P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


CM leads from front
Launches his own elementary school for poor
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Children from poor families seek CM Parkash Singh Badal’s blessings at Badal village in Muktsar
Children from poor families seek CM Parkash Singh Badal’s blessings at Badal village in Muktsar district on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Malkiat Singh

Badal (Muktsar), April 16
Picking up nearly 175 children of poor families from different villages of his Lambi constituency, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today launched an elementary school in the name of a trust in his native village, desiring free-of-cost quality school education to the poor children across the state.

"It is my dream that poor children should get quality education free of cost across the state and this school is just a stepping stone in that direction," the Chief Minister said in his address while inaugurating Sardarni Jaswant Kaur Ji Memorial Primary School here, as a tribute to his mother.

And if this dream of the Punjab CM was any tip-off for private players to extend services for the cause, eminent industrialist Rakesh Bharti Mittal was present on the occasion, with both of them also presiding over the first annual convocation of the Dasmesh Girls College of Education in the village itself.

"I am also happy to announce that Mittal Sahib has assured 10 such schools in Punjab where the poor and deprived children can get free education, if we provide land to them," Badal declared.

It was also announced on the occasion that Mittal had extended Bharti scholarship for the five poor meritorious students of the Dasmesh B.Ed College here.

And the CM was all out to further the cause of providing free boarding and lodging to poor children in such deemed schools, if those became a reality.

"I am grateful to Mittal Sahib who loves education sector and will soon be running 100 schools in Punjab only," Badal said while pointing out the assurance of the industrialist for the launch of 10 other schools specifically for the poor only.

"I am glad that Badal village has become the centre of quality education as this village has now both schools and colleges of very high standards," the Chief Minister said.

He said the elementary school, which he had inaugurated today, has become his dearest project of his lifetime.

Besides regular subjects, yoga, study of nature and plants, environment science and musical instruments would be in the curriculum of the poor children admitted to the school.

"Now it is to be seen how many poor children will get the similar 'quality education' in other villages across the state," an academician amongst the crowd was overheard, as the CM himself took the guests on a round of the school, for which the Principal has been roped in from Dehra Dun.

At the Dasmesh Girls College of Education convocation, the passed-out students of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic sessions were given B.Ed. degrees as the CM also announced a cash prize of Rs 50,000 to each of the students with first position, and Rs 25,000 for those in the second position. 


Sewage pollutes Nangal wetlands
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Nangal, April 16
The national Nangal wetlands are in a jeopardy as untreated sewage from the Nangal area has been flowing into it.

The Nangal Municipal Council has not been able to check the inflow of sewage from Rajnagar, Ram Nagar and old gurdwara areas. Also three religious establishments situated on the banks of the Sutlej discharge sewage into the river. Industries too release treated sewage into the river.

A proposal of setting up a sewage treatment plant for the area was approved two years ago, but the project report of the plant has not been charted out. While areas of Old Nangal and BBMB Colony have sewage treatment plants, untreated water from other areas continues to play havoc with the treasured flora, fauna and hydrology of area, which is a significant component of the wetland.

Nearly one-and-a-half years ago, thousands of fish died due to untreated chemical saturated water released by National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) into the Sutlej.

According to MC executive officer Anna Kumar Goyal, a project for sewage plant has been approved under the Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSMT) project. "The project report will soon be charted out and submitted. We expect sewage treatment plant as well as the drinking water project to come up simultaneously this year," he claimed.

The Sutlej from here flows down via Ludhiana towards the international wetland Harike Pattan in Amritsar, an international Ramsar site of prime importance.

The Ministry of Environment included Nangal in the national list of wetlands in February this year. Nangal reservoir was formed with the construction of a barrage over the Sutlej in 1961, and the water is spread over an area of 650 hectares, including 375 hectares of the reservoir.

The catchment areas along the reservoir are an important habitat for some threatened species like scaly anteater and python. It is also an important breeding place for smooth Indian otter, hog deer, sambar and pangolin.


