Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


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Did Amarinder change parties for ‘kursi’?
Badal’s poser to PPCC chief
PPS Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who heads SAD, has a simple message for the coalition party workers : face the forthcoming Assembly elections with perseverance. Since the promises made in the 1997 election manifesto have been translated into reality, it was time to approach the constituents on the strength of the achievements of the past five years to return for yet another term.

He was addressing the SAD-BJP party workers, including ministers and MLAs, chairmen of boards and corporations and SGPC members from Ludhiana, who had jampacked the lawns of his official residence here today. This was the third district unit he had called over to enthuse grassroot workers asking them to gear up for the polls.

The clincher of his exhortation was a pointed question to the Congress President, Capt Amarinder Singh. Every Akali should pause and ask him. “Why did he desert the Congress? Was it because as a Sikh his conscience pricked him following the attack on the Golden Temple engineered by the Congress? If so, how come he is back in the fold of the same Congress, clinging to it, when the Congress has not apologised for that act? Does that mean the conscience changes just for the sake of ‘kursi’?’’

Then Mr Badal took the Congress head on lambasting it for discriminating against Punjab and Punjabis at every turn — social, economic, religious — during its long governance. He compared the fight against militancy in Punjab to the world onslaught against terrorism in Afghanistan. The comity of nations was also conscious of rebuilding Afghanistan. The world was not asking Afghanistan to pay a price for fighting terrorism on its soil.

“Contrast this with the Congress policies. Congress Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers—Mr Beant Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal—further burdened Punjab with huge loans for combating terrorism rather than enabling Punjab to rebuild its economy’’.

On the other hand, it was left to Prime Ministers like Mr I K Gujral and now Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who felt the pulse of the Punjabis and sanctioned big projects enabling the state to resurrect its economy, industrial and agricultural, expand its education and health delivery system, develop infrastructure, invite investments etc.

Mr Badal also had a dig at the Panthic Morcha. Those who talked of SAD ignoring the ‘’Panthic agenda’’ should look within. ‘’Those who got an opportunity to remain President of the SGPC for 25 years did nothing. Now they accuse us of ignoring the “Panthic agenda”. Without naming Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, he scoffed at the Morcha wondering what were its objectives or policy programmes? “Does it intend to form a government? Does it hope to win a single seat having deserted its roots? Let it be very clear. No individual is above the party— the Shiromani Akali Dal. Those who have a vacillating and oscillating mind can never serve the Panth’’.


 

Unity move was sabotaged, claim Tohra’s aides
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
Notwithstanding the assertion of the Panthic Morcha convener, Baba Sarabjot Singh, that he wants to put a lid on the talks of unity with the SAD, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s stand still remains ambiguous on the rapprochement with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Sources close to Mr Tohra do not agree that the reports of unity move were motivated and fabricated at the instance of the ruling quarters. The sources confirmed that the move had been strengthened after Mr Tohra went to see Mr Badal after his hip injury.

The sources clarified that Mr Tohra had primarily gone to make a courtesy call. Given their long political association, it was obligatory on the part of Mr Tohra to do so. “And it had set off a right and purposeful process that unfortunately fizzled out due to mishandling”, the sources said.

After Mr Badal fractured his hip, Mr Tohra, accompanied by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Pramjit Singh Sarna and Mr Harinderpal Singh, met him in hospital. Mr Badal reportedly urged Mr Tohra to work for unity so that the Congress was kept out of power. Mr Tohra reportedly responded positively.

However, some hawks within the SAD and the Panthic Morcha, who did not want the move to reach its logical conclusion “sabotaged” it. The sources said had Mr Badal entrusted the job to his son Sukhbir Badal, the move might have succeeded. They said some people had their own personal agenda. A senior journalist with a long association with Mr Badal had also some role in “sabotaging” the move, they alleged.

The sources pointed out that Mr Tohra was the only one at the December 9 morcha rally who criticised Mr Badal and the Congress in equal measure. They maintained that he was still not averse to unity “based on Panthic principles”. They observed that had the communication channels been more direct, it might have been fruitful.

