P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Stone of Guru Granth Sahib varsity laid
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 1
The stage has been set for the establishment of the first-ever university in the name of a holy book, with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today laying the foundation stone of Guru Granth Sahib World University here.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Fourth Centenary Memorial Trust will manage the university, which will come up near the historic Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara. The 11-member trust is headed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbadhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar and includes Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, state Advocate-General H.S. Mattewal, former chief secretary R.S.Mann, four SGPC members, including Bibi Kiranjot Kaur and Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia (as its secretary), besides others.

Contrary to popular perception, the university will be in keeping with modern times and trends, and besides a school of religious and civilisation studies, the institution will also have a school of emerging technologies, school of basic sciences, school of management, school of social sciences, school of arts, school of languages, school of engineering, school of architecture and planning and school of law and social justice.

Talking to TNS, university vice-chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia said the varsity would neither be religion-based or religion-dominated. The university would take up the teaching of emerging technologies like information technology (IT), biotechnology (BT) and nano-technology, besides other emerging disciplines like ecology, human rights, feminism and empowerment of downtrodden, he said.

Ahluwalia said it would not be possible to give reservation to rural students in the new university under the present UGC norms. The university would, however, hold orientation courses of four to five months duration to ensure that rural students were eligible to take admission in the institution on merit. He also disclosed that only SGPC colleges would be affiliated to the new university.

The university will come up on 84 acres given to the Trust managing it by the SGPC. The work is expected to start soon and presently only the foundational monument - Minar-e-Ekonkar has come up on the site.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said the varsity would collaborate with other universities worldwide. He said the first academic session would start from September 2009 and that the SGPC would spend Rs 50 crore in the first phase of the Rs 450-crore project. The university proposed to have 2,500 students on its roll in three years.

Later, the Chief Minister said the establishment of the university would be a boon to students of the area who would be able to get education in the most recent emerging fields. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the government was laying stress on education and that the Granth Sahib University was part of a wider plan to establish world-class learning centres in Punjab.


Tribune Special
Power subsidy: State govt faces awkward situation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 1
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal might have snubbed his nephew and finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal on the vital issue of economic reforms, including review of freebies such as power subsidy, but in reality the Punjab government is facing an embarrassing situation as far as paying of subsidy to the PSEB is concerned.

Sources said the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has written what in official circles is being described as a “hard hitting” letter to the state government, asking it why it had not been paying the subsidy dues to the PSEB on time.

The commission has stated in its letter that by July 21, only Rs 667 crore of subsidy was paid to the PSEB, whereas the state government was to pay Rs 1,300 crore by July 15. Why was the government defaulting on making the payment of subsidy on time when it has given a written undertaking to the Commission in this regard?

Manpreet Singh Badal, who is said to be against providing freebies, has been saying that there is need to provide funds to important sectors such as education and health. As the state government has been facing a crisis on raising enough funds to meet its various fiscal social responsibilities, Manpreet had stated that there was a need to review the decisions like giving subsidy on power and other freebies.

The outgo of Rs 2,601 crore to the power sector as subsidy in lieu of providing free power to the farm sector is considered a major fiscal liability on the state exchequer. As the state government produces foodgrains, mainly for the national pool, the Union government has not extended any financial help to the state government in this regard in the interest of national food security.

Sources said the Commission had asked the government to indicate what steps it had taken to ensure the payment of subsidy instalments to the PSEB on due date.

The Commission has told it that by not making the subsidy instalments on time, the government was not only violating the tariff order but also putting additional burden on itself by way of interest which it had to pay on delayed payment of instalments.

The Commission has fixed an instalment of Rs 650 crore that is to be paid by the state government on a quarterly basis.

The Commission has told the state government to reply by September 5 on the questions raised by it in the letter. The state government has been told to fix a clear time frame to pay the subsidy and to inform the Commission in this regard.


‘Zail Singh had no hand in building Bhindranwale’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Chowk Mehta, September 1
Was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale a creation of Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, to weaken the Shiromani Akali Dal after Emergency, as many Indians, especially Sikhs, believed ?

Addressing a function of the Damdami Taksal, at one time headed by Bhindranwale, Tarlochan Singh, a Rajya Sabha member and former secretary to late President of India, said Giani Zail Singh and Bhindranwale had never met, except briefly at a public function in New Delhi.

He said much had been written about the former President bringing Bhindranwale on the centre-stage of Sikh politics. This was the first-ever visit of Tarlochan Singh to the Damdami Taksal where he was honoured by Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, Taksal chief.

