P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM steals limelight
Wants Muktsar to be renamed Muktsar Sahib
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 4
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today managed to steal the limelight at the state government’s conference to mark the martyrdom tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’ here. The conference attracted a mammoth crowd.

Addressing the conference, the Chief Minister said his government was fortunate to have observed the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, and the martyrdom tercentenary of the Sahibzadas and 40 ‘muktas’. He expressed his intent to rename Muktsar as Muktsar Sahib due to its historical background. He said he would take up the matter with the Union Government and seek its consent in this regard.

He said the government had sanctioned Rs 17 crore for development works in the city and if needed more funds would be granted. He said the government was committed to the development of holy cities in the state.

He said the agricultural produce during the Congress regime had shot up from 220 lakh tonnes to 300 lakh tonnes, translating into a profit of Rs 5,000 crore. He said the Congress government had ensured at least eight-hour power supply to all sectors, besides normal canal water supply. He said the government had purchased power worth Rs 1,600 crore in 2004 and this year, the figure would touch Rs 2,400 crore. The government would also ensure 24-hour power supply in residential areas spread over 12,400 villages by the end of June.

He said industries were coming to the state and exports from Punjab were also looking up. Expressing concern over a large number of unemployed youth in the rural areas, he said the problem could not be sorted out through “sangat darshan” and more efforts were needed for it. He said the government was also giving a serious thought to grievances of small farmers as 84 per cent of Punjab’s farmers own less then four acres.

The PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, lamented the present state of the holy cities of the state and said these should be developed as modern cities. He also termed the running of meat and liquor shops in these cities as unfortunate.

Later, addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister said a memorial park would be built near the mini-secretariat in the memory of 40 “muktas” and Mai Bhago at the cost of Rs 2 crore. The park would have a 60-foot “khanda” having the names of the “muktas” inscribed on it, besides a memorial of Mai Bhago.

He said work on Guru Gobind Singh stadium was also on and Rs 50 lakh had already been sanctioned for it. He said a water supply plant would come up in the city before February. A sum of Rs 12 crore had been granted for the construction of approach roads to the city.

Responding to the charge of interference in religious affairs as levelled by Akali leaders, he said they had also celebrated the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth and everyone was free to profess his religion.

He said Mr Hanspal should continue as the PPCC chief. Regarding the ban on meat and liquor in holy cities, he said he could not announce anything right now as liquor contracts had already been awarded till February.

Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang, Food and Supplies Minister Avtar Henry, Revenue Minister A.S. Samra and other ministers were also present. 


Brar fires another salvo at CM
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 4
Sidelined by the party owing to his “rebellious moves” against the Chief Minister, Congress leader Jagmeet Brar today alleged that the list of MLAs submitted by the CM to the party high command seeking action against him had “forged” signatures of 22 MLAs.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Brar claimed that he had a report of forensic experts which stated that the signatures were signed with a single pen and by one person. He said he was not invited to the state government’s conference and he didn’t want to create tension by attending it. He said if the party wanted to give Akalis a tough fight in the next Assembly elections, the new PPCC chief should come from the Scheduled Caste category.

He said Punjab had been giving waters to Rajasthan since 1965 but the Rajasthan government had done nothing in turn for the state’s farmers. On the Rajasthan HC verdict on three headworks, he said an all-party meeting should be called to discuss the issue. The state government had spent crores on the resolving the water dispute with neighbouring states, but had failed to achieve the desired results till now, he said.

Mr Brar also attended the bhog of akhand path organised by the SGPC at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj. He said all Congress leaders should have attended the bhog here as it would have been the real tribute to the 40 ‘muktas’. 


Call to oust Badal from SAD
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 4
Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Delhi Akali Dal today gave a call to the Sikhs to oust Mr Parkash Singh Badal from the Akali Dal to save the Sikh religion and the Sikh community.

Mr Sarna said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was doing great harm to the Sikh religion and the Sikhs with his doings and he had no love lost for Sikhs at all. Mr Badal had failed to deliver the goods as leader of the Sikh quam, he alleged.

Mr Sarna accompanied by 23 members of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee and office bearers of Delhi Akali Dal was on his way to Amritsar to pay obeisance at Akal Takht and Sri Harmandar Sahib. They stopped at Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women where they were accorded a big welcome.

Mr Sarna disclosed that they had joined hands with the Akali Dal (Badal) a year ago in Delhi as Mr Badal had promised that they would cooperate in ending corruption and they would give new direction to the Sikhs. But he regretted that instead of helping in rooting out corruption, the Akali Dal (Badal ) started indulging in horse trading which was witnessed during the cooption of a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on April 27 when their candidate defeated Badal supported candidate by 25-21 votes. With this election, they had broken the alliance.

The Delhi Gurdwara Committee chief said during his tenure as Chief Minister, Mr Badal who had close collaboration with the NDA government failed to settle issues of the Sikhs including the release of the Sikh youths detained in the jails in the country.

