Responsible for keeping tabs on bylaws violation in city, MC shows rules the door when it comes to in-house projects
Who’ll watch the watchdog?
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
How can one expect the system to run effectively when the civic body responsible is itself busy violating norms?

The basement parking in front of Narindra cinema is an example where the municipal corporation has failed to keep a tab on the construction work of a project which is directly under its supervision.

The much-delayed project is being undertaken on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis by Delhi-based ANS Builders.

Topping the list is opening the parking to public while the work is still undergoing. Besides, a signboard and staff have been deployed to direct people to the parking. The site proves to be very risky as the cars parked on the rooftop of the half-completed structure has a 20-foot-deep trench just a few metres away. According to bylaws, an under-construction building cannot be used for commercial purposes.

The second major apparent violation is blocking the passage which joins Garha Road with the GT Road by heaps of dug soil. The busy commercial area on the passage has been totally blocked for the past 10 days and has adversely affected the business.

Another trench dug up right next to the site in front of Wimpy has added to the woes. The area has become more congested and the trenches left after digging are filled with stagnant water, posing serious health hazards to the residents.

Talking to The Tribune, HDFC Bank branch head Sukhdeep Singh said, “The contractors dug up the site and left it for almost a year. They failed to start the construction on time and when the work began, they scaffold a boundary posing a theft risk to our premises as anyone could enter our branch easily. The business was hit as the footfall in our branch had drastically reduced.”

Congress councillor Anoop Kaur and ex-councillor Darshan Singh of ward 34 agreed to the violations and said they were taking up the matter with the officials.

“We often get market people pleading to get the chaos cleared at the earliest. We are worried about the safety of the residents there but are helpless,” they said.

MC commissioner C.S. Talwar said he had asked his SE to look into the matter and see whether it was actually dangerous. He said it was a technical issue and an engineer was a better judge.

Assistant commissioner D.P. Bhardwaj said he was not aware that the contractor had started charging for the parking in the under-construction building. When he was told that this was being done since the past fortnight, he expressed surprise and said, “It’s a news to me.”

Horticulture and B & R SE D.P.S. Wadhwa, who is leading the supervision team, said he would enquire into the matter from executive engineers and junior engineers. Asked if they could actually charge the public and get the vehicles parked atop under-construction parking lot, he did not respond.

Mayor Rakesh Rathor did not take the call and it was learnt that he had gone to Delhi.



Mind Matters
Now, aspiring soldiers will have to clear psycho tests 
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
Candidates appearing for army rallies being organised for recruitment as soldiers will soon have to undergo psycho-analysis tests as well, failure in which may lead to their rejection.

Brig D.P. Singh, deputy director-general, recruiting zone, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, said this during an interaction with mediapersons at Dogra Grounds where he was supervising an ongoing rally. The officer said the candidates who would qualify the physical and medical tests in the ongoing rally would appear in the written test on April 27 that would include a 30-minute psychology examination.

“This, however, is being conducted on trial basis for another six months and questions will not carry any weightage in this period. As soon as the trial period will be over, the psychology tests will carry points and anyone unable to score passing marks will be denied the chance of joining the force despite having cleared all other tests,” Brig D.P. Singh said.

He said the tests were based on various situations with options on reaction to those situations. “Each option will carry marks. The experts from the Defence Institute of Psychological Research have designed the tests after thorough study of required personality and cognitive traits in the soldiers,” he added.

The deputy director-general said the results of the tests would be saved and the information be used for deployment of soldiers on the basis of their personality features.

The tests would also help the officials realise the potential and interests of soldiers in certain fields and aptly channelising their energy in that direction, he said.

More than 5,000 candidates applied for token in the rally of whom 3,500 qualified the norms on height, weight, age and qualification required for the posts of soldier (technical duty), soldier (general duty) and clerks. The tokens issued this time were laminated and came with a string for tying it around their necks. “The candidates often lost these or found them crushed or wet or partially torn in their pockets. Now they cannot make any excuse”, the officer said.

Brig D.P. Singh said the response to the rally had improved a lot owing to tremendous publicity done this time in educational institutes of the city as well as rural areas. “We have launched a mobile publicity van this time which moves in the areas where rally is to be held. We are distributing booklets to the village representatives and school staff wherever we go. Recently, we also released a CD based on life in the army, benefits of joining the force, and answers to some frequently asked questions based on recruitment process for entry at various levels,” he said.

Col K.K. Kiren and Col D.K. Bishnoi, both directors (recruiting) at Amritsar and Jalandhar, respectively, organised the event.



