P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



One more power project faces closure
PSEB to lose 10 lakh units daily
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The Anandpur Sahib hydel project of the PSEB which generates 10 lakh units daily, likely to close in a week or so. The PSEB is unable to get extra power. Despite an arrangement for the supply of power from 10 pm last night to 6 am today from Gujarat, it could get only two hours of power from the state.

The board has apparently no substitute till now except a little respite with one 210 mega watt unit of the Ropar thermal plant which is expected to become operational by midnight today. This plant had been closed recently due to a technical snag. The fate of another unit which had been closed for repair is still to be known.

The board has received information that the Bhakra Beas Management Authority (BBMB) is reducing the outflow of water from the dam to conserve its resources. This means in another week or so there will be no water available for hydel generation at Anandpur Sahib. “The channels will run dry”, is how board Chairman Y.S. Ratra explained the position during a talk with TNS. The PSEB gets water through channels from Daher which itself get water from the Pong and Bhakra dam reservoirs.

Power cuts in Punjab today increased further with the rural sector being most largely hit with some villages getting supply for only a few hours in the day.

Tubewells are also getting power for only four hours everyday now from the earlier five-hour figure. The board is also finding it difficult to fix power cuts due to frequent breakdowns in the system. “The frequency of power is very low which is resulting in breakdowns due to an overload on the system in the entire Northern belt”, says Mr Ratra. This is affecting the industrial sector which is getting disrupted supply throughout the day.

The PSEB is already worried about how it will cater to the power demand in the paddy season. “We have received reports that the snow cap this year is 15 per cent less than last year”, says Mr Ratra. He said more snow in the Sutlej and the Beas catchment areas required for the optimum hydel generation. This year the board’s hydel generation had fallen drastically. A board member, Distribution, Mr H.C. Sood, comparing this year’s hydel generation to last years, said the board today generated 67 lakh units as compared to 94 lakh units on the same date last year.

With no capacity generation in sight, the board can only continue to give adequate power through more costly buying arrangements. It is expected to purchase power worth Rs 2,500 crore by March this year as compared to only Rs 1,600 crore purchased in the last financial year.


SAD for CBI probe against Rana Sodhi
Amarpal named candidate for Ajnala 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 21
The Political Affairs Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged bribe scandal involving Rana Gurmit Sodhi, besides his removal as Chief Parliamentary Secretary with immediate effect. It was also decided that a deputation of MPs led by former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will meet the President and the PM and appraise them about the case soon.

The PAC also announced the candidature of Amarpal Singh Bonny for Ajnala. Amarpal is a son of Dr. Rattan Singh Ajnala, who had vacated the seat after winning the Lok Sabha poll from Tarn Taran.

Talking to mediapersons after presiding over the meeting held at Guru Nanak Engineering College here this evening, Mr Badal said the Sodhi episode had exposed the levels of corruption in the state. It was a clear cut case of corruption and the least Capt. Amarinder Singh could do was to get a case registered, he asserted.

Mr Badal said they would also move the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the Nehra Commission Report which had exonerated the CM’s son, Raninder Singh, in the Punjab Intranet scandal. The case was ready and would be filed in the next few days, he revealed.

Referring to the byelection, he said they had information that the government would misuse its machinery. “We have asked the EC to make foolproof arrangements, besides sending adequate paramilitary forces to ensure a free and fair poll. A delegation led by party secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa will meet the EC and appraise them of the ground situation,” he added.

Commenting on the power crisis, he alleged that the government was not serious in solving the crisis. No efforts had been made to complete the Shahpur Kandi project or the two units of the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant. Similarly, the delay in executing the Bathinda refinery project was affecting the power situation as the project would also have generated 500 MW of power, he said.

Reacting to a query on the motives behind striking an alliance with the INLD, Mr Badal said, they have decided to go with Mr Chautala because his outfit alone can ensure the defeat of the Congress. We have the interests of the people in mind on the waters issue and will not barter these, he reiterated.

Mr Badal was also quick to point out that the alliance with the BJP in Punjab would continue. There was no clash of interests between the SAD and the BJP, he added.

Those who attended the PAC meeting included Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr K S Badungar, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, Mr Tota Singh, Mr N S Kahlon, Mr R S Brahmpura, Dr R S Ajnala, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, Mr Inderpal Singh Khalsa and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema. 


