|Monday, January 17, 2000,
resulted in a tale of woe
Notices to 2 rebel BJP MLAs
Small hydel projects viable
The girl child was smothered
Priceless murals found
WWF takes up Harike with ministry
Congress move on RSS frivolous:
Chawla to revamp health care
CPI not to field nominee
Efforts on for third front: Mann
No let-up in cold wave
Teachers flay salary grants cut
Dhussi bundh for Mand
Their gallantry saved civilians
Sacred rivulet to be cleaned
One held on duping charge
Student attempts suicide
Two found murdered
Billiards, pool joints raided, 50
Growgreen promoter held
Compensation that resulted in a tale
PATIALA, Jan 16 While the death of her husband in the Kargil conflict broke the heart of 22-year-old Jasbir Kaur, the resultant compensation has torn apart her life and forced her to marry the brother of her husband in a hasty manner much against her wishes.
Much against her wishes, family compulsions forced Jasbir to marry her late husbands brother even before the customary one-year mourning period of her late husband was over. It is not as if I was against the marriage, said Jasbir, but added she did not want to go in for it for at least some time.
Talking to TNS, Jasbir, who had come with other relatives of Kargil martyrs to be honoured at a special five-day fair organised in their memory here today, said the compensation she got following her husbands death had torn apart her late husbands family. She said her in-laws wanted the money to be distributed amongst the entire family, including two other brothers of her late husband, while she felt she should have it with her as security for her one-year-old son Devinder. He is the rightful inheritor of the money and I want it to go to him, said Jasbir.
Jasbir said this view was not liked by her in-laws she had to leave their house due to it. She said things had now come to such a stage that her husbands younger brother, whom she had wed following her late husbands death, was also living with her parents in Ambala.
The young widow said the trouble started when her in-laws tried to get her to sign away her compensation money to them. She said when she did not do so, they even filed a case against her in a court of law. She said she was in a fix now as even the things she got with her to her in-laws house in Gharam Kalan village in this district could not be retreived by her as she was not welcomed there. However, her second husband was supporting her and that the district administration had also been helpful and she had got a job as an assistant in the Dera Bassi tehsil office.
Meanwhile, 60-year-old Mehar Singh does not have any problem at his house as his son Gurmail Singh was a bachelor when he was killed in action. Mehar Singh, however, is worried about his wife. She wants her younger son, who is also in the Army, to be close to her. Mehar Singh says he has repeatedly approached the Army to get his son attached at Nabha but to no avail. At least he should be attached to Nabha for six months to one year so that we can perform the last rites of his elder brother in a befitting fashion, Gurmail says.
Mehar Singh has now been assured by Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir that his younger son would be got attached to Nabha by requesting the Army authorities in this regard. Mr Bir said Mehar Singhs case was also being taken up on a special basis for grant of a bus route permit as he could not be given a job.
Among the other widows
who were honoured today were Gurjit Kaur, widow of
Havaldar Jagdev Singh of 15 Sikh Light, Balbir Kaur,
widow of Lance Naik Sheesha Singh of J and K Rifles, and
Avtar Kaur, widow of Subedar Balbir Singh of 153
Artillery. District Sainik Welfare Officer Capt. M.S.
Dhindsa said Gurjit Kaur had been placed in the local
employment exchange and her two sons admitted to Army
Public School. He said Balbir Kaur had been given a job
in Government Matric School, Samana, and Avtar Kaur had
been made a senior assistant.
Notices to 2 rebel BJP MLAs
AMRITSAR, Jan 16 The crisis in the state BJP has deepened with show-cause notices being served on two rebel party MLAs, who had levelled charges of corruption against the state party chief, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a Cabinet Minister.
Addressing a press conference at his residence here today, Mr Sodhi said that he had to take the above decision with a "heavy-heart". There was no other option but to take disciplinary action against the BJP MLAs, Mr Satpal Gosain and Mr Jagdish Sahni, who had levelled "baseless" corruption charges against senior party leaders, he said. He claimed that both MLAs had levelled charges against the party leadership as they were not inducted into the Punjab Ministry. They had never raised charges of corruption against party leaders at any party fora earlier, he claimed.
