Thursday, March 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM takes on Badal at his home turf
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 27
As dusty winds have started sweeping across the region, comrades, Congressmen and Akalis have flocked to this Assembly constituency from all parts of the state. One comes across a flood of blue and white turbans while moving across the constituency.

The heat wave as well as the election campaign has started picking up in this Assembly constituency for which the polling will be held on April 4.

It is going to be one of the most hottest and toughest electoral battle between the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Both have put their personal prestige at stake in the constituency.

In fact, it is a home turf of Mr Badal. And Capt Amarinder Singh has come here to challenge him on his home wicket. The Congress is supporting Mr Nathu Ram, a candidate of the CPI, which has an electoral tie-up with the Congress. Mr Badal is campaigning for his party candidate, Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, a widow of Mr Sujan Singh, an Akali Minister, who died a few days after filing his nomination papers for the Assembly elections held in February.

However, now it has been turned into a personal fight between Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh. The comrades have been pushed to background as the Congress is managing their campaign.

Almost all Congress MLAs, ministers and other senior leaders have arrived here. They have been allotted different villages for the purpose of campaigning. The Congress has divided constituency into three main zones and seven sub-zones. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, a veteran of political battles against the family, has been made in charge of the election campaign by Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Brar is moving from one village to other in a planned manner. He is one of the best organisers of the election campaigns. The Chief Minister had whistle stop tour of the constituency yesterday and will turn up here again tomorrow evening to stay in the constituency till March 30.

Mr Badal is campaigning in the constituency for the past several weeks. He has also summoned all his party MLAs, former ministers and other senior leaders here. They also have been told to camp in villages and campaign for the party.

In the beginning it appeared to be a cake walk for the Akalis. But it is no longer so. In fact, Congressmen have landed here in such a huge numbers that they have started pushing Mr Badal to the corner.

Congress leaders say they have come here to “liberate the Malout region” from the clutches of the Badal family, which has been “misusing its power” to commit excesses on those who dared to oppose any member of the Badal family contesting from this area. “The Congress will provide clean administration free from police excesses to people of the area”. This is what the Congress has been emphasising in its election rallies, says Mr Harchand Singh Bursat, a close aide of the Chief Minister.

Mr Bursat has been told by the Chief Minister to camp in Malout to coordinate between various party MLAs and ministers for campaign purpose. Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, President of Patiala district of the Congress, who has been assigned campaign task in Danewala village, adjacent to this town, says party senior leaders have been going door to door for campaigning.

Mr Badal has made development of this region a main issue. When he was Chief Minister, he spent several hundred crores of rupees in this belt on the various development projects. He also solved the water logging problem of the area.

He has been attacking the Congress government for withdrawing the grants issued by the previous government to carry out development works. He says the Congress government was doing nothing except mud slinging on the previous government. “The new government has no agenda, it is preparing the ground to put a heavy burden of taxes on people by propagating the state treasury is empty”. The entire Badal family including his wife, Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal, Mr Sukhbir Badal, Mr Manpreet Badal, Mr Gurdas Badal and others are camping in this constituency to keep the family’s supremacy intact in the region.

Mr Hardev Arshi, a senior leader of the CPI, says his party was focussing on the corruption by the previous SAD-BJP government.


Panel to probe deletion of voters’ names
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 27
The state government has constituted a three-member committee headed by Mr R.P.S. Pawar, Principal Secretary (environmental technology), to look into the alleged deletion of a large number of voters’ names during the recent Assembly elections in the Faridkot, Kotkapura and Panjgrain constituencies in this district. The other two members of the committee include Mr Dharamvir, local Commissioner, and Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner.

Informing this here today, Mr Prasad said the committee had deputed Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Sucha Singh Mast, both SDOs (civil), and Mr Narinder Singh Sangha, Assistant Commissioner (general) as nodal officers by this district, Panjgrain and Kotkapura, respectively, to receive complaints by March 29. The committee would verify the complaints by March 31 and send its report to the government.

The Congress had alleged the deletion of thousands of voters’ names in the state at the behest of the SAD-BJP government in power at that time. The committee will visit each constituency and hear voters who had their identity cards but found their names deleted from the voters’ list on the day of polling, sarpanches, panches and municipal councillors will also be associated with the inquiry.


