P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


108 ayurvedic docs sans salary, medicines
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
The Directorate of Ayurveda, Punjab made appointments of 108 ayurvedic officers (AOs) in Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres across the state in November 2008 but the health centres were not provided with medicines to be given to outdoor patients. The ayurvedic officers were appointed on one-year contract following special examination.

The young officers appointed under the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission), have not been given salaries by the department for three months. The salary agreed to is Rs 20,000 per month.

Ayurvedic officers appointed for Hambran, Talwandi Kalan, Latala, Mullanpur and other PHCs and CHCs in Punjab are sitting at their respective centres without work as the patients after paying a visit do not come back. Said an angry doctor, "It is ironical we ask the patients (who can't afford to pay Rs 2 for ‘parchi’ fee) to buy medicines from drugstores outside health centres."

Casual approach of the department concerned has defeated the purpose of initiating AYUSH under the NRHM wherein ayurvedic and homoeopathic experts are to be brought under one roof with allopathic doctors. More worrisome is that some ayurvedacharyas have started prescribing allopathic medicines.

Dr Rakesh Sharma, Director, Ayurveda, Punjab, said the salaries had already been released and would reach the officials through the senior medical officers concerned. " For the medicines the Union government has yet to release funds. We have sent the proposal twice," Dr Sharma added.


NRI alumni may review trauma centre project
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
It seems even alumni of the Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital are losing faith in the Punjab government’s promise to bring the hospital back to its former glory. An NGO, comprising mainly NRI alumni, is in the process of rethinking the prestigious trauma care centre project, for which it has been earmarked land on the hospital premises.

The NGO, also named Trauma Care Centre (TCA), may dump plans to establish an ultra-modern centre on one acre on the hospital campus. The project has been a non-starter despite the land having been earmarked for it two years ago.

An eminent internist and Director of a New York-based hospital, Dr Harish Sood, who is arriving in India next week, will hold a meeting of the NGO to decide whether it can go in for a much smaller but independent mobile trauma centre so that road accident cases in the Malwa region can get advance medical attention immediately.

The meeting, which is likely to be held on February 14, is being held after a visit by eminent nuerologist and US-based Patiala Health Foundation Incorporated chairman, Dr AS Chatha, to Punjab in December last year to try to get possession of the one-acre piece of land earmarked for the centre. The doctor met the state Chief Secretary with a delegation in this regard.

TCA chairman and secretary Ravinder Singh, who recently retired as Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, told The Tribune that despite efforts by NRI alumni, the NGO was yet to get vacant possession of the piece of land. “Neither is the government demolishing the four dilapidated rooms built on the land nor it is shifting transformers due to which work on the project has been on a standstill since two years,” he said.

The trauma centre, which was conceived by alumni of the college in 1999, had made headway during the regime of Amarinder, who had agreed to lease one acre to it besides announcing Rs 1-crore grant for the project. The foundation stone of the centre was laid in 2006 after its location had been changed and objections to why the NGO was being given lease of government land settled. The grant was received during the Amarinder regime under a development scheme.

Secretary (Medical Education) Rakesh Singh said: “There was a slowdown of project process earlier, but after Dr Chatha’s meeting with the Chief Secretary, clearances were only a matter of processing time”. He said the NGO had been asked to submit its annual audited accounts for the past few years, which it had done. “The NGO has also agreed to bear the cost of shifting of utility services from the land earmarked for the project,” he added.


Tikshan not to quit: Badal
Tribune Reporters

Kumkalan, February 4
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said here today there was no need for Tikshan Sood to resign following the death of five infants at Rajindra Medical College and Hospital in Patiala.

Badal said he had asked Sood not to press his resignation. He added an action would be initiated after a magisterial inquiry into the tragedy.

The Chief Minister today addressed rallies in the Bet areas at Sahnewal, Kumkalan and Raikot in Ludhiana district.

He gave away Rs 1 crore cheque to the municipal committee of Machhiwara for development schemes. He also announced special grant of Rs 5.50 crore for drinking water and sewerage in Kum Kalan town.

Member of Parliament from Ludhiana Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Tourism Minister Hira Singh Gabria, former MLA of Kum Kalan Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal and former MLA Ranjit Singh Talwandi also addressed the rallies.


Health Dept clarifies

Responding to a story published in these columns on February 4, the Punjab Health Department on Wednesday said 19 out of the 93 doctors appointed for Malwa districts had sought extension in joining period. Their request for extension was under consideration, said a government spokesman.

The department has said only one doctor had informed the government that he would not be joining duty. Sources say that not more than 30 of these doctors have joined.

