P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Flood-hit Bihar workers return to their second home
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Trying to find some hope at a place that had become a second home to them, labourers continue to arrive in this industrial town after floods hit Bihar.

Most of them are the ones who had recently left this state as they had begun finding better employment opportunities back home. “Floods have ruined life there. The situation may take several months to improve. That’s why we decided to come back,” said Upinder Kumar Gupta from Madhepura, who arrived here this evening. Gupta, who works in a local factory, came along with his other 25 friends, many of whom are hoping to find employment here.

“They have asked us to vacate. What are we to do all these months. Our people have worked here and we hope we would get work,” said his friend.

As hundreds like them get down at local railway station, many queue up outside public calling booths to contact their relatives. There are some who don’t know where to go.

Hoping to find a shelter in this town, which, they heard, gives work to all, 30-year-old Vijendar Mandal, along with his wife and two kids, was sitting idle at the station. As Amit and Rani, his kids, look at their father with hope in their eyes, he tries to hide his worry: “I don’t know where to go. Our life was at risk. So we decided to come here.”

Mandal owes his courage to a group of three friends from his hometown Sehersa who have come along with.

Dalip and Bablu, who arrived here this evening by the Janseva Express, used to work in a village near Ludhiana. “We recently went home. Employment opportunities are getting better there but our plans to get settled there now stand postponed for at least another few months.”

Their arrival could provide a solution to the problem of acute labour shortage that industry in the state has been facing for over a year now.

“We are facing a labour shortage. There might have been heavy arrival of workers but we are yet to get any people who are keen on employment,” said Vinod K. Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

Workers, particularly those in the skilled category, left in large numbers this year, leading to a shortage of 25-30 per cent in most enterprises.


Gurdwara worker kills himself; 2 of staff booked
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 30
An employee of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib reportedly committed suicide by consuming poison after alleged torture by the storekeeper and langar in charge of the gurdwara. Both langar in charge Kulwant Singh and storekeeper Joga Singh have been booked on the charge of abetment to suicide.

The victim, Karamjit Singh (32) of Sirhind city, died yesterday. He had been working in the community kitchen of the gurdwara for the past around three months. He had got the job on compassionate grounds as his younger brother Avtar Singh died under mysterious circumstances two years ago, according to his relatives. Avtar worked in Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup.

“Repeated harassment at the hands of langar in charge Kulwant Singh and storekeeper Joga Singh killed my brother”, said Jasvir Singh, brother of the victim. He said his brother was abused by influential persons in gurdwara and was even beaten up with iron rods.

“Certain employees did not wish that he should continue his job in the gurdwara since Karamjit was appointed on the orders of SGPC president Avtar Singh. He used to get thrashing by his seniors over minor mistakes”, said members of Karamjit’s family.

After consuming celphos tablets, Karamjit came to his house and told everyone present there that he did not wish to live anymore after ill-treatment at the hands of the gurdwara employees who used to hurl filthy abuses over his petty mistakes, said Happy, another relative of Karamjit.

The relatives revealed that Karamjit’s uncle Swaran Singh and his brother Jasvir Singh met the manager of the gurdwara a few days ago over harassment of Karamjit. “The manager shifted Karamjit from the chapati-making unit to the langar house. However, he was humiliated again for bringing the matter to the notice of the manager”, said the relatives. He breathed his last on the way to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, Fatehgarh Sahib SHO Balwinder Singh confirmed registration of a case against Joga Singh and Kulwant Singh under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC.

Manager of the gurdwara Amarjeet Singh said action would be initiated against the erring employees only after the completion of Chief Minister’s function on Monday.



Badal dares Bhattal to debate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today dared Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to a debate on flood relief in the coming session of the Vidhan Sabha beginning September 4.

In a letter to Bhattal, the Chief Minister said the norms fixed by the Congress government for disbursement of aid from Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) in 2005 were now becoming a hurdle in the way of providing relief to the flood victims in the state.

Referring to Bhattal’s allegation about the non-utilisation of Rs 1,646 crore of the fund meant for flood-hit areas, Badal said according to the norms of the Punjab government during your tenure as Deputy Chief Minister, the government couldn’t pay farmers anything more than Rs 700 (for a loss between 25 per cent and 50 per cent), Rs 1,000 (50 per cent and 75 per cent) and Rs 2,000 (75 per cent and 100 per cent) per acre. 


NGO to conduct Youth Cong polls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The state Youth Congress is set to become the first outfit of the party along with the National Students Union of India, Uttarakhand, to be democratically elected through an NGO comprising former officers of the Election Commission.

