Monday, March 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Kanwaljit to present Budget today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, will present his fifth consecutive Budget in the Vidhan Sabha here tomorrow.

Some indication of what the Budget may contain was available in the supplementary grants the House passed on March 16. Wait for populist announcements and promises.

The financial health of Punjab has remained a matter of concern all these years. Yet the SAD-BJP government never hesitated to show its penchant for populism — even when it administered a tax dose, particularly to those living in the urban areas, while insulating the rural population, mainly the kisans. But during the course of the financial years it would roll back those symbolic increases.

Browsing through the Budget speeches made by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, beginning June 11, 1997, when he presented the first Budget, one finds a common thread in all these documents. In all speeches he has spoken of having inherited a financial legacy from the Congress, the existence of economic and social disparities, discrimination by New Delhi in devolution of the share from Central taxes to the states, financial management that was initiated, strategy for the Annual Plans, compressing of non-plan expenditure, etc. Another point that is over-emphasised in each of the past speeches is the Akali Dal’s long-standing views on India adopting a ‘’federal’’ structure ensuring greater financial autonomy to the states.

Punjab’s fragile fiscal situation has been a constant weak denominator in planning. In fact, the Congress submitted a memorandum to the President seeking the declaration of ‘’financial emergency’’ in the state, a demand to which Capt Kanwaljit Singh drew the attention of the House in his March 22, 2000, speech dubbing it “irresponsible, solely driven by the lust for grabbing political power, which it failed to attain through democratic means’’.

When Capt Kanwaljit Singh rises to present the Budget for 2001-02 tomorrow at 11 a.m. he will not have the Opposition to either listen to him or to interrupt him not to speak of staging a noisy walkout and boycotting the speech, as had happened last year. The emptiness of the Opposition benches will certainly dampen the spirits of the Finance Minister. As many as 21 Opposition members were suspended from the House for the remaining part of the Budget session on March 5. Will the Speaker again allow the Treasury Benches members to occupy the Opposition seats as had happened on March 16 leading to a protest walkout by the five ‘’unattached’’ Akali members?

Interestingly, like the language in the Economic Survey that is presented on the day of the Budget along with other documents, one finds a sameness in the Budget speeches of Capt Kanwaljit Singh for the years 1997-98, 1998-99 government ‘’strategies’’ for Annual Plans: there is a ring of familiarity in these documents in terms of agriculture and rural development, diversification, irrigation and power, drinking water and 24-hour power supply, quality education, health for all, employment opportunities, social justice et al.

Noted economist Sucha Singh Gill, who is a Professor at Punjabi University, Patiala, has written extensively on the Punjab Budgets. For 1998-99 he had predicted that the state government was not in a position to grapple with its mounting economic problems. There was no concrete strategy in the Budget to tackle the debt problems of the poor peasants or to introduce a crop insurance scheme, or launch any major projects to shift the population away from agriculture. Will a report on these issues be available tomorrow?

As one goes through the Budget speeches of March 22, 2000, and March 24,1999, one finds Capt Kanwaljit Singh laying emphasis on diversification and coming up with the concept of ‘’second push’’ to agriculture. Another area which he fondly refers to is the building up of a strong wide net of infrastructure in terms of roads, four-laning bypasses and bridges, including river and rail overbridges. Most of these projects are non-starters as is the ‘’second push’’ to agriculture proposal.

Of course, the state, aware and helpless as it is when it comes to resuscitating the loss-making public sector undertakings has constituted a disinvestment commission as also a public expenditure commission. How effective will be its voluntary retirement scheme and progress on ‘’right-sizing’’ the government should, hopefully, find mention in tomorrow’s speech.

To give him and the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K. R. Lakhanpal, credit where it is due, both claim a definite turnaround in the financial position of the state and do not tire of giving facts, figures and percentages of how collections from sales tax and excise duty, etc, have shown an upswing. The two are candid enough to admit that there is a slight improvement in the financial health.

Moreover, the spoils system that has set in, the leakages of revenue, the ever-increasing burden of pay and pensions and not enough being done to recover and improve the economic costs of the services rendered will take a long time to square up.


BSP to repeat ‘UP experiment’ in Punjab
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
The state leadership of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to use the ‘UP’ experiment in Punjab to gain political power after making itself as an alternative to SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress Party.

Under the ‘UP’ experiment, the BSP jumped into election arena on its own and gained power and ran the government for a considerable time, claimed Mr Sham Singh Jaura, Secretary, BSP, Punjab.

Mr Jaura while talking to The Tribune after becoming the secretary of state unit, said the party had been organising every section of society, including employees and minorities, and had decided to give them due representation in the organisational set-up to make it a real Bahujan Samaj.

He added that after accomplishing this job, the party would be able to win many seats in the next Assembly elections and form of the government. For this task, the change of mind set among the backward and most backward classes was being brought and they were being motivated to have liking for acquiring power.

Party activists had been directed to bring all minorities into the party’s fold so that its base could be broadbased and share in polled votes could be increased up to victory extent.

Mr Jaura while ruling out the possibility of any alliance with any party in Punjab, said a siri (farm assistant) march would be taken out from different religious places of Punjab at the end of first week of April. He added that these marches would terminate at Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of Baisakhi where party chief Mr Kanshi Ram would address a big rally. Ms Mayawati would also be a speaker at the rally.

He said the BSP had been organising employees’ camp at Shahpur Kandi, Ludhiana, Sangrur and Bathinda and main stress in the camps would be on generation of funds and to make opinion among the masses that only the BSP, which represented the interests of downtrodden and other sections of society, could deliver the goods.

He pointed out that the BSP had always suffered political loss whenever it had entered into any alliance with any other party. Votes of backward and most backward sections always went in favour of candidate of other parties when there was an alliance and votes of upper caste which was being represented by other parties never went to the BSP candidate in any alliance.

He said almost the entire area of the Doaba region had been covered by the BSP leadership by organising rallies, meetings and camps and now the Malwa region was being covered. He added that so far the rallies and meetings being organised by the BSP had been attracting big crowds.

He said party intelligentsia was also being urged to go among the masses to generate a favourable opinion among them for the policies of party.

