P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


LS polls: SAD chooses Hans for Jalandhar
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 9
Now it’s official. Renowned Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans will contest the coming Lok Sabha elections on SAD ticket from the Jalandhar (reserved) seat.

Already having his roots in the SAD, he formally joined the party in the presence of its president Sukhbir Badal and its prominent leaders, including Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, at the Circuit House here today.

It had been almost clear that the SAD would field Padma Shri recipient Hans as its candidate from Jalandhar when Sukhbir had held a closed-door meeting with him in October. Hans has also been conferred with the title “Raj Gayak” during previous the Akali government.

Welcoming Hans’s entry in the SAD, Sukhbir declared him its candidate from Jalandhar. He claimed that SAD-BJP alliance would emerge victorious in all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.

Praising both Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir, Hans termed the former as Nelson Mandela of farmers.

Hans’s two brothers-in-law, advocate Paramjit Singh Pamma, Sukhwinder Singh Sukha and Pamma’s wife Shaminder Kaur are SAD councillors from ward number 27, 26 and 25 of the Kapurthala municipal council, respectively. National general secretary of the youth Akali Dal Paramjit Singh is also keen on getting the post of MC president. Pamma’s elder sister has been married to Hans.

Earlier, the SAD had promised its Jalandhar ticket to Dalit leader Pawan Tinu, who had merged his Bahajan Kranti Morcha (BKM) with the SAD a few months ago.

To a query, Sukhbir said Tinu had been made joint secretary of the SAD and he would be fielded in the next Assembly elections.

With the Hans’s candidature, the ruling SAD-BJP alliance has announced its candidates for six of the total 13 Lok Sabha seats so far.


Saving Rajasansi
Secy to call high-level meeting
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 9
Joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation, K.N. Srivastva today held out a promise to hold a high-powered meeting to discuss the entire gamut of issues, which were forcing international and domestic carriers to shun the local airport.

Srivastva held a meeting with deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu, senior officer of the Airports Authority of India and the representatives of various international and domestic airlines at the airport. Pannu impressed on the senior bureaucrat to look into all the issues which were forcing the Singapore airlines and Jet Airways to curtail their flight operations.

The joint secretary assured the officers that he would take up the matter with the top officers of the airlines to review their decision about cutting down the flights from Amritsar and said he would also make a presentation during the meeting of board of directors of the Airports Authority of India.

Earlier, he reviewed various ongoing projects to upgrade infrastructure at the airport and directed the officers to put up boards indicating the dates by which the airport extensions would be completed so that the passengers were assured of the facilities in a definite time period.

The deputy commissioner said although other international airports had seen considerable drop in the handling of passengers to the extent of 10 to 20 per cent, there was no considerable drop at the local airport. It was the poor cargo handling, which has created serious concerns for the airlines.

Advocating a total revamp of the import-export cargo, the deputy commissioner said the cargo terminus lacked basic facilities like electronic data interface (EDI), a major requirement for the exporters to claim duty drawback. Owing to this they were forced to shift their cargo operations to Delhi and elsewhere. He said the ministry of finance should operationalise the EDI system at the airport on a war footing.

He also raised the urgent issue of setting up a bonded warehouse facility at the airport to encourage exporters to send their consignments to various destinations abroad.

Meanwhile, the minister concerned had instituted a parliamentary panel of the ministry to look into all the issues and review of the working of the airport project, which had been delayed to various procedural lapses.


Khangura’s posers to govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
Reacting to the ruling alliance’s criticism of the cancellation of international flights from the Rajasansi international airport in Amritsar, Congress MLA Jassi Khangura has questioned the seriousness of these leaders, saying they prefer to travel abroad from other cities rather than promoting the Amritsar airport.

Raising a series of questions, Khangura has said: “While demanding the restoration of flights there is also need to do some introspection on the issue. Why has Navjot Singh Sidhu never taken an international flight from Amritsar? Why has the Akali-BJP government not mandated its officers and ministers to fly internationally from Amritsar? How much money has the Punjab government spent on international flights from other cities that could have originated from Amritsar?”.

Khangura has alleged, “The Rajasansi airport has been deliberately undermined by the Akali-BJP government to promote the Chandigarh airport and their vested property interests in Mohali, near the airport”.