The initiative, which is being taken up as a pilot project, will commence from September 2 with the launch of a membership drive and will culminate in the second week of November.

Foundation for Advance Management of Elections general secretary K.J. Rao said Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had approached the foundation to bring in “internal democracy” in the party.

Rao, accompanied by Indian Youth Congress president Ashok Tanwar and Punjab Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla, said after the membership drive, the electoral roll of each block would be prepared with the photos of the party members. These would be open to scrutiny, following which direct elections of the posts of president, vice-presidents (four) and six delegates would be held.

The delegates chosen would form the electoral college for the district president’s post as well as elect the state-level delegates. Party members in the age group of 18-35 years, who do not have any criminal background, can contest the elections. Officers of FAME have toured parts of Punjab besides recruiting six enrolment volunteers in each block. 


Badal for 100 pc efficient lighting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here has directed the Punjab Energy Development Authority (PEDA) and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to initiate a joint campaign to achieve 100 per cent efficient lighting in the domestic sector by the end of March, 2009.

Stating this here on Thursday, a spokesman of the Punjab government said the Chief Minister had asked PEDA to immediately issue a directive to ban the use of incandescent bulbs and normal tubelights with magnetic choke in government/boards/corporation office buildings, hospitals and other institutions so that all bulbs and tubes could be replaced with CFL and T-8 efficient tubelights.

PEDA has also been authorised to invite competitive rates from approved manufacturers/supplies of efficient lighting fixtures. 


Poohla’s follower attacked in jail 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
Only two days after deadly attack on Nihang chief Ajit Singh Poohla, an undertrial attacked his (Poohla’s) follower in the same high security Central Jail this morning.

The victim, identified as Gurdial Singh, sustained minor injuries in the attack by Ranjit Singh, who has been jailed under the NDPS Act.

Ranjit assaulted Gurdial with a spoon sharpened on a stone. However, according to jail superintendent, S.P. Singh, he was overpowered and handed over to the police. He said Pritam Singh, head warden, had been placed under suspension on charges of dereliction of duty.

Gurdial Singh, who was arrested under Sections 107 and 151 of the IPC was later released.

Meanwhile, the administration said Poohla used to “arrange” the arrest of his followers on “rotation” under minor Sections so that they would serve him in the jail. The arrests of the followers of Poohla used to be managed in connivance with the police.

Meanwhile, sources said many heads might roll in the coming days after the receipt of the magisterial inquiry report into the attack on Poohla.


Kaypee for probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Acting president of the PPCC Mohinder Singh Kaypee has demanded a judicial probe into the killing of controversial Nihang leader Ajit Singh Poohla.

Kaypee said here today that the murder, besides proving that even the jails of the state were not safe, indicated a bigger conspiracy behind the incident.

The Congress leader, who was here to announce that the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayati Raj Sangathan was drawing a good membership, disclosed that all Congress leaders of the state, including Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal would attend the rally being held by the party at Lambi on August 30. He said senior party leader Ambika Soni would also be present there.

Meanwhile, sangathan chief Major Dalbir Singh said 6,000 members had already been recruited in the body during the ongoing drive. He said the aim of the sangathan was to create awareness about the Panchayati Raj system.


No regrets, say killers
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
The killers of controversial Nihang chief Ajit Singh Poohla, who appeared before a court here today, said they did not have any regrets for killing the Nihang leader because of his “misdeeds” and “misadventures”.

A large number of leaders of various radical Sikh organisations gathered in the district courts complex. Both killers Navtej Singh and Harchand Singh have been remanded in police custody till September 5.

Meanwhile, breaking the decorum of the court, Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman for the Damdami Taksal, presented a siropa to one of the killers though police personnel tried to prevent him from doing so.

Navtej had been involved in a number of cases, including that pertaining to thrashing of a Mayor. Relatives of both the accused, who were present at the district courts, said they were proud that they had taken revenge on Poohla, who was involved in a number of “crimes” and “blasphemous” activities.

Meanwhile, the body of Poohla was cremated at Baba Bakala under heavy security arrangements. Though no senior Congress leader was present there, Akali MLA Manjinder Singh Kang attended the cremation. Senior police officers, including Sumedh Saini, Parmraj Singh Umranangal and Harinder Singh Chahal, were also present.

Earlier, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Akali minister and son-in-law of the Chief Minister, enquired after Poohla at the PGI. 


Girls are God’s blessing for Bir Raoke village
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Bir Raoke (Moga), August 30
This nondescript village in Nihalsinghwala sub-division of Moga district has shown the way to rest of the country by improving sex ratio in the past few years.

