Tuesday, October 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal says he is under surveillance
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Former Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal seems to have lost faith in the Punjab Police. Talking to the Press here today Mr Badal said that he had left everything to the Almighty and activists of the Akali Dal would provide him security cover.

The former Chief Minister said that in the name of security the Captain Amarinder Singh government had been watching his movements closely. He alleged that he had even stopped talking to his men as his phones were being tapped.

Criticising the Congress government allegedly for staging a coup in the management of Durgiana Temple here, Mr Badal said that Capt Amarinder Singh who allegedly had failed to give good governance was interfering in religious affairs. He alleged that like Durgiana temple, the Congress government wanted to grab the control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through Panthic Morcha leaders, “the (Panthic Morcha leaders, including Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra) seemed to have become official spokespersons of the Congress. He alleged that recent happenings including the intimidation of SGPC members and capture of Durgiana Temple had set a wrong precedent and it could have dangerous consequences. To a question, he denied that, he during his stint as Chief Minister had ever interfered in religious affairs. When his attention was drawn to the appointment of a Jathedar from Circuit House, he denied it.

Replying to a question, Mr Badal said that he would take appropriate action against the Akali leaders, including former ministers if they were indicted by the court for corruption. “Everybody is innocent till proved guilty by the court”, he quipped.

The former Chief Minister alleged that the law and order situation in the state had deteriorated during seven-month rule of Congress government. He said he would support the drive against corruption but it should have to be against all. First of all Captain’s government should arrest the four ministers, who were indicted by the Lokpal. No action was taken against the two Congress ministers who had possessed ‘fake degrees’.

Mr Badal has also convened a meeting of Akali MLAs at Chandigarh on October 10 to take stock of political situation.


Expedite’ clearance papers by RPOs
Italy extends last date for immigration applications
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
As the fate of 15,000 Indians continues to hang in the balance in Italy, the Indian External Affairs Ministry can prove the Messiah for them at this stage when the Italy Government has extended the last date to November 11 from October 8 to apply for permanent immigration for the illegal entrants there.

In fact, the Regional Passport Offices at Jalandhar and Chandigarh can play a pivotal role to save them from arrest because the Italian authorities have warned that those who fail to apply within the stipulated period would be arrested and put behind the bars.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, President of the Lok Bhalai Party said he had been to Italy twice within a month. Following his intervention and request the Indian Ambassador in Rome, Mr H. Som, had agreed to issue authority letters to the Indian migrants to enable them to apply for immigration. However, the matter would not end there. After that the Indians would have to submit their passports to the Italian authorities for completing the immigration process such as the verification of the nationality etc which will take 60 days.

Most of the Indians there were without passports. The passports could be issued only by the Indian Embassy in Italy following clearance by the Indian authorities concerned. Mr Ramoowalia said the clearance was to be issued in 75 per cent of the cases by the Regional Passport Office ( RPO) at Jalandhar, 25 per cent of the cases by the RPO, Chandigarh, and in the remaining cases by such offices in Delhi, UP etc. Mr Ramoowalia, said that Mr Som had also recruited 12 more staff members to deal with the cases of Indians.

Mr Som had waived certain conditions for accepting clearance documents. He had agreed to directly entertain such documents from the RPO concerned to quicken the process to help the Indians in crisis. Mr Ramoowalia said it had come to his notice that RPO officials were taking too long to fax the clearance documents to Italy. He cited a case in which the RPO was yet to fax documents to the Indian Embassy though money to fax these documents was deposited in the third week of September.

He criticised the indifferent attitude of leaders like Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Capt Amarinder Singh towards these Indians. Mr Badal was in a position to help them by taking up the matter with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha but he did nothing. Even now Badal could extend help. About 500 letters were written by Indians to Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa seeking his help, but he did not respond.

Even Capt Amarinder Singh could play a major role for expediting the process of sending clearance documents.


Plant output falls by 30 pc
Heavy leaks force several shutdowns
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 7
Just when the demand for electricity in Punjab was at its peak, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here hit an all-time low, Severe problems cropping up in the aging plant resulted power generation in September being the lowest ever.

According to sources, the generation fell by as much as 30 per cent in September as compared to the output in August. “We could meet the targets for generation on eight days only during the month,” a functionary at the plant revealed. The dismissal performance comes about a year after the plant won an award for setting a record in power generation.

The low output has been a result of a series of maintenance problems which plagued the plant during the month, forcing unscheduled shutdowns on several occasions. Sources revealed that as many as 10 leaks in boilers were reported during the month. The shutdowns varied between 16 hours and 48 hours.

