P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

Better health-care plan for Malwa
Of 93 selected docs only 2 join duty
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla’a plan of better health care in the Malwa region of the state is on the brink of failure.

Sources in the Department of Health said out of the 93 doctors the minister had appointed for this region, only a handful had actually joined. over a fortnight These doctors were handed over appointment letters over a fortnight ago but only less half had reported at their places of posting.

The minister on January 16, gave appointment letters to 93 specialist medical officers 90 of whom were to join hospitals in Malwa districts in a week. Their places of joining had been specified in the appointment letters and the minister prided herself on having solved acute shortage of specialist doctors in this part of the state.

These doctors had even been asked to give an affidavit to the department that they would not approach the authorities for transfer from places of posting for six months.

However sources add many doctors despite having been offered regular job in the state health services (PCMS -I) were not showing interest in joining service. Only two doctors reportedly had joined in Sangrur, another 10 had joined in Amritsar and only three in Bathinda. Most of the other doctors were not keen on taking up job in these districts due to family reasons.

Faced with the piquant situation, the minister now was considering revising her stand on the places of posting, added sources. However before any such move is made the department will give them more time to join.

Deputy Director Department of health Dr JP Singh said these doctors still had 10 days to join after their medical was held and the picture would be clear only in the coming days. He said he had no idea how many doctors had joined as no such report from the field was available. Director Dr SPS Sohal was not available for comments.

More than 150 posts of specialist had been taken out of the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission and these doctors were selected by the selection committee of the Department of Health and Family Welfare constituted for the purpose. Majority of those selected specialised in paediatrics, gynaecology and medicine. 


Capt, Bhattal together
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Nurmahal, February 3
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal seem to have sunk their differences for the time being, going by the bonhomie displayed by them during the mass-contact programme here this noon.

They were seen discussing animatedly and it was after a long gap that they shared the dais and even sat together. They also had lunch at the residence of Dr Sanjeev Sharma and Sandeep Sharma at Butare village before parting ways.

On being questioned that they had not been seen together at various functions, both were at pains to clarify that it was not possible for all leaders to be present at all functions all the time.

Meanwhile, Amarinder said poor fiscal management by the SAD-BJP alliance is virtually pushing the state towards financial bankruptcy. Instead of being prudent the government was resorting to the sale of government land and other assets.

Now the CM has found another way of deceiving people in the guise of sangat darshans. The money sent by the Centre for various schemes is being given to people for purposes other than those for which it was meant, leaving many important projects in the state in limbo for want of funds , he pointed out.

Amarinder singh also alleged many cheques being distributed had bounced for want of funds in the state coffers. This is the state of affairs of one of the best -governed and prosperous states of Punjab .

He demanded a white paper on the fiscal health since the people had every right to know financial health of the state.

CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Avtar Henry and Ashwani Sekhri wetrw other speakers .


Protesting teachers arrested, freed
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
In a dramatic turn of events, the Chandigarh police arrested representatives of ETT Adhyapak Union, Punjab, outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Sector 2, here this afternoon.

The union leaders alleged that the police took them to the Chief Minister’s residence promising to arrange their meeting with the CM, but arrested them in an old case.

The teachers had begun assembling near Parade Ground in Sector 17 around afternoon. They were demanding that 13,500 ETT teachers of 5,000 elementary schools across the state should be taken under the control of the education department instead of municipal councils.

Sensing that the assembly of teachers could lead to trouble, the police stopped them from proceeding towards the Punjab Bhawan. Sub-inspector Lakhbir Singh of the Chandigarh police took a delegation of the teachers to CM residence.

Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, president of the union, along with other representatives of the protesting teachers, came out after a few minutes and told TNS that the OSD of the CM said he could not meet them and that a meeting could be possible in the evening.

Outside, the police led by ASP (central) Madur Verma and DSP Vijay Kumar, was waiting from them. As the protestors near the Parade Ground were eagerly awaiting the outcome of the meeting, the police suspected trouble in store. The police officials, in a subtle manner, forced the representatives to promise them they would not resort to slogan shouting and agitation at Sector 17, when they would be taken there. The union leader, on the other hand, maintained that they could not say anything at that stage, as they had to inform about the outcome of the meeting to their union members and could not foretell their reaction.

At this, the police changed it stance and the ASP ordered his men to arrest the teachers. He told the representatives that a case had been registered against them at Sector 26 police station, last year.

It may be recalled that ETT teachers had barged into the office of the head office of the Shiromani Akali Dal in Sector 28, last year. Sources in the police said the arrest was preplanned and the police “recalled” the old case just to put the teachers on the backfoot.

