Friday, December 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder replies to ‘kursi’ charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today shot off a missive to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, answering the allegation that he hankered after ‘’kursi’’.

In the two-page letter, Capt Amarinder Singh has posed four questions to Mr Badal to set the record straight.

One, Whether he took oath as a “marjeevra’’ at Akal Takht prior to Operation Bluestar and later did not stand by it? Two, What happened to his promise to ostracize those who participated in the Operation Black Thunder? You still have Capt Kanwaljit Singh in the Cabinet and have support Mr Surjit Singh Barnala.

Three, Can you enlighten Punjab on your links with terrorist organisations? Four, how many times were you personally involved in passing the resolution on Khalistan?

Capt Amarinder Singh said as a Sikh he had resigned his Lok Sabha seat after Operation Bluestar, and quit as a Punjab minister after Operation Black Thunder in the Golden Temple.

The letter recounts how during the past five years of SAD-BJP governance state’s debt burden had increased manifold. He has also chided Mr Badal on his comments on the Congress role in militancy and reminded him of the visit of Ms Sonia Gandhi to the Golden Temple.

The letter is a rejoinder to Mr Badal, who had spoken to SAD-BJP party workers from Ludhiana at his residence here today.


Oust Badal govt’ call by Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Sunam, December 13
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, MLA from Lehragaga and former Punjab Chief Minister, yesterday gave a call to Congress workers to unite themselves and asked people to vote for the Congress to oust the SAD-BJP government.

Mrs Bhattal was addressing a Congress rally, organised for the Lehragaga Assembly constituency at Moonak, about 40 km from here on Wednesday. More than 8,000 persons attended the rally which was addressed among others by Mr H.S. Hanspal, former MP, Mr Surinder Singla, former MP, Mr Brij Goyal vice-president of the PPCC, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, district president of the Congress and MLA from Dirba, Mr Dhanwant Singh, MLA from Dhuri, Mr Abdul Guffar, a former Punjab minister, and Mrs Parmeswari Devi, a member of the PPCC’s election campaign committee.

Mrs Bhattal said the SAD-BJP alliance government had failed on every front as it had not been able to safeguard the interests of any community or organisation. She said traders as well as the farmers were unhappy with the Badal government due to its “wrong” policies.

Mr Brij Lal Goyal said the Akalis had sold government property in the state. Besides property, they had not even spared the religion for their political gains. He said the Akalis had betrayed the people as they had not fulfilled any promise made to the people of the state.

Mr H.S. Hanspal said if Congress was voted to power, it would not discriminate with any one in the field of development works in the state.

Mr Surinder Singla said industrial and business establishment in the state were on the verge of closure due to the supremacy of the Inspector raj.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, Mr Abdul Guffar, Mr Dhanwant Singh, Mrs Parmeshwari Devi, Mr Tarsem Chand Arora, president, Moonak block Congress; and Mr Subhash Chand Jain Billoo, vice-president of the DCC, Sangrur, also appealed to the people to work for the victory of the Congress during the ensuing Assembly elections.

As many as 150 SAD and BJP activists joined the Congress.


CEC takes serious view of omissions
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 13
Taking serious view of irregularities in electoral rolls especially in Muktsar and Amritsar districts of Punjab Mr J.B. Lyngdoh, chief election commissioner, announced to take strict action in the matter.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr Lyngdoh expressed anguish over politicalisation of state bureaucracy responsible for irregularities in the rolls.

Talking to reporters he said poor arrangements annoyed him as the display of voter lists had not been completed in the districts of Muktsar and in the Assembly constituency of Naushera Pannuan in Tarn Taran tehsil. The chief election commissioner said that he was unhappy with the arrangements as several complaints had come to him about on the deletion of names of genuine voters from the lists in these areas.

In Muktsar he said that out of 143 wards lists of 100 wards was not displayed before the scheduled date of November 29 and till date, the list of voters has also remained in files of the election officers in the district. He felt that this lapse could not be condoned.

When asked that more time may be given for rectifying of irregularities Mr Lyngdoh pointed out that in the case of elections unlimited time could not be given and the process had to be completed before the time given to the district administration.

