Tuesday, December 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM releases Development Report
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab Development Report, 2002 presented to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here today is a ‘’vision paper’’ — a workable model that will reinvent the state through ‘’rejuvenation, quality and management’’. All this will happen only if there is a ‘’revolution of the minds’’ at the political, bureaucratic and operational levels. People who can make the Green Revolution possible can also bring about a ‘’revolution of the minds’’.

This is how The Tribune Editor, Mr Hari Jaisingh, who presided over the function, summed up the report prepared by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development under the aegis of the Planning Commission of India.

Describing the report as ‘’unique’’, Mr Hari Jaisingh remarked that time was the essence. The real programme begins now. As a citizen concerned about the future of Punjab, he said the Congress and the Akalis must identify socio-economic issues and work for the uplift of the people rather than engage in a political blame-game. Punjab needs political consensus on these issues. Development takes place with determination and must have a humane face. There was also need for a political will and leadership, both of which have to be generated from within. Equally important is the fixing of ‘’accountability and responsibility’’ on the officers concerned, who must also show ability to solve problems. ‘’A Punjab of tomorrow is everybody’s dream. Punjab must have economic vibrancy, ecological balance and sound infrastructure’’. He also laid stress on policies aimed at the younger generation for whom the present generation was not doing enough.

Each chapter of the report has a set of recommendations and policy directions, based on strengths and weaknesses that have been critically examined and analysed. If it draws attention to the post-1966 achievements, it also acknowledges the quantitative and qualitative changes/shortcomings in the socio-economic services, which have their foundation rooted in agriculture.

The bottomline is "empowerment" of the panchayat raj institutions and municipalities, whose elected representatives must be given all administrative, financial and functional powers, as per the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.

On this, Capt. Amarinder Singh, said the government was already working out a programme whereby village panchayats would have full say in recruitment/running of the primary schools and primary health centres. The necessary guidelines were being framed to give control to the panchayats without the government abdicating its responsibilities. ‘’For any planning process to be successful, people’s involvement is imperative’’.

Capt Amarinder Singh also listed the constraints/limitations under which his government had been performing for the past eight to nine months and highlighted the ‘’inherited problems’’. He talked of political limitations and populist policies, assuring that “we will do what we can to build a Punjab of tomorrow’’. He enunciated on the need for sound, practical agricultural and industrial policies for economic growth and also about the long gestation period in completion of essential projects that led to cost-escalation and promised a ‘’cumbersome-free’’ administration to attract investors.

The report expresses concerns over several grey areas, like Punjab’s finances, economy, health delivery system, health indices (skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, reproductive health care etc), status of school education/student drop out percentages, unemployment, physiographic and demographic changes, lack of human resource development, urban slums, inadequate rural infrastructure, lack of IT facilities, technological backwardness etc.

The report highlights what is seriously wrong in the social sphere in this otherwise economically progressive state, which, however, of late, is showing signs of going downhill.

The report also focuses on future of Punjab vis-a-vis globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation and suggests ways and means as much to dove-tail its economy to the world markets, as promote the concept of “regional co-operation, connectivity and development’’ through good neighbourly relations with other states.

The report wants the government role to be limited to a ‘’facilitator’’ or ‘’co-ordinator’’. It also suggests re-prioritisation of the government policies and programmes. The future priorities mentioned in it pertain to framing of a state health policy, stress on secondary and tertiary care hospitals with quality services, special strategies for districts like Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr to deal with high percentage of HIV positive and AIDS cases, policy governing, manufacture, sale, quality and prescription of pharmaceutical drugs and medical and clinical practices, a nutritional awareness programme, diversification of agriculture, upgradation of technology of small and medium industry, linkages between agriculture/agro-processing and industry, generating appropriate employment opportunities etc.

The development perspective strategy must revolve around the kind of economy, society, polity, ecology and ideology that Punjab needs over a given period of time. It spells out a time-frame for the implementation of the recommendations: Medium-term: November 1, 2016, when Punjab would be celebrating the golden anniversary of its formation; short-term: March 31, 2007, when the 10th Plan gets completed; and long-term: December 31, 2020, in the spirit of a new vision.

In fact, Punjab has to develop a model of its own for which the document has drawn up broad contours. The subject was introduced by the CRRID Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, expert comments were given by Mr Anand Sarup, a retired Secretary to the Government of India, and thanks-giving was by Dr S S Johl, Vice-Chairman, Punjab Planning board. He said the Board would hold its first meeting on December 18 and take cognizance of the recommendations.


Mentally challenged’ baffles IAF
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Killi Nihal Singhwala (Bathinda), December 2
A mentally ill suspected to be a resident of Pakistan and working for the ISI was rounded up in Virk Khurd village near the strategic Air Force station at Bhisiana village two days ago. This has again put a question mark on the “concern” of authorities concerned in allowing the persons to move freely without any check in this area.