In one instance, sources add, Unit No. 1 of the plant had to be shut down for as long as 10 to 12 days due to a severe damage. The boiler of the unit is reported to have deformed, owing to a structural weakness and metal fatigue. Officials, however, are tight-lipped about the extent of damage.

The plant is 25 years old and has outlived its stipulated life. Though plans to renovate and modernise it are on the anvil, lack of finances is holding up the project. Over Rs 180 crore is required for the purpose. Two of the boiler plants, which generate high-pressure steam to run the turbines, are stated to be in a critical state, requiring urgent attention.

A study carried out by Central Power Research Institute had revealed that it was not safe to run the plant in its present condition and had advised immediate action. Sources, however, indicate that modernisation work was unlikely to begin before the first quarter of next year.

The 440-MW thermal plant has four units, each with an installed capacity of generating 110 MW. At present, only three units are operational, with Unit No. 2 being shut down for capital maintenance, which requires a complete overhaul of the turbine and takes 40 days to complete. The unit is scheduled to become functional only by October 30. The target for generation when three units are operational is 67 lakh units per day.

The authorities have decided not to shut down Unit No. 1 for long-term maintenance, but to go in directly for renovation and maintenance once the finance for the project becomes available. Unit No. 3 and Unit No. 4, however, will undergo annual and capital maintenance as per schedule.

Sources say that the two units are in a perilous state and there are constant maintenance problems. “A major problem is that pipes used to carry steam, which are made of a special alloy capable of withstanding temperatures up to 550°C under very high pressure are developing leaks,” a source said. The plant’s superheaters and economisers are also prone to leaks.

A Residual Life Assessment (RLA) study of the units carried out by the PSEB showed that the renovation and modernisation process could increase the plants life by up to 15 years. The renovation process would be carried out in phases and in the first phase, the first two units would be dealt with, one after the other. The process would require a unit to be shut down for about 6-8 months.


Notice to Punjab on power tariff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Notice was served on the Punjab Government today by the Lawyers Initiative for filing a contempt of court petition for not implementing the order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on December 7 last year on a public interest litigation filed by them.

That order of the Division Bench of the high court had directed the authorities concerned to ensure compliance with Section 59 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948, within six months. Under the court’s order, the PSEB was to take steps to ensure 3 per cent rate of return within a stipulated period of six months. However, this has not been done so far.

The legal notice has been given to the Punjab Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary, Finance, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary, Power, and Chairman of the PSEB.

It has been stated that since the revision in the power tariff to ensure 3 per cent rate of return was to be decided by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission under Section 22 of the Commission Act, the PSEB filed its annual revenue requirement before the commission which issued a revised tariff order on September 6 allowing a 3 per cent surplus to the PSEB of Rs 228.7 crore while reducing the annual revenue requirement from Rs 7857.7 crore to Rs 6,803 crore for 2002-03.

However, the PSEB has neither published the revised tariff order, which is mandatory, of the commission in newspapers nor implemented it . The PSEB referred the tariff order to the state government for its approval prior to its publishing and implementation. However, the state government has not given its clearance.

A delay of over 30 days in publishing the order in newspapers and its subsequent implementation constitutes gross and wilful contempt of the court, since the time- bound nature of the court order was repeatedly brought to the notice of the state government as well as the board. Hence, the legal notice for filing a contempt of court petition against all concerned.


Land deals under watch
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Intelligence agencies are keeping an eye on those who have purchased land in the border belt of Ferozepore district during the past three years. Suspecting their intentions, the intelligence wing of the BSF and the Military Intelligence (MI) have intensified surveillance on such buyers with the help of village panchayats and revenue officials.

Intelligence sources here revealed that the history of most purchasers is frequently checked to ensure that nobody indulged in spying after acquiring land in the sensitive border villages. Earlier, the focus was to stop smuggling by the BSF authorities but for the past few years the intelligence agencies have been keeping a close watch on land transactions close to the border to counter the ISI spying network.

A senior intelligence official revealed that the ISI was trying to settle down their spies permanently in Indian territory along the border in order to have better back-up information. Intelligence agencies keep special records of all persons residing on the border within 2 km inside Indian territory. This was also necessitated on account of a large number of land holdings beyond the fencing in the district.

At least 23 villages in Ferozepore subdivision continue to remain on the regular watchlist of the Intelligence agencies. These include Dulchike, Khilche, Gajniwala, Pajjoke, Gatti Rajoke, Chandiwala, Gatti Masta, Kishore Singh Wala and Bareke.

Although in the changed scenario after the tensions grew between the two neighbours, there is no fresh indication available to suggest that residents of these villages are involved in spying these areas have a criminal background and most of the smugglers earlier were either used by India or Pakistan as spies or even sometimes as double-agents of both countries.