Allowances of Ranjit dam employees restored
Tribune News Service

Pathankot January 21
The government has decided to restore the withdrawn allowances of about 13,000 employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam till further orders. The decision to this affect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary, Finance and Irrigation Mr K.R. Lakhanpal.

The Finance Department had withdrawn the project and field allowances of the employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam with effect from December. With the withdrawal of said allowances each employee was set to lose an amount ranging from Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,500 per month in salary.

In protest against the withdrawal of allowances the employees declined to accept the reduced salaries.

The employees had also been holding a dharna for the past 18 days to press for the restoration of the allowances.

The Department of Finance had decided to stop the said allowances of the employees of the Ranjit Sagar project on the plea that a decision in this regard was taken by the committee headed by the Chief Secretary right after the completion of the dam.

However, the authorities of the project kept on drawing the allowances for the employees.

The payment of the said allowances invoked objection from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. So, the Department of Finance decided to implement the decision taken by the committee headed by the Chief Secretary from December.

Finance Department sources said the allowances of the dam employees had been restored temporarily. The Department of Irrigation had not notified the decision of the committee that had withdrawn the disputed allowances.

Now the allowances are likely to be withdrawn after the government issued a notification in this regard.


Finance Dept’s threat to public sector banks
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 21
The Finance Department has threatened to withdraw the work of disbursements of pension from the public sector banks in Punjab.
The threat has been issued on the detection of a financial anomaly committed by many public sector banks disbursing pensions. The audit team of the Department of Treasuries and Accounts has found out that various banks have made excess payment to the tune of Rs 1.68 crore to the pensioners in the state.

The banks that have made extra payments include the State Bank of Patiala, the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Indian Oversees Bank, the Central Bank of India, and the Punjab and Sind Bank.

The banks made extra payments allegedly due to wrong calculations made by the bank officials while adding dearness or other allowances to the pensions. After the audit team detected the wrong payments made in excess by the banks, they wrote to them to disburse the extra amount paid back to the state with interest. Since then the Department of Finance has sent four reminders to the banks to return the amount of Rs 1.68 crore back with interests.

The department submitted detailed branch and pensioner-wise information of the extra payments made to the banks of December 9, 2004. However, the banks are still to return the extra amount.

The banks have, however, pleaded that they would return the extra payments made by slowly deducting the same from the pensions paid in the coming months. The Department of Finance has, however, rejected the proposal outrightly.

The Department of Finance has also made a complaint to the RBI over non-payment of extra payments made by banks back to the state.

Irked over inaction of public sector banks in returning the extra payments, the Department of Finance has also recently mooted a proposal to also consider the private sector banks for the disbursement of pensions.


French Sikhs await intervention on turban issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
Sikhs of France are still waiting for the Indian government to intervene effectively so that their children can attend schools with their turbans. At present three children have been expelled from a school in Bobigny while two others have been denied entry into a school at Villepinte.

A delegation of French Sikhs led by Mr Iqbal Singh Bhati, who is the secretary-general of the action committee formed in France on the turban issue which visited Patiala en route to Delhi, said they were disappointed that the issue had not been taken up effectively with France by the Indian Government.

Mr Bhati said this was his fourth visit to India adding that he had come with successive delegations to meet representatives of the Indian government and also religious heads of the Sikh faith. During this period I have met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Akal Takth Jathedar as well as chairman of the Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh.

He said the action committee formed by French Sikhs had now decided to take up the case of the boys who were being prevented from attending school in court. He said a total of 256 students had been affected by the order in the country and that all of them were beingforced to attend school without any covering on their heads.

The delegation of French Sikhs held discussions with the Sikh Nation Organisation (SNO) formed by Dr M S Randhawa yesterday. Talking to newsmen later, Dr Randhawa said attempts were being made to take a delegation of prominent Sikh citizens to France to lobby with the French Government for lifting the ban on wearing of turbans.


District officers can approve small colonies
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 21
The Punjab government today authorised district-level officers of the Country and Town Planning Department to grant approval for setting up small colonies.
Earlier, these powers were vested with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

Senior town planners and district town planners can approve small colonies up to a gross area of 10 acres in their respective areas under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995.

The Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, announced this here today.

He said the procedures have been simplified. The local office would function as a single window.

The minister, however, clarified that no concessions in terms of the licensing fee (Rs 5000 per hectare), external development charges (EDC) and bank guarantee or the contribution to the Punjab Urban Development Fund was being granted.

However, the promoter could pledge property of equivalent value in lieu of the bank guarantee.

The minister pointed out that the simplified procedure would be applicable to landowning applicants. They can nominate a valid attorney to obtain the approval.

The provisions of the letter of consent or agreement to purchase would not be permitted for approval of small colonies.

Any promoter willing to avail of this facility or develop a colony beyond 10 acres would have to approach the chief administrator, PUDA, for a regular license through the usual procedure.

The district officers can lodge an FIR against illegal and unauthorised colonisers.

The Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said layout and services plan would be prepared by the technical officers of the department, subject to the payment of a fee of Rs 10,000 per acre, exclusive of survey charges.

He said a management information system had been put in place to monitor the disposal of applications.


Policy shift hits entrepreneur 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Fortunes alter with change in government policies.
For Delhi resident Sneh Lata and so many others, the business of manufacturing sprinkler systems was lucrative in Punjab until a few years ago. The reason was not hard to see. Power connections to tubewells were being released to agriculturists — opting for the systems — on priority basis. No wonder, Ms Lata and other entrepreneurs started producing sprinklers. But then the government scrapped the scheme, along with manufacturers dreams’.

Today, water does not flow out of the unsold systems stored in the godowns. Tears do roll down the eyes as Ms Lata narrates her woeful story. She says, “We invested our savings, our energy, everything. But nothing has come out of it. I recently suffered an attack. Timely help saved me from total collapse”.

Handing over a bunch of papers, including hospital receipts, she asserts, “This is not all. Financial crisis is playing havoc with the entire family. My husband engineer Vijay K. Bansal is suffering from diabetes. Tension is the reason behind it”.

Folding her hands, she adds, “We have requested the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to implement the scheme for another two years so that the stocks can be cleared at least. All of us are hoping for a positive reply, but cannot say anything for certain till we receive it”.

Controlling her emotions, she says the use of sprinkler system by the farming community can cut down water wastage by 35 per cent to 50 per cent in the state. The yield can also register an increase by anywhere between 5 per cent and 8 per cent.

Elaborating upon her statement, she says wastage is minimised as the system discourages excessive water seepage and cuts down evaporation losses. “The yield increases as the system results in equitable distribution of water throughout the field and washes the crop every time it is used, thereby making it healthy. Currently about 500 farmers in the state are using the system”.

Giving details of the scheme, she says that the scheme was introduced by the Beant Singh government and was continued by the Akali-BJP combine. It was scrapped by the present government in April, 2002.


Punjab spikes cases of SPOs’ enlistment
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab Police has spiked all pending cases in which approval could not be granted for enlistment of special police officers (SPOs) as constables due to the ban on recruitment. The process for enlisting them was initiated during the tenure of Punjab’s former Director-General of Police M.S. Bhullar. The development is significant as approximately 600 SPOs would be affected by the move.

Sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters claimed that some of the SPOs were granted approval by the then DGP, but the process of enlisting them could not be completed as the ban on recruitments was continuing in the state.

In another related development, the Punjab Police has also cancelled the appointment of 53 clerks recruited in the police department without vacancies.

Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters) Sanjiv Gupta and Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Personnel) Kuldeep Singh could not be contacted for their comments on the issue. The cases of approximately 830 constables recruited under the category of special cases, despite the ban on the recruitments, is already pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the sources added.

Giving details, the sources said a suitability test for the absorption of the SPOs was initially conducted in 2002. On the basis of the test 4,647 SPOs were found suitable for absorption. By the beginning of 2004 as many as 1,821 of these SPOs were enlisted as constables.

In compliance of the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court a last opportunity in the form of suitability test was offered to the remaining SPOs. In the test 1,408 SPOs were found suitable while 2,647 were rejected.

In February last year as many as 1,050 SPOs were absorbed and in September orders were issued for the absorption of another 750 SPOs. Of them, 350 were enlisted and another 400 awaiting enlistment.

