P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



5 elected to RS from Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
PPCC President H.S. Hanspal today bowing to the wishes of the party high command, withdrew from the contest for the Rajya Sabha.

The withdrawal by Mr Hanspal paved the way for the unopposed election of Mr Gill to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate from Punjab. Besides Mr Gill, others elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from the state are- the SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, both SAD candidates; and Mr Ashwani Kumar and Mr Dharmpal of the Congress. They will take the oath as members of the Rajya Sabha on April 9.

The BJP will have no representation in the Rajya Sabha from Punjab this time. Earlier, it had two members — Mr Lajpat Rai and Bibi Gurcharan Kaur — in the Rajya Sabha form Punjab. Their term will come to an end in the second week of April.


New Rajya Sabha members reveal their mind
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

The newly elected Rajya Sabha members from Punjab

Mr Manohar Singh Gill
Mr Manohar Singh Gill

Mr Ashwani Kumar
Mr Ashwani Kumar

Mr Dharampal Sabharwal
Mr Dharampal Sabharwal

Mr G.S. Tohra
Mr G.S. Tohra

Mr Varinder Bajwa
Mr Varinder Bajwa

Chandigarh, March 19
Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa and Mr Dharampal Sabharwal shared a classroom at Government School, Hoshiarpur, long ago. After a long gap, they will again be together in the Rajya Sabha.

Though Mr Bajwa and Mr Sabharwal belong to different political streams, they have a strong social bond. “We are friends and often meet at social gatherings”, said Mr Sabharwal. It is perhaps for the first time that residents of Hoshiarpur will see two eminent citizens represent them in the Upper House.

Mr Bajwa, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha as a SAD nominee, said the political culture of Hoshiarpur was different from the rest of the state. Politicians of rival parties often get together at social occasions and try to resolve common community problems keeping aside political differences and ideologies.

“I won’t mind asking Mr Sabharwal, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate, to pool our funds under the MP local Area Development Fund for building some good institutions and taking up other development projects”, said Mr Bajwa. Mr Sabharwal is not averse to the suggestion. Even the third MP, who will be elected to the Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur in a few weeks, can also join us, said Mr Bajwa. “There are a large number of problems with regard to choes, drinking water etc in the Hoshiarpur belt”, he added.

SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who will represent the SAD in the Rajya Sabha for the sixth time, says there are many tasks on his agenda. These include the repair of gurdwaras in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the land of a gurdwara in Dhaka has been put on sale. The new draft of the All-India Gurdwara Act has been hanging fire for the past two years. There are issues pertaining to Sikh educational institutions and sacred Takhts such as Hazoor Sahib. There were several other issues pertaining to Punjab. “I will press the Union Government to help him resolve these issues”, he added.

Mr M.S. Gill, a former Chief Election Commissioner, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress nominee for the first time, has not started revealing his mind on political issues. He prefers to talk about problems of rural masses, industry and other aspects of Punjab and country’s economy.

“I would like to give a new shape to the rural economy. And I have the capacity to do so. There are only a few who have the courage to work on the rural front. A former senior IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, Mr Gill has held important positions in Punjab and at the Centre.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, who has been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate, says his focus this time will be on solving the problems of unemployment and industrialisation of the state. Thanking Mrs Sonia Gandhi, he said he would espouse the aspirations of people.

“My family have been serving the people of the state for the past six decades and I would uphold that tradition”, he added. “I would not indulge in petty politics and try to uplift the standard of debate in the august House. Time has come to reinforce the democratic values and ethos”, he said.


Contractors delay power supply plan
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 19
The landmark 24-hour rural domestic power supply scheme, which envisages extending this facility to all villages in the state by June this year and is a major poll plank of the Congress, has run into rough weather with contractors supplying poles adopting go-slow tactics to hike the pole rates.

To execute the scheme, the Punjab State Electricity Board recently took a decision to give a contract for laying of lines in 1,000 villages to an agency. The decision was apparently taken due to problems in the supply of poles for the scheme to the PSEB. Earlier, the Punjab Mandi Board had been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the scheme in 1,000 villages. The PSEB is now left with the target of laying 24-hour lines in about 4,000 villages.

Sources said the earlier decision of the PSEB to outsource work in 1,000 villages to the Punjab Mandi Board led to the present problem in the supply of poles. They said the Punjab Mandi Board was paying around Rs 1,200 per pole as compared to about Rs 1,000 per pole being paid by the PSEB. The sources said as there were only a dozen or so firms which were making concrete poles, the firms had started supplying poles to the Punjab Mandi Board at a cost at which they were supplying the poles to the PSEB.

The firms also made a pressure group and urged the PSEB recently to hike the contract rate to correspond with the rate being offered by the Punjab Mandi Board. The PSEB has not agreed to it, following which the firms had slowed down the supplies to it. PSEB Member, Operations, S.K. Anand said the matter had been resolved and that the PSEB was getting its supplies from the contractors.

However, in the same breath, Mr Anand stated that the PSEB had recently taken a decision to give a contract to outsource the 24-hour scheme for another 1,000 villages. He said tenders regarding this would appear in the Press shortly. The decision had been taken in view of the necessity to complete the scheme by June this year.