He demanded that an FIR should be registered against all those whose name had been figured in the expose unearthed by in the recent past.


Liquor vend auction ‘unfair’
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 18
While the state government is satisfied with the auction of liquor vends in some parts of the district, the liquor contractors express displeasure over it and describe the same as not a genuine auction. The liquor contractors are being forced to have settlement of the bids before the start of the auction of the vends. The liquor contractors want open auction of vends and strike of hammer in full public view.

The auction of liquor vends has taken place at Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala so far. The auction of vends started from March 14 from Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts. The Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, and Mr Tiksan Sood, Minister of State, along with the senior officers of the Excise and Taxation Department are present in the towns where the auction of liquor vends is held. They hold prolonged negotiations with the contractors before the start of the auction. The auction of liquor vends becomes a mere formality after the finalisation of the deals, allege the liquor contractors.

A cross section of the liquor contractors feels that when the ministers and the senior officers are present and settle the bids, to whom shall they appeal against for any injustice. The auction is just ‘eye wash’ in this process, they maintain.

The auction of vends was delayed in Patiala on Friday as the deals could not be finalised during the whole day. The auction took place at 9.30 p.m. allege the liquor contractors.

The liquor contractors allege that the interest of the government is only to collect revenue and the government is not bothered about the interest of the consumers and the licensees (vendors). If the government had watched the interest of the licensees, the arrears would not have been heavy. Some of the liquor contractors allegedly indulged in the sale of illegal liquor with political patronage and there was no check on them by the department officials and the police.

The Excise and Taxation Department has launched a vigorous drive to collect the arrears which run into several crores of rupees.

The liquor contractors allege that in a city like Ludhiana, the officials of the Excise and Department daily collect the sale money from the vends and deposit the same in the treasury the next day. The liquor contractors are not allowed to carry the sale money to their homes. They want that the government should not be so harsh and make instalments of the arrears money. The daily sale of liquor in Ludhiana city is worth Rs 50-60 lakh.

On the other hand, the officials justify the presence of the minister and the senior officers at the place of auction as it would ensure fair auction of the vends.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Financial Commissioner (Taxation) when contacted by The Tribune expressed satisfaction over the auction of vends, so far, and the revenue receipt from the same. He said there had been plus 2 per cent increase in the revenue of the Excise so far this year compared with the increase of last year.

The state government as fixed a target of collection Excise duty of Rs 1370 crore this year against the target of Rs 1310 crore.

Mr Ratra asserted that the leniency would be shown in this regard. The liquor contractors allege that the government was already entering the market with an enhancement of about Rs 55 crore in the liquor trade as it has raised enhancement of about Rs 55 crore in the liquor trade as it has raised the Sales Tax on IMFL and PML which would fetch Rs 55 crore. Besides, education cess has also been raised by one rupee per proof litre from Rs 3 to Rs 4 per proof litre.

Inquiries reveal that Ludhiana gave a rise of 31 per cent in the Excise revenue during the past two years - 18 per cent during 1999-2000 and 13 per cent during 2000-2001, respectively. But this year, such a hike is not expected.


Conference on Punjab history ends
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 18
The importance of oral evidence in recording the history of an era should be considered along with archival resources to arrive at final conclusions during the historical studies.

This was stated by the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Chairman, Prof B.R. Grover, while presiding over the valedictory function of the three-day Punjab history conference which concluded at the Punjabi University here today.

Earlier, Prof J.S. Grewal, an eminent historian, while reading out his paper on “Guru Hargobind in the eyes of his contemporaries” said the evidence of Bhai Gurdas and Mohsin Fani, the author of the Dabistan, was in some ways complementary or supplementary. They both agreed that divinity was associated with the Gurus and thus made a single, continuous and indivisible institution of Guruship.

Professor Grewal said Bhai Gurdas did not use the term Miri-Piri but he left no doubt that Guru Hargobind was the master of both the spiritual and the temporal realms. The author of the Dabistan does not use any term of the kind but dwells on the temporal activity and concerns of Guru Hargobind, who essentially held a religious position.

Prof Y.P. Bajaj, Head, Department of History, Punjabi University, while presenting a paper on “Sir Chhotu Ram’s treatment of the Communal Tangle”, said he tried to solve this problem by organising the illiterate and poverty stricken Muslim, Hindu and Sikh peasantry on the basis of their common interests, particularly by addressing to their economic problems.

Prof Indu Banga of Panjab University presented a paper on “Images of Gender Relations in Medieval Punjab” and took account from the Brahmanical, the Sikh and the European perspective. She added that the significant reduction in gender inequalities was made by Sikhism by allowing the Sikh woman to play a meaningful social role.

Dr Shiv Kumar Gupta of the Department of History, Punjabi University, stressed on the NWFP being the key factor in the partition of India. Major B.K.Sodhi read his paper on the fall of the Mughal empire and the role of the Sikhs. A total of 47 papers were presented, out of which 23 were in modern section, seven each in medieval and ancient sections and ten in Punjabi section. Dr Parambakshish Singh, Head, Department of Punjab Historical Studies, thanked the delegates for their presentations and active participation.


Two claimants to Budha Dal chief’s post
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
Even as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee which had given recognition to Baba Balbir Singh as chief of the parallel faction of the Budha Dal after the excommunication of Baba Santa Singh from the Sikh Panth found itself in a piquant situation after the ‘tankhah’ pronounced to the latter yesterday, Akal Takht may have to make efforts to bring a rapprochement between the two warring Nihang groups.

Baba Balbir Singh, who had served as ‘Mukh Sevadar’ (personal assistant) to Baba Santa Singh for more than a decade before he was excommunicated from the Panth for carrying out the construction of Akal Takht against ‘Sikh maryada’ has refused to step down as chief of the Budha Dal even after Baba Santa Singh rejoined the Sikh Panth.

The SGPC, which had been ‘using’ the services of Baba Balbir Singh, cannot force him to step down as chief of the parallel faction as he has been honoured by Akal Takht and the SGPC on many occasions, including the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth.