Mr Sarna maintained that they had honoured Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, in Delhi because he had helped Sikhs in solving their problems, including close relationship with Pakistan authorities over maintenance of gurdwaras in Pakistan and opening of Nankana Sahib bus route to Lahore.

He revealed that Captain Amarinder Singh would also release Sikh youth detained in Punjab jails soon and he had also taken up the cause of the Sikh youth detained outside Punjab jails.


Govt trying to wipe out SGPC: Badal
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, May 4
Lashing out at the state government, SAD president Parkash Singh Badal today alleged that it was trying to take over control of Sikh gurdwaras. Mr Badal was addressing a conference held to mark the martyrdom tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’ at the SGPC pandal on the Malout road here.

He said the state government’s “interference” in the SGPC elections sometime back corroborated his allegation. He said the SGPC was a body elected for looking after the religious places of Sikhs and its elections were held as per the Constitution. “But the state government had been intervening in its affairs by violating all norms.” He claimed observing various centenaries in the recent past by the SGPC had succeeded in arresting the decline in religious values among the Sikh youth. He alleged that fearing the increasing role of the SGPC in the Sikh community the Congress wanted to wipe it out.

Mr Badal said by organising the state-level programme on the martyrdom tercentenary of 40 ‘muktas’ the state government was not paying tributes to them but was indulging in a “show of strength”. He urged the SGPC to call a meeting of various Sikh organisations and intellectuals to discuss the issues before the community to find a solution to them.

Addressing the gathering, the SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said the observation of various centenaries in the recent past had breathed new life into Sikhs. She exhorted Sikhs to unite to foil the “government bids to wipe out the SGPC”. She said the government had tried to create confusion among Sikh devotees by organising parallel programmes. She said the SGPC was fulfilling all its responsibilities. She said apart from spreading Sikhism the committee was also working in the health and education sectors. She said the SGPC was successfully running various hospitals and colleges while the government institutions were on the verge of closure. She said the organisation was working towards raising modern schools in various parts of the state. She appealed to women to join Mai Bhago Sewa Dal to curb social evils.

Earlier, jathedars of all five Takhts, in their message to Sikhs, appealed to them to get baptised and follow the tenets of Sikhism. They also urged Sikhs to spread the message of Guru Granth Sahib in the entire world.

Senior BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana also addressed the gathering. Akali leaders Sukhbir Badal, Balwinder Singh Bhoondar, Tota Singh and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura were also present.


Badal men may lose DSGMC posts, hints Sarna
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
Many senior members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal may lose plum posts in various educational and other committees following the snapping of alliance between the SAD and the SAD (Delhi).

Among those who could be axed as chairman of a committee include Mr Avtar Singh Hit, president SAD, New Delhi, and a confidant of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Hit is chairman of the important Fateh Nagar School of New Delhi.

This indication was given by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, DSGMC, and President SAD (Delhi), while talking to TNS during his visit to the city here today.

He, however, said only those who would extend unconditional support to the policies of the SAD (Delhi) would continue to be chairmen of the committees.

After an alliance in November last year, the Sarna group had made many SAD men chairmen of important institutions.

Mr Sarna said the alliance stood snapped. He alleged that the SAD faction spent more than Rs 75 lakh to ensure cooption of its member, even as the move fizzled out with the election of Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna.

The DSGMC had already replaced Mr Kulmohan Singh as chairman of Mata Sundari College with Headmaster Sucha Singh. The other DSGMC members who could lose their posts were Jathedar Surjit Singh (Chairman, India Gate School), Mr Bakshish Singh (Technical College), Mr Hardul Singh (Chairman, Politechnical College), Mr Taran Singh (Chairman, Bangala Sahib School), Mr Mohinder Singh Bhalla (Chairman, Building Committee) and Prof Harminder Singh (Chairman, Guru Harkrishan Singh School).

Mr Sarna alleged that the SAD had shunned panthic issues whereas Capt Amarinder Singh had won the hearts of the community by taking bold steps, including the one on inter-state river waters.

He said the Chief Minister was keen on releasing Sikh youths who could not be released during the Badal regime. He asked traditional Akalis, like Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, to take over the command of the Akali Dal in Punjab as the SAD under Mr Badal had “deviated” from the Panthic path.


Legacy of General Aurora lives on
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The General credited with being the architect of India's finest hour -- the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 -- is no more. But the legacy left behind by late Lieut-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora as an officer and a gentleman will live on for times to come.

As the defence community mourned the demise of the old war hero they poignantly recalled him as a true professional and a thorough gentleman, one who knew his job, cared for his men and commanded respect whether on the battlefield or in civvy street.

Brig Sant Singh (retd), who did courses under General Aurora at the Infantry School and Staff College and later commanded a formation under him during the 1971 war said the General had sound professional knowledge and instructional ability. "He had a good rapport with his officers and had a strong personality to carry his subordinates along with him on just about anything and everything," Brigadier Sant Singh said. While planning for the war, he travelled frequently and he used to brief us personally, he added. He further stated that the General was a master strategist and a meticulous planner who could foresee events and prepare for them.