At the same time, it is not easy for Mr Tohra. Given the massive support he got on December 9, he cannot let down workers who have stood by and supported him. He cannot go back on the principles for which he parted ways with Mr Badal.

Supporting Baba Bedi for “putting a lid on unity talks”, the sources at the same time maintained “nothing can be ruled out in politics”, particularly when people involved were not strangers to each other but had fought many political battles together.


 

Grain stocks worth 25,000 cr rotting
Slow movement to other states
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 12
Huge stocks of foodgrain are rotting in state godowns and the authorities are worried over the slow movement of the stocks, estimated to be worth around Rs 25,000 crore to other states.

According to official information, as many as 170 lakh tonnes of wheat and about 80 lakh tonnes of rice, including 10 lakhs of the current season, are lying in the godowns. The Railways are transporting about four lakh tonnes of wheat and rice every month whereas the minimum movement required is 10 lakh tonnes of both.

What is intriguing is that Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are getting rice from Uttar Pradesh even though the godowns in Punjab are full of rice. Moreover, Punjab has locational advantage for both states and the cost of transportation is less. Out of the total 80 lakh tonnes of rice in the godowns, 70 lakh tonnes were procured last year. Milling of paddy procured during the current season is also in full swing and will further add to the woes of the state agencies.

The cost of the rice stocks is estimated at about Rs 8,000 crore. Wheat stocks are not being moved out of Punjab because there is no demand for the same. Punjab’s biggest worry is that nearly 80 lakh tonnes of wheat procured last year has a shelf life of not more than a year. These stocks are worth about Rs 15000 crore.

Various schemes like BPL, APL, Antodaya and Annapurna have failed to make much impact on the consumption of wheat. There is very little lifting of stocks under these schemes. Moreover, the states are still busy identifying the beneficiaries under these schemes which are formulated by the Centre and implemented by the states. Recently, the Central Government had asked the states to undertake fresh identification of the beneficiaries.

Inquiries reveal that the export of wheat is also not taking place despite reduction in its price. Flour mills and “chakkis” in Punjab have started lifting wheat from the godowns following concessions in sales tax.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been asking the Centre to lift the foodgrain from the state in order to create more storage facilities. He has also urged the Railways to move the stocks speedily.

The Chief Minister wrote to the Centre that storage facilities should be created in other states so that the stocks could be stored there. However, it is alleged that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been the major stumbling block. The FCI has been opposing the move because once the stocks are moved out of Punjab and are handed over to it (FCI), the responsibility for looking after the stocks will fall on it. The FCI will have to make the payment to the state agencies which have delivered the stocks. The state government is thus saved of huge interest which at present the Punjab Government has to pay to banks for the cash credit limit it gets for the procurement of wheat and paddy. The government pays interest amounting to more than Rs 2,000 crore to the banks per year.

Meanwhile, there has been some delay in the payment of paddy to arhtias. The arrears are reported to be worth about Rs 600 crore. The Punjab Government has got another loan worth Rs 800 crore from the banks to clear the arrears, it is learnt.


 

Pension to aided colleges through treasury
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Punjab Council of Ministers today accepted the demand of government-aided private colleges’ staff to give them pension and gratuity benefits on a par with their counterparts in government colleges. The payment will be made through the treasury.

The staff of these aided colleges had been agitating for the past 10 days. The teachers have also courted arrests. The pension-cum-gratuity scheme will come into effect from April 26, 1999.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman for the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union said the rally at Banur (constituency of the Finance Minister, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh) would be held as scheduled since the government was adamant on a cut in grants to private aided colleges and the executive of the PCCTU was in judicial custody till December 18. Also, the exact details of the retiral benefits through government the treasury had still not been made available, he added.

The council meeting was held at the residence of the Chief Minister late in the evening. This was his first meeting after he returned to Chandigarh from a New Delhi hospital on Sunday last.

Giving a brief about some of the other important decisions taken by the council, the Minister of Local Government, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, told TNS tonight that to raise the standards of education it was decided to create a separate directorate of elementary education that would look after schooling up to Class VIII. The decision would not affect the centre heads and head teachers.