He has further questioned as to why the last NRI sammelan was held in Chandigarh when it should have been held at Amritsar with the NRI legislators and other guests flying directly to Amritsar. Why has this government not undertaken a single initiative to promote Amritsar airport?

He wants to know from the government why has the additional land required for the Rajasansi airport not been acquired by the Punjab government to date while it had displayed a relentless fervour to acquire thousands of acres for dubious projects that may never see the light of day?

In a statement issued here today, he has said has demanded a CBI enquiry into land dealings around the Chandigarh airport over the past 20 months. Also, he has questioned why did the Punjab government only reward farmers who owned land bordering Chandigarh at the rate of Rs 1.5 crore per acre while selling other land bordering Chandigarh to the LIC for some Rs 50 crore per acre?


Shortcomings in Colleges
Medical council gives ultimatum to Punjab
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 9
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has served an ultimatum to the Punjab government to submit an action-taken report on the shortcomings pointed by it in the three state-owned medical colleges in Punjab.

A meeting of the MCI held in the third week of last month also made it clear to the government that it would be responsible for the fate of MBBS students admitted in their medical colleges during the current academic session.

According to sources, the MCI had also taken a serious note of the government‘s failure in removing the shortcomings pointed by the MCI in three colleges. The Punjab government had assured the MCI that it would remove all shortcomings by October.

Reacting to the latest MCI missive, the government has got into action mode.

A high-level meeting was held on November 3, which was attended by secretary, Research and Medical Education, the DRME and other senior officials of the medical department.

At the meeting, it was decided to urge the principals of the three medical colleges — Government Medical College, Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot - to submit a report on the discrepancies, which were still to be removed. Their reports are still awaited in the DRME office.

Talking to The Tribune, director, Research and Medical Education, Dr J.S. Dalal said most of the shortcomings pointed by the MCI had been removed. It was only shortage of faculty which was a matter of concern.

Dalal said the Punjab Public Service Commission was being requested to fill the vacant posts of medical teachers.

Teachers from other states as also former medical professionals from the Army were being contacted for filling the vacant posts.

The MCI had conducted two inspections in the state medical colleges this year and had found shortage of faculty, poor infrastructure and shortage of paramedical staff.

According to sources, a team of the MCI, during its inspection of GOMCO Patiala, had found that there was shortage of teaching faculty in certain disciplines in the medical college.

It is also reported to have found that there was a poor occupancy of beds in the Rajindra Hospital, which is attached with the medical college.

The government in February had ordered large-scale transfers of medical teachers from Patiala to Faridkot and then to Patiala again to ensure that there was no shortage of teachers during the inspection of the medical colleges at Faridkot and Patiala.

However, the team had found a lot of shortcomings at the Faridkot medical college and has given three months to remove the shortcomings and threatened that the admissions to the college could be stopped if these were not attended to.


Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir
Development pace leaves Sikhs elated
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 9
Contrary to the common perception, Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) has witnessed considerable development in almost all spheres of life and it has left a group of Sikhs, who had got displaced from PoK and had to migrate to and settle in India.

Meanwhile, PoK president Raza Zulfquarnain Khan has assured that the Muzaffarabad-based gurudwara of the Sixth guru, which has, of late, allegedly been shown as a mosque, would be restored shortly and that the police lines operating from the place would be shifted to some other place.

Visibly feeling to have been over the moon to have been able to see his birth place village Kotli Muzaffarabad district of PoK for the first time after 1947, Sarwan Singh Shaktiman said the fact that the PoK had been able to retain its pace in respect of development with the rest of the world had left him and other displaced PoK Sikhs amused. Sarwan Singh Shaktimaan of Patiala, the president of the Central Committee of All Jammu and Kashmir Refugees (1947), was part of a six-member delegation, which has toured PoK recently. The other members of the delegation included Kulwant Singh, Kartar Singh, Rajinder Singh, Saran Singh, and Gajinder Singh and all of them managed to their ancestral villages around Muzaffarabad.