The sources added that as per the directions issued by the government, the cases of 2,647 SPOs were being sent to the Department of Home Guards and Civil Defence.


CM’s assurance to Andaman Punjabis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Assuring adequate financial and other help to Punjabi settlers in Andaman and Nicobar, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, made clear to them today that the state did not have enough land to rehabilitate them in Punjab.

Accompanied by a team of senior officials, he met Punjabis, including ex-servicemen settled in Andaman and Nicobar islands. He held meetings with officials of the Administration of Andaman and Nicobar islands yesterday.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had asked Capt Amarinder Singh to visit the islands to convince Punjabis to stay back there. He was told to assure them all financial help to rebuild their business and agricultural-related activities.

When the PM visited the islands early this month, Punjabis settled there, especially ex-servicemen, had expressed the desire to return to Punjab with the objective of rehabilitation.

As many as 110 ex-servicemen from Punjab were allotted land in Nicobar islands in 1969. Since then, they had been engaged in agriculture there. However, the recent Tsunami tragedy created so much scare among them that they met the PM with a request to rehabilitate them somewhere else.


SGPC team fails to reach Campbell
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
A three-member SGPC team, comprising Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta , Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, both members and Mr Roop Singh, Assistant Secretary, could not reach Campbell Island — the site, where Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus had suffered a colossal loss during tsunami — due to snapping of all communication links .

They said they had urged the local administration to arrange an Army aircraft so that the SGPC team could conduct on the spot survey . They said the administration had assured them that an aircraft would be arranged at the earliest.

However, they claimed that they met certain Sikh families on the way to Campbell Island who told them that it was not possible for them to reclaim their land.

Over 100 Punjabi families, who had settled there during the British period, were now dependent on the donations . However, they were happy that their brethren had come from Amritsar to know their well being.


Govt depts owe over Rs 70 lakh to MC
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 21
Even after about three years of Amarinder Government’s regime in Punjab, non-payment of house tax to the tune of lakhs of rupees to the local Municipal Council by several government departments for the past many years has exposed the financial health of the state.

The people are of the view that on the one hand, government is not making funds available to the government departments for making the payment of house tax or electricity bills, while on the other hand, it is spending a huge amount of the state exchequer on the Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, Parliamentary Secretaries and chairpersons of various boards and corporations.

The critics feel that the state government has no moral right to have such a big number of Parliamentary Secretaries when it is facing a financial crunch. The Amarinder Government has three Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and 10 Parliamentary Secretaries, besides chairpersons of boards and corporations.

According to information available to The Tribune, an amount of more than Rs 70 lakh on account of house tax, including five per cent fire cess on the house tax, is yet to be paid to the local MC for past several years by various government departments.

The sources said the Deputy Commissioner, office had not paid house tax of its building to the local MC for the past many years due to shortage of funds. They said a sum of Rs 52 lakh was due to the DC office on account of house tax, including five per cent fire cess on house tax as on date. An amount of Rs 5.76 lakh on account of house tax, including five per cent fire cess on house tax, was pending by the office of Deputy Director, Horticulture, here, for the past five years.

The detail of some other government departments, which have not paid house tax (including fire cess on house tax) to the local MC for the past many years is as follows: Office building of Patwarkhana (Sadar Kanoongo) Rs 4.40 lakh, Chief Agriculture Office Rs 3 lakh, Executive Engineer, PWD (B&R) (residential) Rs 2.58 lakh, Executive Engineer, PWD B&R (non-residential) Rs 2 lakh and Executive Engineer provincial division, PWD (B&R) Rs 1.50 lakh.

When contacted, Mr Harbans Singh Garcha, president of the local Municipal Council, said notices and bills of the house tax were being sent to the offices concerned regularly every year, but despite this, many offices had not paid their pending dues. He urged the government to release the funds to the offices concerned immediately for clearing their dues.


Strict steps to check edible oils’ adulteration
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Reverting back to the era of licence “raj”, the Punjab Government on Wednesday enforced the various provisions of the Edible Oil Packaging Regulations, 1998, making the registration mandatory of those engaged in the packaging, sale and manufacturing of edible oils.

Obviously, the step has been taken to check adulteration in edible oils and to ensure quality and standard measurement. There have been complaints galore not only with regard to the quality of edible oils but also about the weight and measurement etc.

