P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Govt to push deadline for unbundling of PSEB
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab government is trying to buy time to push the deadline for unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) beyond October 31, the date given for breaking up of the Board by the power ministry. The government is also working to prepare a final report to be submitted to the power ministry as its road map for unbundling will lay down whether the government wants to separate only the transmission wing from the present Board and retain distribution and generation as one unit or create three separate units.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, when questioned on this, said the government was still considering how the Board was to be restructured and there was no clarity on this issue. The matter would be put up to the Cabinet for decision. He said in view of this, the government would ask the power ministry to further extend the present deadline.

Meanwhile, according to a top official, the power ministry, which had earlier turned down the government’s request to extend the deadline for unbundling of the Board beyond October 31, was insisting that the state give it a firm date as to when it would undertake this exercise. The official said the Chief Minister was expected to keep a meeting to decide on this issue.

According to sources, the government is reluctant to go in for breaking up the Board before the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as it feels the exercise could harm its political prospects with Board employees opposing the move.

The sources said the Board knew that in case it was successful in getting another extension beyond October 31, it might not have to undertake the unbundling exercise till the completion of the parliamentary elections. This is because the model code of conduct would come into effect by then.

The sources said it would be difficult for the government to conduct the entire restructuring exercise due to financial constraints. They said new companies formed after dismantling of the present structure could not be saddled with old liabilities and the government would have to chip in to meet the restructuring costs.

The power ministry has given eight extensions to the state government since 2005 to unbundle the Board to comply with the conditions of the Electricity Act, 2003, that stipulates that the transmission company cannot form a part of the Board. The last extension expired on August 31. Recently power secretary Suresh Kumar and Board chairman Y.S. Ratra met the Union power secretary to seek more time to unbundle the Board, but the same was not granted.


Chhapar: Less a mela, more a political platform
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Congress leaders pose in unison
Members of the SAD (A) during a political rally
LBP chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia addresses the crowd.
From top: Congress leaders pose in unison; members of the SAD (A) during a political rally; and LBP chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia addresses the crowd. — Photos by Inderjeet Verma

Chhapar (Ludhiana), September 15
Bearing no resemblance to the age-old mela of rustic flamboyance, thousands of party workers thronged the Chhapar mela site here in support of political parties who managed the stage. It was a prelude to the forthcoming parliamentary elections here today.

The majority voice was not that of festivity, but an effort towards gaining a vote bank. Leaders quoted the number of vehicles they had mustered to mobilise supporters, while others quoted the number of supporters. The remaining criticised each other. The Congress blamed the SAD for the poor state of affairs, particularly the electricity supply and infrastructure. Akalis, on their part, blamed the Congress for its failure on all fronts at the Centre.

Whether or not the visitors were interested in listening to their leaders, a heavy army of party workers was deployed at most of the gates to ensure a crowd at the venue.

Harnam Singh, a senior citizen from Mandi Ahmedgarh, said, “The fair this year has a greater rush because all political parties are working overtime to draw crowds in the wake of the forthcoming elections”.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh blamed the Congress for the state of affairs and said Punjabis were always treated as “foreigners”. Sukhbir Badal said farmers who had been promised a much higher MSP were always given a raw deal. Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal(Amritsar) said, “Badal was to be blamed for the present lax security in the state. In the wake of reports about Punjab being a high-security risk area, security needs greater care”.

The senior Badal, while replying to a question on the security in the state said, “We are keeping a very careful watch on the entire state.” When asked whether the SAD agreed with Advani on implementing POTA, Badal said, “The party has a minimum action plan. We do not issue a statement just for the heck of it. Let us see the situation and we shall see”.

The Badal rally was attended by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Hakam Singh Gyaspura, Mahesh Inder Grewal and Manpreet Singh Ayali, besides several others.

Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Congress Chief Minister, lashed out at the Akalis calling the current term a perfect case of misgovernance. Ranjeet Ranjan, a MP from Bihar, lashed out at the opposition for misguiding people. Others present on the occasion included, K.P. Singh, Pratap Bajwa, Munish Tewari, Jagmeet Brar, Jassi Khangura, Rana Gurjit Sodhi, Harminder Raikot and Amrik Dhillon, besides others.

B.S.Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), said, “It is very sad that public welfare issues, including those concerning youth in foreign jails and deserted brides were never taken up by any political party.” The SAD and the LBP rallies were the most crowded. The Congress managed a decent gathering.