Earlier, Mr Lyngdoh reviewed election arrangements and the voters lists with the Deputy Commissioners or border districts here today. He is likely to spend next three days at Ludhiana and Chandigarh.


Procurement of 4,500 bags of paddy ‘in papers only’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 13
On the heels of the purchase of sub-standard polythene covers worth Rs seven crore another scam in the Markfed—Asia’s biggest cooperative organisation involving ‘bogus purchase’ of paddy in this border district has put a question mark on procurement process of the government.

It perhaps is the first case of its kind when 4,500 bags of paddy were shown as procured from Verowal mandi of the district during “off season”. It was a transaction only on papers.

Inquiry officer Bal Mukand Sharma, Deputy Chief Manager, Markfed, Chandigarh in his report has reportedly indicted senior officials and Mr Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon, district manager was transferred to the head office. Managing Director, Markfed, Mr D.S. Bains, while ordering transfer of Mr Sekhon wrote that he (Mr Sekhon) was being transferred as “discussed with the minister”, the inquiry officer reportedly had told his seniors that Mr Sekhon should be transferred immediately so that he could not influence his juniors during further probe. However, when contacted, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma refused to give any detail of the scam.

The scam was detected by Mr Tarlok Singh, field officer, and Mr Rabinder Singh, senior branch officer, Rayya when the owner of the rice mill approached them to make ‘receipt-cum-inspection note’ (RCIN). The officials expressed inability to give the RCIN as the paddy was not unloaded in the mill premises (with the given gate passes). The officials then wrote a letter to Markfed Managing Director, D.S. Bains against the alleged scam which reads, “we are in receipt of gate passes issued by Ranjit Singh, purchase in charge, Verowal mandi through messers B.G. Rice and General Mill Rayya. Wherein this stock was to be shifted as per the district manager Markfed Amritsar vide letter number 5229-32 dated November 9. The rice mill handed over only the gate passes and no stock of subject crop has since received in the mill premises against these gate passes. This proves connivance of the miller to adjust the purchases made by them in their own account”.

However, Mr Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon refuted the charges. He said the first inquiry against him was summed up hurriedly, however, there was not even an iota of truth in the allegation of ‘bogus paddy purchase’. He claimed that he had every information with him which proved that the paddy was actually purchased and unloaded in the mill premises.

The complaint further reads, “it is not understood as to how these stocks have been shown shifted to above rice millers premises prior to issuance of shifting orders by the district manager, Amritsar, and it is more alarming as these stocks have not been received so far actually. This activity shows that to oblige the miller, shifting orders have been issued by the district manager to cover the bogus purchases with stocks purchased by the miller in their own account. Reportedly, no purchase actually has been made at Verowal mandi against the 4,500 bags of paddy shown purchased in the first week of November. This is a big fraud played on government funds. Now we are being forced to issue the RCIN by the district manager and the miller in order to save our skin and responsibility for this bogus shifting of stocks. It is requested to take immediate stern action and save us from any harassment in this episode.

Mr Baldev Singh a sewadar of Baba Sewa Singh “Kar Sewa”, dera Khadoor Sahib, whose paddy was shown procured gave in writing that the transaction was bogus as they had sent 12,060 bags only in the grain market “any more procurement shown in the name of dera is bogus”, Mr Baldev Singh told the inquiry officer in writing. Inspector, Food and Supplies also gave in writing that there was no procurement in the market record after October 15.

However, sources said that the case was being hushed up though the payment was released even without the RCIN.


PUDA's reprieve to defaulters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has decided to extend the deadline for the construction on the vacant plots by a period of six months upto June 30, 2002, in cases where this period is expiring on 31.12.2001. Formal decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of Finance & Accounts Committee of PUDA held under the chairmanship of the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr. Upinderjit Kaur, last evening.

Giving details, the Chief Administrator PUDA, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said that this extension of six months shall be available on payment of extension fee @ 1.25% of the current allotment price, in case of residential plots and current auctioned prices in cases of commercial sites. Mr Sidhu said that following the framing of rules under the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995, the levy of extension fee had now been put on a statutory basis.

