P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


OYT scheme leaves farmers disappointed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
“Where should I now go? Who should I approach? Will I ever have a tube well connection, for which have spent Rs 1.50 lakh under the OYT scheme (own your transformer)?” Sukhdev Singh, a resident of a village near Hargobindpur, asks these questions repeatedly.

Reason: His dream of having a tube well connection under the scheme has been shattered by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the Punjab government that had launched the scheme with fanfare.

There are thousands like Sukhdev who have spent a large amount under the OYT, but have been left in the lurch by the PSEB. For no fault of theirs farmers have become victims of the scheme.

PSEB sources said 89,000 farmers had applied under the scheme and 68,000 were issued demand notices. Of them, 34,000 had deposited the money and connections to 21,000 farmers were released.

Most of the remaining farmers have bought transformers and got all fittings done, but they are not sure whether they will get the connection or not. Many applicant farmers have borrowed money it is learnt.

“Expecting a connection, I planted 5 acres of more paddy this time. Now I don’t know what to do,” says Sukhdev.

The PSEB did not give even temporary connections to tube wells this time. It suddenly suspended the scheme on May 29, a few days after the panchayat elections. Obviously, the scheme had a political axe.

It announced that those who had purchased material such as transformers etc and submitted test reports by June 17 would be eligible for connections.

But there were many applicants, who had got other fittings required for power connection, done before June 6, but were awaiting transformers from dealers through whom they had deposited money with manufacturers.

The PSEB, that failed to do proper home work before the launching of the scheme, has now landed such farmers in trouble.

The sources said as there was a rush for connections under the OYT scheme, some manufacturers got the opportunity to sell farmers substandard material and fittings such as transformers, concrete poles, conductors, switches, pins and insulators.

At some places test reports were also manipulated and inspection reports of transformers were also “managed”.

A committee of engineers, that was asked to look into the OYT scam, has submitted a report that reveals how some fishy characters “managed” everything to secure connections.

About 5,000 transformers installed under the scheme are said to be sub-standard and these will damage power distribution system and farmers, who would have to spend a lot of money to get these transformers repaired because of frequent burning.

Originally, when the scheme was launched, the PSEB was to procure and install the transformers and other fittings.

However, as it proved to be a costly affair for farmers and they raised voice against it, the PSEB diluted the scheme twice, leaving it to farmers that they can procure the material and do fittings at their own level and the PSEB officials concerned would inspect only transformers.

However, in the process, the scheme that was launched to benefit farmers, turned out to a problem for many of them.


NRI brides-in-waiting stretch social fabric
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 5
While the plight of abandoned NRI brides in Punjab is known, NRI brides-in-waiting to reach foreign shores have their problems in the Doaba region of the state.

Many living with their in-laws while awaiting emigration or developing independent habits and in some cases even extra-marital relations, is resulting in complaints to the police which is in a quandary as women often pressure for the registration dowry cases against their NRI husbands and their in-laws.

Interactions in the Jalandhar-Kapurthala belt revealed in many cases girls were being offloaded to NRIs without proper verification and also knowing the boy had gone abroad illegally or was still to be naturalised.

SSP, Kapurthala, Rakesh Aggarwal says, “In some cases boys get married and go abroad illegally. They cannot come back. The wife feels lonely at her in-laws’ place. This results in a lot of illegal relations and extra-marital affairs”.

Jalandhar women cell in charge inspector Manjit Kaur relating a case says Parvinder (name changed) of a village near Phillaur had married a boy from Canada.

Two months after marriage the boy left for Canada leaving Parvinder with his parents. Problems arose when the in-laws objected to visits of male friends of their bride. The girl on her part filed a dowry complaint against her in-laws.

Even as the dowry allegation was proved to be false, the boy’s parents claimed their son could not come back till he acquired citizenship.

The police has given time to both parties for reconciliation, but is under pressure to register a case against the boy’s parents.

In another case, Ranjit Kaur (name changed) of Shahkot has filed a dowry complaint against her in-laws. According to the police, the girl’s parents want either property be registered in the girl’s name or the police should register a case against them.

The boy’s parents say their son in Malaysia has not acquired citizenship and it is difficult to settle there with family on the pay he is getting.

NRI Sabha vice-chairman Zorawar Singh Dodd maintains in 90 per cent of the cases NRI boys are responsible for atrocities on their brides.