Electoral rolls: DC invites objections
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 27
Mr Alok Shekhar, District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, here has invited objections and complaints from the voters whose names were deleted from the electoral rolls for 2001-2002, according to a press note issued here today.

These objections and complaints can be submitted in the offices of the SDMs by March 28 up to 11 am. In an another press note issued here today, the Deputy Commissioner said the electoral rolls for the election to gram panchayats, panchayat samities and zila parishads were being corrected with qualifying date as January 1 this year.

The objections can be filed up to April 5 which would be disposed of by April 12 and a supplementary voters’ lists would be published on April 17 and a final voter list would be published on April 19.


April 4 to be closed day in Malout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
To enable the employers at shops and other commercial establishments and all others connected with such establishments to exercise their right of franchise in the election for the Malout Assembly seat to be held on April 4, the Punjab Government has declared a closed day on that day in the constituency in lieu of Sunday on April 7.


Revision of poll rolls from April 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Revision of the electoral rolls for simultaneous elections to the Municipal Corporations of Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar will begin from April 1. The electoral rolls of the Patiala Municipal Corporation have already been revised, the Punjab State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, said here today.


Move to drive wedge between Brar, CM?
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 27
Even as the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, and the Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Jagmeet Brar, have been putting their best efforts jointly to register a victory for the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, Mr Nathu Ram, in the Malout Assembly elections, some vested interests have become active again to drive a wedge between them for “personal gains”.

Congress activists and CPI workers were feeling elated since March 16 when Mr Amarinder Singh, Mr Jagmeet Brar and former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, got together burying their differences and exhibited unusual cohesiveness at a workers’ rally here. With one voice they launched a frontal attack against the SAD-BJP alliance and this proved good for the Congress in the Assembly elections.

However, disappointment gripped workers and senior Congress and CPI leaders, when a Congress functionary claiming himself to be a close confidant of Mr Amarinder Singh used abusive language against Mr Brar while Mr Amarinder Singh was addressing an election rally at Bhagsar village last evening.

Senior party activists say the Congress, which was expecting to win 80 seats in the Assembly, had already paid dearly because factionalism coupled with role of vested interests.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some persons were agitated over the visit of Mr Amarinder Singh to the house of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, who contested against the official candidate of the Congress from Lambi, and then to the house of Mr Brar at Muktsar.

After the incident, Mr Brar, who maintained his cool and urged his supporters also not to react, refused to attend the next election rally. Mr Amarinder Singh, who was scheduled to address six rallies along with Mr Brar, also left for Chandigarh after addressing three rallies only. Mr Amarinder Singh also chided the senior functionary for his unbecoming behaviour.

After Mr Amarinder Singh left for Chandigarh, senior Congress and CPI leaders including state secretary of CPI, Dr Joginder Dyal, meet Mr Brar and tried to pacify him. Mr Brar, who has been made in charge for the Malout Assembly election, also held a close-door meeting with his close confidants in the town last evening in which it was decided that a full scale campaign should be launched under the guidance of Mr Amarinder Singh to score a victory in the election where former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his close kin had been leaving no stone unturned to achieve a win for the SAD-BJP candidate, Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur.

Another meeting between Mr Brar and Dr Dyal and a close confidant of Mr Amarinder Singh was held late last night at Bathinda and sentiments of Mr Amarinder Singh were conveyed to him. Mr Amarinder Singh also talked to Mr Brar on the phone.


Negative cash balance of PSEB
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will be entering the new financial year with a negative cash balance of Rs 650 crore. Negative cash balance means that energy and coal bills, worth Rs 650 crore, will remain unpaid by March 31. For the next financial year 2002-2003, the PSEB needs Rs 1500 crore for the purchase of power from central power plants and Rs 1900 crore for the purchase of coal and railway freight.

The PSEB authorities are in a dilemma about how to meet these requirement funds as the cash inflow has been failing because of no return of the same for the supply of power to the tubewells. Inquiries show that balancing the cash flow is the biggest problem being faced by the PSEB. This is done on a day-to-day basis. “We get collections from the centres daily which are deposited with the main bank at Patiala,” said an official of the PSEB.

The energy bills are nowadays paid on a weekly basis in four equal instalments. Earlier, this was done in one instalment every month. Energy pertains to the power purchased by the PSEB from the central power plants of the National Thermal Corporation, National Hydro Corporation and Nuclear Corporation, respectively. Since the state electricity boards are facing a financial crunch, the authorities of the central power stations have agreed to receive the payments in four weekly instalments.

