Wednesday, July 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab to seek 400-cr package
Agriculture Ministers’ meeting on drought today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

LARGE parts of Punjab and Haryana will remain dry in the next 24 hours, according to predictions made by the Met Department. There will be a light-to- moderate rainfall at isolated places in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of this region, according to official sources.

Chandigarh, July 23
Punjab, one of the worst drought-hit states, will ask the Union Government to pay it Rs 400 crore immediately to help farmers and urban settlements tide over the crisis.

Punjab has already announced a special “girdawari” from August 10 to 25 to assess the loss caused to crops due to drought after which relief to the affected farmers will be given.

The Agriculture Ministers of 11 drought-hit states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will hold a meeting tomorrow with their union counterpart, Mr Ajit Singh, in Delhi.

Punjab Agriculture Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and her deputy, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, today left for Delhi. However, senior officers of the Development and Revenue Department would leave for Delhi early tomorrow. They remained busy today preparing the state’s case.

Informed official sources told TNS today that the state had Rs 236 crore in its calamity relief fund. But it would ask the Centre to give a special Rs 400-crore package to tackle the situation.

Punjab has prepared its case taking into count various sectors affected by the drought the main among them being agriculture, horticulture, dairying, livestock and urban settlements. The state government would be able to brief the meeting about the drought impact on the basis of the report submitted by the Chief Agriculture Officers and Deputy Commissioners to the state headquarters.

The loss varies from area to area. There is a report that over 250 hectares of paddy has been removed by farmers. Besides, there is a vast rainfed area in the kandi belt which has remained unsown so far in the absence of rain. Moreover, the paddy crop in a vast area has come under stress. Its yield level is bound to go down even in case of a good rainfall. In fact, a fall in the paddy production will hit the entire economy of the state.

Farmers had to sell their milch cattle at throwaway prices as green fodder was not available, making most such cattle dry. As a result, the dairy sector has been affected substantially.

Dropping of fruit has been reported from orchards in the Abohar- Fazilka belt. Those who got the orchards on contract have reportedly represented their case to the government.

Drought has caused a major damage to the tubewell irrigation network in rural areas and the drinking water network in urban areas. A large number of tubewells, which were used to provide drinking water in urban areas and water for irrigation in rural areas have become redundant as the subsoil water level has gone down drastically and there was little of hope recharging the subsoil water reservoirs in the existing situation. The Jalandhar Municipal Corporation has sought the government for financial help to make their tubewell system functional. Same is the case of other local bodies.


Special police teams to check canal water theft
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 23
The Punjab police will soon establish special teams and police posts to keep a check on the theft of canal water, which is assuming alarming proportions in the absence of rains in the region.

Sources reveal that the Executive Engineer of the Bathinda Canal Division has been taking up the issue with the Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) of Sangrur, Muktsar and Bathinda districts over the past two days to seek their support in this regard.

While the Sangrur police today established a special post at Kalyan village, senior police officials in other districts in southern Punjab plagued by water thefts have reportedly assured support to the Irrigation Department. Standing instructions have now been issued that police teams will accompany department officials on inspections and raids. Police personnel have also been asked to maintain vigil in areas where the problem of water theft was severe, sources add.

Kalyan village is among the worst affected. Irrigation Department officials say that 40-50 pipes drawing water illegally from distributaries were found in the village during checks. Dhipali, Doomwali, Phul and Bhadur are other affected areas.

Information gathered by TNS reveal that while the inflow into the Bhakra reservoir today was 41,890 cusecs, the outflow was 31,912 cusecs, with the pond level being 1594.87 feet. This resulted in low release of water into canals than the demand. Level in the Patiala feeder was below normal with 3,448 cusecs flowing through it today against the required 3,450 cusecs.

Though exact figures cannot be established but officials estimate that about 150-200 cusecs of water is lost from canals in Bathinda region alone due to thefts. At places 2-3 feet-wide breaches made by farmers in canal banks to divert water have resulted in their widening due to erosion. Officials have detected about 15 such cases in Bathinda.

“On an average we are registering about 20 cases a day,” a departmental official remarked. Since July 1 the department has registered over 70 cases under the Canal Act against erring farmers, with the total number of cases registered this year crossing 250.

The department’s working, however, is adversely affected due to staff shortage. As per details made available, presently there are four SDOs, 16 JEs and 230 baildars to keep a check on the network of canals and distributaries totalling about 1,100 km spread over five districts. Another problem being faced by departmental officials during checks is resistance from villagers.


Special girdawari for Punjab farmers

Chandigarh, July 23
The south-west monsoon eluded most of Punjab, Haryana and other plains of the north-west region for the 25th day today, threatening drought-like conditions and drying up of the countryside ponds.

According to reports reaching here, people from Rajasthan with their livestocks have moved into Haryana and Punjab in search of green pastures and water.

Agriculture experts warned that if there were no rains in another four or five days, the situation was likely to further worsen like that in 1987 when the monsoon skipped the entire north-west for 30 days, the driest-ever spell in living memory.