Disciplinary action, including expulsion from the party, could be taken if both MLAs failed to give a satisfactory reply to the notice within 15 days. When asked why the disciplinary action had been delayed against the rebel MLAs, Mr Sodhi said the party wanted to give them sufficient time to give a reply for rushing to the Press with "baseless and misleading" charges against party leaders.
Mr Sodhi said that though being a state party chief, he was competent to initiate action against the MLAs, he had apprised the party high command of the situation before taking a decision. The emergency meeting of the partys office-bearers at Jalandhar last week had authorised him (Mr Sodhi) to serve show-cause notice on the rebel MLAs.
He, however, said that Mr Jagdish Sahni, MLA from Batala, had met him at his residence a few days ago and claimed that the Press had blown his statement out of proportion. Mr Sahni had promised him (Mr Sodhi) that he would bring Mr Gosain to him to give an explanation. However, they never turned up with their explanation and the party had to take disciplinary action against them, Mr Sodhi said.
Mr Sodhi said he was ready to resign as the state party chief if the charges or corruption against him were proved. The party high command could ask for a vigilance or CBI inquiry in this regard.
UNI adds: While Mr Sahni alleged that Mr Sodhi had not accounted for the balance of Rs 3 lakh out of Rs 7 lakh he had handed over to him during the Lok Sabha elections last year, no specific allegation was voiced by the MLAs against Mr Tandon.
On the contrary the two MLAs said they had apprised the Chief Minister of the allegations against his ministerial colleague, Mr Tandon, but Mr Badal has asked the BJP MLAs to go to the Punjab Lokpal if they had any proof against their party minister.
But interestingly Congress MLA Rakesh Pandey, also from Ludhiana, from where Mr Gosain had been elected, went public with specific allegations against Mr Tandon demanding a probe by the CBI. He alleged that the Department of Local Bodies which Mr Tandon controlled as a Cabinet Minister had recruited 100 persons more than the advertised requirement of 300 personnel in October last year.
Mr Pandey further alleged that the ministers son, Mr Sanjiv Tandon, had been appointed chartered accountant of the three Municipal Corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana on an annual contract of Rs 25 lakh. These corporations too were controlled by his father.
The Congress MLA claimed that Mr Tandon, allegedly by using his influence, had got his son appointed as a Director of the National Thermal Power Corporation though he did not hold the necessary technical qualifications for the job.
The show-cause notices of the two MLAs were served just a day after BJP President Kushabhahu Thakre told reporters at Muktsar yesterday that it was for the party state leadership to take disciplinary action against the MLAs.
Small hydel projects viable
CHANDIGARH, Jan 16 Small, as the adage goes, is not just beautiful; it is beneficial as well.
Were it to be otherwise, the Punjab Energy Development Agency, (PEDA) would not be out scouting for low falls in the state's well-spread out canal system to tap for power generation.
In fact despite a history of 100 years behind the concept of small hydropower generation, countrywide, it is only recently that the idea has caught the attention, primarily, because the methodology is environment friendly, has a short gestation period, and is also cost-effective; provided the right type of technology and machinery (turbines) is deployed.
Having worked on "large" hydropower projects, the attention is now on "small" projects. Yet a small plants' share in the large hydroelectric system is miniscule: only 500 MW against installed capacity of 21,000 MW. The theme is "India needs not mass production but production by the masses in a decentralised manner respecting the carrying capacity of modular eco-system:, as the PEDA's Chief Executive, Mr P.S. Aujla, puts it.
Punjab scenario, he told TNS today, depicted an installed capacity generation of power (as on December 31 last) at 4,160 MW. The demand by the end of that date was up to 4,500 MW. Taking 10 per cent rise per annum, the state could, perhaps, face shortage and a power deficit in the Ninth Plan period. As Punjab has potential for exploitation of small hydro, renewable sources of energy in the area of biomass and agro-waste, hence, the need to exploit the same with active support of the private sector.
An attractive package of incentives has also been designed to encourage involvement of the private sector. The incentives offered include, sale of power at the rate of Rs 2.25 per unit (base year 1994) with 5 per cent escalation, banking for one year, wheeling at the rate of 5 per cent, third party sale, free use of water, tax exemption, demand cut benefit, etc. The idea is to supplement large power grid with small hydroelectric power unit or even use it in the surrounding places; as such transmission and distribution losses would be far less.
