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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Engg college resents poll work for its staff
Bathinda, August 18
In a classic example of government duty affecting teaching work, the Punjab Technical University's Giani Zail Singh (GZS) Campus is crying itself hoarse over the district administration deploying 14 of its employees on deputation for election related work. The institute fears that such deployment of its staff in large numbers may affect the studies of its 3200 students.

Civil hospital powerless
Bathinda, August 18
Patients in the OPD block use paper and handkerchiefs to fan themselves while waiting in the queue as power supply to the Civil Hospital was shut down for maintenance. The gensets deployed in the hospital proved to be woefully inadequate in handling the load. The hotline connection to the Civil Hospital meant to supply it with uninterrupted power experienced a shutdown leaving the patients, doctors and staff members sweating today.

Patients in the OPD block use paper and handkerchiefs to fan themselves while waiting in the queue as power supply to the Civil Hospital was shut down for maintenance. The gensets deployed in the hospital proved to be woefully inadequate in handling the load. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma



EARLIER STORIES



Pest attack brings tears to the eyes of chilli farmers in Mashana
Mashana (Bathinda), August 18
This is one crop the cultivation of which has literally brought tears to the eyes of the farmers in the area. The chilli crop, being grown profitably by farmers of Mashana and other villages adjoining Bathinda, has wilted this season due to pest attack, for the second year in a row.

Surprise checking at Govt schools
Bathinda, August 18
The additional director of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), Parampal Kaur Maluka, today conducted surprise checking at government schools in the city and nearby villages.

One arrested for selling smack
Bathinda, August 18
Police today arrested a resident of Chandsar Basti with five grams of smack. The accused, identified as 25-year-old Kulwinder Singh, was caught with the drug at a police naka.

Lawyers want evening courts abolished
Bathinda, August 18
A meeting of the presidents of different district Bar associations in progress in Bathinda on Saturday. Lawyers in Punjab have will go on strike on August 23 to protest in favour of their various demands. The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the presidents of different district Bar associations convened here today. The lawyers are demanding that the government abolishes the evening courts and fixes five-day-a-week work schedule for courts.

A meeting of the presidents of different district Bar associations in progress in Bathinda on Saturday. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma

Policewoman booked for cheating
Bathinda, August 18
A woman cop of the Punjab Police in Bathinda has been booked for deliberately hiding the fact that she was already serving the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police), Patiala.


Hidden art:
Buntings put up at the Ghanaiya Chowk in the city have affected the view of the statues installed there. Tribune photo: Pawan Sharma

Lok adalats to be held on Aug 25
Bathinda, August 18
District and Sessions Judge SK Aggarwal said lok adalats would be held on August 25 at Bathinda, Phool and Talwandi Sabo. Civil cases and cases that can be decided unanimously could be brought to the lok adalat. Lok adalat will also be held at the labour court on August 24.

Legal aid camp held at Pakka Kalan
Bathinda, August 18
A legal aid camp was organised at Pakka Kalan village today. During the camp, lawyers and others delivered lectures throwing light on free legal aid and the rights of individuals. Kapil Kumar Bansal, an advocate, spoke about the importance of free legal aid and functioning of Lok Adalats, legal aid clinics and related laws.

Meat shops to remain closed on Aug 21
Bathinda, August 18
The sale of meat is banned on August 21 on the occasion of Samavtasri Diwas (non-violence day) observed by the SS Jain Sabha. Additional district magistrate Rajiv Prashar has banned the sale of meat under the Criminal Procedure Code. No meat shop would be allowed to remain open on the day. TNS







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Engg college resents poll work for its staff
Tells admn to pay their salaries or send them back
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
In a classic example of government duty affecting teaching work, the Punjab Technical University's Giani Zail Singh (GZS) Campus is crying itself hoarse over the district administration deploying 14 of its employees on deputation for election related work. The institute fears that such deployment of its staff in large numbers may affect the studies of its 3200 students.

All these employees are working for the district administration but draw their salaries from the GZS campus, which is an autonomous body that does not seek any funds from the government.

