P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Patna Sahib Jathedar does a U-turn
Accepts supremacy of Akal Takht

Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
Taking a U-turn on the supremacy of Sikh Takhts, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, has said Akal Takht, installed by the sixth Sikh Master, Guru Hargobind, was the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs.

Earlier, Giani Iqbal Singh had been claiming that all five Takhts, Akal Takht, Damdamda Sahib, Keshgarh Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Patna Sahib, were equal. At one time he claimed that Takht Patna Sahib was the supreme temporal seat of the community and not Akal Takht. He said there was no question of challenging the authority of Takht Damdama Sahib because the Sikh prayers always mentioned the names of all five Takhts.

Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, had claimed that Jathedar Patna Sahib did not accept Damdama Sahib as one of the five Takhts.

In another statement, Giani Iqbal Singh said he would cooperate in dispelling all misgivings that Jathedars of both Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib were against the Nanakshahi Calendar, approved by Akal Takht and the SGPC. He, however, said they (Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib) would accept the Nanakshjahi Calendar after necessary amendments.

He hoped that Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh would resolve all issues created by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti. He said he and Jathedar, Hazur Sahib, were in favour of panthic unity. Even as the Sikh Maryada (Sikh Code) of both outside Takhts is different from the one approved by Akal Takht, Giani Iqbal Singh agreed in principle to bring uniformity.

The undeclared ban, imposed on attending the meetings at Akal Takht on Giani Iqbal Singh by then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Vedanti on June 6 has not yet been lifted.

However, the meetings of Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Kulwant Singh, Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib, respectively, at Nanded (Hazur Sahib) during the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi of Guru Granth Sahib had raised hopes that some solution is likely to be found in coming days.


Bibi Jagir, Loomba role models for youth: Cherie Blair
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Dhilwan (Kapurthala), November 18
The founder chairman of the Pushpawati Loomba Trust, Raj Loomba, and the first woman SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, are role models for boys and girls.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Blair stated this while addressing students of Jagiri Lal Loomba Government Senior Secondary School at Dhilwan in Kapurthala district today. She was here to inaugurate the newly constructed building of the school. Cherie is also the president of the Loomba Trust.

Asking the boys to get inspiration from Raj Loomba’s exemplary life, Cherie said Loomba (65), who hails from Dhilwan and studied in this school, founded the trust in the memory of his late father Jagiri Lal Loomba in 1997. The Trust presently provides scholarship of Rs 500 per month to 3,600 fatherless students all over the country, she added.

Similarly, girls should get encouragement from Bibi Jagir Kaur who became the first woman SGPC chief only because of her education, Cherie said.

Expressing happiness over her second visit to the school in less that a year, Cherie said she was pleased to see the progress the school had made in such a short time span.

Earlier, Cherie had visited the school in January to give a cheque of Rs 50 lakh on behalf of the Loomba Trust to the deputy commissioner for improving infrastructure and providing clean water and sanitation facilities in the school. The state government had also given a grant of Rs 50 lakh for the school for the same purpose.

Raj Loomba could not control his emotions while recalling those days when he was just 11 and studying in class VI when his father died, but his mother left no stone unturned to educate him, his brothers and sisters.

Welcoming Cherie to Dhilwan, Bibi Jagir Kaur said other NRIs should also get encouragement from Loomba and contribute to different development works in their motherland.

Deputy commissioner J.M Balamurugan also expressed hope that the number of girl students in the school would further increase in the future.


Principal’s Transfer
Students gherao Speaker’s house
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Fathegarh Churian (Gurdaspur), November 18
In a significant development, almost all students of the local Government Senior Secondary School for Girls today gheraoed the private house of Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Nirmal Singh Kahlon located at Dadhu Jodh village, 2 km from here, to lodge a protest against the transfer of Principal Sukhdev Singh Kahlon for political reasons by the Punjab government.

Earlier, the students jammed traffic at the Amritsar-Ajnala Chowk.

Mohan Lal, DSP, who accompanied the procession taken out by the students, said neither Nirmal Singh Kahlon nor any member of his family was inside the house when the students reached there. He added that students came back after about 20 minutes.

The students have been agitating for the past more than one week to lodge protest against the transfer of Principal Kahlon to Ludhiana from here. They are demanding that the transfer of the principal should be cancelled without delay.

The agitating students got a shot in the arm when about eight different unions of various categories of employees, including the teachers union, came in to support them openly. The unions have announced that they will organise a state-level rally in the town on November 23 to express solidarity with the agitating students.