US varsity to have chair in Sikh music
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
While work on the World Sikh University project at historic Fatehgarh Sahib, near here, is yet to begin, Hofstra University in Washington may soon be the top centre for study of Sikhism, Sikh religious music and interfaith studies.

Sponsored by an NRI Sikh Bindra family of Long Islands, Hofstra University had earlier this year decided to confer the first Guru Nanak Inter-Faith award to Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

It also runs Bindra chair in Sikh studies.

Now, another eminent Sikh NRI and retired technocrat Hakam Singh has announced that he will set up an endowed chair in the study of Sikh religious music at Hofstra. This will be the first chair of its type in the world where classical ragas, associated with singing of Gurbani, especially “Asa Di Vaar”, will be a major subject of research 
and study.

Earlier this week, the auditorium of Hofstra University reverberated with the beat of “dhol” and Punjabi music as its students celebrated Baisakhi.

As many as 400 elite guests, including Indian Member of Parliament Tarlochan Singh, enjoyed Punjabi music and folk dances performed by students of the university and the guests of the Bindra family.

Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz traced the history and importance of Hofstra’s Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies and Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize. He said the university was very proud of this partnership with the local Sikh community whose initiatives had helped the university to expand its horizons.

This association, he said, had contributed to the establishment and growth of its Department of Religions.

At the Baisakhi celebrations, the university introduced Sikh scholar Balbinder Singh Bhogal as an associate professor of religion and the new Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies. Bhogal reiterated his resolve to promote the academic study of the Sikh religion.

Tarlochan Singh spoke about the historical significance of the religious and cultural Baisakhi festival. He congratulated the Bindra family and Hofstra University authorities for the choice of the Dalai Lama as the first recipient of the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, endowed by the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Charitable Foundation.

Tejinder Bindra, who is also a trustee of the university, reiterated his family’s commitment in furthering Sikh religious studies.

The university is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from around 145 undergraduate and 155 graduate programmes in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, honours studies as well as a school of law.


Undeterred by party rap, Capt to get active
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Unmindful of the restrictions sought to be placed on him, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today outlined a programme to reach out to the grassroots Congress workers, particularly those who have been “repressed” by the SAD-BJP regime.

The state-level coordination committee meeting of the Congress held yesterday and its call for Capt Amarinder Singh to exercise caution while speaking about party leaders have not had the desired effect on him.

Capt Amarinder Singh seems to be gearing up to be more active in Punjab politics after having kept a low profile for more than one year.

Talking to The Tribune, he said he would visit Gurdaspur on April 19 and Amritsar on April 29 to interact with Congress workers who were being “targeted” by the Akalis. “Following this, I will visit other districts in the state to show solidarity with persecuted Congress workers,” he added.

The activities of the former Chief Minister would not in any way contravene the decision of the coordination committee to allow him only meetings and rallies cleared by the Pradesh Congress, according to Capt Amarinder Singh. “I never intended to hold rallies on my own,” he said, adding that he, however, had to go wherever he was called by party workers.

He also made it clear that he would take his case for reconstitution of the coordination committee with the party president. “The Congress president has every right to reconstitute the committee and I will be talking to her on this issue”, he added.

Speaking about Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, he said he had not committed any wrong by leaving the stage after addressing the political conference at Talwandi Sabo. “Is she Queen Victoria that I need permission from her to leave the stage,” he said, adding that Bhattal had been doing the same during his tenure as Chief Minister. “She never sat back to listen to my speech and always came and whispered in my ear that she had some important work and wanted to leave after speaking”.

He said it was not his leaving the stage, which had stung Bhattal so much as the fact that more than half the people attending the conference left the venue after he delivered his speech. “Nobody can dictate to me when I should leave any public function”, he said. “There was anyway no need to listen to Bhattal”. “She is a bore as a speaker,” he said as a matter of explanation.

