P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


PPCC to relaunch campaign with Mohsina
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Rift in the Punjab Congress has deepened further with the PPCC deciding to re-launch its mass contact programme by holding a rally, which will be addressed by party general secretary Mohsina Kidwai after the Jammu and Kashmir election process comes to an end on December 22.

Disclosing this to The Tribune here today, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said a proposal in this regard had already been submitted to the high command on behalf of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) and that PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee had also given approval to it.

The senior Congress leaders, who met in Delhi today to take part in the meeting of the party Campaign Committee, from which Capt Amarinder had asked to be excused, have been asked to establish an office of the PPCC in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the elections.

Bhattal said Kaypee would leave for Jammu today or tomorrow to oversee the establishment of the office. She herself would be leaving for Jammu on December 12 after appearing for a court hearing on December 11.

Meanwhile, Campaign Committee convener Ashwani Sekhri, who had earlier announced that he would participate in Amarinder’s campaign tour, but cancelled his programme to reach Delhi yesterday, said he would go as per the directions of the AICC on attending the remaining four-day tour programme. Sekhri said he would also campaign for the party in Jammu, but would definitely take out time to attend the Gurdaspur leg of Amarinder’s tour on December 11, as he was the in charge of that constituency.

Sekhri also tried to downplay the ongoing tussle between senior leaders, saying it was a result of some “misunderstanding”. He said as he was the convener of the committee, he could only appeal to all Congressmen to get together to present a united front against the SAD-BJP combine.

Meanwhile, reports reaching here disclosed that the division in the state Congress was clear during the launch of Amarinder’s five-day campaign tour in Sangrur today. Three legislators from the constituency, Razia Sultan (Malerkotla), Harchand Kaur (Sherpur) and Surjit Singh Dhiman (Dirba) attended the rally while Surinderpal Singh Sibia (Sangrur), Kewal Dhillon (Barnala), Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Lehra Ghagga) and Kuldeep Bhattal (Dhanaula) stayed away. This was because the public meeting today was organised by former legislator Arvind Khanna whose candidature from Sangrur is being supported by Amarinder and is opposed by the Bhattal camp, which favours Sibia.


Shahi Imam issues fatwa against sacked
Haryana Dy CM

Rejects his conversion to Islam for the sake of marriage
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 8
The move of Chander Mohan, sacked Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, to embrace Islam for marrying Anuradha Bali, Assistant Advocate-General, has earned the wrath of Muslims with Shahi Imam, Jama Masjid, Punjab, issuing a fatwa against him while rejecting the couple's conversion to Islam.

“Islam does not approve of anyone embracing it for the sake of marriage. Islam also does not approve of anyone using the religion for such means. Islam has no place for cheaters. Chander Mohan has cheated his wife, his religion and his state, all of which are viewed as a great crime under the Sheriat Law,” announced Shahi Imam Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Sani.

The Shahi Imam has called for social and political boycott of Chander Mohan and Anuradha. "He has clearly used Islam just for the sake of marriage. There is no issue of ex-communicating him in this case. We don't accept him in the community in the first place,” he said.

The Shahi Imam has asked Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to take legal action against Chander Mohan for hurting the religious feelings of Muslims by his action. “Also, the CM should take criminal action against him for polygamy,” he added.

The Shahi Imam has also asked the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board to take action against such “entrants” in the community and devise means to prevent it in future.

"We decry such individuals. They defame Islam. The Board should take action against such persons. They should be punished for thinking Islam will provide them a cover for immoral activities," said the Shahi Imam.

The Jama Masjid at Ludhiana is next only to the Jama Masjid, Delhi.

The Shahi Imam held Anuradha equally responsible. He said she was a consenting party to the defaming of Islam and, hence, has no place in the Muslim community.

The sacked Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Chander Mohan reportedly surfaced in Delhi yesterday after one month. He claimed that he had embraced Islam. He said he was now Chand Mohammad while his companion, Anuradha Bali, was baptized as Fiza Mohammad.