He says in some cases the girl’s parents are also at fault as “temptation overrules reality” and they do not make appropriate checks and even hide details from relatives fearing someone will sabotage the “dream match”.

He says in most cases the boys are married or have live-in relationships. “The boy’s parents feel an Indian marriage will result in getting rid of the ‘gori’ and also reform their son. In such cases when marriages break up my sympathy is with the girls as registering dowry cases is the only option left open to them,” he adds.

If NRI brides are complaining to the police, so are the grooms. Kapurthala NRI police station in charge Dalbir Singh says the women cell of the station receives three complaints from NRI grooms to every 10 complaints received from brides.

NRI grooms usually complain that their mothers-in-law are interfering excessively in their relationship, besides claiming there is usual demand to live separately.


Govt gears up to comply with MCI norms
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
The state government has told the Medical Council of India (MCI) that it will shortly fill all vacant posts in the three medical colleges of the state and comply with all other mandatory provisions before the admissions for the next academic session.

Secretary, Medical Education, Jagjit Puri, accompanied by minister concerned, has held several rounds of talks with the MCI and submitted their first compliance report.

The MCI had issued a warning to derecognise 117 government medical colleges across India, including the three in Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot.

The government has been given time till July 19 to furnish details of all steps it has taken to remove the shortcomings. Puri has submitted the first compliance report to the MCI that lists all posts that will be filled soon.

One of the major objections of the MCI was the shortage of teaching staff in these colleges. The government will fill 68 posts in the next two weeks, the government has told the MCI.

Sources in the government said the MCI president, Dr R. Nayyar, and its secretary, Lieut-Col A.R.N Satalvadi, expressed satisfaction over steps taken by government. The second compliance report would be submitted to the MCI next week.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal spoke to Nayyar and assured him that the state would take whatever it could to prevent the medical colleges from derecognition.

Badal told the MCI that Rs 140 core would be spent on the improvement of Amritsar Medical College, Rs 100 crore on Patiala and Rs 65 crore on the Faridkot Medical College. The Centre, through special grants that have already been approved, will give the money.

The vacancies to be filled soon include 11 senior residents, three tutors, 45 assistant professors.

Eleven retired teachers are being re-employed. The government has decided to raise the retirement age of medical college teachers from 60 to 65 years.

Puri said the situation had come to such a pass because the government could not do much earlier on account of the model code of conduct that has been in place for about past three months.

He, however, said the students and their parents should not panic on account of the MCI notice to Punjab as all the objections were being removed with appropriate corrective measures.

Puri said services were being outsourced to ensure immediate compliance of
the MCI guidelines.


Mattewal urges NRIs to invest in state
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
Asian Connections, Toronto-based media group, has honoured H.S. Mattewal, Advocate-General, Punjab, for providing free legal consultancy to NRIs in live
radio programme.

He has been felicitated for “selfless legal services to the Indian diaspora”. At a function organised recently by Asian Connections, Mattewal told NRIs that the Punjab government would safeguard the rights of the non-resident Indians and resolve their issues.

He urged the NRIs to invest in Punjab. He said the Badal government was working to resolve many problems of the NRIs had formed a high-level committee for it.

He said Punjab was likely to emerge the most preferred investment destination and commercial centre as sectors like industry, real estate, education and health services have recently witnessed expansion.



SAD (A), Dal Khalsa seek ban on BJP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 5
The SAD (Amritsar) and the Dal Khalsa today sought a ban on the BJP for giving communal colour to the revocation of the land-transfer order to the Amarnath Shrine Board.

The parties have also demanded immediate suspension of Punjab Vigilance chief Sumedh Singh Saini who has been booked by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the kidnap and torture of two Sikh youths in connection with a 1991 blast case.

President of the SAD (A) Simranjit Singh Mann said the call for a nationwide bandh by L.K. Advani was unconstitutional. He said Saini should be suspended as he might destroy the evidence against him.

Meanwhile, Kanwarpal Singh Bittu, along with senior leaders of the Dal Khalsa, said the Election Commission should debar the BJP as political party. They criticised Advani for making the matter an election issue.

Meanwhile, Mann said the SAD and the SGPC had failed to get bail granted to controversial religious Dera Sacha Sauda leaders cancelled.

He said if the committee failed to pursue the cancellation of bail to Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim, his party, along with other panthic organisations, would take step in this regard.