Though Baba Balbir Singh has welcomed Baba Santa Singh bowing before Akal Takht after 17 years of his excommunication from the Sikh Panth he has claimed that he is still a ‘Jathedar’ of the Budha Dal. He said Baba Santa Singh had appeared before Takht as a ‘humble Sikh’ and, hence, could not claim to be chief of the Budha Dal again. He said in the absence of Baba Santa Singh, he had been given recognition as ‘Jathedar’ of the Budha Dal by Takht and the SGPC.

Meanwhile, Baba Partap Singh, Head Granthi of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib and confidant of Baba Daya Singh, Jathedar, Dal Bidhi Chand Jatha, who was instrumental in bringing Baba Santa Singh into the Sikh fold, said he (Baba Santa Singh) would continue to be chief of the Budha Dal as he had been asked to continue as such by the Jathedar of Akal Takht after rejoining the Sikh fold.

Meanwhile, sources close to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said Akal Takht might bring about a rapproachement between Baba Santa Singh and Baba Balbir Singh and the latter could be accommodated elsewhere.

On the other hand, the followers of Baba Santa Singh held a ‘deepmala’ at Burj Baba Phula Singh after the ‘tankhah’ pronounced on him.

The decision of Baba Santa Singh to rejoin the Sikh fold is being considered as a personal achievement of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as no other Jathedar has been able to do this in the past 17 years.


ISI behind tehelka expose: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Doomwali (Bathinda), March 18
The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizer, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today claimed that all revelations made by the had been engineered by international agencies, including the ISI of Pakistan.

Mr Dhindsa, who was here today in connection with the foundation stone laying ceremony of a 100-bed hospital, said truth would come out after the inquiry.

Mr Dhindsa said as the procurement season had been approaching the central government would announce the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat shortly.

Though the Agriculture Price Commission (APC) had recommended a reduction in the MSP for wheat Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal had managed to make the central government agree for not doing so.

It was hoped that the farmers would get better prices for their wheat crop.

He pointed out that the modus operandi adopted by the Tehelka team indicated that it was working at the behest of International agencies.

Mr Dhindsa disclosed the central government had decided to carry out disinvestment in all those public sector units (PSUs) which were not catering to the needs of defence and security of the country.

However, the central government would have full control over the disinvested (PSUs) so that they did not monopolise the trade activities.

Regarding the steps taken by the central government to protect agriculture and industry, Mr Dhindsa said that anti-dumping duty was being imposed on certain items to protect the economic interests of the producers of those items.

The central government had also not withdrawn any subsidy on material required for agriculture. He had also managed to stop the central government from increasing the urea prices as recommended by the Expenditure Reforms Commission.

He said four sites had been shortlisted for setting up a Rs 1,500 crore fertilizer plant in Sangrur district.


Kamal Chaudhry quits BJP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
Sq Ldr Kamal Chaudhry (retd), former MP, has quit the BJP for its failure, as a leading party of the NDA government, in tackling the defence matters of the country and providing shelter to the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats which has lowered the morale of the armed forces.

In a press conference at his house here today, Sqn Ldr Chaudhry said shady defence deals of the NDA government had disgraced the nation. The government seems to have lost credibility and the right to govern for compromising on the security of the nation.

He said that as a Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Defence, he submitted several reports to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in which the government was cautioned against the penetration of brokers while making defence deals. However, he claimed that all his recommendations were swept under carpet by those in power. Now the same persons had been exposed. 


Cong rally against expose
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
A large number of Congress persons of the Sujanpura area and its surrounding villages participated in a rally held at Sujanpur today to protest against the controversy whipped up with the disclosing the widespread corruption in the Vajpayee government.

An effigy of the Prime Minister was also burnt on the occasion. The rallyists raised anti-Vajpayee, anti-NDA government slogans and demanded the immediate resignation of the Vajpayee-led coalition government at the Centre.

Mr Puri, on the occasion, exhorted people to mobilise support to the Congress to get rid of the corrupt central government who were not competent enough to ensure safety of security of the country.

He said, security of the country was a very sensitive issue and political leadership that could compromise on it for exchange of a few chips must be thrown out.

Mr Puri said Mr Vajpayee owning collective responsibility of the cabinet card, should submit his government’s resignation. People of the country were shaken at the way exposed the way Defence deals were carried by the Central Government.

Mr Puri said Congressmen would actively participate in the nationwide stir being launched by the AICC to dislodge NDA government.


BJP meeting on March 23
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 18
A meeting of all working committee members, district presidents and general secretaries of the Punjab BJP, all BJP MLAs, ministers, different morcha chiefs and their general secretaries, chairpersons of various corporations, boards, and Improvement Trusts, Mayors of corporations and BJP presidents of different municipal committees has been summoned by Punjab BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, on March 23 at 11 a.m. at Muktsar.


Railway relief coach disappears
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
The disappearance of relief material meant for the quake victims of Gujarat has shocked residents of Chheharta, Putlighar, Haripura and Sultanwind. Relief consisting of blankets, shawls, clothes, shoes, foodstuff, utensils etc was loaded into a goods train (van no.NRBCXE-454-528) on February 9, 2001.

However, the receiving party at Gandhidham, Gujarat, informed that the coach had not reached them till today.

The donors criticised the Railways for deficiency of service as also the disappearance of the relief material.

Meanwhile, people who are still collecting relief alleged that they had been denied sanction to send relief by the Railway authorities, in a letter to the Chief Operative Manager, Northern Railway, New Delhi.

Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, spokesperson for the aggrieved collectors and secretary, Amritsar District Council (Urban), CPI, has demanded the recovery of the disappeared” coach.

The Railway Superintendent could not be contacted for comments. 


Fire engines that do not respond to calls
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 18
Displaying irresponsible attitude the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) at Nangal declined to provide its fire-fighting engines to the district administration for dousing forest fires that broke out near villages in Nurpurbedi.

The Nangal police in a complaint to higher officials has alleged that on March 15 it received the report that forest fire had erupted in Nurpurbedi and it was threatening certain residential areas of Chendian and Jatewal villages. The instructions received from the respective officers were passed to the fire-fighting units in the BBMB and the NFL.