Chander Mohan had yesterday said he was not worried about the implications of his action “Ninety per cent men exploit women. I have dared to hold the hand of the woman I love. Does anybody have the guts to do so? Falling in love and marrying for love is no crime,” he was quoted saying.


Kin want more names on Jallianwala memorial
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 8
Even as the Central government has directed the district administration to put up the names of martyrs of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the national memorial, relatives of the Jallianwala Bagh today opposed the installing of the incomplete list of martyrs.

It is nine decades after the incident that shook the British empire and laid the foundation of a concerted freedom struggle as hundreds of people, who had gathered at the historic garden on Baisakhi day, were killed in the indiscriminate firing ordered by General O’Dyer.

The Central government has directed the district administration here to install the list of martyrs on the display wall, specially being constructed by the Indian Tourism Development Corporation at the national memorial here.

The issue of not declaring the list of martyrs had hurt the feelings of the countrymen. Even though various NGOs and political leaders had taken up the issue with the Central government, nothing had been done to install the names and a lot of hue and cry was being raised as to why they were not being given martyrs status. As per the district administration’s list, there were 388 names of the martyrs available.

The issue was also taken up with Union tourism minister Ambika Soni during her recent visit to the city after which the government had woken up to install the names on the display wall which has already been completed.

D.P. Gupta, convenor, Jaago India Jaago, an NGO, talking to the media here today said on what basis was the district administration going to display the list as the Prime Minister’s Office did not have the list which was sought by them under the RTI Act. The PMO’s office directed the home minister to provide the list, which was forwarded to the state government, which further ordered the district administration in this regard. However, he added, that the district administration had failed to provide any list to them.

Bhushan Behal, president, Jallianwala Bagh Martyrs Family Association, said they had the list of about 464 martyrs with them, while the administration was going to display the list of only 386 persons. They called upon social organisations, patriots and students to oppose the display of the error-ridden list.

Meanwhile, Kahan Singh Pannu, DC, said there was no question of displaying a wrong list and added that the government was aware of the sentiments of people and a proper and genuine list would be put up. 


PUDA funds dwindling, thanks to govt spending
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Is the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), the state’s premier urban development agency, facing bankruptcy? Once the largest earning member of the government, the authority’s finances are now dwindling due to the ‘overdrawing’ done by the state government for meeting its expenditure.

Information gathered under the Right to Information Act has revealed that successive governments have consistently eaten into PUDA funds and taken over Rs 919 crore to be used for all sorts of purposes.

In some cases, circumventing the directions of the Finance Department, grants have been given out directly to other agencies without routing the money through the government treasury.

Just after it came into existence, PUDA paid for the construction of the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. From June, 1995, to October, 1996, Rs 5.35 crore of PUDA funds were used for its construction. Not a single penny from the match proceeds goes back to the government. This money was given to the director, Sports, in favour of the Punjab State Sports Council.

Another highly expensive, but totally useless venture of the government, started with a paltry amount of Rs 7.5 crore paid by PUDA in 2002. Since then the authority has transferred several crores for the setting up of a medical college and hospital at Jalandhar. This money was transferred to the director principal, Institute of Medical Sciences. Rs 30 crore was given out the next year.

In 2004-2005, another Rs 38.5 crore was given to the director principal. In 2006, Rs 20 crore was again pumped into the project followed by another Rs 15 crore in 2007. The project incidentally is yet to see the light of the day.

In 2007-2008, PUDA gave Rs 275 crore to the Finance Department, Rs 225 crore to pay for the acquisition of land for the Chandigarh International Airport, Rs 45 crore to the Bathinda Development Authority and Rs 63 lakh to the Amritsar Development Authority to pay salaries to staff.

Though most of these amounts have been given out against the acquisition of land under the OUVGL scheme, sources add that following global recession these lands are not likely to fetch much during auctions.

And PUDA gave money for cementing Indo-Pak relations too! Rs 50 lakh was given by the authority for organising of the Indo-Pak Games-2004 and Rs 5 lakh to the Patiala Cricket Association for the Indo-Pak Games-2005.