“There is a sea of change to witness there. Things have changed a lot since 1947. Now the area is full of greenery and is well connected with good roads, bridges and boast of air connectivity. It was not so in 1947. The biggest thing is that every village has link roads, water supply, sewerage system and power connections besides at least one primary school in each of the villages,” said Sarwan Singh Shaktimaan.

According to Gajinder Singh, while there were just two bridges on Jhelum and Krishan Ganga rivers to connect Muzaffarabad with the rest of the areas, now, the number of bridges has gone beyond six. “There is one air-strip at Maira Makhorian, a place just 5 km away from Muzaffarabad,” said Gajinder.

Sarwan Singh said the PoK president has assured that the sanctity of the Gurudwara would be restored as soon as possible. “The Government of India should do something to make the cumbersome LoC crossing procedure simple. People originally hailing from PoK should be able to get visa from New Delhi based Pakistan high commission,” demanded Sarwan Singh.


Book traces history of Hazur Sahib Deccani Sikhs
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib Amritsar, November 9
In a comprehensive research, involving rare pictures and documents, UK-based Sikh scholars Nidar Singh Nihang and Paramjit Singh have explored the history of the Deccani Sikhs of Hazur Sahib.

The research work, “In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib”, was released during the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib at Hazur Sahib.

This two-volume work also explores the history and traditions of Hazur Sahib, the fourth Sikh Takht.

The first volume traces the Hazur Sahib’s development, from the foundation of the very first modest structure built over the ashes of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 to the “insensitive destruction” of its unique built heritage in the name of modernisation and beautification three centuries later.

The authors have drawn upon a wealth of written materials and oral tradition to evoke a vivid and often startling account of the empires, events and characters with maharajas, warriors, emperors, nizams, politicians and policemen, which are intertwined with the fortunes of the last resting place of the 10th Sikh Guru.

Nidar is the ninth gurdev (teacher) of the Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidya Akhara, which had been founded in the 17th century to teach Sikh warriors battlefield arts. He has lectured across the world on the Sikh martial tradition and has contributed to several television documentaries, radio programmes and publications on the subject. His co-author, Paramjit, is an independent researcher specialising in the photographic history of 19th century Punjab.

They made several trips to Hazur Sahib during 1999-2007 to have interactions with the Deccani Sikhs to collect first-hand information about their history.

They have tapped into the rich and exotic reservoirs of visual heritage to bring to life the unfamiliar world of Hazur Sahib in over 150 illustrations of paintings, photographs, portraits, maps, artefacts and documents from several public and private archives. Among these are examples of the sumptuous murals that have decorated the inner walls and ceilings of Hazur Sahib since 1830.

However, the authors rued that several exquisite and vibrant examples of Sikh fresco art, that once adorned the walls of some major shrines in Punjab and had been reproduced in this book, had been destroyed or painted over in recent times.



Bhattal blames SAD-BJP for financial crisis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
Opposition leader in Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bibi Rajinder Kaur Bhattal held the SAD-BJP government responsible for the present financial crisis in the state.

In a press note issued here on Friday alleging the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government failed on every front even during the 20-month rule. Bhattal said the state government was already facing an acute financial crisis and it had no money to pay salaries to employees.

“We left Rs 1,200 crore in state exchequer in February. But now I have come to know that the government treasure has become empty due to alleged wrong policies of the state government,” she added.


Farm sector bails out cash-strapped govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 9
For Punjab, which is facing a financial crunch because of Rs 4,500-crore various subsidies, including free power to the farm sector and limited means of revenue generation, the agriculture sector has emerged as saviour. In fact, if the wheel of state development is moving, albeit at a slow pace, it is all because of the revenue generated by the agriculture sector.

During the current financial year, about Rs 4,300 crore will be directly contributed in hard cash to state’s gross revenue by the agriculture sector. And it will be perhaps the largest contribution by a single sector to the state’s gross revenue.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has promised to give Rs 3 crore to each Assembly constituency for development purposes. This grant will be resourced from market fee and rural development fund collected from the sale of paddy and wheat to the central pool and private traders. Earlier, Badal had promised to give Rs 2 crore to each vidhan sabha segment and 50 per cent of the funds have already been released.