For the first time Tarlochan disclosed that after the death of Jathedar Santokh Singh of Delhi and “great friend” of Bhindranwale and confidant of Indira Gandhi on December 21, 1981, Giani Zail Singh and Bhindranwale shared the stage to mourn the death. But they did not exchange even a word in his (Tarlochan’s) presence though both were sitting in the front row at the bhog ceremony of Jathedar Santokh Singh. “On way back, Gianiji told me he had seen Bhindranwale for the first time”. Tarlochan told Gianiji that it was believed he (Giani) had built him in politics, so how come he had not seen him earlier ? On this, Gianiji told him it was all a canard spread by Darbara Singh, then Chief Minister of Punjab, to malign him in the eyes of the Congress high command.

The Rajya Sabha member said Giani Zail Singh desired that Bhindranwale should confine himself to religious and social spheres. However, Gianiji told Tarlochan that Bhindranwale had a large following among Sikhs and his influence could be utilised to embarrass the Akalis. He, however, said during the SGPC general elections in late ’70s, the Congress decided to embarrass the Akali-Janta government by entering the election arena by proxy. Sanjay Gandhi was advised by his advisers, especially by Vishavjit Singh, to take advantage of Bhindranwale’s rift with the Akalis. A meeting was called and services of Gurbir Singh, son of late Justice Gurnam Singh, Chief Minister, were commissioned. They had meetings with Bhai Amrik Singh, then AISSF chief and confidant of Bhindranwale, and promised him full support. Sanjay Gandhi instructed all Congress leaders, especially Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh and Dr Gurdial Singh Dhillon, to help the Bhindranwale group. Despite all this, the Akalis won the SGPC elections, while only six candidates put up by Bhindranwale could be elected to the Shiromani Committee.



Cong puts up a united face 
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Lambi, September 1
Capt Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister and Congress campaign committee chairman, today warned the SAD-BJP government that if any of the Congress workers were ever harassed or beaten up by the police, it would gherao the police station of the area concerned.

He was addressing a rally at Lambi here to kick off the poll campaign of the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections from the home turf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He claimed that the party would win all 13 parliamentary seats in the state, which, he said, would be fought on issues like corruption, non-governance and political vendetta. The Akali government would fall under its own weight, he added.

The response to the rally was overwhelming with an estimated 50,000 Congress supporters turning up at the venue.

“The unprecedented response I have received from the people in today’s rally indicates the simmering resentment against the present government,” a beaming Capt Amarinder Singh said.

The former Chief Minister said the SAD government even did not spare the judiciary and it had been tapping the phones of High Court judges since it come to power.

On the power front in the state, he said the PSEB was under a burden of Rs 12,000 crore and nuclear deal was the need of the hour.

Earlier, Congress Legislative Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said the Congress was united as ever and would stay together. Later, speakers at the public meeting, including Ambika Soni and Mohinder Singh Kaypee, echoed the same sentiments in their speeches.

Among other prominent persons were Jagmeet Singh Brar, Tehal Singh Sandhu, Sunil Jakhar, Abohar MLA Mahesh Inder Singh and Kanwaljit Singh Brar.


Groupism in Sangrur Cong
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 1
Factionalism in the Congress here was evident today with party leaders and workers according welcome to chairman of the Congress campaign committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, at three places. The former Chief Minister was on the way to Lambi for launching party’s election campaign for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Former chairman of the Sangrur Market Committee Gurdial Singh Chatha and his supporters, including former president of the municipal council Harbans Singh Garcha, welcomed Capt Amarinder Singh near Jeji Resorts.


Special response service to take care of mishaps, medical emergencies
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Department of Health and Family Welfare Punjab will launch specialised emergency response service. It will be available through single Punjab emergency number to deal with emergencies of road accidents, medical emergencies, farm accidents etc.

More than 200 ambulances equipped with state of the art medical facilities would be made available in two years to cater to the emergency response system. The ambulances will reach the spot of medical emergency in 15 minutes. “These will provide immediate medical aid and shift the patient to the tertiary hospital after consulting the control room. Once a call is received on a centralised number, the Emergency Response unit will also inform the police and other agencies about the spot and nature of injury or ailment. These units will be networked with each other and the central control room,” said Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

More than half the state will be covered in first year. In first phase in the year 74 ambulances will be purchased for Rs 10 crore. Each ambulance will have driver and emergency medical technician. The project will cost Rs 44 crore and recurring expenditure per year will be Rs 32 crore. According to sources, the National Rural Health Mission Punjab has already called for expression of interest to run the project in the state. More than six companies have submitted proposals to manage Emergency Response Services. The department will shortlist the most suitable player for the job.