PSEB Material Management Chief Engineer H.P. Singh admitted that there was a shortage of transformers. He said some of the contractors had not completed their delivery schedule, adding that penalties would be levied on contractors giving late deliveries. He said the PSEB had placed new orders for the supply of 1.5 lakh transformers last month. The power supply position was likely to improve once these supplies started.

The sources said political pressure to speed up the scheme had resulted in giving orders to private contractors on a large scale as the PSEB’s workshops in Mohali and Muktsar were not able to meet the requirements. The PSEB’s cost for manufacturing eight metre poles, which are mainly used by it, is Rs 774 per pole while for nine metre poles, it is Rs 838 per pole.


SGPC to do kar seva despite objection
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee has decided to go ahead with the proposed kar seva of the Golden Temple’s sarovar for supplying filtered water, despite opposition by Head Granthi, Darbar Sahib and experts.

The kar seva would start from March 25 as per schedule by the Panj Piaras. After commissioning of the holy tank in 1577, the sarovar was cleared through kar seva four times and it would be the fifth kar seva.

Earlier, giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple had objected over the reports of USA-based experts who had found some pollution in the holy tank. Giani Puran Singh had claimed that since inception, water of the holy tank of Golden Temple had special properties which had cured many devotees who were suffering from chronic illness.

Water resources experts, including Dr G.S. Dhillon, had claimed that the proposed installation of filtration plant in Golden Temple premises could create complications rather than supplying ‘pure water’.

He alleged that the SGPC had not sought the suggestions from water resources experts who had done a lot of research on the causes of pollution in the sarovar in the past. Had the proposals of the Irrigation and Power Research Institute been carried out in toto, the situation (regarding pollution) faced today would not have arisen. He suggested that if the suggestions of experts for installing rapid filters at the head were not accepted, the filtered water would result in rapid growth of algae which would be difficult to handle.


Board suspends three for paper leakage;
orders probe
Tribune News Service

New exam datesheets

Class X: The mathematics paper will be held on April 1 and the blind students will appear for their music (vocal) paper the same day along with the deaf and mute students who will sit for their cutting and sewing paper. The Punjabi-B/Punjab history and culture paper will be held on April 2, while the social studies paper for both the regular and compartment candidates will be held on April 4. The health and physical education exam will be held on April 5, and the Hindi/Urdu paper on April 6.

Class XII: The political science paper will be held on April 1; computer applications (234) for all groups, rural development and environment (232), music (instrumental 221) papers will be held on April 2; elective Punjabi (204)/Hindi (205) /elective English (206)/Urdu (207), Bengali, Gujarati, Kannad, Marathi, Malayalam, Manipuri, Oriya, Asssamese, Sindhi, Tamil and Telugu on April 4; home science (228), defence studies (226)/ music (tabla 222) on April 5; philosophy (217), geometrical perspective and architectural drawing (230) on April 6; religion (219), history of appreciation of arts (231) on April 7; Sanskrit (208)/ Persian (236) German, French, Russian, Arabic on April 8; Gurmat sangeet (223), book-keeping and accountancy (214) ton April 10 and business organisation and management (213), music vocal (220) on April 11.

The board officials further clarified that the practical papers scheduled for the above dates as part of the earlier scheduled will not be held. The centre superintendents will be informed later about the new practical exam dates. 

Mohali, March 19
Even as the Punjab School Education Board today constituted a fact-finding committee to inquire into the cause of the widespread leakage of its Class X and XII question papers, three board employees were suspended for negligence of duty that led to the leakage of the question papers in Gurdaspur and Ludhiana.

The board also issued fresh date sheets for the cancelled and postponed papers of Classes X and XII which will begin on April 1 and end by April 11.

These decisions were taken during the day-long meeting of the members of the board held today. While most of the day was spent in discussing the paper leakage issue, the members also passed the Rs 82.16-crore annual budget of the board.

Talking to mediapersons, the board Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, said the board’s first priority was to get the examinations re-conducted so that students did not suffer. He added that the fact-finding committee constituting board members would hold an independent inquiry into the paper leakage and submit its report at the earliest. The committee members include Ms Rita Bawa, Mr Sheor, Mr L.N. Sharma, Mr Avtar singh and Mr G.S. Samra.

He further informed that the board members decided to suspend Tarsem Lal, a superintendent in the examination branch along with two clerks Mahinder Pal and Joginder Singh for having ‘lost’ a packet containing the complete set of question papers of Class X in Gurdaspur. Interestingly, these three employees had supervised the transportation of question papers of Class XII to Ludhiana centres too from where the maximum incidents of paper leakage have come to light.

Probe ordered

The Principal Secretary, School Education, Punjab, Mrs Tejinder Kaur, has asked Mr Anurag Agarwal, Director General, School Education, to conduct an independent inquiry into the leakage of question papers of the Punjab School Education Board. Mrs Tejinder Kaur said the officer had been asked to submit his report within three weeks.

Terming the turn of events as unfortunate, Dr Kehar Singh defended the various decisions taken by the Controller of Examinations, Mrs Narinder Kaur, of creating new examination centres in private schools and of dispatching the Class X question papers more than a week before the examinations began.