News Analysis
Delhi polls: Setback to SAD expansionist policy
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Serious debacle faced by the SAD in the Delhi Assembly elections has come as a spanner in the expansionist policy of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal. The voters in Delhi have scuttled the move of Badal junior to turn the SAD into a national party.

Having lost on all four seats contested by the party, one on party symbol and three on the symbol of its alliance partner, the BJP, the message is loud and clear - “Shelve your ambition and consolidate your base in Punjab”.

Victory of Sheila Dikshit and other chief ministers on the issue of development too should come as a big message to the Punjab ruling alliance. “It is nothing but development and good governance that counts”.

While, the SAD has lost the battle it fought so hard with the entire Punjab Cabinet campaigning in Delhi for the four seats of Rajouri Garden, Jangpura, Adarsh Nagar and Shahadra, people have simply rejected the SAD candidates in the same way it rejected the BJP in many other places.

The poll results have two serious implications for the SAD, one political and another religious. On the political front, the SAD has failed to give out the message it so desperately wanted to convey to the BJP that it can be an asset to the BJP outside Punjab in states like Delhi and Rajasthan. With success of the SAD outside Punjab, the party could have in some way been able to reduce the arm-twisting by BJP leadership in Punjab.

Again, Paramjit Singh Sarna, who heads his own Akali Dal in Delhi and is aligned to the Congress would now get stronger and will be able to further dent the SAD base in Capital. The SAD rally in Delhi this February had given false hopes to the party that it had strengthened its mass base there. In fact, the presence of a large number of people from Punjab had misled the party to believe that it had gained tremendous popularity in Delhi.

On the religious front, the defeat of the SAD would now again encourage Sikhs in Delhi and Haryana to challenge the authority of the SGPC. SGPC president Avtar Singh actively campaigned in Delhi for the Sad till his own re-election as SGPC president. Supported by the Congress in both Delhi and Haryana, the authority of the SGPC is likely to be under challenge soon after the poll dust settles down.

The poll result has only one message for the Punjab Chief Minister and his Cabinet, “follow the Sheila Dikshit model of development as you still have three more years to consolidate your and the party’s position and above all a clean image and doing away with extra constitutional authorities (keeping out son Sandeep Dikshit from official working) is appreciated by the voters”.


Yes, we are shocked, says Delhi unit chief
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 8
“Yes, we are shocked over the outcome of the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections,” said Manjit Singh, Greater Kailash, president of the Delhi unit of the SAD, which had put up four candidates in the Delhi elections and had an electoral alliance with the BJP there.

“Soon, I will convene a meeting of the party to analyse the results,” said Manjit Singh. He said though all SAD candidates had lost the elections, they had improved their vote percentage tremendously compared to the last Assembly elections.

“Avtar Singh Hit, our candidate, lost the election with a margin of just 38 votes and another candidate lost by only 1,400 votes,” said Manjit talking to The Tribune on the phone from Delhi. Hit had contested on the SAD symbol, while other three candidates had contested on the BJP election symbol.

However, he said, the SAD and its electoral ally the BJP were expecting a big win in the Delhi elections. “Election results have even surprised the Congress leaders, who were talking about their party’s certain defeat a few days before the elections,” said Manjit.

“My assessment is that the youth was impressed by the performance of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and it voted heavily in her support,” said Manjit.

However, other senior SAD leaders, who campaigned in Delhi, said the BJP leadership was responsible for the defeat of the BJP-SAD alliance in Delhi. They said the BJP’s entire election campaign was built around negativism.

Elaborating further, the SAD leader said the BJP focused too much on terrorism, price rise, but failed to convince the voter with regard to its development agenda for Delhi. “Sheila Dikshit’s strong point was development and she encashed it fully, whereas the BJP failed to throw up a new development model for Delhi to neutralise Sheila Dikshit’s on this issue,” he said.

Several senior Akali leaders from Punjab were deployed by the SAD president for campaign in support of the SAD candidates in Delhi. In fact, many of them had rushed to Delhi yesterday expecting a win of the SAD-BJP alliance. However, many of them came back to Punjab in the afternoon when results started pouring in clearly indicating the historic win of Sheila Dikshit in the Delhi elections.


