P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab passes VAT Bill with concessions
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Amid a walkout by BJP and SAD MLAs in protest against the non-acceptance of amendments moved by them, the state Assembly today passed the Punjab Value Added Tax( VAT) Bil, 2005, after incorporating significant amendments in the original draft introduced in the House on March 25.

Through the amendments made today, not only have concessions for tax payees been increased but various provisos have also been diluted. The Bill, after assent by the Punjab Governor, will be enforced on April 1. From the day of introduction of VAT, entry tax, the earning from which was Rs 60 crore annually, would be abolished. CST would also come to an end with a progressive reduction in its rate to zero in three years.

There will be total exemption from VAT for those having a turnover of Rs 5 lakh per annum. Those having a turnover of up to Rs 30 lakh will have to pay only 1 per cent turnover tax. In the original draft the turnover limit was Rs 25 lakh and the rate of tax on it was 2 per cent. For one year, there will be complete immunity from any penalty.

There will be no prosecution of taxpayees. No tax inspector will be entitled to conduct any check on tax payees. Returns filed on the basis of self-assessment would be accepted by the authorities concerned without any questioning.

Tea leaves have been shifted to the 4 per cent tax slab from the 12.5 per cent slab. VAT on diesel has been retained at 8.8 per cent and omitted from the 12.5 per cent tax slab in the Bill.

These announcements were made on the floor of the House by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while making a brief intervention to answer the questions raised by the Opposition leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Adesh Partap Singh, Mr Tikshan Sud and Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

Farmers will have to pay 4 per cent VAT on fertilisers and pesticides, which were earlier exempted from sales tax. Farm machinery will become costlier as there will be 12.5 per cent VAT on spare parts used in such machinery.

Interestingly, Mr Sardul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, who had introduced the Bill, did not get up to answer the queries and demands relating to the Bill made by the Treasury Benches and Opposition MLAs. First, it was Capt Amarinder Singh who answered major queries and announced concessions. Later it was Mr Surinder Singla, who specifically replied to the objections raised by Mr Badal, who said that the Bill was complicated and harsh.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that in due course, octroi would also be abolished. A Delhi-based institution had been engaged to suggest an alternative to octroi, which was a major source of revenue for municipal committees. The Chief Minister said that a lot of disinformation had been spread about VAT by vested interests. It was a progressive tax and a major tax reform, he added.

Mr Singla said with the concessions announced today, about 40 per cent of the business community had been removed from the purview of the Bill. He said that those states, which failed implement VAT would suffer huge losses. From the non-implementing states, industry would shift to implementing states to secure input credit, he added.

The Union Government had earmarked about Rs 5,000 crore to compensate the states which suffered losses with the enforcing of VAT this year. He said that by paying 25 per cent of the tax, one could file an appeal in case of dispute.

He said Punjab would continue to levy various taxes, totalling 12 per cent, on foodgrains procured for the central pool.

Earlier, Mr Badal, Mr Adesh Partap Singh, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Ms Upinderjit Kaur and Mr Tikshan Sud said that the Bill should be handed over to the select committee for proper study and to provide an opportunity to members to examine it in detail. They said that before passing the Bill, businessmen, industrialists and others concerned should be heard properly and the necessary changes made in the Bill. They said that VAT would hit them hard.

However, Mr Ashwani Sekhri and Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, both Congress MLAs, supported the Bill, suggesting some amendments here and there.


Beopar Mandal calls for strike against VAT
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, March 29
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal gave a call for a 72-hour bandh in protest against imposition of the VAT.

In a press release here today, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, president, stated that business establishments would remain closed in the state to mark protest on March 30 to April 1.

He stated that under pressure from the WTO and other foreign agencies the government was trying to impose the VAT on small trades, businesses and professions that would prove detrimental to their existence.

The uneven tax structure also came in for severe criticism by mandal members.

PHAGWARA: Activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan), led by its district president, Mr Ajay Mehta, today burnt the effigy of the VAT, blocked vehicular traffic on the GT Road at Gol Chowk for some time, took out a protest march and held a rally against the “black law”.