Similarly, the payment for the coal supplies and the railway freight have to be made twice a week.

Officials of the PSEB explain that the cash inflow increases only during the summer months from July to September. But at the same time maximum power supply is consumed by the tubewells because of paddy transplantation and later harvesting. The authorities are now facing the problem of balancing the cash flow and are not able to meet the financial requirements of February and March due to the same reason.

The payment for the coal and railway freight and the purchase of power worth Rs 650 crore are lying unpaid at present.

Meanwhile, the PSEB is maintaining the power supply to the state. The authorities claim that they can maintain the supply line if the requisite funds are made available to the PSEB. The power supply position in the state is comfortable at present as five units of the Ropar Thermal Plant, four units of Bathinda Thermal Plant and one unit of Lehra Mohabbat plant are operational. Maintenance work of one unit of the Ropar plant and one of the Lehra Mohabbat plant is in progress according to schedule. All units of the three thermal plants will be in operation in June and the annual maintenance work will be completed by May 31.

As the power supply position is comfortable, the PSEB is trying to avoid drawing costly power from the Central plants. On March 24, the PSEB saved Rs 30 lakh by drawing less power from the Central plants as against the quota of 199 lakh units it drew 169 lakh units.

The daily power consumption in Punjab is estimated at over 700 lakh units these days against 662 lakh units last year. This shoots up during the paddy transplantation and summer months to more than 1100 lakh units. Since the water level of the hydro-plants reservoir is satisfactory, the hydro generation is also helping the state in meeting the power needs. One unit of Ranjit Sagar Dam is generating 28 lakh units of power daily while Mukerian is generating 29 lakh units and Anandpur Sahib hydel 28 lakh units daily, respectively.

The water level in the Gobind Sagar reservoir was reported at 1515 ft against 1508 ft last year and the Pong Dam reservoir had 1297 ft against 1297 ft last year. The water in-flow in the Dehar reservoir is quite comfortable at 4050 cusecs against 1600 cusecs last year. The capacity of the Dehar reservoir is 500 cusecs and the authorities are hoping to achieve this level. The power generation from the same will be 150 lakh units daily.

The authorities are hoping to have more power from Dehar during the next two months. Even otherwise, there is higher trend of inflow in the hydro power stations.

The coal supply position with the thermal plants at present is also comfortable. The Bathinda thermal plant has coal supply for 15 days, Ropar plant for 19 days and Lehra Mohabbat for 13 days, respectively. The PSEB authorities claim that there is no power cut in the state at present and tubewells are being supplied three-phase power for 10 hours daily and single-phase for 12 hours.

The authorities are hoping that the power supply position will be easy as there was good snowfall in the Sutlej catchment areas in particular.

The authorities are a worried lot because of the financial crunch of the PSEB. If the funds are not made available, the supply of coal and purchase of power from Central plants will be affected badly and can plunge the state into darkness.


Octroi abolition to hit development
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
The abolition of octroi has dealt a blow to the development works in the city. The corporation budget for 2002-2003 leaves only 32 per cent of its tital allotment for development as against 53 per cent for corporation expenses that includes salaries, pensions and 15 per cent for contingency costs.

The all-time low estimates are a complete turn around from the guidelines issued to the corporations of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala dated January 30, 2002, which directs 55 per cent of the total budget towards development works, 10 per cent for contingency expenses and 35 per cent for corporation’s expenses.

Not only has octroi abolition led to a cut in the development, it has also downsized the budget amount to a mere Rs 118.94 crore which has come down by about Rs 6 crore from last year’s budget. The total annual budget deficit is about Rs 26 crore.

Interestingly, one of the major sources of income to the corporation from water supply and sewerage that accounts for Rs 9.5 crore in income is proposed to be made free of cost as proposed in the recent House meeting.

Certain officials also pointed out that the government has become a major defaulter in paying the share of taxes to the corporation which amounts to at least Rs 5 crore annually. The government has so far paid only about Rs 8 crore after the court issued directions in 1997.

Significantly, an amount of Rs 28.30 crore for development purposes leaves out the amount estimated from the devolution of taxes besides the forthcoming loans applied by the corporation.

