P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


‘Ludhiana had no action plan to fight dengue’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
In a severe indictment of district health authorities of Ludhiana, the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) has reported that they tried to fight the outbreak of dengue without any action plan and only responded after the transmission had reached its peak.

A report submitted by Dr Kalpana Baruah, deputy director, NVBDCP, which is with The Tribune, clearly states that the Ludhiana district administration did not have any action plan available for 2008 to fight the transmission of dengue, due to which it carried out activities in a haphazard manner.

The report also states that due to poor technical skills of field and supervisory staff as well as poor coordination, the district authorities only came into action in October when dengue was at its peak with cases being reported from every part of the district. This amounted to a damage control exercise rather than a preventive one, the report said.

Ludhiana had reported more than 3,000 cases and witnessed 12 deaths, according to official sources (unofficial figure stands at more than 100 deaths) recently and even new cases of dengue were being reported from various districts in the Malwa belt of the state.

The report states that transmission could have been interrupted during the incipient stage, but the health authorities failed to either supervise or monitor the spread of the transmission. It said health staff emphasised on elimination of breeding in coolers by emptying them, but other breeding habitats like unused tyres, plastic drums and small domestic water containers remained unattended. It said due to this vector density the transmission of dengue spread fast.

The report also states that no control room was established despite 3,000 cases being reported in the district. It said aedes mosquito breeding was also detected in hospitals, industrial places and offices, which were not attended to by the district staff. It suggested that dengue patients should be kept under bed net even during daytime, as staff in the Dayanand Medical College (DMC) had also been affected with dengue.

Meanwhile, Dr G.P.S. Dhillon, director, NVBDCP, in a communication to the state Health Services, said he was surprised that 40 to 50 cases of dengue continued to be reported from Ludhiana district even now. Dr Dhillon said the situation in districts of Mohali, Amritsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar and Patiala also needed to be monitored constantly and suggestions given by the Centre should be implemented.


Two more die  in Patiala
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
Dengue claimed two more lives at Rajindra Hospital here last night as fresh cases surfaced across the state.

The Health Department’s statistics show dengue claiming 17 (excluding two Patiala patients dying on Saturday night) lives. Unofficially, the toll was more.

While deputy director, Health (malaria), Dr Varinder Mohi claimed that there were 3,743 dengue positive cases in the state, Punjab Civil Services Medical Association (PCSMA) patron Dr M.S. Randhawa said the number of affected persons had crossed the mark of 25,000 and the situation was catastrophic.

Jasmail Kaur (60) of Bhadaur near Barnala and Surjan Singh of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Khanna, died due to the disease.

Most of the patients hailed from Patiala localities, including Mohindra Colony, Jandanwala Chowk, Yadavindra Colony, Samania Gate, Jaurian Bhattian, Tripri and Mehar Singh Colony. 


LS Polls
Amarinder for slow-start strategy for campaigning
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Punjab Congress will stagger its election campaign under a new strategy set to be implemented by its campaign committee in charge Capt Amarinder Singh, with the aim of reaching a peak at the most appropriate time.

Despite an early start taken by the SAD-BJP combine, which has also announced its candidates from a number of seats, the campaign committee head is keen to go in for a deliberate slow start so that the party does not exhaust its energy at the initial stage and can overshadow the SAD-BJP campaign at the penultimate stage.

The former Chief Minister disclosed this to The Tribune, one day before the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) sits down to take up party issues under leadership of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal here tomorrow. Amarinder will not attend the meeting as he says the Supreme Court is yet to take a decison on his expulsion from the Vidhan Sabha.

Amarinder is apparently going back to the party experience of 1998 to formulate his present strategy. “In 1998, we had only 13 days to campaign, while the SAD-BJP had four months. We were still able to win 10 seats against three won by them,” he said.

The former Chief Minister said he would, however, like a longer campaign period. He also hoped to get it as the Antony committee had recommended that ticket distribution should not be delayed. He said right now party leaders were also being used in electioneering in Rajasthan.

In keeping with this, the campaign committee in charge will start the process of meeting workers at the district level from next week. No rallies will, however, be held for some time. “We want to first build the morale of Congress workers and then mobilise them according to a well-planned strategy,” said a confident Amarinder. He said since elections were still a long way off, the Congress would start holding rallies in later stages. “We propose to first hold one rally per week, increase it to two a week and finally three rallies every week,” he said.