During the current paddy season, the contribution to the VAT from the sale of paddy will be in the range of Rs 600 crore. By the end of season this month, the paddy worth Rs 15,000 crore will be sold in grain markets of the state. On it, VAT at the rate of 4 per cent is collected by the government.

About Rs 300 crore will be collected as market fee on paddy and an equal amount will be collected as rural development fund. Besides, Rs 150 crore will be collected as infrastructure cess. Market fee, rural development fund and cess are collected at 2, 2 and 1 per cent respectively on the sale of paddy and wheat.

“If during the current fiscal year, the Excise and Taxation Department is boasting of a record increase in the revenue from VAT, major contribution in that increase will be from the farm sector”, said a senior officer of the state government.

About Rs 375 crore will be earned by arhtiyas (commission agents) from the sale of paddy. About Rs 190 crore will go to labour for unloading, cleansing, dressing paddy and also for filling, weighing, stitching and loading paddy bags. During the last financial year, through the sale of paddy and wheat, the state government had earned Rs 2,000 crore in the form of VAT, rural development fund, cess and market fee.


DC introduces new paddy equipment
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 9
With a view to cutting down on high labour costs and raising paddy yield, a bed-making-cum-seed-driller equipment for direct seeding of paddy has been introduced.

The first such equipment was demonstrated at Chogwan village in the farm of Rachhpal Singh. Young farmers lauded the efforts of deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu for experimenting such innovative equipment.

Pannu said it was found that the yield from those fields where this equipment was used was higher than those cultivated with conventional methods of paddy transplant. Besides, the new equipment had cut down a lot on labour costs.

He said with the help of this machine, farmers could sow paddy on up to 10 acres every day and it required just one-third of water required in the conventional method of paddy transplant. The number of plants per square meter after the use of this equipment was 30-33 compared to only 18-20 plants by the conventional method.

The first two equipment were produced at an auto mechanical workshop at Jandiala run by Roor Singh.


Auction of Quarries
Cong seeks CBI probe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, November 9
The issue pertaining to the mining of sand and stones from rivers and rivulets flowing through Gurdaspur district snowballed into a major controversy when a senior Congress leader, while alleging large-scale bungling in awarding of contracts of mining, demanded a CBI probe into the same Thursday.

Earlier, the Congress leadership decided to launch an agitation to pressurise the state government to stop the alleged looting of sand and stone from mines by a mafia operating in this area for the past many months.

Raman Bhalla, former Congress minister, while talking to The Tribune, said had the authorities concerned conducted the auction of quarries of mines in a proper manner, the state government could have earned about Rs 40 crore instead of Rs 4.17 crore, which it had earned now.

He also claimed that the probe carried out by the CBI would expose the involvement of a section of bigwigs into this multi-crore rupees scam.

He said though V.K. Janjua, director-cum-secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, issued show-cause notices to 52 contractors and a strict warning to them to break the cartel, this action was not sufficient as the state exchequer suffered huge losses.

He said during the auction of the quarries, the authorities allowed the bidder to use each other’s bank drafts made by them for depositing the earnest money before making the bid, which was against law. They must have allowed only those bidders to make a bid for a particular quarry, whose earnest money was deposited.

He alleged though the royalty on the raw material should be charged on the mining site, which was the river bed, a section, who had laid nakas on highways, had been charging royalty on finished goods. Some unscrupulous elements had been charging double royalty.

Though Janjua could not be contacted for comments despite repeated efforts, a senior official of the Industry Department said a business tycoon of India, who was interested in making bids for taking the contract of mining of quarries, was prevented by some politicians that he should not spoil their game as he had already been given contract of liquor vends.


PSEB unbundling not before LS polls
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
Punjab has no intention to unbundle the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) till May 31, 2009, and is in line to seek a record ninth extension from the Union power ministry.

There is no clarity on what final shape the board should take after the proposed unbundling, with the state still not making a road map on how it will conduct the entire exercise.

The government, in its latest letter to the power ministry, has taken the stand that it needs more time to bring all stakeholders on the board. It has also mentioned that restructuring of the board without financial restructuring is not feasible. However, at present, the government is facing financial constraints.

Sources said the power ministry had also been told that the government needed to clear the liabilities of the PSEB as any new company set up as part of the unbundling process needed to have clean balance sheets.