Commissioned in the Punjab Regiment in January, 1939, he saw action during World War-II. He commanded 1/2 Punjab, which was redesignated as 1 Punjab and later converted as 1 Para (Commando). He later commanded 2 Mountain division and 33 Corps before being appointed as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, in 1969. It was in this position that he planned and executed all operations in the eastern sector during the 1971 Indo-Pak war which led to the birth of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation. It was before General Aurora that the Pakistani commander, Lieut-Gen A A K Niazi had laid down arms along with 93,000 troops, making it the largest surrender in history.

"He used to visit his old unit frequently and meet everyone," Col J S Bindra (retd),a former Commanding Officer of 1 Para said. "He seemed to know all officers by name and used to take keen interest in their well being and the welfare of troops," he added. Remembering him as a very humane and down-to-earth person, Colonel Bindra said when you spoke to him, you felt that you were talking to a distinguished General.

Terming General Aurora to be the father figure of the "Punjab Regiment", Brig K.S. Chandpuri (retd) of the Battle of Laungewala fame, said during their interactions with him when they were youngsters, he always used to stress upon honesty and hard work. "Immediately after the war was over, he flew all the way from Calcutta to Rajasthan to compliment the troops and get a first-hand account of the battle for himself," he recalled. General Aurora had visited the city about three years ago to attend a Punjab Regiment Association function.

"He was always at the forefront," Lieut-Col T S Sidhu (retd), an armoured corps officer, recalled. As a second lieutenant, Colonel Sidhu was in the first tank which led the Indian offensive into East Pakistan. A Pakistani armoured squadron had crossed over into India near Garibpur and General Aurora had ordered it to be repulsed. The Pakistani squadron was annihilated by 45 Cavalry in a battle lasting a few hours in which 13 enemy tanks were destroyed. "General Aurora later visited the battlefield. He met everyone and encouraged them," he recalled.

Officers recalled him as a person who liked socialising. He was also an expert on the dance floor. There are also those who believe that he was not given due credit for the success of the Bangladesh campaign and was not rewarded adequately.


Pesticides causing cancer: study
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
Excessive use of pesticides in rural areas is responsible for the increase in cancer cases in the State, according to a study conducted jointly by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the PGI.

Disclosing this here yesterday, PPCB Chairman Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa said a study carried out in 36 villages of Talwandi Sabo of Bathinda district was responsible for these findings.

The study was conducted following regular reportage of cancer cases in the villages of Giana and Jajjal in Bathinda district.

The Chairman said over usage of pesticides and washing of pesticide containers and spray pumps in canals were responsible for the entry of pesticides into the food chain, which made humans susceptible to cancer and other diseases.

Mr Bajwa said it was worrisome that farming was becoming a major factor in environmental pollution due to indiscriminate use of pesticides.

He said the Agriculture Department of Punjab Agriculture University should come forward to educate the farming community regarding the safe use, storage, spraying and proper disposal of pesticide containers.

The Public Health Department should monitor the level of pesticides and heavy metals in drinking water periodically and the monitoring reports communicated to the Director, Health Services, for necessary action.

The PPCB Chairman said the health department under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act should monitor the level of pesticides and heavy metals in vegetables, fruits and other food items.

Mr Bajwa said medical colleges and other institutions should set up a cancer register for monitoring cancer cases and enhance provisions for screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases. 


Commission agents duping farmers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur May 4
Commission agents are duping farmers in various mandis of the district allegedly in connivance with officials of procurement agencies. Sources in the Department of Agriculture said many agents had altered their weighing scales causing loss to farmers.

As per the norms fixed by the Mandi Board, the commission agents are allowed to adjust their scales to compensate for the loss of about 675 gm weight of the gunny bag in which the wheat is to be stored.

A survey by the marketing wing of the Agriculture Department, however, revealed that many agents had fixed their scales in a way that caused a loss of about 500 gm to 800 gm per 50 kg of wheat to the farmers.

The marketing wing of the Agriculture Department yesterday recommended suspension of licenses of two commission agents on the charges of altering the scales. The District Food and Civil Supplies Controllers has issued a show-cause notice to 10 commission agents on similar charges.

Besides, most farmers are not being issued Form-J by the commission agents. The form is a statement on behalf of the commission agent about the quantity of wheat purchased by him and the amount and rate at which the farmer has been made the payment. The farmers are simply being issued papers slips by the commission agents.

The sources say Form-J is relevant in case the government revises the rates or decides to pay arrears to the farmers. In case of revised payments, the farmers are paid as per the entries in Form-J. However, in case the farmer is not issued the form, he will again have to depend on the commission agents to get the arrears.

