Saturday, February 17, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




SHSAD: probe fee concession
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
Taking strong exception to the decision taken by the former SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, to give donation fee concession to a few selected students who had sought admission against the non-resident Indian (NRI) quota in Guru Ram Dass institute for Medical Sciences and Research and Guru Ram Dass Dental College, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today sought constitution of a fact-finding committee to know the circumstances under which the SGPC suffered losses to the tune of crores of rupees.

Mr Harbans Singh Manjpur, executive member of the SGPC, belonging to the SHSAD, who is member of the budget committee of the SGPC, said the fact-finding committee must probe how wards of beneficiaries got admissions to SGPC-run medical and dental colleges and then got the fee exemption by using their influence. He, however said when Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC president, reversed the decision of Bibi Jagir Kaur one of the influential persons immediately deposited the fee lest he should be “exposed”.

He said the Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust had to approach the SGPC for financial help as the SGPC-run medical hospital and colleges were unable to give salaries to their staff due to fee exemption. Subsequently, the SGPC had given Rs 75 lakh from the “Darbar Sahib fund” for the smooth running of the SGPC-run medical institutions. With financial aid from the SGPC, the construction work of the medical college which had come to a standstill was restored keeping in view the future of the students.

Mr Manjpur said the Guru Ram Dass Trust which held its meeting on December 12 last year had already noted with great concern the fee exemption to eight students had led to a huge loss of revenue to the two institutions. He alleged the decision of the former SGPC president to give fee concession was aimed at pleasing a few VVIPs which included certain ministers. An Indian student seeking admission against the NRI quota had to pay about Rs 25 lakh but in these cases only Rs 1 lakh was deposited by each student. A week before relinquishing charge as Director-Principal of the SGPC run medical college, Dr S.S. Cheema had pointed out the SGPC would incur a loss of Rs 1 crore by exempting fees of MBBS students admitted under the NRI quota.

Mr Manjpur also pointed out there were numerous bogus entries in the previous SGPC budget. He said being a member of the budget committee he had found the fixed deposits of the SGPC were included in the budget. Mr Manjpur added he had also found managers of Gurdwara Anandpur Sahib and Gurdwara Chheherta had indulged in embezzlement to the tune of lakh of rupees. He said he had done a comparative study of the offerings (income) and expenditure of the last year and found a number of discrepancies in the previous budget. He said he would also present details of the hefty amount spent by Bibi Jagir Kaur on her vehicle and telephones during her stint as the SGPC chief.


Bhai Ranjit warns Centre on Sikhs’ security
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takht, has warned the Central Government over its alleged indifferent attitude towards the security of the Sikhs living in the Kashmir valley.

Talking to newspersons here yesterday, Bahi Ranjit Singh said Sikhs would be forced to take stern action if the Central and state governments failed to protect the lives and property of the Sikh community there. He alleged that the Sikhs were being ‘butchered’ in the Kashmir valley as the Central and state governments had failed to give them security. Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that the poor Sikhs of Kashmir valley were being recruited on a large scale in the ‘task force’ which had given a wrong signal to the Kashmiris. These Sikhs should be given proper employment opportunities so that they should not become ‘soft targets’ at the hands of militants.

The former Jathedar took exception to the purported statement of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister, that eight companies of the police would be sent to Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab to curb militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. He said such a decision would bring Sikhs and Kashmiri militants at loggerheads.

Bhai Ranjit Singh also criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, for demanding votes on the issue of Delhi riots. What steps had the state government taken for the victims of riot victims so far, he asked.


Protest against Badal govt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
A large number of state employees held a rally and staged a demonstration at Majitha town today where a byelection is going to be held on Monday. The call for this rally was given by the Mulazam Action Committee, Punjab, and the Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee to protest against the anti-employee attitude of the state government.

Those who took part in the rally were mainly from Amritsar and the nearby districts of the state.

Before holding demonstration in the bazar of Majitha a big rally was held in a ground near the bus stand.

The rally was addressed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, convener of the Mulazam Action Committee, and Mr Sajjan Singh, Chairman of the Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee.

Mr Bari castigated the state government for its “blind privatisation” of state public sector undertakings like electricity and transport services and social services such as education, health and water supply and sewage. He demanded immediate withdrawal of such measures. Mr Sajjan Singh condemned the anti-employee attitude of government for not giving bonus to its employees for the past four years, non-acceptance of the four, nine and 14 years’ promotional scales to all categories of employees, non-regularisation of the services of anganwari workers and grant of grades according to qualifications and denial of HRA to employees on the Chandigarh pattern.


Hukamnama sought against Badal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
Even as Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab Chief Minister, yesterday urged the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to issue a hukamnama against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other Panthic leaders who were allegedly responsible for the distribution of illicit liquor among voters in the Majitha constituency, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, questioned the secular credentials of the Congress for approaching Akal Takht.