50% seats unfilled, state BEd colleges ‘unviable’
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, September 15
With more than 50 per cent seats in B Ed colleges in the state remaining vacant in the current session, it may make these institutions unviable.

Such was the situation that some colleges have not even been able to fill 10 per cent seats and the managements are in a financial crisis due to so many seats vacant.

This trend was noticeable more in the border belt of Punjab where a college in Gurdaspur got just eight seats filled, a college in Dhilwan got 13 seats filled out of 100, while it was 14 in Kirpal Sagar Rahon.

According to sources, exodus of B Ed aspirants was to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Haryana where the fee structure was lower than in Punjab. Admission to colleges in the neighbouring states was going on without formality of entrance test and the admission process is based on merit only. The other reason was quality of the faculty in some colleges in Punjab. Recently there was spurt in advertisements in various papers to woo the students to join B Ed course in the state, but it had failed to elicit much response.

For the B Ed entrance test conducted by Punjabi University, 33,000 aspirants had applied and 30,000 had appeared for 22,500 seats. But only 12,000 had cleared the test, thus leaving more than 10,000 seats vacant. The managements of old B Ed institutions in the state have lamented that the government has failed to lower the norms in spite of repeated pleas which had rendered the colleges out of sync with realities.

The newly opened B Ed colleges which had followed the rules and regulations of the government and the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) had to fulfill the criteria of recruiting teachers before allowing them to go for admission. The management of these colleges rued the human resources and the infrastructure established was being wasted as the students preferred to seek admission in the neighbouring states.

A spokesman of the management pointed out the other states were taking full advantage of the state’s wealth.


Govt out to appease Malwa
Bonanza for Bathinda mills in run-up to LS polls
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is slowly preparing for Lok Sabha elections. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is out to appease people of Malwa where the SAD lost to the Congress in the last Assembly elections. In a “please-all” move, that will cost the state exchequer Rs 25 crore tax, has been waived for cotton ginning mills.

Viewed as pre-poll bonanza to the cotton ginning mills, the Chief Minister is believed to have justified it saying the tax on the ginning mills had been notified, but not implemented. This led to accumulation of taxes amounting to Rs 25 crore that was recoverable from the mills.

A delegation of cotton ginning mill owners wanting to meet Badal in Chandigarh were told to meet him during his visit to Bathinda. The mill owners presented their “genuine”, case and the Chief Minister conceded to the demand of waiving the accumulated arrears, but asked them to start depositing the due tax. Bathinda has witnessed a lot of development activity and concessions because after the delimitation, Faridkot seat contested by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has become reserved making the Badals look to Bathinda.

Sources in the SAD suggest that though, Sukhbir is not very keen on contesting from the Bathinda parliamentary constituency, the party is nurturing the seat for the family. Based on calculations, it could be Manpreet Badal or Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur contesting the seat if Sukhbir himself stays away. Sukhbir for long wanted to come to state politics from the Centre to take his father’s position, but Badal senior has been putting off his efforts.

Bathinda has been the focus of development in one and a half years of the SAD-BJP with projects like international airport, power plant, being put up here. As per information, the government imposed 1 per cent infrastructure tax on the cotton ginning mills of the area. The same was notified, but the mills did not start depositing the tax, accumulating Rs 25 crore in arrears. This concession would help 100 mills and was likely to translate into votes.

By adopting Patiala city at a function on Sunday, Badal has sent a clear message to people of Malwa that he and his party are out to appease and pamper them with Lok Sabha elections on mind.


RTI web page delinked from national portal
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab government specific RTI web page is not being displayed in the links to the national RTI portal for nearly one month now, inconveniencing people who want to access information online.

Every public authority has to maintain a web page, which usually contains proactive disclosures. Punjab has maintained a web page giving details of the various Public Information Offices (PIO) as well as Appellate Authorities. This information can be accessed by going to the national portal <http://rti.gov.in> and then accessing <http://punjabgovt.nic.in/RTI> and http://rti.gov.in/Members/punjab> to access the manuals of the Punjab government which are uploaded by various departments. One can also access the addresses of various PIOs as well as appellate authorities.

A complainant, Gurkirat Singh Dhillon, said it was nearly one month since state-related pages were missing from the site. He said crucial information as to whom to apply for information or even registering complaints was not possible due to non-functioning of the link.