Inadequate waterproof covers in mandis is another factor troubling the farmers. Errant weather is threatening the produce of the farmers yet to be procured. Inadequate lighting system and delay in payments are the other troubles being faced by the farmers.

The farmers also complain of delayed payments by the procuring agencies at some places.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, when contacted, said the department officials had been directed to periodically check the mandis in their areas. Strict action would be taken against the commission agents found duping the farmers, he warned.


25 labourers hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Twentyfive labourers sustained injuries when a truck carrying them rammed into a van near the truck union traffic lights on the Rajpura road here this afternoon.

The driver of the truck, carrying labourers from Lakshmi Catering, Model Town, tried to jump the red light when the truck hit a van coming from the opposite direction.

An eyewitness at the accident site said that the truck tried to avoid hitting the van but skidded and turned turtle.

A total of 40 labourers were travelling in the truck out of which 25 sustained injuries. All the injured have been admitted to the Rajindera Hospital and a case has been registered by the police.

The owner of the catering firm immediately reached the hospital and asked the injured not to disclose that they were waiters working for his firm. 


2 dead as bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
Two persons were killed and 16 injured when a bus overturned on the Bathinda-Muktsar road today.

According to sources, the accident occurred near Killi village. The bus driver was on his mobile phone when a cyclist came in the way. The bus overturned while trying to save him.

Though the cyclist escaped, 15-year-old Harpreet sitting on the roadside was killed.

People working in nearby fields took the injured to the local Civil Hospital. The condition of three of the injured is reported to be critical.


Barnala returning to active politics?
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 4
Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Tamil Nadu, caused a flutter in Akali circles visiting residences of senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal who had earlier shifted allegiance to certain top SAD leaders, leaving the Barnala camp, during his five-day visit here.

This is being interpreted as a move to return to active politics after the expiry of his five-year term as Governor in November this year.

In Sangrur district, there are two factions — the Dhindsa faction and the Barnala faction. At present, the Dhindsa faction seems strong with most MLAs and the SGPC members with Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary General, SAD.

A senior leader of the SAD (Longowal) told The Tribune today that Mr Barnala may return to Punjab after resigning from the post of Governor even before the expiry of his term. He also said Mr Barnala was likely to head the third front comprising the SAD (Longowal), the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party.


Demand for power declines
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 4
Two power generating units out of six units of 210 mw each have been shut down in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, for the past one week. The sources informed that unit 1 closed for the maintenance purpose while unit-6 had been shut down as the demand for the electricity has been declined in Punjab in comparison to the last year.

Besides it, following rainfall in the last two days in the region, the demand for the electricity further declined.

The total demand of electricity in the state on an average is 830 lakhs units every day. All thermal units in the state include Thermal Plant in Ropar, Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda, has been supplying total 275 lakhs units electricity to the state, while the hydel power project in the state and also in Himachal has been contributing 147 lakhs units every day. Besides it, the state has been getting 308 lakhs units every day from the central grid.

Sources informed that despite the fact that total four units, include one unit in Bathinda, one in Lehra Mohhabat and two in thermal plant Ropar has been closed, the state is getting sufficient power supply due to increase in the power generation in the hydel projects for the last two weeks.

The water level of the Bhakra Dam was today 36 feet high in comparison to the last year. The reason of the increase in the power generation in the hydel projects attributed to increase in the inflow of the water due to melting of snow.


Teaching German, learning Punjabi
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Evelyn Singh Evelyn Singh is a teacher of the German language at the Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi, who given half a chance, breaks into an earthy Amritsari Punjabi with just a quaint little foreign touch.

"When I teach German to Indian students, I go by the rules. But when I learnt Punjabi it was picking it up spontaneously, like a child would learn its mother tongue," says Evelyn, who is in the city in connection with the tie-up of the bhavan with the local School of German Language. Evelyn's is an interesting story of journeying to India as a bride of a Majhail Punjabi following a romance in the Russia of old.

Evelyn met her husband Pablo Singh, son of celebrated fiction writer Navtej Singh and grandson of Gurbax Singh Preetlari, in Moscow. Pablo, who was named after the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, was studying Russian there while Evelyn, who had come from the erstwhile German Democratic Republic, after completing a course in biophysics was learning Russian too. Thus it was Russian that brought them together and a romance blossomed into a serious commitment. However, there were hurdles in the way of her coming to India after their marriage in her country because she had been sponsored as a brilliant student to Moscow and if she did not work in her homeland she would have to refund the entire amount the state had spent on her education. Looking back, Evelyn recalls with a laugh, "My husband's family approached late President Giani Zail Singh and a word was put through via the Ministry of External Affairs. The President in his Punjabi bonhomie must have said that 'mere munde di vahuti hai'. This was taken literally and the ministry thought me to be the President's daughter-in-law and I was granted permission to leave my country."