The protesters first “hung to death” the VAT on a makeshift scaffold and then set it ablaze. The march started from Hotel Hayer Palace, passed through main bazars and then converged at Gol Chowk. The protesters performed “siapa” of the Punjab Government and raised “murdabad” slogans against the VAT and the Congress Government.


Chemists to observe bandh in Ropar
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 29
The Ropar District Chemists Association will be observing a complete bandh tomorrow in protest against the implementation of VAT from April 1.

Mr Harish Chander Sethi, President of the association appealed to all members of the organisation to keep their shutters down in response to the bandh call. The association urged the government to levy VAT on the MRP in case medicines at the initial stage to avoid difference in the prices of medicines.


Rs 256 crore SGPC budget passed amid
symbolic boycott

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
The annual general house session of the SGPC today passed a Rs 256 crore budget amidst a symbolic boycott staged by members from Haryana, the Panthic Morcha and the sole independent member from Chandigarh at Teja Singh Samundari Hall here today.

All the 17 members, including seven each from Haryana and the Panthic Morcha and one from Chandigarh, did not pay heed to the requests made by SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and senior functionaries to sit with the members of the ruling party. Immediately after the budget speech made by Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, the opposition members stood up and asked for time to register their dissenting note. Later, they were given time to air their views. The agitated independent member from Chandigarh, Mr Gurpartap Singh Ryar, said it was undemocratic on the part of the SGPC to refuse a discussion on the budget. The members from Haryana were protesting against neglect of the SGPC-run institutions in their state by the ruling party. Later, a member of the ruling party tabled a resolution condemning the alleged “hooliganism” by certain members. The resolution could not be passed.

A heated discussion followed the budget speech over the World Heritage Status, proposed to be accorded by Unesco to Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple). Mr Hardip Singh, an SGPC member from Mohali, described the dossier of Golden Temple as ‘anti-Sikh’ and sought convening of a general house meeting to condemn the efforts of “certain forces” allegedly aimed at destroying the sovereignty of Akal Takht and Sikh ideology. Another member from the ruling party, Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, sought a probe into the allocation of Rs 40 lakh for preparing the dossier through some private agency.

He alleged that the dossier was conceptually wrong and had some glaring distortions of history. On this, Bibi Jagir Kaur announced that the SGPC won’t accept the heritage status unless the general house and the executive committee passed it. The five-member committee had already been constituted to discuss the dossier.

When Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, an executive member who had coordinated to prepare the dossier, pleaded that the case of Harmandar Sahib had been sent in the same category under which the Vatican was accorded the status in 1984, then Mr Hardip Singh and Mr Advocate quipped that the Pope’s palace and seat of sovereignty was not included while enlisting Vatican in the heritage list.

In yet another resolution, the SGPC general house passed a resolution that the expression Golden Temple should not be used for Harmandar Sahib or Darbar Sahib. The SGPC general house also resolved that the decision of Akal Takht on the status of ‘Raagmala’ should be considered final and nobody should raise a controversy over it. The general house also resolved to take up the matter of demolishing of three Sikh shrines in Saudi Arabia through the Central Government.

The most objectionable part of the SGPC budget was the deficit of Rs 12.90 crore. It would erode the precious savings of the SGPC.

As per the budget speech, a whopping 19 per cent would be spent on the salaries of SGPC employees while 11 per cent will be the salary bill of the faculty of educational institutes. With the opening up of new institutes, the bill is likely to increase. However, the new budget would eat up 12 per cent more from the savings.


2 jail officials booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 29
The Deputy Superintendent, Gurdaspur jail ,Mr S.K. Bansa, and the Head Warden, Mr Harpal Singh, have been booked for committing a fraud. According to highly-placed sources, the jail officers have been booked for allegedly claiming fake medical bills for treating a patient lodged in the jail.

The sources said Balwant Singh, a prisoner in Gurdaspur jail, developed serious complications. He was taken to Amritsar by the jail authorities for treatment. Later, the Deputy Superintendent along with another officer raised medical bills of about Rs 90,000 for treating the patient.

The bill attracted the attention of the higher authorities. They deputed the jail doctor for verification.