The Punjab traffic police in December 2005 launched the all- Punjab road accident emergency number (1111). Almost 60 highway patrol vehicles stationed on various highways and state roads were connected to this numbe to ensure the highway is covered in 30 km on both sides of the point where the patrol vehicle is stationed. The patrol vehicles were equipped with first aid kits and the traffic police had also asked the Health Department to provide trained persons to form part of the emergency response team.


SGPC ready for talks with Haryana Sikhs
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
The SGPC today announced to hold a dialogue with the ad hoc Haryana gurdwara prabandhak Committee to find a permanent solution to the ongoing controversy.

An indication to this effect was given by SGPC president Avtar Singh while talking to The Tribune here today. He, however, said the ad hoc committee had no right to call “Sarbat Khalsa” at Karnal on September 7 because as per the Sikh maryada it could be convened by the Jathedar of Akal Takht only. He said nobody would be allowed to violate the age-old traditions of the Khalsa Panth.

Meanwhile, a Rajya Sabha member from Haryana, Tarlochan Singh, agreed that the Sarbat Khalsa could be convened at Akal Takht only.

Meanwhile, taking cue from the suggestions made by Tarlochan Singh, Sikh intellectuals and legal experts got busy in preparing draft proposals for giving autonomy to Sikh shrines in Haryana. Earlier, Tarlochan Singh had suggested that the SGPC and the ad hoc committee should agree on giving autonomous status to the Sikh shrines in Haryana under the direct control of the Shiromani Committee. He had said nobody should be allowed to weaken the authority of the SGPC, which came into being after supreme sacrifices. 


Kirtan marks 404th parkash utsav of Guru Granth Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 1
Devotees participated in a nagar kirtan here today to mark the 404th parkash utsav of Guru Granth Sahib here. Starting from Ramsar Gurdwara, the procession passed through bazaars, including Ramsar Road, Chowk Krori, Chowk Baba Sahib and Baba Atal Gurdwara, and was led by the Panj Piaras. The kirtan concluded at the Golden Temple.

Devotees were standing on sides of the road to pay obeisance to Guru Granth Sahib place in a golden palanquin decorated with flowers. They chanted “Guru Maneyo Granth”.

Religious organisations, gatka parties, bands, besides Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee members took part in the procession.

In the evening, the Golden Temple complex was illuminated and crackers were burst to celebrate the occasion.


Grievances panel for ayurvedic institutions hailed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Member of the Central Council of Indian Medicine Jagjit Singh today welcomed the creation of a grievances committee, consisting of former vice- chancellor of Panjab University Dr R.P.Bambah, Justice Amarvir Singh Gill (retd) and PGI director K.K.Talwar, to look into the problems of ayurvedic institutions in Punjab.

In a statement here, Jagjit said the committee could now delve into problems regarding staff shortage, internship etc.

He congratulated Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and minister Tikshan Sud for giving the go-ahead for the creation of an ayurvedic university in Hoshiarpur.


Plea against awards

Chandigarh, September 1
Another scribe has moved the high court in the Punjab government’s award controversy. Panchkula-based writer Pradeep Joshi has sought directions to the respondent writers to return the awards as their action “bordered on moral turpitude”.

Joshi's application was today taken up by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Surya Kant. After going through the plea, the Bench issued notice to the respondents for September 16. It will now come up with the main petition and another application filed subsequently on the issue.

As the matter came up for hearing, counsel for the petitioner said the Bench had not granted stay on the distribution of awards after preliminary hearing on August 7. 


‘Ahluwalia as VC not acceptable’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 1
Protesters expressed anguish at the rehabilitation of former Punjabi University vice-chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, who was sacked on charges of moral turpitude by the previous Congress government, by holding a demonstration while Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was proceeding to the Dewan Todar Mal Hall after laying the foundation stone of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University here today.

Ahluwalia has been appointed the secretary of the 11-member Trust, which is to run the affairs of the university and is presently functioning as its vice-chancellor.

Protesters from the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) and the SAD (Amritsar) were able to make their point despite unprecedented security on the movement of vehicles near the proposed university site. Just as the Chief Minister’s cavalcade proceeded to the hall, the protesters came out of the Jyoti Swarup Gurdwara holding placards protesting the appointment.