The department official added out of the 93 doctors, three were posted in Patiala and one each in districts Ropar, Kapurthala Nawanshahr and Gurdaspur while none had been posted in Amritsar. The department communication says these doctors were not asked to give affidavit that they would not seek change in the place of posting for six months. — TNS


Cong rift comes to fore
Rival factions hold parallel rallies
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
Parallel Congress rallies, organised by rival factions here today, gave a clear message that the party in the state, despite claims to the contrary, is still a house divided.

Though Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister and chairman of the Election Campaign Committee, participated in both rallies, organised by Congress MLA Om Parkash Soni in Putlighar Chowk and Sukh Sarkaria and Harpartap Singh Ajnala on the Ajnala road, respectively, yet leaders of the rival factions were not present in each other’s rallies.

Some senior leaders, including Dr Raj Kumar, Sunil Dutty and Navdeep Goldi, who did not attend the rally at Putlighar, took active part in the Ajnala road rally. Both Soni and Sarkaria are aiming for Congress ticket from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency. Soni alleged Dr Raj Kumar was creating division in the party.

Though most of the speakers projected Soni as prospective candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in the fist rally, Bhattal said such decisions should be taken by the party high command and not by any individual. Former Minister S.S. Shahbazpuri was the first to recommend the name of Soni for Amritsar. Slogans of “Soni Zindabad” were raised .

Addressing Congress meeting at Putligarh Chowk, Amarinder Singh said he was preparing “hit list” of police officials who were framing Congress workers for political reasons.

The former CM vowed revenge after the formation of the Congress government in Punjab. He said it was shocking more than 3700 “false cases” had been registered against Congress workers in two years of the Badal government.

Senior Congress leaders, including Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Iqbal Singh, Om Parkash Soni, alleged a number of their supporters had bee framed on flimsy grounds.

The PPCC acting president honoured Harjinder Thekedar with “siropa” (robe of honour) whose re-induction into the party at the behest of Amarinder Singh had started a controversy.


Three DCs transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The government today transferred three DCs, seven IAS officers and four PCS officers. Bhagwant Singh is new DC and in addition to chief administrator, Amritsar Development Authority, Amritsar. Neelkanth S Avhad becomes DC, Gurdaspur, Gurkirat Kirpal Singh goes as DC, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. KS Pannu is new special secretary to the CM.

Special principal secretary to the CM, KJS Cheema, will also hold additional charge of the post of director, employment generation and training. DS Grewal, special secretary, home affairs and justice and additional special secretary, local government, has been given additional charge of special secretary, Civil Aviation. Tanu Kashyap becomes SDM, Kapurthala. MP Arora, additional director-cum-additional secretary, local government has been given additional charge of land acquisition collector, director, Industries and Commerce. NS Bath, besides his present post of additional secretary, medical education and research has been given charge of additional secretary, health and family welfare.

Daljit Singh, joint secretary, water supply and sanitation, will hold additional charge of joint secretary, sports and youth services. Joint secretary, personnel HS Kandhola will hold additional charge of joint chief executive officer, Energy Development Agency.


Minor gang-raped, sold twice
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, February 4
A minor Dalit girl and student of Class V was allegedly gang-raped and then sold twice by youths. The police had initially registered a case of “missing” as reported by the parents of the girl. After four-and-a-half months, when the victim came back to her house, the police investigated and registered a criminal case against seven persons, including a woman, yesterday. Two of the suspects, including the woman, have been arrested.

Jaswant Singh, SHO of the police station (rural), said a minor girl, hailing from Karmuwala village of Ferozepur district and at present residing in Ghal Kalan village of Moga district, was abducted by Sarabhjit Singh of Karmuwala village and his friend Sukhjinder Singh of Laduwala village, Ludhiana district, from her school on October 8, 2008.

They kept the girl for about three weeks with them at Ludhiana. They, along with their friends, allegedly raped her. Then the girl was allegedly sold to Baljinder Singh at Hari Ke Pattan in Amritsar district with the help of Kashmir Kaur of Laduwala village. However, the girl returned home from there after few days.

The SHO said the girl was again sold to Baljinder Singh of Giljewala village in Muktsar district. He kept the girl there for more than three months, but when they came to know that a case of missing was registered by her parents, the girl was thrown out of the house.

On a complaint of girl’s father, a criminal case under sections 363, 366-A, 376, 243 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered against Sarabhjit, Kashmir, Baljinder Singh of Giljewala, Baljinder Singh of Hari Ke Pattan, Sukhjinder Singh, Gursewak Singh and Angrej Singh.

The arrested persons told the police that all suspects were relatives.