Speaking about the start made by the SAD-BJP combine, he said, “Inna di phookh nikal jaani hai” (they will be exhausted). He said the combine might have to sustain its poll campaign for six months as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced that the elections would be held on time. “This means April,” he said adding he wanted to give enough time to Congress candidates to use their resources to the maximum effect and, hence, the delay in the poll campaign. 


Rana Gurjit confident of taking on Sukhbir, Sidhu
Sanjay Bumbroo and Gurbaxpuri
Tribune Reporters

Tarn Taran, November 16
With the Lok Sabha elections not far away, Congress MP from Jalandhar Rana Gurjit Singh has made it clear that he is willing to contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections from the Khadoor Sahib constituency which falls in the district.

Talking to The Tribune last night, he said he had conveyed to the party high command that he was fully prepared to contest the elections from anywhere and against anybody, including SAD president Sukbir Singh Badal and BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar.

Attacking the ruling SAD-BJP government, he said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir had deceived voters only to grab power as they had failed to fulfill even a single promise made during the last Assembly elections.

Rana said he would try his best to establish a special economic zone (SEZ) at Goindwal Sahib which was established as the country’s first nucleus industrial complex in 1980 to give a boost to industries of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ferozepur, besides the border district.

He said about 2,000 acres of land was required for setting up the SEZ whereas about 1,000 acres was already available at the site lying unused.

The Congress MP, who has started his campaign of establishing contacts with local units of the party at the grassroots level, said the general masses were not happy with the present SAD-BJP government.

He alleged that Badal duo made tall promises only to befool people and nothing concrete had been done at the ground level. 


‘Globalisation has affected human sustainability’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
Rapid process of convergence involving globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation have adversely affected the process of human sustainability in many ways. Such situation calls for the state intervention and strengthening of the related institutional framework.

This was the consensus emerged among top economists converged at the three-day international conference on “Sustainable Development”, organised by the Punjabi University's Centre for South-West Asia Study (CSWAS), in collaboration with Association of Asia Scholars. The conference concluded here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof G.K. Chadha, member, Prime Minister's economic advisory council and Professor Emeritus of JNU, New Delhi, said environmental crisis had strong connections with market-oriented development patterns.

The issues of undernourishment and resource-depletion were posing serious problems, while, the oil-syndrome, based on the geo-politics and economics, had disturbed the economic equilibrium, particularly, among the developing countries, he said.

Punjabi University vice-chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh said sustainability of capitalistic economic development, based on pure market-led forces, was facing a serious global recession. This had further added to the already prevalent high degree of diversity and economic development process. It required revamping of the policy processes to enhance the economic prosperity and overcome severe constraints in the light of increasing threat to food security and environment crisis. Political, economical and social systems, he said, needed to function in harmony so that diversity and development process could co-exist and prosper to deliver sustainable development.

Prof S.S. Gill, programme coordinator, CSWAS, said about one-fourth of world population had no access to safe drinking water. Three million people, he said, died because of pollution every year while global warming had disturbed the entire existence of many countries. The major challenge before Asia was the maintenance of balance between environment and development, Dr Gill added.

Dr. Lourdes G. Salvador, executive director, Asian Scholarship Foundation, Bangkok, emphasised upon the humanistic vision of development. Among those who presented their research papers included Dr Sukhpal Singh, IIM, Ahmedabad, Prof Surjit Singh, director, IDS, Jaipur; Xu Xiangyang from China; Munim K. Barai from Bangladesh; Anoma S.P. Abhayarantne from Sri Lanka; Kaushif -Ur- Rehman from Pakistan and Dr Simon Bishop from England.


Two cops, postman held in passport scam
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 16
The police yesterday arrested head constable Ranjit Singh, constable Jaswinder Pal Singh and postman Om Prakash who were allegedly involved in the infamous passport scam that was unearthed in the passport branch of district here early this year.