‘‘If it had to so with the number of days that the paper were lying in a centre then the Class XII question papers should not have leaked as these were sent just two days before the examination began. Also it is also incorrect to say that the paper have leaked due to certain private schools being made centres of examinations as private schools have been centres of examinations for many years now,’’ he said. He added that the conduct of examinations was a matter of trust and even if one person involved in the mammoth process decided to be dishonest, there is nothing much that the board could do to stop it.

Stating clearly that he had not given a clean chit to any of the board employees, Dr Kehar Singh pointed that action would be taken on those found guilty by the fact finding committee. ‘‘Action was taken on these three employees as board members felt that there was prima facie evidence available that they had lapsed in their duties,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the SP of Mohali, Mr Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, today stated that no cases have been registered here on the complaint of the board. ‘‘We have no evidence available that the paper leakage has taken place in Mohali, so we have not registered any FIR. We will start investigations based on the complaint given by the board.

The SP informed that he had asked for detailed information from the board regarding the conduct of the examination for cracking the case.

Meanwhile, reacting to the decision of the board to suspend three employees, the president of the Education Board Employees Union stated that the board employees would not undertake any examination duty and would hold a protest rally on Monday against the decision. The board had in order to save an officer used the three employees as scapegoats, alleged the union members.


Class X students a disappointed lot
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 19
Disappointment was writ large on the faces of the students of Class X after their annual exams were postponed by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). They demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for his failure to set things right in the education department.

Apart from demanding the resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh, a cross section of students, while talking to TNS, said the Governor should order a probe into the incident pertaining to the leakage of question paper through an independent agency.

“We are not at fault if the board’s question paper had got leaked at a centre set up in one of the districts of state bordering Pakistan. The authorities concerned, on exam duty there should be taken to task and students should be punished for the fault of others,” said the students, who have been appearing in different examination centres in Bathinda and Mansa districts.

The PSEB had postponed four papers of Matriculation examination and had cancelled one paper of mathematics. The cancellation of mathematics paper had left more than three lakh students disappointed.

Mr R. Malhotra, a senior official, and Mr Pardeep Kumar, a businessman, whose children were taking Matriculation examination, pointed out that most of the students were in a state of shock when the PSEB authorities cancelled the maths paper.

They demanded that criminal cases should be registered against the staff members involved in the malpractice.

Mr Ram Nath Rampura, president, Adhiyapak Dal, Punjab, in a press note issued here today, pointed out that postponement and cancellation of exams of Matriculation would delay the admission of the students to the next class. He said papers had been leaked due to the negligence of PSEB but the students were being made to pay a price for it.

Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Mittal, president, BJP, Bathinda Mandal unit, alleged that from the manner in which the boards’ exam of matric and Plus 2 classes were being conducted, it had become clear that some of the PSEB staff members were minting money by leaking the question papers.


Badal accused of encouraging graft
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 19
Mr Simranjit Singh Maan, President, Akali Dal (Amritsar), has ruled out the possibility of making alliance with any faction of the Akali Dal in the elections in Punjab. He accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, of encouraging corruption in the nomination of party candidates.

Talking to mediapersons at Serai Naga village yesterday, Mr Maan, who launched a poll campaign, said the party would contest elections on major issues like weeding out corruption and protection of rights of minorities. He said the party would likely to contest the elections for all 13 constituencies.

Earlier, addressing a rally, he introduced the candidate, Mr Gurlal Singh, to the gathering.


PSGPC offer to cricket fans
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
Even as hotels in Lahore are reportedly full to capacity these days, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) has decided in principle to accommodate cricket fans in Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, on the recommendation of the Shiromani Akali Dal, New Delhi or the SGPC during two ODIs scheduled to be played in Lahore on March 21 and March 24.

According to Mr Parmjit Sarna, president, SAD (New Delhi), Mr Izhar-ul-Hassan, Additional Secretary, Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board, which also looks after PSGPC affairs, had assured him that the gates of the gurdwara would remain open to those cricket fans who would show recommendation letters of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, SAD (New Delhi) or the SGPC. Mr Hassan, however, told Mr Sarna that due to certain reasons all cricket fans could not be accommodated without recommendation. Mr Hassan also assured Mr Sarna that the cricket fans would be provided ‘langar’ in the gurdwara complex itself during the ODIs.

Gurdwara Dera Sahib is situated in the heart of Lahore city, which is opposite Minar-e-Pakistan. The gurdwara, where the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, was martyred, has more than 250 rooms for devotees.


Buses for cricket matches
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
Punjab Roadways will ply special buses from Amritsar to Wagah for the convenience of people visiting Lahore to watch the forthcoming cricket matches between India and Pakistan.

The buses will ply on March 20, 21 and 24 from Ranjit Avenue in Amritsar between 7.30 am to 3 pm. The buses will ply on the hour. The buses will also ply from Wagah to Amritsar from March 20 to March 25 from 7.30 am to 6 pm.

Only those who have a valid visa as well as a ticket for the matches will be allowed to travel.


Barnala men to campaign for Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 19
Succumbing to the pressure, mounted by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal on the Barnala faction to extend support to Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD candidate from Sangrur Parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha elections, some of the top leaders, including Mr Baldev Singh Mann, of the Barnala faction would now start campaigning for Mr Dhindsa from March 23 in the Dirba Assembly constituency.