The Air Force authorities, after failing to extract information from him has handed him over to the local police which was yet to interrogate him to establish his credentials.

The Air Force authorities failed to extract any information from him as he was speaking incoherently. He is in his 40s and was in a bad shape when caught.

Over the years, the district which was having a number of vital installations had become a centre for ISI activities. In the past two years, the police authorities had arrested Pakistani militants, conduits of ISI agents and some terrorists from Punjab, who got training in use of firearms and explosives in Pakistan after crossing the border.

Few years ago, the Army authorities had also caught a stranger from the ammunition depot of Asia’s biggest cantonment here.

The stranger, who failed all efforts of the Army, the police and the Joint Interrogation Centre, Amritsar, posed himself as mad. He was identified as Anwar Khan of Lucknow. He was later discharged on grounds of being a mentally ill.

A number of ISI agents who were caught, had remained in Bathinda town for years together. One of such ISI agents even ran a tea shop in front of the police station in the Civil Lines area for more than a year while other floated an agency to provide cooking gas to the people at their doorsteps.

The district had also witnessed bomb blast in different trains and junk shops in the past few years.

Intelligence officials pointed out that though there was a spurt in number of mad persons roaming near the vital installations and in the border areas, most of them escape the police net by making themselves as hard nut to crack during interrogation.

Meanwhile, the Air Force authorities have moved an application with the chowki incharge of Killi Nihal Singh Wala to take action against the mad stranger.

Mr Harbhajan Singh SP (H), when contacted, said if any person had been handed over to the police as claimed by the Air Force authorities the police would take necessary action.


3 PPSC members boycott CM’s visit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
Three members of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), who were appointed to their posts by the earlier Akali-BJP government, boycotted the visit of Capt Amarinder Singh to the PPSC office here today.

These members, Amarjit Singh Chawla, Harjit Kaur Randhawa and Paramjit Singh Dhillon, kept away from the PPSC headquarters here during the one and a half hours visit of the Chief Minister. However all of them attended a meeting of the Commissioner held later in the afternoon.

Only two members — Mr M. P. Pandove, who has been appointed by the Congress government and Lt-Gen (retd) G. S. Riar were present during the Chief Minister’s visit.

Amarjit Chawla did not give any excuse about his abstention. However, sources said the Chief Minister’s comments on Mr Chawla and the other members had annoyed them. Capt Amarinder had in a statement nearly two months back asserted that he would not let Mr Chawla select any candidate. The Chief Minister had hinted at Mr Chawla’s links with terrorists as the reason of this assertion.

Capt Amarinder had also stated that some other members of the Commission were also not up to the mark. It is felt that he was referring to Mrs Randhawa and Mr Paramjit Singh Dhillon a confident of the Badal family.

Mr Amarinder said that able persons should be appointed on the Commission. He also announced that a Rs 40 lakh-grant would be given to the Commission out of which Rs 25 lakh would be spent on the repair of its building and Rs 15 lakh for computerisation in the entire examination set up. Earlier the Commission had submitted a proposal to the State government in this regard.


Harpreet case: witness turns hostile
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
In a major twist to the Harpreet Kaur murder case, a friend of Harpreet and CBI’s prime witness Kusum today retracted from her earlier statement given in the Special Court and claimed that former SGPC President Jagir Kaur’s political rival Sukhpal Singh Khaira had arranged vehicles for her to testify against the former SGPC President.

Kusum came in contact with Harpreet as she was a room-mate of Manjit, sister of Harpreet’s alleged husband Kamaljit. She was the CBI’s witness to the betrothal ceremony between Mrs Jagir Kaur’s daughter Harpreet and her alleged husband Kamaljit.

In the court of Additional Sessions Judge S.P. Bangar, Kusum changed her statement during cross-examination by Jagir Kaur’s counsel Satnam Singh Cler. As Mr Cler was asking her questions, she said she was being used as a pawn by Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who had fought and lost the recent Assembly election against Mrs Jagir Kaur. She claimed that she had twice been provided with a car and a driver to testify against Mrs Jagir Kaur on different court hearings. She had earlier also been provided with a car by Mr Khaira to go to Delhi to give her statement to the CBI. On all these occasions she was accompanied by Kamaljit and his two sisters Manjit and Paramjit, she further claimed.

Kusum alleged that Mr Khaira only wanted to derive political gain from the case. She said she was being kept as a prisoner by Harpreet’s alleged husband Kamaljit Singh in his Begowal house. Kamaljit and his sisters had also taken away her passport and were blackmailing her to testify against the former SGPC chief, she further alleged.