When contacted, Director, Information Technology of the state, R.K. Verma, disclosed that changes in the central RTI portal were responsible for the present problem. He said the state government had loaded the content on the central server, which was being accessed for needed information. He said this site was however being closed by NIC and now content had to be moved to state government portals.


Lunch hours, evenings are chosen for terror strikes
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
Lunch hours and evenings are the times the terror groups behind blasts in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mumbai and other cities have chosen for strike.

Reasons, say security experts, are two-fold. Both lunch and evening hours are rush hours at market and public places and security forces are also lax during these hours.

In Jaipur, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, bombs were triggered between 6 am and 7.30 pm, while in Bangalore, bombers chose lunch hours for strike.

A survey by The Tribune in the region had also corroborated police deployment is either lax or inadequate during lunch and late evening hours. During these hours even normal crime is more than the rest of the day. “Element of surprise is always with perpetrators of crime,” believe experts, holding careful analysis of all bombings in recent times reveals, “timing and venues were very chosen for maximum impact. Publicity is oxygen for any terror movement to sustain and they had been getting media attention worldwide for strikes against innocent humanity.”

A former police officer said at one time he proposed that because of changing security environment, there was urgent need to change drastically the conventional deployment of lathi-wielding policemen at public places, especially shopping centres, cinema houses, bus stands and railway stations, places of worship and venues of fairs, festivals and large public gatherings.

Conventionally, deployment of policemen at public places, including traffic intersections, is maximum during morning or in the first half of the day.

Deployment patterns have changed. Instead of concentrating on public places, there has been increased tendency to deploy men in and around government offices or for personal security of select politicians, civil servants, members of judiciary or even police officers themselves.

In the evenings, a busy place like a railway station or an inter-state bus stand will have only a couple of policemen on duty. More policemen are deployed on naka duties where vehicles are checked.

“This is one reason in many of the terrorist bomb strikes, bicycles were used simply because these are seldom checked at police nakas,” he adds.

“My proposals were shot down,” he adds maintaining that creating a new central agency for tackling terrorist crime throughout the country was okay, but new directions needed to be given on security deployment.



Revert to Sikh agenda, Dal Khalsa to SAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 15
The Dal Khalsa has appealed to the SAD to revert to the Sikh agenda as the BJP was doing by deciding to contest the Lok Sabha elections on the Hindutva agenda.

Having a dig at the SAD for ignoring the Sikh agenda for fear of loss of Hindu votes, the Dal Khalsa has urged SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal and president Sukhbir Singh Badal to learn a lesson from the BJP which felt pride in adhering to the Hindu agenda. Addressing the media here on Saturday, Harcharnjit Singh Dhami and Kanwarpal Singh, president and general secretary of the Dal Khalsa, respectively, said it showed incompetence of the Akalis, who were trying to appear secular.


SAD (A) drive to preserve heritage
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 15
President of the SAD (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann has said his party will launch a campaign to preserve the rich heritage of the region, allegedly being vandalised at the behest of the ruling party.

He said that heritage had been destroyed by the SGPC on the pretext of kar seva. His party would prepare a list of the sites to be preserved. Individuals and NGOs had come forward to preserve the handcrafted doors and windows, which carry information of composite culture of Punjab.


LJP to contest all LS seats
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 15
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state and enrol 500 workers from each district for the coming elections.

Talking to The Tribune here today, state president of the party Kiranjit Singh Gehri said office-bearers of the state unit of the party and the Dalit Sena would meet LJP’s national president Ram Vilas Paswan in Delhi on September 25 to chalk out a strategy for the elections. The party might form an alliance with secular and pro-poor parties.


Patialvis know what I have done for them,
says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s attempt to take the battle against his bete noire Capt Amarinder Singh to the latter’s home-town, Patiala, by bestowing it with a largesse of Rs 250 crore yesterday, has met with a statement from Amarinder accusing Badal of trying to “bribe” people of the town. Amarinder also questioned the new-found love for Patiala saying it was ironical that the four-time Chief Minister had discovered it only now. He claimed that the people of the city “were wise enough to see through these dubious motives”.

The former Chief Minister’s statement, which was released on his behalf by his loyalist Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, said the people of Patiala had an emotive relationship with him and his family for over 250 years, when his forefather Baba Aala Singh founded the city. Amarinder asserted that “petty traders” like Badal could not buy these bonds and should realise that everything was not saleable.