Talking to the press here today, Ms Bhattal alleged that despite the fact that Jathedar Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib, had flayed the Badal government for having failed to curb the menace of drug peddling. Illicit liquor was also being distributed with impunity.

She said it was the time for immediate intervention from Akal Takht.

Ms Bhattal alleged at least two persons had already died in the Majitha constituency due to consumption of illicit liquor which was a matter of great concern. She alleged this was a great threat to democracy which must be dealt with.

Ms Bhattal also criticised the Election Commission for not initiating any action against the Chief Minister and other ministers who had been violating the election code of conduct.

However, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said though the Congress claimed to be a secular party yet it wanted to approach Akal Takht.


Custodial death: SHO remanded
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 16
The SHO, Morinda, Tarlochan Singh, who was accused of causing the death of a youth, Jaspal Singh, of Saheri village, was remanded in police custody till February 20, by the CJM, Ropar today. The accused SHO was arrested by the police on Wednesday night.

After the death of the youth in police custody, the SHO was transferred to the Police Lines. Though the other two accused policemen in the case, including Head Constable Shingara Singh and Constable Manoj Kumar were arrested on February 8 the SHO was suspended and transferred to the Police Lines. A case under Section 302 of the IPC was registered against him only after the villagers refused to take the body of the youth till the SHO was made co-accused in the case.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, had initially maintained the SHO was not present in the police station when the deceased was brought there and so a case could not be registered against him. However, later as pressure was exerted a case was registered against the SHO and he was suspended and transferred.

Sources said the accused SHO was arrested only after the human rights activists threatened to move the high court on the issue.

Jaspal Singh of Saheri village was arrested by the Morinda police on the complaint of Surjit Singh of the same village. He died under mysterious circumstances in the police station. The residents of the village led by Bibi Harbhajan Kaur of Gurudwara Rath Sahib and Congress leaders blocked the traffic on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road, demanding the registration of a case against the policemen suspected to be involved in causing his death.

The inquiry into the case had been handed over to the SP (Detective), Ropar. However, the human rights activists have demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, had also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the case. The SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, has been appointed the inquiry officer.


Pannu’s last wish
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
It was perhaps the last wish of Balbir Singh Pannu, senior vice-president of the SGPC to complete inquiry against Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Sri Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, which could not be completed due to his death in a road accident near Bareilly.

Before leaving for Bareilly, Mr Pannu, while talking to the Press at Majitha had said yesterday that he would endeavour to complete the inquiry at the earliest. He had, however, admitted that there were many ‘pulls and pressures’ which were delaying the inquiry. It may be mentioned here that the SGPC executive while placing Bhai Ranjit Singh under suspension as Jathedar Akal Takht in 1999, had constituted a three-member inquiry committee, headed by Mr Pannu to probe charges against the two high priests. However, the then SGPC chief did not allow the holding of any meeting. After taking over as SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi had announced that the inquiry against both jathedars would be completed.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht , Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh and a number of SGPC, SAD leaders have expressed grief and sorrow over the sad and sudden demise of Mr Pannu.

The Chief Minister conveyed his sympathies to the members of the bereaved family.

In another condolence message, Punjab, Minister for Information and Public Relations, Natha Singh Dalam expressed his grief and sorrow over the sudden demise of Mr Pannu.

Born in 1929, Pannu resigned as Headmaster of a Government School in protest against Operation Blue-star. He was against militants.

Officers of the SGPC, the Bar Association and other commercial associations remained closed as mark of respect to Mr Pannu.


Pannu’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal today mourned the death of Mr Balbir Singh Pannu, senior vice-president of the SGPC.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, secretary of the party, said Mr Pannu was a hard-working leader. He said the office of the party here remained closed today. The party expressed sympathy with the family of the deceased.


Punjab for non-cultivation subsidy
Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Punjab has put up a new agenda before the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices to tackle the problem of plenty on the foodgrains front in the country.

Senior representatives of the state government, including Mr C.L. Bains, Financial Commissioner (Development), Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Food and Supplies, Mr Mewa Singh Sonar, Director, Agriculture, Mr G. Vajralingam, Director, Food and Supplies Department, and Mr Bant Singh, Professor of Economics, PAU, Ludhiana, held a detailed meeting in Delhi yesterday with members of the commission to present the state’s proposals with regard to the fixation of the minimum support price (MSP) for the coming kharif crops.

Mr Bains described in detail the problems faced by farmers pertaining to the procurement of paddy last season. He urged the members to come out with a new agricultural marketing policy to avoid such problems.

There were three significant proposals put before the commission by Mr Bains the first was that the commission should fix a non-cultivation subsidy for the farmers prepared to keep their land fallow (unsown) following the government asking them not to sow a particular crop in view of the already excess stocks lying with it. For instance, if the government wanted that the production of wheat should be slashed, farmers in the wheat-growing states should be offered a non-cultivation subsidy against the area kept vacant by them. The USA has been pursuing this policy for some years.