Kusum admitted that she was a witness to the engagement ceremony of Harpreet and Kamaljit. She said when she questioned Kamaljit’s sisters as to why ‘sindoor’ was being applied on Harpreet’s head, they said they wanted to ensure that Kamaljit was able to get half of the property of Mrs Jagir Kaur. Harpreet’s sister Daisy was turned away from the function due to this reason. She also said Harpreet was vary casual about the whole affair and was laughing, knowing that a drama was being enacted.

Kusum also gave a clean chit to the Jagir Kaur’s family saying that she had visited Harpreet at Jasdil mansion and that she was staying there freely without any fear. She also filed an application in the court today asking the court to direct the CBI to ensure that Kamaljit returned her passport and a gold chain.


‘Help’ challenged kids progress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The facilities mentioned in the PWD Act, 1995, regarding the disabled children shall be fully implemented by the Punjab Government, Mr D.S. Guru, Commissioner for Persons with Disability, said while presiding over a one-day convention of disabled and social workers on the eve of International Disabled Day here today.

The Chief Guest at the convention, Dr Birinder Sachdeva, President of the Global Education Promotion Society of India, said he felt that if the required facilities and suitable opportunities were provided to the physically challenged children, they could play a better and effective role for the development of society and the country. It was essential that society did something constructive for handicapped children rather than delivering lectures and holding meetings seminars only. “A disabled child does not seek only sympathy. It wants suitable opportunity to rise”.

Explaining the aims and objects of this convention, the Chairman of the society and Convener, Mr Ajit Salani, said participants in this meeting were persons with disability from childhood. Social workers looking after disabled children also attended the function. He regretted that politicians and bureaucrats only talked about disabled children but did practically nothing. A number of disabled children were leading a miserable life, especially in the rural area.

On the occasion Sarvan Kumar Sanman-2002 was presented to Kumar Vandana Shukla for her dedicated services to her blind parents.

The convention passed seven resolutions moved by the Secretary, Punjab Physically Handicapped Association, Mr Avtar Singh Ghauran.


Govt to ensure facilities for disabled children
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 2
The Punjab Government will ensure all facilities for disabled children as mentioned in the PWD Act, 1995. This was stated by Mr D.S. Guru, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Punjab, while presiding over a one-day convention of the disabled and social workers at Chandigarh on the eve of International Disabled Day.

The convention was organised by the National Society for Child Artists in collaboration with Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib Nirmal Dera, Hansali. Resolutions regarding the welfare of the disabled children were also passed during the convention.

The chief guest, Dr Birinder Sachdeva, President of the Global Education Promotion Society of India, said physically challenged children would be able to play an effective role in society only when they were provided requisite facilities and suitable opportunities.

While explaining the aims and objects of the convention, the chairman of the society and convener of the meet, Mr Ajit Salani, said participants of the meet were persons with disability from childhood and the parents of physically challenged children. Jagdish Kaur, a student of the Central Public School, Ghuman, said all students of their school would cooperate with their disabled brothers and sisters in all respects.


AISSF decries BJP’s role in “jail bharo”
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
The All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) (Bhoma group) has questioned the credibility of the BJP-Akali Dal (Badal) alliance. In a press note Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma President of the Federation the state leadership of the BJP must make it clear that it was with the Congress or the Akalis. He said that during the “jail bharo” ‘andolan’ the BJP did not take part.


‘Development to be speeded up’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 2
Finance Minister Lal Singh said with the introduction of strict financial reforms, the economy of Punjab had improved and financial institutions, including the World Bank, had agreed to consider the requests of the government to release funds for various prestigious development projects. He asserted that the process of development in the state would be accelerated in the coming months. He was addressing a gathering at the concluding function of the third Atal Partapi sports tournament at Bhaini Sahib, about 25 km from here, last evening.

Mr Lal Singh said three big bridges over the Sutlej were being constructed and four major roads were being widened to four lanes at a cost of more than Rs 400 crore by the Infrastructure Development Board and the work on these projects was going on in full stream. He said with the release of the funds, potable water supply and other welfare schemes for the weaker sections of society in rural areas and urban slums would be undertaken. He reiterated that all promises made during the elections would be fulfilled.

Lambasting the propaganda of the Akalis about political vendetta, the minister said this was solely to misguide the people and to divert their attention from the cases of corruption against former Akali ministers and the Badals. He asserted that the anti-corruption campaign launched by the government would be continued to its logical end.

Mr Lal Singh claimed that in the Congress regime, the procurement of wheat and paddy had been smoother than before, without instances of bribery in mandis. Under the SAD-BJP government, farmers had been forced to give substantial bribes for selling their crops, claimed the minister.

He said the Akalis had not given any attention to get the just demands of Punjab settled during their rule. The former Chief Minister had amassed huge property in Haryana, he alleged.

The minister stressed on the need to give stress on the promotion of sports in rural areas. He said the state government had chalked out a comprehensive plan to encourage budding sportspersons.