For the benefit of schoolchildren, up to class plus two, the council had decided to provide an insurance cover against accident. Each of the 39 lakh estimated schoolchildren would be covered under this scheme for which a Rs 42 lakh financial outgo was also approved.

Mr Tandon said the scheme of “deemed assessment” had been extended up to February 28, 2002 to enable more people avail of the benefits. Under this scheme, lakhs of pending cases of sales tax had already been settled.

The council also approved giving of a guarantee for obtaining Rs 40 crore financial help from the Centre under the Balmik Ambedkar Awas Yojna. At least 50 per cent of that amount will be by way of loan and the remaining as grant. This will enable the state to construct 10,000 residential dwellings. “We are in the process of identifying the cities where the scheme is to be implemented”, added Mr Tandon.

The council decided to raise the monthly pension of freedom fighters from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000. The council also decided to make reservation for Vimukat Jatis in the sports and defence quota to 2 per cent.


 

CEC’s Punjab visit from today
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh will leave on a three-day tour to Punjab tomorrow to assess the law and order situation and poll preparations, including the progress made by the state government in issuing photo identity cards to the electrorate and electoral roll revision.

The visit of the CEC assumes significance as the assembly poll in Punjab is due early next year and the commission is determined to make compulsory identification and voting on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) compulsory.

According to commission sources, Mr Lyndoh will reach Amritsar tomorrow and meet officials of the Jalandhar and Ferozpore divisions to assess the electoral roll revision and progress made in the issue of photo identity cards.

The next day, the CEC will hold a meeting in Ludhiana with senior officials in charge of issuing electronic photo identity card and take stock of the progress made in the entire state. He will also take note of the representations received from the general public and political parties in this regard, sources said.


 

Thick fog leads to power failure
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 12
Intense fog gripped the region today, leading to power failure in the northern grid after high-tension wires collapsed when voltage passed between them through dew drops. As a result, power supply in a major part of Punjab was affected.

Though the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities were studying the reasons behind the tripping of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), the Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) and Barnala-based main grid in the wee hours, preliminary investigations revealed that high-tension wires and various grids associated with these power centres developed a snag due to the fog.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that all units of the GNDTP and the GHTP got tripped at about 4 a.m. and the power supply to the entire arra catered by these plants got cut off.

Official sources said the entire area plunged into darkness after the power supply was affected due to the failure of the northern grid. The field force was pressed into service immediately to restore power supply and at about 11 a.m. all units of the GNDTP were synchronised. The power supplies to emergency grids were restored at about 1 p.m. The sources said voltage passed between high-tension wires after the process of ionisation started due to intense fog. The process of load stabilisation in all four units of the GNDTP was going on till reports last came in.

Mr Manmohan Singh, Power Controller, PSEB, said power supply to all areas catered to by the GNDTP, the GHTP and various grids was being restored.


 

Elaborate arrangements for Jor Mela
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 12
To ensure proper utilisation of the grants given in recent sangat darshan programmes for the Sirhind and Amloh constituency and to maintain quality and completion of the initiated development projects in time, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy commissioner, directed the officials of the departments concerned to make the checking a regular feature and warned that strict action would be initiated against the officials if any deficiency or irregularity is found.

Presiding over a monthly meeting here today in this connection, the Deputy Commissioner took serious note of some complaints against the irregularities, deficiencies and corruption in some ongoing works and asked the ADC (D) to visit the sites and to check and compare whether the material being used for the works is according to the fixed specifications.

He warned all the officials to strictly follow the prescribed standards of the projects and said that these grants should be utilised efficiently and honestly. The Deputy Commissioner said that during the two sangat darshan programmes held in the district separately for the Sirhind and Amloh constituencies, grants were given for the overall development and now it was the responsibility of the officers concerned to execute the works within the fixed period.

Monitoring the progress of the removal of illegal encroachments on the government lands belonging to different departments, the Deputy Commissioner warned the officers that they would be held responsible in case of any delay on their part in implementing the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He directed the officers of all departments, including development, Public Works, Revenue, Local Bodies, Health, etc., to submit a detailed report on the action taken so far in this regard and about the further chalked out plan to check any illegal encroachments in future.