Initially, besides the Barnala family, Mr Baldev Singh Mann, general secretary, SAD, and a close confidant of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla and Mr Kashmir Singh, senior vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the SAD, and Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial, Jathedar of Dirba Circle of the SAD, were opposing allotment of the SAD ticket to Mr Dhindra. They were seeking the SAD Lok Sabha ticket for the Sangrur Parliamentary constituency for Mr Surjit Singh Barnala or to any other candidate of Mr Barnala’s choice.

However, some compromise was reached between Mr Badal and Barnala family for extending support to Mr Dhindsa, despite the fact the Barnala faction had been alleging that Mr Dhindsa and his supporters, including Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi, former AM of the PSEB, and Mr Teja Singh Kamalpur, Chairman of the Sangrur Milk Plant, had played a role in the defeat of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala during 1999 Parliamentary elections and also in the defeat of Mr Baldev Singh Mann as a candidate of the SAD from Dirba Assembly Constituency in 1997 and 2002 Assembly elections.

Talking to TNS over the phone today, Mr Baldev Singh Mann said he would tour about 17 villages in the Dirba area on March 23 for campaigning in favour of Mr Dhindsa. He said besides him, Mr Ajaib Singh Khetla, Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Gurtej Singh Karrial would also accompany Mr Dhindsa during his campaign.

Mr Mann said they had decided to campaign for Mr Dhindsa after an assurance by the SAD chief that Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachi and his supporters would not enter the election office of Mr Dhindsa at Dirba nor he would campaign with them. Mr Mann said he would be the in charge of election office of Mr Dhindsa in Dirba though one person from Mr Dhindsa’s side would be there to maintain accounts.

However, Mr Mann said they would not oppose Mr Bachi and his supporters in case they campaigned for Mr Dhindsa at their own.

Mr Bachi had been expelled from the SAD during February 2002 Assembly elections for opposing Mr Baldev Singh Mann who was the SAD candidate from Dirba. But Mr Bachi had managed to get an entry through Mr Dhindsa into the SAD during the last month.

It was also surprising that how Barnala faction had agreed to campaign for Mr Dhindsa, when Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala, wife of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, had been lashing out against Mr Parkash Singh Badal nowadays and showing her inclination towards the newly revived SAD (Longowal).


Christians to support Congress
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 19
The Punjab United Christian Front has decided to support the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.

Stating this here today, Mr Kanwal Bakshi, president of the front, said that more than 15 lakh Christian voters would play a significant role to turn the tables against the BJP.

Mr Bakshi said the Christians in the state would vote in favour of the Congress candidates which was fighting the election on the issues of eradicating corruption and providing transparent administration.


Plea for AIDS testing centre at Nabha
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Nabha, March 19
Months after private laboratories in the town reported a high incidence of AIDS in the region, the district health authorities have now requested the State AIDS Control Society to establish a voluntary counselling and testing centre (VCTC) at the Civil Hospital here to enable quality testing as well as provide counselling to the HIV-positive patients.

Private laboratories in this town openly advertise AIDS tests on boards outside their premises. This is because of a high level of AIDS cases reported from six to seven villages in the subdivision as well as a particular area in the town itself.

However, the tests done by the laboratories, which ensure complete secrecy, are coming in the way of proper identification of the diseased who are not reporting to government hospitals. All the laboratories conduct Elisa tests. However, according to standard health norms, a person can be called a confirmed AIDS case only after a western blot test is done a month after the Elisa test. This can be done only at the nearby Medical College Hospital at Patiala or at Chandigarh. Keeping this in mind, the district Civil Surgeon has requested the State Aids Control Society to establish a VCTC centre in the town.

Though private labs have been reporting an inordinate number of AIDS cases in the subdivision, a recent sensation caused by a paramour who injected HIV positive blood into a married woman in Khanna is partly responsible for the recent recommendation. This is because the infected blood was taken from a man belonging to Galvatti village near here. The district Health department conducted a camp in Galvatti village a few days back during the course of which awareness about AIDS was given to residents of the village.

Despite the camp and a one-odd camp organised earlier by the Health department, infected people of the region are still not ready to come forward to avail of counselling. While the well-off victims fear social ostracisation, the poor do not know the name of their affliction. The issue is still washed over by elders in villages which have reported AIDS cases. The fears of the villagers include the fact that they will find it difficult to marry off their children.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Hardev Singh, when questioned on the issue, said besides recommending a VCTC in the town, he had directed the senior medical officers at Nabha and Bhadson to conduct surprise raids at clinics of registered medical practitioners (RMPs) and local practitioners to stop reuse of unutilised and contaminated needles. The Civil Surgeon said, according to a survey conducted by the department, AIDS had initially spread in the region from drivers and operators of combine harvesters who travel all over the country to harvest various crops. Nabha is the main hub for manufacturing of combine harvesters in the state.