After hearing about the arrest of their leaders, the protestors at Sector 17 got agitated and their leader Jagsir Singh Sahota announced that they would organise rallies in the state on February 9.

Later, in the evening, the police released the union leaders on bail.


Reforms panel notified
Gets four members, two-year tenure
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The Punjab government has notified the constitution of the Social Development and Governance Reforms Commission that was hitherto erroneously being referred to as the Administrative Reforms Commission.

The commission to be headed by Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), as its chairperson, will have four members, Prof Dipankar Gupta, Prof Atul Sood and two former bureaucrats RN Gupta and Satwant Reddy.

Contrary to the announcement of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal that the commission will submit its recommendations on administrative reforms in six weeks and the same would be implemented in equal time, the notification has put the tenure of the commission to be two years.

The commission aims to improve the welfare of the disadvantaged, marginal and the deprived sections in Punjab with a view to achieving good governance.

According to the office order pertaining to the commission and signed by Chief Secretary RI Singh, the objective of the commission would be to ensure effective and efficient delivery of services. The commission will suggest changes in the institutional arrangements, especially Punjabi Raj Institutions, Municipal Bodies, etc, and improvements in the grievance redressal mechanisms to ensure accountability of service providers. Use of e-governance will be suggested where required.

Apart from this, the commission has also been asked to suggest ways and means to face the challenges of drug addiction, female sex de-selection, caste-based social assertions and other social ills that have afflicted Punjab society. Most important mandate is to make suggestions for strengthening citizenship rights in provisioning and use of police services.

Prof Gupta is a sociologist and at present is Professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Prof Sood is from the Centre of Studies in Regional Development of that university. Satish Chandra, Secretary (Planning), has been appointed Member Secretary and Rakesh Verma, Managing Director, Punjab Infotech, as Secretary to the commission.

The commission will be assisted by the task groups whose members will include JR Kundal, a former civil servant, MPS Aulakh, former DGP of Punjab, BK Srivastva, Director of the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Punjab Administration, Prof HS Mehta, Prof BS Ghumman, Prof Manjit Singh and Prof PS Verma.

The tenure of the commission has been fixed for two years. The commission shall submit interim reports after periodic intervals.


Cabinet’s go-ahead to eco-tourism
Assembly session from Feb 27
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Punjab Vidhan Sabha session will start on February 27. This was announced after a meeting of the Council of Ministers here today. The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. This will be the sixth session of the 13th Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The Cabinet also approved the formulation of eco tourism policy as one of the major thrust areas for the promotion of tourism in Punjab as identified by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The Department of Tourism had taken the initiative to frame the eco-tourism policy based on the inputs of the Department of Forests Wildlife Preservation, as the state had tremendous potential to become a premier eco-destination.

In another significant decision, the Council of Ministers approved the restructuring of the Directorate of Youth Services to harness the energy of youth on creative and constructive lines. To achieve this objective, the posts of Director, Deputy Director and State Liaison Officer in the Youth Services Department had been revived by the cabinet.

The cabinet also approved to levy VAT at a rate of 4 per cent on mosquito repellants, toilet cleaners, wood preservatives, chemicals for killing domestic insects, termicides, phenyle and similar other products, which are not used for agricultural purpose. This decision would enable the government to earn revenue of Rs 10 crore annually.

The cabinet approved the disposal of 17,053 acre of pond area land acquired by the Irrigation Department, land falling between international border and barbed wire and land falling between barbed wire and Hussainiwala Head Works to be allotted to its unauthorised occupants on the basis of possession at the rate of Rs 25,000, Rs 75,000 and Rs 1,50,000 per acre in the districts of Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

It also approved the creation of PCS (executive branch) and allied services posts to be filled by the Punjab Public Service Commission. Besides, it gave nod to socio-economic criteria for identification of socially advanced persons (creamy layer) from the Backward Classes in the state for their exclusion from the benefits of reservation meant for these classes in the state services/posts on the pattern of the Government of India. The rule of exclusion would apply to the sons and daughters of persons having gross annual income of Rs 4.5 lakh or above or possessing wealth above the exemption limit as prescribed in the Wealth Tax Act for the period of three consecutive years.

The amount to inter-caste married couple has been enhanced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 under the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 in order to eradicate untouchability.

The Council of Ministers also gave approval to the inclusion of circle style kabbadi, an event similar to the national kabbadi, to be included in the Sports Gradation Policy. It allowed the inclusion of 22 villages of sub-division/tehsil of Nangal into sub-division/tehsil of Sri Anandpur Sahib in district Roop Nagar. 