The fire-fighting unit of the NFL declined to respond to the emergency call on the plea that their plant was sensitive and they were not allowed to leave the station. Their counterparts in the BBMB declined the plea by saying that their higher officials had not granted them the permission to leave the station. The police officials in their complaint alleged that due to the “non-cooperative” attitude of the BBMB management they were not able to send timely relief to the areas affected by the forest fires.

The BBMB and the NFL Nangal are the only two organisations that have the fire-fighting units in the entire Anandpur Sahib tehsil. Only other fire-fighting unit in the district is situated at the Ropar thermal plant. The district administration calls for the fire-fighting units from these organisations in case of emergencies. However, the managements of the Nangal-based organisations that are not under the direct control of the state government, act on their own whims while sending the emergency help.

On March 4 the GA to Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, sent a request for fire-fighting units at Nangal, to contain a fire that erupted at village Rall Majra near Ropar. The request was turned down by the officials concerned on the plea that the place, where the fire had erupted was far away from their station. The officials concerned also declined to sent help when a fire broke out at Bunga near Kiratpur Sahib in this month.

With probability of forest fires increasing in forest areas of the district with the approaching summer, the officials concerned are in a fix on how to contain the fires in view of the non-cooperative of the Nangal-based organisations.

The local leaders of Nurpurbedi area have alleged that earlier officers of the BBMB used to respond to their request for fire-fighting units. However, recently their requests have been falling on the deaf ears of the authorities.

They have demanded that the district administration should intervene to persuade the abovesaid organisations for helping the people of the area.

The Chief Engineer (Irrigation), who heads the organisation here when approached earlier for comments had stated that he was not authorised to give any comments to the press on any issue.


Plea to CM to probe husband’s death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 18
Ratani Devi, widow of Shambhu Nath Sharma, resident of Palasan village in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh, has been moving from pillar to post to get probed the death of her husband near the Information Collection Centre of Excise and Taxation Department, Punjab, at Kallarkhera village on the Sriganganagar-Abohar road in April last year, but till date she has not been supplied the death certificate.

In a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, after exhausting other remedies, Ratani Devi has stated that her husband had been working at the inter-state barrier of the Department at Killianwali village, near Dabwali, but as the then Congress Government decided to lift the barriers, terming them as dens of corruption, Mr Sharma started other work to meet the expenses of his small family. Later, when the SAD-BJP government resolved to set up the Information Collection Centre he got a job at Kallarkhera centre in Abohar subdivision.

According to the complaint, all of sudden the family learnt through a telephonic call made from Dabwali that Sharma had died. When some relatives came here they were told that he had died on April 29. The record maintained at Khuyiansarwer police station said some shopkeepers of Kallarkhera village, after taking the Sarpanch of the village into confidence, informed the police that a body of an unknown person was lying on the first floor of the market outside the shutter of the shop.

A persual of the police record said a Head Constable and a Home Guard reached the market. They found that the body was not in a normal condition. The victim was wearing a green shirt and khakhi pants. The shopkeepers said they had never seen the victim prior to his death. The police took the body to the civil hospital here. A postmortem examination was got done. The report suggested that the victim might have died due to TB, but no opinion about swollen parts of the body was given. The body was handed over to a driver of the local Municipal Council for cremation. The police described the victim as unidentified person who had been begging food from the shopkeepers of Kallarkhera market, whereas the shopkeepers had stated that they had never seen him earlier.

When the shop outside which the body was recovered , was searched by the relatives an identity card signed by the in charge of the Information Collection Centre (ICC) with seal, was found. The diary recovered from the room carried a list of all ICCs in the state besides telephone numbers of senior officials of the department. A reading of the diary indicated that Sharma was a God-fearing man at the age of 48 and had been offering prayers. His relatives were suspicious about the conduct of the employees of the department who refused to identify the body and avoided informing his relatives even when his address and residence phone number was clearly mentioned in the identity card.

The body had been found at his rented room opposite the ICC but his neighbours too preferred to describe him an unidentified person whom they had never seen earlier. According to the identity card, the date of birth of the victim was April 13, 1952, but the police record put his age at 55-60.

Two relatives had visited Abohar after few days of Mr Sharma’s death but they were allegedly “forced” to sign a panchayatnama at Kallarkhera village in the presence of the police and the sarpanch before ashes were delivered to them. The Himachal residents later learnt from some locals that the panchayatnama written in Gurmukhi verified that they had no doubt about Sharma’s death.

The widow of the victim says other relatives were so much terrified that none of them was prepared to visit this subdivision traversing 400 km distance from Harmirpur district. Since then she along with her brother had been visiting this subdivision and the district headquarters to get justice. She was told that the entry regarding the death was to be made by the chowkidar of the village, but no record was available at Kallarkhera village whereas after conducting the postmortem it was mandatory to make such an entry. Panchayat sources said the body was cremated at Abohar so an entry should have been got made in the municipal record, especially when the cremation was done by the council itself. But the council sources maintained that the place of death was Kallarkhera so the entry of death was to be made there.

The department was silent over the employment of the victim at the ICC and had no comments to offer. The officer who had reportedly signed the I-card was transferred later. Informed sources claimed Shambhu Nath Sharma had reportedly been filling declaration forms and dealing with other documents at the ICC for a long time.

The bereaved family had no source of income and urged the Chief Minister that hurdles in giving compensation be cleared besides holding a high-level inquiry into the death of the victim, which appeared to be in abnormal circumstances.


Badal should bow before Takht: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, March 18
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), has said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, should learn a lesson from Mr Santa Singh Head, Baba Budha Dal, who had appeared before Akal Takht for seeking forgiveness of his mistakes after about 17 years he was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth.

Addressing a party’s conference here today, he said that Mr Badal had also committed mistakes and dishonoured the ‘hukamnamas’ of the Akal Takht issued by the then Jathedar, Bhai Ranjeet Singh. He said that he (Badal) would have to bow before Akal Takht sooner or later if he wanted to follow the Sikh tradition. Citing other examples from the Sikh history he said that nobody who dared to challenge the authority of the Akal Takht could retained the support of the public for long.

Mr Tohra repeated that there was no chance of his party uniting with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) till Mr Badal bowed before the Akal Takht and sought forgiveness for his misdeeds.