Their proximity to the gaps caused by the Sutlej and brooks in Fazilka subdivision and the area beyond Hussainiwala barrage is still a matter of worry for the Indian intelligence agencies. Owing to their poor economical condition, a few residents of these villages used to indulge in either smuggling or spying, commonly known as pandas.

There was time when these pandas regularly infiltrated through the river gaps by using the cover of hyacinth. Since their economical situation continues to remain pathetic, the possibility of their falling into wrong hands cannot be ruled out. It is for this reason that special ‘kisan’ guards of the BSF escort them, whenever they are permitted to venture beyond the fencing.

Pandas are the most important source of information for both nations because the messages passed on either the telephone or the wireless are often intercepted.


Sowing seeds of hope
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Expressing concern over the looming agricultural crisis in Punjab, former Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill today called for “economic management”. This has to be done quickly because Punjab agriculture today lacks ‘’balance’’. To correct this imbalance taking strong steps to develop alternatives to shift from paddy to high-value crops and encouraging diversification is imperative.

To overcome the current crisis, the announcement of “bonus” today for paddy and tomorrow for wheat is not going to help. Farmers, particularly small farmers, about 70 per cent who have less than 7.5 acres holdings and cultivate only 12 per cent of the area, need a policy which ensures a pricing regime for their crops that results in a respectable net income, after taking care of all input costs. “I believe that if a subsidy is to be given, it must focus only on small farmers”.

The crisis of agriculture cannot be solved overnight. The seeds of the current crisis were sown when the Green Revolution was ushered in the mid-sixties. Then the Centre wanted Punjab farmers to focus on production alone. In the process farmers were made to ignore crops like cotton and sugarcane. Therefore, no ad hoc solutions or fire-fighting measures like the payment of bonus over and above the minimum support price (MSP)is likely to pull the farmers out of the economic quagmire. There have to be long-term solutions to the prevailing crisis.

These views were expressed by Dr Gill in an interview here today. Agriculture is a serious issue because it is the pivot of economic development and growth. If that be so, Punjab Agricultural University is the nucleus. It is unfortunate that successive governments have failed to flush the university with funds exclusively for research and development. “Here is the backbone of Punjab agriculture, which is beset with a financial crisis and where 94 per cent of the budget is spent on salaries and wages and the remaining 6 per cent is consumed in payment of bills, electricity etc.”, he added.

Dr Gill, who was closely associated with the development of Punjab, as Financial Commissioner (Development) and had introduced many new concepts as “apni mandi” and infrastructure of rural link-roads etc., is still a keen watcher of developments in the state.

The solution to the present crisis, mostly man-made, is in developing “new marketing strategies for vegetables, fruits, milk and like and suitable storage facilities”. He regretted that the report of the Johl (S S Johl) Committee that he had commissioned as Development Commissioner, continues to gather dust. Though much has changed since the mid-80s the report must be implemented without delay, he advocated.

Though various subsidies are given to farmers in the state, the problem of Punjab agriculture is basically one of “small peasantry”. On top of it is the shadow of the WTO. The Punjab economy is rooted in the soil (agriculture). But agriculture in Punjab is like an industry. “My apprehension is that if it is not taken care of now, it may result in declaring a lockout tomorrow in this industry”, shutting out all future hopes.

Initiative should not be lost either by the state or the PAU. Young scientists have to be trained and sent abroad, if need be, as was done by the late Partap Singh Kairon and administrators like late Mr P.N. Thapar or Dr M.S. Randhawa.

Dr Gill recalled what Sir Malcolm Darling had written in the 30s of the great canal irrigation developments in west Punjab when he said the new prosperity would either make or mar the peasant. If the surpluses were invested productively, a new civilisation would rise. If, however, they went into the peasants’ inherent weaknesses of litigation and wasteful social expenditure, consumption of liquor the irrigation revolution would have been in vain. Today, Dr Gill said, he would like to raise the same question about the post-Independence Green Revolution in Punjab.

Dr Gill concluded by saying that 80 per cent of the Punjab farmers were unable to meet even the average economic status of the state. This situation has to be reversed quickly or Punjab shall face renewed social tensions. Hence the need for economic management.