A bigger blunder seems to be in the recovery of Excise Duty projected to earn the corporation at least Rs 7.78 crore which has till now reported nil recovery. House tax too reported less than half its estimates at Rs 4.24 crore which had been projected to bring in Rs 8.75 crore.

While building application fees, the fees from scavenging tax had recovered only half from its estimate of Rs 4 crore to Rs 2.6 crore and from Rs 42 lakh to half at Rs 24 lakh, respectively.

Income from compounding fee too has fallen from Rs 4 crore to merely Rs 1.6 crore and Entertainment Tax to one-third from Rs 10 lakh, according to the latest statement of income dated March 25.

The only saving grace is that the corporation had collected Rs 32 crore from octroi till December, before the orders of abolition of octroi and an additional grant of Rs 11 crore in lieu of octroi loss which helped it to tide over the crisis of severe fund sequeze.

The corporation proposes to spend Rs 4 crore for the maintenance and development of roads, Rs 1 crore for parks, Rs 4.3 crore for narrow lanes, Rs 2 crore for streetlighting, Rs 2.5 crore for slums and Rs 1.5 crore for welfare committees of different localities.

The octroi accounted for an income of nearly Rs 14 lakh daily here while Ludhiana boasted of a collection of Rs 40 lakh per day. Jalandhar accounted for about Rs 10 lakh and Patiala about 5 to 6 lakh per day.


Rs 36-cr aid for border farmers: DC
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 27
The Punjab Government has released an amount of Rs 36 crore as compensation to farmers of border villages whose fields have been damaged due to installation of mines by the Army.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar, has said out of Rs 36 crore released by the government, 18 crore would be distributed among farmers of the district. Rs 15 crore and Rs 3 crore, respectively, would be given to farmers of border villages of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts, respectively.

Mr Ladhar said a committee comprising representatives from the Army, the Revenue Department apart than sarpanches, panches and nambardars of villages concerned would be formed to distribute the grant.

He said the grant would be distributed within a week to deserving farmers. The district received an amount of Rs 68 lakh to expedite the developmental works underway in the villages.

Talking about the landless tillers and labourers who had been affected due to the deployment of the Army, Mr Ladhar said the government would soon release an additional amount so that all these people could be compensated, too.

Mr Ladhar said out a grant of Rs 2 crore announced by Mr Kuldeep Nayar, member, Rajya Sabha, for the beautification of the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Hussainiwala, the district administration had received Rs 1 crore.

He said best brain in the field of architecture would be engaged to design and develop the historic site.

About the delay in the completion of the gateway “Shan-e-Hind” being constructed along the zero line of Indo-Pakistan border here, Mr Ladhar said the construction was going on a war-footing and it would be completed soon.


Uncertainty over jatha to Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Uncertainty prevails over the sending of jatha to Pakistan which is supposed to leave for Pakistan on April 8 as neither the SGPC nor Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Trust, and Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, a former president Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, have received any signal from the centre or the state government so far.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary, SGPC, said the Union Government should have sent permission by now as less than a fortnight had been left to send the jatha. While the trust and Mr Sarna wanted to send Sikh devotees on March 8, the SGPC has planned to send the devotees on April 11. When contacted, Mr Bhullar and Mr Sarna also confirmed that they had not received any intimation regarding the sending of the jatha so far.

However, sources pointed out that the Government of India might allow to send the jatha by road as no arrangements had been made for plying of trains between India and Pakistan. India has already snapped rail, road and air links with Pakistan after the attack on Parliament by Pakistani extremists.

Mr Bhullar said Mr Sham Singh, co-Chairman, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, had gone to Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hassan Abdal) to make arrangements for the boarding of the devotees who are expected to reach there from all over the world.

Talking to TNS from New Delhi, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, said if the Government of India failed to give permission to send jatha to Pakistan it would hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community. While more than 1600 Sikh devotees have deposited their passports, the Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society and Mr Sarna are expected to send 300 Sikh devotees each this time.

On the other hand, Sikh militants who have taken refuge in Pakistan are likely to adopt a low profile in wake of the changed world scenario.


Bring back martyrs’ clothes from Pak’
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 27
An attempt is now being made by the International Bhai Mardana Memorial Kirtan Darbar Society (IBMMKDS) to bring back the clothes of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev from Lahore Central Jail and display them in a museum being set up near the Ramgarhia Gate here in the city.