The former Chief Minister said, Badal may cry hoarse that there was no political motive in his day-long sangat darshan at Patiala on Sunday, but everybody knows and understands why he needed to spend a full day there, canceling all other pre-scheduled engagements. “One fine morning he wakes up and decides to listen to the people of Patiala, what a great awakening and realisation”, he remarked while adding, “I must appreciate Badal's honest admission that Patiala would no longer be discriminated against, which means he had been discriminating against them (people of Patiala) so far as they had elected me to the assembly with such a sweeping margin,” he pointed out.

Amarinder hoped Badal kept his promise of giving Rs 250 crore to Patiala, saying, “We know how sincere he is in his promises and commitments”. He said on his part he did not have to detail what he had done during his tenure as the CM. “The people of Patiala know that,” he added.


Protest against Delhi blasts
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 15
Members of the Anti-Terrorist Front Punjab (ATFP) here today burnt the effigy of the ISI in protest against the serial blasts in New Delhi on Saturday.

Addressing the protestors, Mohinder Singh Sidhu, senior vice-president, ATFP, said the Indian government should snap all bilateral ties with Pakistan as its ISI agency was engaged in spreading terrorism in the country. He said the agency was also responsible for pushing in huge quantity of narcotic drugs, besides fake currency notes.


Terror Threat
Police leaving nothing to chance
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, September 15
In the wake of the reports that members of Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist organisation, may strike in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, the police has been put on alert in border areas of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Tarn Taran districts. Every input, which the border police authorities receive, is being acted upon swiftly.

Sources said the authorities had received an input from Chandigarh that terrorists might strike in Gurdaspur town today.

“Last night, the police carried out a comprehensive search in the Lohgarh area of Amritsar town following a hoax call. Today, police teams carried out a massive checking of Bata Chowk and Hanuman Chowk areas of Gurdaspur town after the information of a bomb being found in that area,” said R.P. Meena, IG, border range.

“Though both informations turned out to be hoax calls, we cannot leave anything to chance,” he said.


Packaged meal for schoolchildren
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 15
The state government has launched packed mid-day meal scheme for schoolchildren through centralised kitchen, but most of the students in this border district had to return sans meals on the very first day here today. The scheme was launched by Dr Upinderjit Kaur education minister at a function in government elementary school, Bugga village here.

Recently Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan, state project director Krishan Kumar gave the idea to serve packed mid-day meal to schoolchildren to give relief to the teachers who had to face hardships and spend hours in preparing food for children.

In the first stage the scheme was launched in three districts - Tarn Taran, Nawanshahr and Ferozepur. Indcare, an NGO, was engaged to supply packed food in Tarn Taran district while the Istri Shakti Sangathan was asked to provide food in Ferozepur and Nawanshahr.

Nearly 89,000 children of 778 schools come under this scheme in Tarn Taran district only. However, according to information, 20,000 students in 150 schools could not have the food as the cooks appointed to prepare the food got baffled after seeing pressure of work and did not turn up.

Vijay Kaushal, head cook, Indcare Trust, said the cooks got confused over such a huge quantity of food to be prepared and left the kitchen although they had started the preparation. Balkar Singh Bal, district manager, mid-day meal, said the district education authorities would handle the situation.

Meanwhile, the education minister, launching the new scheme said it would be launched in other districts also if it succeeded in three districts, including Ferozepur and Nawanshahr. She said 22 lakhs students of 21,500 schools were being served the meal under the scheme.

She said Rs 142 crore would be spent to develop the infrastructure, including furniture, laboratories and libraries of 351 government secondary schools in the state. 


More labour schools on the anvil
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service


Ludhiana: Rs 55.91 lakh (Rs 27 lakh has already been released)
Jalandhar: Rs 73.18 lakh
Amritsar: Rs 1 crore

Ludhiana, September 15
In a significant decision that will affect lakhs of child labourers working under hazardous conditions in Punjab, the ministry of labour and employment has decided to increase the number of labour schools in the state.

“The decision of the ministry has come in the wake of the high success rate of these schools, 80 per cent of the students of which, after successfully completing primary education, go on to join high schools to pursue higher studies,” Harish Kumar Jethi, deputy secretary, ministry of labour and employment, Government of India, said while talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of his visit to the city to take stock of the situation of these schools in the district.