Plan to raise retirement age of medicos: Sud

Jalandhar, April 15
Admitting that there was scarcity of medical teachers in the medical colleges of Punjab, medical education minister of Punjab Tikshan Sud on Monday revealed that extending the retirement age of medical teachers up to 65 years was under consideration.

“A proposal for the extension of the retirement age of medical teachers has been finalised by the department and the same will be sent to the state cabinet for its approval soon,” Sud told mediapersons here. In the recent years, several medical teachers had left the government jobs to join the lucrative private sector, which had resulted in scarcity of medical teachers in the government medical colleges, Sud said, adding that to overcome the shortage of staff, it had been proposed to raise the retirement age up to 65. The retirement age was raised to 60 from 58 years last year.

The minister revealed that very soon Punjab’s first ayurvedic university would be established in Hoshiarpur district.

Regarding opening of the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) building, which had been ready for the past several years and awaiting inauguration, the minister said bids had been invited for running it on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. Four of the total 10 bids had been shortlisted and soon a final decision on handing over the PIMS to a private party would be taken. — PTI



Dining Den
This Shao-Lin has an aromatic chamber 
Kusum Arora/ TNS

Jalandhar, April 15
Tangy, titillating and lip-smacking describe it all. You name it and they have it. The one and only one special Chinese restaurant in the city “Shao-Lin” has not only ample choice to choose from but an out-of-world Chinese ambience as well.

The place has its special fan following for it provides out-of-the-world seafood, Chinese, Japanese, continental and Indian food. And for those who prefer variety in their menu quite often a visit to Shao-Lin is a must. With Punjabis virtually savouring the spicy treats at Shao-Lin the place is quite a big hit among the youngsters.

The restaurant offers nearly every kind of food, right from prawns, chicken, lobsters, lamb, pork and momos. Started in 1996, the place has been specially named in accordance with the Chinese culture. Says owner Raminder Singh Bhalla, “The restaurant actually signifies the Chinese culture. Shao-Lin in Chinese means group of seven temples. And as people are getting health conscious what can be better than trying steamed seafood here?”

Situated just opposite Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, the eating joint has fine Chinese interiors which add more charm to the restaurant. “I got designed the restaurant from a Kartarpur-based interior designer who virtually changed the outlook of the place,” Bhalla said.

An engineer from East London University, Bhalla says he simply leaves no stone unturned when it comes to cater his clientele. “It is the quality which matters the most in terms of food as we equally take care of the nutrition, comfort and health of our customers,” he added.



Women show the way
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
In an attempt to pay an ode to the innate sense of women aesthetic, the Art Dot - a venture in visual art, has organised a four-day exhibition “Sublime Expressions” at Dr Satya Paul Art Gallery in Virsa Vihar.

The exhibition was inaugurated by B.N. Goswami of Chandigarh.

Displaying works of 48 women artists from Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Patiala, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur, the exhibition is open for all. The viewers can see works ranging from drawings, paintings, sculpture and ceramics, all under one roof at the event.

The works present every colour of art, including human soul and mind, human psychology through its different moods, nature at its best, divine relation of human and God, feelings of women, seasonal changes.

Shashi Kanta Rampal, head of fine arts department, Prem Chand Markanda S.D. College for Women, who displayed a painting titled “Gayatri Dhyanam”, said, “The painting depicts essence of Gayatri mantra and the colours used in it make it actually clear”.

Another eye-catching painting was “Wish Tree” by Latika from Jalandhar which expressed the Hindu ritual of tying a “mauli”. The most appealing part in the painting was the use of “mauli” to give it a divine look. Similarly, giving a real life peep into the rustic folklore was a painting by Dr Rajinder Kaur Pachricha from Patiala who had displayed a set of two paintings titled “Folklore of India”.

And to give a fillip to the women artists, Professor Goswami would give two awards of Rs 4,000 
each to the participants instituted by the organisers of Art Dot.



End anti-farm labourer policies: Convention
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
Farm labourers dwelled on the problems being faced by them at a state-level convention held at Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall here today.

As many as six outfits - Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal) and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha - took part in the deliberations and condemned he anti- labourer policies practised by the successive governments since Independence.

The leaders said everyone was worried about the suicides by debt-ridden farmers but had anyone bothered to ameliorate the plight of farm labourers. “Can we earn a livelihood in the countryside when land owners are in dire straits,” they questioned.