Talking to TNS, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society, said a joint effort was being undertaken by them and the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PGPC) to press the Pakistan Government for sending back the clothes of these freedom fighters.

He alleged that no serious attempts had ever been made by the Union Government or the Punjab Government to set up a museum at Hussainiwala. Many committees were set up during the past few decades, but to no avail.


Misappropriation of funds by forest officers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 27
Funds to the tune of Rs 79 lakh have been misappropriated by officers involved in the Central Government’s Japan project scheme for afforestation in Mahilpur and Garhshankar divisions. This was stated by the SP (Vigilance), Mr Ishwar Chander, here yesterday. He said the preliminary interrogation of forest officers, arrested on Monday by the Vigilance Bureau on the charge of committing irregularities, revealed that the misappropriation of funds was done using fake documents.

He said Surjit Singh, Divisional Forest Officer of Garhshankar division, had accepted a bribe of Rs 4.50 lakh in the shape of commission while Surinder Singh, Block Forest Officer, had got a bribe of Rs 2.5 lakh. “We are in the process of recovering the money from the suspects,” he added.

Mr Ishwar Chander said under the garb of the scheme, the Divisional Forest Officer of the Dasuya range had withdrawn Rs 1 crore along with other officers.


Doctors’ body to hold conference on April 7
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 27
The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) will organise its national conference on April 7, the World Health Day, at Ludhiana on “Peace, and sustainable development”.

Stating this here today, Dr Surinder Singla, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the IDPD, said the conference would be inaugurated by Admiral Ramdass, former Chief of Naval Staff and chairman of the coalition for nuclear disarmament and peace. Dr Ian Maddocks from Australia, chairmen of the board of directors of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), will deliver the keynote address. Dr L.S. Chawla, national president of the IDPD, will preside over the function.

Dr Singla said Dr Herman Spanjjard, vice-president of the IPPNW, would speak on “Weapons of mass destruction — current situation”. Dr Neil Arya from the USA will deliver a lecture on “Are nuclear weapons in India’s interest?” Achin Vanaik, a journalist, will speak on “For lasting peace in South Aisa” while Dr N.N. Wig, former Head, Psychiatry Department of the PGI, Chandigarh, will deliver a lecture on “Violence and mental health”.

Dr Singla also stated that Dr Imrana Qadeer from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, would speak on “Environment, community health and medical fraternity”. He said a special resolution would be passed on female foeticide.


Dead’ boy returns after 4 yrs

Amritsar, March 27
A teenaged boy, missing from a village near here and presumed to be dead four years ago, has returned hale and hearty.

Partap Singh, reportedly missing since July 1998, returned to Jhander village in Majitha district recently.

Majitha police officials said that the boy’s father, Lakhwinder, in an FIR had accused one Jasbir Singh of killing his son. Jasbir Singh had, however, denied the charge and blamed Lakhwinder for levelling the allegation against him as he owed him (Jasbir Singh) some money.

On his return, Partap Singh told the police that he was kidnapped by some unknown persons after being made unconscious. When he woke up, he found himself in a jungle in West Bengal, he said. All these years, he had retraced his way back to the village doing various jobs to collect the money to return home.

However, certain residents of Jhander told the police that the boy had stayed with his relatives in Ludhiana for the past three years. UNI


IAF recruitment rally on April 4, 5
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Airmen Selection Centre, Ambala, will hold a recruitment rally at Ferozepore on April 4 and 5 for the selection of candidates in non-technical trades of the Indian Air Force.

The rally will be open to youths from the districts of Bathinda, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar and Mansa. The selection test will be held at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium, Ferozepore, from 7.30 a.m. onwards on both days. The results will be declared on the spot and the successful candidates will undergo a medical examination at the test venue itself.

Those who have passed the matriculation or equivalent examination with 45 per cent marks in the aggregate and at least pass marks in English and are born between October 1, 1983, and October 1, 1986 will be eligible to participate in the rally. The candidates should also have passed the qualifying examination from the districts concerned or should be in possession of a domicile certificate of the specified districts.

The candidates desirous of appearing in the test should also be in possession of the original matriculation marks-sheet, etc.


Fisheries Inspector released on bail
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 27
Mr Mohinder Singh, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mansa, today released Mr Suresh Kumar Goyal, Inspector, Fisheries Development Department, on bail. He was arrested by the police in connection with the manhandling of Mr Raj Kumar Garg, a former president of the District Bar Association, Mansa.