Mr Tohra said that the Punjab Government was neck deep in corruption. 


Minister leaves pensioners in the lurch
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 18
Widows and old-age pensioners were left high and dry today when Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, the Minister for Child and Women Welfare and Social Securities, did not turn up at a function organised at Circuit House here to listen to the grievances of pensioners and make new additions to the pensioners’ list.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP MLA, disclosed that the minister had preponed his programme and actually held the function a day earlier in Guru Nanak Bhavan at the G.T. Road to evade pensioners who were in no mood to let the minister ignore their demands.

She showed the invitation cards of the function, dated for today, to mediapersons. The cards had been released by the SDM, Ms Gurpreet Sapra. She said the minister had left the pensioners in the lurch after getting a CID report apprehending of loud demonstrations against him. Most of the nearly 400 pensioners this correspondent met had not received their pension since 1999 and many persons wanted to enrol themselves in the pensioners’ list.

To pacify the large gathering of pensioners who had gathered at the Circuit House, Ms Chawla requested Mr Adesh Partap Singh, the Minister for Excise and Taxation, to address the meeting. He was present in another part of the Circuit House for the “liquor vends’ auction” today.

After much persuasion, the minister Mr Kairon agreed to address the waiting gathering. Thereby he addressed the persons, explaining them about excise policies, before he was politely asked to defer from the technical subject and instead assure the pensioners regarding their demands by Ms Chawla. But he continued his speech and later assured the pensioners to take up their demands with the authorities concerned.


Flowers all the way in cant area
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 18
The Cantonment area here wore a colourful mantle with thousands of flowers blossoming in lawns of army officers’ residences, offices and at various other places to herald the onset of spring season. The annual garden, lawn and flower exhibition was held at the Tarapore Herbal Park here today.

The Garden and Lawn Competition was organised for offices, institutions, central parks and residential quarters in the cantonment from March 14 to 17. This was followed by a flower show where different varieties of flower bouquets and potted plants were displayed in the morning.

The chief guest, Major Gen Aditya Singh, along with his wife, graced the occasion and showed keen interest in the colourful exhibits. Different categories like fresh flowers, dry flowers, cut flowers, bouquets, potted plants, ferns, cacti and bonsai were highly appreciated by the viewers.

Also on display were sweet william, dog flowers, cenaria, salvia, marigold, dahlia, sweet peas, zerbera and lady lace.

Ms Anjali Rathore won three prizes, including first in bonsai and first and second prizes in cacti succulents. Ms Vandana Sharma won two first prizes in dry flower arrangement and cut flower competitions, respectively.

Ms Moan Thakur bagged the first position in the fresh flower arrangement category and Flt Lt. Lamba won the first prize in the best potted plant category.


PSEB begins power cuts
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
Faced with low generation from its projects and a looming power crisis, the Punjab State Electricity Board is not waiting for summer this year to start power cuts. It has already started imposing cuts on both the industrial and urban sectors.

Low generation from the Bhakra, Anandpur Sahib and UBDC projects and the need to provide water to the wheat crop in the state, has forced the electricity board to take this measure. Power is being closed down for around two hours on a rotation basis.

Sources said the board was unable to maintain the required level of power to the rural feeders. As the rural people constitute the main electorate of the ruling Akali-BJP combine and the wheat crop which will be harvested next month, needs irrigation, the board is maintaining a regular supply to the rural sector in blocks.

The board Director, Power Regulation, Mr Padamjit Singh, said the cuts were decided on a day-to-day basis to ensure that the board did not overdraw from the Northern Grid.

Wheat may not need water after the first week of April, but the power scenario is looking bleak with an equal amount of power needed afterwards to run airconditioners and coolers. Sources said the pressure on the board would peak after mid-May and last till June when farmers would start sowing paddy.

Meanwhile, the board is gearing up its thermal plants to ensure that no snags occur during the peak load months and that they are available for full capacity generation.

The cause of the problem is the low water level in the dams. The level in both the Bhakra and the Pong Dam was nearly 30 feet below the level it was at this time last year. Due to inadequate snowfall in the catchment area of the dams, electricity generation had already been stopped at the Ranjit Sagar, Anandpur Sahib and the UBDC projects. They said the Mukerian hydel project, which was capable of generating 48 lakh units everyday was generating only around 25 lakh units. 


Pension adalat held at Ferozepore
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, march 18
An integrated ex-servicemen rally, attended by 7,000 ex-servicemen from Ferozepore, Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ludhiana districts, was held under the leadership of Major-Gen L.M. Tewari, GOC Golden Arrow Division at Ferozepore Cantt yesterday. Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Minister of Irrigation, and Mr Jora singh Mann, MP, along with Lieut-Gen Kamal Davar, GOC Vajra Corps, enquired about the problems faced by ex-servicemen during their interaction with them. Mr Mann announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the welfare of ex-servicemen.

A sum of Rs 15 lakh was distributed among beneficiaries of various government schemes. Mrs Deep Surjit Singh, president of the Army Wives Welfare Association, Western Command, distributed sewing machines, blankets and shawls among war widows.

While addressing the rally, Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh highlighted the efforts being made by the government and the Army for the welfare of ex-servicemen and war widows.

Stalls were installed by officials of the district administration and various government departments at the rally to educate ex-servicemen about various schemes being undertaken by the government.

A pension adalat presided over by Mr L.P. Chaurasia from CDA (Pensions), Allahabad was also held. A large number of cases were disposed of on the spot while the remaining cases were registered for a subsequent follow-up action.

A representative from the Army Group Insurance was also present at the rally to assist ex-servicemen and war widows to resolve their cases relating to insurance claims. A number of cases were resolved on the spot.

A representative from the Resettlement Directorate, New Delhi, processed applications for the allotment of discarded army vehicles and in many cases allotment was made on the spot. He also advised ex-servicemen and war widows about an available opportunities for resettlement and various schemes.

A medical camp was also held near the Jyoti Stadium, with the assistance of the Chief Medical Officers from the five districts. Facilities like ECG, ultra-sound and X-Ray were also provided. Medicines and spectacles were distributed free of cost with assistance from several government and non-government organisations. A veterinary camp was also held.

