P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Promotion of dental medical officers questioned
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Some dentists have questioned the promotion of certain dental medical officers as assistant professors by the Department of Medical Education and Research, Punjab.

In a submission to the chief secretary, dentists have urged him to have the promotion order revoked and a probe held into what they have described as a violation of the rules while ordering the promotion.

The director, Medical Education and Research, Punjab, had invited applications for the posts of assistant professor (dentistry) on April 4, from dental medical officers. Those having teaching experience of three years as demonstration dental after MDS degree were asked to apply. Dental medical officers have been brought on deputation to government dental colleges against vacant posts from the PCMS cadre. They were not actually from the Punjab Dental Education Services cadre.

It has been alleged that some of the applicants who had no teaching experience as demonstrator dental after the MDS degree have been promoted assistant professors in violation of rules.

There are applicants who had not secured even 60 per cent marks in the final BDS examination and have been selected assistant professors. It has been stated there is requirement of 60 per cent marks in the final BDS examination to become demonstrator dental, a qualification laid down for promotion as assistant professor.

“How can a person, who was not even eligible to apply for lower post of demonstrator dental, be promoted to a higher post of assistant professor (dentistry) ?” This question has been raised in the representation to the chief secretary.


Raids fetch PSEB Rs 62-cr fine
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
The PSEB has detected power theft worth over Rs 62 crore during a series of raids across the state. Fine worth about Rs 85 lakh was recovered from defaulters during raids in border zone, north zone, central zone and south zone on August 8.

The highest number of power thefts in these raids turned out to be in the farm sector.

“During the raids from April 1 to August 10, the board teams checked 5,88,815 connections of which irregularities were detected in 57,475. The exercise fetched us fine worth Rs 55 crore,” revealed a top official of the PSEB. The enforcement wing inspected 9,613 connections between April 1 and July 31 and detected 1,386 cases of regularities. The wing recovered fine worth Rs 5.68 crore, revealed board sources.

The raids conducted across the state on August 8 indicated that if a large number of domestic and commercial consumers in urban areas were resorting to power theft, farmers were also not lagging behind. Officials conducted raids on 1,802 domestic and commercial premises and on 324 farms in Amritsar zones.

As many as 109 domestic and commercial consumers were found to be indulging in power theft besides 41 agriculturists. In the north zone, the quantum of power theft was less with only Rs 9.58 lakh recovered as fine there.

As many as 1,438 consumers of all types were subjected to inspection in the biggest central zone comprising Ludhiana, Jagraon, Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh. Of them, 131 defaulters had to deposit fine worth Rs 27.7 crore. The largest number of power thefts was detected in the southern zone comprising Patiala, Zirakpur, Mohali and Ropar. Of 1,389 consumers subjected to the inspection, fine worth Rs 15.99 lakh was recovered from the defaulters.


Sutlej damages crop on 400 acres
Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, August 12
Paddy crop on at least 400 acres in the border village of Dilawar Bhaini across barbed wire fencing in Fazilka sector has been destroyed due to floods in the Sutlej.

Villagers say that the flood fury aggravated following reports of Pakistan having blasted a barrage on the Sutlej in its territory. 1,200-odd villagers have incurred losses due to damage to their standing crops in the floods.

Tehsildar Subhash Khattak has ordered special girdawri in the flood-hit areas. Briefing mediapersons after a visit to the village, the tehsildar said six boats had been provided to the villagers by the BSF and the administration. He said 16 villages were flood prone in Fazilka sector. Each sector in charge was keeping a strict vigil on the flood situation, he added.

The village is surrounded from three sides by Pakistan. Earlier, a pontoon bridge connected the village with main land on the Indian territory. The villagers had built a temporary bridge parallel to the pontoon bridge.

While the pontoon bridge had been dismantled during the rainy season due to increased flow of water in the Sutlej, the temporary bridge has been washed away in floods. 


Special girdawri ordered
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, August 12
The district administration here today ordered special girdawri in villages of Tarn Taran to survey damage to paddy crop by flash floods in the Beas and Satluj which inundated villages in the area.

Addressing mediapersons, Khushi Ram,deputy commissioner, said special girdawri had been ordered in Muthianwala, Kambo Dhaiwala, Johl Dhiawala, Chapa Kalan, Gharka, Khakh Miani, Dhunda, Kaler etc for compensation to the farmers who had suffered losses. He said bundhs were needed along the rivers near Muthianwala village and Rs 35 lakh to check the flow of water in villages, besides Rs 8.5 lakh for 21 pillars and bundhs to save various villages from being inundated.