Reviewing the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the annual Shaheedi Jor Mela, the Deputy Commissioner directed all the departments to strictly comply with the directions and complete all the arrangements concerning their departments by December 17 positively.

He said that more than 10 lakh pilgrims are accepted to attend the Jor Mela to be held from December 25 to 28. He said that four parking places on all sides of the Jor Mela have been earmarked to accommodate the large numbers of vehicles. He said that no vehicle would be allowed to move ahead of the parking place on that particular side. He said that to educate and apprise the people about the historical events leading to the sacrifices of the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri, the Information and Public Relations Department would conduct a light and sound programme, “Sirhind Di Dastan”, at Aam Khas Bagh from December 25 to 27 and an exhibition depicting the allround development and cultural heritage of the state would also be organised during these days in which around two dozens stalls would be set up by different departments.

To make elaborate arrangements for the conduct of the festival, six committees have been formed. Apart from this, four information centres at the Gurdwara Jyoty Saroop turn, in the Administrative Complex, at Roza Shariff and camp office would be set up for the convenience of the pilgrims. Mr Vikas Partap directed the Public Health department to make arrangements for the installation of sufficient number of toilets keeping in view the expected large crowd during the mela. He also told the Civil Surgeon to keep in hand the required stock of medicines and health staff to meet any kind of exigency and to set up four medical centres at Darshani Deodi of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Aam Khas Bagh, mela camp office and the Jyoty Saroop chowk. In addition to this, the health department would make arrangements for emergency medical facilities in the hospital.

The district mandi officer has been deputed to make arrangements for the required number of water tanks needed to provide clean and chlorinated drinking water for the public. The deputy commissioner directed the Executive Engineer, PSEB, to get the extra staff deputed from the other offices to maintain uninterrupted power supply during festival days and to get ready two generating sets to meet any emergency.


 

Winnability selection criterion: Sukhbir
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), December 12
Even as an army comprising thousands of youth Akali Dal workers had started spreading in every nook and corner of Punjab to take the achievements of the SAD-BJP government to the grass-root level, the top leadership has decided to seek votes on development carried out in the past five years.

A former Union Minister and General Secretary of SAD, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose local office was overflowing with people, while talking to The Tribune today, said the people had been recognising the massive development, which had changed the complexion of the state, carried out by the Punjab Government in the past and it would be the main factor on which the SAD-BJP alliance would seek votes.

He said the government had challenged the Congress and others who were comparing this performance with the performance of the previous Congress governments.

“Can the Congress and others beat the setting up of oil refinery, science city, international airport, Chandigarh, Ludhiana rail link, railway over and under bridges, better roads and loan waivers worth thousands of crores done by the SAD-BJP government in the past five years,” he asked. He added that the Congress could not beat the success of the government in the field of agriculture where farmers got better prices for their crop and did not face any problem in the procurement of paddy and wheat.

When asked what would be the criterion for selecting the candidates for the coming Assembly elections, he said “winnability” would be the main factor. He added that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) would select the candidates.

He pointed out that apart from Mr Badal, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, Ms Uma Bharti, Mr L.K. Advani, Haryana Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala and former Union Minister Madal Lal Khurana would campaign for the SAD-BJP candidates.

He alleged that the Congress was raising the issue of corruption because it was trying to cover up the corrupt deeds of its ministers in previous governments.


 

Chilly winds catch people unawares
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, December 12
Normal life virtually came to a standstill today when chilly winds blew and thick fog enveloped the region, with the sun appearing only in the afternoon. The thick fog lasted till 1 p.m. The chilly weather caught residents of the region unawares.

Officegoers and schoolgoers found it difficult to come out of their homes.

Due to low visibility, vehicles moved at a snail’s pace with their headlights on. Traffic was very thin on the roads in the city.

People were seen sitting around the fire in groups at many places in the city.

The chilly weather had its affect on the running of trains. Almost all trains coming to the city were behind schedule. The passenger train from Sriganganagar was more than one and a half hours late, while the Punjab Mail was late by 45 minutes.