These schools are aimed at providing education to child labour between the age group of nine to 14. About 55 per cent of the children studying in these schools are from the labour class belonging to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The ministry has also decided to increase the number of districts under the scheme from 250 to 600 during the 11th Five-Year Plan. Besides, the number of districts in Punjab where such schools are running will be increased from three to nine. Presently, these schools are running in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar. In addition, residential schools will also be introduced during the 11th Five-Year Plan.

Around seven-eight residential schools are already running in Tamil Nadu which have been very successful.

Many children studying in these schools are getting over 80 per cent marks. “This speaks volumes about the success rate of these schools,” Jethi said. NGOs involved in the project motivate students to study further and also keep a track of those students who opt for higher studies. “There are 20 labour schools in Ludhiana as against the sanctioned number of 40 and the ministry is soon going to increase the number of such schools here,” he said.

“We have been getting a tremendous response from Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana. Being an industrial town, a large number of labourers are found in Ludhiana, for whom we need more such schools. We have also tied up with various ministries and organisations such as the ministries of urban and state development, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, police and Railways, among others, to help us locate child labour and help them study,” he added.

“The ministry has thus decided to introduce vocational training for their parents. When the parents will be skilled enough to earn a living, they will stop sending their kids out to earn and let them study. The Child Labour Act, 1986, needs some amendments, which have been recommended by the ministry of labour and employment. Jethi added that a protocol had been approved by the government and had been given to all states. The protocol would be implemented within a month or two.

There are 7,972 labour schools running in the conutry where around four lakh students are studying. Each school has 50 students, two teachers, one vocational instructor and one clerk besides one doctor for 20 schools. Students are given a monthly stipend of Rs 100, which is put into a bank account. When the child completes Class V, he/she can withdraw the money. Besides, a daily diet of Rs 5 is also given to the students of these schools.


Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan expenditure to be probed
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The Punjab government has engaged an auditor to look into the expenditure in six years on the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan.

From 2002 almost Rs 600 crore has been used which includes fund received from the Government of India as part of the scheme. Though hundreds of crores sanctioned lapsed due to non-utlisation, sources added the amounts spent were never monitored leaving the filed open for its mis-utlisation.

“There has been no system of scrutiny of how the funds were used. If all this money was spent in six years for the purposes laid down then it should also show on the ground,” said Krishan Kumar director- general schools cum project director SSA Punjab.

The project director’s office has engaged an auditor to check the account books maintained by the Village Development Committees which implement the SSA schemes at the village level. There are 13000 such committees in the state.

“Other than the account books we are getting a third party evaluation done of the civil works carried out from SSA funds. The evaluation would report the kind and quality of work done,” said Krishan Kumar.

The project director has also recruited SDOs at the district level to monitor the expenditure on the civil works.

More than Rs 385 crore has been spent only on civil works in schools. These include construction of new rooms, toilets, drinking water facilities, masters’ rooms etc. Sources added a visit of these schools might lead to a different picture emerging.

“This is one of the many reasons why we have also decided to route the flow of the money from SSA head office to the district level district education committees electronically. These committees would then allocate amounts to various villages and transfer electronically,” said Krishan Kumar.

The e-transfer of funds first to the district and then to the village committees is expected to monitor the flow of cash and also its utilisation. The SSA office here has tied up with banks which would offer e-transfer services. “The entire system would be networked with the SSA office here. And one would be able to, with a click of a mouse, know at which level the money is stored, how of it has been utlised and how much of it is still un-used,” said Krishan Kumar.


Minister honours retd teachers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 15
Several retired teachers of government senior secondary schools were honoured at a function organised by the Old Students Association here today. Master Mohan Lal, transport minister, Punjab, was the chief guest while Gurmeet Singh, district education officer, Gurdaspur, presided over the function.

The teachers who were honoured by the minister included Ashok Kumar Saini, Subhash Sharma, Bishan Dass Hansa, Ravindera Kumari and Sudershan Rani Sharma.

Addressing the function, Mohan Lal said if one had the determination to do something, nothing was impossible to achieve. He advised the teachers to be ideal role models to influence students positively.


Positive response to FIRs through special counters
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, September 15
In what may be termed as a positive response to the scheme of trouble-free registration of FIRs, three cases have been registered at two different police stations of the district.

Kapurthala is the first district in Punjab where the scheme of trouble-free registration of FIRs was started on September 5, said SSP Rakesh Agarwal.

Special counters have been opened at three places: one at Community Police Resource Centre (CPRC) Kapurthala, second at the CPRC Phagwara in the office of DSP Phagwara and the third at the office of the SSP Kapurthala.