The Revenue Minister, Punjab, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, today announced special girdawari from August 10 to determine relief for the affected farmers. UNI


BKU (E) to block traffic on July 28
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 23
Even as the state government has formed a three-member team to deal with the drought-like situation, the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) has announced that it would block traffic for four hours throughout the state on July 28 to show resentment against the alleged failure of the government departments to tackle the situation.

The BKU (E) alleged that the state government was not taking concrete steps in this regard.

The union leaders, while addressing farmers at a local gurdwara, said if the government was serious in providing relief to farmers then it should withdraw the cess levied on diesel and taxes on pesticides and insecticides.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of the union, said other factions of farmers would also be urged to take part in the agitation.


SYL exercise in futility: Capt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today termed the construction of the SYL canal as an exercise in futility and maintained that Haryana already had more than its share of waters from various rivers.

“What is the need of constructing the SYL canal when Punjab cannot spare a drop of water from its rivers for Haryana”, he told mediapersons here.

The Punjab Chief Minister was reacting to the reported statements made by Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala that as per the Supreme Court directive, Punjab was required to complete the construction of the SYL canal in its area.

“Till today, a major chunk of Haryana areas is being irrigated from a canal network from the Yamuna,” Capt Amarinder said.

“How is it that Haryana can separate the Yamuna from the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej while computing the river waters for sharing between the two states”, he asked.

The Centre has convened a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan on July 25 to reach a solution to the long-standing issue.

Union Water Resources Minister Arjan Sethi will preside over the meeting.

Capt Amarinder said Mr Chautala should address the real issue instead of “beating around the bush”, pointing out that according to the formula of the division of river waters, including the Yamuna, Punjab received only 12 MAF of the waters while Haryana, which was geographically smaller, got 14 MAF.



PSEB threat to cut supply to MC tubewells
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
The municipal corporation and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) are on a collision course as the latter has served a notice on the former that it will disconnect seven tubewells, which supply drinking water to more than 1.5 lakh residents for non-payment of arrears to the tune of Rs 2.48 crore.

There was a lot of hue and cry when power connection to the tubewell in the Ranjit Avenue area, which caters to more than 25,000 residents, was cut by the PSEB authorities. The Commissioner, municipal corporation, brought the matter to the notice of the PSEB Chairman, Mr Sudhir Mittal, who reportedly directed the Chief Engineer (Border), Mr C. S. Rai, to restore the connection.

When contacted, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, confirmed that the corporation had received notice to disconnect power supply to tubewells in the Ranjit Avenue, Nikka Colony, Gwal Mandi, Chah Nihangan, Ram Tirath and Verka disposals areas. However, Mr Rai said he had asked his staff not to implement the orders.

To a question, Mr Bir said despite unprecedented financial crisis, the corporation had been paying current power bills (Rs 90,000 per month) regularly. However, the arrears of Rs 2.48 crore could not be paid as the matter was under dispute. He claimed that the arrears could be adjusted against the prime land allotted to the PSEB. “It is a ‘paper adjustment since the matter is between two departments of the government”, Mr Bir said. The corporation claims that the 4500 yards of prime land was allotted by the corporation to the PSEB at the rate of Rs 5000 per yard for the installation of a 132 KV grid sub-station and the total cost of which is estimated at Rs 2.25 crore. The corporation gave the land to the PSEB at the rate fixed by the District Collector despite a number of reminders, the PSEB had failed to pay for the land.

On the other hand, the PSEB had accepted the last electricity bill of the corporation on the condition that the payment of “arrears” would be made within a month.

However, Chief Engineer (Border) said the PSEB would not take any step which would adversely affect the drinking water supply.


Farmers must pay for power: PSEB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
PSEB have today presented its case before the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The PSEB authorities urged the commission to order a hike in tariff for all categories of consumer. In other words, the board has said free power supply to the agriculture sector should be stopped and bills from farmers should charged. The facility of free power was provided to this sector by the previous Badal government.

Pleading its case before the commission, the board authorities stated that in view of the precarious financial position of the government and operational losses to the board on account of free power, no funds were available for investment to improve of transmission and sub-transmission and distribution system.

Funds are also required for capacity additions and to bring down the per unit cost of power generation over a period of time.


Power crisis boosts generators’ sale in Doaba
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Wariana (Jalandhar), July 23
Facing acute power crisis and a drought-like situation, farmers of the Doaba region have started testing their ingenuity by connecting their usually power driven submersible pumps to high power diesel generators sets and by putting sullage of village ponds to use for irrigation of their paddy fields.

Unlike Malwa, huge generator sets have started dotting paddy fields or farm houses to supplement power supply, as farmers find it very difficult to irrigate their crops with erratic power, supplied by the Punjab State Electricity Board for not more than “five to six hours a day”.

Farmers of almost all villages of the Doaba region have also started invoking rain gods by distributing “dalia” on daily basis after holding of “poojas” at the bank of small water bodies like village ponds, water of which was also being used for irrigation purposes.