Turning the tide over high number of male births in the 20th century, the village now has a ratio of 107 females born for every 100 males.

Not only this, the village has clean streets and ponds carrying clear water, unlike other adjoining villages.

The inspiration for this social awakening has come from Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a young NRI, who has not only pioneered the effort to educate the rural folk but has also adopted all female children of the village. He bears all cost of their education, including expenses on books and dresses. He even provides financial help to marry young girls from poor families.

Dhaliwal has formed a charitable organisation, the Sant Singh Dhaliwal Trust, after the name of his father and also provides free medical aid to all poor people of his village.

For Jaswinder Kaur, sarpanch of the village, she has all reasons to celebrate. This healthy development in her village is highly significant in a state, where female foeticide, though illegal, is carried out unhindered.

She proudly says: “The successful efforts made by Kulwant to eradicate female foeticide and a natural movement of the local populace have resulted in the birth of more girl children”.

Having a total population of about 3,000 people, the village celebrates the birth of every girl and believe that more girls are the God’s way of blessing their ordinary village.

Balbir Singh, head master of the local Government High School, while talking to The Tribune, said during the past few years, the girls had bagged the first three positions in Class VIII, IX and X examinations even as boys outnumber girls in the school. Most of the boys of this village go out of the village to study in private schools.

“I am doing my job with the help of some activists of the village but the state government must now step in to support and reward the residents of this village”, says Dhaliwal.

Local MP Bibi Paramjit Kaur Gulshan says: “Until unless their achievement is officially supported there will always be the danger of things sliding back”.

Speaker of the state legislative Assembly Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon, while presiding over a function of the village school, announced a Rs 2-lakh grant for the Sant Singh Dhaliwal Trust for its initiative to save the girl child. 


Docs want recruitment process expedited
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Doctors are unhappy about the slow recruitment of physicians, overburdening of staff in health institutions and inconvenience to patients.

The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association has said though the number of posts of doctor have risen to 700, the government is yet to fill posts as old as three years.

President of the association Dr Hardip said hurdle in recruitment process was at the level of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) that had raised objections to fresh recruitments.

“From a shortage of 147 doctors over three years ago, the number has gone up by five times. But no step has been taken to fill these vacancies”.

Dr Hardip said the government should take away the recruitment from the PPSC and entrust it to a selection committee.

He said even if 147 doctors were recruited as promised by the health minister, it would not solve the problem.

“The association hails the decision of the government to simplify recruitment, but we are waiting it to happen”.

Dr Ajay Bagga, press secretary, and Dr Mukesh Bhatia, regional secretary, said health services had been affected due to shortage of doctors, while fresh graduates in medical science were not getting employment.

The association has suggested regular recruitment bypassing lengthy and complicated process of recruitment through the PPSC.


Nodal authority on complaints against medical institutions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The government has constituted a three-member nodal authority comprising Justice Amarbir Singh Gill (retd), Dr R.P. Bambah, former vice-chancellor of Panjab University, and Dr K.K. Talwar, director, PGI, Chandigarh, for entertaining complaints regarding violations of the provisions of the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Act, 2006, or any direction or notification issued there under.

Medical education minister Tikshan Sud said this independent authority had been constituted keeping in view numerous complaints against private medical institutions and to address grievances of medical institutions.

The authority can take suo motu notice of violations and appoint an inquiry officer to look into the allegations levelled by a complainant.

The minister said the authority could direct the complainant to furnish additional information or an affidavit in support of his allegations. He clarified that for conducting an inquiry under sub-section (3), a summary procedure would be followed and it should be completed within a period of sixty days. He said that the authority constituted under sub-section (1) or the inquiry officer, appointed under sub-section (3), would have the powers of a civil court to access, obtain and scrutinise the records of the private health sciences educational institutions as well as summoning of any person or any relevant official record, which he may deem necessary. 


Land Row
HC tells DC to take action
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, August 30
Responding to a civil writ petition filed by residents of Dehni village pertaining to shamlat land of village, Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Surya Kant of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have directed the deputy commissioner, Ropar, to submit report on action taken on the BDPO’s report against JE Naresh Kumar. In case no decision has been taken by the deputy commissioner, then he should do the needful within two weeks, the court says.

Villagers of Dehni had filed the petition alleging that Naresh of Anandpur Sahib block, who was appointed arbitrator for auctioning panchayat land, tried to sell the village land by carving commercial plots out of it without seeking permission from the higher authorities. Naresh was appointed administrator of 23 villages and has been posted in Balachaur block, district Nawanshahr.