The jail doctor on inquiry found some discrepancies. On the report of the jail doctor a further inquiry was marked by the higher authorities. In the subsequent inquiries many more medicine bills raised for treating the patient at Amritsar were found to be fake.

On the basis of inquiry report a case under Sections 409, 420, 465, 471 of the IPC and Section 13 of the prevention of corruption act was registered against the accused officers.

Both the accused officers have been absconded

They moved a anticipatory bail application in the district and sessions court which was rejected.


CPI gives call for ouster of Amarinder government
R. Suryamurthy and Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan today gave a call for the removal of Captain Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government in the state as it was following anti-people policies.

Addressing a mass rally on the eve of CPI’s 19th Party Congress here, he called upon all Communist parties to join hand to fight for the removal of the Congress-led government in the state.

Expressing sympathy with the problems faced by the farmers which was forcing them to commit suicide, he urged them to join the fight against the government as the proposed move to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board would increase their burden.

“I had taken up this issue with the Prime Minister but Dr Manmohan Singh seems to have paid little attention to it,” he said.

Mr Bardhan said once power is privatised, farmers would not get free power or subsidised rate, which would act as a death knell to their existing problem.

He pointed out that the privatisation in several states across the country had only resulted in the escalation of the energy costs and the poor farmers had been at the receiving end.

The rally witnessed a sizable participation from the office-bearers of the Punjab unit and they did not lag behind in pointing out the problems faced by the people in the state.

The secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, accused the Amarinder Singh government of following in the footsteps of the previous SAD-BJP regime saying that corruption ruled the roost. Moreover, the “anti-people” policies of the UPA government had an adverse affect on the farmers of the state resulting in over 6,000 suicides by the farmers in the recent past.

He alleged that 30 lakh youth were unemployed in the state and the state government was going full steam in privatising the profit-making boards and corporations, including the Punjab State Electricity Board(PSEB). The party, he said, chalked out an elaborate agitational programme which included the boycott of Punjab ministers.

Mr Bant Singh Brar, Assistant Secretary of the Punjab unit, regretted that the Punjab Government had gone back on its pre-poll promises to the people of the state.


Amarinder camp becomes more active against Brar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
There was a lot of action, reaction and political drama to follow among ruling Congress members in the Punjab Assembly, where Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar was also present in the Speaker’s gallery, today.

All eyes remained focused on Mr Brar for quite some time as he made himself easy on a sofa in the Speaker’s gallery. Accompanied by Mr Vijay Sathi, Mr Kulbir Singh and Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbhuti, his close associates, Mr Brar came to the House soon after the start of the proceedings of the morning session.

Sitting a few yards away from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Brar remained attentively observing the happenings in the House especially on the Treasury Benches. And there was more than the usual activity on the Treasury Benches in the morning session.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, entered the House accompanied by a number of MLAs said to be her camp followers. And then Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang was seen sitting with Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma. Ms Razia Sultana was seen moving from one bench to another. She first talked to Ms Bhattal, then met Rana Gurmeet Sodhi for a while and later discussed something with Capt Amarinder Singh.

Sources said that Ms Bhattal and her camp followers had got together to lobby for seeking important amendments to the VAT Bill. And later they held a meeting with the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister in this connection. Following that meeting, amendments were moved to the Bill in the House.

Curiosity about Mr Brar’s presence was generated by the signature campaign launched against him by loyalists of Capt Amarinder Singh. Informed sources said that except for Mr Raj Khurana, Mr A.S. Atwal, Mr Malkiat Dakha and Ms Bhattal, all other MLAs had signed the brief memorandum to be presented to the party high command against Mr Brar. Through the memorandum, action had been demanded against Mr Brar for allegedly vitiating the atmosphere in the party. Statements made by Mr Brar during the Ajnala byelection and about alleged fraud in the auction of liquor vends had been made the basis of the memorandum.

Rana Gurmeet Sodhi said that Ms Bhattal had not been approached to put her signature on the memorandum keeping in view her status as Deputy Chief Minister. He said that those who had not signed the memorandum had done so for personal reasons. They had not extended support to Mr Brar.

It appears that though Capt Amarinder Singh is in full control of his party except a few MLAs, groupism in the Congress Legislature Party has resurfaced. From the movement of Congress MLAs in the state Assembly, their camp alignments were reflected clearly.