Expressing concern over the rise in the use of intoxicants and drugs among the rural youth, the minister said the state government was planning to launch an anti-drug campaign with the involvement of voluntary organisations. He appreciated the contribution of the Namdhari Darbar, particularly of Satguru Jagjit Singh, towards the promotion of sports and checking the abuse of intoxicants among the youth.

The minister announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the village school building, Rs 1 lakh for the construction of a stadium and Rs 5,100 for a sports club. Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Samrala, and Mr Ishar Singh, a former minister, also addressed the function. Among others present were Satguru Jagjit Singh, Mr Darshan Singh Brar, a former minister, and Mr Surinder Singh Namdhari.


US Fellowship for Punjab doc
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Dr Kanan Gupta, MD has been conferred the Fellowship of the American College of Physicians (FACP). The Fellowship is an honour achieved by those who are recognised for personal integrity, superior competence in the field of medicine, professional accomplishment, and demonstrated scholarship. They may show this through activities such as teaching, hospital appointments, continuing medical education, publishing scientific articles and advanced training.

In a communication to Dr Kanan Gupta, the President of the American College of Physicians, says: “In the light of your outstanding credentials, the Board of Regents has approved you early in the cycle for election to Fellowship. Congratulations on reaching this significant achievement in your professional career”. She will be formally inducted at the convocation ceremony on April 3, next year, at San Diego, California. American College of Physicians is America’s largest medical specialty organisation and the second largest physician group.

Dr Kanan (32) — an alumnus of Govt. Medical College, Patiala, and the 2nd best graduate of her batch — is among the youngest doctors to be given this honour. She pursued further studies in Philadelphia and now practices medicine and teaches in the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is the daughter of Mr T.C. Gupta, a former IAS officer of the Punjab cadre.


Seminar on AIDS held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 2
“So far 2.28 crore people have died due to AIDS in the world and 4.2 crore people suffering from AIDS are waiting for their deaths”.

This was disclosed by Prof Hazari Lal Bansal, Chairman of the Punjab AIDS Control Organisation, while addressing a seminar on AIDS awareness held at S.D. Kanya Mahavidyala here today.

Professor Bansal advised the college students that although there was no treatment for the disease, yet one could save himself or herself by following the guidelines issued by the health authorities in this regard. He suggested ways for preventing the disease.

An AIDS awareness rally was organised here today by the district administration in which more than 300 students of government schools participated.

The rally was flagged off by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner.

A painting competition on AIDS awareness was organised at the Civil Surgeon office and prizes were given away to the winners by Dr P.D. Sharma, Civil Surgeon.


Mall to have parking lots
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
Traffic jams on the Mall Road here will minimise if the proposal to use footpaths in front of shops for parking is implemented in letter and spirit.

The practice of using footpaths for parking will be extended to other areas in the city if the experiment on the Mall Road is successful. Parking has become a major problem in the city. People park vehicles haphazardly on the roads, creating traffic bottlenecks.

Sources said a drive was launched a few days back to clear footpaths and pavements on the Mall Road. The authorities had taken away items put on footpaths by shopkeepers.

Official sources said after proper marking of space for parking, strict action would be taken against violators. The police would be deployed on a 1.5-km stretch of the Mall Road.

The office of the Deputy Commissioner had agreed to provide two recovery vehicles to the police to tow away vehicles parked wrongly.

Police sources said six policemen had been deployed on the Mall Road to check encroachments, on footpaths and pavements.

The anti-encroachment drive continued in different parts of the city today. Municipal councillors said they were satisfied with the drive and there was no interference by them in the campaign.


163 persons donate blood
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 2
The Rotary Club, Kharar, organised a blood donation camp in Khalsa Senior Secondary School here today.

This was the 9th such camp organised by the club. Mr Rupinder Singh, DSP Kharar, was the chief guest on the occasion. He praised the club for its effort.

The president of the club, Mr H.P.S. Rekhi, welcomed the guests. He appreciated the enthusiasm shown by the public, especially students.

The first batch of donors consisted of 25 persons. Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala and his sister, who had come here from Canada on a visit, also donated blood at the camp. Then 25 students of Khalsa School donated blood under the leadership of Mr Avtar Singh Gill, Principal of the school.

Students of Giandeep Public School, members of the Lions Club, Rotarians, members of the Innerwheel Club, local policemen and many others also donated blood at the camp.

In all 163 persons donated blood at the camp. A team of doctors from the PGI conducted the camp under the leadership of Dr Usha Rao. The project chairman, Mr Neelam Kumar, said many interested persons had to be returned due to shortage of time. The guest of honour, Mr J.S. Bajwa, MD, Bajwa Developers Private Limited, could not come to the camp, but he donated a sum of Rs 5,100/- to the Rotary Club, Kharar.