Amarinder draws crowds
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 8
While Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee at the last minute backed out of the mass contact programme of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, seven sitting MLAs of the Malwa region accompanied him to a tumultuous reception here by party activists.

The party workers, who jam-packed a sprawling marriage hall, cheered and were responsive as he criticised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh for the “anti-people” policies of the Akali Dal-BJP combine government.

Amarinder accused CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal of having made a deliberate attempt to make him cancel the mass contact programme by fixing a party meeting in Delhi. “Such irresponsible actions of party leaders in Punjab will only weaken the hands of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the coming Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

He said the need of the hour was to galvanise the party so that “we can win all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state and not try to ‘sabotage’ programmes that are aimed at strengthening the organisation”. Kaypee and Bhattal should have participated in the tour for the sake of the party, he said.

Amarinder announced that he would stick to his five-day mass contact programme that had evoked an overwhelming response.

He said there was no infighting within the state Congress, but a handful of leaders being accused of dancing to the tunes of the Badals were deliberately trying to create confusion among the rank and file of the Congress.

He regretted that Kapyee had all along assured him that he would accompany him in the tour, but finally chose otherwise at the last moment. Attempts were first made to get the tour postponed and when the efforts proved futile, they raised the slogan of going to Jammu for campaigning for the Assembly election for which polling was on December 24 and finally fixed a meeting in Delhi this morning.

The seven MLAs who accompanied him were Mangat Ram Bansal, Ajeetinder Singh, Sher Singh Gagowal, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Makhan Singh.

President of the Youth Congress Vijendra Singla was also present.

Replying to queries of mediapersons, Amarinder said his son Raninder Singh was a candidate for the Lok Sabha ticket for the Bathinda seat. However, the decision lay in the hands of the Congress high command.

He warned that when the Congress returned to power in the state, it would reopen all 48 cases of murder of its partymen during the elections and put behind bars the guilty who were roaming free with patronage of the SAD-BJP government.

He accused the Badal government of having failed to solve the problems of the common people and farmers. Long power cuts had made the life of farmers miserable.


Presiding officer in dock for ‘fraud’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
A presiding officer is in the dock for committing “illegality” in the election of a sarpanch in Bathinda district.

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Election Commission “to initiate appropriate action” against the presiding officer-cum-sub-divisional officer Rajinder Singh.

The Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Mittal and Justice Jaswant Singh has also recommended to the department concerned “necessary disciplinary action against Rajinder Singh for committing the illegality in the election of the sarpanch of gram panchayat, Bambiha village, Bathinda district”.

The directions follow a petition filed by Baljit Singh and other petitioners against the state of Punjab and other respondents. In the petition filed through counsel Ramandeep Singh Pandher, the petitioners - five of the nine panches of Bambiha village gram panchayat - had sought directions for quashing the proceedings of gram panchayat meeting held on July 21, whereby Kheta Singh was elected sarpanch.

Allowing the petition, the Bench observed: One important fact, which has come to our notice and compelled us to take this decision, is that Rajinder Singh was authorised to convene the meeting of two gram panchayats for election of sarpanch - Bambiha village and Machhana village.

In Machhana village, he has committed similar illegality. In that village, at the meeting held on July 20, Harwinder Singh Panch, having the majority of four panches out of seven, was elected sarpanch.

But the same presiding officer, without declaring his result, illegally chose to postpone the meeting to July 21 and on that day, he illegally declared one Parwinder Singh elected as sarpanch of the gram panchayat.

In the said case also, it was alleged that on July 21, Rajinder Singh, presiding officer, did not conduct the meeting and he fabricated the resolution by showing one person absent in the same manner, as has been shown in the present case.

“In that case also, an inquiry was conducted against him by the sub-divisional magistrate and it was found that no meeting was conducted on July 21 and wrong proceedings were recorded by the officer.

“During the course of the hearing of the writ petition, the original proceeding book of the village was also perused by us and similar irregularities were noticed. The petition was allowed by us and fresh election of the gram panchayat was ordered to be conducted by a newly appointed presiding officer”.