Although any major accident was not reported from the region due to the fog today, some minor mishaps occurred in which drivers of vehicles received minor injuries. The passengers of a private bus escaped unhurt when it hit a truck near Khialiwal village in the district this morning.

MOGA: Thick fog enveloped the region this morning, reducing visibility to a few yards and affecting the flow of traffic. Three occupants of a tractor were injured when their vehicle dashed against a tree on the Moga-Kotkapura road due to poor visibility.


 

Congmen protest over councillor’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 12
Congressmen of the Nangal area gheraoed the local police station today to protest against the alleged victimisation of party workers by the police. Nearly 100 Congressmen, led by local leaders, descended on the police station raising slogans against the Punjab Government and the police authorities.

The Congressmen were protesting against the arrest of the local councillor, Ms Anita Sharma on December 10. Ms Sharma was arrested on the charge of abetting the destruction of evidence in a murder case in her area. The Civil Judge, Anandpur Sahib, remanded her in judicial custody till December 22 yesterday.

The protesters, however, alleged that the arrest was a result of political rivalry. The ruling party could not entice her to support its candidate in the council, so it umplicated her in the case, they alleged.

The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, termed the allegations as baseless. He said Ms Sharma had been arrested on the confession of the main accused, who alleged that she had advised him to cremate the body of the murdered person.

The murder of Rajinder Kumar, a resident of the Majowal colony of Nangal, which has taken political overtones in the area, was allegedly committed by his brother Surinder Kumar. In order to save Surinder Kumar, his relatives cremated the body of the deceased without informing the police. The cremation of Rajinder Kumar was attended by many people of the area.

The Congressmen are now alleging that the police should have arrested all people who had participated in the cremation. However, the police acting in a partisan manner arrested only the Congressmen and absolved others, who are allegedly associated with the ruling parties.


 

Rs 600 cr sanctioned for uplift of Dalits
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 12
The Punjab Government has provided Rs 600 crore for the welfare of Dalit families under the special component scheme, said Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP.

Mr Bhunder was addressing a gathering at Talwandi Sabo today while presiding over a sangat darshan programme here. Mr R. Venkataratnam, Deputy Commissioner, SDM, Talwandi Sabo, heads of various departments and sarpanches of 66 villagers were present on the occasion.

Mr Bhunder said during sangat darshan programme held throughout the state, 35 to 40 per cent of the amount given for various development projects was spent on the uplift of Dalit families. So far the state government had provided Rs 1,63,000 for the marriages of Dalit girls in the form of ‘shagan’. About 18,000 persons had been given 5-marla flats free of cost, in 10 district headquarters Ambedkar Bhavans had been built and at seven places these were under construction and 25,000 Dalit families were provided with grants for building their own houses under the Indira Awaas Yojna, Mr Bhunder added.

He said the government had spent Rs 40 crore for providing books to children of Dalit families free of cost. Scholarships work Rs 65 crore had been provided to 19 lakh Dalit students at the school, college and university levels and Rs 25 crore secured in reserve for the same purpose for the current financial year.

Mr Bhunder distributed cheques work Rs 1.25 crore among panchayats of Talwandi Sabo and approved Rs 45 lakh for development works. He appealed to all panchayats to complete their respective works in time.


 

Anganwari workers hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 12
Women anganwari workers of the district held a dharna in the office complex of the District Programme Officer, Integrated Child Development Services, Department of Punjab Social Security, Women and Child Development, here today.

They held the dharna in protest against the closure of an anganwari centre at Pedhni village, near Dhuri, and alleged “misbehaviour” by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Punjab Social Security Minister, with an anganwari worker, Ms Baljit Kaur, at Pedhni village on November 1.

Addressing the dharna, almost all speakers condemned Mr Kanjhla for allegedly “misbehaving” with Ms Baljit Kaur and closing the centre. They stated that they would launch a campaign against Mr Kanjhla in the Sherpur Assembly constituency to appeal to the people to “teach him a lesson” by not voting in his favour during the next Assembly elections.

They demanded the reopening of the centre to safeguard the interests of the anganwari workers of the district and prevent the workers from intensifying their agitation.