Every donor was honoured by giving a badge and a certificate by the club.


Sant Veer Singh honoured

Moga, December 2
Sant Veer Singh, the defeated presidential candidate in the November 12 SGPC poll, was honoured in a gurdwara at his native Madhoke village yesterday.

Some of Badal’s supporters , during a meeting held here on November 18 to honour those who stood by the former Chief Minister during the crucial SGPC elections, had given a call for social boycott of Sant Veer Singh, and dubbed him a Congress agent.

Leaders of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Panthic Morcha, Sant Samaj, an SGPC panel leader and a former Akal Takht Jathedar attended the congregation at the Gurdwara Gurusar Madhoke where Sant Veer Singh was honoured with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) to send out a clear message to supporters of the boycott call.

The religious assembly was addressed, among others, by Sant Samaj president, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, former Punjab Assembly Speaker and Panthic Morcha leader Ravi Inder Singh, former Akal Takht Jathedar Jasvir Singh Rode, SGPC panel’s former convener Mal Singh Ghuman, Tohra-led SHSAD leader Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, and Akali Dal (Panthak) president Harcharan Singh Rode.

Significantly, SAD senior leader and member of its political affairs committee, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who had supported the candidature of Sant Veer Singh, also spoke on the occasion, saying he opposed the re-election of Badal’s nominee Kirpal Singh Badungar as SGPC president because of his (Badungar) links with controversial Piara Singh Bhaniara. UNI


Hussain brothers honoured
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 2
The 24th Kala Utsav-2002 organised by Abhinaya Kala Mandir concluded here yesterday night.

The utsav was inaugurated by Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, on Saturday.

Ghazal singers Ahmad Hussain and Mohammad Hussain were conferred with Pancham Samman R.D. Burman Award 2002 by Dr Kewal Krishan and Mr Ashwani Kumar, Member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

Hussain brothers began performance with “Ye hasin jawan nazare” penned by Chirag Jaipuri.

They followed it with Ishq agar ek taraf ho” by Hasrat Jaipuri.

Even children did not wish to leave without hearing what Ghalib had said about “the fire and the agony of the all consuming love”. They were there in large numbers and registered their presence in various ways.

Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural Affairs promised every help for the construction of the auditorium.

Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA, Pathankot, who is also convener of the Abhinaya Kala Mandir organised the utsav.

Mr Khanna also presented the Ghafil Izaz, instituted in the memory of Pandit Chuni Lal Pal to thespian Gursharan Singh. He also presented mementos to other participants.


Old-age pensioners protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
Fifty old age pensioners, including physically challenged and widows demand the release of pensions to them which were stopped following an expose of Rs 24 crore scam in the Social Welfare Department, Punjab. Decrying the attitude of the state government here today, the pensioners raised slogans.

Chand Rani, pensioner of the Chabal road said in choked voice that her husband and son died about nine years ago in an accident and she was suffering from many diseases. She had no means for treatment or food.

Chhindi of Gillwali Gate said that she lost her pension copy about four years ago. The department issued her duplicate copy, but not the pension. She alleged that she visited various officials, but failed to get her pension released.

Sheela, the mother of a mentally-challenged daughter, had become a domestic help, since she has not been given the pension.

Social activist Laxmi Kanta Chawla said the government had made a commitment that it would give Rs 300 to each pensioner per month. But the government has not honoured it. She urged the government to do its bit for those pensioners who had none to take their care.


Desi ghee supply to gurdwaras to be stopped
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
The state government has decided to stop the supply of ‘desi ghee’ to all Sikh shrines coming under the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in violation of the tender.

In a strong protest lodged with the state government, Mr Alwinder Singh Pakhoke, Senior Vice-President, SGPC said that as per the tender, the Cooperation Department was to supply the desi ghee from April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003. Mr Pakhoke said that with the decision of the state government to discontinue the supply after December 7 it would be practically difficult to prepare huge quantity of “kadah parshad”, required as per ‘maryada’.

The SGPC had received a letter from the local MD, Milkfed, (Verka) who expressed his inability to supply the desi ghee after December 7.

Mr Pakhoke alleged that the state government was deliberately trying to create unsavoury situation by resorting to such tactics.


Five of groom’s family cremated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
A pall of gloom descended on a family whose five members, including a two and half years old child, were crushed to death by a truck. The family was going towards the Royal Marriage Palace to receive the bride here late last evening when the accident took place.

The mishap occurred about 10.30 p.m. on the Majitha road. Joginder Kumar, the bridegroom, lost his father Kewal Kumar, maternal aunt Usha Rani and cousin Kartik.

The family members of Bholi, a cousin of Joginder Kumar, whose leg was crushed in the accident alleged that she was not attended in the government hospital here. She was admitted to a private hospital early morning today, they added. The five members of the family were cremated at Shivpuri here today.