So in 1983 she reached Preet Nagar, a border village near Amritsar where the Preetlari family lived and from where the literary magazine Preetalri was brought out. Evelyn recalls, "Those were turbulent times in Punjab. In 1984 terrorists killed my husband's younger brother Sumit Singh. My child was born just a year after that tragedy and we named him Sumit. However, things worsened and we moved to Delhi and since then I have been teaching German there. My husband teaches Russian in Guru Nanak Dev University and we go regularly to our home in Preet Nagar. My daughter Anuja looks for the slightest excuse to run back to the village to be with her grandmother."

Evelyn is quite a linguist and fluent in German, English, Russian, Punjabi and can express herself in Hindi too. She says, "One could not live among the family at Preet Nagar and not pick up Punjabi. I find it very funny when someone asks me to say a few words in Punjabi for I speak Punjabi all the time, be it for putting a point across to my children, conversing with my mother-in-law or quarrelling with my husband."

As for Indian students learning German, she says, "Indian students are the best. Indians are multilingual anyway and so they learn a new language more easily. Of course we don't tell them so or they would go lax."


Kidnapped boy found at dhaba
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 4
The Pathankot police traced Harpreet Singh, son of Balwinder Singh, who was kidnapped from Bolath in Kapurthala yesterday.

A class VI student, he was found in a dhaba near the Dhaki crossing last night in an unconscious state.

Sources said the kidnappers might have drugged the boy while trying to cross over to Jammu and Kashmir. However, due to tight police surveillance, they may have abandoned him at the dhaba.

On regaining consciousness, the child told the police that while he was returning home last evening, some persons had gagged him with a piece of cloth doused in some chemical after which he had become unconscious. He failed to give a description of the suspects.

Harpreet’s parents had lodged a complaint with the local police.

The police suspects that persons known to the boy’s family may have carried out the kidnapping.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Ishwar Singh, said the boy had been handed over to the Kapurthala police. The Kapurthala police would carry out further investigations.


Project to revive Gharial in Punjab
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
A file photo of the almost extinct Gharial Clearing one of the ambitious proposals of the freshly constituted Punjab State Board for Wildlife, the Punjab Government will reintroduce “Gharial” in the state. Once common to North India, Gharial is now nearly extinct and mass scale efforts are being made all over the country to revive the species in whatever manner possible.

At the first meeting of the board, constituted under the amended Wildlife Protection Act, members agreed upon the need to restore the ecological balance lost on account of the declining Gharial population in the state. The reptile, which is one of the well known crocodile species, is a rare sight now.

While approving the board’s proposal to evolve ways to reintroduce the reptile, now extinct in the wild, the state government has resolved to start the conservation process from Harike wetland near Amritsar. The area has been identified for its once rich Gharial population which has dwindled over the years for several reasons, including habitat loss and human interference with ecology.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr A.S. Dogra, Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, said the decision to reintroduce Gharial in the wild was made on account of the reptile’s harmless nature among crocodiles.

Also, its value to ecology cannot be underestimated. Said the official, “We have been looking at the restoration of various species in the state. Gharial, being a Schedule I reptile known for its high conservation value, was an obvious choice for Punjab. The reptile once frequented the rivers of North India. It was easily available in the Harike area.”

The proposal having been cleared, the Wildlife Department Punjab will now go ahead with the process of procurement of the Gharial’s young ones. For this purpose, two best sites of the country have been shortlisted — the crocodile breeding farm near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Morena in Madhya Pradesh. The procurement will soon begin.

Restocking of foxes, falcons

Besides reintroducing the Gharial, Punjab has also decided to restock wildlife in forests through conservation breeding programmes in deer parks and zoos. Among the animals that will be restocked are fox, grey and black partridges, falcons and sarus cranes. For the first time, the state government has decided to engage private conservationists in this long term strategy of restocking wildlife.


Panel to look into contaminated food case
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
Unruly scenes were witnessed at the emergency meeting of the Zila Parishad here today. Supporters of Mr Pakhar Singh, Chairman, Zila Parishad, raised slogans against Mr Gurwinder Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, who highlighted the distribution of contaminated food items among anganwari children in the district. Interestingly, all this happened in the presence of Mr Sadhu Singh, Parliamentary Secretary (Home).

Fourteen of the 15 members attended the meeting. At the meeting Mr Dhillon raised the issue relating to the purchase of contaminated food by the parishad and demanded transparency in the purchase of items. He also demanded that the supplier firm should be blacklisted, but the Chairman and his supporters objected to his allegations and the Chairman clarified all doubts of Mr Dhillon. He constituted a three-member committee, comprising Mr Lakhbir Singh Rai and Mr Gurmail Singh.