The anganwari workers also raised slogans against the Punjab Government and Mr Kanjhla. They submitted a memorandum to an official of the office of the District Programme Officer with regard to their demands.

Among others who address the dharna included Ms Usha Rani and Ms Balraj Kaur, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the Anganwari Mulazam Union, Punjab; Mr Sikandar Singh and Mr Kirpal Singh, both leaders of the Government Teachers Union; and Ms Gurmail Kaur, leader of anganwari workers.

Meanwhile, the Anganwari Mulazam Union, has chalked-out a programme to hold a “flag march” from December 21 to 23 in the Sherpur Assembly constituency in this connection.


 

Secretariat to screen complaints to Takht
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 12
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Kirpal Singh Badungar said today a secretariat would be formed at Akal Takht to screen all complaints received by it.

Talking to mediapersons after attending a function organised at the local Khalsa College here, Mr Badungar said it would be the responsibility of the secretariat to forward only deserving complaints to the Akal Takht chief. He said the views of intellectuals were also being invited on the matter. He said a policy was being formulated to remove all grounds of tension between the SGPC and Akal Takht.

The SGPC President said he would get the audit of the Shiromani Committee done by a national-level agency. He said a web radio service was also being started by the SGPC.

He said the SGPC would also change its strategy on baptism. He said it had now been decided to first mentally prepare candidates willing to be baptised instead of holding large ceremonies. He said attempts would also be made to recruit ‘pracharaks’, who had knowledge of other religious also.


 

Schemes to improve power distribution
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 12
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has launched special schemes for the improvement and strengthening of its distribution system under the Accelerated Power Development Programme.

An official release here said with the introduction of this programme, interruptions in power supply would be minimised and its quality improved. It said special attention was being given to bring down technical line losses.

The Member, Operations, Mr Kirpal Singh, said a scheme regarding the system improvement in the Mohali Operation Circle was under execution at a cost of Rs 25 crore. He said under the scheme, four new grid substations would be set up and two existing ones augmented. The installation of 337 distribution transformers were in progress.

The release said as many as 3,780 villages had been connected with Urban Pattern Supply during the current year up to November, 2001, including villages of the Kandi area.


 

Blind man sees again
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, December 12
Life returned to normal and regained its charm for Mr Buta Singh (50) who was completely blind. On December 3, one of his eyes was transplanted with an eye donated by Hardyal Singh who died a few days ago.

Mr Buta Singh found no words to express his gratitude when he saw the photograph of Hardayal Singh who was like a messiah for him.

A resident of Phulo Mithi village of this district, Mr Buta Singh had lost vision in his right eye 12 years ago. It was a setback for him, but he continued to lead a normal life.

But a few months ago, he lost his left eye vision too.

However, on December 3, he was full of enthusiasm when members of the Youth Club of his village told him that one of his eyes would be transplated.

Mr Sukhmander Singh and Mr Parget Singh, office-bearers of the club, talking to this correspondent said they had come to know about the donor through a doctor at the local Civil Hospital and immediately made arrangements for the operation.

They said Mr Buta Singh lived in the gurdwara of the village and worked as a sewadar.

Mr Buta Singh said he was grateful to all those who had helped him in regaining his vision.

He said he was not aware that the operation would be so simple. The volunteers of the club had made arrangements for the expenses.


 

Rs 170 cr for water supply schemes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 12
Addressing a rally at Bhappal village, Rajpura, the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, and the Public Health Minister, Mr Raja Narinder Singh, announced a plan to spend Rs 170 crore on water supply schemes for Punjab.

Laying the foundation stone of a water supply project that will cater to 12 villages in Rajpura, the Public Health Minister promised adequate water for the 27 villages in the district which do not get regular water supply. He also informed of the Central Government’s approval for various water projects in the state. Mr Tandon also assured clean drinking water for 123 villages.

Laying the foundation stone of a link road between Sadhor to Sadhor Majri Mr Tandon announced a collective water scheme for 1,002 villages. The public health minister also assured that the quantity of water supplied to each village would be increased from 40 litres to 70 litres.