Meanwhile, social workers say a community based approach is needed to know about and reach AIDS-affected persons in the area. Dhir Singh, who runs an NGO by the name of Jan Seva, says people with AIDS in the villages were wasting away because they did not know about the disease or its ramifications. He said while the literate community was now becoming aware of the disease, the underprivileged, who had fallen prey to it, needed to be identified and given counselling about preventive measures needed to be taken by them. He said AIDS cases had been largely reported from Sheetanwala, Sadhoheri, Ramgarh, Paharpur, Dulladi, Kaidopur and Bauran Khurd besides a few more villages.


Contractors allege foul play in tender process
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 19
Mr Harwinder Pal Singla, partner M/s Singla Construction Company, Bathinda and Mr Surinder Singh, partner M/s Surinder Singh and Company, Dabwali, today alleged that they were not issued the tender forms by a senior official of the Punjab Mandi Board, Bathinda, for the works pertaining to the construction and repair of link roads.

Both of them pointed out that the Punjab Mandi Board, Bathinda office had floated tenders for the works worth about Rs 5 crore. The tender forms were to be issued to the contractors on March 18 and the same were to be received back by the officials concerned on March 19. They added that they were not issued tender forms in spite of repeated requests to the officials concerned.

Mr Singla alleged that the Mandi Board official did not bother to issue him a form despite the fact that he had submitted an affidavit to the Executive Engineer (XEN), Punjab Mandi Board, pledging to execute the same work at rates 7 per cent less than the amount mentioned in the tender notice published on February 20 in a daily.

He alleged that the mandi board authorities were trying to “help” some contractors execute the same works at much higher rates and for making it possible, the official concerned had been trying to work out a compromise among contractors, who had been issued tender forms.

He alleged that though the tender forms were to be opened at 3.30 p.m. today, yet these were not opened till late in the evening as some of the contractors, who were not issued forms and were denied an opportunity to participate in the tendering process, kept on standing outside the office of XEN.

He sought a probe into these bunglings.

Mr M.S. Brar, XEN, however, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Pesticides behind cancer deaths in Bathinda: study
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
India, especially Punjab and Haryana, which gained prosperity in the post-Green Revolution with the use of high-yielding seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation, is now paying a heavy cost for excessive use of agricultural inputs.

A Greenpeace India study on use of pesticides and its impact on children, presented during a seminar on environmental health at Guru Nanak Dev University here on Wednesday, stated that such inputs were responsible for damage to the brain and the nervous system, cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and stillbirths. The seminar was part of Sarbat Vikas Utsav, organised by Kheti Virasat in collaboration with the Department of Botanical and Environmental Sciences of the university.

The study, conducted by Kheti Virsat in Bathinda, has shown a high number of cancer patients in the district. It was found that excessive use of pesticide for cotton crop had harmful effects on the region’s environment and the health of people. In Ramanvas village, which has a population of 2,000, 25 persons died of cancer while 15 per cent are suffering from various forms of cancer. In the Bathinda region, the incidence of various forms of cancer, asthma, hypertension, kidney problems and nervous disorder was high. The number of cases of mentally retarded children, genetical abnormalities and childless couple was shocking. Many women from Bathinda district reported having received treatment for infertility before they conceived. The incidence of miscarriage was 8.4 per cent in the study area and 4.3 per cent in the control area.

The study has shown a link between a variety of reproductive health problems among women and pesticide exposure.

Dr S.G. Kabra of the Indian Institute of Health Management and Research, Jaipur, tried to link low sex ratio in Rajasthan to the excessive use of pesticides.


Daler faces hiccups before flight to Pak
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 19
Popstar Daler Mehndi faced some hiccups at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi before being allowed to board a flight to Lahore.

The star was not allowed to board the flight at the airport because of an intimation given to the authorities by the Patiala Police in October, asking them to prevent him from going abroad. Daler was wanted by the police then for his role in the alleged human trafficking case registered against him in the city.

Daler’s lawyer Brijinder Singh Sodhi said that the popstar rung him up at around 11.30 a.m. today informing him that he was not being allowed to board the flight. Mr Sodhi said he tried to reason with the immigration authorities posted at the airport, informing them about the bail given to Daler in the case but to no avail. The lawyer said finally court orders of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, who had recently directed the police to return Daler’s passport and asked the pop singer to submit it back to the Sadar police station after his Pakistan visit, were faxed to Delhi. Sodhi said Daler was able to board his scheduled flight just in time at around 1.15 a.m. today.


New twist to minor girl’s marriage case
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 19
Family members of Sarbjit Kaur, a 16-year-old Dalit girl of Pandori Khas village, near Nakodar, who was allegedly abducted by Raju of the same village on February 8, and who was later “forced” to marry Raju by his family in the presence of girl’s father, today alleged that they were being “coerced” by the Nakodar police to enter a compromise with the boy’s family and withdraw their complaint against the boy.

Sarbjit Kaur, a Class VIII student of a government school in the village, was found missing from her house in the wee hours on February 8 and was later seen along with Raju on his motor cycle by some villagers. Both of them were brought to the village on February 11, following which the girl was “forcibly” married to the boy in a village gurdwara in the presence of her father Gurmeet Singh. Mr Gurmeet Singh, who maintained that he was the lone family member in the gurdwara on February 11, besides his daughter, alleged that he was not only made to sign some papers, but was also threatened with dire consequences by the boy’s family. He lodged a complaint with the Nakodar SHO and the DSP against the boy and his family.