However, informed sources said that the Bhattal camp had totally dissociated itself from any political activity related to Mr Brar, who had met her last evening. The sources said that it was suggested to Ms Bhattal by a Congress MLA to call Mr Brar and certain MLAs to breakfast at her residence this morning, but she declined to do so. It appears that Ms Bhattal wanted Mr Brar to fight his political battle on his own.

Asked about the signature campaign, Capt Amarinder Singh said he was not behind it. “I did not want to join issue with Mr Brar”, he reiterated.


CLP meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will be held here on March 31.

This was announced today by the Chief Minister and Leader of the CLP, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said certain political and other issues would be discussed at the meeting.


Police fires in air to disperse warring groups
Gurbaxpuri and Pawan Kumar
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, March 29
Tension prevailed in Muradpur village in this historic town after a clash between members of various Sikh organisations, including the Khalra Mission Committee (KMC), the local Sukhmani sewa societies and followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan of Noormahlias. The clash took place during a ‘Satsang’ held in the house of Jaspreet Singh situated at Muradpur Road here.

Certain members, who were armed with sharp-edged weapons were determined to stop the ongoing function being held by some followers of Noormahlias.

The police had to fire in air. It lobbed tear gas shells as a preventive measure to disperse the warring groups who resorted to stone throwing.

Despite heavy deployment of policemen, the situation turned ugly when many activists of Sikh organisations broke three barricades to gherao the house of Jaspreet Singh.

The panic gripped the area and there was a curfew like situation in the area. Apprehensive shopkeepers downed their shutters.

According to information, the tension began when the sangat came to know about the ongoing function of the Noormahlias followers. They collected at a local gurdwara. Armed with sharp-edged weapons, activists allegedly led by Mr Joginder Singh Fauji, Harminder Singh Sarhali, Chairman, KMC, Jasbir Singh Padri, general secretary, KMC, marched towards the house of Jaspreet Singh. Though the police had made elaborate arrangements on the spot yet more police parties were called on the spot. Initially the police resorted to firing in air. However, when the situation could not be controlled, policemen then lobbed tear gas shells on the agitators for dispersing the crowd. However, no one was reportedly injured in the incident.

Mr Harminder Singh, SP, headquarter, when contacted said the situation was now under control. He said the police was identifying the suspects and case would be registered against them.


Work on Bathinda refinery to start soon: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
How are government schools functioning in Punjab? Here are two examples. There are 19 government secondary schools in Ajnala tehsil of border belt. But none has a Principal.

Then there is a government high school at Bhindi Aulakh village of Ajnala tehsil. It is run by one teacher of some vocational subject. This was disclosed by none else but the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, at the Punjab Assembly while replying to a question asked by Mr Vir Singh Lopoke.

What will be the future of students in such a school? Responding to this supplementary question, Mr Johar, said you were all wise people and could imagine that what could be the future of students in a high school where there was only one teacher to teach. He said there was a ban on the recruitment of teachers.

“I would try to post another teacher at the high school”, he added.

Replying to a question, the Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, said the Centre had not yet waived Rs 3,700-crore loan which was spent on security forces in the 80s in Punjab. The 12th Finance Commission had postponed the payment of the loan for two years.

“By then, the Union Home Ministry would submit its report regarding expenditure made on security forces in Punjab and after examining it decision to waive the loan would be taken by the Centre”, he said, answering the question put forward by, Mr Raj Khurana.

Responding to a question asked by Capt Balbir Singh Bath(retd), Mr Johar said he was prepared to order an inquiry if a specific complaint was made to him regarding additional telephones installed in 140 government schools in the Sri Hargobindpur area. The PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, said the Ludhiana-Malerkotla-Patiala road would be repaired and widened soon.

Answering a question regarding the Bathinda oil refinery asked by Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the work on the project would resume soon. He said the state government had saved about Rs 8,600 crore by renegotiating the terms and conditions with the HPCL for setting up the refinery.

Terms and conditions settled by previous the SAD-BJP government were not in favour of the Punjab. He said, “I had told the HPCL that the it would not make any difference if it wanted to shift the project elsewhere, but I would not agree to earlier terms and conditions”.