PUDA also came out with an attractive regularisation scheme in respect of New Kirti Nagar near the Samrala Road Urban Estate, Ludhiana and a Village Chhoti Jawadi near Dugri Road Urban Estate in the same city. Chief Administrator said that an area of almost 5 acres and 4.13 acres in the two colonies respectively stood locked in litigation, as a result of which possession could not be taken over on behalf of the government even though the land acquisition proceedings were completed in the seventies. Describing the package as a one-time settlement for the occupants-owners, Chief Administrator said that they would be offered to buy plots under their occupation from PUDA on cost basis, at a concessional price of Rs. 1962 per sq.yd. and Rs. 1143 per sq.yd. respectively. He, however, clarified that this offer would not be available for vacant plots. Formal advertisement in this regard would be issued soon.

The Committee also accepted the recommendations of the Sub-committee headed by Chief Administrator in respect of allotment of sites for schools, places of worships and other institutions in the various Urban Estates of Punjab.

In a major concession to the owners of 264-LIG houses in Sector 70 SAS Nagar, the Committee also decided to slash down the allotment price by reducing the reckoning price of land from Rs. 1400 per sq. yd. to Rs. 1000 per sq. yd. Added relief was also given by restricting the interest cost to a period of two years. Revised schedule of equated monthly instalments would be intimated individually, after giving due credit for higher instalments that might have been deposited by owners so far.

The Committee also adopted the revised fee structure for advocates on PUDA panel. The Committee also formally allotted 5 acres of land to the Army Housing Welfare Organisation for the construction of multi-storeyed flats at Ludhiana, 0.50 acre for an electricity sub-station to the PSEB in Urban Estate Phase-II at Jalandhar and allotment of 2 acres of land for the expansion of existing cattle pond to the Municipal Council, SAS Nagar on “cost plus” basis.

Others who attended the meeting included Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State, Housing and Urban Development Department, Punjab, Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Chief Administrator PUDA and Mr Jaspal Singh, Special Secretary, Finance Department, Punjab.


Punjab gets 25 new sub-tehsils
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The Punjab council of ministers has decided to create 25 new sub-tehsils. A decision to this effect was taken by it here on Wednesday night.

The need for creation of new sub-tehsils has been necessitated by ever growing population and increasing number of registrations in respect of land and property in urban and rural areas.

A government source told TNS today that the new sub-tehsils were identified by the Commissioners of the Divisions keeping in view the parameters already laid down by a Committee on Reorganization of Punjab set up in 1993 with Mr A.S. Pooni as the chairman. None of the Commissioners has recommended re-location of the existing sub-tehsils.

These tehsils and sub-tehsils are frequented by a large number of people for the purpose of registration of documents, sanctioning mutations, decisions in girdawari, attestation of documents and work related to law and order.

The new sub-tehsils, district-wise, are as follows: Amritsar — Lopoke, Ramdas, Bhikhiwind, Chola Sahib, Majitha, Attari, Tarsikka; Gurdaspur — Dinanagar, Naushehra Majha Singh, Dhariwal, Fatehgarh Churian; Hoshiarpur —Mahilpur; Jalandhar — Goraya; Faridkot — Sadiq; Bathinda —Bhagta Bahika, Sangat; Mansa —Bhikhi, Jhunir; Ferozepur —Khuian Sarwar, Sito Guno, Araianwala Sheikh Subhan; Muktsar — Lakhewali, Bariwala; Ludhiana — Kum Kalan, Sidhwan Bet.

With the creation of these 25 new sub-tehsils, the total now goes up to 80 in the state. This step would mean recurring expenditure of Rs 1.47 crore, per annum, and a non-recurring expenditure of Rs 15.75 crore, per annum. The sources said that despite the creation of 25 sub-tehsils there would also be savings with re-adjustment of existing staff. The savings are expected to be around Rs 81.65 lakh. Some additional staff that may be required would, however, entail an expense of Rs 65.52 lakh.


Agitated teachers, bewildered students
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Is the teaching and non-teaching staff of the non-government aided private colleges, 140-odd, satisfied with the decision of the Punjab Council of Ministers, taken on Wednesday night, to grant them pension-cum-gratuity benefits?