The truck driver Ganesh was beaten up by the agitated members of the family. The police said he was drunk. A case of murder has been registered against him.


NRIs to discuss Rakhra hospital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
Mr Bhagwan Dass, Director of the Punjab Young Farmers Association (PYFA), will leave for the USA on Thursday to discuss and finalise the project of setting up a deluxe hospital at Rakhra, near here. A meeting to give final shape to the project will be held at Milwaukee, USA, next week. Among others, it will be attended by some NRIs who have shown interest in the project.

The meeting has been called at the instance of Mr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal (brother of Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, MLA), a multi-millionaire, who is known as a gas king owning 700 to 800 gas stations in the USA. He has donated large sums here for giving awards to writers and for the promotion of the public school at Nabha.

The hospital is proposed to be built by Subedar Kartar Singh International Educational and Punjabi Cultural Society, Rakhra, is collaboration with the Punjab Young Farmers Association.

Mr Dhaliwal will mobilise Rs 2 crore for the project. PYFA has sought assistance from the Central Government as a voluntary organisation to contribute its share. PYFA President Jagdeep Singh Cheema is already abroad to mobilise support of the Punjabis for the project.


10 villages chosen for development
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 2
Punjab Public Works Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa today said 10 villages of the state had been chosen for development under the Rural Integrated Development Scheme, under which Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.25 crore would be spent to develop each village on modern lines.

He was speaking at a function held to distribute Rs 69 lakh among Scheduled Caste children as attendance honorarium at Mandauli village in Ghanaur. The minister said the villages chosen would be provided sewerage, streetlights and latrines and streets would be relaid.

Mr Randhawa added that a scheme had been prepared to ensure flood waters of the Ghaggar did not destroy crops in the Ghanaur constituency during the monsoon. He said the scheme had been passed by the World Bank, adding it would be completed in an year. He said Rs 700-crore loan had been taken by the government from international agencies for augmenting the rural water supply schemes in the rural areas. He said twenty schemes had been prepared in constituency itself and one would be undertaken in Mandauli village.


Anti-leprosy drive launched
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
A modified leprosy elimination campaign was today launched in the district at a function at the Civil Surgeon office complex here. The function was presided over by Mr Daljeet Singh, SDM.

Dr Mrs Rana Harinder, Civil Surgeon, said special leprosy detection camps would be organised in all civil hospitals and primary health centres of the district. The Civil Surgeon also flagged off a rally on AIDS awareness in which hundreds of students took part.

The gathering was also addressed among others by Dr H. N. Sharma, an ENT specialist, and Dr A. K. Khullar, Deputy Medical Commissioner-cum-member secretary of the District Leprosy Society, Ropar.


Rally against drug abuse organised
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 2
On the first day of the fortnight-long campaign against drug abuse, the district administration along with many social organisations organised a “chetna rally” and took out a procession through the main streets of the town here today. More than 1,000 children of different educational institutions, besides leading citizens participated.

Expressing concern over the menace, Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, who flagged off the procession, laid stress on taking effective steps, both medically and socially, to end this evil.

Dr Rajinder Singh, civil Surgeon, Mr Parveen Kala, a state awardee social worker, and Mr Gurdial Singh, Secretary of the District Red Cross Society, spoke on the occasion.


Garg to support residents’ stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Punjab minister, said today that he would support the agitation of the residents, who had been issued notices by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), to vacate their premises.

Mr Garg in a press note issued here today said that the notices issued to the residents residing near the fort in the city were not justified. He said that he would participate in any agitation of the residents.

Mr Garg said there was nothing illegal if the residents constructed their houses near the fort. He said that for preserving historical monuments the ASI could not evict the residents.


Farmers face water shortage
Our Correspondent

Moga, December 2
Farmers of various villages in the district today complained that they had been facing an acute shortage of canal water for the past several months. They said whatever canal water was being supplied to them, did not reach the canal ends and their rabi crop sown earlier had started withering.

They further said the Kingwan canal passing through their village in Moga was filled with polythene bags and also other dirty substances. They also complained that certain persons (farmers) having political as well as administrative approach were stealing canal water.


MLA proceeds against civic officials
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 2
Mr Nathu Ram, MLA, Malout, has sought action against officials of the local municipal council, who breached protocol by putting his name below that of the local municipal councillors on the foundation stone of a building that was laid on November 24 by the Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Usha R. Sharma.

Finding his name below the names of 21 municipal councillors of the town was insulting. He protested against the breach of protocol to the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Nathu Ram, who had not given his consent for engraving his name on the foundation stone, also took up the matter with the Speaker Vidhan Sabha.

Talking to TNS yesterday, he pointed out that he had sought action against the executive officer; engineers of the local Municipal Council.