The authorities of the institute have repeatedly written to the district administration requesting that either the administration should pay salaries to these employees or relieve them as the academic work is getting affected.

As per the information acquired under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the institute first stated on January 20, 2011, that the engineering college is an autonomous body and does not take any help from the government.

In 2010-11, the institute had paid Rs 60.58 lakhs as salaries to its employees who worked for the district administration. The institute demanded that the amount be reimbursed or the staff be sent back.

"Not even a single penny was reimbursed and the entire staff was sent back only to be recalled within a few weeks," said sources at the institute.

The institute again wrote a letter to the district administration before the assembly elections early this year stating that 25 of its employees have been deputed for election work such as revision of voters' list.

At that time, three junior scale stenographers, three clerks, four senior technicians, four stenos, sewadar, SDE, superintendent, two senior assistants, junior assistant, studio assistant and a junior technician were looking after election related work.

The institute categorically mentioned that all these employees have been paid a total salary of Rs 30.60 lakh and added that the administration now has to pay Rs 91.18 lakh.

"On getting this letter, the district administration again relieved 21 employees, but a few were called back. Presently, 14 of our people are working with the district administration," the sources added.

The administration has again sent a "request" demanding that two employees be relieved by August 28 and sent for administrative work.

"It is impossible to run such a big educational institute without the help of people who have been designated for non-academic work," said an official at the PTU Giani Zail Singh Campus.

While officiating Deputy Commissioner Ravi Bhagat was not available for comments, the Principal Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training, SS Channy said he was not aware of the issue.

The Principal Secretary, however, added that such duties are to be taken only occasionally and no staff from the academic side should be permanently deputed for such work. "I will look into the issue," he assured.

Fact file

  • Early this year, 21 employees were sent back to the institute. Usha R. Sharma, who was the special chief electoral officer as well as the Director, Technical Education at that time, catalyzed sending the staff back to the college.
  • The district administration lacks enough staff to carry out its election related work and hence, ropes in staff from GZS campus on permanent basis.

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Civil hospital powerless
Patients sweat it out after power cut; Hospital gensets fail to take load
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
The hotline connection to the Civil Hospital meant to supply it with uninterrupted power experienced a shutdown leaving the patients, doctors and staff members sweating today.

While the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) officials claimed the shutdown was for declared maintenance and repair work, the Civil Hospital was inadequately equipped to deal with such long hours of power cuts.

People were seen waiting in long queues at the OPD and outside the diagnostic labs for their turn. Water supply to the Civil Hospital as well as the Women and Children Hospital was badly hit due to lack of power. At the Women and Children Hospital, people were seen looking for water to drink.

The power supply went off at 8: 30 am today and was not restored before 3 pm. When the power supply went out, all three gensets at the OPD, indoor and blood bank were switched on. However, the 50 KV genset of OPD block did not function as it was out of order.

"This is an old genset that seems to have outlived its life. The genset did not start working as its parts had worn out. We then called up the regular mechanic who repairs it," said the hospital officials. The genset went out of order thrice and could be restored only after it was repaired properly.

As a result of repeated breakdowns, the laboratories meant for diagnostic tests could not work properly. In the morning, the patient slip was issued manually as the computers could not work on the genset. The OPD genset is also shared by the non-communicable disease (NCD) block, which has been recently started.

The obsolete and old gensets have failed to take the load of all the medical services provided. The 50 KV OPD genset was shifted from Talwandi Sabo around seven years ago. "We don't know how long it has been used at Talwandi Sabo," said the health officials. Similarly, the 25 KV genset meant for the indoor patients' block was bought in 1995, while the 15 KV genset at the Blood Bank was bought 15 years ago. "All the gensets need immediate upgrade. The blood bank genset is of mere 15 KV. On the day of the first blackout on July 30, we brought a 10 KV genset on rent so that blood bags stored at the blood bank do not get spoiled. Had we not taken this step, we would have lost precious blood," said Civil Hospital authorities.