The scheme is to be effective from April 26, 1999. And not from April 1, 1992, as is commonly believed. That was as per the Council of Ministers decision of January 3, 1996. Much has changed since then.

A perusal of what the council has approved shows that the managements of the colleges concerned have been directed to deposit their share (with interest) of the contributory provident fund, created under the scheme and to be maintained by the Department of Higher Education (DPI Colleges).

The Council also approved that the “deficiencies in the amount of the corpus fund as and when arises will be met by the DPI (C) through the State Government”. It has been further decided that the pension benefits would include pension, gratuity, family pension at same rates and conditions as are applicable to the Punjab government and college employees would be applicable to the non-government aided private colleges.

However, the issue of “commutation of pension” has been dropped for the time being. This has, probably, been done to increase the span of the corpus fund. This particular benefit, it is said, is an “advance pension”.

In fact, the government has not paid revised contributory provident fund due to the University Grants Commission pay scales revision to the tune of Rs 18.39 crore. Plus additional 5 per cent share will be added by the managements after receiving the amount from the government. If this amount is also added to the pension corpus, there will be no additional burden on the government.

As per the abstract of the pension scheme put up before the Council of Ministers, the scheme will remain viable till 2006. If the amount of Rs 18.39 crore is added to the opening balance of the corpus fund there would be no additional burden on the government beyond 2006.

The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) is spearheading an agitation since December 4. The Union Executive, all 18 members, is in the Burail jail. The teachers have ceased work and the house examinations of all affiliated colleges, spread across the state’s three universities, stand affected. While the teachers feel agitated, the students, numbering over two lakh, are bewildered.

Though the Joint Action Committee of the colleges concerned decided at a meeting at Doraha on December 9 to “compensate” the students by foregoing the winter holidays that commence from December 23. The question is, should students suffer because of the teachers? Their demand notwithstanding, their absence from the classrooms does rankle the minds of the students and parents.

Private colleges (140) play a pivotal role in imparting education compared to the government colleges (48). The former enroll 75 per cent of the total college-going students. These colleges perform well despite several restrictions imposed by the government in terms of fees, service matters etc. Therefore, the government does realise the importance of these non-government aided colleges. It is a different matter that resolution of this issue, pending since 1992, has taken such a long time. And, yet, the PCCTU is seemingly finding faults.

Therefore, is the PCCTU rally at Banur, which is the Assembly constituency of the Finance Minister, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, tomorrow justified? With the union executive in jail and the next meeting of the JAC scheduled at GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana, on December 16, obviously the agitation will last till then. The Union is still to fully grasp the import of the Council of Ministers’ decision.

The teachers have some genuine grievances as well. For example, due to a salary cut imposed by the government in 1999, the managements have not been released any money. The cumulative backlog stands at a staggering Rs 100 crore. This sum includes a sum of Rs 21 crore received by the government from the Human Resource Development Ministry as part of arrears of revised pay scales. This has delayed payment of regular salary to the staff for the past several months.

At least 26 colleges were opened after November 1981. They are not covered under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme. A majority of these colleges are in “kandi, backward and rural areas”. Mostly, these are women colleges. The non-teaching staff is also peeved at the non-payment of arrears.


Ropeway project okayed
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, December 13
Agreement for the ambitious ropeway project connecting two pilgrimage places — Anandpur Sahib in Punjab and the Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh has been finalised, said highly placed sources in the Punjab Tourism Department Corporation (PTDC).

Feasibility study for the project is currently being carried out by RITES, a unit of the Union of Ministry of Railways, said Mr B.R. Bajaj, Deputy Director, Department of Tourism, Punjab. The report is to be finalised in a period of three months. The Rs 50-crore project is aimed at having a 7-km ropeway between the two places of pilgrimage.

The project is based on ‘Built Operate and Own (BOO)’ system. Global tenders will be floated after the feasibility report is received. The two states will provide land and other infrastructure to the private investor. The IFLS, a Delhi-based finance company, will provide consultancy for the execution of the project.

