P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Central team arrives today
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 23
A day after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD president, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, the Union government today constituted a five-member team comprising senior IAS officers of the Disaster Management Department to conduct a survey of the flood-affected areas of Punjab.

Revealing this to The Tribune, irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon said the team would visit Moga tomorrow morning. The team would visit the spots where breaches occurred at Madaarpur and Bogewala villages in the district and other parts of the state.

Sekhon said existing compensation for losses due to a natural calamity was very less given higher input costs. The team would interact with farmers to have a firsthand knowledge of not only floods but also farming costs.

The Central compensation ranges from Rs 1,600 to Rs 2,200 per acre in cases of loss due to a natural calamity whereas farmers of Punjab had paid Rs 2,000 per acre as transplant costs in paddy cultivation.

The minister was of the view that the Centre should give at least Rs 16,000 per acre as compensation to poor farmers

The compensation for damages to a pucca house is Rs 25,000 and for a kutcha one Rs 10,000.

Most of the flood-affected farmers said arhtiyas had stopped lending them money. “We should be given interest-free loans besides the compensation,” the farmers demanded.


More breaches plugged
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, August 23
The Irrigation Department has plugged the breaches in the Sutlej at Bogewala and Sahghera, which had caused flooding in hundreds of villages.

Superintendent engineer (drainage) Vinod Chowdhry, who had been camping at the sitesince the breaches were reported on August 16, said the department had constructed a 940-foot ring bundh to plug both breaches. Chowdhry said engineers and workers of the department worked continuously to plug the breaches with more than 3 lakh sand bags. Initially, department sources had said that it would take at least 15 days to plug the breaches.

Now, the Sutlej water has been diverted towards the Harike side along the natural flow of river.

Irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon lauded the efforts of the drainage officials.


Floodwaters cause skin disorders
Children most vulnerable 
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga/Ferozepur, August 23
Sheelo Devi, a resident of Kussuwala village, near here, lost her husband in the recent floods. She now lives with her six children under a tarpaulin on the embankment of the river.

Three-year-old Paramjit Kaur and five-year-old Hardeep are distraught and want to go home. Taking them in her arms, Sheelo Devi tries to assuage them.

But her four older children refuse to see reason and venture out every now and then to watch their home marooned in the flood waters.

All children are suffering from severe skin infections and undergoing treatment at a camp set up by the health department and the Army.

This is not the story of one family or one village. In almost all 150-odd villages and settlements in Moga and Ferozepur districts under flood waters, thousands of children face the risk of being infected with various water-borne diseases.

In Burj Mohammad, Bhinder tries hard to stop her children from entering the flood waters. “With schools closed in affected villages, they can’t be expected to sit idle the whole day. But I’m afraid they will catch infection in the dirty water.”

In most villages, children are seen playing in the flood waters, oblivious of the lurking dangers. The situation gets worse during the day with the tarpaulin huts heating up and causing itching.

It’s more than a week now that thousands of people are braving hardships of a displaced life. Most are suffering from skin disorders because of long-term exposure to the filthy water. No official from the social welfare or women and child development departments have reached out to these people.

Pregnant and lactating women and children remain without the requisite diet, adversely affecting their health. Sanitation and hygiene remain major problems.

Medical officer G.S. Dhillon supervising health conditions in Makhu area says fogging or spraying insecticides is a must to prevent the outbreak of diseases.



Cong prepares for Lambi rally
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Congress has begun preparations for the Lambi rally with the party high command giving the green signal to Capt Amarinder Singh to launch the party’s election campaign on September 1.

Capt Amarinder Singh, recently appointed chairman of the state’s campaign committee, will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Temple on August 26. Senior Congress leaders of Majha are preparing for what they describe as an unprecedented welcome to the Captain during his visit.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, former parliamentary secretary, said Capt Amarinder Singh would be welcomed at Raya, Jandiala Guru, Ajnala Chowk and Bhandari Bridge on his way to the Golden Temple. Senior leaders Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukh Sarkaria, Lali Majithia, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Harmander Singh Gill and O.P. Soni would accompany him.

Capt Amarinder Singh will hold the first poll rally at Lambi on September 1. He has already announced his programme in this regard. He recently held a meeting with leaders of Lambi area at his new Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala.

Jeet Mohinder Singh, a Congress MLA from Talwandi Sabo and a confidant of the Captain, said the Lambi rally would be for Congress activists and supporters from Lambi alone.

A day later on September 2, the SAD plans to hold a rally near Talwandi Sabo, obviously to counter the effect of the Amarinder rally, where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will lay the foundation stone for the thermal plant to be set up in the private sector at Banavali village.

Capt Amarinder Singh has chosen Lambi, the home turf of Badal, to begin the campaign. He knows politically Malwa is the most important region. It has remained a stronghold of the Akalis for 50 years. But the Captain, during the last Assembly elections, was successful in engineering the defeat of many Akali stalwarts of the area.