Mr Bains said that Union Government agencies were spending thousands of crores of rupees to store and maintain the excess stocks of foodgrains. Such an amount could be diverted to give the non-cultivation subsidy. Moreover, the Union Government should tell the FCI to cut the storage and maintenance cost of foodgrain stocks to bring down the overall prices of foodgrains, especially rice and wheat, to enable poor people to buy such grains. The increase in the overall price of foodgrains because of inefficiency and corruption in the FCI should not be passed on to the consumers. In the end, all these hit the farming community.

The second proposal was the setting up of a national marketing information centre with branches in all states to provide data to the farming community on various matters, including the prices of a particular foodgrain in various parts of the country and the international market, the scope of marketing in different parts of the country and abroad, etc. At least progressive farmers could take advantage of this facility and change their crop pattern accordingly. Mr Bains urged the authorities not to ditch Punjab’s farmers who had made the country self-sufficient on the food front.

The third proposal pertained to the exhausting of the existing excess stocks of wheat and rice in the country by starting a food-for-work scheme. Some part of the wages of the working class should be given in the form of foodgrains at subsidised rates. Foodgrains worth thousands of crores of rupees were rottening in godowns while workers purchased these at the market rates from traders. He also sought the fixing of the MSP for basmati and the strict enforcement of the MSP in the case of sunflower, maize and oilseeds. Mr Bains said the non-enforcement of the MSP in the case of certain crops, especially maize and oilseeds, had impeded the process of agricultural diversification in a state like Punjab.

Mr Sonar said that the state government had sought Rs 720 per quintal as the MSP for grade “A” paddy and Rs 655 per quintal for the common varieties for the coming kharif season. Besides, the state government, for the first time, urged the commission to fix Rs 2,160 per quintal as the price of basmati paddy. 


DRDA staff’s plea to PM
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 16
Resentment prevails among hundreds of employees of the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) in the state following the decision of the Central Government to dispense with 200 centrally-sponsored schemes and hand over the same to the state government.

In a representation to Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Secretary-General of the local district unit of the All-India DRDA Staff Welfare Association, Mr Mohan Lal Singla, said though time and again instructions had been issued by the Central Government’s Rural Development ministry to all state governments and Union Territories to merge the employees of the DRADs in the state cadre, but unfortunately majority of the states had not acted upon the instructions.

Mr Singla said any decision to dispense with centrally-sponsored schemes might automatically lead to winding-up of the DRDAs. Due to this, employees who were now serving the weaker sections of the society for the past three decades would be on the roads, he added.

In his representation to the Prime Minister, Mr Singla stated that the Central Government had taken the decision to wind-up the DRDAs in 1989, but was forced to withdraw its decision due to pressure from 1,20,2000 DRDA employees, working all over the country.


 Lending cops a helping hand
Parmod Bharti

Under the community policing project, launched by the Punjab police, a group of residents, including students, has been constituted in the district to supplement police efforts to maintain law and order, prevent crime, manage traffic and fight the menace of drug addiction.

Before formally constituting the ‘’Friends of the Police’’, the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, addressed senior school and college students at special meetings organised in almost all institutions to create awareness among them about the problem of drug addiction and the importance of road safety. He exhorted the students to come forward to help the police in these spheres.

In the first phase of the programme students of different schools and colleges were identified as “Friends of the Police”. Mr Sham Sunder Juneja was invited to impart the basic training to them in traffic management.

The work being done by the “Friends of the Police” can be seen daily at the local Shivalik Public School, situated on the Chandigarh road, the busiest road of the town. Students of the institution, who have been identified and trained as “Friends of the Police,” assist constables in regulating the traffic in the morning and evening.

Mr Ishwar Singh says that the programme will be reviewed and more residents involved in it. Efforts will be made to fight social evils with the help of students.

More and more school students will be mobilised to make the programme a success.


Memorial gates for cops too
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 16
After the militants and the political figures, it is the turn of martyr policemen to have gates in their memory outside their native villages.

As a tribute to cops, who had died fighting against terrorism in the state, the Punjab police will construct gates in their memory along the important roads.

As part of this project, both the police and relatives of slain policemen will pool in money to raise these gates at the entrance of the native villages of the martyrs.

A gate in the memory of constable Chanan Singh Bhullar has already been constructed at the entrance of his native village, Malwal Qadim, on the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road.

Likewise, two more gates in the memory of constable Raj Kumar and Manjit Singh are to be constructed soon.


SSP told to act on PHRO complaint
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Directing Jalandhar’s Senior Superintendent of Police to look into a complaint against Municipal Commissioner Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked him to take necessary action expeditiously in accordance with the law.