The Judges added: It is true when the remedy of election petition is available, the court should refrain itself from entertaining the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, questioning the election of the returned candidate. But in the facts and circumstances of this case, the court cannot be a silent spectator, particularly when a fraud has been played by a presiding officer to the election process and electors of the village. 


‘Power saving need of hour’
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 8
Hundred per cent subsidy of power to the agriculture sector for irrigation purposes by the PSEB as per the state government’s policy does not seem to affect much finances of the board, if we go by its annual collection data.

The subsidy to agriculture sector comprises only 20 per cent of the total revenue collection of the board. The main sources of income are the collections from domestic and commercial consumers that comprise about 80 per cent of the total revenue.

However, the actual collections come around only 40 to 50 per cent from the domestic and commercial consumers while the rest goes in “bad accounts” in the form of power theft, non-recovery of payments and frauds leading to unnecessary litigations.

Board official P.K. Bansal, chief engineer, Human Resource Development, told The Tribune here that the board was taking steps to make 100 per cent revenue collections from the consumers by modernising the system.

He was of the view that if the board managed to collect even 80 or 90 per cent of the bills without any pilferage in the form of power thefts it would not face any financial crisis even if the subsidy to agriculture sector continues as per the government’s policy.

He said energy saving through the use of CFLs could save on money needed to set up more power plants.

Harinder Singh Brar, member, distribution, said if 50 lakh domestic consumers use CFLs, there would be a saving of at least 600 MW of power.

It would also cut down on domestic consumers’ bills by 70 to 80 per cent.

Similarly, there were 10 lakh electric water pumps in the state and usually two bulbs were installed in the rooms housing these water pumps. If farmers use CFLs in these rooms, it would save at least 150 MW of power, automatically cutting down on subsidised power by 300 million units annually.

Both functionaries of the board were of the view that if the industrial units in the state go 100 per cent in the use of CFLs and other energy saving devices, the board could lift all peak load hour restrictions on the industry. 

Halonex offers CFLs at subsidised rates

The PSEB has signed an agreement with Halonex Private Limited, a company engaged in manufacturing CFLs, to provide their products at subsidised rates to consumers. As per the agreement, the company will provide 15W CFL bulb at a cost of Rs 86 and 20W bulb for Rs 108, which includes Rs 8 as charges for disposal.


Protesters thrash police officer in full public view
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Frustrated over ‘false’ promises made to them by the Punjab government in connection with their long-pending demands, the visually impaired persons today vented their anger on city police cops.

The irate protesters, who were holding a rally, reportedly caught hold of a police officer and rained blows on him in full public view near the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium roundabout when the former were stopped from moving towards the Punjab civil secretariat.

According to sources, the agitators started their march from Sector 34 and reached near the cricket stadium, where a posse of policemen stopped them from moving further. However, the protesters were adamant on proceeding towards the secretariat to meet the authorities. Unable to move further, they lay siege to the road, disrupting the traffic. As they resisted the police’s attempt to shift them, a fracas ensued between both the parties. The situation turned more violent when the angry protesters overpowered the additional station house officer of Sector 17 police station inspector Satbir Singh and started thrashing him.

They also tore the uniform of the cop besides causing some injuries on his face. The police had to use mild power to disperse the mob. Some persons were also rounded up and later relesaed. The situation was only brought under control after the arrival of the ASP (central) Madur Verma.

Later, talking to The Tribune, Parminder Singh, spokesman of the body holding the protest, said the chief secretary Rameshinder Singh had assured them that a meeting would be held within 10 days to redresss their woes. 
“In case, the government fails to meet their demands, they would be forced to take to the streets again. 


Pak mobile towers threat to state peace
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
The Punjab Police has urged the Centre to take up the installation of four high-powered mobile phone towers alongside the border by Pakistani companies, allegedly on the directions of the ISI to help smugglers in spreading narco-terrorism in Punjab.