“Apart from the shrinking farm holdings, we have been hit by the privitisation policies of the state. We are forced to work in limited alternative avenues since no work is available round the year on the farms as was the practice earlier.

“Left with little options we are at the mercy of loan sharks who charge exorbitant interest which we are unable to pay. Thus, starts a vicious circle and the only way for most of us is suicide. Even the SC corporations and cooperative banks have failed to give us soft loans,” they added.

There had been numerous instances when the poor families had been evicted from their homes by money-lenders with the help of musclemen and in connivance with law-enforcing agencies, they pointed out.

The much-touted atta-dal scheme for the poor had failed miserably. Education and medical facilities were only on paper and the government had reneged on its promise of free power to the poor sections, they alleged.

Those present demand a debt waiver for them on the lines of the farmers, scrapping the provision of acquiring the houses pledged against the loans, increasing the widow pension to Rs 2,500 per month, providing small plots of land to build houses and revamping the PDS.



Jalandhar-born steers ahead of UK royalty in online voting

Jalandhar, April 15
Jalandhar-born Harjit Gill, mayor of Gloucestershire, has raced ahead of the British royalty and Hollywood celebrities in an online voting to select the Top-100 people of the English county.

Gill (54) has emerged at the top, beating the likes of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, Princes William and Harry and Hollywood celebrities like Kate Winslet and Liz Hurley at the end of the first week of voting.

Top-100 People

Harjit Gill, mayor of Gloucestershire, 
is ahead of British
royalty and 
Hollywood celebrities

Prince Charles was at the second spot. The voting that started on April 5 has 200 personalities from the British royalty, showbiz, business, politics, sports and other fields in the list. The voting will be held over four weeks and the results will be out early May.

The online voting for the Top-100 of the year 2008 of Gloucestershire county is being done by the Weekend magazine, which is owned by popular county publications, Citizen and Gloucester Echo. “It feels indeed great to be ranked among all these top personalities and then to emerge on the top. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the next three weeks of voting,” Gill told IANS on the phone.

Gill, who was elected Gloucester mayor last year in an all-white dominated county (98 per cent of the population in Gloucester is white), started on the list at 67th rank but marched to 15th spot within three days. He emerged at the top at the end of the first week. Gloucestershire county is home to a host of top British celebrities.

While Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry - ranked seventh and 10th now on the list - have their Highgrove address in this county, “Titanic” actress Kate Winslet and the glamorous Liz Hurley are residents of the upscale Cotswold area. Another royal, Princess Anne is ranked third after Gill and Prince Charles.

The two Hollywood actresses do not figure even in the top-20 list of celebrities in the first week’s voting.

Ex-cricketer Jack Russell is ranked 19th. The other celebrities on the list include Tele-tubbies inventor Ann Wood, world gliding champ Leigh Wells, one of the youngest climbers of Mount Everest Jake Meyer and Cheltenham town mayor John Rawson.

Gill, who has played international hockey with the Rest of India team, had studied for his postgraduation in politics in a Jalandhar college before migrating to Britain in 1978.

He dabbled in politics in Gloucester in the mid-1990s and was the first elected mayor of the Barton area of Gloucester in 1999. He later became the first Asian to be elected sheriff in England and finally the first Asian mayor of Gloucestershire in 2007.

Each online voter has 10 votes per week and the voting process will be on for four weeks. — IANS



Bhandari rules out change in party ministers’ portfolio 

Jalandhar, April 15
The ruling BJP in Punjab on Monday ruled out change of portfolios of two of its ministers, Laxmi Kanta Chawla and Tikshan Sud, in the state’s Akali Dal-led coalition government in the wake of reports that they were ignoring party workers.

State BJP chief Rajender Bhandari said there was no possibility of Chawla and Sud swapping portfolios as both the ministers were “efficiently” handling the portfolios allocated to them.

On the issue of price rise, Bhandari said a state-level protest march would be organised in Ludhiana on April 16.

Regarding appointment of chairmen of the various boards and corporations, Bhandari said the list was almost final and would be handed over the central leadership soon for approval.

He ruled out any tussle between the ruling alliance partners over the issue of sharing the chairmanships of boards. — PTI



BJP sees ‘big scam’ behind inflation

Jalandhar, April 15
Holding the Centre responsible for the extraordinary rise in prices of essential commodities, the BJP on Monday said there was a “big scam” behind the inflation.

“The UPA government is responsible for the extraordinary rise in the prices of essential commodities, leaving economically weaker sections of society in virtual food scarcity,” BJP Rajya Sabha MP and party in charge for Punjab Balbir Punj told newspersons here.