The orders were pronounced by Mr Justice V.M. Jain while disposing of a writ petition filed by the president of the district unit of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Mr Shashi Pal.

In his complaint submitted to the SSP, Mr Shashi Pal had earlier sought the registration of a first information report under the Prevention of corruption Act against Thakur.

He had alleged that information regarding increasing corruption in the Corporation had been received by their organisation. Giving details, he had added that no prior approval had been sought from the corporation before a contract for installing telephone network in Jalandhar was given to a telecom company.


Order to implead ex-board chief
Our Legal Correspondent 

Chandigarh, February 16
In a petition filed by Mr Karam Chand against the closing of the case against Mr R.S. Mann, Punjab’s Chief Secretary, and Mr I.S. Bindra, president of the Punjab Cricket Associated, passed by Mr B.S. Bedi, Special Judge, Chandigarh, Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the High Court today directed the petitioner to implead Mrs Tejinder Kaur, former Director of the then Punjab Housing Board, a respondent.

The order was passed during the hearing on the petition. The CBI counsel, Mr Rajan Gupta, told the court that the CBI which was ordered by the Supreme Court to inquire into the FIR against the Chief Secretary and others, had recommended that the corruption case might be dropped but the departmental proceedings be taken against Mr R.S. Mann and Mr Bindra, the then Sports Secretary. It had not recommended any action against Mrs Tejinder Kaur.

The case relates to the allotment of land to the Punjab Cricket Association, a private today, for developing a sports complex at Mohali. It was allegedly done against the decision of the Governor-in-Council. Thereby use of the land was changed in violation of the decision taken earlier.


Inquiry sought on Bluestar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation ( PHRO) and the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) have urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to set up a commission of inquiry to find out how many persons were killed in operation Bluestar and how many were arrested.

Referring to Mr Badal’s statement which had focused on excesses committed on Sikhs during Operation Bluestar, Mr A.S. Bains, chairman of the PHRO and Mr I.S. Jaijee, convener of the MASR, said in a statement today that it was encouraging that Mr Badal had raised this issue. They said that Sikhs had urged the Punjab Government to set up a commission of inquiry and to bring out a White Paper on the operation.

They said that setting up of the commission had become all the more necessary as different figures about those killed, wounded and arrested had been cited by senior officials, who had access to information. While the government’s White Paper had given a figure of 83 soldiers killed, 248 wounded, 492 Sikhs killed, 86 wounded and 1592 arrested, a former Special Secretary to the Ministry of Home, Mr Ved Marwaha, had declared that there were 30 per cent casualties in a division-level attack. As many as 4712 Sikhs were killed and 10,000 were arrested. A former Lt-General had said 333 soldiers and 717 pilgrims and others were killed.

Ms Baljit Kaur and Lt-Gen K.S. Gill (retd) have also signed the statement.


Plan to set up heart institute 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 16
The district administration, which had decided to sell off the land of general and children’s hospital located in the heart of the city after demolishing various buildings for generating funds for constructing a modern district administrative complex (DAC) has now started thinking of setting up a modern heart institute on the same premises.

Whether the heart institute will be set up on one part of the total land of the hospital or not is not yet clear. However, the district civic authorities have been contemplating setting up the heart institute after the completion of the DAC being constructed at a cost of about Rs 15 crore.

The Deputy Commissioner disclosed plans about setting up the heart institute while presiding over a function organised by the local Improvement Trust authorities in connection with the draw of lots of residential plots.

He said so far the district administration had been toying with the idea of setting up a modern heart institute. A final decision in this connection was yet to be taken.

Various organisations and a major section of the population of the city has been opposing the move of the district administration to generate adequate funds for the construction of the DAC after selling off the land of the hospital.

Official sources said the building of the hospital would be used to house the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and other officers till the construction of the DAC was completed. The children’s hospital would be shifted to the extended wing of the OPD of the civil hospital.

The building of the children’s hospital, which was under construction, was likely to be completed by the end of November 2001.

Sources added the district administration which was planning to sell off its land was planning to set up a modern dispensary in lieu of a big hospital which had been catering to the needs of residents of transrailway colonies and various localities of the city.

Meanwhile, about 88 residential plots under various schemes of the trust were allotted to applicants through a draw of lots held here today.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman of the Improvement Trust, said the authorities were making sincere efforts to develop more residential colonies equipped with all facilities.

He added that a shopping complex would be built on that piece of land where the “patwar khana” was situated.


Govt urged to fill vacancies
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 16
Mr Harbans Singh Sherpur, president of the Rashtriya Mulazam Dal (RMD), has urged the state government to fill the vacancies in various departments.

Mr Sherpur while presiding over a meeting of the RMD here today, said a large number of posts were vacant which should be filled immediately so that the number of unemployed youth could be reduced. He said the ban imposed on recruitments should be lifted.