Speaking about yesterday’s committee meeting and the reported outburst of former ministers Surinder Singla and Lal Singh against him, he said they had probably acted like this seeing he was politically inactive for some time. “They may also fear action against them if I came back to power,” he said. “I have always enjoyed the utmost cordial relations with them,” he added.


Scramble for SAD, Cong ticket
Amritsar byelection on May 22
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 16
It seems there will be a triangular contest for the by-election to the Amritsar South constituency to be held on May 22 .The seat fell vacant after the death of SAD MLA Raminder Singh Bularia.

The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal has announced Satnam Singh Kanda its candidate for the seat. Bularia’s son Inderbeer Singh Bularia, who is also a councillor of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, Youth Akali Dal leader Gurpartap Singh Tikka, SGPC member Rajinder Singh Mehta and Pardeep Walia are among the SAD leaders aspiring for SAD ticket to fight the election.

Congress leaders like former MLA Harjinder Singh Thekedar and Inderjeet Singh Basarke are in the race for the ticket. However, sources in the party say Thekedar may not be inclined to contest the election as he had lost it and, moreover, he annoyed PPCC president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal by not participating in the jan chetna lalkar rally of the party here recently.

There are rumours the SAD president may contest the election from this seat as the state government has released huge grants for various development projects in the area.

However, party sources said if Sukhbir Badal contests the election as he was being pressurised by local Akali leadership the message would go to the masses that he was a serious contender for the Chief Minister’s post. Panthic sources, however, said there was no need for Sukhbir to contest the election as he could become the CM anytime and contest the elections in six months. 


Devotees fill Amritsar roads
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 16
The armed police presented a guard of honour to Guru Manyo Granth Jagriti Yatra, which commenced from Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh here this morning.

The policemen faced a little difficulty while presenting the guard of honour amid a jostling crowd. Devotees were eager to get a glimpse of the handwritten Bir and the Shastars of Guru Gobind Singh.

The 3-km route of the yatra, with motorcycle-borne youths and a huge number of devotees, passed through main bazars of the city. Hundreds of devotees were standing on both sides of roads to have a glimpse of holy Shastars. Langars were arranged at various points on the route.

Meanwhile, the Chief Khalsa Dewan donated Rs 6 lakh for the yatra when it reached Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School. The yatra would take a night halt at Guru Bir Baba Budda Sahib.

The yatra has covered around 200 cities across Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Guru’s arms on web soon
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), April 16
Shastars (arms) of Guru Gobind Singh and history of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo will soon be just a click away. The SGPC has developed a website of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib: www.takhtsridamdamasahib.com. President of the SGPC Avtar Singh, who was here today, gave his nod to the website, which will be operational in a few weeks.

Dr Amarjit Singh, principal, Guru Kashi Gurmat Institute, Talwandi Sabo, said: “We have been working on the site for the past three months and it has been developed and designed by a team of professionals of our institute. With the SGPC president giving his approval to it, we will get the website registered and it will be operational in a few weeks”. Owing to a lack of broadband connection at Talwandi Sabo, it will take some time to make the site fully operational.


Sikh General’s statue awaits installation
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 16
Paucity of funds with the municipal corporation has further delayed the installation of a statue of Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala, one of the great generals in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. The statue is to be installed at the Gateway of Amritsar. The statue has arrived here from Jaipur some time ago.

Commissioner of the corporation D.P.S. Kharbanda said the total construction cost of the project was about Rs 3 crore. About 95 per cent of the work had been completed. The cost of the statue was to be borne by the Amritsar Improvement Trust.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had laid the foundation stone of the project in 1977 and it was named then as Gateway of India. Even Badal did not bother about it when he became CM again in 1997. However, the previous Congress regime had announced a grant of Rs 2 crore for the project and renamed it as the Gateway of Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Col Harvinder Singh Attari, general secretary of the General Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala Trust, told this reporter on the phone from New Delhi that the 21-foot-high and 3-ton gunmetal statue of the general would be one of the biggest statues in India.