Tightening the noose around the neck of those engaged in the packaging and sale of edible oils, the government has issued a notification declaring the District Food and Civil Supplies Controllers as registering authority. Controllers have been empowered to issue certificates of registration to oil millers and dealers concerned in their respective areas.

For the issuance of registration certification valid for three years, the controllers would charge Rs 4,000 as fee. The renewal fee for such certificates on expiry of their validation period will be Rs 2,000.

Officials of the rank of Assistant Food Supplies Officer and above have been notified as inspecting officers of edible oils. Every registered packer would have to furnish returns on a specific performa stating details of edible oils packed and sold in a month. Such returns would have to be submitted by the end of the first week of the next month.

Edible oils would have to be packed in conformity with the provisions of the standards of weights and measures( packed commodities) rules, 1997, and the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954. The label of packets would not carry any statement and claim which is false or misleading regarding the edible contained in the package.


Harried sarpanches refuse to run water works
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 21
Some sarpanches have expressed their inability to run the rural water works in their respective villages. This comes as a shock to the state government, which had resolved to hand over some important departments to the village panchayats.

Sources said the sarpanches of Sardarpura, Bhagu, Seeto Gunno, Bahavwala, Himmatpura, Mehrana and Shergarh villages had conveyed in writing to the Executive Engineer of the Public Health (Rural water supply) Department that they would be unable to maintain the srural water supply in future.

The department had assigned maintenance and collection of bills to the panchayats, who were also responsible for realising electricity bills from the consumers.

The sarpanches were worried over reports that position of power and water supply may further deteriorate during next quarter of the year.

They were already unhappy with the Department of Irrigation for not maintaining any standard in supplying water for irrigation and drinking purposes in canals of the region.

If supply at night from the headworks were quoted at 1200 cusecs, it would suddenly fall to 120 cusecs in the morning.

Thus, villages at the tail end were not getting sufficient quantity of water. Farmers said rainfall had saved the sown crops otherwise they would have been ruined again by Baisakhi.

In such a situation, the village panchayats were no more inclined to own responsibility of maintaining rural water works.


PWD seeks 20 cr for repair of roads
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 21
The Public Works Department has demanded Rs 20 crore from the Punjab Government for immediate patch work on almost all the state highways for smooth running of vehicular traffic. This was disclosed by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, while talking to media persons at the Canal Rest House here on Wednesday.

Mr Bajwa said that to strengthen and widen 1000-km long roads of state highways, high power committee headed by the Chief Secretary had decided to make 18 toll roads in the state. All preliminary formalities had been completed in this regard and their allotment to private firms would be done within few days. The successor firms would start construction within the next month. He said that the state government would provide up to 40 per cent of its share according to the importance of the road and the remaining amount would be spent by the successor firms. Strengthening and widening of toll roads would cost Rs 60 lakh per km. A sum of Rs 500 crore had been earmarked for this project.

Mr Bajwa said that tractor-trailer and two-wheelers had been exempted from toll tax whereas owners of other vehicles would have to pay 35 paise per km for plying their vehicles smoothly and safely.


Empowering physically challenged
Five get tricycles with phone facility
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
Twenty-two-year old Jai Kishan Rai found it difficult to get work till now. Unable to walk, he usually had to make do by filling in when a proprietor of a ‘paan’ and cigarette kiosk wanted to take some time off. Now he hopes to do business near his old kiosk near the Tagore cinema in Model Town as the proud owner of a tricycle, with telephone facility.

Jai Kishan and four others have been helped by another physically challenged, Mr V. P. Singh, who, however, did not let his handicap come in the way of realising his dreams and helping others to realise theirs. Mr V.P. Singh, who heads Ehsaas Foundation and works for the physically challenged in Delhi, today started a pilot project for the physically challenged here in the city.

Five physically challenged persons, who have been chosen by the District Handicapped Rehabilitation Centre (DRDC) under the scheme initiated by Ehsas, were handed over tricycles fitted with telephones by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur at a ceremony held at the District Red Cross Society.