Mr Dev Raj, district president of the BJP (rural), Mr Pritam Singh Bhogla and Mr Dhyan Singh were also present on the occasion.


 

Issue appointment letters’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 12
The acting president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SHSAD) youth wing, Mr R.S. Rakhra, has appealed to the Punjab Subordinate Service Board (PSEB) to release appointment letters of the clerks selected on the basis of the examination held seven months ago.

In a press note, Mr Rakhra has stated the selected clerks have not been allowed to join their offices in spite of the fact that they have passed the examination held for the posts. Mr Rakhra has appealed to the government to take prompt action in this regard.


 

CD on ill-effects of intoxicants
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 12
A Canada-based NRI, Mr Raghbir Singh Bains, has produced a 270-slide multi-media CD on alcohol and drugs, selecting references from scriptures, including the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Koran, that regard intoxicants as a taboo. It contains audio, video, animation, text and graphics dealing at length with the causes behind the use of intoxicants and their ill-effects. This was stated by Mr Bains while talking to this correspondent here today.

Mr Bains will be honoured for producing this CD tomorrow at Ludhiana by Gurmat Gian Missionary College and Gurmat Gian Trust Jawaddikalan. The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh will grace the occasion, besides several Sikh scholars. Mr Bains has also to his credit the first multi-media “Encyclopaedia of Sikhism.”


 

Grant for water testing labs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
To provide pure, clean potable drinking water for villages, the Central Government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 18 lakh to establish water testing laboratories in nine Punjab districts during the current financial year, a government press note today said.


 

Man burnt to death, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 12
Beera Singh, a resident of Khand Wala, Amritsar, was burnt alive here last evening allegedly by four persons at the local Muradpur locality. The city police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 34, IPC, against four persons who have been identified as Harpreet Singh, Avtar Singh, both residents of Muradpur, Gurjant Singh, alias Raju, resident of Chaba and Heera Singh, resident of Nangali village.

The police sources told this correspondent here today that the accused were to recover huge sum from Beera Singh who was not ready to pay. They took him to a room at Muradpur, sprinkled kerosene oil on him and locked the door from outside. Beera Singh (50) was killed on the spot. The body was sent for postmortem to the local Civil Hospital today.


 

3 months’ RI for trespass
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 12
Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate Jatinder Pal Singh Wahniwal has sentenced Jaswinder Singh, alias Sukhwinder Singh, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months and to pay a fine of Rs 100 for committing offence under Section 452, IPC. In default of the payment of fine, the accused shall further undergo imprisonment for seven days. Sukhwinder Singh was also sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months under Section 354, IPC. All sentences of imprisonment shall run concurrently.

Sukhwinder Singh and Bahadur Singh of Nohra village had been booked by the Bhadson police on a complaint filed by Harmesh Kaur of the village. She alleged that the duo had entered her house and outraged her modesty.


 

College teachers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 12
A complete “education bandh” was observed today for the ninth consecutive day in all colleges of the district as the teaching and the non-teaching staff stayed away from the colleges in protest against the non-implementation of the pension and gratuity scheme.

A joint rally of the teaching and the non-teaching staff was held today. It passed through the town. A memorandum was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar. While addressing the rally, Prof Davinder Arora, president, RSD College Teacher Union, and Mr R.P. Nathani, district president, non-Teaching Employees Union, denounced the indifferent attitude of the state government towards the demands of the college employees. They termed it “unfair and unethical” on the part of the government to back out from its own commitment of implementing the pension and the gratuity scheme which was notified on April 26, 1999.In most of the colleges, the house exams had to be postponed because of the teachers strike.


 

Pvt college staff to hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A rally by the managements, principals, teachers and non-teaching staff employed in private aided colleges will be held in Banur on December 14 as per the announcement by the Joint Action Committee of all federations.

This was decided here today, following a meeting of a deputation of the Joint Action Committee with the Chief Minister, Education Minister and Chief Secretary in view of “unsatisfactory answers”.

Sources said while Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, assured the delegation last evening that their demand for pension would be met, the meeting with the CS and Education Secretary ended without ``a positive outcome’’.