Meanwhile, Senior Medical Officer Dr Satish Goyal said the department has already given its demand in writing that the blood bank genset's capacity be augmented to 30 KV and that it should be given three phases. "The procedure is in the pipeline and we hope that new genset will be made available to us soon," he added.

Meanwhile, the PSPCL officials said the power cut was duly declared in advance as some maintenance work was pending.

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Pest attack brings tears to the eyes of chilli farmers in Mashana
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service


Kaka Singh, a farmer in Mashana village, showing the damaged chilli plants. Photo by writer

Mashana (Bathinda), August 18
This is one crop the cultivation of which has literally brought tears to the eyes of the farmers in the area. The chilli crop, being grown profitably by farmers of Mashana and other villages adjoining Bathinda, has wilted this season due to pest attack, for the second year in a row.

Farmers said the area under chilli cultivation, which had been gradually increasing, is now on the decline following repeated pest attacks. "We used to load a truck everyday to send our chilli crop to Delhi. But now, most of the farmers have razed the chilli plants to grow some other crop. Despite spending more than Rs 1.5 lakhs on planting chilli in one acre of land, I failed to earn even a single penny," said a farmer of Mashana village, Kaka Singh.

To compensate for the losses, Kaka is now buying chilli from the farmers of nearby villages to sell it in the adjoining mandis. Kaka Singh blamed a private trader for selling him the seeds of an unproductive variety of chilli. He regretted that the agriculture department had failed to provide the farmers with the required expertise to grow the crop which had lead to losses.

Kaka Singh said in view of the pest attack, officials of many pesticide companies were making rounds of his village to sell their products but the menace has not yet been curbed.

Didar Singh, another farmer of Mashana village, said he was among those who had pioneered the cultivation of chilli in the village. "Fearing pest attack, for the last two years, many of the farmers reduced the area under chilli cultivation. Last year, the area under chilli was 100 acres. But this time, a mere 30 to 40 acres of land has been spared for chilli cultivation," he said.

Didar Singh said the government harps on diversification of crops but fails to look into the problems faced by the farmers. He said the farmers are poor and illiterate and do not even know which variety of chilli they have grown. "The chilli plants sold at nurseries do not reveal that names of the varieties to keep the farmers in the dark. The nurseries have coined their own terms to misguide the farmers," alleged Didar Singh.

The farmers said the pest attack has drastically affected the cultivation of chilli, which in turn, has affected its production. Lakhvir Singh of Mehma Sawai village said less production has lead to a rise in the prices. "As compared to a mere Rs 7 to Rs 8 per kilogram last year, chilli prices have shot up to Rs 20 to Rs 25 per kg this year," said Lakhvir.

He said the pest attack has taken place in many villages but the problem is more severe in Mashana. Farmers who managed to prevent the pest attack have earned good profits following low production and the high cost of chilli this time.

A leading farmer from Mehma Sarja village, Jagtar Brar said the problem occurred due to an increase in the number of varieties of chilli and the genetically modified Korean varieties sold in the market. He said a disease named Thrips has gripped the chilli crop growing in the area near Mashana village and farmers had to bear huge losses because of it. "There are many farmers in the district who have earned more than Rs 2 lakhs in a year by selling chillies," said Brar.

He said most varieties of the crop failed to tolerate the excessive heat. The local varieties manage to survive despite the pest attack but such varieties do not give a better yield and the crop matures quite late.

Brar said chilli is a profitable crop which generates good income for the farmers as compared to other crops. "But chilli requires constant care and farmers have to pay extra attention and spend more time caring for it as compared to the other crops. This crop needs 300 mandays of labour. Also, plucking is manual as there is no machine to do the job," he said.

He added that growing chillies also gives ample employment opportunities to the people and the government must initiate steps to help farmers in getting rid of the pest attack and other problems.