9 non-Cong directors kept out of meeting
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, October 7
All nine members of the Board of Directors, loyal to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), of the Nawanshahr Central Cooperative Bank led by Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, former MLA and Mr Nand Lal, MLA, Balachaur, Mr Jaswinder Singh Anokherwal, president of the district unit of the SAD (Youth wing), Ms Varinder Kaur Thandi, president of the district unit of the BJP, Mr Chamkaur Singh Kauri, president, Municipal Council staged dharna in front of the bank as they allegedly were denied entry into the bank by the police on the pretext of maintaining law and order when they reached there to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors to elect office-bearers here today. Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, former MLA and Mr Nand Lal, MLA said that the district manager of the bank had postponed the meeting scheduled for today on the basis of having received a “forged” application from Ms Sheela Rani, a director of the bank, that she had not received the copy of agenda of the meeting. But Ms Sheela Rani, director of the bank, herself was present today and she had received the copy of the agenda sent by the District Manager under UPC cover said SAD leaders handing over photostat copies of the letter.

They accused the district manager of acting under the influence of the Congress MLAs and a minister from the area.

Earlier, apprehending such a situation, the directors, in a letter to the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, had urged him to ensure the presence of the Manager at the meeting to record the proceedings, they added. Ms Sheela Rani, in an application to the SHO (city) had complained that she had alleged that the manager of the bank had written forged application in her name and demanded registration of an FIR against him. Though Mr M.L. Sunda, Manager was not available for the comments, the Congress leaders denied the allegations of interference in bank affairs levelled by the SAD-BJP leaders as baseless. Mr Gurpal Singh Bhatti, ADC, Mr Surinder Mohan, SDM, Balachaur, Mr Harinderpal Singh Bains, SP (D), Mr Gurmukh Singh, DSP, reached the scene. The ADC said that an inquiry would be held into the matter.


CPI: action initiated against defectors
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
The rift in the district unit of the Communist Party of India came to the fore today when the party’s district secretary, Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, said disciplinary action had been initiated against Member of Parliament Bhan Singh Bhaura and certain district unit members who had given statements regarding the prevalence of dictatorship in the state leadership.

Mr Joga said the statements by Mr Bhaura and other leaders that the dictatorial behaviour of the state secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, and Mr Joga was responsible for the defection of two party MLAs to the Congress did not hold truth.

Interestingly, when Mr Joga was giving the details about the action against Mr Bhaura and other leaders a senior leader and former MLA, Mr Hardev Arshi, tried to stop him by saying that it was an international matter of the party.

Mr Arshi and Mr Joga were addressing a press conference here today when Mr Joga told about the disciplinary action. However, Mr Arshi requested a journalist of a vernacular newspaper not to highlight the statement of Mr Joga.

Mr Arshi said Mr Bhaura and other leaders should not have gone to the Press if they had any grudge against state-level leaders and should have conveyed their feelings at the party forum.

Although Mr Arshi said the Congress had “cheated” the CPI, however, he added that to root out the communal forces the CPI could make an alliance with the secular forces, including the Congress.

Mr Arshi accepted that giving party ticket to Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal from the Pakka Kalan Assembly constituency was a mistake. Meanwhile, a function was organised in the city to honour Mr Kuttiwal and Mr Nathu Ram, both MLAs. Mr Harchand Singh Burst, adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, was the chief guest on the occasion.


Crores spent, dam capacity untapped
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 7
The Completion of the Shahpur Kandi dam project which is essential for the operation of Ranjit Sagar Dam to full capacity, continues to be uncertain. Rupees 90 crore has been spent on the project till now and property worth more than Rs 200 crore in terms of machinery and housing and official accommodation rendered idle after the completion of the dam has been transferred to the Shahpur Kandi dam project. However, the project is a non-starter so far.

The Punjab Government even now is toying with the idea of handing over the project to a private construction company. A team of five engineers of the J.P. Construction Company, New Delhi, visited the project site for an assessment last month gives credence to the move.

The government allowing a private construction company to survey the project agitated employee unions of the dam staff. A joint action committee of the 21 employee unions of Ranjit Sagar Dam has threatened stir in case the project was handed over to a private company. The dam authorities, however, expressed ignorance about the Punjab Government move on project hand-over to a private company.

Mr Gyan Chand Loomba, vice-president, Punjab INTUC, said yesterday that if the government was really interested in completing the project with minimum cost it should provide sufficient funds to the department for this.

The dam authorities have transferred 1000 staff to the Shahpur Kandi dam project. They are without work and a charge on Shahpur Kandi dam project to the extent of Rs 12 crore a year. The Shahpur Kandi dam project authorities sought more than Rs 100 crore for the current year to start construction of the project and hoping to complete it on schedule in four years. The government sanctioned only Rs 60 crore for this. But the central government so far has released only Rs 7.5 crore but the Punjab government has failed to contribute its matching share.

According to the Shahpur Kandi dam project authorities, the construction of the dam was sluggish and might over-shoot the schedule if funds made available were any indication.