Enquiries revealed that sale of diesel-driven generator sets has risen manifold during the last 15 days, as most of farmers had decided not to leave anything to chance for want of power or rain. “We sell at least 10 high power generator sets daily these days as compared to one or two during the corresponding period last year”, says Purshotam Singh, salesman of a local diesel genset manufacturing unit. “The situation is such that we have orders in advance to meet the supply”, he said adding that according to his estimates at least 150 to 200 generator sets were being sold out in the Doaba region daily.

During a visit to this village, the TNS team found a group of villagers running a monoblock water pump, running with the help of a high power generator, for fetching slushy water from the village pound, for the irrigation of their paddy fields. “We have no option, but, to use pond water for irrigation purposes as erratic power supply does not meet our requirements”, lamented Jarnail Singh adding that rural area were getting power supply for not more than five to six hours a day as compared to government claims that villages were getting eight hours of power supply.

“As we were not getting power supply for even five to six hours at a stretch, we could not irrigate our crop properly, so we thought of buying a generator set, which cost us Rs 35,000”, said Lakhwinder Singh, another farmer of the village. He said a generator could run a submersible pump and a monoblock water pump simultaneously, which helped farmers to meet the crisis to some extent.

In Malwa, people were resorting to use of diesel engines as submersible pumps were not being used there at large scale as was in the case of Doaba region.

Interestingly, most of farmers have concealed generator sets inside their homes or at farm houses and have been operating them with the help of long power wires for fearing the PSEB authorities’ wrath. “We are scared as somebody told us that running a generator was illegal”, said Himmat Singh of Udhowal village near Mehatpur. Udhowal, a small village has at least about 20 generator sets. Villagers said they have been distributing “parsad” porridge to please Lord Indra and Lord Khwaja. A large number of villagers have also been visiting nearby Sutlej river banks for performing “pooja” of Lord Khwaja on daily basis.


Bottle-guzzling Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Punjab every year empties 12 crore bottles of “desi sharab’’ (Punjab Medium Liquor — PML), four crore bottles of IMFL and two crore bottles of beer. No wonder, the revenue collection graph under the Excise Act goes up each year. It is expected to cross Rs 1,440 crore in the current year, against Rs 1,350 crore in 2001-02.

It is interesting to note that illicit distillation has a parallel network, particularly in the three border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore. As per the department’s estimates, 30 per cent of the liquor trade there, is controlled by bootleggers and illicit distillers and smugglers.

Punjab has always had problems with Haryana and Chandigarh. The excise duty on the IMFL is highest in Punjab, as compared to its neighbours. Punjab also levies a sales tax of 22 per cent, which gets the state another Rs 120 crore per annum. This makes IMFL retail price higher in Punjab. This leads to smuggling of liquor into Punjab, which adversely effects its trade.

In fact, the ‘’smuggling-facilitating’’ policy of Chandigarh, as an official of the Punjab Excise and Taxation department says, encourages daily consumers to buy cheap liquor in the union territory. The rate difference is over Rs 350 per case. Also, Chandigarh licencees on the border with Mohali quite often lower retail sale rates to the detriment of their Mohali counterparts. Despite the matter having been officially discussed with Chandigarh and Haryana and the minimum rates of IMFL, PML and beer determined, problems persist.

The border between Punjab and Haryana is perennially porous to smuggling of liquor. Sources cite a typical case of problems created by PML and L-2 vends of Azimgarh (Kaithal) in Haryana. These liquor vends are located right within Samana city of Patiala district. Quite often, Azimgarh licencees lower the rates of PML to Rs 20 per bottle, of IMFL to Rs 80 per bottle and of beer to Rs 20 per bottle, against the minimum rates of Rs 80, Rs 150 and Rs 40, respectively, in Punjab.

It is common knowledge that politicians and bureaucrats have shares in liquor trade and provide protection. This sometimes poses problems in checking smuggling. Till June-end, 4,593 cases were registered and a large quantity of illicit and smuggled liquor and lahan was either seized or destroyed. In Amritsar, a Maruti Zen with tainted glasses, a red light atop and with fake stickers of ‘’MLA’’ and permission to use red light as well as dark glasses pasted on the windshield was found to contain six tubes with 600 bottles of illicit liquor.

Sources say drivers and conductors of Punjab Roadways often act as a conduit to smuggle liquor from Chandigarh. At least four FIRs were registered, liquor seized and buses impounded by the Ludhiana excise staff.

A monthly report on revenue earned from excise and sales tax is sent to the minister and the secretary concerned. The June report shows a revenue collection (all sources) of Rs 1,000 crore against Rs 972 crore in the corresponding month last year.