Panchayat poll notified
2-phase election to be held by May 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The government today notified that the general elections to the panchayat samitis and zila parishads would be held by May 15 and the general elections to gram panchayats would be held by May 31. With the issue of the notification, the model code of conduct comes into effect.

The government had recommended that the general elections to all three Panchayati Raj institutions be held simultaneously. However, based upon the reports of deputy commissioners, the government has now recommended that holding the elections to all three institutions on the same day will pose serious operational problems.

The government has argued with the chief electoral officer that casting of three ballot papers by each voter will involve considerable time and even the extended polling hours from 8 am to 5 pm will not be adequate. At some places, there might arise a law and order problem.

Certain deputy commissioners have been facing problems in the appointment of requisite number of poll personnel for holding the three elections simultaneously. Accordingly, the government has recommended that the elections may be held in two phases.

The State Election Commission has accepted the recommendation of the government. Accordingly, the general elections to the panchayat samitis and the zila parishads will be held on May 12, 2008.

The date-wise schedule will be issued separately.

The general elections to the gram panchayats will be held in the last week of May, 2008, and the date of the poll and detailed schedule will be announced separately.


Ration cards for slum dwellers sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 16
President of district unit of the BJP and District Grievances Redressal Committee member Jatinder Kalra today asked the administration at the monthly meeting of the committee here to launch a special drive in the district for preparing new ration cards as the Food and Supply authorities had not done so for 10 years.

Kalra added that it was necessary to prepare new ration cards after every five years, and wanted to know why the authorities had not made new ration cards for such a long period. He said poor people, especially slum area dwellers, did not have ration cards and faced problems in availing themselves of various government facilities meant for them.

Kalra belongs to the SAD-BJP alliance. Today he spoke against the purchase of medicines for the health mela, organised by the district health authorities on March 8 at Malerkotla, and alleged that the medicines for the mela had been purchased without tenders or calling quotations.

The matter was linked with the other inquiry being conducted by ADC Indu Malhotra on the purchase of medicines for the health mela held from December 7 to 9, 2007, at Sangrur. 


Ads by RMPs
Govt to get tough
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , April 16
Registered medical practitioners (RMPs) of homoeopathy, ayurveda and allopathy giving advertisements and promising cure of various ailments, including sexual dysfunction, will face action. The Punjab government has decided to act against them.

Secretary, Medical Education & Research, Jagjit Puri today directed to initiate action against all doctors advertising in media, including print, broadcast and outdoor media. Puri held a meeting of heads of various councils and boards working under the department and directed them to start a campaign to stop advertisements by RMPs, as it violated guidelines of the Medical Council of India, the IMA and other affiliating bodies.

Puri said some leading medical practitioners of homoeopathy, ayurveda and allopathy were giving advertisements and putting hoardings in the state claiming total rejuvenation, especially in matter of sexual problems, assuring the birth of male child etc. He said these advertisements were against provisions of various Acts. 


IG Randhawa cremated
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 16
The body of inspector-general (IG), Punjab Police, Hardish Singh Randhawa, who died here last evening, was cremated with police honours at Bodal village, 45 km from here, this evening. His son Sukhamrit Singh lit the pyre. Randhawa leaves behind his mother, wife, a son and a daughter.

Villagers and DGP N.P.S. Aulakh, chief parliamentary secretary, Punjab, Des Raj Dhugga, MLA Amarjit Singh Sahi, deputy commissioner, N. K.Wadhawan, SSP Hoshiarpur, Dr Sukhchain Singh Gill and many other senior police officers attended the funeral. 


Global IT trainer to set up centres
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
With Indian IT industry facing severe shortage of skill, global leader in IT training, New Horizons, will set up finishing schools in colleges across Punjab for providing cost-effective training in technology and language enabling trainees to take the plunge in the IT sector.

Ajay Kumar Sharma, managing director, New Horizons India, today announced to set up nodal coaching centres in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Chandigarh. “Once these centres are established, we will expand our finishing schools in other cities of Punjab. The course offered will blend curriculum from Harvard University and the finishing schools from the UK and Switzerland, so that the youth trained at our schools are equipped to enter the IT industry,” he said.