The PEDA, as a nodal agency, has identified 130 canal falls in Punjab with a potential of 130MW. These falls are known for "ultra-low heads" ranging from one to three metres. The resolve of the agency being to exploit every MW during the Ninth Plan period. It feels "encouraged" with the success of commissioning of its four technology demonstration small hydroelectric projects (installed capacity of 5.5 MW) and allotment of 50 hydel sites to private entrepreneurs.
In fact PEDA is organising a national seminar on small hydroelectric projects at the CCI Chandigarh tomorrow to provide for a common platform to decision-makers, entrepreneurs and interested organisations. The seminar will aim at disseminating all information that an interested entrepreneur needs to know.
Till date, Mr Aujla says, the four small power projects of a total of 5.5.MW are on Abohar branch canal. These have till now generated 105.4 lakh units. The installation of four mini-hydel plants on the Bathinda branch canal, with an installed capacity of 4.3 MW are in an advanced stage of completion and will be commissioned by April-end. Another 50 hydel sites, with an estimated potential for 43 MW, have been allotted to seven private parties on "built, operate and own" basis; this involves an investment of Rs 250 crore. MoUs for 35 sites have been signed with more private developers and the rest 68 sites are being offered.
An expert on water resource management and a retired Chief Engineer, Dr G.S. Dhillon, has "diagnosed" the four "ailing" small power houses in Punjab. Based on his analysis of Nidampur, Daudhar, Rohti and Thui small power houses, has discussed the problems and talked of lessons to be learnt. The problems resulted in frequent breakdowns. Quoting from papers available on the subject, Dr Dhillon has concluded that a better system of handling "silt and trash has to be there and less sophisticated and more rugged units need to be put up"; ideal would be "star-flo" units with "belt drive system for speed increase and an induction generator" which should be used as a "captive" unit meeting needs of the rural population living around a canal fall.
In fact "syphon-type turbines were a success, as the Orissa Power Generation Corporation has demonstrated. There three power houses were built of a total capacity of 1,800 MW at a cost of Rs 5.5 crore, giving the index cost of Rs 3 crore per MW. Much lower than Punjab's Rs 4.4 crore, where "S-type" turbines have used in the four small hydel plants.
Dr Dhillon says instead of attempting to feed power produced into the grid for which "synchronous generators" and "accurate speed control" were essential, the effort should be to run the power houses as "captive" units by using "induction type" generators which can effect economy of nearly 15 per cent compared to the former type.
His watchword is: It should be considered a must that the layout decided is checked out on hydraulic model tests before adoption".
Tomorrow's seminar which
will have Union Minister for Non-Conventional Energy
Sources, Mr M. Kannappan, and the Punjab Chief Minister,
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, promises to make a big
contribution to tapping small power generation sources.
The girl child was smothered
PATIALA, Jan 16 The post-mortem of the body of the girl child found dumped dead in the Badi Nadi on the outskirts of the city yesterday has confirmed that the girl was smothered.
Though the report will be officially available tomorrow, Government Rajindra Hospital forensic medicine Assistant Professor Dr S.S. Oberoi told TNS here today that the death appeared to be a clear case of homicide. He said evidence revealed that the girl child had been smothered by stopping breathing from both nose and mouth.
Dr Oberoi said the baby had been born at full time and was apparently healthy at birth. He said the baby had also been given IV fluid after birth. He said evidence of IV fluid and the clamp on the umbilical cord indicated that the birth had taken place in a government hospital or private nursing home. He said the viscera of the baby would also be sent for examination.
The baby girl had been found amidst dirt and hyacinth weeds in the Badi Nadi by some boys who had been playing in the area. The body was lying below the bridge of the Nadi for most of the day before it was carried away from the spot by police personnel in the evening.
Meanwhile, another case of a baby being dumped has been reported in the city. Teachers of Kendriya Vidyalaya number three today reported that body of a female child had been dumped in front of their school on January 12. The teachers said they had even seen a dog carrying the body in its mouth and said that most of the face had vanished.
