drinking water in seven districts of Punjab and added that nearly seven lakh people were expected to benefit from the scheme.

He said these funds were part of the first instalment of 45 per cent of the central share. The total project cost was Rs 70.77 crore.

The minister said the Punjab government intended to provide safe drinking water to each and every household of Punjab. Besides setting up of main, micro and mini water supply systems, a silver ionisation plant was being installed with every water supply system so that purity of water was ensured. The silver ionisation method was far more effective than the traditional method of using chlorine to purify water, claimed Majithia.

Later, Majithia redressed grievances of the people and distributed cheques worth Rs 1 lakh for strengthening of roads at Kotla Saidan village, Rs 1.5 lakh under the NREGA scheme to the gram panchayat of Kotla Saidan, Rs 25,000 for constructing a dharmshala at Begewal, Rs 1 lakh for building the boundary wall of the cremation ground at Jhande and Rs 1.5 lakh under the NREGA scheme for Dhind Nangal village.

Lashing out at the UPA government for the rising inflation, Majithia assailed the role of leader of the opposition in Punjab Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on this front and said Bhattal and former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should raise their voice against inflation and prove their sincerity to the people of Punjab rather than indulging in conflicts between them.



School fiasco: Managing panel gets control over affairs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
The managing committee of Shri Teg Bahadur Public School, Khankot has resumed the control of administrative affairs. Earlier, the district education officer Devinder Pal Singh had been made receiver of the school by SDM Amritsar (I) to look after the work.

The school was set up by late Dr Diljit Singh Pannuan, former high commissioner of India to Ghana and Ambassador to Togo, Burkanofaso, Liberia, Central Asian Republic and Madagascar. It was being administered by the managing committee headed by Dr Ranbir Singh. The receiver was appointed after another group, allegedly armed with lethal weapons, had entered the school in January this year. Subsequently, section 145 of the Cr PC was imposed. Now, the SDM after thorough probe had removed the section and restored school possession to Ranbir Singh. The order further instructed Ranbir Singh to call a panel meeting within 15 days and include two members of the opposite party in the committee to ensure that no ugly incident occurs in the future and the school working is not affected. 



Inflation ire
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
The members of the mahila morcha of Bharatiya Janata Party held a protest rally against the central government for its failure to control the rising prices of essential commodities. The agitators also held a dharna near Hall Gate obstructing the traffic for more than an hour, causing great inconvenience to commuters. The police had a tough time controlling the traffic in the area and the people had to take long detours to reach their destinations.

Lashing out at UPA government, morcha president Reena Jaitley said the commoners were suffering due to the massive increase in prices of various commodities. “Almost all the essential items have become out of reach. It’s getting difficult to even sustain oneself,” she added. The protesters took out a rally passing through various parts of the walled city. It culminated at BJP headquarters, Khanna Smarak near Hathi Gate. 



Bhatia, Soni bury the hatchet
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
Kerala Governor R.L. Bhatia and his bete noire Om Parkash Soni, Congress MLA from Amritsar (west), seem to have finally buried the hatchet.

Both arrived here in a Jet Airways flight from New Delhi on April 3 and attended a meeting of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust the next day.

When contacted, Bhatia said Soni had been meeting him at his residence here since long, though they appeared together at a meeting now. Both Bhatia and Soni reached Jallianwala Bagh together in one car.

The senior Congress leaders had been opposing each other since Soni had allegedly roughed up Bhatia in Chandigarh at the time of distribution of assembly ticket in nineties.

Bhatia said he had retired from the active politics. It is believed that he had “promised” to project Soni as the future Lok Sabha Congress candidate from Amritsar constituency, which had been represented by Bhatia for five times.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhatia said he had already told Soni that he (Bhatia) had nothing against him in his mind. Bhatia, however, said he had told Soni that it was the prerogative of the Congress high command to allocate party ticket for the next Lok Sabha elections. He, however, said he would not contest any election in future since he had taken retirement from the active politics. Earlier, Bhatia held a meeting of his close confidants, including former Congress MLAs from Amritsar, which was also attended by Soni. It is believed that the local Congress leaders have also given their consent to project Soni as the future candidate of the party for the Amritsar parliamentary constituency.

They have given their opinion that Soni would be a strong candidate of the party on the basis of his past winning track.