Anybody who wants to lodge an FIR can just go to these counters, fill the special FIR registration form and get the FIR registered without any questioning. However, investigation will be done in connection with these FIRs if required before taking any action.

Out of the three FIRs registered in such a way so far, two related with new happenings and one with a theft incident that occurred in May.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, Surinder Mohan Duggal submitted a complaint at the CPRC that some engines and other material had been stolen in May from his store in his house at Chak Hakima.

The SSP said an FIR was registered under Section 379, IPC, at the Phagwara sadar police station and the matter was being investigated.

Similarly, another trouble-free FIR was lodged at the Kapurthala city police station under Sections 457 and 380, IPC, on a complaint by Amrik Singh submitted on September 8.

Amrik alleged that some cash and articles had been stolen from his electric shop at the Nanha complex on September 7 night. The matter was being investigated.

On the basis of yet another complaint submitted by Didar Singh of the Sunder Nagar locality at the special counter of the SSP’s office on September 9, an FIR was registered under Section 364, IPC, against his in-laws for kidnapping his newly wedded wife Kulwinder Kaur, as she had eloped with him against their wishes.

However, when the police recovered Kulwinder, in her statement before the duty magistrate she claimed that she had gone with her parents on her own.

The SSP said the police would start the process for cancelling this FIR after her statement.


X-ray centres violating safety norms: Panel
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 15
A high-level committee of Government Medical College (GMC) has finally submitted its report revealing that the X-ray centres in the city do not comply with the safety layout and instructions of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

The All-India Youth Association (AIYA) formed the committee after the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) took notice of the complaint. The commission directed civil surgeon Lehmbar Singh to probe into violations of safety code and norms by these centres. Meanwhile, Lehmbar said he had sent the report to the PHRC. He said it was up to the commission or the government to take any action in this regard. The report, a copy of which is with The Tribune, said Punjab X-ray, Real X-ray and Raj Medicos X-ray laboratories failed to fulfill the conditions laid down by the AERB and the BARC.

The report also questioned on the location of these centres. The committee consisting of Dr Rajiv Devgan, associate professor, Radiotherapy Department (GMC), Dr Sohan Singh, prof and head, Dept of Radiodiagnosis (GMC) and Rajiv Dhawan, physicist, pointed out that it was a matter of inquiry whether these buildings were residential or commercial. They added that it should be enquired from the Municipal Town Planning Department or any other competent authority.


National Highway No. 15 turns killer
P. K. Jaiswar and Gurbaxpuri
Tribune Reporters

Tarn Taran, September 15
National Highway No. 15 in the border region has virtually become a death-trap for travellers. It accounts for more than 600 deaths and thousands of injured in the past five years. This is a cause of alarm for the residents of the adjoining villages. These high figures have alarmed NGOs that have blamed the district administration and police for abject failure to come out with a contingency plan to save precious lives which has resulted in socio-economic problems among the kin of the victims.

The 150-km stretch from Amritsar-Tarn Taran-Mudki-Faridkot has become notorious due to the lack of planning of the departments concerned, including the PWD and the Transport Department. They are yet to find an answer to the growing menace of accidents even after protests and representations by social activists and residents. The authorities are still looking the other way. There has been no effort to institute an inquiry and come out with a solution.

According to estimates, only August 2008 witnessed about 44 mishaps claiming 40 deaths, said Jagir Singh Sandhu of Road Safety Missionary, an NGO and a social worker who filed a PIL in Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard. Large-scale encroachments by marriage palaces, link roads connecting villages to the highway, absence of lights and indicators, besides over-speeding, over-loading and wrong overtaking by heavy vehicles are some reasons for the spurt in mishaps. Interestingly, the highway from Amritsar to Harike has about 26 marriage palaces, 25 link roads besides a number of petrol pumps.

Concerned over rising incidence of road accidents and under serious flak, the district administration convened a high-level meeting that was presided over by deputy commissioner Khushi Ram, who directed the authorities to enforce traffic laws strictly. The meeting was attended by representatives of various departments, including the PWD, Transport Department and Traffic Police, etc.

The DC directed the authorities working on the national highway to put up road signage at an interval of every 3 km regarding the speed limit, besides installing street and traffic lights at Jhabal Chowk, crossings and Chohla. He also instructed them to repair the small bridges on this highway and asked them to complete the work within a month. Khushi Ram also asked the District Transport Officer to check the speed limits of vehicles and challan the culprits found violating the traffic rules.