The committee would identify the facts that why the food got contaminated and who was responsible. The committee has been asked to report at the earliest. It has also been decided that for making any further purchases a purchase committee should be constituted and all purchases should be made on a monthly basis. A resolution was also passed that there was no fault of the parishad officials or the Chairman in supplying contaminated food.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the Chairman said as per the directions of the Punjab Government the food was to be purchased by the parishad and in compliance of the meeting of the parishad held on April 28, 2004, a committee was constituted and tenders were floated. The lowest bidder was given the contract. He said the samples of the consignment supplied by the party were sent for chemical analysis through the Civil Surgeon and, moreover, before getting the consignment members of the purchase committee visited the factory of the supplier. He said the first consignment was received on November 25, 2004, and directly sent to Child Development Panchayat Officers (CDPOs) as per their requirement. He said on January 11, 2005, they got the report that food had been distributed. The second consignment was received on February 8 and sent to CDPOs directly and till April 19 the CDPOs of Bassi Pathana and Sirhind had not distributed the food and kept with themselves. So there was no fault of the parishad at any level and the CDPOs were responsible, he claimed.


Land worth crores ‘rented out for pittance’ to MLA’s son
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 4
Mr Balwinder Singh Saifdipur, president of Bhau Bhaichara, a social organisation which provides free ration to hundreds of families in the Ghanaur Assembly segment of the district, has claimed that the Bahadurgarh panchayat has entered into an underhand land deal on the Patiala-Rajpura highway with the son of a sitting MLA.

This means, claims Mr Saifdipur, who runs more than two dozen free ration shops in the region, that the panchayat of Bahadurgarh, a township located near Punjabi University, will have to suffer losses running into crores of rupees.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, said he had no knowledge of any such deal but maintained that if he received any complaint he would depute the DDPO to look into the episode.

In a press note, Mr Saifdipur has alleged that the Bahadurgarh panchayat has rented out prime land worth crores of rupees to Mr Hardeep Dhillon, son of Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, a liquor contractor and the sitting MLA from Samrala. Mr Saifdipur, who has demanded a high-level probe into the matter, has also claimed that the land’s rent deed has been signed at just Rs 260 per month while the real price of the land runs into crores of rupees.

He added that on the one hand, the administration was shutting down his modikhanas (free ration shops) which were benefiting hundreds of families, on the other nothing concrete was being done to stop the “illegal” sale of land at marginal rates to influential people.

Mr Darshan Lal, Sarpanch of Bahadurgarh, said that no such rent deed had been made during his tenure as the Sarpanch. He added that the plot of land in question was given on rent in 1982 by the then Sarpanch, Mr G.S Grewal to Mr Amar Chand and Mr Prem Chand and his panchayat had nothing to do with the dispute. He added that both Mr Amar Chand and Mr Prem Chand had sub-letted the land to Mr Hardeep Dhillon and he would be filing a case in the court in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Hardeep Dhillon has claimed that he was constructing a building on that plot and all his papers were in order. On the contrary, he said, Mr Saifdipur was demanding Rs 1 lakh to hush up the case. Mr Saifdipur denied the allegation and demanded a high-level inquiry into the episode besides urging the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to look into the matter.


2 PSEB employees electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
Two employees of the PSEB working on the power electricity line at Chanarthal village were electrocuted. They died on the spot.

According to information both employees were undertaking repair work on main line at Chanarthal village, when a nearby farmer started his electric motor on distributed line which became the cause of their death.

The deceased were identified as Mohan Singh of Tohra village and Kuldeep Singh of Mullepur village.

The postmortem of these bodies was conducted at civil hospital here.


Youth Cong to gherao DC’s office
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 4
The District Youth Congress today announced gherao of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on May 21.

Sources said the Youth Congress was irked at the attitude of the district officials towards them. All the District Youth Congress office-bearers had resigned a couple of days back, saying the government officials didn’t pay heed to their problems and they had to grease their palms even to get a genuine work done. They alleged that the Revenue Department was the most corrupt.

Youth Congress leader Paramjit Singh Kotfatta said he had brought this matter to the notice of Revenue Minister A.S. Samra. He said he would also meet the Chief Minister and take up the party workers’ woes before him.


World Dance Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
The Department of Dance celebrated World Dance Day at Kala Bhavan with Student-artists from the department presented various dance sequences and cultural items to commemorate the occasion.

Ms Mansi Saxena performed kathak depicting a Bhagwati stuti and also performed on a Meera Bhajan.

Students of MA Part I and II performed “Laxmi stuti” based on Sanskrit shlokas as all-Indian Classical dances have been inspired by Indian mythology and religion. Students also presented kathak composition on Sufiana kalam and “panjeeri” a choreography based on folk form of Punjab depicting the village life and childhood happy moments of Punjab’s children.

Mahiya-based on the songs sung by the famous Pakistani singer, was very much liked by the audience. This love legend depicted the separation of two lovers. Students of the department also performed holiya, a dance celebrating the colourful Holi festival of Northern India. 


Two doctors face action
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 4
In order to check quackery in the area, the authorities of the local Civil Hospital approached the police for action against two doctors who had opened a clinic at Sahora village without being registered.