Poll Rigging
CPI to issue White Paper
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 5
The Communist Party of India (CPI) is collecting evidence of the alleged rigging, booth-capturing, “misuse” of civil and police machinery and violence by the ruling SAD-BJP combine in the recent civic body polls in the state to publish a White Paper to tell people how democracy was “murdered” in those elections.

Talking to The Tribune today, a member of the national executive of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, said the SAD-BJP combine more or less was working on the pattern of the RSS by communalising politics and gagging people who spoke against it. Efforts had been made to silence the media by hooligans of the combine, he added.

Dr Dayal alleged that the Student Organisation of India (SOI) was working on the pattern of Taliban of Afghanistan by spreading terror, violence and fear among the people, besides targeting political leaders who dared to oppose its activities.

He said the law and order situation in the state was deteriorating with continuing reports of murders, dacoities and robberies.

The CPI and the CPM would organise a “week of protests” from July 14 to 21 across the country against rising prices, failure of the UPA government to control inflation and the proposed nuclear deal with the US.


N-deal: SAD to convene meeting
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 5
The SAD has decided to convene a meeting before coming out with its stand on the proposed nuclear deal with the US.

Avoiding a categorical answer on the issue, secretary-general of the SAD and Sangrur MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said a meeting of the executive body of the party would be called soon to discuss its stand on the deal.

“As the issue is related with the economic development of the country and not merely a political one, the final decision will be taken after discussing its all aspects at length,” said Dhindsa, while talking to The Tribune.

Denying allegations of violation during recent civic body elections, Dhindsa pointed out that even the state election commissioner endorsed the claim about fare polling.

Election of office-bearers of panchayats and municipal councils will also be held in a democratic manner.

“It is not necessary that only SAD or BJP councillor will be elected to posts of sarpanch or president. Anyone who proves majority on the floor will wear the crown,” said Dhindsa.

He claimed development projects would be launched on war footing in villages and towns soon after formation of the civic bodies.


Mechanised transplantation to overcome labour blues
Ashok Sethi

Ajnala (Amritsar), July 5
The Agriculture Department, showing serious concern over declining water table, has come out with a mechanical device to transplant paddy seedlings for better yield.

Dr P.S. Rangi, adviser, Punjab State Farmers Commission (PSFC), said according to statistics more than eight lakh migrant labourers used to work in the farms of the state, of which 50 per cent used to work on temporary basis and arrive in the state during the peak agriculture season.

The commission found that the migrant labourers used to rake in Rs 1,200 crore as wages during the season.

The labour used to transfer Rs 800 crore to their families in the respective states. Mechanical devices could plant 33 seedlngs per sq m at equal distance while manually it was not possible, he said.

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu, along with the chairman of the PSFC and experts of the Agriculture Department, organised a demonstration for farmers of this border town with two machines for transplanting paddy seedlings.

He said sprouted seeds of paddy were planted on the mats which are kept in water for 20 days and, thereafter, ready for mechanical transplantation.

Addressing peasants at Chamiary village, the DC said it was important to go in
for mechanisation which saved water and added to profit of farmers by saving
labour cost.

He said the PSFC had recommended agriculture mechanisation to increase yield in view of the rising demand of foodgrains in the country.

Pannu said Chinese machines could only transplant the saplings in 4 acres per day and the Japanese petrol-based machines worked on 8 acres a day.

Later, Dr Kalkat said after adoption of these machines by farmers, the government planned to acquire 700 more such machines next year for faster plantation.

He said the state government had opened 142 agro-service centres for helping of farmers which provide technical inputs and other information to them during cultivation and harvesting.


Bridge caves in
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 5
The 125-year-old bridge on Upper Bari Doab Canal, connecting Sultanwind village and Amritsar, today caved in, leaving a big hole in the middle of it.

Heavy traffic had been diverted to the bridge in view of some construction on the elevated road on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road.

Since the Municipal Corporation had failed to provide service roads along the elevated road, the administration diverted the traffic to the bridge.

It was done despite the fact that the condition of the bridge was poor, putting lives of people to risk.


SAD backs ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 5
The ex-servicemen wing of the SAD today recommended to the Central government to accept the long-pending demand of ex-servicemen for the compliance of one-rank-one-pension scheme.

The secretary-general of the wing, Col P.I.S. Phulka, in a representation to DC K.S. Pannu. has said the government must ensure a suitable second career for 95 per cent of the Armymen.