Giving details of the scheme, Mr V P Singh said he had decided to initiate activities to help the physically challenged when he realised the limited potential available for doing productive work by such persons. He said the idea to provide them with tricycles fitted with phones had met with tremendous success with the Delhi Government assisting in the scheme. “Recently I saw one such person overseeing calls being conducted on five phones on his tricycle in the Palika Bazar in Delhi”, he said while talking about the viability of the scheme.

Mr V.P. Singh said he decided to launch the scheme in Patiala in Punjab as a pilot project. He said once the group was able to gauge the success of the scheme in Patiala, it would be launched in Fatehgarh Sahib soon.

The Chief Executive of the Ehsas Foundation, Mr Rajinder Kumar, said the motive behind the effort was to support one physically challenged person so that he could support five other members of his family and feel proud by doing so. “They don’t need only your love and affection but also a feeling that they are contributing to the development of society”, he added.

Meanwhile, it was a red letter day for those who got tricycles under the scheme. Subhash Chander, a resident of Rasool village in Rajpura, said he would be happy even if he earned Rs 50 to Rs 60 per day from his new profession. He said presently he was not able to earn anything because of his handicap in his village. All the physically challenged have been given tricycles fitted with batteries, telephone sets and a working connection.


Muslims ‘will be given due honour’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 21
Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha and in charge, media wing of the SAD (Badal), today said that whenever his party came to power in Punjab, it would given due honour and recognition to the members of the Muslim community.

Mr Badal, who was here to preside over a function organised by members of the Muslim community in connection with the Id at newly constructed Eidgah, said that Muslim religion also advocated universal brotherhood and communal harmony like other religions.

He added that the interests of the Muslim community were watched and protected during the previous SAD-BJP combine government in Punjab and in future, both these parties were committed for the protection of the same.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Akali minister, said that for the past many years, it had become a tradition in this town that members of all the communities used to celebrate various Muslim religious functions jointly. He said that a large number of workers and functionaries of the Akali Dal participated in the function today.

He pointed out that when Mr Parkash Singh Badal was Chief Minister, the members of the Muslim community were given more than 64 acres of land which was in illegal possession in this town. Apart from it, Mr Badal also gave Rs 10 lakh to the community for welfare works.

Mr Sukhdev Khan, president, Muslim Human Welfare Society, said that today's function attracted a huge crowd as the people cutting across the religious lines exchanged pleasantries with the members of the Muslim community.


Grewal’s body brought to Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The body of former Cabinet Secretary S.S. Grewal, who died in New York on January 16, was brought here today. According to family sources, the cremation of Mr Grewal will take place on Sunday. Funeral procession will leave from House No 59, Sector 2, at 11 am for the Sector 25 crematorium.

Representatives of the Punjab Government and the Cabinet secretariat received his body at the Delhi airport from where it was brought to Chandigarh by road. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has expressed profound grief and sorrow over his demise.

In his condolence message the Chief Minister described Mr Grewal as an able administrator who played a vanguard role in the development of Punjab during the regime of Mr Partap Singh Kairon.


Rice mill owners' property sealed
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 21
The Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Moga branch, today took over the possession of residential and factory premises of M/s Jai Jwala Food Exports Pvt Ltd, owing to non-payment of bank's dues amounting to Rs 76 lakh.

The factory located at Singhawala village is one of the biggest rice mills of the area. The bank is likely to auction these properties to recover its dues.

Sources said the firm had taken a loan of Rs 60 lakh about four years ago.

The bank sent various notices to the firm regarding the dues, which accumulated to Rs 76 lakh with interest. The Branch Manager of the bank, Mr D.S.Sambial, confirmed that the properties of the firm had been sealed.


Drive against bill defaulters launched
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 21
The Patiala Municipal Corporation today started a drive against water and sewerage bill defaulters and held checks in the inner city which resulted in recovery of Rs 40,000 in dues.

Disclosing this here, Corporation Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu said the drive had been conducted in Mishri Bazaar, Gur Mandi, Suigram Mohalla, Chhata Nanu Mal, Pooja and Chopra Streets.

He said the drive had been conducted under the supervision of a committee comprising of the Assistant Commissioner, Executive Engineer and the Superintendent, Water Supply.

Mr Sidhu said the team which had checked these areas had disconnected seven water connections on the spot.

He said while Rs 40,000 had been recovered on the spot, many more consumers had promised to pay their bills within a definite time frame.