The representatives of eight unions, in a joint memorandum submitted to the deputy commissioner (DC) and the district education officer (DEO), have demanded that the transfer of Kahlon should be cancelled by the state government failing which they will launch a big agitation.

Dharminder Singh Patran, general secretary, Punjab Student Union (PSU), while talking to TNS said the Punjab government must take action against those policemen who had manhandled girl students on Children’s Day, when they were protesting against the transfer of the principal of their school.

DC Gurkirat Kirpal Singh said he had already written to the secretary, Education, in connection with the memorandum submitted to him by the students and the unions of teachers. He added that he had deputed DEO Gurmeet Singh to hold talks with the students so that they could be persuaded to shun the agitational path.

The DEO said he had urged the state education authorities to consider the demand of the students favourably. He added that he had been informing the state education authorities about the situation prevailing in the school continuously.


Civil Aviation Grounded — II
Selection of pilots killed in crash not transparent
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Besides poor administrative control because of infighting in the civil aviation wing, even the selection of the two pilots who died in the October 29 crash was not free from criticism.

A three-member committee, headed by joint secretary Raminder Singh with chief pilot of Haryana Captain Nanda, aviation adviser Abhay Chandra and additional principal secretary Gagandeep Singh Brar as members, had to select the chief pilot and the co-pilot from amongst 10 short-listed candidates. The advertisement had stipulated a minimum of 50 hours of logging on the type of the aircraft i.e. C 90 King Air.

Brar did not attend the selection meeting.

Overlooking eligibility criteria, the department dilly-dallied for a couple of weeks before finalising the selections.

Though both selected pilots had a rich experience, but were deficient in having flown the type of aircraft before or in recency clause.

Most of the airliners need their pilots to go for simulator training regularly, at least once a year.

In case of Punjab, none of the two pilots recruited had either adequate hours on the type of aircraft (C-90 King Air) or recency or even simulator training. Simulator training for C-90 King Air is available in the Indira Gandhi Avaition Academy.

Intriguingly, Punjab also does not get its state aircraft insured on the plea that government property, like buses belonging to the Punjab Roadways or official cars belonging to the state, are never insured. This is in violation of the DGCA guidelines that each aircraft before becoming air-borne should have insurance. Not only that, even the pilots were without an insurance cover.

The day the crash took place, newly recruited pilots were to go for an instrument landing examination. Examiner Capt Amarjit Singh had come by a chartered flight to Ludhiana from where he was to fly in the ill-fated aircraft to examine the Punjab pilots. But it was not to be.

If the observations and comments made by one of the deceased pilots, Manjit Singh, were any indications, the C 90 King Air aircraft was not the machine any experienced pilot would be comfortable with. The aircraft had reportedly several technical flaws which were overlooked in enthusiasm to make it airworthy.

Punjab, perhaps, does not learn from experiences. The aircraft lost in the 1994 crash too was without insurance.

It is either the centralisation of powers or the probable attempt to remote-control the once well-run Civil Aviation Department and its aviation clubs that has wreaked havoc. Investigations reveal that since the end of 2006, it is the civil aviation adviser who also holds the charge of general manager of all flying clubs in the state.

Earlier, the deputy commissioner of the district of the flying club concerned used to hold the additional charge of the general manager.

Contradictory as it may sound, the Punjab government has now got sanction for setting up a flying academy at Talwandi Sabo, besides proposing a new flying club at Faridkot. What about the existing flying clubs at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala ? These have infrastructure and even aircraft available. But no flying. What a way to promote civil aviation and make available to the aviation industry trained pilots.

To be concluded


ILO Convention
Worker’s burden — not more than 50 kg
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Punjab has decided to reduce by 5 kg the weight that can be carried by an industrial worker. According to current rules followed by factory owners in the state, a worker cannot carry more than 55 kg of weight on his back or head. Now this weight limit has been reduced to 50 kg following a decision of a committee on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention.

Punjab has complied with this ILO convention almost two years after the government of India directed the states in this regard.

In 2006, the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment wrote to all states pointing out that a tripartite committee on the ILO convention had decided the maximum weight to be transported manually by one adult male worker be reduced from 55 kg to 50 kg. Till some years ago this load was 100 kg.