Six persons, including Didar Singh, an employee of the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Chandigarh, Jaswinder Singh, Ranjit Singh, Gurdial Singh, all employees of the Police Department, earlier posted in the local passport branch, and Ranjit Singh, an employee of the Municipal Council, were booked by the police under Sections 420, 465, 468 and 471, IPC, Section 2/8, Passport Act, and Sections 13 (2) and 88, Prevention of Corruption Act.

As many as 250 passports prepared during the past one year in Moga district by the RPO, were found to be made fake by tampering with official records, forging of documents of age, education, address proof etc.

SHO of city police station (south) Varinder Singh Gill, who is investigating the scam, told The Tribune that the arrested policemen, along with their colleague Gurdial Singh, were posted in the passport branch for the past many years. Whenever they were transferred from this branch, they used to manage their posting back again.

Certain people who were refused visas and persons against whom criminal cases were registered used to furnish wrong antecedents and in connivance with the accused policemen managed to get cleared their police verifications and, thus, get fake passports.

Gill said travel agents were also involved in this scam. The passport application forms with fake antecedents had been applied through various travel agencies of Punjab. Records of some private travel agencies in Chandigarh like Sandal Travels, Dollar Travel Agency, Ever Green Travel Agency and Johal Travel Agency of Patiala were under the scanner. Health Department clerk Usha Rani posted here used to prepare fake birth certificates while postman Ranjit Singh used to deliver fake passports. Usha had travelled worldwide in many countries. She was presently eluding arrest.

The arrested policemen used to charge money ranging from Rs 30,000 to even Rs 3 lakh per passport, depending upon the potential of the client. Persons having a criminal background and names put in family cases used to offer money in lakhs. The policemen had amassed crores. It was learnt that they had invested this money in real estate business. Constable Gurdial Singh even started a private college.

The interrogation of the arrested two policemen had also disclosed that some senior functionaries of the RPO, Chandigarh, and senior officials of the SSP office, Moga, could also be involved in the scam, along with travel agents.

Meanwhile, the police produced head constable Ranjit Singh, constable Jaswinder Pal Singh and postman Om Prakash in the local court Kewal Krishan here this evening. Lakhvir Singh additional public prosecutor of the district said they all had been sent on a police remand till November 19 by the court for further investigations. 



Akalis have forgotten panthic agenda: Khaira
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira today claimed that despite receiving the draft of the All- India Gurdwara Act from the Centre in September 1999, the state government had not sent its suggestions on it.

Khaira said this was clear from the reply he had received to a question through the Vidhan Sabha. He said the government had admitted receiving the draft of the proposed Act, but had not sent its suggestions or comments on the issue to the Centre.

The Congress leader said this proved the Parkash Singh Badal government had abandoned its panthic agenda. He said the enactment of the All-India Gurdwara Act had been one of the major demands of the Akalis and incorporated in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.

He said the Akalis had no moral right to call themselves the sole representative voice of the Sikhs across the globe. He said promoting singers like Hans Raj Hans in the Akali Dal were signs of shedding its Sikh identity and character. “It is well known that Hans Raj believes in worshipping ‘living god’ and has got himself installed as head of Lal Badshah shrine at Nakodar,” he added. The Congress leader said the demand for a separate gurdwara committee by Sikhs in Haryana was also the result of the complete “politicised malfunctioning” of the SGPC. He said in contrast, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had set an example of how religious bodies should be run.

‘Bir Devinder working at behest of SAD’

Khaira alleged that party senior leader and former deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh seemed to be working at the behest of the SAD. Talking to mediapersons here today, Khaira said opposition if any should be in broad daylight. “You cannot sabotage the party by remaining in it,” added Khaira.

He went on to say that the former Deputy Speaker was “wasting his energy” and that he did not have any moral right to continue in the party. He also claimed that the SAD would also not take up Bir Devinder. “At most they may give him the platform of the Bahujan Samaj Party to damage the Congress prospects in one seat,” he added.


Bahujan Samaj Morcha may tie up with Cong
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
President of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) Satnam Singh Kainth today gave an indication to form an alliance with the Congress in the ensuing Lok Sabha (LS) elections by saying that the BSM had also extended unconditional support to the national party in the last Assembly elections.