Mr Gurmeet Singh and his son Harminder Singh alleged that instead of taking any action, the Nakodar police, which detained the boy for some hours and let him off the same night, started pressurising him to strike a compromise with the boy’s family. “I was repeatedly harassed by police officials to withdraw my complaint. An ASI even said that I would have to face the music if I did not withdraw my complaint,” said Mr Gurmeet Singh, who submitted a complaint to Mr Opiinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP (D), today.

Meanwhile, Satya, mother of Raju, said the family had performed the marriage as per the wishes of the girl’s father and other family members.


Aero model crashes
Tribune Reporters

Goraya (Jalandhar), March 19
Curiosity drove people out of their houses and offices this morning when they came to know that some unidentified object was seen in the sky. The suspense, ended in the afternoon when it crashed and got damaged on the outskirts of this township and turned out to be a remote-controlled aero model.

A search operation was launched by the Army after it lost contact with the ground control at around 11 am.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, however, maintained that no precautionary measure was taken as this was not required in such cases.

The search team located the aero model, which crashed near Chachradi village, at around 2 pm.

Residents of nearby villages rushed to the spot after they came to know that the aero model landed in the fields of Mr Surinder Singh. A large number of mediapersons also reached the spot.

Meanwhile, the Army authorities said the aero model belonged to the Jalandhar-based Vijra Aero Model Club and was on a demonstration flight. “Although aero model was light and could not have caused any damage, civil and police officials were informed as a precautionary measure,” said Mr Naresh Vig, PRO, defence wing of the PIB.


Lawyers protest against police inaction
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 19
Members of the District Bar Association today held a dharna in front of the SSP’s office.

The lawyers were protesting against the demolition of wall of a plot of a lawyer, Mr Paramjit Singh Bajwa, situated near Markfed office allegedly by three persons, including a Congress municipal councillor and also inaction against them by the police.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Bajwa had said that a one-kanal plot which was his ancestral property and was enclosed by four walls. The plot was in possession of his family for more than over fifty years. Some building material was stacked on the plot.

Mr Sabharwal said that the lawyers would meet on Monday Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Mr A.A. Siddique Director-General, Punjab Police if their demands on registration of criminal case against the guilty persons and reconstruction of wall were not accepted.

Meanwhile, Mr Harbans Singh Walia, former Municipal Councillor denied his involvement in demolition of the wall.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, said that DSP (subdivision) had been deputed to look into the matter.


Separate gurdwara panel for Haryana opposed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today opposed the demand for separate Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in Haryana.

In a press note issued here today. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, alleged that such a demand was being raised at the behest of the Congress in Haryana. He said while the SGPC had been endeavouring to create the All-India Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee to manage all Sikh shrines in the country as per Sikh Maryada, some forces having, political interests wanted to create confusion among the Sikh masses by raising such demands.

Giving example of Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taroo Singh in Poohla village, Mr Calcutta alleged that controversial Nihang chief Ajit Singh Poohla had taken illegal control over the gurdwara which was against the spirit of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. He said as per the Act the Control of the said gurdwara should be with the local elected committee. However, the Congress Government in the state had been supporting the Nihang chief.


Toll plaza staff beat up bus driver
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 19
The driver of a Haryana Roadways Chandigarh depot, bus was thrashed by at least six employees of a private company deployed at the toll plaza on the Dera Bassi railway overbridge here this morning.

Mr Rarbir Singh, the driver of a bus (HR-68-0315) who was on his way to Pehowa from Chandigarh, was stopped by certain toll collectors at the toll plaza at about 10.30 am. After telling the toll collectors that he was possessing a pre-paid pass, the driver tried to cross the barrier. Following this, the toll collectors used abusive language and stopped the bus.

In the meantime, other employees on duty stopped the bus, dragged the driver off the bus and gave him a sound thrashing. Bus passengers intervened and rescued the driver.

Angry over the highhandedness of the toll collection staff, other drivers and conductors stopped their vehicles on the highway, causing a traffic jam on the highway for over 30 minutes. The assailants rushed to the site office on the toll collection counter and bolted the door from inside.

Traffic on the highway was restored after Dera Bassi police officials intervened and rounded up Harjinder Singh, in charge of the toll collectors. The police booked Harjinder Singh and two others under Sections 341, 186, 353, 323, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.


FCI employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 19
A large number of employees of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) today staged a dharna in front of its district office here to press its management to accept their demands and to remove anti-employees’ policies being followed by its administration.

Mr Gian Chand Bansal, additional state secretary, FCI Executive Staff Union, said that employees had to resort to the agitation, as the FCI management had not been accepting their demands. He said that a state-level dharna would be staged at Chandigarh on April 6.

He said that main demands of the employees included to stop ordering dismissals and reversions of the employees, stop punishing employees on the basis of natural losses in the procured crops, to recruit adequate number of security personnel for protecting godowns and to make arrangements for payment of overtime charges.

Two leaders Mr Resham Singh and Mr Niranjan Singh also addressed the activists of the union.