For women workers the state has increased permissible weight from the earlier 29 kg to 30 kg. Similarly, the state has saddled young males (15 to 18 years) with an extra kg increasing the permissible weight limit from 29 kg to 30 kg. For young women workers, the limit remains the same at 20 kg. For very young persons (14 to 15 years) carrying loads in factories, the limit is 16 kg for boys and 13.5 kg for girls, a half kg reduction from the earlier rules.

Issuing a draft notification to amend the Punjab Factory Rules, 1952, the Labour Department of the state has, however, made it compulsory for factory owners to ensure that such workers remained in good health by getting regular medical examination done. “The new rules will include not just the regular examination of a worker during the assignment, but also before the assignment of the work to him or her,” said Sodhi Mall, joint director, Factories, Punjab.

The ILO convention applies to all branches of economic activities where a system of labour inspection exists. As such the convention once ratified will apply to manual transport of load in all sectors of economy.

Punjab claims to follow the ILO convention in all mandi and market committee operations. Secretary of the Punjab Mandi Board Dipinder Singh said the rules were already being followed in the mandis of the state. “The weight limit is fixed at 35 kg in case of paddy and 50 kg in case of wheat and a single bag weighs as much. One male carries only one bag.”

Sources say in the absence of monitoring, these rules are rarely followed and in most of the sectors where unorganised labour is working such regulations do not even exist. “In the unorganised sector, children and old men are weighed down with loads higher than they can carry comfortably and there is no check to stop this kind of exploitation,” pointed out a source.



Cricket hero Yuvraj’s village sans high school
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 18
It may sound strange, but it is true that cricket hero Yuvraj Singh’s Kanech village, at a short distance from Sahnewal near Ludhiana, is without a senior secondary school.

“We are proud Yuvraj, hero of many victories for India in one-day cricket, belongs to our village. But we are disappointed that the Punjab government has not recognised this village’s contribution to cricket in the country and the world,” said Paramjit Singh, a member of the Block Samiti from Kanech.

“We want that our government middle school should be upgraded as either high school or senior secondary level,” said Paramjit. “In the absence of high school in the village, 200 to 250 girls and boys go to Sahnewal. A large number of students also go to private schools at Sahnewal and other nearby towns. About 20 school buses come to our village daily to take students to private schools in nearby towns,” said Paramjit.

“Our village with a population of 6,000 is the largest in the area, but we are without a high school,” said Ranjit Pal Singh Bhandal, uncle of Yuvraj, who is settled in Canada.

“We have a government middle school set up in 1970. We have met several politicians, including Charanjit Singh Atwal, deputy speaker, Lok Sabha, and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to get the school upgraded to the secondary level. But none has obliged us,” said Ranjit.

Besides being the village of Yuvraj and his father Yograj Singh, actor, Kanech is also a historical village. There are archaeological sites in the village. But no one has made efforts to preserve those sites, said Paramjit. “We would like sites of historical value in our village preserved by the Archaeological Department,” he added.


Breather for students of business school
Smriti Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Finally after a long wait, things seem to be brightening up for the students of the University Business School, regional centre, Ludhiana. After the management school was renamed recently by the syndicate as Panjab University’s University Business School, regional centre, Ludhiana, that was a long pending demand, the authorities are now set to deal with the severe faculty crunch prevailing in the school.

Coming up as a breather is the proposal to allow the guest faculty to teach for 48 hours per week and a token honorarium of Rs 500 per session be paid to them. Also, it has been proposed that the guest faculty be allowed to be appointed irrespective of age, qualification bar and upper ceiling with regard to hourly/monthly remuneration of guest faculty. However, in this case, the university’s rule 3 at page number 58 of PU calendar volume III, 2005, be applied which says the guest faculty should be only from outside/ retired teachers of the university who should not be more than 65 years of age.

For the purpose, the academic committee of PU regional centre, comprising Prof Dinesh Gupta, Dr Arti Puri, Aditi Sharma, Neelam Batra, Taranjeet Singh and Monika Kansal had even decided upon 11 guest faculty members. The same will come for the approval of the syndics in the ensuing syndicate meeting on November 20.

It must be mentioned here that even after running for around two years of the institute, out of total requirement of seven faculty members, only two faculty members are available for teaching. Though the students are paying more as compared to their counterparts from UBS, Chandigarh, it being a self-financing course, yet they were not getting their due, as was claimed by the students. Earlier also the students of the regional centre had met the officials on more than one occasion for problems relating to faculty crunch, poor infrastructure and lack of other facilities.