Meanwhile, giving clarification regarding reports in a section of the Press regarding the dismissal of the bail application of Mr Goyal, Mr Sarbjit Singh Grewal, president of the Bar, said Ms Gurdarshan Kaur, Judicial Magistrate, after listening to the arguments of the parties concerned on March 22, had adjourned the hearing of the application to March 25 and it had not been dismissed by her on the said date as mentioned in newspapers.


Theatre society honours former DC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 27
The Baradari gardens theatre movement launched by Mr J.S. Bir, former DC, Patiala, would continue to flourish under the patronage of the new Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, said Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director, National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala. He was speaking at a function held at Sai Model High School here yesterday to confer NTAS Punjab Gaurav Award on Mr Bir and his wife Ravinder Kaur Bir.

Honouring the couple with shawls, phulkari, mementoes and gifts, NTAS president G.S. Kakkar, Mr Sabharwal, Ms Sunita Sabharwal, Mr Shyam Lal Gupta Navyug, Mr Sucha Singh, Mr Rajinder Verma and Mr Arvind Modgil also presented a photo album and a collection of press coverage of NTAS activities carried under the patronage of Mrs and Mr Bir.

Earlier, Ms Raj Kumari Modgill, Principal and Mr Arvind Modgil, Secretary of Sai Model High School, presented Sai Raj Kripa Award to the couple.


Payments worth crores likely to lapse
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 27
Even as the district treasuries all over the state have received no directives to remain open during the coming four days on account of gazetted holidays, the financial year closes today which may lead to lapse of crores of rupees in different districts.

This will certainly improve the precarious financial health of the state but it has disappointed Drawing and Disbursing Officers of the state as many bills, especially contingency plans has been stopped. This may adversely affect the on-going development works in different parts of the state.


Grievances heard at public darbar
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 27
Since the formation of new Congress government, the first “public darbar” to redress the grievances of the public was organised at Bachat Bhawan here today. Earlier, such darbars were named ‘Sangat Darshan’. In this darbar the officials of the district led by Deputy Commissioner and SSP heard the grievances of the people. Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, directed the officers of the district to fix timings and remain in offices to redress the public grievances on priority to avoid harassment to them. He said the complaints, which were marked to the officers in the meeting must be settled within 15 days, the status of complaints, either settled or not would be sought in next the meeting.

Mr Pratap asked all officers to be impartial and provide justice to the public.

A complaint by Ms Kulwinder Kaur of Abdulapur village, regarding illegal possession of her land by S. Balwinder Singh of Jattana village mentioned that FIR was registered on July 7 last year, but no action had been taken so far. Deputy Commissioner marked the inquiry to submit the report with file immediately in this case.

In a complaint filed by Hardev Singh of Mandi Gobindgarh against his brother Gurdev Singh who is a teacher in a school at Amloh it was stated that his brother had cheated him and was now threatening him. An inquiry was marked to SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Mr Vikas Pratap, ordered an inquiry to XEN, Link Roads, regarding incompletion of link roads at Rupalheri village to Sampla upto Chunni Kalan, since work was started on that in 1995-96.


District credit plan launched
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 27
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vikas Pratap launched the district credit plan for the current year at a meeting of district bankers and the development agencies held here today.

The Deputy Commissioner told that the plan has been prepared by the State Bank of Patiala, and the bankers have committed to disburse loans amounting to Rs 351.57 crore during the coming financial year as compared to Rs 317.27 crore dispersed last year thereby projecting a growth of Rs 34.31 crore.

He said out of this amount Rs 261.61 crore were meant for agriculture and allied sector, Rs 54.78 crore for SSI and Rs 35.18 crore for trade and industry had been kept reserved.

He directed the district co-coordinators of different banks to provide good services to the public, as only those banks would survive in this age of competition, which would provide efficient, transparent and quick service. He also directed the district officials to contact the district co-coordinators or LBO in case of any difficulty in getting some loan cases settled.

He urged the banks to strictly adopt the loan sanctioning method; he said the loan should be sanctioned within 14 days of the request for loan. He also directed the banks to distribute subsidies immediately available under various schemes.

Giving the details, the Deputy Commissioner said under the PMRY scheme 523 applications had been received and after proper verification 141 had been rejected and the rest were imparted training.