The teachers said though
around 10 persons had gathered in front of the school and
seen the body being carried by the dog they could not do
much. They said finally Army personnel had taken away the
body and that it had reportedly been buried.
Priceless murals found
KISHANKOT (Gurdaspur), Jan 16 (PTI) Heritage conservation architects and volunteers of the United Nations have stumbled upon a rich haul of priceless wall paintings in an ancient temple in this sleepy village and have launched a UNESCO-UNDP funded project to save the shrine from falling prey to the vagaries of weather and vandals.
The temple paintings, dating to the early 18th century and some to a later era, were accidentally discovered by noted heritage conservation expert and Director of the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI) Gurmeet S. Rai, recently while combing the Punjab villages to build a database of architectural heritage of the State.
Rai, who heads the UNESCO-UNDP funded project, has now become almost an integral family member of the village community along with several UN volunteers and social scientists who are trying to weave the heritage conservation concept into the daily life of the villagers.
"We can scarcely expect the villagers to join in a conservation initiative, unless they see us making a positive impact on their lives. Therefore, our approach is one of community healing. We are working on de-addiction strategies, improving hygiene consciousness, ending factionalism and contributing to community matters like availing grants under various government welfare schemes," Rai told reporters here.
Interestingly, Kishankot is among a cluster of villages in the region traditionally known as Thakur villages (ruled by the Thakur family). Nowhere else in Punjab does one find Thakur-dominated villages.
However, the Thakurs who owned the haveli complex which housed the temple and an adjoining garden, sold most of their 180 acres during the dark phase of terrorism and migrated to Gurgaon in Haryana. At present, Rai is trying to get in touch with the Thakur family to find out more about the temples history because the district gazetteers and other reference sources make no mention of the temple in the village.
Unaware of the valuable paintings, Punjab policemen erected a police post on the temple roof, as the area was a hotbed of terrorist activity, and destroyed scores of wall panels in the temple verandah which they used as a kitchen.
"The paintings seem to have withstood the vagaries of weather rather well, but fell prey to vandalism. We guess that most of this vandalism took place at the hands of the policemen here who remained stationed for nearly a decade," said UN volunteer and architect Munish Pandit.
The temple has not been frequented for many years now. Even earlier it was only the Thakur family which had access to it.
The paintings, which depict works of different artists, include themes of Krishna, Rama, the Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh trinity, Hanuman, Draupadis "cheer-haran" and royal processions are also painted with floral patterns in detail.
"We have classified many of these paintings as A-class paintings while some are in the A-plus category. In fact, it is very rare in Punjab to find paintings of this era and with so much detail preserved. The chance discovery is one of richest art hauls in recent times in the State," said art restorer and UN volunteer Devindera Dubey who is working under the guidance of Sanjay Dhar, an art-restoration instructor.
One of the temple corridors, which connected it to the haveli of the Thakurs, has paintings of all 10 Sikh gurus. "These particular paintings seem to be a later addition (sometime in the early 19th century) during Ranjit Singhs reign and do not exhibit the same eye for detail. The paintings in two of the temples seven chambers can be rated among the best temple paintings of the period," Pandit said.
Locals claimed that the walls of the temple earlier had inscriptions detailing the temples history, but were plastered upon. Similarly, the sanctum-sanctorum that houses the ancient idols of Radha and Krishna, was also whitewashed by caretakers some years ago. UN volunteers have found some puja-related ritual spoons from the sanctum-sanctorum.
Conservation experts working on the site said they would try to retrieve the inscriptions, but have "little hope. Even the outer walls of the temple must have had paintings as pigment can still be seen at some places but most of these are lost for good".
Some of the paintings depicting tantrik arts and rituals seem to be simplistic compared to others. The art-restorers said they even doubted some inscriptions accompanying the paintings as these seemed to be later day graffiti-additions and not made by the painter himself.
The temple is made of the old Nanakshahi bricks and is rarely opened to the public which explains why the paintings survived for so long.
Experts were trying to locate old bahi-khatas (account books) of the Thakur family which the Gurgaon-based descendants of the Thakurs might possess. This would give them a clue to establish the historical association of the shrine.
The UN volunteers, in a bid to assimilate themselves with the villagers, held daily classes for children, while noted theatre personality Navtej Johl conducted a workshop.