CM’s property: Badal for impartial advocates
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 23
The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today demanded that a panel of impartial advocates should be deputed instead of the Advocate-General of Punjab, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, to defend the ongoing civil suit in a Hardwar court over property owned by Capt Amarinder Singh.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Badal said how could Mr Harbhagwan Singh, who had been deputed at a whopping fee of Rs 44,000 per hearing to defend state’s interests by the Punjab Government, move against the interests of Capt Amarinder Singh, a plaintiff in the case.

He said a panel of impartial advocates should be constituted to safeguard state’s interests over “Patiala House” instead of deputing a political appointee of Chief Minister.

The Punjab Chief Minister had filed a case in a Hardwar court over ownership right of Patiala House in Kankhal near Hardwar in Uttar Pradesh. During reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, about 12 properties all over the country, including Patiala House, were allotted to the Punjab Government.

While, the said house was later handed over to Sanatan Dharam Partinidbi Sabha, Punjab, on 99-year lease for religious and social purposes, Capt Amarinder Singh, the then PPCC chief, filed a case in the court over the ownership right of the property as it belonged to his father, the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala.


BJP rally against Cong ‘misrule’
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 23
BJP activists held rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner in protest against the vindictive attitude of the Congress government towards it party cadre in the state. Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, All-India, Vice-President, BJP, Kisan Morcha, who led the rally asserted that the Congress government was harassing BJP workers and implicating them in false cases under garb of the anti-corruption drive.

Attacking the Amarinder government, Mr Grewal named a few officers like Mr Sarvesh Kaushal who were wanted in cases partaining to corruption but were being rewarded with key postings. Terming the former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh as two sides of the same coin, Mr Grewal said the BJP had been raising the voice against the corrupt practices in the state for quite some time, but the SAD leadership did not pay any heed to them.

He said the BJP leadership in the state was accorded step-mother treatment during the Badal government. He said while Mr Badal failed to protect interests of the Punjabis and Capt Amarinder Singh was ruining the socio economic fabric of the state due to wrong policies.

Mr Ajaybir Singh Sodhi, district President said all development works initiated during the SAD BJP rule in the state had come to a halt and the Congress government was doing nothing but transferring officials from one place to another.

Mr Ashwani Dhingra, district secretary said days of the Congress were numbered in Punjab. He said the BJP was in the process of rebuilding mass base in the state.

Later, the leaders submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari.


SAD (A) not to vote for Cong, BJP in VP poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 23
In case no third front emerged then SAD (A) will abstain from voting in the August 12 vice-presidential elections. This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A) last night.

The party had decided to keep equi-distant from both the BJP and Congress and would not vote either for Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, NDA candidate, nor for Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress candidate, for the election of Vice-President, be continued. The general opinion in our party was for the emergence of a third front candidate, he said and added that we can’t side with the Congress or the BJP.


‘Contaminated’ water scares slum dwellers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 23
Even as residents of the local Gandhi Camp and adjoining localities are up in arms against the local Municipal Corporation for the supply of “contaminated” drinking water in the area, the health department has taken a serious note of the allegations levelled by them.

The supply of “contaminated” drinking water, mostly in slum areas, including Gandhi Camp, Satnam Nagar and Kabir Nagar, has created a scare among the residents, who alleged that civic body officials were not paying any heed to their complaints in this regard for the past one week.

They alleged that some of the children of the Gandhi Camp fell ill due to this. The residents have also been facing acute shortage of drinking water supply in these localities for the past one month. The supply of contaminated water had added to their woes.

“We are regularly complaining to municipal corporation officials about the prevailing situation in the area, but none of senior officials or the Mayor had visited us so far to redress the issue. We are being treated like second class citizens by the authorities concerned,” Mr Ram Kumar of Gandhi Camp alleged.

The Municipal Commissioner, Mr Jagjit Singh, however, maintained that a corporation team had inspected the area yesterday and it was observed that rusty and damaged pipelines of some residents connected to the main supply lines of the MC, were contaminating the water. “We had already disconnected four damaged supply lines in the area besides doubling the chlorination of the potable water,” Mr Jagjit Singh added.

Meanwhile, acting swiftly, a team of senior medical officer led by the District Health Officer today visited these localities and took at lest 15 samples from different slum areas.

“All medical officers of 13 slum areas in the city have taken preventive measures to curb water borne diseases in their respective areas. The residents of these localities are being provided with chlorine tablets free of cost . Besides, the residents are asked to drink boiled water. We are also going to distribute special “leaflets” among the residents listing preventive measures to curb water borne diseases,” said Dr O. P. Chabra, Civil Surgeon, adding that presently there was no serious threat of spread of diseases in these localities.


65 slum areas flooded in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Yesterday’s torrential rain has exposed the precarious condition of the sewerage system in and around the city with most of the slum areas getting inundated with knee-deep water.

An old building collapsed in the early hours of today while 65 slum areas identified by the corporation got flooded due to overnight rains. Some of the inundated areas are Vallah, Bngla Basti, Verka, Batala road, Gawal mandi, Sabzi mandi, Ekta Nagar, Prariwala etc.