Meanwhile the Commissioner also disclosed that the Corporation had sent Rs 1.48 lakh collected from the salary to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He said an amount of Rs 50,000 had been sent to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.


DC orders probe into land sale
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 21
Shamlat land of Badali village, worth crores of rupees, is allegedly being sold by influential persons at a throwaway price.
A complaint in this regard was made to the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, by a member of the village block samiti.

The Deputy Commissioner today asked the local SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, to inquire into the complaint and submit a report within 10 days.

The complainant, Mrs Manjeet Kaur, had alleged that some persons who had political influence were making efforts to sell about 95 acres of the shamlat land of the village.

Temptations of various kinds were allegedly being given for the purchase of the land by the sellers.

As the land was located near Kharar, its price was estimated to be in crores.

The land was being used by persons belonging to poor families to sow fodder for animals. They were not interested in selling the land.


Anti-narcotics drive in top gear, 24 kg opium seized
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, January 21
The campaign launched by the district police to make the region drug free paid rich dividends today when its two teams managed to seize huge quantity of inorganic intoxicants in Malout town of this district.

The two police teams, accompanied by drug inspector, carried out checking of two drug stores in the Malout town and seized more than 15,000 injections of different make being used for intoxication by the addicts.

Apart from it, thousands of tablets of different make and contents were also seized as the same were also used for intoxication. Not only this, one doctor, who was selling intoxicants, was also arrested.

Earlier, the district police seized more than 24 kg of opium and more than 950 kg of poppy husk in the past 10 days after it launched an aggressive campaign to make this district, which shared its border with Haryana and Rajasthan free from the menace of smuggling of narcotics.

Mr L. K. Yadav, SSP, said Dr Dolat Ram, who was running a clinic in the Malout town, was arrested for his alleged involvement in selling and storing the intoxicants. He added that a case under the NDPS Act and Indian Medical Council Act had also been registered against Dr Dolat Ram in the city police station, Malout.

Mr Yadav said raids on chemists shops were conducted with the help of Mr Ajay Singla, Drug Inspector. He added that people were being motivated to come forward with the information regarding those dealing with the sale and smuggling of narcotics and intoxicants. 


Sacked commando nabbed
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 21
Harvinder Pal Singh, alias Happy, son of Mr Raghuwinder Singh, a resident of Hathi Gate, Batala, has been arrested by the Civil Lines police on the charge of providing vital secret information to Pakistan.

He has also been accused of smuggling arms and smack from Pakistan and booked under Sections 25, 54, and 59 of the Arms Act, Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act, Sections 3, 34 and 20 of the IPC and Section 14 of the Foreign Act.

The district police chief, Dr J.K. Jain told this correspondent here today that the accused was roaming about in the New Grain Market under suspicious circumstances when on a tip-off a police party nabbed him and seized a number of classified documents from his possession.

Harvinder Pal Singh is a sacked Punjab commando and several criminal cases are registered against him at the city police station, and he has been placed in category “A” of criminals. 


Two PSEB employees held for graft
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 21
The Vigilance Bureau today caught a Junior Engineer and an Assistant Lineman of the Punjab State Electricity Board red-handed while accepting bribe at Kot Ise Khan, near here.

According to sources, the complainant, Baljeet Singh of Chiragshahwala, had applied for a motor connection a few years back. On receiving intimation from the electricity board in this regard, he deposited the required fee in the year 2003. The file relating to the estimate for installation of motor reached Mr Khairu Masih, Junior Engineer, on December 4 last year.

The JE then demanded Rs 15,000 from the complainant and a deal was struck at Rs 5,000. Baljeet Singh paid him Rs 1,000 on January 14, while the rest of the amount was to be paid today.

The complainant approached the Vigilance Bureau, following which a Vigilance team led by the DSP, Mr Surjit Singh Khosa, laid a trap and caught the Assistant Lineman Amarnath and the JE red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 4,000 from him.

A case has been registered against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Two crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 21
Two persons were crushed to death when the cycle and scooter they were riding were hit by a truck at Raiwali village on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road, near here, late last night.