A recruitment drive was also started for the recruitment of Mazhbi, Ramdasia and Jat Sikh’s. The drive would continue till March 23. Elaborate arrangements were made by the Army to ensure the attendance of ex-servicemen and war widows from far and remote areas of the districts.


Badal promises IT institute
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today announced that an information technology college will be established at Kauli, near here, in the memory of veteran Akali leader and Services Selection Board Chairman Jasdev Singh Sandhu.

Addressing a congregation on the occasion of the first death anniversary of the late leader at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara here, the Chief Minister said the aim of the college would be to provide quality computer education at nominal rates to the rural youth so that they could compete with their city brethern in this field also. He said such an institute was the need of the hour.

Mr Badal, who also announced grant of Rs 5 lakh to the Jasdev Singh Foundation, said the late leader was a living institution who would be remembered for the role he played in safeguarding the panthic ideology. He said it was difficult to find such a personality in present times.

State Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh while speaking on the occasion, said the late leader was an epitome of honesty as well as an untiring worker who worked at the grassroot level till the very end. The SGPC president, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, said human values were supreme for Mr Sandhu. He said the late leader would also be remembered for the service done by him for the Panth.

Speaking on the occasion, the Services Selection Board Chairman, Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, said the Jasdev Singh Sandhu Foundation would provide five acres of prime land on the road at Kauli village near the city for setting up of the Information Technology Institute. He also handed over an amount of Rs 1 lakh to the Chief Minister for setting up of the corpus of the foundation.

Others who spoke on the occasion, included Ministers Raja Narinder Singh, Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and Tota Singh, legislators Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Balwant Singh and Surjit Singh Kohli and All India Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra. Earlier Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa visited the residence of the late leader.


206 cases disposed of in Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 18
Lok Adalats have received maximum response in the district and till date 123 Lok Adalats have been held here in which 3,505 cases have been solved and Rs 8.03 crore recovered. Mr Maghar Khan, District and Sessions Judge, said while addressing a seminar at the court complex here last evening.

In a Lok Adalat held here yesterday, 587 cases, including 510 cases of bank loan disputes, came up for hearing. Of these, 206 cases were disposed of on the spot and bank loans worth Rs 1.89 crore were recovered. Mr Khan said centres for solving cases through mutual agreement had been established in the district and the cases that came up at these centres were taken up in the adalats every Saturday.

Mr Khan also appealed to the lawyers present on the occasion to help their clients in getting speedy justice through the adalats. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, who was also present on the occasion, said the Lok Adalats had provided an alternative to the people to seek justice.

During the past year, 200 cases pertaining to various election petitions had been solved at the District Magistrate level. The SDMs had also been directed to settle petty revenue cases at their level, Mr Grewal said.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, said the new community policing approach adopted by the Punjab police was also helping in solving petty disputes at the community level.

The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Mohinder Pal, Additional District Magistrate, Mr J.S. Brar, SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, and Assistant Commissioner Mr J.C. Sabharwal were also present on the occasion. 


Soldiers’ kin to get free computer training
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 18
The Army Headquarter here set up a multi purpose Sainik Institute at its premises to provide education free of cost in various courses to the wards of the serving soldiers. Initially the training in two courses like computer and stitching and tailoring has already been introduced.

This was stated by the Station Commander, Brigadier Amitab, while talking to mediapersons after inaugurating a library at the local District Sainik Rest House today. He disclosed that 30 families of soldiers had already been given six months training in stitching and tailoring courses by awarding recognised diploma to earn their livelihood. Another group in this connection has also been brought under the programme.

To make it more effective some more modern equipment was being purchased to create latest fashion designs in tailoring. Similarly, 100 children from class I to upper had been brought under computer education. The education of writing, reading and arithmetic for the illiterates has also been introduced, said the Station Commander. Drawing and painting course would be launched shortly.

In reply to a question he said a five member committee headed by Col Sushil Kumar, Deputy Commander, had also been constituted to resolve problems of the ex-servicemen. The body would particularly lay focus to sort out the pay allowances and pension case of the retired soldiers besides in helping to get jobs to their wards. Needy, genuine and dependent ex-servicemen were given free medical aid in the Army headquarters, he added.


11 houses of Dalits demolished
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 18
The district administration has demolished 11 houses of Dalits at Behniwal village in the district rendering more than 110 persons homeless. The occupants were mostly daily wage earners. The uprooted families claimed that they had been living at the land for the past 21 years and their houses were demolished in their absence. Mr Kiranjit Singh Ghairi, state president of the Dalit union and member TAC, Chandigarh, alleged that the government had taken this action to please members of the ruling party. He said a deputation of Dalits along with women met Ms Raji P. Shirivastava, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr V.K. Meena, Additional Deputy Commissioner and submitted a memorandum. He alleged that house of relative of the village sarpanch who was also living there was not even touched.

The district administration claimed that it was government land and would be used for construction of latrines. Two residents alleged that they had constructed houses on their own land but the administration and demolished these also.

Mr Ghairi alleged that sarpanch of the village had close relations with the general secretary of the SAD and member Rajya Sabha, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and the district administration had done this on his direction.


Residents force SP to apologise
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 18
The residents of Garhshanker, led by Mr Abinash Rai Khanna, former secretary of BJP unit, Punjab, Comrade Darshan Mattoo vice-president of the Punjab Kisan Union of the CPM, Mrs Subhash Chaudhary, joint secretary of the Punjab Janwadi Istri Sabha, Jaspal Jeji, former block president of the BSP started a dharna, along with dead body of Ajit Singh Halwai of Garhshanker who succumbed to injuries at the DMC, Ludhiana, at Bhanga Chowk today to protest against the DSP, Garhshanker, who was allegedly protecting culprits responsible for death of Ajit Singh. Meanwhile, Mr S.S. Bhatti, SP (Operation), reached there and used harsh words for the agitators which provoked them.

On receiving information, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, SSP, Hoshiarpur, reached there and tried to pacify the agitators.