An emergency meeting of the SEs and Xens called today by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, chalked out a plan for identifying the areas with sewerage problems. More than 24 areas had already been surveyed and most of the low lying areas were found to be the worst effected.

While the Municipal Corporation’s commissioner admitted that the sewerage condition in the city was ‘bad’, he blamed the faulty design and engineering of the ‘ganda nallah’ for most of the ills. He said the downstream areas of the nallah were heavily silted thus leading to the present situation. An amount of Rs 5 lakh had been sanctioned for cleaning the drains on a war footing.

The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, today rushed to Chandigarh to talk to the local minister, Mr Chaudhary, to sanction immediate fund for the city’s sewerage.

The faulty sewerage system and profuse underground leakage has eroded the foundations of nearly 36 houses.


Meeting of Sikh clergy today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
Amid serious allegations of corruption, levelled by the Shiromani Khalsa panchayat, a crucial meeting of Sikh head priests will be held at Akal Takht tomorrow.

Among other issues, related to the Panth the Sikh clergy may discuss two important petitions against Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, filed by the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and another against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, filed by the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill).

While the AISSF had urged Jathedar, Akal Takht, to summon Mr Badal for participating in a ‘hawan’ in violation of the Sikh tradition, the SSF had sought reopening of the Tohra-Nirankari case. The SSF in its petition, had alleged that Mr Tohra had visited the Nirankari Bhavan, Patiala, to seek votes in favour of his protege, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, during the parliamentary elections despite an edict of Akal Takht directing the Sikhs to snap all ties with the Nirankaris.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President of the SGPC, is likely to attend the meeting of Sikh head priests to discuss the graft charges against a former personal assistant to Jathedar, Akal Takht. The sealed envelope of the Shiromani Khalsa panchayat, which contains “proofs” of “corruption”, is likely to be opened at the proposed meeting.


Uphold dignity of Akal Takht: Sikh bodies
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 23
Five Sikh bodies today condemned leaders of the Khalsa Panchayat for levelling graft charges and indulging in mudslinging against the institution of Jathedar of Akal Takht.

In a joint statement general secretary of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Prof Jagmohan Singh, the All-India Youth Akali Dal president, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, the Akal Federation convener, Mr Nareien Singh the Dal Khalsa vice-chairman, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib and the Human Rights and Democracy Forum chairman, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon, criticised the panchayat leaders for resorting to the trail by media of the highest institution of the Sikhs.

“Our fundamental objective is to restore and strengthen the supremacy and glorious traditions of Akal Takht and to maintain respect of its Jathedar”, said Kanwar Pal Singh, spokesperson of the Dal Khalsa, while releasing the joint statement to mediapersons here today.

Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, leader of the youth wing led by Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra said despite their recognition to Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar, they were convinced that Jathedar Vedanti was not corrupt. Giving a new twist to the entire row, Mr Naraien Singh said both leaders of the panchayat, including Mr Rajinder Singh and Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, stood tankhaiya as they had been supporting and encouraging those who had refused to undergo ‘tankha’ pronounced to them by five Singh Sahibs on May 10 in the same case along with Baba Dhanwant Singh


Chohan to head jatha to Takht
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 23
A jatha of five Akali Dal leaders, including 103-year-old Jagir Singh, will go to Amritsar on August 1 for delivering a letter on behalf of the Sikh masses to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, asking him to summon Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the SAD, and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, for awarding them punishment for not keeping their promise of getting the Anandpur Sahib Resolution implemented. This was stated by Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, President, Khalsa Raj Party, while talking to this correspondent yesterday. He said the jatha, headed by himself, would perform ardas at Gurdwara Shaheed Pheruman at Jalandhar from where it would proceed to Amritsar.

He said both were equally responsible for the Army attack on Harmandar Sahib and Akal Takht.


Langah to surrender soon: Badal
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 23
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Legislative Assembly has said Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former PWD Minister will surrender to the Vigilance Bureau or in the court in near future. Talking to newspersons at Batala yesterday, Mr Badal said he had not met Mr Langah since the registration of a case against him by the Vigilance Bureau.

He said the campaign launched by the Congress government against corruption was discriminatory. It was a campaign to harass the Opposition.

Earlier addressing party workers in Gurdwara Sat Kartarian at Batala, Mr Badal predicted the fall of the Amarinder government within 6 months.


Lokpal to the rescue of SC applicant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Mr Sucha Singh Dhaliwal, a Scheduled Caste boy with a brilliant academic record, can at last hope for a job in the Punjab Education Department.

Justice D.V. Sehgal, Lokpal, Punjab, has not only provided justice to him but also asked the authorities concerned to take to task those who bungled in case of Mr Sucha Singh.

Mr Sucha Singh applied for a post of Lecturer in English in the senior secondary school cadre against posts reserved for the SCs in 2001. But he was never called for an interview though he had 73.25 per cent (586 out of 800) marks in MA (English) and also passed his B.Ed degree in the first division.