According to a report presented by DGP N.P.S. Aulakh in Delhi recently, the Punjab Police has admitted that narco-terrorism is posing a “serious challenge” in Punjab with anti-national elements succeeding in puncturing its border with Pakistan to bring in a cocktail of narcotics, arms and fake currency.

It mentions that four Pakistan mobile companies, Pak Telecom, Pak Tel, Tej Service and U-Con, have installed these towers in the border areas of Shakargarh, Baddo-Malli, Derianwala, Noorkot and Kasur in Pakistan, all within a radius from 1 to 10 km of the international border. The report says these towers have been installed on the directions of the ISI solely with the objective of providing mobile phone facilities to smugglers.

The report also mentions that a reduction in the strength of the BSF on the border due to increased internal duties as well as sophistication in the modus operandi of the smugglers and their couriers have added to the vulnerability of the border. Mobile phones are being used to “throw” consignments over the border fence in well co-coordinated operations as well as to infiltrate into the state through riverine tracts along the border for smuggling activities.

If statistics are to be compared, special narcotic cell of the police has seized 220 kg of heroin this year compared to 111 kg of heroin seized last year. If the seizures affected by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (95 kg) and Narcotic Control Board (78 kg) are also taken into account, this is a phenomenal haul.

The number of smugglers identified by the police is also at an all-time high. The force at present has 880 smugglers on its record, of whom 90 have been listed in the top category, 227 in the “A” category and 562 in the “B” category. Similarly, 30 terrorists have been arrested till November 15 this year, compared to the arrest of 21 terrorists last year. Similarly the force has arrested 251 smugglers up till November 15 this year compared to 331 smugglers arrested last year.

Among the seizures from smugglers are seven AK-47 rifles, 17 revolvers and pistols, 59 kg of explosive material and 315 grams of RDX.


Avtar for transparency in gurdwara accounts
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 8
All gurdwaras under the SGPC will be modernised and accounts of the committee displayed online. This was disclosed by Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, in a press note here today.

He said the Sikh community living across the globe had faith in gurdwaras, which are under the control of the SGPC. To maintain this, the committee had engaged the services of a company to bring transparency in the committee accounts. He said the audit work would be time-bound.


Mann for setting up FBI, Scotland Yard offices
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 8
There was a need for setting up the offices of the FBI and Scotland Yard so that the public could know as to who were behind the terrorist attacks in the country.

Stating this to the media here today, Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, Amritsar, said both India and Pakistan were levelling allegations of involvement of RAW and the ISI in terrorist attacks in the respective countries.

Criticising chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation Ajit Singh Bains for presenting its report confirming the involvement of Sikh bodies in the Kanishka blast case, Mann said the report was totally false. He said the intelligence agencies, instead of interrogating Talwinder Singh Parmar or handing him over to the Canadian police, had killed him in a fake encounter. He said the agencies knew about the Kanishka blast in advance, that’s why various officers of the Indian Embassy had cancelled their tickets on the 11th hour. He said even the Canadian Supreme Court had acquitted two Sikh youths who were framed in the blast case.

Lashing out at the state government for directly sending commandos of the Punjab Armed Police to militant-infested Jammu and Kashmir for election duty after their visit to other states of the country, Mann said the forces were not equipped with warm clothes and other items to save themselves from the extreme cold weather there. 


Security beefed up at vital installations
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Ranjit Sagar Dam (Gurdaspur), December 8
In the wake of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, the police has beefed up security at all vital installations in the state.

These vital installations and other landmarks would be provided with a fool-proof security cover.

Shashi Kant, additional director-general of police (ADGP), law and order, today held a meeting with the management of Ranjit Sagar Dam in this connection. P.K. Gupta, CE, and the DIG (border range), the SSP, Gurdaspur, and the SP, Pathankot, attended the meeting. Earlier, he had reviewed the security arrangements at Bhakra dam.

The dam is considered a sensitive point as it is located on the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pardesh. Moreover, security forces recovered explosives from a spot close to the dam in 2006.

Kant said though it was a standing security drill to have a review of security arrangements of vital installations every six months, the current review of security arrangements was being done in view of the terrorist attack on Mumbai.