He further said certain young people had been made self-employed under various schemes of the government but a large number were still waiting for jobs. He said the unemployed youth could indulge in anti-social activities therefore they should be kept occupied by giving them jobs.

Mr Gurjinder Singh Maur, district president of the RMD, urged the government to give pay scales to the class IV employees on the pattern of the Central Government. He also said they would send a memorandum to the government in favour of the anganwari workers for regularising their services.


Free cell phones for freedom fighters
Tribune News Service

Amritsar February 16
The Union Communication Minister Mr Ram Vilas Paswan has promised to give free mobile phones to the freedom fighters at the earliest.

This assurance was given to members of a deputation of the All-India Freedom Fighters. Successors Organisation, who met him at New Delhi. Mr Gian Singh Saggu, general secretary of the organisation, claimed that the minister had conceded a charter of demands forwarded to him during the meeting.


Controversy over census
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 16
A major controversy has erupted in the state over Census 2001 over the non-filling of columns 9 and 10 meant for ST persons by the officials entrusted with the task.

Mr Mangal Singh, general secretary of the All-India National Fertiliser Limited Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and Minority Employees Welfare Association, in letters written to the Governor and the Chief Minister of Punjab and the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, alleged census staff had been refusing to fill columns 9 and 10.

He added that ST persons living in Punjab for the past many decades were registered voters, ration card holders and having domicile of Punjab.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said it would be chacked up whether the ST persons belonging to other states would have the same status in Punjab and the needful would be done in this connection. 


Blindness survey on
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 16
As per the instructions of the Union Government a survey is being done to ascertain the causes of blindness in the district. Bathinda is one of the 13 districts which has been chosen from all over the country.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the District Blindness Control Organisation, said in a press note issued here today the district had been divided into 25 clusters — nine urban and 16 rural. The survey is being conducted under Dr Gagandeep Kaur of the PGI, Chandigarh, and the report would be submitted to the government within three months, he added.

Mr Jaspal Singh said an extensive programme for delivering calipers and artificial limbs to the handicapped of the district had been chalked out.


1381 TB cases
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 16
As many as 1,381 patients of TB have been identified in the district as part of the TB control programme launched by the health authorities recently.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the support of NGOs and social activitsts was very essential to eradicate the disease. He ordered the health officials to conduct an extensive survey of the migrant population and those who are employed in the unorganised sector, especially those working at restaurants and hotels.

Mr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, said the district would be covered in the revised TB control programme from April this year. All medicines for patients would be supplied by the World Health Organisation. Extensive efforts and the help rendered by various NGOs of the district would help eradicate the disease, he added.


Pensioners celebrate birthdays
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16 
The Punjab Pensioners Welfare Association celebrated the birthday of members falling in November and December, 2000, and January and February of this year at a function organised at the Red Cross Bhawan yesterday during the course of which a directory of the pensioners was also released by the Deputy Commissioner.

While celebrating the birthdays of their colleagues the pensioners also felicitated Mr Vikas Pratap, Additional Deputy Commissioner, whose birthday falls in February by presenting him a gift.

The pensioners also presented a cheque for Rs 5,100 to the Deputy Commissioner as their contribution to the Gujarat Earthquake Relief Fund.


Seedless kinnow may be winner
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 16
The cost of imported items in the first phase of the World Trade Organisation agreement are likely to fall drastically. The agriculture of the country and the related industries are likely to be the worst hit. Economists and agriculturists believe that to face the competition not only quantity but the quality of the produce would have to be improved by our farmers. Horticulturists believe that the farmers of the state can beat the competition by adopting the latest techniques of farming and garnering good support on the marketing front.

With the constant efforts put in and research done by horticulturists of the state and the introduction of the seedless kinnow the demand of the fruit has increased in the markets of West Asia and other countries. The problem of marketing is the only one faced by farmers. The effort of the authorities concerned have not borne any fruits. Even the dry port constructed at Bathinda has not served its purpose even partially.

Agriculture experts of the state have been recommending an alternative to the commonly adopted wheat-rice cycle and the cultivation of fruits is one of the most advocated. The total area under fruit cultivation in the state is about 75,000 acres. Out of this about 32,000 acres is under kinnow cultivation. The seedless kinnow is the favourite of farmers of the state and the increasing demand for it is likely to push the farmers into kinnow cultivation.

Kinnow was first introduced in the USA with the cross-breeding of two varities of orange which are king and leaf willow (actually named as Kinow) in . The fruit became popular in the state in 1958 and later in other parts of the country.

Of the many reasons of the popularity of kinnow the higher juice context and the fact that it is economical, seedless and has a different taste are some. The inadequate production of the fruit due to hostile weather conditions this year in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat have led to an increase in the prices of oranges and the quality has also deteriorated.