They retire at the age of 35-45 and are left to fend for themselves without jobs. His action coincides March of Justice Day for the Defence Services that falls today.

The ex-servicemen have rejected the Sixth Pay Commission report and demanded the constitution of a separate pay commission or pay review board.


One held for death due to stray bullet
P. K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 5
With the arrest of Rohit Bhatia of Bhatia Gun House, the district police today claimed to have solved the murder case of 10-year-old Arunima who was shot dead by a stray bullet when she was playing on the terrace of her house on June 28 evening.

Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SSP, said the police had recovered one bullet of .22-bore rifle from the roof. Investigations were carried out scientifically by following the trajectory of the bullet.

Giving details, he said the police was able to focus on Rohit as per the eyewitnesses account and later on the call details traced which corroborated the fact that he was present in that area at that time.

The trajectory of the bullet which pierced through the body of the victim also pointed towards the direction where Rohit was.

He said the accused had also admitted during preliminary investigations that he had fired in the air to test the weapon. Unfortunately, the stray bullet hit the girl who died on the spot.


Babas for green drive
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 5
The district administration has decided to persuade babas and religious leaders for planting the of trees at public and private places of the city, founded by fourth Sikh Master, Guru Ram Dass.

Deputy commissioner K.S.Pannu today convened a meeting of Sikh babas and representatives of religious bodies having experience of construction and renovation of religious places through kar sewa.

Earlier, Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib had planted saplings of different varieties on all five roads leading to Khadoor Sahib.

Recently, certain Kar Sewawale babas drew flak from heritage lovers who alleged that some of the architectural marvels and Sikh religious places were defaced through kar sewa. Amritsar has a number of historical, archaeological, religious and scenic places which have not been given due attention.

Most of the ancient buildings lost heritage value during kar sewa. However, new
role of Sikh babas will earn them more goodwill when they would be involved in the tree plantation.

Addressing the meeting, the deputy commissioner said names of many localities of the city were named after gardens and the administration would try to revive the glory of the city by planting trees and reducing pollution in the city.

The deputy commissioner said more than 10 lakh saplings would be planted this year with the help kar sewa wale babas and religious leaders.

Baba Darshan Singh of Bir Baba Budha, Sukhwinder Singh of Tapu Asthan Baba Bhuriwale and Baba Lakha Singh of Tahli Sahib attended the meeting.


Rights panel asks Centre to explain delay in deportation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has asked the union home secretary to explain if there is any legal impediment in recommending the case of a detainee, Muhammad Usman Sheikh, who is a Pakistani national, for deportation.

The commission had received a complaint through an e-mail on June 23 from Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney requesting it to help secure the early release of Sheikh (Abdul Samad Askari), who is lodged in the district jail, Sangrur.

The rights commission has also written to the J&K government and asked it whether the only hitch in deporting Sheikh is the recommendation of the union ministry of home affairs or there is any other legal impediment. The DM, Sangrur, had submitted a report in the case.

The Home Department of the J&K government had passed an order on September 8, 2006, stating that Sheikh was not an Indian national and was a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners Act.

With a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from the state, it was thought necessary to detain him under the provisions the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 for a period of 24 months with effect from September 22, 2006, or till his actual deportation took place, whichever is earlier.


Rain lowers demand for power
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 5
Pre-monsoon downpour across the state has brought respite to the common man from summer heat and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has registered considerable decrease in demand for power.

At the same time, raised water level and flow in the Bhakra reservoir have given boost to the morale of the PSEB.

The board authorities were expecting that unlike in the past, they might not be forced to impose long power cuts and purchase power at a higher price from other states as the PSEB’s own generation was almost likely to be constant at 1,276 lakh units this year.

The PSEB statistics revealed a good rainfall, particularly at the very outset of paddy sowing in Punjab from June 10 onwards had resulted in a huge fall in demand of electricity in the state.

With the rain god being clement this time after a couple of years, the PSEB authorities were expecting not to go for power cuts if the rain situation remained the same.

Good rain could also result in the saving of several hundred crores for the PSEB this year. While the PSEB had to purchase additional power from other states for of Rs 6,000 crore to meet demand in paddy season last year, this year, the board was unlikely to purchase power at higher and unrealistic prices, particularly, as the demand was not so pressing this time.


Mock drills in flood rescue operations
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 5
The district administration, along with the Army and the police, carried out mock drills in three places.