He added that though there was no input in connection with terrorist activities in the state, security had been beefed up at the vital installations as precautionary step.

He said existing security system at the dam, which was manned by personnel of the Punjab Ex-servicemen Corporation, had been strengthened by deploying Punjab police personnel in adequate number. 


Research to be thrust area: Baba Farid varsity VC
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Dr Shivinder Singh Gill, vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), has said the university is committed to promoting research and academics in the field of medical education.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune here, Dr Gill said he would like the faculty to be abreast with the latest advancements in the field of academics and also excel in research work. He would like teachers to become role models for students and this would be possible only if they excelled in research and academics.

He was all praise for private medical colleges which had been supplementing in the spread of medical education in the state. The shifting of medical faculty from government medical colleges to privately managed colleges was because of better package the latter offered. He said he would take up with the government the matter of revision of pay scales of medical teachers.

While he would like the university to focus on the promotion of academics and research, the vice-chancellor said he would want lesser burden on the university for mundane things like holding of the medical entrance test (PMET). He said when thousands of students appeared in the test, some lacunae were possible in the major exercise. The system of holding PMT should be flawless.

"I think an outside agency can hold the entrance test for the university," Dr Gill said adding that he was not averse to the idea of outsourcing the holding of the PMT.

Dr Gill made a strong case for a review of the condition of the three state-owned medical colleges in Punjab. These colleges had been getting threats of de-recognition because of shortage of faculty. He said the situation had improved on this front with the retirement age of medical teachers having been raised. Besides, the re-employment of medical teachers who had not attained the age of 65 had helped save the situation from going grim.

Dr Gill expressed happiness over the new medical colleges being opened in the private sector. He made a special mention of the huge investments being made in this sector which he thought was a big service to society. He said he was happy over the initiative of the Gian Sagar Educational and Charitable Trust in setting up a medical college with all modern amenities and state-of-art technology.

The vice-chancellor said there was no paucity of funds at the BFUHS. The Punjab government had been liberal and a grant of Rs 100 crore was in the pipeline. "I am in fact surprised how the previous vice-chancellor complained of paucity of funds when he was close to the previous government."

He said there was an urgent need to set up colleges of para-medical sciences so that there were trained medical professionals available. 


New wheat seed variety developed
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
A new variety of high-yielding foundation seed for wheat, DBW-17, released by the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) is set to replace the state’s old warhorse PBW-343 which is grown over 80 per cent of the area under wheat cultivation in the state.

The DBW-17 variety has been bred by the Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal, and developed as the foundation seed for the state by the PAFC. “The 608 quintals of the foundation seed grown by the PAFC has been virtually lapped up by private seed growers, Punseed and progressive farmers. It is estimated that this breeder seed will produce around 24,320 quintal of next generation certified seed to cover an estimated area of 60,000 acres for next year’s sowing,” said S.K. Sandhu, MD, PAFC.

The DBW-17 has been found have high yield potential and is resistant to many strains of diseases, besides being tolerant to thermal shocks during the earing stage. “The DBW-17 is turning out to be a promising variety for replacement of old main variety PBW-343 released in 1995 which covers 80 per cent of the wheat area in Punjab,” said Sandhu.

Inderjit Sekhon, senior manager, PAFC, stated that the corporation took to seed farming in a big way on the 800 acres of land at Ladhowal village in Ludhiana which earlier belonged to the Punjab State Land Development and Reclamation Corporation (PLDRC). “This farm was in a derelict state after the 1988 floods and its infrastructure was vandalised. The PAFC undertook the challenge and turned it into an opportunity by starting foundation seed production of wheat, barley, basmati rice, soybean etc. The project aim was to introduce new varieties, demonstrate new technologies and produce quality seed,” explained Sekhon.

The PAFC established tie-ups with research institutes like the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), Karnal, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (Pusa), Karnal, and PAU, Ludhiana, for sourcing breeder seed and technology.