The victims were identified as Karam Chand of Kahanpur village and Tarsem Singh of Khun Khun Kalan village of Hoshiarpur.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested Charanjit Kumar of the Indira Park locality here for duping Lakhanpal of Talwara on the pretext of sending him abroad. The police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420, IPC, against four persons, Charanjit Kumar, Parvinder Sodhi, Mohan Singh and Naveen Kumar. The raids were being conducted to nab the remaining accused.


Man’s body found
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 21
A body was found from near Desumajra village by the police last night.
The police believes that the middle-aged Sikh person must have been hit by a speeding vehicle last night as his head was crushed.

The body which was lying near the octroi post at Desumajra was noticed by a passerby, who then informed the police. The body was sent to the local Civil Hospital for a posmortem. However, it is learnt that the body will be kept in the mortuary for two days so that it could be identified.

The police has registered a case under Section 304 A of the IPC in this regard.


Need to study immigrant literature stressed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 21
The scholars participating in the concluding day of the two-day international seminar on ‘20th Century Immigration and Immigrant Literature’ here today were of the unanimous view that the Indians, especially the Punjabis, living in various parts of the world had influenced life in India.

More than three dozen research papers were presented which would be published in form of a book.

They opined that if immigration had helped these people to chalk out a different way of life, it also contributed to the people living in those countries and felt that their literature should be studied in all its amplitude and depth.

The seminar was organised by the Centre for Immigrant Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

They deliberated that the sphere of culture was continuously widening to cover all countries of the World. Hence, it was essential to study the literature of diaspora being written in different Indian languages from the comparative angle.

The experiences which people in the diaspora were undergoing carried the imprints of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation which had widened the scope for their progress.

They resolved that the Centre for Immigrant Studies of GND varsity should organise an international seminar in near future with focus upon inter-disciplinary study of Indians, particularly the Punjabis, living in various diasporas.

They were of the view that the literature written by the immigrants was now free from the nostalgia that it carried in the beginning. Now the poets, story writers, novelists and playwrights were grappling with the problems being faced by the immigrants, including ethnicity, social discrimination and gender problems. 


Punjabi varsity seeks patent on biosensor
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 21
Punjabi University has applied for a patent on an invention relating to the development of a rapid and disposable microbial biosensor for detecting copper ions in industrial effluents. The application has been accepted.

The application was filed through the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST), Chandigarh, and the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of the Department of Science and Technology at the Indian Patent Office. The scientists who have invented this biosensor are Dr Neelam Verma, Reader, and Ms Minni Singh, lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology.

A press note here today said that the patent related to a biosensor involving a micro-organism isolated from the soil and identified by the MTCC, Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, as bacillus sphaericus, for monitoring copper ions in industrial effluents. Copper finds applications in electroplating and coinage, finding way into the food chain through improper effluent treatment and disposal, thereafter leading to certain physiological disorders.


Students of engineering college go on strike
Tribune News Service

Ropar, January 21
The first year students of Bhaddal Engineering College today went on strike in protest against the beating up of a first-year student allegedly by three teachers. They were demanding apology from the teachers in front of all students for their act.

About 60 first year students gathered in front of the main gate of the college in the morning showing their resentment. The students alleged that three teachers had beaten up a first year, student Prashant of Information and Technology, yesterday when he passed a remark against a teacher.

While the management of the college denied the incident. The chairperson of the college, Ms Kulvinder Kaur, said there was a small altercation between students and the teachers and the matter was solved now.


Cable operators to boycott 40 TV channels
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 21
Accusing three pay channel companies of enhancing cable charges in violation of the TRAI order, cable operators of Jalandhar city have decided to observe a 24-hour boycott of about 40 TV channels belonging to three pay-channel companies.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Harjinder Singh Bagga and Mr Parmjit Singh Pammi, president and press secretary of the Jalandhar Cable Operators Association, alleged that though the TRAI had freezed cable charges on December 26, 2003, the three pay channel companies were forcing them to charge customers the illegally enhanced charges.

They alleged that if “illegally” enhanced charges were not collected by cable operators, then they were either threatened with the help of criminal elements or were bullied in one or the other way. “Whenever any cable operator refuses to charge illegally, some anti-social elements threaten them with dire consequences.

Due to this, cable operators are forced to take exteme step of boycott,” said Mr Bagga and Mr Pammi. They maintained that the boycott would be observed from 11 a.m. on January 22 to 11 a.m. on January 23.

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