Himachal Pradesh will be the lead agency for the execution of the this 50-50 joint venture between the two states. ‘‘This will be the first ropeway project in Punjab, however, Himachal has an expertise in it. This is the reason Himachal will be the lead agency’’, said sources.

The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal and his Punjab counterpart, Mr Prakash Singh Badal had made a joint statement during the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib.

The Union Ministry of Tourism recently gave its clearance to the project. Though the ministry will not be providing any financial help for the project, it would be helping with the feasibility study.

Tourism departments of the two states want that the agreement should be signed in presence of the respective Chief Ministers, sources said while adding that illness of Mr Badal may be one of the reasons for delay in signing of the agreement. However, they add that the two tourism Directors may sign the agreement, if nothing else works out.

The two governments are expecting to cash on the heavy flow of devotees at Naina Devi and Anandpur Sahib. ‘‘The ropeway project will also boost the upcoming 3-Star hotel,” said an PTDC official.


Chaudhary slams Badal govt
Sushil Goyal and  Prem Sharma
Tribune News Service

Barnala, December 13
Predicting a clean sweep by the Congress in the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, described the present tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as a regime of Emperor Aurangzeb and not of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as had been claimed by Mr Badal. He demanded the resignations of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, and Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, in the wake of today’s attack on Parliament by militants.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh was addressing a Congress rally here today, attended by all 13 claimants of the party ticket for the Barnala Assembly.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh launched a frontal attack on Mr Badal and members of his family, beside his Cabinet colleagues. He did not spare even Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal.

Pointing towards the gathering, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said that this showed that people were keen on throwing out the Badal Government which had failed on all fronts. The Badal Government had not fulfilled promises made during the previous Assembly elections and his MLAs had not declared their assets so far. “Ask Mr Badal how he had gathered assets worth Rs 3500 crore within a short span of 30 years when he had only 80 acres of ancestral land, he exhorted people.

He stated if the Congress was voted to power it would constitute a commission to expose the corruption of Mr Badal and his colleagues.

He also lashed out at Mr Badal for the miseries of farmers who had been committing suicide during his regime.

He also criticised Mr Badal for raising power tariff. He also criticised the Badal regime for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, MLA from Dirba and district president of the Congress, accused Mr Badal of not providing to Congress sarpanches development grants at the “sangat darshan” programmes. Only SAD and BJP panchayats were being accommodated during these “sangat darshans”.

Mr Jagtar Singh Dhanaula, president of the district Youth Congress and Mr Darshan Singh Sekha, Chairman of the Congress (I) Sewa Dal, Sangrur district, also spoke.


BJP executive meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
The state executive committee of the BJP will meet here tomorrow.

According to the media cell convener, Mr Vineet Joshi, the invitees include the party’s legislative group, the three members of Parliament, mayors, chairmen of boards, corporations, improvement trusts, district presidents and general secretaries and officials of BJP’s various cells.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashok Talwar, will take over as the Chairman of the Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board, here tomorrow.


Chiti joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Mr Ram Lal Chiti, a senior Congress leader and a former MLA, today joined the SAD at the district level meeting of Jalandhar workers at the residence of Mr Parkash Singh Badal here.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Badal lambasting the Congress said that SAD-BJP in the past five years had opened a new chapter of peace, prosperity and development.


Staff oppose contract sweepers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 13
Class IV employees held a rally on the premises of the local Civil Hospital in protest against the hiring of sweepers on contract by the Health Systems Corporation authorities.

The call for the rally was given by the state unit of the Class IV Government Employees Union.

The employees said the decision was a step towards privatising the Health Systems Corporation.

Mr Daler Singh, district president of the union, said the Civil Hospital authorities had sent a false report to the higher authorities of the corporation, regarding vacancies of the sweepers in the hospital. There was no vacancy of sweepers in the local Civil Hospital and even there was no need for more sweepers here, he added.

Meanwhile, many doctors and relatives of patients said the employees had every right to show their resentment, but they should have chosen some other place for holding the rally.