Sugar mills to be made self-reliant
Power cogeneration plants to be set up

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Paniar (Gurdaspur), November 18
The Punjab government has decided to set up electric power cogeneration plants in all sugar mills, which have been running in cooperative sectors, to generate revenue to the tune of about Rs 200 crore per annum.

While disclosing this at a function organised in connection with the cooperation week in the local cooperative sugar mill today, Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the income, which would be generated from the electric power cogeneration plants, would make the sugar mills economically self-reliant.

"Not only this, this will also enable the authorities concerned to make timely payments of the sugarcane being purchased from farmers," he pointed out while addressing the gathering adding that about 100 MW of power would be generated from such plants to be set up at the cost of Rs 650 crore.

He said the government had also been contemplating to manufacture ethanol in cooperative sugar mills so that the income of these mills could be enhanced. Apart from it, the crushing capacity of the mills was also being increased in phased manner.

He claimed that farmers could bail themselves out from all sorts of crises by strengthening the cooperative movement. He said the cooperative sector was the only tool to save themselves from being looted by unscrupulous elements.

Earlier, the minister formally inaugurated the crushing of sugarcane in the mill. He announced that about 146 MT sugarcane would be crushed in the cooperative sugar mills in the current season.

Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Master Mohan Lal, transport minister, Jagdish Sahni, chief parliamentary secretary, and MLAs were present on the occasion.


Passport Scam
Cop sent kids to US on forged papers
Kulwinder Sandhu

Tribune News Service

Moga, November 18
Head constable Jaswinder Pal Singh allegedly involved in the fake passport scam revealed that he had sent his two children to the USA on forged documents.

He was arrested along with constable Ranjit Singh and postman Om Prakash on Sunday. They are remanded in police custody till Wednesday for investigations. They were booked under Sections 420, 465, 468 and 471, IPC, Section 2/8, Passport Act, and Sections 13 (2) and 88, Prevention of Corruption Act.

The officer investigating the case said Jaswinder first prepared forged documents of his marriage with Mandeep Kaur by throwing out his wife from home.

Then he prepared fake birth certificates of his 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son by changing the name of the mother in the hospital/municipal record and prepared fake divorce settlement documents with the woman.

Later, he prepared a fake marriage certificate of Mandeep with Gurdip Singh, NRI living in the USA, in April this year and got her passport made on the basis of the forged documents of marriage.

Jaswinder himself signed as witness on the marriage certificate of Mandeep with Gurdip Singh.

The accused cop had fabricated all documents with the motive of sending his two children abroad. Both his children and Mandip are in the USA.

“It is just the tip of the ice-berg. More disclosures are likely to come out,” he said.


Attestation of judicial form under scanner
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
The legality of a clause making it necessary for a single parent or a guardian to get an affidavit attested from a judicial magistrate while applying for the passport of minor children against the consent of one parent, is under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner.

The issue cropped up during the hearing of a petition filed by a Faridkot district resident. In her petition against the Union of India, the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), two judicial officers and another respondent, she had sought directions for the acceptance of the passport form without the document requiring attestation.

She had claimed that both children were in her custody after the divorce. When she applied for the passports for her minor children, she was asked to get the document attested by the judicial magistrate.

Elaborating, she said it was specified that if single parent or guardian applied for the passport of a minor and one parent was not giving consent, a sworn affidavit was to be attested by a judicial magistrate on a non-judicial paper.

Counsel for the petitioner claimed she approached a judicial magistrate for getting the attestation, but her request was turned down. She, subsequently, moved an application before the district and sessions judge. The plea was dismissed as non-maintainable. Aggrieved, she moved the high court.

Taking up her petition, the Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Nawab Singh gave interim relief to the petitioner. The Judges directed that the petitioner may apply for the passport by attaching the copies of the documents of dissolution of her marriage, and that the children were in her legal custody on the specified format, not necessarily attested by the judicial magistrate. 


State chief secy appears before accounts panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh today appeared before the Vidhan Sabha Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain the “inordinate delay” in replying to the “serious flaws” reported by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in 2003 with regards to the disbursement of funds by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal under the sangat darshan programme.

D.S Guru, principal secretary to the Chief Minister, as well as a number of secretaries, accompanied the chief secretary to the meeting held at the Vidhan Sabha today.