Earlier, in a call-attention notice, Mr Bir Devinder Singh raised the issue of sullage water in Badala village. He said threat of an epidemic loaned large in the village. Responding to it, Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development Minister, said a committee of officers had been set up to deal with the issue.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh said in the House that the government would soon implement the 85th amendment to the Constitution in the state.


Commuters forced to cover extra distance
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, March 29
The 5-km U-turn, through which traffic heading from Phagwara bypass is diverted to Jalandhar, has become a source of inconvenience to thousands of road users daily.

The extra stretch, which they are forced to tread, is also proving to be a costly expenditure.

Every vehicle driver, using the Phagwara bypass in order to reach Jalandhar is forced to go 2 km extra towards Phagwara on the Jalandhar-Phagwara GT Road .And then he or she is forced to take a U-turn and come back on the Phagwara-Jalandhar road by coverings another 2 km of extra distance.

This means that every vehicle driver, who is heading for Jalandhar from the bypass, has to cover 4 km of distance just because of the lack of a roundabout or absence of traffic lights at the T-Point joining the bypass with the Jalandhar-Phagwara GT Road. According to Dr.H.J. Singh, a local chest specialist who commutes between Jalandhar and Chandigarh of and on, it is a nightmare to cover 4 km of extra journey without any reason.

“Why cannot they set up a chowk or traffic lights in public interest at the T-Point?,” he rued.


Police action averts communal tension
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, March 29
A major communal tension was averted after the police thwarted efforts by some miscreants to forcibly take control of a temple at Ali Nangal village falling under Dorangla police station. Sources available here said that two accused in the case, Bua Singh and Rana, along with their 10 to 15 supporters threw out idols from an over hundred-year-old unguarded Shiv Temple in the village.

The move was aimed at taking control over about three kanal of land attached with the temple. The accused after throwing out idols installed a “nishan sahib” at the temple to take religious mileage for grabbing the temple land.

Police officials arrested one of the accused, Bua Singh, while others fled. The “nishan sahib” was removed from the place. Later the idols were recovered from the fields adjoining the temple.

The idols have now been reinstalled in the temple. The accused has been booked under Sections 295-A, 380, 148 and 120-B of the IPC and remanded in judicial custody. The police sources told that efforts are being made to arrest all the accused in the case.

The local political leaders have condemned the incident and demanded strict action against the accused.

The SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, when asked, said that the entire incident was a ploy of a few miscreants to take control over the temple land. The timely police action averted the situation from turning communal, he said.


Kalash yatra gets warm welcome
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
Kalash Yatra led by Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor Municipal Corporation, Patiala, was accorded a warm welcome on the GT Road Sirhind, by residents of the town led by Dr. Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary.

The yatra containing holy water in kalash brought from Katas Raj temple in Pakistan by Chief Minister reached late in the evening and halted at Sanatan Dharm Mandir, Sirhind, for night and today morning yatra was given a warm send off by hundreds of devotees reciting kirtan.

A sobha yatra of the kalash carrying holy water was taken out in the town. Dr. Harbans Lal, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, vaid Hari Krishan, president, DCC, Charanjiv Channa, president, MC, Sirhind, were leading the yatra and the sangat followed it. The yatra was given warm reception by various social and religious organisations.

Addressing the function at the mandir, Dr. Harbans Lal said this was a historic moment. He said it was a matter of pride for all that the Chief Minister had donated Rs 11 lakh for the renovation of the temple and had promised to give Rs 2 crore for the temple. He said besides this, the Chief Minister had also taken the initiative to start bus service to Panja Sahib and he had brought Sikh prisoners from Pak jails.


Workshop lays stress on educating women
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
To create awareness among women about their economic, political, social and legal rights and to uplift their financial and social status, the District Social and Security Department under the Swayam Sidha Scheme organised a workshop at Badali Ala Singh village on Sunday.

The workshop was arranged by the CDPO, Khera. Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the workshop, while Ms Amrit Bala, District Social Security Officer, presided over the function.

Addressing the workshop, Mr Ahluwalia appreciated the efforts of the District Social Security Department in helping all government sponsored schemes reach the grassroots level through camps, seminars and workshops.