Mr Gurbans Singh, general secretary of the union said, they would continue their struggle until their demands were fulfilled. Their demands included the implementation of promotion scales given after four, nine and 14 years of service, the bonus for the past four years should be given immediately, increase in the medical allowance and to regularise the daily wage employees.

The employees burnt the effigy of the Managing Director of the corporation in front of the district treasury. The employees said they would hold rallies and dharnas in the constituency of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, if their demands were not fulfilled.

Dr Gurjant Singh Sekho, Deputy Medical Commissioner, said the sanitation work was given to private contractors as per the decision of the higher authorities.

Dr Sekhon said he had not sent any false report regarding the vacancies of sweepers in the hospital. The system of hiring sweepers on contract had been implemented at various hospitals in the state, he added.


Revenue officials, deed writers clash, 2 booked
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 13
Mr Jatinder Singh Saggu, Tehsildar and Mr Jai Chand Parinda, Naib-Tehsildar Mansa here were assaulted in the district courts complex today when they tried to take into possession a few papers from a deed writer. The feud between deed writers and revenue officials took a serious turn today when both of them tried to take possession of papers from the seat of deed writer Mr Sat Paul Singla which led to exchange of blows between deed writer and the officials. It was free for all and some members of public also joined the melee.

The police has registered a case against Sat Paul Singla, deed writer and Jaspal Goyal Advocate under Sections 353/382/427/506/295A/186/148/ 149 of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the SC and ST Act (Prevention of Atrocities).

The deed writers practising at Mansa have been on strike since yesterday in protest against the alleged misbehaviour of both revenue officials. In a representation to the Deputy Commissioner Mansa, they alleged that the sub-registrars had already got two false cases registered against the two deed writers.

They further alleged that Mr Jai Chand Parinda, Naib Tehsildar cum sub-registrar misbehaved with Mr Piara Lal a deed writer since 1962 and used intemperate language against him and threatened to get his license cancelled. They stated in the representation that they were working according to the Punjab Document Writers Act and Rules.

They accused the revenue officials of forcing them to tell people coming for the execution of sale deeds that sale deed for one acre of canal irrigated land would be executed at the rate of Rs 2 lakh per acre and actually provide stamps on such sale deed at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh per acre and collect the amount of remaining stamp duty Rs 3,000 in cash and pay them as bribe which was not agreed to by the deed writers.

Thereafter for some days both sub-registrars imposed stamp duty worth Rs 50,000 on some sale deeds executed at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh and at the same time registered sale deeds executed at the same rate after taking bribe. They further alleged that Mr Jai Chand Parinda sub-registrar registered a sale deed of 51 kanal land situated at Aklia village in the district and only after three days he registered gift deed of the same land of the same owner illegally despite the application given by the original buyer duly marked by the SDM Mansa not to register the gift deed but Mr Parinda registered the gift deed illegally alleged on the payment of huge bribe. They demanded an inquiry into the illegal acts of sub registrars after their suspension.

The District Bar Association, Mansa, in an emergency meeting here today with Mr Ajit Singh Bhangu in the chair decided to go on strike against the revenue officials misbehaviour. Advocates accused the district administration of falsely involving some advocates in today’s incident.

The bar condemned the corrupt practices of both officials. They said the district administration was not taking any action against them and accused it having a share in the amount being collected by the officials. A deputation of advocates met the Deputy Commissioner and SSP Mansa and demanded action against both sub registrars.


Pilot falters during cross examination
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 13
The cross examination of Capt Devi Sharan, Chief Pilot of the Indian Airlines aircraft which was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December, 1999, took a curious turn today with Capt Sharan not being able to answer most of the questions put forward by the defence and later pleading that he was not well following which the examination was adjourned.

Captain Sharan when asked whether he had been questioned the very next day following the hijacking said a car had taken him for questioning. However, when questioned about what had happened subsequently, the Chief Pilot said he did not remember whether his statement was recorded, whether he had written his statement in person or whether his signature had been obtained on the statement.

Captain Sharan when asked that he had said that he had signed a statement earlier during his cross examination, again said he did not remember saying this. He, however, admitted that he had seen the photographs of the hijackers on television. Even while the cross examination was going on Captain Sharan claimed that he was not feeling well following which it was adjourned.