Engineers of all 5 MCs on 3-day leave from today
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 3
Junior engineers, sub-divisional officers and executive engineers of all five Municipal Corporations- Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Bathinda will go on three-day leave from tomorrow- Wednesday as Punjab government reportedly failed to meet their demand of increasing staff.

The Municipal Corporation Engineers Association, Punjab, president Joginder Singh Sandhu said, "Shortage of staff has been hindering functioning of the MCs all over the state and the government has not been paying heed to it despite requests." In the absence of staff how do the government and the municipal commissioners expect us to work.

With the initiation of development projects across the state after ‘sangat darshans’ of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the engineers have been overburdened.

He said ‘ We demand recruitment of more staff. "The last recruitment for engineers in the municipal corporations was done in 1997-98 after which no engineer has been employed and MCs across the state have half of the posts engineering wing vacant," he added. He said further course of action would be decided at the state-level meeting called on February 6 in Ludhiana.

Decision of going on mass leave by the engineers was taken at a meeting held in Ludhiana on January 23.

The members of the association revealed despite requests to Punjab government nothing had been done. The engineers had been wearing black badges since January 27 in protest while on duty. Earlier too the engineers went on leave on December 17 and 18, last year in support of their demands.


Sukhbir for electrical upgrade of hospitals 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who made his maiden appearance in today's Cabinet meeting, piloted several major proposals which were approved by the Cabinet. One of these related to electrical upgrade in all government hospitals and other major government building through in the state. This, he said, was necessary to prevent the recurrence of tragedies like the one that happened in the Rajendra Hospital in Patiala the other day.

At the behest of Sukhbir Singh Badal the Cabinet also decided to set up a Punjab State Museum of History and Culture at Amritsar. He pleaded the case for raising the upper income limits for recruitment to civil services for OBCs from the present 2.50 lakh to 4 lakh. This would facilitate the entry of more persons belonging to the OBCs in civil services.

Taking note of the recent railway crossing mishap in Ferozepur district, the Deputy Chief Minister also mooted a proposal to take up the issue of unmanned railway crossings in Punjab with the Ministry of Railways.


Statewide raids on jails
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 3
The police today raided Patiala Central Jail and high security Nabha Jail simultaneously and seized more than 12 mobile phones, SIM cards and other electronic gadgets from inmates.

The raids were conducted in the wee hours on the directions of DGP NPS Aulakh and SSP, Patiala, Satish Kumar Asthana. At the Patiala jail, the Jail Superintendent was informed barely five minutes before the launch of the search operation.

During the search, 12 mobile phones, three SIM cards, three mobile batteries, two chargers, tablets and cash worth Rs 1,090 were seized. At the Nabha jail, three mobiles phones, three SIM cards and three batteries besides two mobile chargers, 1,900 tablets, 18 capsules a hammer and other intoxicating materials were seized.

Amritsar: A team, consisting of senior authorities of the district administration and the police, raided the local Central Jail and seized a mobile phone from a jail inmate.

Meanwhile, the police nabbed two persons, who had re-issued the mobile SIMs to Navtej Singh and Harchand Singh, the alleged killers of Nihang chief Poohla in the jail about two months ago.

Ajay Kumar Sehdev, owner of Ganpati Communications, Samadh Road, Batala, and his employee Nitish Mahajan had issued the SIMs to Navtej and Harchand without proper verification. 


Industrial Policy
Panel to finalise draft
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today constituted a high-level committee comprising Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Finance Minister, Agriculture Minister, Revenue Minister, Food and Supplies Minister and Technical Education Minister, along with the Chief Secretary and administrative secretaries of the respective departments, under the chairmanship of Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia to finalise the draft Industrial Policy 2009 of the state. The committee will meet tomorrow.

A decision to this effect was taken by Badal at a high-level meeting to discuss the modalities before the finalisation of the draft policy. A detailed presentation on the draft industrial policy was made by the principal secretary, Industries And Commerce, SS Channy in which he sought the comments from the concerned departments at the earliest and said the draft policy had been put on the web site.

The Chief Minister said the new industrial policy would aim at ensuring level playing field to all investors and entrepreneurs being the stakeholders in the process of development and growth of the state’s economy. 


Rail Mishaps
Need to launch awareness drive
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 3
Punjab will approach the Railway Ministry to build gates on all unmanned railway crossings in the state in wake of yesterday’s accident, which claimed three lives of schoolchildren.

It will take at least two years to construct gates on at least 500 unmanned railway crossings in the state. There are more than 40 unmanned crossings on the Ferozepur-Moga-Ludhiana line alone.

Railway officials say provision of interlocking facility at an unmanned level crossing costs at least Rs 20 lakh and also requires four men to handle it.