Mr S.K. Ghai, AGM, State Bank of Patiala, assured the Deputy Commissioner that the banks would put in their due share in the development of the district by financing viable projects under all segments. Mr K.L. Jham, AGM, NABARD, also spoke on the occasion.


Punjab Regt Officers’ Assn set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Government of India has approved interaction between serving and retired officers of the Army. To this end the Punjab Regiment, the oldest in the Indian Army, has constituted the Punjab Regiment Officers Association (PROA). The regiment is the recipient of the highest battle honours and gallantry awards in the Army.

The PROA is a non-profit organisation for the welfare of all ranks of the regiment, both serving and retired. It is now a registered body under the Societies Registration Act. It has as its patron-in-chief, the President of India with the Governors of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and the Lt-Governor of Delhi, as its patrons. The Colonel of the Punjab Regiment is its president.

To make the organisation effective, regional chapters have been constituted. The Chandigarh chapter, which covers North India, is headed by Lt-Gen Ranjit Singh Dyal (retd), who led the capture of the famous Haji Pir Pass in the PoK in 1965. He later became the GOC-in-C, Southern Command, and the Governor of Pondicherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

An officer associated with the regiment at any time can apply for life membership of the PROA, with a one-time contribution of Rs 1,250. Forms are available with all regional secretaries. The widows of regimental officers can become honorary members without any fee, according to Col J.M.S. Hattar, member of the PROA Managing Committee.


IT offices open on March 30, 31
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
Mr Mohinder Singh and Mr S.K. Misra, Commissioners of Income Tax in a press note issued here today informed that all five Income Tax Department offices of Amritsar and Pathankot range would remained open for the limited purpose of accepting of returns on March 30 and 31.

In another press note issued here, the General Manager, Telecom, informed that the cash collecting centres of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, here and in Tarn Taran would remain open from March 28 to March 31 to collect all payments relating to the nigam.


Opposition slams MC budget
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
Heated arguments followed the presentation of the annual budget for 2002-2003 in the House meeting here today. The proposal to give water supply and sewerage facilities free of cost to residential buildings at a recent meeting came for a rap by the Opposition councillors who alleged that the budget was bogus as an amount of more than Rs 9 crore had been shown as income from this facility.

The meeting was presided over by the new Corporation Commissioner, Mr Surbir Singh Bir.

The Opposition alleged that the budget was a sham with salaries eating up about 53 per cent of the total budget of Rs 118.94. Besides, the sources of income were abysmally low with the abolition of octroi and house tax.


884.68 cr credit plan launched
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 27
The Rs 884.68 crore annual credit plan of the district for 2002-3, prepared by the State Bank of Patiala, was launched by Mr Devinder Pal Singh Walia, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), at a meeting of the District Consultative Committee held under his presidentship here yesterday.

Mr Walia said the plan was12.47 per cent higher than the previous year's plan of Rs 786.56 crore. The banks in the district had planned to extend loans amounting to Rs 716.01 crore for the agriculture sector, Rs 107.30 crore for industry and Rs 61.37 crore for the trade and services during this fiscal year.

Loans under different priority sector schemes of the Union and state governments would be disbursed among 3,56,535 beneficiaries to start their own ventures. The district had sanctioned 730 loan cases, sponsored by the District Industry Centre till February 28 against a target of 750 cases for the entire financial year, he added.


Credit plan
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 27
The annual credit plan of the district for 2002-2003 was launched by Mr Alok Shekher, Deputy Commissioner, here today. It consists of a total priority sector of Rs 235.44 crore. A sum of Rs 209.44 crore has been earmarked for agriculture and allied activities and Rs 13.78 crore for the industrial sector, while Rs 6.76 crore have been earmarked for the non-priority sector.


Youth beaten to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
Rajiv Pathak, a local youth and member of an orchestra party, was allegedly beaten to death this evening on the Bathinda-Barnala bypass road by some youths suspected to be members of a marriage party.

This is the second murder in the district within two days. Earlier, a shopkeeper was murdered in his house in Talwandi Sabo last night.

According to information, Rajiv was accompanying the orchestra team which had been engaged for a marriage party today. Following a scuffle which took place between Rajiv and some youths at a marriage party, Rajiv fled from the venue.