Earlier on the last date in the case, two witnesses had been examined. While one was a relative of the hotel owner where one of the accused Abdul Lateef had stayed when he had purportedly gone to Delhi to obtain a visa for Bangladesh, the other was the waiter of the hotel in Mumbai who had acted as a courier for two hijackers by getting them from West Bengal to Mumbai.

Delhi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.K. Bansal, who had recorded the confessional statement of accused Dalip Kumar Bhujail and the owner of a Delhi hotel where Abdul Lateef had stayed will be cross examined tomorrow.


Clarification on registration fee
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 13
Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Revenue Minister, while talking to newspersons here today, said the Punjab Government had exempted registration fee on the transfer of agricultural land and houses in the rural areas by way of the execution of a Will. However, 1 per cent of the registration fee will be charged. He said the issueless couples who wanted to transfer their land and houses situated in the rural areas in the name of their blood relations would also be exempted from paying the registration fee.

Mr Sekhwan said a notification in this regard had been issued after the approval of the Cabinet. He added that the land for industrial units in the rural areas would not be exempted from the payment of registration fee.

Mr Sekhwan said all those lessees who were tilling the surplus land and had purchased these at the rate of Rs 6,000 per acre in case of Scheduled Castes and Rs 7,000 in case of general category and had not paid their instalments, had been given an opportunity to pay the arrears by December 31 without any penalty.

He added that the powers of mutation of land which were earlier with the Subdivisional Magistrates had been given to the Tehsildars. In case of registration of land falling in two adjacent villages, it will be done at the village where larger area of such land is situated, he said.

Mr Sekhwan said there had been an increase in the earnings of the Revenue Department from Rs 236 crore in 1998 to Rs 405 crore at present. The revenue in case of land registration alone has increased from Rs 16 crore to Rs 56 crore during the said period, he said, adding that the 45-day strike period of patwaris in 1999 had been declared as holiday period for which the patwaris would be entitled to get their salaries.


Steps to develop Ferozepore villages
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 13
To ensure all-round development of the villages of the district and bring them on a par with the urban areas in respect of facilities and infrastructure, the district administration has established 24 focal points in which facilities, like purchase centre, civil dispensary, animal dispensary, agro service centre, cooperative bank, electricity complaint centre, have been provided.

This was stated by Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner. An outlet for the sale of essential commodities would also be established at these focal points, he said.

He said to evoke interest for sports amongst ruralities, sports gear work Rs 14 lakh had been provided to panchayats of 465 villages. Mr Ladhar said under the Indira Awas Yojana, loans worth Rs 20,000 each had been provided to people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Punjab Government, proposal to give 5-marlas plots for the construction of houses SC and ST families living below the poverty line free of cost was also being implemented in full swing in this border town of the state.

Mr Ladhar said the state government had released an additional amount of Rs 60 lakh for the development of the villages in the district out of which Rs 20 lakh would be spent on the Ferozepore Canton-ment. He said training was being imparted to the youth to start their own ventures and loans would be provided for the same.


Yuva Morcha to hold rally at Wagah border

Moga, December 13
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, a front organisation of youth of the BJP will be organising a big anti-terrorist rally at Wagah border on January 6.

The rally will be addressed among others by Punjab state leadership as well as national leadership of both Bharatiya Yuva Morcha and BJP leadership, Arun Sood, general secretary of the morcha has said.

He said in order to mobilise public opinion the Punjab unit of the morcha would organise a sadbhawna yatra headed by Punjab BJP president Prof. Brij Lal Rinwa on December 27 and the yatra, after passing through various districts and towns of the state, reach at Wagah border on January 6.

Shiv Raj Singh, MP and president All-India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and others will address the anti-terrorist rally. PTI


Panchayat Officer suspended
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 13
Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, ordered the suspension of the Garhshankar Panchayat Officer for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1560 to sanction the compensation amount of Mr Niku Ram of Sihwan village of the district at a meeting of the District Grievances Committee held under the Chairmanship of Mr Raghbir Singh, Transport Minister, Punjab, here yesterday.