Addressing the workshop Mrs Krishna Attri of Khera village said under the scheme camps were being organised at various places in the block to educate women.

She said 100 self-help groups of women had been set up in Khera block where already 45 such groups were working. She added that under the scheme women were given training in dairy farming, detergent and candle making, mushroom plantation.

The Police Department has also been involved in giving them training regarding their rights.

Ms Amrit Bala said the “‘SWAYAM SIDHA Scheme” had yielded good results.


District credit plan released
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
A special meeting of the District Consultative Committee was convened by the State Bank of Patiala, at Bachat Bhavan today.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner presided over the meeting.

The credit plan for the year 2005-2006 prepared by bank was launched by the Deputy Commissioner at the meeting. Mr S.S. Kharaud, LDM, informed the meeting that Rs 686.85 crore had been earmarked by all banks in the district for disbursement as loans, which was Rs 155.45 crore more than the previous year’s plan thus recording growth of 29.25 per cent. He said Rs 546.19 crore had been earmarked for the agriculture sector, Rs 66.01 crore for the SSI sector and Rs 74.66 crore for other sector.

The Deputy Commissioner advised the banks to advance loans with open heart and any of the beneficiary should not have any problem. He urged them to achieve targets both under annual credit plan and government-sponsored schemes.

Mr D.S. Walia, ADC (D), G.S. Multani, Chairman, Malwa Gramin Bank, Mr Ashwani Mahajan, AGM, NABARD, assured the Deputy Commissioner that the banks would put in their best efforts to achieve the targets.

After releasing annual credit plan, the Deputy Commissioner also presided over the standing committee meeting convened by the bank.


Senior citizens for more IT exemption
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
The Senior Citizen’s Welfare Society, Urban Estate, has urged the government to increase the current income tax limit to 2.25 lakh even as they claimed that they had to spend more on inflation and health care.

In a press release, the society members, led by president, Prof S.S Joshi, and general secretary, Dr R.K Ghai, claimed that they had sent a representation to the Union Finance Minister to plead their case for increase in the limit.

The members said that the economic reforms had hit senior citizens badly because of the low interest rates while they claimed that the younger generation stood to benefit because they can borrow at low interest rates against future income.

They also urged the government to lower the age of senior citizens from 65 to 60 years for the purpose of availing income tax benefits. The members also asked the government to set up a commission to look into the problems faced by them `in the twilight of their life.’


Power generation at Ganguwal halts
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 29
Power generation at the 76.65-MW power house of the BBMB at Ganguwal and two power houses of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) at Ganguwal and Nakkiyan in Anandpur Sahib came to halt as the water supply was stopped from the Bhakra Dam.

The reason for the stoppage of water supply through the Anandpur Sahib and Nangal hydel channel to these power houses was attributed to the demand for water in parts of the region for irrigation.


Four unclaimed bodies cremated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
As many as four unclaimed bodies were cremated by volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa here today.

In a press note issued here, Mr Vijay Goyal, president, Sahara Jan Sewa, said that one body belonged to a youth who died after he was hit by a running train near Rampura town. Another body was found near Pathrala village in this district.

He added that two other bodies were found at the local railway station and local Civil Hospital.

He said that all these bodies were cremated when their identity could not be established. He said that the body of a youth, who was identified as Parkash Kumar, a migratory labourer, who was working as servant in a local hotel, was found on the rail line.


Ambulance driver found drunk
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
During a surprise checking of the Civil Hospital here, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, found the driver of an ambulance in drunken condition. He immediately ordered for his medical examination.

According to a report, an accident had taken place on the Sirhind-Chandigarh road last night in which one person died and the injured was rushed to the hospital. The doctor refered him to the PGI, but the driver was not available following which the family complained to the Deputy Commissioner who arranged an ambulance of the police.


Rakesh Gupta is Bar body chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 29
The elections to the Patiala Bar Association today saw Rakesh Gupta being elected president of the Bar.