In two years, collisions of motor vehicles with trains claimed more than 50 lives in the state. It means wait for another couple of years and a few more such accidents before agate is fixed .

A recent study by the safety division of the Railways on deaths at railway crossings in two decades says deaths take place in the mornings and evenings and not during nights as generally believed. Wrong estimate of the speed and length of an approaching train is the major cause of accidents.

An awareness campaign on safety targeting villages, schools and colleges coupled with men stationed at gates and physically warning people about approaching trains is the need of the hour. 


Sikh scholar Dr Noel Q King dead
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Prof Noel Q. KingAmritsar, February 3
Prof Noel Q. King (87), Professor Emeritus of History and Comparative Religions, University of California, USA, and Sikh scholar, died after a brief illness.

His widow Laurie King informed about his death in an e-mail to Dr BS Dhillon professor of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, today.

Born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1922, Prof King did his schooling from Shimla and higher education from Oxford University, University of California and Nottingham University, England. He founded departments of divinity in South Africa, Ghana and Uganda.

Prof King was also the visiting professor of the GNDU and Punjabi University, Patiala. According to Gursagar Singh, owner of Singh Brothers, Prof King was one of the few foreign scholars who had written authentic Sikh history. Former Jathedar Akal Takht, Prof Manjit Singh said Prof King had presided over one of the important sessions of the World Sikh Sammelan in SGPC complex in 1995.

He used to be the centre of attraction for the Sikh scholars at functions held in Amritsar, other parts of Punjab, New Delhi and foreign countries.

Prof King once wrote unless the Sikhs themselves determined on a way ahead, produced suitable leadership and carried out total reconstruction and reform, they were doomed to classical fate mentioned by Macauliffe of getting an insider’s view of how the great snake of the Indian jungle dealt with its prey. 


Lawyers against move on CrPC
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 3
Lawyers of Sangrur district today went on a strike, demanding immediate withdrawal of the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) because of which it is no longer mandatory for the police to arrest someone charged with an offence punishable with up to seven years in jail.

Gurtej Singh Grewal, president of the district bar association, said we would keep intensifying our agitation until the revocation of the amendments.

He said the proposed amendments to the statute would give criminals a free run and lead to deterioration of the law and order situation.

Lawyers form Malerkotla, Dhuri, Moonak and Sunam subdivisions participated in the strike.


Semester system for classes IX, XI
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 3
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has decided to introduce semester system for classes IX and XI, instead of class XII from coming session.

The move is a trial to check success of the semester system before is introduction in the board examination classes. The decision has been communicated to the Education Department and schools.

Dalbir Singh Dhillon, chairman, PSEB, said the decision had been taken in interest of the students, as they generally prepared for competitive examinations at this time.

Efforts were on to provide syllabus books by the time the next session begins. The subject experts were meeting educationists and persons concerned to prepare the schools for the new system.

Sources said the decision was taken by the Education Minister. Certain quarters opposed introduction of the system in class XII. Following the new decision, the board employees would get sufficient time to prepare for the system to conduct the board examinations for classes X and XII, likely to be introduced from 2010-11 session.

Sukhwinder Kaur Saroya, Director (Academics), said the syllabus had been divided into two parts. 


Two youths killed in mishap 
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 3
Two youths were killed and one hurt seriously in an accident on the Dhuri road here today afternoon. The seriously injured youth was referred to Ludhiana by civil hospital doctors . Imtiaz aias Jugnu (22) son of Hayat Malik and Julfkar Ali (28) son of Rehamdeen were killed on the spot when Swift car they were travelling by collided head on with a Roadways bus on the Dhuri road near Sangala Sangali village ,8 km 
from here.

Pardeep Kumar alias Goldy son of Ruldu Ram of Rurki Kalan village, travelling with them was injured seriously.

Imtiaz alias Jugnu was the son of Congress leader and president of the Malerkotla Hardware Manufacturers Association Hayat Malik. He was going to Sangrur with his driver Julfkar Ali and employee Pardeep Kumar.

The police has registered a case .The bodies were handed over to the relatives after a post- mortem examination.


School van driver nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, February 3
The local railway police today arrested Kulwant Singh, the driver of the school van that rammed into a railway engine on an unmanned crossing killing three children at Haraz village, near Talwandi Bhai, in Ferozepur district on Monday morning.

Mohan Singh, SHO of the railway police station, said the driver had been arrested from the premises of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday after suffering minor injuries in the mishap.

“We have arrested him after he was discharged by the medical authorities of the hospital”, the SHO said.

The owner of the van was absconding. The SHO clarified that the name of the driver was Kulwant Singh, not Kulwinder Singh, misquoted in a press note.


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