SGPC’s Haryana Outlay
SAD rolls out figures to counter charge
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
To counter the allegation that the SGPC is getting huge income from gurdwaras in Haryana but is spending much less in return, the SAD today released details of the income and expenditure in this regard.

The SAD maintains that of the seven gurdwaras managed by the SGPC under Section 85 and 19 gurdwaras under Section 87 of the Gurdwara Act, it gets 32 per cent of the income while the remaining 68 per cent is retained by the gurdwaras concerned.

Of this income, the SGPC gets 10 per cent as “daswand”, 15 per cent for propagation of Sikh religion, 5 per cent as education fund and 1.5 to 2.5 per cent as trust fund.

The SAD says from April 2003 to June 31, 2008, the SGPC got Rs 14,63,29,449 as income from the gurdwaras managed by it in Haryana. However, it spent Rs 27,88,79,000 in Haryana, almost double the income received.

The SGPC spent Rs 19,51,64,019 crore on Miri Piri Medical College, Shahbad Markanda, Rs 2,56,000,00 on Sant Mohan Singh Public School Tarlokewala near Sirsa, Rs 3,55,758 on a sub-office in Haryana, Rs 2,81,48,544 on schools, Rs 1,07,97,697 on various gurdwars, Rs 10,16,330 on literature and libraries, Rs 10,06,600 on Guru Ram Dass Niwas, Rs 10,03,961 on religious education in schools and Rs 33,54,516 on Gurmat Sangeet Academy and Rs 1,24,31,585 on transport, films and religious congregations.

Sikhs in Haryana are fighting for their own gurdwara management committee on the pattern of the SGPC. Their fight is for a bigger purpose -- to mark their presence politically.

Sikhs are a sizeable number in Ambala, Karnal, Kurukasherta, Hisar and Sirsa. 


SAD (A) stages dharna 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 23
Activists and members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) staged a dharna in front of the police station at Bhawanigarh, 22 km from here, yesterday in protest against the non-arrest of alleged murderers of Jaswant Singh of Kakra village, who was husband of Gian Kaur, an SAD (A) worker. Jaswant was allegedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons on the night of August 19 and 20.

General secretary, SAD (A), Jeet Singh Alloarkh said the police had taken three persons in custody in connection with the murder, but two of them were later let off. He also alleged that the police had not been investigating the case properly.

The dharna was lifted after about one-and-half hours when the SHO assured the protesters that the accused would be arrested soon. 


Slighted, BJP leaders create scene
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 23
BJP leaders of the district along with deputy mayors of the Bathinda Municipal Corporation today created a scene while SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was holding a party workers’ meeting.

The leaders alleged lack of due importance to them at SAD meetings.

They felt slighted with the SAD leaders occupying seats on stage and nobody offering them any. The leaders were ignored by Sukhbir Badal while he discussed plans for the corporation wards with the mayor and area in charge of 
his party.

Senior deputy mayor Tarsem Goyal and deputy mayor Gurwinder Pal Kaur Mangat along with other party workers and BJP councillors approached the media to give vent to their anger over the “ ill-treatment” given to them.

Goyal said: “It is not the first time when they have ignored us. Every time SAD leaders invite us, they humiliate us.”

The SAD chief, when approached, maintained that the matter had been resolved amicably. BJP district president Narender Mittal and other senior leaders also insisted that all was well.


NSG objections a setback: Expert 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 23
Former permanent representative in the UN and envoy to Geneva on nuclear disarmament Arundhati Ghose said today that objections raised by some members of the 45-nation nuclear suppliers group (NSG) in Vienna yesterday over the one-time waiver to India is a set back for the country.

Ghose was here to participate in a national seminar on “India’s Energy Crisis and Indo-US Nuclear Deal” organised by Guru Nanak Dev University.

She said the objections raised by a small group of countries like New Zealand, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland had rendered the two-day meet inconclusive. Minor glitches regarding the deal would be easily managed by our foreign-policy makers, she asserted.

Answering queries of mediapersons, Ghose said the US had tilted towards India because of the tremendous contribution of the Indian community to US development. This had been acknowledged by the Bush administration, which was keen to push through the deal and bring India out of nuclear isolation.

On the nuclear deal affecting India’s relationship with Iran, she said Iran had never supported India on Kashmir.

Earlier, inaugurating the seminar, health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said such debates and seminars should have been organised before parliament debated on the nuclear deal.

In his keynote address, Kanwar Sandhu, resident editor of Hindustan Times, said there was a dire need for fresh negotiations on the Hyde Act clauses, on Iran and parity with China.

Dr Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor, who presided over the seminar, said in an era of expanding world, the option must be exercised very cautiously. He said we must not adopt a technology, which would enslave us and also we should not invest in a programme, which had a short-term existence.

Dr I.P. Jain from Jaipur and Dr M.R. Iyer from Mumbai also spoke.