After having stint as the mayor of the local municipal corporation from 1991 to 96, he was elected as the chairman of the All-India Council of Mayors and continued to hold the post for two and half years. 



Cantt Board Poll
‘Four constituencies more than enough’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
A former Cambridge Blue and an old residents of the cantonment area, Swarnjit Singh, has raised many pertinent issues with regard to cantonment board elections to be held next month. Swarnjit Singh in a missive to the GOC-in-C of Western Command have raised some issues regarding cantonment board elections, which had been due for a long time and have finally been announced after many representations by residents.

Swarnjit Singh pointed out that the constituencies in the cantonment area had been increased for allegedly qualifying for the highest grade of cantonments under the ministry of defence. He said the Amritsar cantonment should actually have four constituencies and not more as he pointed out that areas like Canal Colony and Railway Colony were not part of the cantonment area.

He said these colonies had been handed over to the Punjab government and the ministry of railways many years ago and were being controlled by them.

He added that there was no involvement of the local cantonment board or ministry of defence in these areas. While raising an issue of claiming extra budget allocation on the basis of seven constituencies instead of four or five by the board, Swarnjit Singh felt that it was not fair on the part of the cantonment board to get more allocation for the area which was not governed by it.

He said the office of the cantonment board was located inside the high-security army area and an average civilian resident found it difficult to approach the officers of the board. He suggested that the board must be easily accessible to the public.

He pointed out that the army commander and other senior officers of the directorate of defence estates, Chandigarh, were apprised of the problems and they had assured him of looking into the matter.



Raising a voice against femicide
Tribune news Service

Amritsar, April 8
The Sham Samwad organisation staged a play “Khuh Bolda ha” at Punjab Natshala here. The work highlights the menace of female foeticide, especially pointing finger at the ‘dubious’ role of the men folk.

Directed by Jyoti Bala, the play also brings to the fore the fact that a majority of women were not ready to come forward and protest against femicide, which has far reaching social repercussions. Dowry and love for the male child in families are the major reasons contributing to the menace which has assumed an alarming proportion. The skewed sex ratio in several states, especially Punjab, is the direct fallout of the evil, the play further points out. Amit Bawa’s poetic dialogues build up a sensitive atmosphere which is soul stirring.

Addressing the gathering, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said such plays should be staged regularly. “There is a dire need to awaken the masses and involve them in the fight against various social evils,” she added.

Impressive performances were put up by Jaswant Mintu, Shalini, Kamalpreet, Baljit, Amar Gill, Bhupinder, Dilraj Kaur, Mandeep and Jaskaran Bawa. 



Campus Buzz
Campus placement for 250 students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
As many as 250 students of the next batch, belonging to various academic disciplines, including M. Tech, MCA, MSc and B. Tech of Guru Nanak Dev University have been placed in different multinational companies before the completion of their formal studies.

They were offered an annual package of Rs 3.30 lakh.

Infosys selected 87 students, while TCS, Accenture and Nucleus selected 85, 43 and 16 students, respectively. Global Connect and I-flex chose 12 and seven students, respectively.

The selected students would join their duties after the completion of their studies in June 2009.

Adult education director

Dr R.S. Sandhu, professor of sociology, has been appointed director and head of the department of adult education and extension of Guru Nanak Dev University for one year by vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh. This was stated in a press release issued here on Tuesday.



Pritpaul comes up with another laugh riot
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, April 8
Lack of quality humorous literature motivated him to write and collect jokes and translate them to Punjabi language. He has now come up with his fourth book “Dab Ke Hasso.”

Pritpaul Singh, a sales officer in the press publication department of Guru Nanak Dev University already had three books to his credit - “Aao Hassiye,” “Hasso Te Hassao” and “Hassna Te Hasauna,” - all published by Singh Brothers publications. The hobby of reading humorous literature proved to be a great asset for him.

There is dearth of quality humorous literature in Punjabi language, observed Pritpaul Singh. “You could find a number of books of jokes in English, but would hardly find the same in your mother tongue,” he rued.

Then what is the criterion of gathering jokes and even creating them? Ask him. He explains in a few words: “Simple, sober and not vulgar, which could be shared among the family members and all categories of people. Sometimes, you can get a lot of new funny things in our day to day life that easily become the part of book.” Cartoon figures also formed an inseparable part of his books.