IMA meeting on March 21
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 19
The 58th Punjab State Medical Conference of the Indian Medical Association, PIMACON-2004, will be held here on March 21 in which about 500 doctors from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal are expected to participate. This was stated by Dr Kuldip Singh, president of the state unit of the IMA, at a press conference here on Wednesday night.

He said the theme of the conference is “Doctor-Patient Relationship”.


On Judge’s word, ‘married’ girl agrees to go with parents
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
Away from her ‘husband’ who is locked up in a jail on the allegations of abducting and kidnapping her, a Ludhiana resident has refused to trust her parents. She only agreed to go with them for 15 days on the court’s suggestion, but sought a written undertaking. Appearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, she asked Mr Justice S.K. Mittal, “Can’t you allow someone to stay with me?”

Her ‘husband’, Ravinder Kumar, was booked by the police on January 22 under Sections 376, 363 and 506 of the IPC. The prosecution had claimed that the girl was a minor and had been abducted by the accused. The accused, on the other hand, had submitted that he was being implicated in the case. Seeking the quashing of the first information report registered in the matter, he had asserted that the girl was a major and they had married on November 10 last year.

As the Judge took up the case in the afternoon, the girl sought Ravinder Kumar’s protect. Initially, she refused to accompany her parents. But agreed to go only after Judge’s assurance that she would be married according to her wishes.


Cyber kiosks for online payment of bills
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
The holy city will soon have cyber kiosks for online payment of bills to the municipal corporation. The exact number of kiosks would be ascertained shortly and provisions made according to the concentration of population and number of building units in 273 blocks of the city.

The corporation would thus have the distinction of becoming the first to have an extensive database of citizens, localities and its resources on the desktop at its website, www.amritsarcorp.com, and the people could address their queries on the e-mail address, admincorporation@sancharnet.net.in.

Commissioner K.S. Kang said it had taken more than two years of extensive ground survey by a 45-member team of Punjab Engineering College and Rs 30 lakh budget to provide board-based information about any permanent resident, his or her building, a place and civic amenities in the particular area at the click of a button.

In the course of the survey, a starting difference in the number of units for the purpose of house tax collections has also come to light. While the municipal corporation’s has registered 1.25 lakh units’ including residential, commercial, industrial or any other type, the survey records a difference of 59,000 more units’ bringing the total to 1.84 lakh.

The corporation has also charted out a data-based map of sewerage, including manhols, road routes, internal connections and facilities of disposal.

In addition to this, the corporation has attempted to connect tourism to its website. A click of the button brings alive the Golden Temple with fluid videos and matching background music of shabads. Jallianwala Bagh has been incorporated with patriotic music.

The data base would prove to be helpful for census as units, residences and locations could be immediately identified. However, it could also be a bane for those amassing immovable property in the city and indulging in encroachments.


Land retrieved amid feeble protest
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 19
The Municipal Council took possession of over seven acres of land worth Rs 1.50 crore amid a feeble protest here today.

The illegally occupied land was located in Khanpur and Aaujlan villages under the Kharar municipal limits. It was in the possession of Mr Charan Singh for the past about 35 years.

The possession of the land was handed over to the Executive Officer of the civic body, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, by the Naib Tehsildar, Mr Rupinder Singh Bal.

The council put up a board in the area stating that the land belonged to the civic body and no entry was prohibited. Strict action would be taken against persons who violated these orders.

Later, safai karamcharis and other employees of the civic body put up poles around the boundary and fencing was done.

However, no male member of the family of Mr Charan Singh was present at the site where the possession of the land was to be handed over to the council. Only two women, Mrs Paramjit Kaur and Ms Sarabjit Kaur, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, respectively, of Mr Charan Singh were present.

When the fencing work was in progress, some youths came to the site in cars. While most stood quietly, one of them had heated arguments with the council President, Mr Charanjit Singh, and went away abusing.

Out of the land that has been retrieved, 23 bighas and 4 biswa fell in Khanpur village and 19 kanal 10 marla fell in Aaujlan village.

The case for the eviction of the illegal occupant was first put up in the court of the Regional Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies-cum-Collector under the Punjab Public premises and the Land Eviction and Rent Recovery Act, Ludhiana.

The case was decided in favour of the council in 2000. Mr Charan Singh challenged the decision and went in for appeal in the court of the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar.

The Deputy Commissioner stood by the decision taken by the Regional Deputy Director-cum-Collector and dismissed the appeal of Mr Charan Singh.


DC orders closure of medical store
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 19
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, has ordered the closure of the medical store functioning on the premises of the Civil Hospital here.

The DC had asked the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) to take necessary action this regard. It is learnt that he in turn asked the local SDM to get the shop closed at the earliest as it had been rented out in violation of the orders of the Punjab Government and the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The shopkeeper running the medical store has been asked by the Tehsildar to vacate the premises, which would be sealed on Monday.


Rs 10,000 looted at gunpoint
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 19
Robbers struck at a liquor vend and a petrol station in this subdivision in the last 24 hours and looted a case of whisky and Rs 10,000 at gunpoint in two incidents.

Four unidentified youths robbed a case of whisky and Rs 3,000 from a liquor vend in Sangotha village near Handesra late last night. The robbers reportedly used a motor cycle and a scooter in the crime. The robbers then targeted another liquor vend in Kapalheri village in Haryana, informed Mr Surjit Singh, a salesman at the vend.