Factory staff, truck operators clash
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 23
In a clash between agitating workers of PepsiCo Limited, Channo, near Bhawanigarh, and members of the Bhawanigarh Truck Union, six persons, five of the PepsiCo, sustained injuries. The clash took place at Channo village, situated on Sangrur-Patiala road today.

Villagers of nearby villages blocked the Sangrur-Patiala main road at Channo seeking action against truck union’s members.

The agitating PepsiCo staff had been on a dharna for the past many days at the main gate of the factory in protest against the suspension of four of their colleagues. The clash occurred when truck operators sought entry into the factory to load their trucks.

Meanwhile, Sangrur SDM Amandeep Bansal said the administration had called representatives of the workers’ union and the factory management on August 26 at the office of the deputy commissioner.


Golden Temple to have CCTV cameras soon
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 23
The SGPC has decided to install CCTV cameras on the Golden Temple complex and at Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara. The proposal had been mooted when Bibi Jagir Kaur was the president of the committee. According to sources, cases of pick-pocketing, garment thefts in the complex and reports of children going missing there prompted the SGPC to act on the proposal.

Talking to The Tribune, Raghujit Singh Virk, senior vice-president of the SGPC said the order for the CCTV cameras would be placed shortly.

Meanwhile, it was alleged that members of a sub-committee, comprising senior SGPC members Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, Rajinder Singh Mehta, Kiranjot Kaur and Jaswinder Singh and others, were not taken into confidence while approving the order for the CCTV cameras. According to the sources, the SGPC had offered higher rates of consultancy compared to those quoted by Delhi-based companies.


Sukhbir for law regulating all gurdwaras
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 23
The SAD will back a legislation regulating all gurdwaras in the country, but will not stand anyone dividing the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), said Sukhbir Singh Badal here today.

He said the SAD had planned a conference at Karnal on August 30 on the issue which had now been deferred following an assurance from the Prime Minister that the matter would be sorted out. Sukhbir was here to flag off a caravan of 25 trucks carrying flour, fodder and drinking water to the flood-hit areas.

Expressing concern over the plight of the flood victims, he said all ministers and MLAs of the SAD had been ordered to remain accessible to the people round the clock for any help. “We have sought special relief from the Union government,” he said.

On the rally at Talwandi Sabo on September 2, he said it would be an historic one with SAD workers from almost every corner of the state marking their 

Asked if this was an attempt to counter Amarinder Singh’s rally scheduled for September 1 at Lambi, the home constituency of the CM, he said: “Amarinder is not on our radar and he can’t compete with the SAD in any way. We are working to strengthen the party and not to fight with a person who has failed on all fronts.”

On speculation that Raninder Singh, son of Amarinder, may launch his campaign this month-end from Bathinda, he said: “His father could not prove himself as people-friendly, he too will be out.”


CM greets people on Janmashtami
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh August 23
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, minister Swarna Ram have greeted people on the occasion of Janmashtami and called for strengthening the commitment to remain united in seeking to build a society based on respect for diversity.

In his message, the minister also said: “The life and teachings of Lord Krishna have a universal message as they signify and constitute a rejection of intolerance and narrow mindedness”.

Assembly session summoned

The 13th Punjab Vidhan Sabha has been summoned by the Governor on September 4 at 2 pm. This was stated by Madan Mohan, secretary, Vidhan Sabha.


2-year jail for lyricist
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 23
A court here sentenced Punjabi lyricist Almast Desharpuri to two years in jail, besides fining him Rs 2,000 in a case of cheating and breach of trust.

Earlier, Desharpuri was booked for cheating Parshotam Lal of Lamba village. Parshotam had alleged that Desharpuri cheated him of Rs 9 lakh for sending him to America in 1998. He also alleged that Desharpuri introduced him to Gurmeet Kaur Pannu, giddha coach, to ensure his migration to America.

The duo took him to Delhi for boarding a flight, but at the last moment claimed that the person who was going to accompany had met with an accident and their plan to fly had been changed. 


Infrastructure in Medical Colleges 
MCI gives one month to set things right
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 23
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has granted a one-month reprieve to the three government medical colleges in the state facing de-recognition to improve functioning and rectify flaws pointed out by an MCI team.

The MCI directions on faculty and infrastructure in three government medical colleges have not been complied with.

Facing de-recognition and jeopardising the career of students admitted to the medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot, the MCI has decided to defer sending MCI teams to these colleges for on-the-spot inspection.

The government through its director, medical research and education, principals of the three medical colleges and various senior bureaucrats have taken steps in tune with MCI guidelines.

According to sources, the government had filled only partial vacancies and in the local medical college out of the requirement of 22 assistant professors, only eight had joined various departments, while for the posts of eight associate professor only two have been enrolled. Whereas the infrastructure and working of the colleges had made only tardy progress.

Recently a senior faculty member of the Bio-Chemistry Department Dr K.S Sodhi resigned adding to the problems of the management of the colleges.

Meanwhile, sources from Faridkot Medical College pointed out that it had filled some posts and added diagnostic equipment to infrastructure as per the requirement of 
the MCI.


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