In reply to a question here today, Kainth said the BSM would chalk out all modalities to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections at its state-level meeting to be held tomorrow in Jalandhar. He said several issues, including an alliance with the Congress, would be discussed at the meeting.

Kainth said he welcomed the statement of Congress leaders that they would form an alliance with the BSM in the ensuing LS elections. Considering that it’s an era of coalition politics, the BSM would certainly form an alliance with a political party in the LS elections, he added.

Kainth alleged people of the state were desperate from the SAD-BJP government’s 20-month performance. He said the state government had failed in fulfilling several promises, including one made to weaker sections of the society. He said the atta-dal scheme’s survey was being conducted for the fourth time in the state, which meant the government wanted to snatch benefits of the scheme from poor persons by imposing various conditions.

The BSM chief also said as the financial health of the state was not good, stipends were also not being given to poor students in schools for the past several months. He also claimed that procurement of paddy wasn’t being done in a transparent manner, leading farmers to sell their produce even below the minimum support price (MSP).


State-level Function at Ludhiana
BJP leaders feel belittled at being denied prominence
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 16
BJP leader and Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Satpal Gosain is said to be upset on finding his name missing from the invitation to the state-level function to be held to celebrate cooperative week at Ludhiana. Certain other senior BJP leaders are angry at the “belittling prominence” given to their party president Prof Rajinder Bhandari regarding the function at Ludhiana tomorrow to launch air-conditioned (AC) buses.

Commenting on the advertisement in certain newspapers by the Transport Department inviting people to participate in the AC buses launch function at Ludhiana, a senior BJP leader said while SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had been given “full” prominence in the advertisement, the name of BJP president Bhandari had been mentioned among the guests. The Transport Department got Sukhbir’s photo displayed prominently in the advertisement, but such respect had not been shown in the case of Bhandari.

A BJP leader said the Transport Department should have given treatment to Professor Bhandari on a par with Sukbir. He said the BJP was equal partner in the government and treating its leaders “so lightly” at a state-level function was a disturbing development. “In fact, the Badal government came into being due to the BJP which won 19 of the 23 seats allotted to it in the Assembly elections. The SAD was short of majority of MLAs required to form the government,” he said.

Denying proper prominence to state BJP leaders at official functions and in advertisements of the government were pointed out to senior officers and the SAD leadership earlier, said another BJP leader. “Being the senior partner, the SAD should take care of all these matters,” he said adding any action creating heart burning should be avoided.


PSEB to replace bulbs with CFLs by January
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), it seems is going on an overdrive to install energy-saving devices, including the replacement of conventional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

PSEB authorities are taking to heart Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s directive to replace all conventional bulbs with CFLs by January 31 next year.

Recently, the PSEB launched an energy conservation drive at Jagatpura village in collaboration with a private company. All yellow bulbs were replaced by CFLs under the supervision of Amrik Singh, engineer-in-chief, and P.K. Bansal, deputy chief engineer, Energy Conservation.

Jagatpura has now become the second village in the state where 100 per cent CFLs have been provided. The first village where all yellow bulbs were replaced by CFLs was Dhurkot in Moga district.

A top PSEB official said a massive publicity campaign had been launched to educate the public, particularly rural masses, on benefits of using CFLs and other energy-saving devices. “We hope to replace the present inefficient lighting fixtures with CFLs and other energy-saving devices in the domestic sector by January 31 next year,” he said.

Talking about the advantages of using CFLs, a senior engineer said if 50 lakh domestic consumers used at least five CFLs each, then 600 MW power demand could be reduced and a total of 1,500 million units energy saved.

Interestingly, the PSEB has already made it mandatory to use CFLs in all 10 lakh tube wells in the state. As a result, 150 MW peak demand will be reduced and nearly 300 million units saved. Due to this, the board can give 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to the domestic sector.

The use of CFLs in rural areas has gone down well with village panchayats, which are responding favourably to the use of these energy-saving devices. A senior engineer, working with the PSEB drive, said more and more panchayats were approaching the board to have CFLs installed in their villages.

PSEB officials revealed that one village of each operation division in the board would be provided 100 per cent CFLs in one month.


Pay Panel Row
Ex-servicemen seek removal of anomalies
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
Members of the ex-servicemen wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today raised their voice against the alleged anomalies in recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission at a meeting held at Dhuri, 14 km from here.