Official Speak

The area under chilli crop in Bathinda is nearly 275 hectares. Farmers here are complaining of attack by Thrips, an insect that produces virus and spreads around to damage the chilli plants. Despite repeated warnings and requests, most of the farmers do not grow the varieties recommended by the PAU and instead fall for the ones sold by private traders. CH-1, CH-2 and CH-3 are the recommended PAU varieties, which are not grown by the farmers. Thus, insecticides recommended by the PAU fail to help in eradicating the virus and people purchase medicines from local companies. Narinderjit Singh, horticulture development officer

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Surprise checking at Govt schools
SSA addl director conducts surprise checkings; finds cleanliness lacking in schools, students academically deficient

Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
The additional director of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), Parampal Kaur Maluka, today conducted surprise checking at government schools in the city and nearby villages.

Maluka, along with the officials of the District Education Department, visited the Government Adarsh School, Canal Colony, and directed the school officials to remove the deficiencies that the school had.

Students were asked questions pertaining to mathematics, science, English and Punjabi subjects. The team, however, was not satisfied with the children's performance.

Further, the school faced an acute shortage of class IV employees. Several administrative laxities were also pointed out and the school principal was directed to look into the matter at the earliest.

At Government Primary School, Guru Nanak Pura, a departmental action was ordered against the manager of mid-day meal. As per the Saturday's menu of the mid-day meal, children were to be served potato and rajma (red kidney beans) curry. However, the team noticed that the curry only had potatoes.

Assistant education officer Ramesh Kumar said the department had been directed to prepare a detailed report so that action could be taken against the erring officials.

Maluka along with District Education Officer (Secondary) Hardeep Singh Taggar also conducted surprise raids at schools in the villages nearby.

Cleanliness was found to be lacking at the government school in Ghanda Banna village. At the Government School, Jalal, the in-charge was on leave while the second person in-charge was also not present at the school. The cleanliness was no better than the school at Ghanda Banna village.

Besides, the team inspected the schools at Jalal, Ghanda Banna, Jeeda and Bhagta villages.

The teachers, however, later said there was no dedicated staff to maintain cleanliness in the school.

Most of the times, needy people in the village are roped in on daily wage basis to clean the school premises.

"Moreover, those hired for this special purpose do not get regular salaries and hence, they are not bound in any manner to ensure cleanliness at the school. Secondly, it is not the duty of a teacher to pick the broom himself and clean the school premises," said an irate teacher.

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One arrested for selling smack
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Police today arrested a resident of Chandsar Basti with five grams of smack. The accused, identified as 25-year-old Kulwinder Singh, was caught with the drug at a police naka.

Civil Lines SHO Gurdev Bhalla said the accused was nabbed by ASI Jaswant Singh who was on duty at the naka. The accused tried to give the cops a slip but was caught.

He failed to give a satisfactory reply to the queries posed by the policemen and was frisked following which five grams of smack was recovered from his possession.

During the interrogation at the police station, he admitted selling smack to drug addicts in the city. He used to make a fast buck by selling the drug to the youngsters, police said.

It was also found during the investigation that the accused used to lure the youth, especially the school and college-going students, to taste smack so that they could be turned into permanent customers. According to the police, he had been doing this for the last one year.

Further investigation is being made by the police to enquire about those who had been selling smack to the accused.

A case under sections 21, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act has also been registered against Kulwinder Singh and he would be produced before the magistrate tomorrow to seek his police remand, SHO Bhalla said.

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Lawyers want evening courts abolished
To hold strike on Aug 23; advocates also demand five-day week schedule for courts
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Lawyers in Punjab have will go on strike on August 23 to protest in favour of their various demands. The decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the presidents of different district Bar associations convened here today. The lawyers are demanding that the government abolishes the evening courts and fixes five-day-a-week work schedule for courts.

On August 23, another meeting of all presidents has been convened at Moga, as there were a lesser number of representatives from the Bar Associations in the Majha region.