In the mid-June, Naresh and few others tried to carve about 400 plots out of the village land, without seeking permission of the higher authorities. 


Yashpal for complete autonomy to varsities
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
Professor Yashpal, an eminent scientist of international repute, has sought complete autonomy for universities in the country to allow them a free hand to design their own courses, besides restructuring the rules and regulations to encourage an independent thought process among the faculty and students. The universities should be totally liberated from government control to devise their own academic road map, he said.

Prof Yashpal, who is also the chairman of the UGC/AICTE Review Committee, expressed frank views while speaking at a meeting held at Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University here today. The committee was here to deliberate on the role of regulatory bodies to determine and enforce standards of higher and technical education in state universities. The meeting comprised eminent educationists of India, including Dr G. Mehta, chairman, NAAC, Bangalore; Dr N.R. Madhava Menon, member, Centre-State Relations, Government of India; Prof Ananda Krishnan, chairman, IIT, Kanpur; and Sunil Kumar, joint secretary, HRD Ministry, Government of India.

Yashpal said the Central and state governments should be forced to make formal arrangements and express commitment to provide adequate funds for running the universities that were rendering yeoman’s service in the field of higher quality education. He was of the firm view that the state shouldn’t be allowed to shirk responsibilities and make universities pawns without any accountability, as education was the state’s responsibility.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Dr Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor, GND University, said state universities were under tremendous financial pressure because of the gradual withdrawal of financial support from the government. He sought liberal funding from the Centre for state universities.Of the total annual budget of Rs 120 crore, the state government was providing barely 14 per cent, forcing the university to fleece students to cover up the shortfall for remaining afloat.

He said the faculty of various departments should sit together to explore new possibilities in education methodology to redefine the education system. He was of the view that all teachers should acquire working knowledge of other departments and be humane, humble and honest to their professions.

The eminent scientist said the time had now come to make education free in the country and for this, the Indian government must pass the bill seeking ‘right to education’ at the earliest for spreading complete literacy.

Lauding the role of The Tribune, he said he received many interesting questions on science and technology from young and bright students that kept him abreast with the latest development. He added that even at this age he felt young at heart, as he had to encounter a volley of questions on various subjects from the students. Later, Prof Yashpal also interacted with the university, college and school students and answered the questions raised by them. 


Markfed ties up with global leader on crop productivity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Markfed yesterday tied up with global leader in crop-protection chemicals Syngenta to launch a productivity enhancement campaign in five districts of Punjab.

The campaign would be launched in Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and parts of Jalandhar.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, said two clusters of 10 villages each would be identified for educating the farmers for the purpose. Each member farmer of the society would be contacted by a team of Markfed and Syngenta officials along with agricultural experts to disseminate technical information.

Underlining the need to evolve eco-friendly plant-protection system, he said extensive use of pesticides had led to degradation of soil quality, resulting in continuous decline in production.

He asked the Syngenta management to ensure the availability of quality agri inputs on an affordable basis to the Punjab farmers to rejuvenate their sagging economy.


‘State should focus on agro-based industry’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 30
The Scientific Awareness and Social Welfare Forum (SASWF) organised a seminar on “Need of industrialisation in Punjab” at the Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology (BGIET) here last evening. Dr Bikram Singh Virk, commerce department, Government College, Kapurthala, was the key speaker. Addressing the seminar, Virk emphasised on the setting up of a large number of agro-based industrial units like food and vegetable processing, horticulture processing, ethanol and bio-fuels, textile and garments in Punjab.

Virk said industrialisation could be boosted in Punjab with surplus electricity generation, issuance of NCOs within minimum timeframe by various government departments and removal of bureaucratic hurdles. Besides this, NRIs should be involved in a big way to bring industrial revolution in the state. Trade with Pakistan should also be allowed, he added.

Dr A.S. Mann, president, SASWF, said the conditions for industrialisation in Punjab should be farmer and labourer-friendly. Farmers should be shareholders in agro-based industrial units. The government should take land from farmers on contract for 50 years and the contract rates should be increased every year. If the village was covered under any industrial project, a colony with drinking water facility and sewerage system should be constructed on the project site, he added.

Among others who participated in the deliberations included director, BGIET; Tanuja Srivastava, dean (colleges), BGIET; Gurinderjit Singh, principal, Guru Teg Bahadur College; and Bhawanigarh Jagdev Singh Sohi, project director, Agriculture Technology and Management Agency.


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