Addressing ex-servicemen, national president of ex-servicemen wing of the SAD Col Partap Inder Singh Phulka (retd) said the recommendations of the commission were sheer injustice to the ex-servicemen. He said at the time of 1971 war they had been honoured with garlands, but now not a single political party, except the SAD, had come forward to get the anomalies in the pay panel removed.

Col Surjit Singh Cheema (retd), president of the Sangrur unit, said they were holding peaceful protests to get the anomalies removed.

Members of the ex-servicemen wing said they would continue their protests and if the Central government failed to resolve the issue, they would burn their medals in front of the India Gate in New Delhi.


Punjabi Diwas
Upinderjit for using Punjabi in offices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Punjab Education and Languages minister Upinderjit Kaur has said the government will take legal as well as departmental action against institutions as well as employees who do not comply with the usage of Punjabi in official functioning.

The minister, who was presiding over the Punjabi Diwas organised at Shivalik Public School here on Saturday night, said the government was committed to the use of Punjabi in all government offices.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s wife Surinder Kaur Badal, while speaking on the occasion, said it is a matter of pride that the Punjab government had been successful in getting Punjabi language the status of a second language in other states. 


1,680 TB patients found in Sangrur dist
Cured patients to generate awareness among masses
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
Against a target of detecting 3,984 tuberculosis (TB) patients in the current year, given to Sangrur district in the light of annual risk of TB infection (ARTI) survey (257 patients per lakh per year), as many as 1,680 TB patients, including 591 highly infectious, have been detected.

These have been put on directly observed treatment short-course (DOTS) under the revised national TB control programme (RNTCP) from January to October. For the detection of TB patients, the district has been divided into three zones: Sangrur zone (Sangrur, Bhawanigarh, Longowal, Dhuri and Cheema), Malerkotla zone (Malerkotla, Sherpur, Fatehgarh Panjgrian, Ahmedgarh and Amargarh) and Sunam zone (Sunam, Moonak, Lehra, Kauhrian and Dirba).

Malerkotla has topped the district in the detection of TB patients by detecting 514 patients against a target of 360 patients.

Malerkotla zone has also topped the district by detecting 754 patients against a target of 1,440, Sangrur zone 481 against 1,272 and Sunam zone 445 against 1,272 in the first 10 months of the year. Out of 481 patients of Sangrur zone, 181 have been found highly infectious (new sputum positive) TB cases, while out of 754 patients of Malerkotla zone, 230 have been detected as highly infectious cases. In Sunam zone’s 445 cases, 180 were found to be suffering from TB.

Civil surgeon Dalip Kumar said efforts would be made to detect the maximum number of cases from the remaining undetected about 2,300 cases by involving SMOs of hospitals and health centres, nodal TB officers, and medical fraternity. He said he had also directed the SMOs and medical officers to ensure that no TB suspect should remain undetected and undiagnosed in their respective areas.

District TB officer Surinder Singla said besides involving chemists and private medical practitioners, the District TB Control Society would also utilise the services of cured TB patients to educate the masses that TB was a fully curable disease and the DOTS therapy checked the spread of the disease. 


Commuters stranded for over 2 hours
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 16
Commuters were stranded on the Ropar-Chandigarh highway for more than two hours today.

Commuters reaching Jalandhar late in the evening said the road from Asaron to Kurali was jammed with vehicles. Harbir Singh , a resident of Model Town here who was travelling with his family, said people with small children were worst hit. Honking and cacophony of jam caused the children to cry and there was no water since we were in the middle of nowhere, he lamented.

Even on normal days speed of the vehicles is slow as the road is being four-laned. Poor traffic sense of the commuters, who formed multiple lanes on the road, too contributed to the agony of those stuck on the road for hours, he said.

Regular commuters said jam was daily affair nowadays with the NHAI being a spectator only. They have not made any provisions for service lanes while the road widening is on.

To top it all people have to pay toll at two places on this stretch, he pointed out.

Absence of cops to direct the traffic compounded the problem. Many people using village link roads too were stuck at many places since the road was grid locked, he added.

“As a result of the jam we reached home after seven. A journey of just three hours took over six besides harassment,” he said. 


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