Responding to his complaint filed in the office of the Lokpal, Justice Sehgal got the inquiry conducted and came to the conclusion that even if Mr Sucha Singh had been awarded zero marks in the interview he would have topped the list of selected Lecturers on the basis of his academic and professional record alone.

During the course of inquiry, Justice Sehgal recorded the statement of Mr Hari Singh, former Circle Education Officer, Jalandhar, who was appointed Chairman of the Departmental selection Committee for the appointment of school lecturers. He stated that he did not receive the application of Mr Sucha Singh from the Coordinator-cum-Director, Public Instructions, to interview him. Mr Jagtar Singh, Director, Public Instructions, while deposing before the Lokpal did not dispute the fact Mr Sucha Singh had applied for the job. But his application was misplaced and consequently his name did not appear in the list of candidates to be interviewed.

If Mr Sucha Singh had been interviewed he would have got 48.11 marks even after securing zero in the interview whereas the candidate who topped the list of selected candidates got only 45.54 marks on the basis of criteria determined by the selection committee.

Deciding Mr Sucha Singh’s complaint, Justice Sehgal, according to sources, has directed the authorities concerned that he (Sucha Singh) should be placed at number 1 in the merit list of selected candidates whereas the other five selected candidates should be placed behind him as per the earlier order of merit.

Obviously, he should be offered appointment on the basis of the new order of merit by the authorities concerned. Justice Sehgal has reportedly recommended that the authorities concerned should fix responsibility for the purpose of giving suitable punishment to the officials responsible for mishandling the applications.


Bank employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 23
As part of an ongoing agitation, of the employees of Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank today held a rally in the city to protest against the policies of the government putting curbs on salaries and other allowances given to them.

The employees alleged that they were being brought on a par with those employees working in other government departments. They said the decision of the government to reduce the pay and allowances of cooperative banks employees was uncalled for.

They said they were governed by the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as their working was on a par with the nationalised commercial banks. The instructions of the state government were applied to them also though they did not fall in the category of employees of corporations or public sector undertakings.

Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, president of the bank employees union, said they did not withdraw their salary from the Punjab Government exchequer but from the bank itself. He said even if some cut was imposed on the salaries and allowances of the bank employees, it would be of no use to the government as the money thus saved would not be deposited with the state government.

Later the employees also gave a memorandum to the district administration.

GURDASPUR: Several hundred employees owing allegiance to the Cooperative Bank Employees Federation staged a dharna from 10 am to 12 am in front of the local cooperative bank to protest against the “anti-employee attitude” of the Punjab Government. Later they marched in a procession through the main bazar raising anti-government slogans.

The demands of the employees include withdrawal of the purposed cut in salaries of the bank employees to bring them on a par with the government employees, reservation of 25 per cent posts in the banks for the children of bank employees, scrapping of freeze on DA and filling of vacant posts in the banks through promotion of the existing employees.

The employees will also participate in a proposed rally to be held by the Punjab unit of the federation at Patiala on July 25 to force the government to accept their demands.


Dismantling of bridges affects 40 villages
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 23
The dismantling of pantoon and stringer bridges over the Ravi and Ujh in Narot Jaimal Singh and the Bamial area of the subdivision has caused a lot of inconvenience to the residents of these areas. The residents of about 40 villages living across these rivers are resentful against the PWD Department and local leaders.

According to sources, last year these bridges were dismantled only after one or two flash floods. This year the bridges have been removed much earlier before the first showers of the monsoon.

The villagers allege that the department has colluded with the contractors of the ferries on these rivers.

The ferry contractors are reportedly fleecing people for ferrying them to and fro. Ironically the department is not taking any action against these contractors, allege the villagers. Mr Chaman Singh of Bamial says that after the removal of these bridges, he has to travel about 40 km more to reach the Subdivisional Headquarters at Pathankot.

When contacted, officials of the PWD Department said that as per instructions of the department they had dismantled the bridges before the floods so that no damage is caused to the material of these bridges. However, they were silent about the ferry charges demanded by the contractors.


Money played role in transfers: Pasla
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 23
The secretary of the state CPM, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, today alleged that money had played a role in transfers and postings ordered in various government departments recently.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Pasla said the anti-corruption drive initiated by the Congress government was nothing but a ploy to settled political scores. “I am ready to appear before any commission of inquiry of substantiate my allegations about corruption in government offices. Money had played a significant role in transfers and postings throughout the state,” he added.

“The forest scam unearthed by the Vigilance Bureau in Hoshiarpur district was hushed up by taking Rs 9 lakh as bribe. I can present proofs in this regard,” he said, adding that the Chief Minister was targeting his political rivals by implicating them in false cases.

“There is police raj in the state as innocent citizens are being harassed by the police on one pretext or the other,” he said.

The CPM would organise a protest rally against the “dictatorial” policies and harsh budgetary measures of the Congress government at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall on July 25, he added.