The dam authorities, however, hold that initially the project was expected to be completed soon after the completion of the Ranjit Sagar dam for utilising Ranjit Sagar dam to capacity as well as the Shahpur Kandi dam project. It is estimated that 24000 cusecs of water has to be released to operate Ranjit Singh dam to capacity and generate 600 mega watt of power. But if Ranjit Sagar Dam is run to capacity the water channels required to carry the water after generation of power from Ranjit Sagar Dam are inadequate. The excess water thus spared will have to be released in Ravi which is likely to go to Pakistan for which the Punjab Government has already paid Rs 100 crore to Pakistan under this water treaty.

If the Shahpur Kandi dam project is completed water channels in the state will need to be restructured to accommodate the excess water supply. Moreover a water channel from Ravi to Jammu Tawi carrying 10000 cusecs of water which will irrigate vast area of Jammu & Kashmir is part of the project.


Former PSSSB secretary gets pre-arrest bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
PCS officer-cum-former secretary of Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board Zora Singh, allegedly involved in a corruption case, was today granted anticipatory bail by Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Zora Singh was apprehending arrest in a case registered by Punjab Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on July 12 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, his counsel had contended that the former secretary was being implicated in a false recruitment case and would abide by the conditions imposed at the time of granting bail.

Transfer of case

Another case registered against Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala — accused of sacrilege — was on Monday transferred to the court of Ambala’s Chief Judicial Magistrate by Mr Justice K.S. Garewal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Accepting the application for the transfer of the case, Mr Justice Garewal ordered the withdrawal of the trial from Anandpur Sahib’s Judicial Magistrate (First Class) and directed its transfer to the court of Ambala’s CJM.

The first information report in the case was registered at Noorpur Bebi in Ropar district under Sections 342, 365, 506, 323, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code. It may be recalled that Mr Justice M.L. Singhal had earlier transferred from state of Punjab seven cases registered against the Baba.

Mr Justice Singhal had directed that all the seven cases would be heard at Ambala. In his detailed order, Mr Justice Singhal had observed that six cases being tried by Patiala’s Chief Judicial Magistrate were being withdrawn and transferred to Ambala CJM’s court. The Judge had added that another case registered at a police station in Sirhand was also transferred to the court of Ambala Session Judge.

In his petition, the Baba had sought the modification of an order vide which all the cases against him were transferred to Patiala. He had added that his movement in the state of Punjab was not without risk to his life and as such the cases should either to transferred to the state of Punjab or to Chandigarh.


J&K poll satisfactory: Chinese envoy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 7
The Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr Hua Junduo, today expressed satisfaction over the elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking to The Tribune reporter at the information office of the Golden Temple, Mr Junduo, however, said though China had not sent its observer to supervise the Jammu and Kashmir elections, but the media reports emanating from the Valley show that the poll had been quite satisfactory.

Answering questions about resolving the Indo-Pakistan tension the Chinese Ambassador said he was hopeful that both would start a dialogue soon in this regard.

The Chinese head of mission felt happy over the growing Indo-Chinese economic relations for the past few years. he added that during the past year the Indo-Chinese trade touched $ 3.6 billion and he expected that it would cross $ 4 billion mark this year. Mr Junduo said Chinese businessman were keen to set up manufacturing units in India and hoped that the process were start soon.

The Chinese Ambassador said he would be meeting the Punjab Chief Minister tomorrow in Chandigarh. He said Punjab was the rice bowl and hope that China could import quality rice from Punjab.

Earlier, he offered prayers at the Golden Temple and witnessed the retreat ceremony at Wagha checkpost.


PSEB told to refund Rs 17,456
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 7
The Ropar District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Assistant Executive Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, Kurali (Ropar), and Additional Superintending Engineer, Enforcement, PSEB, SAS Nagar, to refund Rs 17,456 to Sham Lal, proprietor Kamal and Brothers, Anaj Mandi, Kurali, and pay compensation of Rs 25,000 to him.

The forum has also directed PSEB authorities to modify the May 18, June 17, July 19, August 18, and September 17, bills (all of year 2002) and refund difference to all of the firm.

The forum, presided over by Mr J.P. Gupta, president also allowed the complaint against PSEB authorities with costs quantified at Rs 1500. The PSEB authorities have been directed to comply the order in 30 days.

The complainant had urged the forum to direct the PSEB authorities to refund Rs 17,456 got deposited “forcibly” with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum from the date of deposit till realisation, to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation for harassment, Rs 10,000 as cost of litigation, and Rs 50,000 as special costs.

On April 19, 2002, the Additional Superintending Engineer, Enforcement PSEB, SAS Nagar, raided the complainant’s premises an checked the load and made “wrong” entries showing the meter slow by 11.97 per cent and got signatures of the brother of the proprietor despite there being no error as per sanctioned load. The assistant Executive Engineer, PSEB, Kurali, thereafter in a letter on April 29, 2002, directed the firm to pay Rs 17,456 in seven days which was deposited under protest to avoid disconnection.