SAD (Bittu) men join Cong
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Presidium), led by Daljit Singh Bittu, suffered jolt when Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, one of the five members of the Presidium, with his supporters joined the Congress in the presence of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, at a rally organised by Congress MLA Om Parkash Soni here today. Yesterday, two SGPC members Ravinder Singh Khalsa and Surinder Kaur joined the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Simerjit Singh Majithia and Gurteshwar Singh Majithia, son and grandson, respectively, of the late Parkash Singh Majithia, a former Minister, joined the Congress. PPCC acting president Mohinder Singh Kaypee, CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Iqbal Singh were present at the rally.


Mohali-Phagwara expressway cleared
Go-ahead to five-star hotel in Bathinda, AC bus stand at Mohali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Punjab government today approved an expressway to provide high-speed connectivity of the proposed international airport at Mohali with Phagwara.

The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here late last evening.

It was also informed at the meeting that one leg of the expressway would be from Lalru and the other leg would be towards Siswan-Baddi. This will decrease the travel time from Mohali to Phagwara to almost one hour. The expressway has been designed by renowned technical consultant M/s Louis Berger Inc, USA, which has designed it to run vehicles on it at a speed of 120 kmph.

The expressway will have state-of-the-art highway transport management and will be built on a built-operate-transfer (BOT) basis with funding coming from private sector. The board also directed that section 4 for land acquisition should be issued by the PWD (B&R) on an urgent basis.

The board also approved to award the construction of a five star hotel near the lakes of thermal plant at Bathinda on a BOT basis. The project has been bagged by M/s Vipul Hospitality Limited after a competitive bidding process under which they will pay annual concession fee of Rs 36 lakh to the PSEB for a period of 60 years. The project also envisages incremental revenue share from 6 per cent, which will result in much higher revenue to the PSEB.

The board accorded approval to the construction of fully air-conditioned bus terminal-cum-commercial complex at Mohali on a BOT basis. The commuters shall not have to pay anything extra for this high-class facility. The 10-storey commercial complex to be built over the bus terminal would have shopping complexes, multiplexes and restaurant, etc. The project has been bagged by M/s C&C Constructions Ltd. They will give an upfront amount of Rs 57 crore along with Rs 2.85 crore per annum, to be increased at a rate of 15 per cent after three years, for 90 years. On the same lines the board also accorded approval for the construction of fully air-conditioned, commercial complex at Patiala. This project has been awarded to M/s Spirit Global Ltd.

The board also cleared the project of Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) at Jalandhar to be run by a consortium.

The Board also approved Rs 2,640 crore budget of the PIDB for 2009-2010.


MC projects worth Rs 79 cr okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Local Bodies Directorate today gave sanction to projects worth Rs 79 crore proposed by the various Class-A municipal committees across the state. The projects were cleared during a meeting of the Minister for Local Government Manoranjan Kalia with the presidents of 27 committees.

The department also issued directions to 27 municipal committees of the class-A category to maintain quality of work as per the prescribed specifications and to complete ongoing development works in a stipulated time.

Kalia said the SAD-BJP government had given Rs 3 crore each to class A municipal committees, Rs 2 crore and Rs 1 crore each to class-B and class-C committees respectively.

Principal Secretary (Local Government) DS Bains said funds amounting to Rs 3 crore each had been released to these committees. He also gave them directions to buy one jet-cleaning machine, which costs around Rs 20 lakh, to clean up sewerage.

SK Sharma, Director, Local Government, said the department had received 2,680 resolutions out of which 369 resolutions were sent back for clarifications. Only 18 resolutions were pending with the department.


HC order on escort slashes police petrol bill
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The order of Punjab and Haryana High Court on pilot and escort vehicles provided to ministers, chief parliamentary secretaries and senior police officials has proved boon to the Punjab Police, which has witnessed sharp drop in its fuel bills.

Police bills of petrol, oil, lubricants have dropped from around Rs 20 lakh per month to around Rs 12 lakh in Chandigarh itself. Outside Chandigarh, the bill has decreased from Rs 12 lakh to around Rs 7 lakh per month.

The high court has ordered the withdrawal of all pilot and escort vehicles, except to the Chief Minister, Speaker and the Chief Justice, till a policy is framed on it.

As many as 175 Maruti Gypsies had been on escort duty with VIPs before the high court order. After reports that a few VIPs continued to use escorts, the Police Department first stopped fuel to these vehicles then passed directives to stop these .

However this saving on fuel, which could be a few crores annually, could be short lived. The government has decided to accommodate officially nearly the same number of persons as before provided with pilot or escort vehicles. According to sources, though the department tried to prune number of such vehicles to around 65 by laying down parameters for the allotment of escort vehicles based on the position held by a person as well as threat perception, the government has overturned this proposal.