After Mr Nathu Ram’s protest, Mrs Sharma has got the foundation stone replaced. The new stone has Mr Nathu Ram’s name written above the names of the municipal councillors.

She said the authorities concerned were planning action against officials involved in the mischief.

The local Municipal Council has two senior Akali leaders — Mr Ram Singh Aarewala and Mr Diwan Makkar as its president and vice-president, respectively.


End contract system in RTP: panel
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
The sub-committee, formed by the Contract Labour Advisory Board, Punjab, to abolish the contract labour system in the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP), has recommended to completely end the contract labour system in the coal handling plant of the RTP and regularise the services of 700 contract labourers, working in the Coal Handling Plant.

Besides, the sub-committee has also recommended to give salaries and allowances on a par with the PSEB employees to contract workers, working at the plant under maintenance and sanitation branches of the Thermal Plant.

This will increase the workers’ salaries three to four times as compared to the existing wages. The sub-committee also decided that no illegal retrenchment of workers would be done at the plant.

Giving this information here today, Mr R.K. Tiwari, President of the RTP Contractor Worker Union (AITUC), said the sub-committee, comprising Labour Commissioner, Punjab, Mr V.K. Mohindru, General Manager of the RTP and R.K. Tiwari, had already submitted its report to the Contract Labour Advisory Board, Punjab.

The board had recently passed this report and also decided to send it to the Supreme Court in four weeks for consideration in a contract workers related case.

Contract workers today held a rally at the main gate of the plant claiming it as a victory of the contract workers.

Mr Tiwari assured the workers that the decision of the sub-committee would be got implemented in letter and spirit.


Draft voters’ list for public scrutiny
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 2
The Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM) here has released the first draft of voters’ lists of the Kharar constituency. The process of finalisation of these lists will begin after December 10, 2002, the last date for pointing out any changes in these lists.

The administration has made available these lists for public scrutiny by pasting them in the municipal council offices in SAS Nagar and Kharar and in the patwaris’ offices in the various villages, falling in these constituency.

Stating that no changes in these lists will be allowed after the stipulated date, the SDM, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, said, “The general public has been instructed to visit these offices and carefully check their names and addresses on these lists and in case there is any flaw, point it out immediately.”

The applicant will, however, be required to take proofs of his claim to the officer concerned to get the various changes done. “There are three kinds of changes listed. Either it can be a claim, an objection or a correction. Separate forms are available to request the necessary changes.” said Mr Sandhu.

This is the first draft of the lists prepared by the SDM here for both Kharar and SAS Nagar. The lists will be finalised between December 10, 2002, and February 20, 2003, and the final list published on February 17.


Probe ordered into ‘benami’ land deals
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 2
The Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, today ordered an inquiry into the acquisition of hundreds of acres of “benami” land by certain persons in Nanglian and Khairpur villages of Kharar tehsil in this district.

Sources in the administration said that in view of the seriousness of the matter, the Deputy Commissioner had constituted a high-level four-member inquiry committee, headed by the Ropar Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Mr Vikas Garg. Other members of the committee included the Kharar SDM, Mr S.S. Gill, and the Ropar DDPO, Mr Jaswant Singh.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within three days.


Woman plotted son’s murder: police
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 2
In a bizarre incident, the police, while probing the case of kidnapping of 7-year-old Gurpreet, alias Gopi, found that the boy’s mother Bimla Devi (35), had asked her paramour Manjit Kumar (18), alias Sonu, to murder her son.

Ms V. Neeraja, SSP, while addressing mediapersons here, said on November 28, Bimla Devi and her husband Husan Lal, residents of Bahua village, lodged a complaint that their 7-year-old son was missing since the evening before and apprehended that someone might have kidnapped him. The same day, the police got information that an unidentified badly wounded boy was lying unconscious at a military farm at Bir Sarangwal village.

The police rushed to the site, picked the boy and admitted him to hospital, where doctors saved him. In his statement, the boy told the police that he had been wounded with a sharp-edged weapon by Manjit Kumar, a scooter mechanic, of Mehli village. After the arrest of Manjit Kumar today, the truth came to light.

The accused, who was presented before the mediapersons, said Bimla Devi, whose husband had been residing abroad for the past seven years, had frequently been visiting a PCO near his scooter repair shop at Mehli, where they developed illicit relations. A few months ago, her husband returned from abroad. Gopi saw his mother and Manjit Kumar in a compromising position and reported the matter to his father, leading to a quarrel.

One day, Bimla Devi her paramour gave a ‘datar’ (a sharp-edged weapon) and asked him to murder Gopi. He took the boy to Bir Sarangwal village, wounded him with the ‘datar’ and left him there, the accused admitted.


Jawan shoots Subedar
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, December 2
An Army jawan shot dead a Subedar at Hazara Singhwala village today.