Keeping in view the threat of floods posed to this district by the Ravi and the Beas, the drills were held to execute relief and rescue operations in such an eventuality. The drills were supervised by deputy commissioner Gurkirat Kirpal Singh.

Official sources said mock drills were carried out at Kishanpur-Kathana, Dharamkot Pattan and Samrai villages on Thursday.


7 civil hospitals to have Unani, ayurvedic wings
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 5
To promote ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine in Punjab, wings of the Indian system of medicine will be opened in civil hospitals at Amritsar, Sangrur, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda in two months under a Central scheme.

Secretary, Health-cum-commissioner of ayurveda and Ayush, Punjab, K.B.S. Sidhu stated this here on Monday evening.

Apart from this, the scheme for which Rs 35 lakh each had been provided, the Union government had also provided Rs 22 lakh each for opening specialised wings of this science in seven districts of Punjab.

Those suffering from chronic diseases will be treated through yoga, kshal sutra and panchkarma in these wings.

Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine will be introduced in all government primary health and community centres in the state by restructuring the present Department of Ayurveda, Punjab, said Sidhu, adding that there were 507 ayurvedic dispensaries and hospitals in the state where 359 regular doctors of this system had been working.

It has been decided to open ayurvedic and Unani wings in all civil hospitals with existing infrastructure. Four doctors in every civil hospital, two each in rural subdivisional hospitals and community centres and one each in primary health centres will be appointed.

As many as 121 doctors of this system will be recruited on contract before August 15. Later, more than 500 doctors and para-medical staff will also be recruited.

The Union government had also provided Rs 1 crore to equip the government laboratory, Patiala, to test raw material and medicines.

The government pharmacy will also be modernised and strengthened for preparing ayurvedic and Unani medicines.

Sidhu said that Rs 75 lakh worth of medicines had been provided by the Union government to all ayurvedic dispensaries and hospitals last year and Rs 20 lakh in the current year.

Earlier, a deputation of the Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Officers Association met Sidhu and demanded pay and status on a par with their counterparts in the Union government. He assured them to take this issue up with the authorities for getting it implemented in their favour.


EC begins preparations for LS polls
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 5
The Election Commission (EC) has now started its preparations for the next Lok Sabha elections.

According to sources, the commission has started holding video conferences with state electoral officers regarding arrangements on the basis of reconstituted Lok Sabha constituencies.

The commission has asked the state electoral officers to complete preparations by August 31.

The commission has held video conferences with electoral officers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

A video conference has also been held with electoral officers of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa.

To check bogus voting, the commission has introduced photo-electoral rolls having photograph of the voter to help the authorities establish authenticity of the voter.


PU stand leaves students in lurch
Refuses to recognise M.Phil through distant education
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 5
Thousands of students, who have done M.Phil through distant education, have been left in the lurch following the refusal of Panjab University, Chandigarh, to recognise their degrees. Most of these students did their M.Phil from Annamalai, Algappa, Periyar, Vinayak Mission and Madurai Kamraj universities in the South.

The M.Phil degrees through distant education programme of these universities are recognised by the UGC and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).

Registrar of Algappa University R. Dandpani took up the matter with Panjab University, but the university replied in the negative.

Another student from Sirsa, Jaipal, was told by the university authorities that M.Phil by distance education was not recognised.

Algappa University has been given “A” grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body established by the UGC for grading universities on the basis of infrastructure and academic standards.

The Panjab University plea that it had not recognised M.Phil degree through distance education so far is untenable as the matter regarding recognition of degrees falls under the purview of the UGC.

The university’s refusal to recognise such M.Phil degrees has put a question mark on the career of aggrieved students who want to pursue Ph.D, a spokesman for the students said here today.

The aggrieved students from all over the state would hold a convention at Malout tomorrow to chalk out their future course of action.


PMET: Three more cases of impersonation
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 5
Strict vigilance and alert staff of the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences and Research have managed to detect three more cases of impersonation, including of a girl, after cross-checking photographs of suspected cases through videography.

Registrar S.S. Walia talking to The Tribune here today said the university found that six students had got their papers written by imposters at the Patiala centre and their cases had been handed over to the police for investigations.

Those who had been identified were Pandeep Kaur of Tapa Mandi, Ashist Kumar Sharma of Lehra Mohabbat and Abhinav from Garhshankar.

The registrar said they found discrepancies in the photographs of about 500 students, out of whiom 296 candidates had failed to comply with the instructions.


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