Mr Tiwari represented the Billing group of former Bar Association president Balbir Singh Billing. The Billing group was, however, able to annex the important posts of both vice president and secretary. Mr Dinesh Batish defeated K P Singh of the Gupta panel for the post vice-president and for the post of secretary Baljit Singh Roharjagir defeat Virender Singh Rai.

Other posts however went to the Gupta panel. Preet Mohinder Singh Rana of the Gupta group defeated Samarjit Singh Saggu to become the joint secretary. For the post of cashier Gagandeep Singh Sidhu of the Gupta group defeated Jashandeep Singh Khaira while for the post of Librarian Umesh Pandav of the same group defeated Sameer Gupta .

The 10 executive committee members who have been elected are Neeru Singla, Shivim Sharma, Gurkiranbir Singh Chahal, Amar Singh, Kulwant Singh, Satwinder Kaur Sidhu, Narinderpal Singh Kaleka, Amarjit Singh Sandhu, Gurindervir Singh ‘Sunny’ and Amit Garg.


SAD MPs move High Court in intranet scam
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 29
The petition filed by Shiromani Akali Dal MPs, led by former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, seeking a probe by Central Government agencies into the alleged Punjab Intranet scam, came up before a Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court today.

The petitioners have sought an independent probe into the alleged investment of $ 1 lakh(US) by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh in a Dutch company in violation of foreign exchange regulation laws. Today, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta adjourned the matter to May 2 following the request of the petitioners' counsel, senior SC advocate R.N. Trivedi, to allow him to inspect the documents pertaining to the Justice Nehra Commission.

They have sought an inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

The Akali leaders have also sought quashing of the report submitted by the Justice Nehra Commission in the matter on December 17 last, which was placed before the Punjab Assembly some days back.


Bad road: Preneet asks DC to act
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
The Patiala MP, Mrs Preneet Kaur, has asked the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, to initiate an inquiry into the poor condition of the Patiala- Samana- Patran road after receiving reports that the PWD authorities had bungled while repairing the road.

Mrs Preneet Kaur, who was presiding over a meeting of the Monitoring and Vigilance Committee held at Red Cross Bhavan to oversee various Central Government-sponsored development schemes in the district, took strict notice of complaints made by several Zila Parishad members that inferior quality raw material had been used to repair the road by the PWD authorities. The DC has been asked to look into the matter and fix responsibility at the earliest.

Mrs Preneet Kaur informed that the Public Health authorities had been asked to speed up the completion of water supply scheme in the villages which will give good quality drinking water to the villagers.

The MP also said all land records in the district would soon be computerised which would enable villagers to easily procure copies of such records from the offices of their respective tehsildars.

Mrs Preneet Kaur said that under the Sampuran Grameen Rozgar Yojna scheme Rs 3.66 crore had been given to the poor while 43,245 quintals of wheat was distributed among the needy in various villages of the district.



Youth fired at, injured
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 29
Shapinder Singh, a local youth, has been battling for his life after he was injured by another youth identified as Jassi by firing two shots at him when the former made an attempt to stop the latter from harassing his friend’s sister today.

Though the incident took place near the office of the DIG, Punjab, Faridkot Range, the accused, Jassi, who used .32-bore revolver in the crime, escaped after making an attempt to murder Shapinder Singh.

Shapinder Singh, who suffered bullet injuries on his neck and one thigh, had been shifted to Ludhiana hospital after his condition deteriorated in the local Civil Hospital.

Information revealed that Jassi had been harassing the sister of one of the friends of Shapinder Singh. Jassi, who lived in the Pooja Wala locality, did not like interference of Shapinder Singh in his activities and reacted violently by firing two shots at him.

Police sources said that a case in this connection was registered under Section 307, IPC, and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms act in the city police station. The FIR was registered on the statement given by Kulwant Singh, a kin of Shapinder Singh, to the police.


Guru Gobind Singh’s contribution to Hindi ‘lasting’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 29
An eminent Hindi thinker and critic of national repute, Dr Kunwarpal Singh, former Dean of Aligarh Muslim University, has observed that when literature or religion are engulfed in politics, they are bound to lose their existence and identity as well. Similarly, he said, when a language is shadowed by politics, it too loses its existence.