The Deputy Commissioner also ordered the registration of a case against a clerk of the BPEO, Garhshankar, for embezzlement of a grant of Rs 8,000. Both the complaints were made by a non-official member of the grievances committee.

Mr Sidhu told the members of the committee that the vacant buildings of the central patwarkhanas were being transferred to other departments as the government had decided that patwaris should work in their beats instead of sitting in the patwarkhanas.

Regarding another complaint of encroachment over the government land in Sadhu Chak village, the Deputy Commissioner ordered the DPDO to vacate the land in question.


Sarpanch suspended
Our Correspondent

Nabha, December 13
The Deputy Director, Soil Development (Director Panchayats), has suspended, Mr Ajmer Singh, sarpanch, Madaur village, under the Panchyati Raj Act for misappropriation of gram panchayat funds. The sarpanch was earlier suspended by Deputy Director (Panchayats), Mr JP Singla, on similar charges.


Justice Sehgal is Punjab Lokpal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Justice D V Sehgal will be the new Lokpal of Punjab. He will be sworn in at Raj Bhavan here tomorrow at 11.30 am.

Justice Sehgal is a former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He resigned on January 9, 1989.

Thereafter, he engaged himself in social work and was the National Vice-President of the DAV Management Committee, New Delhi. Justice Sehgal practised in the Supreme Court for eight years after 1989. At present he is the President of the Lok Adalat of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Justice Sehgal, born on February 20, 1934, told TNS tonight that as President of the Lok Adalat he had disposed off nearly 5,000 cases giving relief to accident victims and pensioners. He has been President of the Bar Association three times.

The selection of Justice Sehgal has been made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, after deep thought and in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice A B Saharya, and the Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal. The process of selecting a suitable person was a closely guarded secret and the only other person seems to have been consulted was the Punjab Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had permitted Punjab to initiate the process of ‘’consultations in writing’’ with the Chief Justice and the Speaker for appointment of a Lok Pal.


R.N. Dhoke
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
The Punjab Government has posted Mr R.N. Dhoke, Superintendent of Police, Special Branch, Intelligence, here as S.P., Counter Intelligence, Amritsar.


Insurance for schoolchildren
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Under the student safety insurance scheme for school children, numbering 39.94 lakh studying in Class I to 12, an insurance scheme is to be introduced in Punjab for a period of one year. The installment will be Rs 1 per child.

The scheme was approved by the Council of Ministers at a meeting here on Wednesday night. It will cost Rs 40 lakh to the exchequer and Rs 2 lakh will be cost as service charges at 5 per cent to be paid to the Government of India.

The state has 1.5 lakh teachers. The Council was given the discretion if it wanted to approve a similar scheme for them as well and it would not entail much financial burden by doing so.

Giving details, informed sources told TNS that the company concerned will make payment within 15 days of receipt of documents. In case of death and full handicap due to two organs (eyes, hands and legs) compensation is Rs 25,000. Due to damage of one organ, Rs 12,500, maximum medical expenses Rs 1,000 and loss of books due to accident, Rs 250 (maximum).


Cabinet nod not enough: PCCTU
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 13
Reacting to the acceptance of the demands of private college teachers regarding pension and gratuity by the state Cabinet, Prof Gurnam Singh Kahlon and Prof Jaspal Singh Randhawa, acting president and general secretary, respectively, of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) said today that Cabinet approval alone was not sufficient as it had already given its approval to the scheme twice.

Talking to newspersons here, they said a gazetted notification should be issued and letters written to colleges about the corpus.

They said a rally would be held at Banur, the constituency of Punjab Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, as per schedule. They said teachers in several colleges were going without salary for the past six to eight months. The grant had already been reduced to 72 per cent and plans were afoot to cut it further, they alleged.

The issue of covering unaided colleges/posts under grant-in aid had been hanging fire even though the ruling party had incorporated it in its manifesto, they alleged.

Announcing the next phase of struggle, they said teachers of GND varsity would hold a rally on December 18 in Amritsar while teachers from Panjab and Punjabi Universities area would stage a demonstration in front of the DPI(C) office in Chandigarh.

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