Nepalese workers hold silent march
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 23
Migrant Nepali workers, including women, today held a silent march here in protest against police inaction to arrest the culprits who had raped and robbed five migrant women on the night of July 6 in the Mazdoor Colony, near Chaheru bridge.

The protesters, being led by BSP leader Ashok Sandhu, marched throughout the town and later reached the office of the SDM where they submitted a memorandum. They threatened that they would launch a bigger demonstration if the rapists were not arrested.

Addressing the rally, Mr Sandhu alleged that earlier the mass rape of the five migrant women was suppressed by the police and then a case was not registered and now no action had been taken against the rapists.


Farmers resent 4.4 pc sales tax
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Punjab farmers and small scale manufacturers of zinc sulphate fertilisers have been up in arms against the recent decision of the Punjab Government to impose a 4.4 per cent sales tax on the main chemical nutrient. A spokesman for the farmers said that while on the one hand agriculture was suffering due to insufficient monsoon and the state government was seeking central help to declare major districts as drought affected, on the other hand it had dealt a severe blow by levying sales tax on fertiliser, the main ingredient to meet the soil deficiency for zinc.

While the farmers here are raising voice against the government move, fertilisers are exempt from tax in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

The small scale manufacturers of zinc sulphate too have expressed despair over the government decision. The president of the Micronutrient Manufacturers Association, Mr Arun Kapoor, said that the government move to impose the levy was totally unfair.


Panels to monitor power, water supply
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 23
The district administration has constituted subdivisional-level committees to be headed by the SDM to monitor the availability of power and water to the agricultural sector in the district. Control rooms have also been set up where farmers can report their complaints regarding the breakdown of power and water supply.

Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said the committees had been constituted in the wake of the delay in monsoon.

He said other members of the committee include subdivisional-level officers of the departments of Agriculture, Rural Development, Irrigation, Animal Husbandry and the PSEB. Prominent political persons of the area would also be invited to share their views at the meetings, he said.

He further said in addition to the complaints received at the control rooms, each department had been asked to evolve its own mechanism for getting feedback regarding the availability of power and water supply and report the same to the committee. It had been made mandatory that the complaints received by the departments or in the control room would be monitored daily, including holidays. Telephone numbers of the subdivisional-level control rooms are: Moga — 34277, Baghapurana — 40142 — and Nihal Singh Wala — 54597. The phone number of the district control room is 25206.


S. S. Gill is Director, Cultural Affairs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Punjab Government today transferred Mr Sukhpal Singh Gill as Director, Cultural Affairs, and ex-officio Special Secretary to the Government of Punjab, Department of Cultural Affairs, vice Mr Rupinder Singh Randhawa and Chief Executive Officer of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation vice Mr Parbhjot Singh Mann.

Mr A. P. S. Virk, Additional Managing Director of PRTC, has been given additional charge of Director, Civil Aviation, Punjab.


CM to launch sikhya abhiyan today
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
The Punjab Government is going to introduce a new educational scheme, “Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan,” under which education will be made compulsory for all children falling in the 6-14 age group, said Mr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, Director, Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan, while talking to reporters here today. He said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, would formally launch the scheme on July 24 by organising a function at Patiala.

Elaborating on the scheme, Mr Randhawa said primary education would be made compulsory for all children in the state irrespective of their caste and creed. It would be ensured that not even a single child between the age group of six to 14 remained without getting education.

He said basically it was a Central Government sponsored scheme and the Chief Minister had directed the state administration to implement this scheme up to the grassroots level. He said a comprehensive plan had been chalked out to make the scheme a great success and all plans would be initiated in a phased manner.

Primary schools would also be opened in the slum areas so that children there may not have to cover long distances to get primary education. He said this scheme had been introduced to eradicate illiteracy from the country and to strengthen the foundation of primary education. All vacant posts in schools would be filled soon. Besides, all other basic facilities and infrastructure would also be provided.


Behl’s remarks invite educationists’ ire
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Minister for Education Khushal Behl’s recent utterances on making Ph.D mandatory for teachers of plus II classes is being termed as “outrageous” by educationists.

BJP leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla said a Ph.D was not mandatory for a principal, college lecturer or District Education Officer (DEO). The government policy appears to be blind to the ground realities prevailing in the government education set up in the state, she added.

To buttress her claim she said only one DEO and two principals in the state had a Ph.D degree. Further substantiating, she said about 139 senior secondary schools existed in the district with only 46 of them having principals.

Similar is the case of about 193 high schools here of which 73 have no headmaster or headmistress.

About 1,400 primary schools here have thousands of vacancies, she said. Hence, if the government is concerned over the drop-out rate of nearly 17 lakh of the total student strength of about 31 lakh it needs to address the problems that leads to the drop-outs, she added.

Mrs Chawla further said English which used to be taught in Class VI was ordered to be taught from Class I during the SAD-BJP rule and it was opposed by the Congress. But when it came to power it not only got the subject started from Class III, but ordered that science and maths be taught in English from Class VI onwards. This is one of the biggest reason for the rise in drop-out rate.