A staunch believer in god, Pritpaul is a good Gurbani singer and tabla player. Performing Gurbani kirtan at a local gurdwara every morning is part of his life, which he hardly missed. “It’s never easy and needs continuous practice,” he says.

“Laughter is the best medicine and helps a person to live longer and stress free. However, sharing jokes has become a thing of past and people are in a mad race foe money in today’s materialistic world,” he said.

His book “Aao Hassiye” was released in 2003, while “Hasso Te Hassao” was released in 2004, which has created a niche for him in Punjabi literature.



Check-up camps mark World Health Day
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
A mobile free health check-up camp was organised near Kotwali here for the citizens of the holy city by Fortis Escorts Hospital to mark World Health Day. A team of doctors, led by Dr Gaurav Thukral, Dr Maninder and Dr Iqbal, examined more than 500 people. 

Employees of the municipal corporation, police department, fire brigade and the general public took full advantage of the facilities provided by the hospital, which included general health check-up, consultation, blood sugar tests and ECG on the spot.

The team also examined about 350 patients at the district shopping complex where commuters and shopkeepers were given medical advice.

Hartej Hospital also organised a health check-up camp for women and children in association with Big FM. The radio channel also organised “Healthy baby and healthy mother” contest. Dr Tajinder Nagpal, Dr Sushma Gupta and Dr Monika examined mothers and their babies and advised them on how to maintain a healthy life.

Fabulous prizes were given to the healthiest kids and the healthiest mothers in various age categories.

Meanwhile, a cluster of CBSE schools from the region held debate, collage making, essay and photography competitions to mark World Health Day.

The first position in the debate competition was won jointly by Police DAV Public School and Spring Dale Senior School. The photography competition was won by Spring Dale Senior School. The collage making competition was jointly won by Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Majitha Road, and Spring Dale Senior School.

Each participating school was presented with a tree sapling to carry with them a message on ways to counteract global warming. A newsletter of Simply Health Plus was also released on the occasion.

Dr Sushil Gupta, social activist and environmentalist, gave away prizes to the winners of various competitions.



Biz Buzz
Get the right shade

Amritsar: In order to help the denizens of the holy city to cope with the blistering heat, besides adding style to their summer look, Himalaya Opticals unveiled its latest summer collection here on Tuesday.

Himalaya Opticals manager Kripal Singh, while launching the range, said the latest designs included big glasses and funky shades, which took one down the memory lane. He said they had come up with an array of designs and a wide variety of shades. He further said the company was providing the latest summer collection of Versace, Hugo-Boss, Roberto Cavalli, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Emporio Armani, Diesel, Gucci to the people of the city. — TNS



Cycle expedition to observe Earth Hour
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
International environment campaign group WWF along with several other NGOs including Mission Aagaaz, Amritsar Vikas Manch, New Hope and Jeewan Jagriti here organised a cycle expedition for energy conservation campaign launched all over the world recently.

The expedition started from the deputy commissioner’s residence, passed through various bazaars and vantage points including municipal corporation commissioner’s residence, Red Cross Bhawan, Government College for Women, district court complex, Railway Station, Queens Road and M M Road. It culminated at the Lawrence Road area.

Deputy commissioner, Kahan Singh Pannu and MC commissioner DPS Kharbanda while addressing the expedition, promised all possible help to the participants. Kharbanda assured that the municipal corporation would switch off the decorative lights of the corporation from 8 to 9 pm for energy conservation under Earth Hour, being observed all over the world.

Parkash Singh Bhatti, president Pollution Control Committee, Amritsar, speaking on the occasion said the main aim of the expedition was spreading awareness among the residents of the holy city that they should use their vehicles and various electrical and electronic appliances for their necessity but not for their luxury. 



Clerk held taking bribe

Amritsar, April 8
The vigilance department today nabbed Sukhwinder Singh, head registration clerk posted at the deputy commissioner office, for allegedly demanding Rs 1,000 as bribe for issuing a licence for deed writer to one Avtar Singh. 

Avtar Singh applied for licence about a month back. Avtar Singh in his complaint to the vigilance department had alleged that Sukhwinder was not giving him the licence even after it had already been issued and sought Rs 1,000 as bribe from him. A vigilance team caught Sukhwinder Singh taking bribe and registered a case against him. — OC



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