The state government has also maintained that it is exploring possibilities to reevaluate assets as well as create a viable financial restructuring plan as asked by the power ministry earlier, but needed more time to do so.

While granting the last extension to the board till November 31, the power ministry had asked the board to submit a firm road map detailing how it would go about unbundling the PSEB.

However, the fact that the government is sticking to its earlier stand to put off unbundling till May 31, 2009, clearly indicates that it does not want to commit anything before the parliamentary elections.

According to the sources, a detailed proposal was made during the last Congress government, which could form the basis of a revised proposal, but the government did not want to disclose its intentions to avert any protest from PSEB employees who were against the unbundling of the board.

By postponing the decision till the Lok Sabha elections, the state government has also decided not to follow a suggestion to separate transmission activity, which will have made it possible to conform to the bare requirements of the Electricity Act, 2003, that stipulates that transmission should be out of the ambit of the state Electricity Boards.


Media needs self-regulation, says Advani
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
The Indian media needs to immediately incorporate a self-regulatory mechanism in the wake of gross sensationalisation and trivialisation of issues. This was stated by L.K. Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, while inaugurating the second national convention of the Indian Media Centre here today.

“The government will like to play a limited role in the imposition of any strictures regarding the functioning of the media. The checks have to come from within”, he said. Advani came down heavily on television news channels for trivialisation and over sensationalisation of news.

Quoting an example of self-regulation, Advani said: “I was sitting in my office when the incident of 9\11 in the US was flashed on the television screen. Except for the first few minutes, which showed people panicking or jumping, the entire coverage did not show any dead body or anyone stuck in a pitiable situation. The same does not happen in India”.

Advani said he thought the media had been unable to play its true role during the Emergency clamped by the Congress during ’70s. “I told them that the government had asked you to bend down, however, a number of you were crawling. The three sections of society, most hit by the Emergency, were politicians, press and the judiciary, including lawyers. Only the third category had succeeded to make its point against the forced rules,” Advani said.

Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, said: “Religion, communalism, poverty, education and unemployment are the biggest concerns before the society and politicians.” Among others present on the occasion were Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Chandan Mitra and Shyam Khosla, chairman and director of the media centre, respectively. Ashok Singhi, organising secretary, conducted the proceedings.


News Analysis
From dhadis to show-biz star
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 9
The young leadership of the SAD, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, today gave a new turn to the party’s politics by announcing the candidature of show-biz star Hans Raj Hans from the local Lok Sabha constituency.

This is for the first time that the SAD, having immense faith in political capabilities of traditional Jathedars, dhadis and veteran party activists, has turned to a show-biz star to win Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Hans, a popular folk singer, who had adorned the Suffiana mantle recently and preferred to be addressed as Saain Hans Darvesh, is a new to the political arena.

In the past years, when other parties such as the Congress, the BJP and even some regional outfits in the South had been turning to film stars for running political campaigns, the SAD had been avoiding show-biz politics. But, it brought several dhadis, like Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Chetan Singh Samon and the late Dhanna Singh Gulshan, to the electoral arena. However, they were given party ticket after several years of their services to the “panth”.

Though Hans has a star appeal, in the election arena he will have to confront with the realities of politics, that is obviously a very dicey field.

Young leadership of the SAD is obviously out to add some glitter and glamour to the party’s election campaign this time. Hans will not only contest election from Jalandhar, but will also campaign in other parts of the state for party candidates. The BJP has already put up two stars, TV star and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and film star Vinod Khanna, from Amritsar and Gurdaspur as candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

However, the Congress, which is a house divided at the moment in the state, has not shown its cards yet. Its leadership is looking towards the party high command that is engaged in selecting candidates for the Vidhan Sabha elections in states like Delhi, Rajasthan, etc.


Kapurthala fest: Contemporary vs traditional
Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, November 9
The sensibilities of classical music were enormously altered or at least expanded when Purbayan Chatterji, Sandeep Das and their friends took over the stage on the concluding day of the Kapurthala heritage festival this evening. Today was all about the contemporary vs the traditional but the audience loved both.