Another reason is that the government had promised the children of daily-wagers a stipend of Rs 30-40 per month along with books but failed to give them the said incentive for years.

Absenteeism among teachers due to government duties or otherwise have also created an unhealthy atmosphere in almost all government schools.


Principal goes scot-free
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 23
Even two months after the District Education Officer’s (DEO) recommendation, no action has been taken against the Principal of a government school at Bhuchu Kalan village for her alleged negligence and inaction in an incident in which a Class VIII student’s feet got burnt. The victim, Gurbinder, had been asked by a sweeper to collect waste paper and throw them in a pit.

The then DEO, Ms Bhupinder Kaur, had conducted an inquiry into the incident on May 9 although the incident occurred on May 4.

The then DEO had recommended disciplinary action against the Principal as she had failed to do her duty and also due to negligence in providing medical help to the student.

The Principal was also found guilty for not taking action against the employee concerned.

Mr Paramjeet Singh of Poohla village has sent a complaint to the Punjab Chief Minister, Education Minister, Secretary of the Education Department, DPI (S) and Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda in this regard.

He claimed that parents of some of the students were thinking of getting their wards admitted to some other school as the teachers and other employees in the school were allegedly indifferent to the students.

Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, DEO, when contacted confirmed that the District Education Office had recommended to the higher authorities to take action against the Principal. She confirmed that no action had been taken against the Principal.


Varsity claims good response to admissions
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 23
Contrary to the presumption that Punjabi University may not be able to attract a good number of students for the current teaching year thanks to the negative publicity garnered by it during Vice-Chancellor Ahluwalia’s tenure, the response to admissions as claimed by the university is rather good and in certain departments even better than the response last year.

The university authorities confirmed that the controversial Department of Fine Arts, which has 10 seats has received 38 applications. Interestingly, only five of these are from male students. Vocational degree course for Mass Communication, which has 15 seats, has received 115 application as compared to 100 applications received last year.

As per a press note issued by the university the number of applications for admission received by various departments of the university are: 135 candidates have applied for admission against 60 seats in the English Department; 47 students have applied against 25 seats in the Sociology Department; 65 students have applied against 35 seats in Department of Public Administration; and 51 students have applied against 20 seats in the Department of Theatre and Television.


Counselling of LL.M
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 23
Counselling for students who appeared in the LL.M entrance test will be conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University on July 29 in the university campus.

Stating this, Dr Bikram Ghuman Dean, Students Welfare, Guru Nanak Dev University, said candidates where required to bring original testimonials and certificates. The deposit fee would be Rs 12,000 in case of selection.


NABARD holds bank officials’ meet
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
A number of schemes have been formulated by NABARD for promotion of rural non-farm sector (RNFS) in the district. An orientation meet for the officers of commercial banks, Malwa Gramin Bank, Fatehgarh Sahib, Central Cooperative Bank, PADBs, DIC, KVIB, KVIC, DRDA, etc covering the district was organised by the AGM, District Development, NABARD here today with a view to create awareness and familiarisation with the field-level functionaries of NABARD’s various schemes under non-farm sector.

Mr B.S. Sidhu, ADC (Development), inaugurated the meet, which was attended by bank managers and officials of various government departments.

Mr K. L. Jhamb, AGM, District Development, NABARD, gave detailed information about the role of NABARD in promotion of rural non-farm sector and refinance schemes of NABARD for development of rural areas and other development schemes being implemented in the district. The training input and necessary guidance to the participants for promotion of rural non-farm sector was also provided by Mr S.M. Goel, GM, DIC, principal ITI, Bassi Pathana and Mr M. L. Guru, Lead District Manager, Lead Bank Office, State Bank of Patiala, district Fatehgarh Sahib. They discussed various schemes for promotion of non-farm sector for development of rural areas in the district.

The views of field-level functionaries, emerging needs of villagers and making concerted efforts to meet their needs, generation of self-employment etc. by making available the credit and other related inputs at the appropriate time with the help of extension agencies and encourage them to identify suitable non-farm activities were also discussed. The District Manager FCCB, PADABs, DCos, Punjab & Sind Bank and Punjab National Bank shared their experiences with participants for giving a boost to non-farm sector in the district.


Cable operators hike charges
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 23
The Cable Operators Association has decided to charge Rs 250 per connection throughout the state to give cable connection.

Mr Sunny Gill, president of the Punjab Cable TV Network Association, while addressing a meeting of cable operators here this afternoon, said as they had to pay heavily to the owners of pay TV channels, there was no option other than to increase the rates of cable connections.

Later, talking to his correspondent, he said they had to pay about Rs 175 per connection to the owners of TV channels. Besides, Rs 30 to Rs 40 per connection was spent on the laying of cables, salaries and purchase of equipment, he said adding that with the increase in the number of pay channels, their expenses had gone up.

Mr Gill said the competition between cable operators, due to which they reduced rates, was uncalled for. He said he would urge members of his association not to reduce the charge below that fixed by the association.

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