Dr Kunwarpal Singh was speaking today at a one-day national seminar on “The Changing Prospects of Hindi Literature” organised by the Department of Hindi, Guru Nanak Dev University here. He said due to politicisation of Hindi language, it was passing through its present state of affairs. A language faced danger from businessmen and politicians only. Businessmen had no concern with the language. They were only interested in promoting their business. Similarly, politicians also had their vested interests.

Dr Kunwarpal Singh said Hindi writers of Punjab were trendsetters in the development of Hindi language. He said Guru Gobind Singh had made a lasting contribution to the development of Hindi. He said there was a need to undertake serious research on the literary works of Guru Gobind Singh. He also mentioned equality of women and uplift of the downtrodden as portrayed by distinguished Hindi writers like Prem Chand.

Expressing his concern over the present state of affairs of Hindi language, Dr S.P.Singh, Vice-Chancellor Guru Nanak Dev University, said the Central Government has reserved 80 per cent of the earmarked amount for the development of this language, but due to a lack of commitment and under utilisation of the available facilities, the results were poor. He called upon the scholars to find out the reasons behind this deplorable state of Hindi language.

Dr Kunwarpal Singh released the latest issue of Pradhikrit, a journal being brought out by the Hindi Department of the University for the past 19 years. The Vice-Chancellor honoured Dr Kunwarpal Singh by presenting him a set of university publications.

Earlier, Dr Harmohinder Singh Bedi, senior lecturer, said the development of Hindi language depended on the development of other Indian languages. If Hindi got its due place, the other Indian languages would automatically develop, he added.


Varsity nod to neighbourhood campuses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
The Punjabi University Syndicate, which met here today under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Boparai, approved the setting up of neighbourhood campuses to give a fillip to education in the rural areas.

Under the neighbourhood campuses scheme, the TPD Malwa college, Rampura Phul, has already passed a resolution to offer the college’s campus and other property to the university for setting up a regional centre there.

It was also decided at today’s meeting, which was also attended by the Patiala MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, to nominate Dr J.S. Kalkat, VC of PAU, Ludhiana, on the finance committee of the University.

The Syndicate also unanimously passed the university’s annual budget of Rs 91.81 crore for the current financial year with a deficit of nearly 18.65 crore. The Punjab Government will give a grant of 33 per cent which amounted to Rs 24.85 crore while the remaining amount will be generated by mobilising the university’s resources.

Out of the total budget, an amount of Rs 4.84 crore had been earmarked for the development of Punjabi language while the remaining amount will be spent on teaching and research activities and other activities like press, transportation and security.


Varsity professor given premature retirement
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
Punjabi University has decided to give premature retirement to Dr H.R Verma of the Physics Department after an inquiry by the authorities following charges of harassment of a girl research scholar.

This decision was taken at a meeting of the Syndicate held here today after the enquiry report was presented before the members. Dr Verma was placed under suspension on February 7 last year and the authorities had initiated an inquiry against him following charges levelled by Mrs Punita Verma, a research student of the Physics Department.

The inquiry officer, Mr G.S. Bains, concluded that the “charges against Dr Verma were beyond any shadow of doubt”. The report concluded that “ Dr Verma’s conduct as a teacher can not be condoned which has brought a bad name to the university. After thorough discussion the Syndicate unanimously decided to give him premature retirement.”

Meanwhile, Dr Verma has claimed that he was being victimised because he fell out of favour with the Vice-Chancellor as he had applied for the post of Registrar last year for which a close relative of the VC, Mr Param Bakshish Singh, was also a candidate. Dr Verma has also alleged that the VC had stalled his appointment as Head of the Physics Department.

Dr Verma has also alleged that he has not been given enough opportunity to put up his defence in front of the inquiry officer.


GND varsity exams from March 31
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 29
The annual theory examinations of undergraduate and postgraduate courses of Guru Nanak Dev University will be held from March 31 to April 19.

More than 83,043 students including 32,268 private candidates, are appearing in the examinations. As many as 263 examination have been set up in the Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ferozepore (at Fazilka), Ludhiana, Bathinda and New Delhi.

Nearly 3,000 employees have been deployed on supervisory duty.

The principals of the local colleges would act as coordinators.

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