It is reported that Vinay, Ajay, Soma, Ganja and Soma Nai Balmik, all residents of Garhshanker, along with Pamma of Palewal and Dara Singh of Kalewal Lalian attacked Mangal Singh, his brothers Rachhpal Singh, Ajit Singh Halwaies of Garhshanker on March 15 due to some dispute on Holi. All the three brothers were injured and Ajit Singh was referred to the DMC, Ludhiana, where he succumbed to his injuries last night. The police registered an FIR in this connection on March 15.

The agitators demanded unconditional apology from Mr S.S. Bhatti, SP (Operation) for his derogatory remarks against them transfer of DSP, Garhshanker and arrest of all the aforesaid culprits. According to information, Mr S.S. Bhatti has publically apologised.


Land acquired to expand Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Punjab Minister for Housing and Urban Development, while inaugurating a seminar on ‘Comprehensive planning and development of Amritsar’ had called for the preparation of a master plan of the city.

She favoured the establishment of a single development authority instead of the resent three Improvement Trust, Municipal Corporation and PUDA.

The minister announced that the government had acquired 505 acres for the planned development of New Amritsar.

Architects, engineers, town planners and bureaucrats who participated in the seminar said steps be taken for smooth water supply, sewage disposal, electricity storm water drainage, sanitation, planning and designing of city roads, traffic, vehicle parking and shifting of dairies, vegetable, fruit, iron, timber, dal markets and industries from the walled city to newly proposed focal point sites. They also recommended the reconstruction and expansion of the bus stand on modern commercial lines, preservation of the buildings of architectural and historical interest and provision of a dignified approach of the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh through Ghee Mandi and Sandookan Bazaar.

The seminar was organised by Guru Ramdas School of Planning of Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with the Amritsar Vikas Manch. While Dr H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor presided over, Dr S.S. Bhatti, Principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, delivered the keynote address.


4 killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 18
As many as four persons, including a woman and a child, were killed and one injured seriously when a jeep hit a cyclist near Bhuchu village, 12 km from here, on the Bathinda-Barnala road, late today.

According to sources, the cyclist was going towards Lehra Mohabat village and was hit by a jeep going in the same direction. The driver of the jeep lost control over the vehicle and hit a tree.

There persons, including the cyclist, died on the spot while the fourth died at Civil Hospital.

Those killed had been indentified as Gurdeep Singh, Paramjeet Kaur, her daughter whose name could not be ascertained and the cyclist Ghochi.

The condition of Sukhchain Singh, who has been admitted to Civil Hospital, was reported to be serious.


Sale of spurious medicines on
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 18
The sale of intoxicating and spurious medicines has been continuing unchecked in the district as the district administration has failed to check its sale.

Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that there was only one Drug Inspector for several districts and was unable to carry out proper checking of all medical stores. The inspector visited the district only once a week and usually remained busy with routine office work.

Locals alleged that the inspector did not inspect the medical stores as he charged monthly from the owners of these stores. The intoxicants were being taken by youths. The office of the Civil Surgeon in the district had also failed to check the sale of these medicines. Medical stores had mushroomed in the area and were making easy money from the sale of these medicines.


HC judge to inspect jail
Tribune News service

Bathinda, March 18
Mr Justice R. L. Anand, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, will visit the local central jail for inspection.

Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, said Mr Justice Anand would inspect the functioning of various courts of Bathinda and Mansa sessions divisions from March 19 to 24.


ADSJ’s court sought
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 18
Mr Justice J.S. Narang yesterday visited Ferozepore district to explore the possibilities of sanctioning Additional District and Sessions Judge’s court either at Abohar or Fazilka.

He was received here by Mr M.M. Bhalla, District and Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, Mr Rajinder Aggarwal and Mr Lalit Kumar Singla, both Civil Judges, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, SDM, Mr Gurmeet Singh Randhawa, DSP, and members of the local Bar Association.

Mr Shashikant Gilhotra, a senior advocate, presented a memorandum to Mr Justice Narang on behalf of the local Bar Association.

The association demanded the Additional District and Sessions Judges court at Abohar.


Liquor shops auctioned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 18
More than Rs 93.30 crore was collected in the liquor shops’ auction today. According to Mr S.C. Manchanda, Collector-cum Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Jalandhar division, it is 7.12 per cent more than the previous auction.


Reduce area under paddy: Director
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
Dr Mewa Singh Sonar, Director Agriculture, Punjab, said here yesterday that the cropping pattern in the state needed to be streamlined and the area under the cultivation of wheat and paddy be reduced for getting maximum benefit from land.

Dr Sonar said 24 lakh hectares of land was under the cultivation of paddy this year against 26.11 lakh hectares last year. The area under paddy cultivation would have to reduced further.

He said the Government of India had selected Punjab Haryana, UP and Uttaranchal for launching “Basmati pilot project” during the coming paddy season. In Punjab, Gurdaspur district had been chosen for cultivation of Basmati on 100 hectares of land. Quality Basmati would be produced under the scheme for export to compete in the international market. Land for the purpose was being selected in Kalanour Block of the district. And hybrid Basmati 386 variety has been selected for sowing which was expected to yield 20 quintals per hectare.

The area under cultivation of Basmati in general was going to be increased to 1.25 lakh hectares during this year against 1.04 lakh hectares last year. In Gurdaspur district alone 52000 hectares of land would be brought under cultivation of Basmati in coming paddy season.

Dr Sonar said Punjab would export 25 lakh tonnes of paddy through Markfed this year. The countries identified in this regard included Bangladesh, Sudan, Korea Muscat and Iraq.

He said the Punjab Government during the previous paddy season procured 112 lakh tonnes of paddy out of which at the most 85 lakh tonnes with available milling capacity would be crushed. Out of the 2000 rice shellers in the state, only 24 had sortex processing machines which separate damaged grains to produce quality rice.

The area under the cultivation of wheat had been reduced to 159 lakh hectares during the season against 191 lakh hectares last year.

The area under the cultivation of sugarcane would be increased from 1.20 lakh hectares to 1.70 lakh hectares which would ultimately be increased to 2.25 lakh hectares.

The cultivation of wheat under zero tillage system was being increased in Punjab As many as 25 machines had been distributed in each district each machine costs Rs 14,000 and carried subsidy of Rs 5,000.