The state government has drawn up an extensive for the protection of the crop at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Sangrur and Hoshiarpur districts will be covered under the plan. As the area under kinnow cultivation in the two districts, namely Hoshiarpur and Ferozepore, is the largest, more than half of the total amount would be spent here. It is no wonder then that Abohar is called the California of Punjab. Although the marketing support in the state is still lacking the farmers have the support of the three waxing unit in the state.

A senior horticulturists of the district said after washing and waxing the kinnows its shelf life gets increased manifold and the machines also grade the fruit automatically. The waxed kinnows look more attractive and as the shelf life is increased they have earned a good reputation in West Asian countries. Certain farmers of Hoshiarpur have managed to sell their produce on the Internet trading websites and get handsome gains without the hassle of taking the produce to grain markets. The waxing units are at Hoshiarpur, Balluana and Badal village. They charge about seven paisa per fruit for the combined process of washing, waxing and grading.

The produce of the state enjoys a good market in the domestic and foreign markets. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and certain parts Uttar Pradesh are the top domestic markets of kinnow. Singapore, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Thailand are the developing markets. If the quality of the produce is improved they can be exploited as good export markets, says a senior scientist of Horticulture Department.

The kinnow growers of the district are a happy lot this season as their efforts have borne fruits and they are reaping good if not handsome profits. The average contract of a kinnow farm in the district is at about Rs 50.000 per acre. But the good quality and well-maintained farm have been given on contract at rates much above the prevailing average. Mr Jaswinder Singh of Feorzepore has given his 10 acre farm on a contract of Rs 21 lakh for two years. Mr Mohidner Singh of Chawni Kalan village in Hoshiarpur sold his produce via the Internet and set an example for others to follow.


Land grab case registered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 16
The police has registered a criminal case against Rajinder Singh, alias Kaka, a resident of Kotha Guruka village and his associates for their alleged involvement in a land grab case.

Police sources said the case was registered against the accused on the report of the ASP, Mr P.K. Rai, who had been investigating the matter. The investigation was handed to Mr Rai by the SSP, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, after Mr Ravinder Singh Sidhu, Deputy Chief Commercial Manager, Northern Railway, moved an application in this regard a week ago.

The sources added that when the complainants, Mr Sidhu and his sister, Ms Surinder Sidhu, son and daughter, respectively, a former Commissioner of PEPSU state failed to get any positive response from the local authorities they approached the Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr N.K. Arora.

Mr Arora asked the district authorities to inform him about the matter. He had directed the Deputy Commissioner to submit a report to him in this connection.

The SSP said Mr Rai had already written to SDM, Bathinda, Mr Gurtej Singh about deciding the ownership of the property in dispute. He added that Rajinder Singh, alias Kala and his associates had been booked for demolishing the wall, for trespass and an attempt to grab the piece of land.

Mr Sidhu and Ms Sidhu in their respective complaints lodged to the police authorities had alleged that on February 6, Rajinder Singh, alias Kala, and his henchmen encroached upon their land despite the fact that the title of the property had been cleared by the Punjab and Haryana High Court long ago.

They alleged that they repeatedly approached the district and police authorities but without success. Even their representation to the higher authorities failed to bring any positive result.

Ms Sidhu alleged that her life was under threat and Rajinder Singh, alias Kala, did not allow her to enter her own house as Kala along with his henchmen used to sit at the entrance of the premises all the time.

The SSP said the police got the inquiry conducted on the application of Mr Sidhu and subsequently registered a case on the report of the ASP.


Undertrial still at large
Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 16
Mystery shrouds the delay in arrest of an undertrial, who and escaped from the police custody while being taken to court in November.

The accused Sukhdev Singh, was lodged at the local Central Jail and escaped from the police custody near the Talwandi Bhai area. Subsequently, three cops accompanying him were placed under suspension.

However, Sukhdev Singh still remains at large. Although the police claims that he is still absconding and will be arrested shortly, some residents of Moga known to Sukhdev Singh claimed having seen him moving around freely.

On receiving such reports, the DIG Ferozepore range, Mr Hardeep Singh Dhillon, is learnt to have instructed the SSPs of both the Ferozepore and Moga districts to trace Sukhdev Singh and put him behind the bars.

Highly placed sources in the police revealed that Sukhdev had even submitted before a senior officer that he did not escape and had lost his way due to poor mental state. This could be the reason, why Sukhdev Singh is still eluding the police.

Some senior police officers, however, dispute this, saying that Sukhdev’s escape was a calculated move. His pleading of being mentally upset is only an excuse aimed at preventing the arrest.

Sukhdev Singh was lodged at the Ferozepore jail after being booked by the Moga police for firing at a public place in October. His escape had also fuelled speculations that he might be involved in the killing of a senior Congress leader, Harmesh Kumar Mukhija, at Dharamkot. 