The meeting was chaired by Congress legislator and committee chairperson Avtar Singh Brar. Congress legislators Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, besides Surjit Kumar Jyani of the BJP and Sangat Singh Gilzian were also present there.

The PAC has been demanding a reply to the objections raised by the CAG for more than three years. The CAG had observed that the government did not provide separate budget for sangat darshan programmes and the money was withdrawn from four funds operating in the state as well as schemes being implemented by the deputy commissioners.


Rs 1,000 cr for health care
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 18
The state government will spend Rs 1,000 crore to make medical and health care accessible to all, irrespective of economic status of an individual.

Bikram Singh Majithia, public relations, science and technology, water supply and sanitation and non-conventional resources minister, at a function here today, said the Punjab government had started the Bhai Kanahaiya Scheme for the poor via cooperative societies under which they could get free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh in any hospital by giving an insurance premium of Rs 2,000.

He said 98 doctors had been recruited for primary health centres, while 1,900 ANMs and more than 400 staff nurses had been employed for community health centres. Besides, he added, applications were invited to recruit 100 doctors through the Punjab Public Service Commission. He said 121 ayurvedic doctors were appointed and the process had already been started to employ 156 more doctors.

Answering queries, he said all government hospitals and three medical colleges, including Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot, were connected with the PGI, Chandigarh, through the “tele-medicine” scheme spending Rs 4 crore for expert consultation in case of any emergency. He said recently the government started mobile medical units with eight members, including two doctors.


Cong ticket aspirant Arvind tours villages
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 18
Former MLA and now aspirant for Congress ticket for the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat Arvind Khanna toured villages of the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency for three days to activate Congress workers for Lok Sabha elections. He also met workers and leaders in villages and Sangrur town.

He visited Congress workers and leaders in the villages of Sunam, Dhuri and Sangrur and held discussions with them on the LS elections. He told workers and leaders that the Congress was one and would not allow anyone to do injustice to any Congress supporter.

He also appealed to the workers to play an important role in the coming elections.

Khanna also said due to bad financial management, the SAD-BJP government was selling government property. This showed Punjab was not safe in the hands of the SAD-BJP government. Besides this, SAD and the BJP workers had started supporting the Congress as they were passing through a state of despair due to the SAD-BJP government’s indifferent attitude towards them, he added.


Warning to chemists by pharmacy council
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 18
Strict action will be taken against those chemists who do not have a pharmacist in their shop from December 1 onwards. This was stated by P.K Bhardwaj, registrar, Punjab State Pharmacy Council, at the concluding function of a pulse polio camp organised by local Osho Youth Club at the Police Lines here today. SP Gurdeep Singh Pannu was the chief guest.

Bhardwaj stated that earlier there were about 30,000 pharmacists in the state, but now only 18,000 remained while the number of medicine shops in the state was about 25,000. Many medicine shops were being run by those shopkeepers who had falsely procured licences from pharmacists by paying for them. Bhardwaj said though the presence of a pharmacist at every medicine shop was must, whenever an officer asked the shop owner about the pharmacist, their standard reply would be that he had gone “out”. “Now, such excuses will not work as in the absence of the pharmacist, the owner will be bound to close the shop,” he said.


Aid for disabled announced

Chandigarh, November 18
The Punjab government will give Rs 250 per month each to 1,02,074 disabled persons in the state who are having at least 50 per cent disability.

Swarna Ram, social security and welfare of women and child development minister, Punjab, said today this assistance was given to permanently disabled blind, orthopaedically handicapped, deaf and dumb and mentally challenged persons. The assistance would be provided from the first of the month in which the medical certificate issued by the medical officer. The minister also said the government had earmarked Rs 2,600 lakh for 2008-09 to provide assistance to disabled persons. — TNS


High Court
Industry not to  discharge effluents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
The Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh has directed that Piccaddily Sugar and Allied Industries shall not discharge any trade effluents in Jhambo Choe drain in Samana subdivision without specific permission in writing from the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Disposing of the writ petition, the Bench further directed that the industry shall take all such measures, including construction of a storage lagoon, and shall comply with all lawful directions as may be issued from time to time by the pollution control board.

Convicted drivers

After the high court took suo motu cognizance of a complaint alleging that convicted roadways drivers had been taken back in service after the suspension of their sentence by the appellate authority, Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh today issued notice of motion to the State of Punjab and others.

In the complaint, Vinod Kumar Gupta of Ferozepur city had asserted that the drivers were taken back on humanitarian grounds.


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