The farmers were facing shortage of micronutrients, the water table was going down and the soil water was over exploited. Under the circumstances, agroforestry, floriculture and horticulture was the most profitable. For this Dr Sonar said Kandi area was most suitable.

Dr Sonar emphasised on plantations of poplar, eucalyptus and khair and setting up of processing units for hardening wood.


Utility of fertiliser ‘falling’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chhauni Kalan (Hoshiarpur), March 18
The fertility response of fertiliser is on the decline and so is the organic status of soil in Punjab on account of increasing micronutrient deficiency.

Mr Anil Kakkar, a farm expert, who was deliberating at a seminar on integrated pest management organised by the New Age Fruit Growers Association here yesterday said extensive farming had led to a situation where different species of harmful pests had grown stronger and their resistance to pesticides had been on the rise which is leading to difficulties for farmers and the farm experts as well.

Mr Kakkar said same was the case with use of fertiliser, the effectiveness of which had been on the decline for the past few decades and which had been a major worry for farmers for increasing costs on this account. “So much so, the efficiency of fertiliser, which was up to 70 per cent, a few years back, has come down to just 30-40 per cent owing to a number of reasons like deficiency of micronutrients, which are to transmit the positive effect of it further to the plant through its roots. Sometimes, the micronutrient deficiency is so latent that it cannot be identified easily. We have to take care of it”, said Mr Kakkar adding that bio-fertiliser had greater role in tackling these problems to a great extent. He said genetic food could also be an answer but to some extent.

Dr Daan Singh Brar, another farm expert from the PAU, said the problematic weeds were increasing in the fields and orchards in the state and are giving a lot of headache to the farm experts and farmers and the timely action was the only answer to the problem. “Though the use of pesticides is one means to tackle the problem, another is shallow cultivation which does not harm the roots of fruit trees. But it is effective only if you catch the weed in time, particularly at its growing age,” said Dr Brar. “Another problem with the farmers and orchardists of Punjab is that they are going for extensive use of herbicides and pesticides, but do not use proper nozzles for spray. This results in uneven sheet of the herbicide on plants and ground, resulting in proliferation of pests. So much so that people start tinkering with nozzles,” he said.

Dr Gurkanwal of the Punjab Horticulture Department, said phytophthora, a fungal disease, was damaging citrus plants in Hoshiarpur, Ropar and other districts where rainfall was more than that of other parts of the state, which has been damaging the crop and hence low yield of the fruit. “Our per hectare yield is five times less than that of the USA due to this disease. The Punjab Horticulture Department is developing new citrus varieties which are resistant to it. We will be distributing these among farmers from next year,” he said.

Dr T.S. Thind, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Khushwant Singh and Mr Bhagwant Singh also spoke, interaction between farmers and farm experts also took place.


2 arrested for threatening woman
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
The police has arrested Gurpal Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, both residents of Bhaini Paswal, 16 km from here, for threatening Ms Prabhjot Kaur of Nawan Pind Bahadur, on the telephone to pay them Rs 2 lakh or they will kill her son. Their third accomplice Laddi, also of Bhaini Paswal, is still at large.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said Ms Prabhjot Kaur along with her father-in-law lodged a complaint with the police on March 3 stating that she received the threat call on the telephone on March 13.

The miscreants again rang her up on March 14 and asked her to come with money to the local City Heart Centre. Her brother-in-law, Mr Jaswant Singh, and father-in-law, Mr Sansar Singh, advised her to tell the caller that she did not know the location of the City Heart Centre.

At this the caller asked her to come to Nawan Shala bus stand.

Ms Prabhjot Kaur along with Mr Jaswant Singh and Daler Singh, uncle-in-law, reached the bus stand. Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Daler Singh, however, stood at some distance from her.

After some time three Sikh youths arrived on two scooters and asked her for the money. When she expressed her inability to arrange the amount, they forcibly tried to make her sit on their scooter.

At this she raised an alarm and when her relatives challenged the youths they pushed her down from the scooter and fled the scene.

A case under Sections 365/511/384/385/387/506/34 of the IPC was registered on March 14.


Border belt ‘secure’ for copying
Gurbax Puri

Valtoha (Tarn Taran), March 18
This border belt has become very nefarious and secure area for copying in exams being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). The beneficiaries of this situation are not only general students but also a large number of teachers, officials of the Education Department, politicians, and officials of the PSEB as well.

To get first-hand information about the situation this correspondent visited examination centres of Government Senior Secondary School, Valtoha, Ghariala, Khemkaran, Khalra and others on Saturday where papers for physics and history for class XII were being conducted. A scene of a fish market was observed at Valtoha where mass copying was taking place. On seeing this correspondent, outsiders started shouting “flying has come, flying has come”. The examinees started throwing helping material outside the examination hall and other rooms.

There have been reports that at this centre wards of some teachers not residing in the area are appearing. Besides getting their wards admitted in some other schools or colleges, these teachers have got dual admission for their children in this school keeping in view that the examination centre is very ‘safe’ for copying. In some other cases, some students got themselves admitted in January.

Mr Satpal, Principal of the school, said last year nearly 12 students were admitted here in December or January whereas only three were admitted this year. He further said due to shortage of staff in the school, they did not call girl students regularly to the school keeping in view any possible ‘disturbance’.

The principal did not deny possibility of bogus attendance in the class.

Residents of the area revealed that there were a number of students whom they had never seen in the area or in the school before but they appear for exams as regular students. In spite of the fact, that there was no adequate staff at Valtoha, people from far off areas preferred to get their wards admitted here.

At Ghariala, the posts of lecturers of physics, chemistry, maths, history, english had been lying vacant for years together but even then some officials of the Education Department preferred to admit their wards here. Mr Surinder Singh Bhatia, Principal of the school, said 180 students were appearing here in Physics and History subjects whereas for both the subjects there was no teacher but even then students were doing their papers “very well”. The same situation was observed at other examination centres in the area. Politicians of the area too had been availing themselves of this situation for their wards and kins.

In Amritsar district, there were some other belts considered to be more secure for copying where bogus admissions take place every year.

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