Also, a five-member action committee has been constituted to coordinate the strategies of all the Bar Associations. The members of the committee are Ranjit Singh Jalal from Bathinda, Sunil Garg from Moga, GS Telia from Jalandhar, Sarbjit Singh Grewal from Mansa and AS Dharni from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Prominent among those present included Moga District Bar Association president Sunil Garg, Barnala District Bar Association president Jatinder Nath Sharma, Jalandhar District Bar Association president GS Telia, Fatehgarh Sahib District Bar Association president AS Dharni, Mohali District Bar Association president Amarjit Singh Laungia, Abohar District Bar Association president Krishan Lal Bishnoi, Phillaur District Bar Association president Rajesh Kumar, Mansa District Bar Association president Sarabjit Singh Grewal, Bathinda District Bar Association general secretary GS Mann and others.

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Policewoman booked for cheating
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
A woman cop of the Punjab Police in Bathinda has been booked for deliberately hiding the fact that she was already serving the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police), Patiala.

A compliant was lodged by AS Negi, commandant, 43 Battalion, ITBP Force. The complainant stated that the accused, constable Rajwinder Kaur, left the Battalion on leave and joined as a constable in the Punjab Police. She did not inform either of the authorities before undergoing recruitment test for the Punjab Police.

After a detailed inquiry, a case was registered under Section 420 of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station.

Motorcycle, car stolen

A motorcycle was reportedly stolen from outside the HDFC Bank.

In his complaint to the police, one Baljinder Singh, a resident of the Bathinda-Mansa road near underbridge, said his bike, worth nearly Rs 30,000, was stolen on August 13. The police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station.

In another incident, one Momi Bansal, a resident of Amrik Singh road, said his Tata Indica car was stolen from Street No. 8 of Namdev Nagar here. A case has been registered under Section 379 of the IPC at the Civil Lines police station.

Rajasthan resident arrested with poppy husk

A resident of neighbouring Rajasthan has been arrested after 4.5 kg of poppy husk was recovered from his possession.

The accused has been identified as Tinku, a resident of Sanghria, Rajasthan. The police arrested him during a naka laid near the Multania road. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered at the Talwandi Sabo police station.

In another case, one Gurjeet Singh of Talwandi Sabo was arrested with four litres of intoxicating material, from near the Gurusar road, Talwandi Sabo. A case under Sections 22, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered at the Talwandi Sabo police station.

Four booked for beating

The police has booked four persons for beating a resident of Kamalu Swaich village. In his complaint to the police, one Jagtar Singh said four residents of his village, namely Bhola Singh, Bhindi, Gurwinder Singh and Jagtar Singh, attacked him with sharp-edged weapons, inflicting serious injuries on him. He said the accused owed him Rs 50,000 and he was demanding the money back from them.

A case under Sections 341, 324, 323 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused at the Maur police station. No arrests have been made yet.

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Lok adalats to be held on Aug 25
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
District and Sessions Judge SK Aggarwal said lok adalats would be held on August 25 at Bathinda, Phool and Talwandi Sabo. Civil cases and cases that can be decided unanimously could be brought to the lok adalat. Lok adalat will also be held at the labour court on August 24.

Aggarwal added that a special mega lok adalat is also being held on December 1. "If any party wants to bring a case to the lok adalat, it could immediately move an application in the court concerned," he said. Aggarwal said lok adalat would be very beneficial for litigants and would reduce the pending cases in courts.

He added that a special mega lok adalat of Bathinda Sessions Division would be held on December 1 this year on the orders of Justice Jasbir Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court-cum-officiating chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority.

Aggarwal appealed to the people to draw maximum benefit from the lok adalat as it would save their money as well as valuable time.

Meanwhile, Civil Judge (Senior Division) Harinder Kaur has appealed to the lawyers, litigants, social workers, bank managers and other departments in the district to bring their cases to the lok adalat for everyone's benefit.

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Legal aid camp held at Pakka Kalan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
A legal aid camp was organised at Pakka Kalan village today. During the camp, lawyers and others delivered lectures throwing light on free legal aid and the rights of individuals. Kapil Kumar Bansal, an advocate, spoke about the importance of free legal aid and functioning of Lok Adalats, legal aid clinics and related laws.

Gurmeet Kaur, also an advocate, and Anoop Garg, the president of the Cantonment Rotary Club, spoke about the rights of individuals.

Sarpanches and panches of adjoining villages attended the camp.

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