The police has been asked to take action against the two doctors under Section 15(2) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

A team of doctors from the Civil Hospital visited the area on the directions of the Ropar Civil Surgeon, Dr Harinder Rana, and found that both the doctors did not possess any licence for the work. The team confiscated the medicines and dentures from the clinic.


Court orders probe into ‘missing’ woman case
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, May 4
The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr G.C. Garg, today directed the SSP, Ludhiana, to conduct a probe within five days into the curious case of a woman who alleged before the court today that her husband had filed “mischievous” complaints earlier alleging that she had gone missing from a local court on April 21.

Balwinder Kaur originally belonging to Kangra in Himachal Pradesh and now living here, has been the subject of immense interest after her husband Narinder Singh, against whom she was fighting a divorce case, claimed that she had gone missing from the courtroom on April 21.

The complaint of the husband reported in a section of the media created a furore as aspersions were cast on a judge. However, the woman set the record straight by recording her statement on April 24 that she never went missing.

In her complaint before the court, she levelled serious allegations against her husband and accused him of making false complaints. She also claimed that the news reports of her disappearance were false, motivated and baseless. Sources told The Tribune that the judiciary had also taken a serious view of the complaint and the subsequent news reports.

Praying for police protection in her complaint filed under Section 156(3)of the CrPC, Balwinder Kaur requested the court to give direction to the police for investigating the matter and registering a case against Narinder Singh of Gurdaspur.

Talking to The Tribune, the complainant alleged that her husband had been claiming that he had “bought” her from her father and could use her for “valuable consideration and can use her in any manner he likes.”

She said she was fighting a divorce case and it was ironic that the Ludhiana police and the media acted on the complaint of her husband. She claimed that she had been forcibly taken to the court by her husband and about 14-15 of his armed friends and pressured to withdraw the case. However, when the judge enquired if she wanted to withdraw the petition, she told the judge that she was not safe at her in-laws’ house. “I wanted to pursue the case and the statement was recorded by the court in the presence of my counsel”, she added.


High court
Notification sought on lifespan of roadways buses
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 4
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice for July 6 on a PIL seeking directions to the Punjab Government to file a status report regarding the fleet of buses owned by Punjab Roadways.

The petitioner has also prayed that the Central Government be directed to issue a notification about the lifespan of such buses.

Referring to a news report, which said that out of the total of 1591 buses owned by Punjab Roadways, 1491 are not roadworthy, the petitioner has said that these buses are still being operated by the government.

He has also alleged that most of the profitable routes in Punjab have been taken over by private operators backed by politicians and bureaucrats, while Punjab Roadways buses operate only on non-profitable routes.

This is the main reason why Punjab Roadways is in the red. After hearing the petitioner's counsel, the Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta issued notice of motion for July 6.


Science foundation proposed for applied biotechnology research
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 4
The Department of Agriculture has mooted the proposal to institute Punjab Science Foundation for the promotion of biotechnological research in the state. The foundation will run an institute dedicated to biotechnological research which is proposed to be headed by the Adviser, Biotechnology, Punjab, who will be the nodal officer.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Parliamentary Secretary, Agriculture, gave this information while talking to The Tribune.

He said the economy of Punjab was still agriculture-based. With traditional agriculture reaching almost saturation point, there was an acute need to give it fresh impetus through applied biotechnological research. Though some departments of universities in Punjab were doing work on biotechnology, hardly any applied research was taking place pertaining to the conditions in Punjab.

The Department of Agriculture had mooted the proposal to set up a biotechnological institute dedicating the entire research to improve the agriculture-based economy of the state. The institute would be on a par with the biotechnology research institutes based at Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.

It has been proposed the Punjab Science Foundation would have distinguished scientists, industrialists and administrators from across the country as the board of directors. The board would be registered as a non-profit organisation. To start with, about 200 acres would be acquired for setting up the institute through the Punjab Government.

At least 15 scientists with specialisation in different areas of biotechnology would be invited to establish core groups for fundamental research and development on thrust areas relevant to Punjab. The Punjab Science Foundation would not offer any teaching programme. However, it would provide research facilities to scientists, students and staff from different colleges and universities of the state. Distinguished biotechnologists from India and abroad would be offered adjunct positions in the foundation. They would be invited to come on short visits for facilitating transfer of technology in their areas of specialisation.

A cell had also been proposed in the foundation to help researchers in patenting new inventions. The services of lawyers specialising in patenting laws would be taken for the purpose. Besides, a centre for sophisticated instruments with ultramodern facilities as atomic absorption spectrometers, transmission electron microscopes and DNA and peptide sequencer and synthesisers would also be established.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said he had discussed the proposal with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal. Mr Sibal had said a grant up to Rs 50 crore could be given by the centre for the proposed biotechnological research institute.


Bid to develop heat-tolerant wheat varieties
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Worried over the adverse effects of hot weather conditions on the yield of wheat in various parts of the country, Indian scientists have started work on “thermo-insensitive” varieties.