The deputy commissioner said a proposal of Rs 1.8 crore for constructing bundhs at Kambo Dhaiwala village had been sent to the government. He said bundhs No. 1 and 2 constructed in Kapurthala district were responsible for the floods in the villages which have diverted river water to this villages. He urged people to keep village ponds in historic town Chohla Sahib clean as these were choked with polythene bags and garbage and got filled early in rainy season.


Centre’s free education scheme to benefit
32,380 students

Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
As many as 32,380 students from minority communities (in the Central list) in Punjab can get education free of charge, besides scholarship of Rs 100 per month under a recent special scheme of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. They will not be required pay admission or tuition fees. Applications can be sent by August 31.

The scheme covers students of government and government-aided private schools. Students with 50 per cent marks in the preceding class are eligible under the scheme applicable to students till class X. Rupees 100 per month will be paid to purchase notebooks, pencils etc. A stipend will be paid for 10 months in a year.

In Punjab, 30,800 Sikh students are eligible for the scheme, besides 620 Christians, 800 Muslims and 80 Buddhists. In Haryana, the scheme will be extended to 2,480 Sikhs, 2,580 Muslims, 60 Christians and 20 Buddhists. At the national level, 4 lakh scholarships will be given.

Students or schools concerned may apply for fee benefit to the district welfare officers by August 25. The money will be deposited in the bank accounts of the students. The income of the applicant’s family should be less than Rs 10 lakh a year.



4 in race for SAD ticket from Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Four candidates are in the race to secure ticket from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), headed by Sukhbir Singh Badal, to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Patiala.

Sources said Prem Singh Chandumajra was among the main contenders. Though it had not been confirmed by the party leadership yet, sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had asked Chandumajra to prepare to contest the Patiala Lok Sabha seat. For the past some months, Chandumajra, who contested the Assembly elections against the former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal from the Lehra constituency in Sangrur district and lost by a small margin, had been concentrating on the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency.

However, the sources said the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s adopted daughter Kuldeep Kaur, who is wife of former SAD Minister Harmel Singh Tohra, was also being projected as candidate by some of the Akali leaders. Besides, Tarsem Saini, president of the Rice Millers Association, Punjab, was also said to be keen to contest on the SAD ticket from Patiala.

As Preneet Kaur, wife of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, is expected to contest again from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat on Congress ticket, obviously it would be a tough contest in the Patiala constituency. Preneet is now member of the Lok Sabha.


Dal Khalsa flays BJP for violence in J-K
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 12
Leaders of the Dal Khalsa here today lashed out at the BJP for engineering violence in the Jammu region to reap electoral benefits for the impending elections.

Expressing shock over the killing of Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz by security forces in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, who was leading a peaceful procession, Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary, Dal Khalsa, said this reflected the growing intolerance of the ruling elite against minorities. The BJP to grasp power was precipitating the situation by fuelling the agitation in the Jammu region, he added.

Taking exception over the manner the Union and state administration have mishandled the situation arisen out of the Amarnath shrine land row, he said instead of reining in parties like the BJP who had created an economic blockade and were playing havoc with the lives of common people of the region, the government had unleashed a reign of terror on Kashmiri leaders who were pursuing their struggle in a democratic manner.

Expressing solidarity with family members of the deceased, besides the Kashmiri leaders, including Hurriyat chairman Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani Dal Khalsa leader said the slain leader was a friend of Sikhs and supporter of their cause.

He said the departed leader was also a member of the co-ordination ccommittee of ethnic and religious nationalities struggling for right to self-determination under the chairmanship of Justice Ajit Singh Bains which was formed in Delhi in March 23 this year.


Badal’s no to farm cess shocks PAU
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 12
The assurance by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the BKU (Rajewal) that no cess will be imposed on farm produce to help PAU in tiding over the financial crisis has sent a shock wave at the university campus here today.

At a meeting with the PAU authorities in Chandigarh on June 17, the CM had reportedly agreed in principle to implement the report of the Johal committee and the cess was to be levied from the current paddy arrivals in September. Dr S.S. Johl, former VC, Punjabi University, had presented the expert committee report. The committee was set up by the PAU management to find ways to meet the financial crisis.