Granthi booked for noise pollution
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
In the first instance of its kind, the local police has registered a case against a gurdwara granthi for creating public nuisance by relaying religious discourses through a high-pitched mike system.

The Civil Lines police registered a case under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Noise Pollution Act yesterday. The case was registered against granthi Jarnail Singh immediately after he had finished reading out the ‘ hukamnama’ from the Guru Granth Sahib. The incident took place at the Gurdwara Sahib, Bhakra Colony, in Tripuri township.

The granthi was arrested on the spot and released on bail immediately following the registration of a case against him. The action was taken suo motu, according to police sources.

The registration of case against the gurdwara granthi follows a drive launched by the police a few months back under which it had tried to create awareness among heads of all religious institutions and other private individuals, including owners of marriage palaces in the city. Under this drive the police had warned that it would take action in case the noise pollution persisted.

There have been complaints from residents living close to marriage palaces in the city that the studies of their wards were suffering severely due to constant noise emanating from them till late night. A complaint had also been made by the local DAV School ahead of Railway Crossing Number 22 that noise above permissable limits was being created by a closeby marriage palace even in the afternoons. There have been complaints from residents about excess noise emanating from places of religious worship in the early morning also.

However, residents of the area have alleged that the district police swung into action as the gurdwara which was emanating excess noise was situated close to the Police Lines. They have also said that the police had taken against the gurdwara granthi but was not doing anything to stop the loud music being played every day from a marriage palace which was also situated nearby. They wondered how the marriage palace was being allowed to go scot-free by the police.

Meanwhile city residents have also wondered why another marriage palace near the Railway Crossing Number 22 had not been proceeded against by the force despite written complaints of high level of noise pollution being created by it having been brought to the notice of the district police in writing by the Principal of DAV Public School.


Naib Tehsildar gets 3-yr jail for graft
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 16
Bholath Naib Tehsildar Hazari Mal was sentenced on Wednesday three years’ imprisonment and fined Rs 5,000 in a corruption case.

According to the prosecution, Hazari, Mal had demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Jagar Singh of Mand Talwandi Kuka village in 1996 for the sanction of mutation of a property.


Youth ends life
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, February 16
Gopal Boss (24) son of a factory worker of Lal Bazar, Bulati, (Bengal) ended his life here on Wednesday evening by consuming some poisonous substance.

His body was found from old Dhobi Ghat here. He was taken to the Civil Hospital where he was declared dead. The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the IPC.


Teachers on indefinite strike
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), February 16
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, Guru Nanak College, have been on indefinite strike for the past many days to press on the authorities concerned to accept their demands.

Mr R.C. Manchanda, president, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, in a press note issued here yesterday said the college was being run by the management of the SGPC and some employees who were working on unaided posts were not given revised pay scales of the UGC.

He added that the SGPC management had given the revised pay scales to the unaided posts in other colleges which were also being managed by it.

He pointed out that when the SGPC took over the college, an agreement was reached in which it was mentioned that employees of the college would be given pay scales as per the recommendations of the Punjab Government and the UGC.

Now the agreement has been registered.

He added that the employees who had been deprived of the revised pay scales, had been making efforts for the past two years to get the same but without any success.

He said if their demands were not accepted, they would intensify their struggle.


‘Transfer fee has yielded result’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
To check the growing trend of seeking migration from Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda regional centres to the university campus here, the Syndicate of Punjabi University had decided on June 29 last year to charge migration fee known as special transfer fee, and that too, in exceptionally justifiable cases. This was done on the basis of the recommendation of a high-level committee of the university functionaries.

Reacting to a news item of February 14 on “Varsity migration draw flak”, a spokesman of the university said this decision was taken not only to augment the financial resources of the university but more for the purpose of reversing the trend of migration seekers. The decision had certainly yielded the desired result as there had been few migrations since June last year as compared to the large-scale migrations in the earlier years, the spokesman said.

As regards the three cases referred to in the news report, the spokesman said these were duly processed on merit and were approved by the standing committee of the Academic Council, under the relevant rules and regulations.

“It is contrary to the facts that the Heads of the Departments concerned had expressed reservations or opposition to such migrations which have been done in accordance with the decision of the Syndicate and duly approved by the Academic Council”.

“It is added that for the initial admissions at the Talwandi Sabo centre, etc., the students concerned had paid due fee, whether under the NRI-sponsored category or the general category — the migration fee being additional under the corresponding category concerned,” the spokesman added.


City boy wins gold medal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 16
Gurpreet Singh of the local DAV College has won a gold medal in the classical instrumental music competition at the youth festival held at Punjabi University, Patiala.

This was stated by Mr S. Marriya, Principal of the college, in a press note issued here today. Mr Marriya further said the other students of the college had also won several prizes at the inter-college cultural competition held at Goniana. 