The fall in wheat production in Punjab and other parts of the country has been attributed to the relatively hot weather conditions in October-December this year. For the proper tillering of wheat plants, a low temperature is required in November and December.

However, these months have remained relatively hot for the past five years. And even what scientists describe as” “late-heat conditions” in February and March also hit the yield of wheat. There are varieties such as 343 which are a bit resistant to late-heat conditions, but that is not the case in most of the other varieties.

In Punjab, the temperature remained a bit on the high side during the October-December period. The fall in the yield of wheat in various parts of the state has been attributed to this factor. According to the latest assessment of the Punjab Government, there will be a fall of 10 lakh tonnes in the wheat production this year. Punjab’s target was to procure 100 lakh tonnes of wheat this year. However, wheat procurement is expected to be around 90 lakh tonnes. Farmers’ losses will be to the tune of Rs 600 crore because of the fall in production.

At the national level, wheat production is expected to be about 730 lakh tonnes against the target of 790 lakh tonne fixed by the Union Government. The area under wheat in the country was 26.53 million hectares this year.

Dr G.S. Nanda, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, says plant breeders take care of various factors, including the vagaries of the weather, while developing any variety of wheat or any other crop. All breeders make efforts to ensure that their varieties should prove to be the best bet even in the most abnormal weather conditions. However, despite all these efforts, it is not possible to “counter all ill-effects of abnormalities in the weather”, he adds.

He says this year the wheat crop is in very good shape and the reported low yields are against the expectations of scientists and others concerned.

Dr J.S. Samra, Deputy Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, says there is immediate need to develop “ thermo-insensitive” varieties of wheat keeping in view the swings in temperature in the country, especially in major wheat-producing areas like Punjab. He says most of the Indian wheat varieties are offshoots of Mexican wheat varieties and these are susceptible to high temperatures at the growing stage.

Dr Jag Shoran, Project Director of the Wheat Research Institute of India, says research is on to develop heat-tolerant varieties. However, the process will take years to be completed, he adds.


Octroi posts burnt at Cheema village
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 4
The Sunam police has registered a case against about 45 persons for allegedly burning and damaging two octroi posts at Cheema village near Sunam yesterday. These persons have been booked under Sections 452, 379, 341, 342, 427, 435, 436, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

In protest against the registration of the case, villagers today staged a dharna and blocked road near the village. They were pacified by the Sunam Naib-Tehsildar who listened to their grievances and assured them that no injustice would be done to them.

Mr Sushil Kumar, DSP, Sunam, said this evening over the phone that a large number of villagers burnt two octroi posts and threw the luggage of the octroi staff. He said a farmer of Tolawal village, who had been carrying an animal in a tractor-trailer from Sunam to Tolawal village via Cheema the previous day, had failed to pay octroi and went to the village on the pretext of bringing money for paying the octroi. He, however, came back with his supporters who allegedly started abusing the octroi staff. Later, the villagers burnt the octroi posts and threw out the luggage of the staff.

Sources said trouble started when the farmer wanted to go without paying the octroi and headed towards his village. On this, the octroi employees allegedly manhandled him and in turn he brought some persons from his village to Cheema. This led to an ugly incident later.


Mobile phone snatched from journalist
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
Three unidentified scooter-borne youths snatched a mobile phone from Neeraj Bagga, a journalist associated with an English newspaper, from near Baba Bhorriwala Gaushala, outside the Durgiana Temple here last evening.

According to information, one of the three youths was wearing a cap. They came from behind, snatched the cell phone and sped away.


Patar opens refresher course in Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
Eminent Punjabi poet Surjit Patar inaugurated a three- week refresher course in Punjabi for college and university teachers at Academic Staff College of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Patar described the words in a language as creative rustling energy by taking a cue from a prominent Indian linguist Bhartrihar which did not describe or simply name the reality but created the fictional sense of the term. But this creation, according to him, must be forceful and related with reality that did not simply vanish with a slight touch of the naked reality. 


Paper cancelled
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 4
Punjabi University, Patiala, has cancelled MA Part I (annual system), fourth paper Option-II of Punjabi prose held on April, 30 as the paper was out of syllabus.

Giving this information Dr Baldev Singh, chief coordinator, exams said now re-examination of this paper will be held on May 9. The venue and time of the examination will be the same.


Exporters welcome duty relief by Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 4
Exporters based here today welcomed the duty relief announced by the Pakistan Government on agriculture and livestock items. A spokesman of the Amritsar Chamber of Exports, Mr Mukesh Sidwani, said this was indeed a very encouraging development.

He said that Pakistan had offered to exempt duty on grains, fresh vegetables and livestock products.

He added that this kind of gesture would boost the trade with the addition of more duty-free items.

Mr Sidwani said at present the exporters here were facing a shortage of railway wagons as they were receiving big orders from Pakistan for various karyana items. He urged the government to immediately release more wagon so that they could cope with the cargo piling up in their godowns.

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