In another case, robbers struck at a newly opened petrol station on the Kalka-Ambala highway at Devi Nagar village near Dera Bassi, late last night and took Rs 7,600 and some canes of mobil oil.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Manoj Kumar, a salesman at the station, said he found the money and oil missing in the morning. The police registered a case under Section 380 of the Indian Penal Code.


Murder mystery solved after 12 yrs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 19
Sixtytwo-year-old Piara Singh had given up all hope of finding the killer of his brother, who was killed on October 9, 1992. Now he knows that his brother was killed because he saw two robbers decamping with a few iron grills.

One of the two men who were arrested for carrying firearms proved to be the murderer of Piara Singh’s brother. The man, Sant Singh, was arrested along with Baljinder Singh recently. While Sant Singh was booked for possessing a. 12 bore pistol, Baljinder was booked after a knife was found in his possession.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, SP (Detective), disclosed that during investigation the suspects revealed that they had committed two robberies. One was committed at the house of Rita Kakar in Raghbir Colony and another at a residence in Udham Singh Nagar.

The SP said on further questioning Sant Singh broke down and revealed that he and another person, Balbir Singh, had murdered Ram Singh of Jhil village in 1992. He said based on the FIR registered on that date, the police had recovered iron grills which were used to murder Ram Singh. Mr Gurpreet Singh said a case had been registered against Sant Singh and the police was on the look out for his accomplice.

The SP said both Rita Kakkar and another person whose house were burgled had been informed about the arrest of the two persons.


Engg college for rural students at Talwandi Sabo
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 19
The Academic Council of Punjabi University today approved the establishment of Yadavindra College of Engineering at Talwandi Sabo here today.

According to a university release that the new college would cater exclusively to the talented students from rural areas. The intake of students for this engineering college will be after Class X which is a new idea and first of its kind in the country. Only the students who have passed Class X from schools in rural areas and had studied at least for eight years in rural schools and had paid school fee of not more than Rs 500 per annum will be eligible for admission.

Initially the college will be started with four branches — Electronic and Communication Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science Engineering and Bio -technology Engineering — with 60 students in each branch.

In another decision the Academic Council approved change in ordinances for Ph.D degree. Now 55 per cent marks at post-graduate level and 50 per cent marks at bachelors level will be essential for registration to Ph.D degree. Time span for the submission of thesis from the date of registration has also been extended by one year. Earlier, it was two years. No one will be able to submit thesis for evaluation before the completion of three years. Another important clause added to the rules is that at least two research publications out of work done for Ph.D degree will be a pre-requisite for the submission of thesis.

In another important decision the nomenclature of the Department of Sports Science has been changed. Now it will be Department of Physiotherapy and Sports Science’. This has been done to give due recognition to the discipline of physiotherapists.

Some important new courses, including M.Pharm (Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Medicine), M. Pharm (Pharmacognosy and Herbal Medicine) in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Drug Research and post graduate Diploma in sociology of Mass Communication in the department of Sociology, Certificate Course in Yoga in Yoga Centre in the department of Physical Education and Sports have also been approved. B. Lib Information Science and MA in Sikh Studies will also be started through correspondence courses from the session 2004-05 as per approval of the Academic Council.


Roll numbers for annual exams despatched
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
Guru Nanak Dev University’s annual undergraduate examinations will commence from March 31 and roll numbers for these examinations have been despatched to the eligible candidates.

Dr RS Bawa, Registrar of the university said if any examinee did not receive his/her roll number by March 25, he/she was advised to collect it from the examination branch before the commencement of these examinations.

Such examinees should bring copies of attested photographs from their principals along with the certificates of the lower examination and proof of having paid admission fee to the university.


BARC for pro-radiation projects
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
Dr V.C. Sahni, Director, Physics group at Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, yesterday said here that a proposal to set up projects on lines of Sludge Hygienisation Using Radiation and Isotopes (SHRI) at other states of the country was under consideration by the BARC.

Dr Sahni was addressing the faculty convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University here yesterday.

Located at Baroda, SHRI was providing services on how to utilise urban waste, which was being exposed to radiation to kill harmful micro-organisms and convert it into manure, Dr Sahni added. He said this manure helped in yielding more crop and also made the crop insect free.

He said the radiation was being used to produce best variety of food grains and food products, which could fight against cancer. The radiation was also used for sterilisation of medical equipments and sea food.

Dr Sahni said that land-leveling equipment developed by Center for Advanced Technology, Indore would be useful for paddy growers to restore water and economise the use of water required for this crop.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the convocation and awarded degrees to more than 200 postgraduates and graduates of science, engineering and technology, physical planning and architecture.


GND varsity confers degrees
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
As many as 170 post graduates of Guru Nanak Dev University were today conferred degrees in commerce and economics (MBA, M.Com, MBE and M.Sc) at the university’s third economics and commerce faculty convocation held here. Dr G.K. Chadha, Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi was the chief guest.

Ninety postgraduates got their MBA degrees while 30 students were conferred the degrees of master of commerce. The master of business economics and master of sciences in economics degrees were received by 50 students. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, who presided over the convocation awarded these degrees.

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