Though the department has allowed these vehicles only to cabinet ministers and operation heads in field like IGs, DIGs, SSPs and Deputy Commissioners, the government has decided to include all ministers of state and even 15 chief parliamentary secretaries in the list of VIPs to be given escort vehicles. A large number of police officers at the state headquarters here may also retain security cover due to “security threat” to them. The list is to be submitted to the high court.


Ex-servicemen want pension anomalies rectified
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 4
The Punjab Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association said its “one rank, one pension” demand, had only been accepted in principle by various governments. In April 1999, the association claimed, the Defence Minister had assured the ex-servicemen the demand would be implemented the moment he reached Delhi but nothing was done.

The Sixth Pay Commission, it said, had complicated the issue by introducing stretched pay bands for serving soldiers, thus creating huge gap in the pensions of veterans and newly retired or soon-to-retire soldiers.

Association general secretary, Col Kuldeep Singh Grewal, asserted a sepoy at present with seven years of service was getting Rs 10,640 as pay. Even if he retired with the same pay without earning any increment, he was likely to get 70 per cent of this pay as basic pension i.e. Rs. 7448 plus 16 per cent dearness allowance as applicable today raising the entitlement to Rs 9464. But, a sepoy who retired in 2006 was entitled to basic pension of Rs 4667. Similarly, among the officer cadre there would be huge gap in the pension of those who retired before and after 2006.

Grewal demanded separate pay commission to carry out revision of pay and pensions and look into the anomalies pointed out.


TA contingent bags R-Day honours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Territorial Army (TA) contingent has bagged the award for the best marching contingent among the three services at this year’s Republic Day parade. This year’s TA contingent was from the Punjab Regiment.

The TA is a volunteer force comprising “citizens in uniform”, who are gainfully employed in other walks of life, but don the uniform in times of national emergency. Even during the recent strike by oil sector employees, TA units were mobilised to take over oil production and supply.

TA personnel officers receive training during “embodiment” for two months and are entitled to full pay and allowances applicable to the regular Army when called to arms.

Among the para-military and other auxiliary marching contingents, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bagged the best marching contingent award.


3 killed in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 4
Three persons were killed here in accidents. Sadiq Mohammad of Roshiana village was run over by a truck at Bhasour village today.

An unidentified person was killed under train near level crossing at Idgah here yesterday. In third accident a labourer was killed at construction work near Dhabi Gate here.


Robbery bid at petrol station
HC asks convicts to compensate victim
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Nearly seven years after efforts to foil a robbery bid at a petrol station in Jalandhar ended in the loss of eyesight of an alarm-raiser, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has furthered the cause of justice by making the convicts pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the victim of crime.

Making it amply clear that the victim was liable to get more than the satisfaction of seeing his assailant and co-accused behind bars, a Division Bench directed one of the convicts to pay Rs 50,000. The remaining two were directed to pay Rs 25,000 each to the victim.

At the same time, the Bench of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice LN Mittal upheld the conviction orders, but directed the reduction in sentence awarded by the trial court to the three convicts.

The convicts, Satnam Singh Nehang and two others had approached the court with an appeal against the Jalandhar Additional Sessions Judge’s order. The judge, vide his order, had awarded the sentence of life imprisonment to the three.

The prosecution had claimed on July 8, 2002, Kewal Singh and others had retired into a cabin after the days work at the petrol station, when at about 3.30 am a knock was heard.

Kewal Singh was pushed inside after he opened the cabin door by a person carrying a .12 bore gun. An alarm was raised after which a shot was fired. It hit Ranjit Singh in the forehead and eyes.

The prosecution had claimed Ranjit Singh was sleeping on a container at the time of the incident and had subsequently raised an alarm. In all, three persons were involved in the incident. It was added the intention behind the occurrence was robbery.

After going through the case files, Justice Gill, speaking for the Bench, observed: “We do not find any infirmity in the judgment of the trial court. The conviction of the appellants is maintained.”


Mann acquitted of sedition charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 4
A fast-track court here today acquitted Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A), and three others of charge of sedition made at Talwandi Sabo on June 8, 2006.

Judge S.K. Sachdeva today pronounced the judgement, acquitting Simranjit Singh Mann, Gursewak Singh Jawaharke, Charan Singh Lohara and Dhian Singh Mand of charges under Sections 153 and 124-A of the IPC. Except Simranjit Singh Mann, all other accused were present in the court.

Barinder Singh Mann, SAD (A) youth wing president, said, “The case was registered at Talwandi Sabo when SAD (A) leaders organised Ghallughara Diwas in memory of ‘martyrs’ of Operation Bluestar.”


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