Himesh has copied my song: Kally
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 15
With the allegation of copying a song from a Punjabi album, Hindi movie “Karz”, in which singer Himesh Reshammiya is lead actor, has embroiled into a controversy.

Punjabi folk singer Kulwinder Kally, a resident of Jalandhar, alleged today that Himesh and lyricist Sameer had copied his song “Soniye je tere naal daga main kamawn, rab kare main mar janwan…”, which he recorded with T-Series for video album “Shaam Wali Gaddi” about four years ago.

Kally claimed that the song was actually written by Shaonki Khan, who had given all rights of the song to him. He alleged both Sameer and Himesh intentionally used the “sathai” of the song in “Karz”.

He alleged that the antra of the song had been changed cleverly while the “sathai” remained the same in the song of the Hindi movie.

Kally said a legal notice had been served on Sameer and Himesh under the provisions of the Copy Right Act and the IPC. The Punjabi singer has held both Bollywood actor and singer liable for paying Rs 5 crore as compensation for damages to his client for changing the “sathai” and Rs 5 crore for other damages.


Rs 1,000 cr for potable water, sewerage
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 15
The Punjab government has earmarked funds amounting to Rs 1,000 crore for the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) to make available potable water and sewerage facilities throughout the state.

This was stated by chairman of the PWSSB Dr Baldev Raj Chawla while talking to mediapersons at the PWD Rest House here today.

Chawla said the funds were to be spent by 2012 in the state. He further said an amount of Rs 31 crore was required for completing the work of 100 per cent water supply and sewerage in the town.

He also cleared Rs 1.8 crore to desilt and cover the nullah passing through the town. Under this project storm water channel will also be constructed. He said work on this project would start soon.


BJP morcha for Rs 1,620 paddy MSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 15
The district unit of the Kisan Morcha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today rejected Rs 850 per quintal minimum support price (MSP) for paddy and demanded Rs 1,620 per quintal MSP in the light of hike in the prices of diesel, seeds, fertilisers and other inputs. The morcha also asked the Centre to link the prices of crops with the price index.

These demands were made at a meeting of the BJP Kisan Morcha held under the presidentship of district president Hardeep Singh here. BJP district unit chief Jatinder Kalra said the announcement of Rs 850 MSP for paddy by the Centre was a cruel joke with farmers of Punjab.


Boy attempts suicide in lockup
Our Correspondent

Nabha, September 15
The police has registered a case of attempt to suicide against a 13-year-old boy, who was booked, along with two others, on a complaint of a local businessman.

Vimal, a Nepali national, today allegedly tried to strangulate himself in the Kotwali where he had been lodged for the past couple of days on the charge of theft. He had been handed over to the police by Om Prakash Jindal, a BJP leader and businessman, for stealing latter’s scooter. Meanwhile, Jindal denied that the boy was his employee.


Corruption Case
Ex-DGP Virk appears in court
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 15
Former Punjab DGP, S.S. Virk, today appeared in the court of special judge here in connection with a case of corruption registered against him by the the Punjab Vigilance.

Following his appearance, the court dropped the proceedings of non-bailable warrant against the DGP. The court, however, did not restrain the investigating agency from visiting Virk’s house in sector 27, Chandigarh, to evaluate his property.

The court decided to hear the application on September 30 after the investigating agency failed to argue the case and sought time to file reply to the application moved by the accused to restrain it from visiting his house.

When the public prosecutor and investigating officer S.K. Asthana, who is currently SSP, Patiala, verbally requested the court to pass directions to the DGP or his family members to be present at their sector 27 house, the court observed that the matter be argued.

After the counsel moved an application on behalf of the accused for permanent exemption from appearance, the special judge adjourned the case to September 30. The DGP had pleaded the same due to ill health and long journey from Maharashtra.

Another application, challenging the validity of sanction of the state government to order DGP’s prosecution, has also been fixed for September 30.

The investigating officer told the Tribune that since the court had not restrained them from visiting the house of the DGP, the vigilance team visited his Sector 27 residence . But the team returned as the house was again found locked. Earlier, the vigilance had found the house locked on September 8.

SC notice on petition

New Delhi, September 15
The Supreme Court today issued notice on a petition by former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk, seeking a CBI probe into the disproportionate assets case against him.

A bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam posted the next hearing for September 30. — TNS


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