In a reply to the forum, PSEB authorities sought the dismissal of the complaint with costs stating that during checking by the Flying Squad on April 19, 2002, it was found that meter of the complainant was running slow by 11.97 per cent. On the receipt of the report of the Flying Squad the account of the complainant was overhauled and Rs 17,456 was demanded vide notice April 29, 2002.

The forum ordered the PSEB authorities to make the refund.


PSEB’s one-time settlement scheme
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 7
The PSEB has launched a one-time settlement scheme to settle long-pending power bill disputes on the matter of clubbing where several connections are running on the same premises.

A PSEB spokesman said here that under the scheme no 20 per cent LT surcharge would be charged for the disputed period with only 3 per cent of transmission losses being recovered. In cases which had not been identified for clubbing the difference in tariff and 3 per cent of transmission losses would be levied for a maximum of three years, he added.

The consumers whose cases were pending in court of various review channels of the board could avail themselves of the scheme. The scheme would remain effective for three months. Consumers could approach the officers concerned or log onto the PSEB website www.psebindia.org.


Fund paucity affects research
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 7
Even as the Punjab Government has been making tall claims regarding agriculture diversification the research work at the local regional station of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) pertaining to development of cash crop varieties has been effected severely due to acute paucity of funds.

Official sources said funds’ shortage had forced the authorities concerned to reduce the number of field experiments and trials of different crops to half in the current season.

“The local station has been conducting experiments and trials on the 125-acre farm for the past many years. In the current season trials could not be done on more than 50 acres due to fund shortage,” Mr P.P. Mittal, in charge, plant breeding section of the local regional station, said.

He added that proper care could not be taken of the crops sown even on another 50 acres as there was no sufficient funds available for insecticides and fertilisers. Private dealers had stopped giving these on credit as the earlier bills had not been cleared yet.

Even the post of certain scientists were lying vacant. The strength of daily-wage labourers had been reduced. The regional station had been working without any permanent director for the past many months.

Another senior functionary of the regional station stated that even the vehicles, which were meant for field trials and experiments, had been taken back by the PAU authorities. The daily-wage labourers were being given wages after about six months.

Mr Mangal Singh, Superintendent, when contacted, said the PAU had acquired an agricultural plot at Jodhpur village and it had yet to pay the compensation to the land owners. In the recent past one of the bank accounts, of the local regional station and two vehicles were attached by the local court in different suits field by those whose lands had been acquired.

Official sources said the regional station was facing such a financial crisis that it was finding it difficult to arrange labourers for de- weeding fields. Even the spray schedule had been upset.

Another functionary on the condition of anonymity said if the present situation persisted the regional station would be closed within two or three years.


BSNL sued for phone rent hike
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 7
The Consumer and Human Rights Forum, Fazilka has filed a complaint against Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Ferozepore against the decision to charge higher telephone rent from subscribers of Fazilka and Jalalabad subdivisions.

Subscribers have alleged in the complaint that due to discrimination in charging the rent of telephones, they are forced to bear financial losses and mental agony. Till May, 2002, BSNL charged Rs 240 every two months as rent from telephone subscribers of Fazilka. But after that the rent was enhanced to Rs 360 bimonthly.


Dera followers not allowed to hold satsang
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 7
Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, were not allowed to hold a satsang at the village school by residents of Heron Kalan village in the district yesterday. The followers comprised 22 villages of Mansa and Sangrur districts and were scheduled to hold a satsang at the village school. But before it could start the villagers took possession of the school. There was great tension in the village and the police parties from Bhikhi, Joga and Budhlada rushed to the village to avoid the occurrence of the untoward incident.


Raising day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
The Kharga Corps today celebrated its raising day here. Lieut-Gen B.S. Thakur, AVSM, General Officer Commanding, in his address asked the jawans and officers of the corps to be ready to face any eventuality.

It was raised on October 7, 1971, at Krishna Nagar in West Bengal. The Corps went into action during the Bangladesh war of independence in December, 1971.


Thousands throng Langooranwala mela
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 7
The nine-day Langooranwala mela organised on the occasion of Navratras, began at Durgiana Temple here today. Thousands of devotees thronged the temple in costumes of “langoors”.

People of all religions and from all parts of the country visited the temple.

The mela will conclude on Deshera.


Rs 1 lakh for Rest House
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 7
The Deputy Commissioner has sanctioned Rs 1 lakh for improvement work in the Rest House, Kharar. This information was given by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA.