According to details available from the local police, Raminder Pal, an Army jawan of 18 Grenadiers, shot dead Subedar Jagat Singh with his official SLR following a minor quarrel.


Power to ANM institute, hostel cut
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
Power supply to the hostel of ANM training institute here has been disconnected and the students have been using lanterns girls living in the hostel find it difficult at night. The power to the institute and the hostel was disconnected on November 11 and has not been restored despite requests by students.

Girls fear that miscreants could take 'advantage' of the situation and create nuisance. Without disclosing identity the students said that they did not feel secure in such situation. They said their parents were also worried about their safety.

The authorities expressed helplessness when the students urged them have power supply restored.

The authorities purchased a few lanterns and provided these to students.

The hostel and the institute is situated on the civil hospital premises. Forty students stay in the hostel. As per the norms relating to the ANMs' training even the students living in the city or nearby towns have to stay in the hostel.

The students said local students and those of nearby towns could go to their homes daily but for rules of the course. They said that in absence of proper light and fear of miscreants they could not study.

Power was disconnected as the authorities failed to deposit Rs 60,000 bill. The authorities could not use funds of other department of the hospital for paying the bill. Even temporary arrangement for power to the institution from other wing of the hospital could not be made as Punjab State Electricity Board rules do not permit it. If done it would amount to power theft.

Mr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, confirmed disconnection of power to the institute, he said that due to shortage of funds, the bill could not be deposited.

Mr Goyal said for the security of hostel girls two watchmen had been put on duty in place of one watchman.

He said he had written to higher authorities for the funds. The funds are to be released by the Finance Department through the Health Department. Efforts were on to arrange funds so that power supply could be restored.


Students protest against hike in PTA funds
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 2
In protest against hike in the funds of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), students of the local Government Degree College today boycotted classes and raised slogans against the college authorities here. The students said they would go on an indefinite strike till their demands were met.

The students criticised the college authorities for not providing them basic facilities. They also held the authorities responsible for not maintaining sanitation in toilets. Besides other demands, they sought sufficient teaching staff in the college.

The students complained that the hike was not justified because a majority of the students belonged to poor families.

The students complained that the authorities had raised the PTA fund amounting to Rs 400 from Rs 200 in the year. Despite raising the fund amount, the authorities were not providing them basic facilities.

Ms Gurdev Kaur, Principal, said the hike had been imposed after a decision was taken at a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association.

She said the college had appointed four teachers who were being paid salary from the PTA fund. To generate funds for their salaries, hike in the PTA funds was necessary.

The students demanded that the government or the college authorities should appoint teachers without putting an extra burden on the students.


Pass issue: morcha backs students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
Mr Jagmail Singh, district unit secretary, Lok Morcha Punjab, here today alleged that while the government was maintaining a silence on the concessional bus pass issued to students and a section of mini bus operators had been harassing students since long.

Mr Jagmail Singh said the concessional bus pass facility was started in 1974 for the students and now the government was under pressure from certain lobbies of transporters to cancel the same. He said the WTO, the IMF and other such agencies have been pressurising the government to withdraw from the social services sector and encourage open competition and promote capitalism.

He said a section of the district administration and college authorities had been directed to ask the students to tone down their struggle and agree to pay for the fare. He alleged that the mini bus operators enjoyed political support.

Mr Jagmail Singh pointed out that a section of the political parties and leaders who “impounded” operators buses for carrying their supporters to the rallies and dharnas were causing real losses. He alleged that the political parties did not even pay for the services of the bus while the operators harassing students and innocent passengers to make profits.


Declamation contest at Sirhind
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 2
For the all-round development of students, the co-curricular activities and participation in sports activities is a must, as in the age of competition general knowledge is equally important as is bookish knowledge, said Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the second Lala Devi Dyal Verma Memorial Declamation Contest organised by Ashoka Senior Secondary School, Sirhind, today. In this contest more than 16 teams from different schools of the district participated.

The Deputy Commissioner said that in the present age of information technology such activities play an important role as the students get wide information, develop the mental calibre and a sense of confidence after addressing on the stage. He urged the teachers to work with missionary spirit as the future of the country lies in their hands. He appreciated the efforts of Ashoka Educational Trust for promoting the cause of education in the area by opening various schools and colleges.

In this competition nine different topics of various fields of life from corruption to environment, drug abuse among youths, cable TV boon or bane etc. were given to the students. The overall trophy was won by the students from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Memorial School, Mandi Gobindgarh. In individual performance Ms Tamanna from GPS, Mandi Gobindgarh, won the first prize, Venus Sharma of Shaheed Bhagat Singh School, Mandi Gobindgarh won the second prize and Satinder Singh of SANS Sr. Sec. School, Mandi Gobindgarh, won the third prize.

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