While the government sought time to study the extension of the 95 per cent scheme to the 26 unaided colleges of Punjab, these were told that the demand for release of pending grants `would be “looked into’’.

The members of the delegation said the officials had no answers to the use of ``aided colleges instead of the conventional affiliated colleges’’ in a recent notification of grant for revised pay scales which would imply the share of the unaided colleges has not been taken from the Centre.

The head of the principals’ federation and a member of the JAC, Mr Tarsem Bahiya, said, ``The government has unilaterally decided to freeze grants to private colleges at Rs 72 crore and issued advise to cut it by 10 per cent every year, bringing it down to 50 per cent while we are demanding greater allocation. We have expressed our dissatisfaction over the idea. Moreover, the government is not ready to give a deadline or commit to any demand which means the rally at Banur stands.’’

He added that members of the delegation, which met the Chief Secretary this morning also stated that private managements would not be in a position to pay the retiral benefits.

Meanwhile, teachers of all aided and unaided colleges have been asked to participate in the rally at Banur, represented in the Assembly by Finance Minister, Kanwaljit Singh, to express their wrath over the non-committal stance of the government.


 

Teachers gherao minister’s house
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 12
Teachers of aided colleges of this district, as part of their ongoing agitation, sat on a dharna in front of the residence of Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, here today.

The teachers gathered in front of the residence of the minister at about 11.30 a.m. and raised slogans against the Punjab Government. The minister was, however, not present there.

Union leaders told newspersons that if the government failed to yield to their demands, ministers visiting their respective constituencies would be gheraoed.


 

Resentment over arrest of PCCTU members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Some Fellows and former Fellows of Panjab University have strongly resented the arrest of executive members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) following their agitation demanding the implementation of the pension and gratuity scheme for the private college lecturers.

These fellows have further stated that it was unfortunate that a Punjab Cabinet decision to implement the 1999 Act of pension and gratuity is being scuttled by the Punjab Government. ‘‘We strongly disapprove of the attempt on part of the politicians and bureaucrats to distort and dilute the decision of the Punjab legislature,’’ they said.

These Fellows have also urged upon the Chief Minister, Punjab, to intervene and diffuse the crises created in higher education in Punjab and Chandigarh colleges.


 

Discount sales hit branded woollens business
Gayatri Rai
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 12
Owners of showrooms selling branded woollen garments who were facing recession due to absence of winter chill now face another challenge from discount sale of woollens in the city.

Showroom owners, who have invested lakhs in the purchase of woollens of popular brands, face a great difficulty in selling these. A number of showroom owners here said business was very slow and they were looking for ways to attract customers.

Mr Sunil Aggarwal, a showroom owner in the main market of the city, said his business was facing 15 per cent to 20 per cent decrease this year compared to last winter. He added that he was selling products of good brands only. Sale of spurious was affecting those who sold genuine brands.

He added that sale of rags, second-hand garments or sale of ‘desi mall’ in the name of foreign made, in the city had brought slump in business. He added that he had decided to hold off-season sale from mid-December only so that at least he was able to sell the stock.

Mr Atul Garg, another showroom owner of the city, said he was aware of the problems of sale of spurious stuff and cheap clothes in the market but the customers intending to buy quality clothes only would not go for these. He added that it was not possible to sell reputed brands only, businessman had to sell garments of reputed brands as well as local brands. It gives variety in designs and rates to customers and reduces risk factor for businessmen.

The showroom owners feel that tax should be imposed on the organisers of discount sales and stern action taken against those selling spurious stuff or inferior products in the name of foreign made garments.

Businessmen are ready to bear the loss to some extent if they manage to sell the stock before February. They have decided that for next season they would not book order from companies in May-June as was the trend rather buy the stock in October-November after seeing market trend.

But organisers of discount sales and ‘woollen melas’ in the city do not agree to the views of these businessmen. They said it was not possible for every person to buy the expensive branded garments range for which was in thousands. “To cater the needs of those very people we provide them good clothes on genuine prices,” said Mr Avtaar Singh who brought woollens from Ludhiana for selling these at lesser than market rates.


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