The finishing schools will become operational at the above-mentioned nodal centres in June. The duration of the course will be between 28 days (fast-track training) to six months. “A recent report on skill shortage suggests India will face a shortage of 80 lakh skilled workforce, dealing with intellectual work. On the other hand there will be three crore people trying to find jobs. To meet shortage of knowledge delivery, we also propose to start applied learning courses in retailing and micro finance,” he said.

New Horizons specialises in imparting customised training to IT professionals in all leading IT companies here. Even as up-skilling and multi-skilling workers in the IT industry was a major growth driver for the company, Sharma said they hoped creating human factory for training teachers, who could e-tutor children in the UK and the USA would help them expand business. He said their various e-governance projects would also help the company’s India operations reach a turnover of Rs 100 crore by the end of this year.

Sharma said the company recently launched a pilot project in Mizoram called the Youth Development Programme, to bring the youth of north east into the national mainstream. “We are imparting training to 400 youth in Mizoram as data specialists, microsoft specialists, web specialists and networking and security specialists.

While half of the 10 lakh - dollar project cost has been spent on creating infrastructure for training, the remaining amount used for imparting skills. As these people get ready to join the IT industry, we will replicate the project by training 400 youths in each of the other six north eastern states,” he said. 


Admission policy notified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab government has notified a policy on admission to colleges of education and law. Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education, civil aviation, vigilance and justice minister, Punjab, said here today.

Entrance test for admission to B.Ed. will be held by Punjabi University, Patiala, on June 1, 2008, and cover 163 colleges of education affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Punjabi University, Patiala. In all, 20,220 seats in these colleges shall be filled through the entrance test for which counselling will be held between July 8 to August 15 and August 15 to September 15. Eightyfive per cent of the seats shall be filled from applicants belonging to Punjab and 15 per cent on all-India basis.

The minister added that admissionto BALLB, LLB and BALLB (honours) shall also be held on the basis of entrance test to be conducted by Punjabi University at Abohar, Bathinda, Amritsar, Sangrur,Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Muktsar, Chandigarh and at other places to be notified by the university, besides Ambala cantonment, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Pune, Secunderabad and Kolkata. This entrance test will cover 22 law colleges affiliated to GND University, Panjab University and Punjabi University with total intake of 3,048 seats.The counselling shall take place in two phases dates of which shall also be notified by Punjabi University. 


Canal water: Kharif schedule issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab Irrigation Department has announced rotational irrigation schedule for the kharif season by canal water from April 19 to 26. Channels of the Sirhind canal system will run on priority from Bathinda branch, Bist Doab canal, Sidhwan branch, Patiala feeder and Abohar branch, respectively.

A spokesman of the department said today that direct distributaries of Bhakra Main Line, in group 'A' being in the first preference, would run to their indent. Balance water supplies would be utilised in the Ghaggar link and its off-taking channels i.e. Ghaggar branch and Patiala minor in group 'B,' respectively.

The spokesman added that Punjab channels off-taking from Harike and Ferozepur headworks and branches i.e. all direct distributaries of Sirhind feeder in-group "A" being in the first preference would run to their indent. Balance water supplies would be utilised in Abohar branch off-taking from Sirhind feeder and its distributaries/minors in-group "B".

The spokesman said the channels off-taking from Upper Bari Doab canal i.e. Lahore branchwith its distributaries being in the first preference would run to their indent. Balance surplus water available would be utilised in Main Branch Lower, Kasur Branch Lower and Sabraon Branch with its distributaries.


PSEB for weekly day off for industry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The PSEB said today that for enforcing power cuts it was mandatory to have the approval of the state Electricity Regulatory Commission and the board would ensure there were no power cuts on any category of consumer except a weekly off for industrial consumers.

Board chief Y. S. Ratra in a press note today, said the board was going in for additional power purchases. 


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