Tannery units told to treat waste
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 16
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed the owners of around 150 tannery units operating from the leather complex to install mini effluent-treatment plants within three months with a view to arresting the rising level of water pollution in the Kala Sanghi drain.

Concerned over the rising pollution and water contamination in all villages along the drain, the board has also asked the Punjab Small Industries and Export Promotion Council (PSIEC) to enhance the treatment capacity of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), being run by it in the leather complex. The board has already swung into action to ensure proper treatment of the untreated industrial waste by forming a task force, as per the action plan chalked out by the Ministry of Environment and Forests last year to check the soaring pollution graph all over the country.

The PSIEC had installed a CETP in the Leather Complex premises about 10 years ago. The first phase of the plant was designed to treat around three million litres of water generated by tannery units in a day. However, according to the CPCB, the plant was not working to its capacity and was treating just about 1.5 million litres of sewage and polluted water. Hence, the discharge of huge quantity of untreated water was posing a danger to people in villages along the Kala Sanghian drain.

Mr Dilip Biswas, the Chairman of the CPCB, inspected the CETP and held a meeting with the owners of tannery units and officials of the PSIEC and the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) here today. Talking to The Tribune, he said that the managements of the tannery units had agreed to install mini effluent-treatment plants within their unit premises, as per the board deadline of three months. “We will be reviewing the arrangement after six months and the defaulters would be dealt with strictly and will be fined as per law. The step is aimed at ensuring discharge of cleaner water in the drain, which criss-crosses the Doaba region,” said Mr Biswas. A number of units have already been using the mini treatment plants for treatment of their chemical discharge.

Mr Biswas added that the PSIEC has also been directed to augment the capacity of its CETP, preferably up to the optimum level of 15 million litres per day, even as a PPCB report alleged that the PSIEC has failed to maintain and adequately operate the CETP, thus converting the water body into an open sewer. The Punjab Board officials had also alleged that it had observed on several occasions that at times the CETP was not operated, which led to passing of untreated effluents into the drain, where the pollution level, particularly of deadly chrome, chlorides, oil and greased had crossed all permissible limits. The board report had also pinpointed that the PSIEC officials had admitted 4.5 million litres of untreated and partially treated water was being discharged from the Leather Complex and after this admission the PPCB authorities had directed the PSIEC to ensure that trade effluents did not bypass the treatment and it should explore the possibility of using the water discharged from the complex for irrigation purposes.

Interestingly, a team of officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board had found on July 7, 1999, that the pumping of effluents was suspended only when they reached the plant for inspection and the air compressor was found to be out of order, whereas the PSIEC authorities had refuted the allegations and claimed that the results of effluent samples were close to norms prescribed by the board. Subsequently, the chairman of the PPCB had inspected the CETP on December 23, 2000, and allegedly found that most of the plant machinery was lying unused.


SOS to Pollution Control Board
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, February 16
Over 20,000 residents of around seven colonies, situated on the G.T Road near Maqsoodan here, have been living in miserable conditions due to pollution caused by a pipe fitting factory in the residential area, thanks to the alleged apathy of Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Residents of Navnirman Janta Colony, Mahajan Colony, Issa Nagar, Ravidass Nagar, Jinda village, Navjoyti Sant Vihar had complained to the Punjab Pollution Control Board in 1996 regarding the shifting of the said factory from the residential area.

But the board officials, according to the residents, had not bothered to even visit the place despite several complaints by them.

Dr Gurinderjit Singh, a resident of Navnirman Janta Colony, alleged that though he had been visiting the board office for the past five years to get the factory shifted from the area, yet nothing had moved beyond assurances by the board officials.

The pollutants emanating from the factory had been causing respiratory diseases among the residents, especially children.

Mrs Savita Sharma, a house-wife in Anand Nagar, alleged that her 10-year-old son was invalid for the past one year and doctors had advised her to shift from the place due to pollution. Dr H.J. Singh, a physician, said he had been receiving a large number of patients having respiratory problems from the area for the past eight years.

Mr Vinod Kumar, owner of the factory, admitted that his factory might have been causing pollution but he was not ready to shift the factory on the demand of the residents. “Let the department concerned issue the necessary instructions in this regard and I will wind up the establishment,” he said. Claiming his factory was running according to the norms laid down by the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Mr Rajiv Garg, Environment Engineer when contacted refused to comment on the issue and asked this correspondent to talk to the Chairman, Mr Ajay Mahajan or Member Secretary, Mr D.K. Dua, at Patiala.

When contacted Mr Dua expressed surprise at the behaviour of Mr Garg and said the former was in a better position to inform about the action initiated against the factory since he was based at Jalandhar.

Meanwhile the residents yesterday met the Chairman at the local circuit house and the latter ordered the Environmental Engineer to submit his report in this regard within 15 days.

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