CM gives 50,000 to ailing artiste

Chandigarh, August 12
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today gave Rs 50,000 to Bhag Singh, theatre and Punjabi film artiste.

Director information and public relations Tejveer Singh presented the cheque to his wife Kamla Bhag Singh on behalf of the Chief Minister. Bhag Singh has not been in good health for the past few years. Earlier, CM's media adviser Harcharan Bains had presented Rs 1 lakh to Bhag Singh in March. — TNS


Village Land Row
ADC orders demarcation
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 12
ADC (general) Arshdeep Singh Thind and ADC (development) Pradeep Singh Kalike visited Dehni village today. Villagers had complained against panchayat administrator JE Naresh Kumar for selling panchayat land protected under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA).

Thind directed the area tehsildar to demarcate land in question and identify which portion lay under the PLPA Act. Officials also talked to villagers who alleged that Naresh Kumar had sold the land for commercial purposes.

Naresh, panchayat administrator of 23 villages in Kiratpur Sahib, was accused of selling Dehni's panchayat land to 495 persons for commercial ventures illegally.

In their complaint to deputy commissioner, Ropar, B. Purushartha, villagers of Dehni alleged that Naresh, in connivance with political leaders of the SAD from Anandpur Sahib, had sold plots on the panchayat land. This land is protected under Section 4, PLPA. The aforesaid piece of land lay just 500 m from cement plant of J.P. cement factory in Himachal.

The DC marked an inquiry to BDPO, Anandpur Sahib, Ranjit Singh Bains. In his report to the ADC and DDPO, Ropar, Bains has stated that Naresh did not have the right to sell land to anybody. The JE has misused his official position. Naresh even got an agenda passed from panchayat regarding the sale of land, but Bains refused to endorse it.


Sweets for Children on I-Day
Chawla sends Rs 1 lakh cheque to DC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who has launched a drive against substandard eatables, synthetic milk, spurious medicines, drugs etc, has set a precedent for ministers visiting district headquarters on Independence Day (August 15) to unfurl the national flag.

Sources said Chawla had sent Rs 1 lakh cheque from discretionary funds to the deputy commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib to buy sweets for distribution among school students taking part in the function, and meeting the expenditure for the Independence Day function.

Chawla did this to prevent lower-level officials from collecting sweets from shopkeepers free of cost for distribution among students or using illegal means for this purpose.

For several years most of the ministers direct deputy commissioners to distribute sweets among students as part of the Independence Day or Republic Day celebrations. The deputy commissioners further ask tehsildars or district food and supplies officers or health officers to arrange sweets. The sources said every deputy commissioner was provided with a small amount that was not enough for the celebrations.

As mostly funds are not provided officially, officers asked to make arrangements either collect sweets from shopkeepers using influence or collect money from people visiting them for official work. For several years the practice has been going on.

Chawla said she had sent the money to the deputy commissioner for this. “There is a provision for it in the rules meant for the spending of the discretionary funds. Earlier also, during the Republic Day, I sent Rs 1.5 lakh to the deputy commissioner concerned,”she asserted.

It could not be ascertained if any other minister had sent money to DCs in this regard. Almost all ministers had been deputed to unfurl the national flag at district headqurters on the Independence Day.

Medical camps for slum dwellers

The Health Department will hold medical camps for poor people living in slums and colonies in the state tomorrow. On August 14, camps will be held for school students at all 140 community health centres in the state. Every student turning up for medical examination will also be offered refreshment worth Rs 6/7 and it will include apples, bananas and sweets etc.


School roof gives way in 45 days
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 12
Just after 45 days of its construction, the roof of the government primary school in Paharpur Samlah village collapsed this morning. However, the incident took place before the school was to start for the day.

The school has been covered under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan scheme and the rooms were constructed with the grants received under it.

District education officer (primary) Harvinder Kaur has ordered an inquiry into the incident.


Computer books not available
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 12
The non-seriousness of the government towards computer education can be gauged from the fact that subject books are yet to be made available to government schools by the Punjab School Education Board even as the first terminal examination are only a month away.

The government has failed to provide computer books to nearly 5,500 government schools. The first terminal examination is scheduled to be held in the next month.

The teachers recruited under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project have no information about the syllabus.