However, he was chased by them near the Bhatti road and attacked with lathis and bricks. He was admitted to a local hospital with serious injuries to which he later succumbed.

A police team led by the DSP (city), Mr Jaspal Singh, reached the spot and visited the marriage palace where the scuffle took place. Some members of the marriage party were also rounded up. The DSP said a case would be registered.


Milk vendor shot at
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
Palli Singh, a milk vendor, was shot at by a owner of a cement store here this morning after their arguments turned hot.

Police sources said Palli Singh collided accidentally with one of the tractor-trailers on the Bhatti Road and he exchanged hot words with the driver of the tractor-trailer. The driver went to the shop owner for which he worked and narrated the incident. In the mean time, Palli Singh and some other milk vendors gathered and went to the cement shop to lodge their protest.

The milk vendors exchanged hot words with the cement shop owner who shot at Palli Singh with his licenced gun.

Civil Hospital sources said the bullet pierced the nose of Palli Singh and his condition was stable.


Child crushed to death by truck
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 27
When Mr Raj Kumar and his wife, residents of the Partap Nagar locality of the city, left on a bicycle for Civil Hospital this morning along with their five-year-old only son, little did they know what the fate has in store for them. The couple met with an accident on the way. While Mr Raj Kumar and his wife had a narrow escape, their son, Akhil Bhargav, was crushed to death by a truck near Kisan Bhavan in grain market. As the truck hit the bicycle, the couple fell on the foothpath, while the child was crushed by the rear tyres of the vehicle. He died on the spot. A pall of gloom has descended on Partap Nagar.


6 die in mishap near Ropar
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 27
Six persons were killed and 25 injured when a tractor-trailer carrying them collided with a truck coming from the opposite side on the Anandpur Sahib-Ropar road near Bunga Sahib, yesterday.

The accident occurred at about 10 p.m.

The occupants of the tractor-trailer were going to participate in the Hola Mohalla celebrations at Anandpur Sahib from Kheri Patta village in the Samana area of Patiala district. The deceased included Balbir and Bhupinder Singh, sons of Joga Singh, Tej Singh, son of Hajura Singh, Lakhbir Singh, son of Karnail Singh, Gurmeet Singh, son of Gurbaksh Singh and Rajinder Singh, son of Bau Singh.


Three pilgrims die in road mishap

Hoshiarpur, March 27
Three pilgrims were killed and one was injured when a tractor-trailer hit a tractor about 22 km from here last night, the police said today. The deceased were identified as Didar Singh, Baldev Singh and Tarlok Singh of Sooch village in Gurdaspur district.

According to the police, the pilgrims, along with others, were going to Anandpur Sahib to participate in the Hola Mohalla fair. PTI


Seminar on national integration
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 27
The Punjabi University National Integration Chair organised a seminar on national integration in collaboration with the State College of Education here, yesterday.

Dr Baltej Singh Mann, head of the Chair, said national integration would soon be introduced as a subject at the undergraduate level in the university. He also announced the launching of a countrywide national integration awareness campaign and inter-state youth exchange programme.

Dr Kanwarjit Singh, in his presidential address, said the root cause of disintegration was political opportunism, deteriorating socio-economic conditions and mischievous propaganda for vested interests by various bodies. He said religion was a personal affair and should not under any circumstances be mixed with politics and the state should maintain equidistance from all religions.

While inaugurating the seminar, Dr Ajit Singh Bhatia exhorted the youth to come forward to fight the menace of terrorism. Dr Anand Spencer, Associate Professor of Christianity at Punjabi University, observed in his paper that “inter-faith dialogue” in which people of all faiths could participate would go a long way in strengthening and promoting national integration.

Prof Dharam Singh, a Reader at Punjabi University, in his paper “National integration from Sikh perspective” maintained that India’s religious diversity was its strength. He emphasised the need for better understanding and appreciation of other faiths to build a society where people could live in peace.

Prof G.S. Bajwa, Prof Joginder Singh Rana, Prof Raj Gupta and Prof S.S. Rekhi also expressed their views.


Varsity exam wing to remain open
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 27
The examination wing of Guru Nanak Dev University will remain open on March 28 and 29 to enable the candidates to collect their roll numbers for the annual examinations of the university commencing from March 30. This information was given by the Registrar, Dr R.S. Bawa, in a press statement here on Wednesday.

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