The police swung into action within a few minutes and packed them into a bus. Police officials also partially prevented the protesters from distributing a copy of the notification whereby Ahluwalia was sacked by the then Governor Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd). Reading from the notification, PHRO head Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) said it clearly stated that criminal cases, including an attempt to murder case and charges of attempting to outrage the modesty of a woman student, had been registered against him. Justice Bains said neither he nor other members of his organisation were against the formation of World University, but against Ahluwalia heading such an august institution.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister tried to brush aside all questions regarding Ahluwalia’s appointment. When asked about the opposition to Ahluwalia’s appointment, he said such things kept on happening. When asked about the cases registered against the former VC, he said court cases are also pending against me and added that unless a court indicted a person, he did not become a criminal.

Meanwhile, SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann said in case the government did not review its decision on Ahluwalia, his party would be forced to launch a “people’s movement” on the issue. 


Rs 5,000 per acre for 100% crop loss
Flood-hit Moga limping back to normalcy
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 1
The plight of over 10,000 flood-hit people seems to be ending as water from residential areas in Moga district has started to recede and all people, who had shifted to camps, have returned to their homes.

Schools have re-opened and the children are now busy recovering the loss of studies they had suffered during the past fortnight.

No matter, the fields still had not been able to come completely out of the watery grave, but the flood water is draining out. It would take less than a week’s time to get out of water-logging.

Officiating district magistrate V.K. Meena, who presided over a meeting of the district heads of various departments here this evening, revealed that power supply in the flood-affected villages had been restored and schools re-opened.

According to a survey conducted by the revenue authorities, crops on 5,675 acres situated close to the embankment of the Sutlej had been damaged. Of this, crop on 4,824 acres had been damaged completely while the loss on 215 acres was 51 per cent to 75 per cent. On 600 acres, it was 26 per cent to 50 per cent. The total loss of crops had been estimated at Rs 2.6 crore in line with the relief norms of the state government, he said.

He said the district administration would provide Rs 5,000 per acre financial relief for 100 per cent loss, Rs 3,000 per acre for 51 per cent to 75 per cent loss and Rs 2,000 for 26 per cent to 50 per cent loss of crops.

Similarly, 402 pucca and kutcha houses were damaged in the floods, causing an estimated loss of Rs 20.94 lakh. “We will distribute compensation worth this amount as per the norms of the state government within 48 hours”, claimed the district magistrate.

The administration had already released Rs 50 lakh to the Irrigation Department for plugging the breaches and strengthening of the 30.2-km stretch of the river embankment in this district.

The district administration has demanded from the state government Rs 2 crore for the repair of roads and Rs 31 lakh for the repair of damaged public buildings.

Meanwhile, the chief medical officer, Dr Adarsh Sood, told The Tribune that not even a single case of malaria, dengue, gastroenteritis, cholera and hepatitis had been reported from the flood-hit villages where 9,088 people were examined by 20 health teams.

She said 402 people had suffered from diarrhoea, 2,334 from skin infections, 240 from wounds, 147 abdominal pain, 749 eye infections, 2,030 respiratory problems, 251 hypertension, 1,061 anaemia, 62 diabetes, 511 unreported fever and 843 from other kinds of infections and diseases. 


1,000 SPOs to be made constables
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Dhariwal (Gurdaspur), September 1
The Police Department has initiated a move to appoint 1,000 special police officers (SPOs) of the Home Guards as constables in the Punjab Police on a regular basis.

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia

Disclosing this here today, DGP N.P.S Aulakh said a proposal for recruiting 2,000 constables in the police had been sent to the state government so that the functioning of the police could be made more effective and result oriented.

Aulakh, who inaugurated a building of the local police station, said as part of the proposed 2,000 new posts, 1,000 SPOs would be made constables as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High court. On the rest of 1,000 posts, 500 women would be recruited.

He said the vacancies in the Punjab Police would be filled in a phased manner.

Aulakh said an anti-narcotic smuggling drive launched by the police had paid off. This year’s seizure of narcotics by the different agencies of the police was nearly double the quantity of narcotics seized last year in the corresponding period. This year’s seizure included 150 kg of cocaine.

The DGP, who was accompanied by R.P. Meena, IG, border range, Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, DC, Parampal Singh, DIG, and Lok Nath Angra, SSP, said CPRC buildings were being set up in each district so that official record of police stations could be preserved in a professional manner. 


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