Sources in the Education Department said the computer education is being “imparted” to lakhs of students in 5,497 government schools, including 1,362 senior secondary, 1,753 high and 2,382 middle schools.

Over 7,000 computer teachers were recruited on a contractual basis in April, 2005. Navneet Sharma, general secretary of the Computer Teachers’ Union (CTU), claimed that the students as well the teaching faculty had been facing hardships due to the unavailability of the books.

“Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while in the opposition, would give suggestions to the Congress government on imparting computer education free of cost in government schools, but seems to have ignored it after his own government took the charge,” claimed Gurwinder Singh, president of the union.


4 of family drown in canal
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, August 12
Four members of a family were drowned when the Jeep in which they were travelling fell into a canal near Kulgarhi village in this border district this morning.

The district administration sought the help of the Army and the BSF for a rescue operation, but the occupants of the vehicle could not be saved due to heavy flow of water in the canal.

Harjit Singh of Nurpur Sethan village of this district, who was a head constable in 65th Battalion of the BSF and posted on Wagah border, was returning to his native village along with his wife Darshana and sons Pargat Singh (18) and Shaminder Singh (14) after visiting the Golden Temple. Suddenly he lost control over the Jeep and it plunged into the Ferozepur feeder canal.

The rescue team fished out the bodies of Harjit, Darshana and Shaminder. Efforts were on to recover the body of Pargat when the reports last came in.


Beekeepers reap sweet harvest
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda/Dabwali, August 12
The 40-km stretch of the highway between Bathinda in Punjab and Dabwali in Haryana is dotted with bee farms that are having a bumper yield these days. Most of these makeshift farms have been set up alongside the cotton fields where the crop would bloom shortly. At the moment, the bees are carrying honey from the “kikkar” trees.

Jagdeep Singh, a beekeeper, who moves from place to place according to the flowering season, says that he has put 600 boxes at two places in Pathrala village. He has been busy with the second round of honey extraction. It can go up to four times in a favourable weather. He will camp here for two months before shifting to Alwar in Rajasthan when the mustard fields there are in full bloom.

The price of raw honey fluctuates between Rs 40 and Rs 70 per kg, he says. Two honey-marketing units based at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh are the main buyers of the produce in this area.

Jagdeep says after camping in the Kashmir valley for three months, he has just returned without collecting even a single drop of honey, thanks to heavy rainfall.

He says Bt Cotton flowers were harmless to honey bees as the farmers do not have to repeatedly spray insecticides on the plants.


Punjabi producer in search of talent
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Eminent Punjabi producer-director Manmohan Singh, credited with the revival of Punjabi cinema through his NRI-inspired films, is on a new mission to turn the region into a centre for cinematic tourism. Cashing in on the youth's craze for a career in tinsel world, the veteran director has decided to launch a talent hunt all over the region from August 20 to September 25.

To be organised under the aegis of the Centre for Media and Entertainment Studies (CMES), the talent hunt would be held in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh before the semifinals and finals at Chandigarh on September 26 and 27 - World Tourism Day.The primary objective of the talent hunt is to provide a platform to budding artistes in the fast-growing entertainment industry, Manmohan Singh, who is also CMES chairman, told The Tribune here today.

With Chandigarh making strides towards cinematic tourism with the setting up of a film city here, the talent hunt would prove to be a shot in the arm for television serial and film producers, who are always on the lookout for fresh and talented boys and girls. It would also enlarge the scope of employment avenues for the youth of the region, the acclaimed filmmaker claimed.

In fact, the talent hunt was a step in the direction of promoting north India as a destination for cinematic tourism. With that end in mind, the CMES would also be organising a cinematic tourism week from September 20 to 27, with an international conference where eminent personalities associated with the media and entertainment from various countries would discuss various aspects of the industry, especially its contribution to the overall economic development of the region. A roadmap underlining the collective efforts the north Indian states to promote the region as a single destination would be worked out. The states would also be urged to provide separate budgets for promoting cinematic tourism and organise familiarisation tours of leading television and film producers to enable them to acquire first hand knowledge about the region.

All north Indian states would be invited to showcase their attractions such as their scenic beauty, historical and cultural heritage, ancient monuments, temples, forts, havelis, lifestyle of the people, customs and traditions, fairs and festivals and their unique cuisine as also the facilitates and incentives they offer to the television and film producers for shooting. Leading television and film producers would be invited for interaction with state authorities.


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