It is worth mentioning that the employees and officers of the Rest House had to face an angry MLA a few days ago when he visited the Rest House in connection with a meeting and criticised for poor conditions of the bathrooms and dirty curtains. He was shocked to see pieces of soap and broken buckets.


5 held for murder
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 7
The police has solved the murder case of Bachan Singh, Class IV employee of the Veterinary Department and resident of Saidowal village. He was killed on January 30, 1994 and the body was recovered from Sem drain under Simbli village falling under the Kahnuwan police station.

Mr Varinder Kumar SSP said today that the deceased had gone to lay trap in Dalla Goriya village in the Chhamb to catch boars. His feet came into contact with live wire of the trap laid to catch boars and he fell unconscious.

The SSP said that the accused feared that the deceased would tell the police about the trap (for catching wild boar), so they killed him with a sharp-edged weapon and threw the body into the Sem drain.

Mr Varinder Kumar said that the then SHO and the CIA staff, Gurdaspur could not solve the murder. But the police continued efforts to solve the murder case and succeeded.

Five persons identified as Joginder Singh Dara Singh, Nirmal Singh, Kulwant Singh, and Waryam Singh — all residents of Kahnuwan have been arrested by the police. Their accomplice Harbans Singh of Roran Wali village is at large. The police has been making raids to arrest him.


140 kg poppy husk seized, 2 arrested

Moga, October 7
The police during its drive against drug peddlers, last night arrested two smugglers of poppy husk who used to allegedly bring it from Rajasthan and later sell it on in Punjab.

District police chief Shiv Kumar told reporters here today that the police, acting on a tip off, intercepted a truck loaded with rice powder being used for animal feed. When signalled to stop, its driver managed to escape while two others were apprehended.

The police seized four bags of poppy husk weighing about 140 kg which were allegedly bought by the suspects from Nagaon in Rajasthan, Mr Kumar said, adding that they were active in the area of Moga and Ludhiana for the past many years. Both the suspects have been arrested under the NDPS Act. PTI


Crime down in Doaba: DIG
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 7
While crime has decreased in Doaba region during the past months, the Jalandhar Range police has stepped up its campaign against criminals in Jalandhar. Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts.

Official revealed figures that as many as 11 criminal gangs, including the ones dealing in contract killings have been busted, and 82 gangsters arrested. The number of murders have also come down from 54 to 41 and incidents of rape, abduction and kidnapping from 63 to 53 as compared to the corresponding period, last year.

Mr Rohit Chaudhary, DIG, said the rise in the number of arrests and the amount recovered were possible only due to professional policing. “As many as six constables were promoted for the good work put in by them, while 50 others would be rewarded with commendation certificates of class II and another 17 would be rewarded with class I commendation certificates for their good performance during past three months, he said.


Teachers reject education policy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 7
Teachers from all parts of the state participated in a convention in protest against the new education policy at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, here. They have decided to observe October 29 as “save education day” throughout the state.

The convention unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the policy, terming it anti-people and anti-teacher. It was decided to form the Save Education Morcha comprising representatives of Government Secondary School Teachers Union, Government Primary School Teachers Union and Government Vocational Teaching Staff Association. They demanded that the government should fill 15000 vacant posts of various categories of teacher.


Extension lecture on personality development

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 7
Jawahar Lal Nehru Government College for Girls, Mandi Gobindgarh, organised an extension lecture on “Personality development and social adjustment in students”.

The guest speaker, Dr Poonam Kochhar, psychologist, Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital, Ludhiana, stressed the values of positive mental attitude and development of inner personality.

She opined that a positive mental attitude helped in social adjustments.

She said one should learn from one’s mistakes and failures. Dr Kochhar said ego problems posed difficulties in social relations and behavioural pattern needed a change. She said, “Although we should be satisfied but we must keep on growing.”

Ms Kusum Ahuja, Principal of the college, welcomed the guest and spoke on the occasion.

After the lecture, there was a question session in which students from the Central Association of the college participated. Around 20 students had personal counselling session with the speaker, Dr Poonam Kochhar, after the function. UNI


Lecturers to begin stir
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 7
The Punjab and Chandigarh Ayurvedic College Teachers Association today announced to start Statewide agitation after the examinations of BAMS students were over in case its demands, including framing of new Service Rules, and revision of pay scales, were not accepted by the government by the end of the month.

In a statement here, Association president Dr P.K. Rishi, said the process of framing of Service Rules started in 1989 but the rules had not been framed so far. He said similarly revision of pay scales was pending since 1996. He said all employees of the Punjab government had been given new scales as per recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission, but ayurvedic college teachers had been denied this benefit.