He alleged that the Centre was giving concessions to hoarders and big industrial houses, leading to such a situation.

Punj claimed the government had done nothing to check the price rise during the first four years of its rule and just indulged in the hide-and-seek game” with the Left parties on the issue of nuclear deal.

The BJP leader denied that there was any difference between Punjab’s ruling partners Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP on any issue, including sharing of Lok Sabha seats and posts of chairmen of different boards and corporations in the state.

Asked whether the BJP would accept SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal as Chief Minister, Punj said, “Sukhbir is a young and dynamic leader and if he holds any post in the state, it will be good for Punjab.”

Responding to the criticism of L.K. Advani for his remarks in his book by state Congress chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punj refuted all allegations and said, “It seems she criticised Advani even without reading the book and I suggest her to first read the book and then comment.”

On the issue of withdrawal of subsidy, Punj preferred to remain silent on the issue and said, “It was up to the Chief Minister and his cabinet to take any decision on such issues.” — PTI



Young World
UK teachers visit city schools
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 15
A delegation of teachers from state-run UK schools is on a visit to the city schools as a part of a link-up programme. The delegation visited Police DAV School, MGN Public Schools, Adarsh Nagar and Kapurthala, and Cambridge International School for Girls. At Police DAV School, the UK teachers attended the morning assembly. “We were amazed to see the various aspects covered in the assembly, including an invocation to the Almighty, cultural show, motivational lessons and current awareness issues. It was a complete package for the students to begin their day,” said Jaswinder Grewal, a sociology teacher from Wolver Hampton and Leanne from Tregony village school.

The teachers said they found another deviation from their teaching pattern. “In our schools, the day begins with classes on hardcore subjects and ends with extra-curricular activities unlike here where creative pursuits are taken first followed by routine classes. This becomes a huge inspiration for the students to go to the school,” they said.

Principal Rashmi Vij said the exchange programme had been started earlier with principals of the schools visiting the link-up partners. “Now it has come to the teachers’ level. Soon students from here will be going to the UK and then UK students will visit Indian schools, including St Kabir School and Vivek Model School in Chandigarh.

Baisakhi celebrated

Baisakhi was celebrated by students of the St Soldier College of Education in a traditional way. Students came dressed up in Punjabi attire wearing ghagra, kurti, bunday and pipal patiyan and presented gidha while boys donned chadra kurta, kaintha and danced on Punjabi boliyan. Sangeeta Chopra, vice-chairman of the college, attended the function.

Spiritual lessons

Over 3,000 students and faculty members of Lovely Professional University participated in a meditation programme, Utsav- Act 1, organised by the Art of Living. The four-day programme concluded on Sunday with a campaign, “Clean inside and clean outside,” aimed at clearing emotional debris, physical and mental stresses from within and freeing an individual of violence, depression or suicidal tendencies and various addictions. On the outside, the youth were urged to take up projects to clean few roads in the city, plant more trees, encourage people to stop using plastic bags, reducing wastage of water and electricity and be more environmental conscious.

Campus placements

Six students studying in their pre-final year at the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology have been placed with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Out of the six selected students, three students come from electronics and communication engineering; two from computer science and engineering and one from mechanical engineering. All students would join the company in June, 2009, with a starting annual package of Rs 3.1 lakh 
per annum.



‘Early detection of thalassemia important’

Jalandhar, April 15
Dr Anil Sud, a senior paediatrician, is back in the city after attending a trainer’s workshop for the management of Thalassemia.

The aim of the event was to train paediatricians in the country who would further train their fellow colleagues in the latest trends in the treatment of the disease.

Thalassemia is a genetic disorder in which the blood once formed gets disintegrated very soon. Early detection of the disease is important, he added. — TNS



Pensioners’ plea

The Sixth Pay Commission has recommended an incentive for the pensioners at the age of 80, 85, 90 and so on. Normally a majority of the people die between the age of 70 and 75 years. So this incentive is meaningless for most of the pensioners. The government should bring these slabs down to 70, 75, 80 and so on to enable the pensioners to utilise this money for their maintenance. Also, there is no word on the enhancement of the medical allowance. The present allowance of Rs 100 per month is a pittance in these days and is spent on a single visit to the doctor. Post-retirement is the age when people need medical allowance the most. The pensioners would be happy if the medical allowance is increased to a minimum of Rs 1,000 per month.

— Gurbachan Singh Saini, Jalandhar

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