“Almost 3,500 quintal seed of other wheat varieties viz. PBW-550, PBW-343, PBW-502, HD-2687, and late variety PBW-509, a variety ideal for sowing after potato and cotton crop was also produced and sold through PAFC’s marketing network,” added Sandhu.


Docs’ Promotion
Medical education dept flouts rules
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
The Medical Education Department, Punjab, in direct violation of its own rules has promoted some medical officers as assistant professors.

According to the Medical Education Rules, which are still to be amended as per MCI regulations, three years teaching experience as senior resident or registrar in the speciality is required for the promotion as assistant professor but the department has promoted three doctors - Dr Jaspal Singh and Dr Jasbir Singh in pharmacology; and Dr Rajiv Kamal Gupta in pathology in Government Medical College, Patiala - as assistant professors without any teaching experience. In the process, these doctors have been placed over and above those who have years of teaching experience as lecturers and have been awaiting promotions since long.

This has resulted in resentment among the doctors who feel ignored in spite of the fact that they had sent representations and reminders to the state government to promote or re-designate them as assistant professors.


‘Babus’ told to mend ways
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
The “babus” of eight districts falling in Patiala division have got a piece of advice from the new divisional commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir: Act like “servants of people, not rulers.” They have been also told to stay in their offices from 12 to 1 pm on working days to ensure that public woes are properly redressed.

Bir has conveyed to the senior officials, particularly the SDMs, that they would be held responsible for any case of encroachment surfacing in their areas of jurisdiction.

“The officers should realise that they are the servants of people and not rulers. This philosophy is an extension of the slogan, “Raj Nahin, Sewa” given by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Laxity on the part of even senior officials in this regard will not be tolerated at any cost,” was the message given by the new commissioner of the division, comprising important districts like Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Mohali and Ludhiana, on his joining day.

Bir — who has been the secretary, personnel, Punjab, prior of his fresh assignment — revealed that the new Centre directions aim at making IAS officers more accountable.

“Under the new system, introduced by the central government, the IAS and other senior officers were required to give a prior undertaking regarding their targets pertaining to development and public welfare. These targets would be evaluated every six months and deficient officers will have to face the music,” said Bir.

He said the DCs and SDMs need to be present in their offices between 12 and 1 pm daily to ensure speedy redress of public grievances. This will certainly help people visiting them from far-flung areas,” said the new officer.

Coming down heavily on increasing incidence of encroachments, Bir said officials, including the SDMs, would be held responsible for encroachment cases in their areas of jurisdiction. “Similarly, if there is any delay in implementation of development projects, the respective officers would be answerable for it. 


HC questions ‘powers’ of vigilance bureau 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Can the vigilance bureau continue with the process of prosecuting an accused, even after the state government has decided to drop the case? The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants the state vigilance bureau to clarify the legal position in this regard.

The vital question of law on the powers of the vigilance bureau to continue with the prosecution despite orders to end the matter by the state came up before Justice Ranjit Singh during the hearing of a petition filed by a junior engineer, who is facing prosecution in a corruption case.

Coming down heavily on the vigilance bureau, Justice Ranjit Singh verbally observed in the courtroom that the agency was certainly not above law. He said: “The affidavit on behalf of Roop Lal, DSP (vigilance), Sangrur, has been filed. It states that the vigilance bureau is still interested in prosecuting the petitioner. However, the affidavit does not say anything about the power of the vigilance to continue with the prosecution, despite the fact that the government has decided to drop the case as seen from an annexure.”

Before parting with the orders, Justice Ranjit Singh directed: “Let a specific affidavit in this regard be filed by Sandeep Goyal, SSP (vigilance), Patiala.” The case will now come up on January 30 for further hearing.

In his petition, junior engineer Kundan Lal of Patiala had earlier filed a revision petition against the state and other respondents seeking directions to quash the order dated May 25, 2007, whereby Sangrur special judge had ordered the framing of charge against the petitioner under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides other sections of the IPC.

The police had registered an FIR in the matter on March 18, 2006, even though the junior engineer had retired from service on March 31, 2005. Counsel for the petitioner had contended that the petitioner had been absolved of charges in a departmental inquiry.


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