Dr Rishi said even though the Finance Department had approved the revised pay scales yet notifiction had been kept pending for more than one year. He said the association had made repeated requests to the authorities concerned but nothing had been done in the matter.

He said the Association had also decided to postpone its election till the settlement of these cases so that the office-bearers at present pursuing the cases could continue efforts without interruption.


Mid-day meal scheme launched
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
The mid-day meal scheme and the “sarv shiksha abhyan” was launched at a state-level function at Rayya block, 38 km from here, today.

Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, School Education, said the scheme had been implemented initially for 50 days and would be extended up to 200 days in a year. This centrally-sponsored scheme was launched initially in all districts of Punjab at an estimated cost of Rs 2.5 crore. Now this would be covered under the “sarv shiksha abhyan” for providing basic infrastructure in school.


Teachers’ front threatens dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 7
The Democratic Teachers Front has said the new education policy was a step towards privatisation of education.

Front office-bearers Madany Pal Bhagta and Major Basant Kumar in a press note issued here today said if the policy was implemented in letter and spirit then education would become very costly.

The front leaders said they would stage a dharna near the office of the District Education Office on October 11 to express resentment against the policy.

They said the new policy would curtail the facilities given to the teachers. They added that with the implementation of the new policy unemployment in the state would increase.


Trekking expedition concludes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 7
Apex Adventures and Innerline Treks and Travels, a firm specialising in organising trekking expeditions for various educational institutions and corporate houses, organised a five-day trekking expedition for students of Yadavindra Public School (YPS) that concluded yesterday.

A delegation of 70 students, comprising 48 boys and 22 girls, was accompanied by six teachers participated in the expedition. The base camp was set up at Hatu, which is located at 3,250m above sea level.

The camp had all arrangements like shepherd huts, toilets and medical facilities. Students were served fresh food and fruits. They also had access to a library stocked with latest books and educational video films.

This was for the first time that students of the 5th standard spent four nights at an high-altitude camp. Adventure activities like mountaineering and river crossing were also organised under the guidance of experts.

Many students described this camping holiday as an ‘experience of a lifetime’ while others said that such camps instilled a sense of confidence in them.

Ravneet Dhaliwal was adjudged as the best girl camper, while Pavneet Mann was declared the best boy camper.


SBP to launch Sanchi Kheti scheme
600 branches computerised 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 7
In a bid to give a boost to contract farming in Punjab, the State Bank of Patiala has decided to launch the Sanchi Kheti scheme in the State under which farmers would be given loans to enable them to meet the requirements of contract farming.

Disclosing this here today at a press conference held to mark the computerisation of the 600th branch of the bank at the Sanauri Adda here, SBP Managing Director A K Purwar said the scheme would be targetted at areas where large companies had tied up with farmers to buy their agriculture produce. He said farmers would be given money to buy modern equipment, including sprinkler sets and spray machines besides other essential items.

Mr Purwar said simultaneously the bank had started the Himharit Scheme in Himachal Pradesh under which 7,000 farmers had been given loans of Rs 20 crore. He said another scheme targetted to encourage entrepreneur activity in Himachal was Himmotel.

Giving details of the achievements of the bank in the field of Information Technology, Mr Purwar said the bank had computerised 600 out of its 725 branches. He said besides this Any Where Banking facility was available to customers at 17 branches at Chandigarh, Panchkula, Chandimandir and Mohali and would be extended to more centers. He said the bank had already installed 49 ATMs out of which 14 ATMs in eleven cities were networked. Similarly, he said telebanking facility was available 23 branches and Remote Log - facility was available at 14 commercially important branches.

The bank Managing Director disclosed that it had outperformed many of its peers in the year ending March 31, 2002. He said the continued growth and profitability of the bank was visible in its performance for the half year ending September 30, 2002. He said the aggregate deposits exceeded Rs 17200 crore and total advances had also crossed Rs 9300 crore. He said while the total business in this period exceeded Rs 26500 crore, the bank had registered a gross profit of Rs 361 crore.

Mr Purwar said the bank continued to lay emphasis on improvement in asset quality. He said the efforts of the bank had resulted in the decline of net NPAs to 2.14 per cent as on September 30 from 2.94 per cent as on March, 2002. He said the bad debts of the bank were only around six per cent of the total advances which compared favourably with global standards.

The Managing Director also released the report of the Central Vigilance Commission on the occasion which has given cent per cent marks to the bank while rating it on the probity index. He said the bank was able to receive such a rating due to its conservative nature and the fact that it did not do speculative business. The Conference was attended by other senior officers, including Chief General Manager B M Jain, Director C Mathur and former test cricketer Navjot Sidhu who is also employed with the bank.

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