The evening started off on a mesmerising, but regular, predictable note with Purbayan playing the sitar (raag Maaru Bihaag) and Das (his second performance at the festival) accompanying him at the tabla.

But things changed when Purbayan came up with his doppelganger. “The alter-ego of the sitar”, is what he described it as. The sitar and the guitar played hide and seek in the doppelganger.

With the drums (Arun Kumar) and the keyboard (Atul Raninja) pitching in, the atmosphere turned electric giving the event a rock concert feel. Purbayan started with his composition “wings on strings”. A strong believer in the duality of human nature and existence, Purbayan’s next line of compositions would be called “dwo”.

The next composition he played was a ballad kind of piece called “shadow lights”, which was followed by “united we stand”. Next came “open secrets” and the last composition to be performed was DDJK, which, in Das’s words, was dil diya Jalandhar ko”.

The jugalbandi of the performers, tabla vs drums, doppelganger vs keyboard and vice-versa, gave a new zenith to the madness.

As if this was not enough, the next in league was Ustad Shaukat Ali. Things slowed down and the atmosphere cooled down for the audience to devour the effect that moonlit mehfils, palaces and soothing voices have always had on the people of Punjab.

Ali started with “Allah Allah akh bhaven Ram Ram kaho?meri ai dua channa razi khushi raho”. Seemingly an effort at peace between both countries, he next performed “vgdie sarhade tatti vaa na lagge”.

He also performed the much-loved challa and Heer of Punjab.


Victims of violence await Central relief
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
The Punjab government is yet to respond to the Central scheme for assistance to victims of terrorist and communal violence under which the victim’s family is entitled to get Rs 3 lakh as compensation. This amount would be given to the family over and above any ex-gratia that the state government had announced for them.

The ministry of home affairs , government of India, launched the scheme in April this year following which the ministry had asked various states to recommend cases where families of victims were eligible for the payment.

“We had written to chief secretaries of all states and are still awaiting a response from some states including Punjab,” said the director in charge of the scheme in the ministry.

Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said he was aware of the scheme and the government would be responding to the Centre in this regard.

The scheme is valid for all those who died and those who were permanently incapacitated in acts of terrorist and communal violence that took place in India after April 1. For the purposes of this scheme, the term terrorism includes militancy and insurgency related violence and communal violence refers to planned and organised acts of violence by members of one community against members of another community with the intent of creating or expressing ill will or hatred and leading to loss of life or injuries to people, states the scheme.

Though hundreds have died across the country in a host of bomb blasts during this period, Punjab has registered peace. Sources, however, add that those who died in the violent clashes between the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikhs would fall in the category of communal violence for the purpose of this scheme.

“If the state recommends such cases, we can consider them for the assistance. The aim of the scheme is to provide solace to as many affected persons as possible. The state has to but first send us these cases,” said a highly placed officer in the MHA.

He added that financial assistance would be given to the family in the event of death or permanent incapacitation of the victim and such families would be eligible to get assistance under the scheme even if they had received any other assistance, by way of payment of ex-gratia or any other relief from the government.


Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan
Services of 2 NGOs cancelled
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
Project coordinators of the nationwide Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) in the state are in the dark about the fate of hundreds of children enrolled in more than 60 centres in the district.

The district authorities have decided to cancel the services of the two NGOs engaged in the activity. However, the NGOs, totally unaware about the development, continue the classes at different places.

Sumer Singh Gurjar, deputy commissioner, said, "I have got two reports from the BPDOs and both have shown very negative status reports on their working. We have decided to discontinue the services of both NGOs."

Rajesh Kapoor, secretary, Rameshwar Welfare Trust running 44 centres in Ludhiana, said, "We have no news about our services being discontinued. We have not been paid a single penny till date, although under the scheme we should have been given at least 50 per cent by this time."

The centres are not getting any meals under the mid-day meal under the scheme. Teachers, mostly from average family backgrounds, have not been paid till date.

Gurmel Kainth, assistant state project director, said, "We sent the money to the district administration about a month ago."

Amrinder Singh, a project coordinator in the district, said, "There were certain technical hassles in releasing the grant amount. We have looked into the matter and will release the amount very shortly".

Raejsh said, "We don't know what is happening in the administration. There are so may contradictory versions available. We are working normally and have also received the set of books for the students. The reports about our non-functioning are totally fudged. The inspecting officers are biased. One of them said he would not allow the NGOs to barge into the government task of providing education. The officials made visits consciously on days of festivals when schools were not officially closed. As the students here are not regular, the attendance was naturally thin".

Gurjar said, "I have authentic information about the malfunctioning of the centres. I am duty bound to ensure sincerity in carrying out the projects before the money is released. We will discontinue the permission to the NGOs and have a fresh look at the project."

Rajesh said, "An inquiry should be conducted about the functioning of our centres by a state-appointed committee. If found guilty, we have no objections to being disaffiliated. However, action on biased reports will be unfair and detrimental to others to follow the course for a noble deed."


Assault on journalists condemned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
Journalists from across the region have condemned the incident involving brutal assault and criminal intimidation of News X TV channel crew, including bureau chief Shamsher Chandel, by staff of Inspector-General (Human Rights) Mohammad Mustafa and Congress MLA from Malerkotla Razia Sultana, at the residence of the latter in Malerkotla yesterday.

Deploring the latest incident involving illegal assault, detention and criminal intimidation of an entire news TV channel crew by the staff of the IG, apparently at the behest of the IG and his wife, journalists criticised the increasing volley of attacks by the police on scribes across the state. The incident ironically comes close on the heels of a similar incident involving arbitrary arrest of NDTV journalist by the Kapurthala police in a motivated case.

The special committee formed by the Chandigarh Press Club sought the immediate registration of criminal cases against the IG and his staff followed by a high-level probe. The committee, which met here this afternoon, threatened to launch a state-wide agitation against the police.

While making an announcement, Sarabjit Pandher, president of the club, informed the agitated journalists that the committee had given an ultimatum to the Punjab police and the government to punish the errant cops and hold IG Mustafa and his Congress MLA wife Razia accountable for the assault. Pandher lamented that in spite of repeated assurances by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, attacks on journalists continued unabated in the state.

Shamsher Chandel, bureau chief of New X channel, said they had sought prior appointment before going to the IG and MLA’s residence, so the unprovoked attack by the staff of the IG was a shock. He has already lodged a complaint with DGP N.P.S. Aulakh in this regard.


Govt to build houses for weaker sections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Department on Thursday notified its policy for economically weaker sections in the real estate projects in the state.

A spokesperson for the department stated that under the mega/super mega housing projects in the state, 5 per cent area had been reserved for housing for financially weaker sections. The government has brought out a comprehensive notification elucidating the eligibility criteria for allotment of one/two-room tenements. Under the new policy, it has been mandated that the applicant must be an Indian citizen and resident of Punjab for the past 10 years. The cut-off income limit has been kept at Rs 10,000 per month for one-room tenement and Rs 15,000 for two-room set, said the spokesperson.


‘Govt ignoring panel of safai karamcharis’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 9
Leave alone not follow the instructions of the National Safai Karamcharis Commission (NSKC) for benefitting safai karamcharis, the Punjab and Rajasthan governments have not even acknowledged the circulars of the commission unlike governments of others states.

Stating this while addressing mediapersons here on Wednesday, chairperson of the NSKC Santosh Chowdhary blamed Punjab and Rajasthan governments for completely ignoring the instructions of the commission. She said she herself had written letters to the CMs of both states for completing the backlog and fresh recruitments and to regularise the services of ad hoc safai karamcharis. But they had not acknowledged her letters.


Docs for aggressive steps to control TB
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 9
Taking a serious note of the present situation of tuberculosis (TB) in the state, Dr Aslam Parvez, state president, Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA), Punjab, on Wednesday said the RMSA was of the view that aggressive community participation in controlling TB was need of the hour though rural doctors (working under zila parishads) had increased the detection rate and decreased the default rate of patients since their postings in rural dispensaries.

Dr Aslam said the association had decided to announce three annual awards, starting this year, for rural doctors who would excel in the field of TB control programme. He said in villages, rural doctors were doing hard work for the control of TB, but aggressive community participation was lacking.

Dr Aslam said the association felt that the SGPC and other religious organisations could play an important role in helping the rural doctors to fight TB.


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