"The heritage conservation effort started with its own problems initially. Villagers from one faction complained that only men of the rival faction were being involved with the project. Later we asked them to join us on a rotation basis," Rai said, adding there was no lack of skilled workforce.
The UN volunteers have hauled tonnes of scaffolding material from Delhi and various places in Punjab as they did not want to use cement and other modern material.
"We are trying to stick to the old materials like lime and jute-straw, Rai said. Special stand-along scaffoldings were required because Rai did not want to use bamboo scaffoldings which could harm the painting panel.
Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu, who is in regular touch with Rai and the UN team, was all praise for the conservation project and the community-healing initiative.
"We are looking
upon Kishankot as a model village. From the
administrations side, we will do all we can to
complement the effort of Rais volunteers. The link
road has been spruced up and the drainage network
cleaned," he told.
WWF takes up Harike with
CHANDIGARH, Jan 16 Upset over poaching and fishing in the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, an internationally recognised Ramsar site in Punjab on the border of Amritsar and Ferozepore district, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature (India) has taken up the issue with the Union Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the state government to get set the matter right.
"What is happening in the Harike sanctuary is contrary to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and it should not happen", said Mr Samar Singh, secretary-general of the WWF, while talking over phone from his residence in Delhi with this correspondent.
"I have taken up the matter with the Environment ministry and have urged the authorities concerned to intervene immediately as things require quick attention of all concerned", he added.
Apart from taking up the issue with the MoE, Mr Samar Singh has sent a fax message to the Punjab Government authorities concerned urging to take care of the Harike sanctuary where more than 370 species of birds, including some rarest of the rare species of birds have been identified by worlds reputed orinthologists.
The WWF has taken a serious note of auctioning the Notified Harike Wildlife Sanctuary for fishing. It is against the national legislation which overrules all state government rules as far as protecting the flora and fauna is concerned in the country. Even the Punjab Forest and Wildlife Preservation Department had issued a notification on November 18 last, declaring that as the Harike pond area has been declared a wildlife sanctuary for all kinds of wild birds and wild animals for a period of 10 years starting from September 8, 1992, killing, capturing, shooting, hunting of all kinds of wild birds and wild animals and carrying of firearms in this area has been strictly prohibited under the Wildlife Act. Through notification the department had declared boundaries of the sanctuary by clearly mentioning north, east, south and west sides of it.
Mr Samar Singh said a team of the WWF would also visit the Harike sanctuary for an on-the-spot study of the circumstances and situation prevailing there. Why and how the Punjab Government allowed the sanctuary for fishing? It has happened in spite of the fact that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has held several meetings in the past to make the sanctuary a tourist spot.
He even had held meetings with wildlife experts and the WWF in this connection. Tourists from abroad take keen interest in bird watching and the sanctuary. It has found mention in several books published abroad.
Informed sources said the state government had got a fax message from the WWF and MoE, and a meeting of senior functionaries of the government was expected to be held soon under the chairmanship of the Punjab Chief Secretary. Sources said under the environmental laws framed by the union government no industry could be installed in radius of 8 km beyond the jurisdiction of the notified sanctuary.
Meanwhile, the Army authorities stationed at Ferozepore have called a meeting of experts on January 20 to start an "operation" for removing the hyacinth from the Harike sanctuary which has shrunk due to weed menace. The Army was to take up the job in November but due to some technical reasons, it had to postpone the same.
Mr Badal had made a request to the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen V.P. Malik, in this connection. Accepting Mr Badals request, General Malik had directed the Army experts in Ferozepore to take up the weed removal task at the earliest.
Mr Samar Singh said Mr
Avinash Dutta, Director Planning and Coordination of WWF,
and Mr Prikhshat Gautam, a wetland expert, would come to
Ferozepore to hold a meeting with the Army authorities on
the removal of hyacinth.
Congress move on RSS frivolous: BJP leaders
LUDHIANA, Jan 16(PTI) Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs, Lajpat Rai (Punjab) and Brij Bhushan Saran Singh (UP) have termed the Congress move to see the President on the issue of Gujarat Government servants freedom to become the members of the RSS , "as frivolous, unnecessary, mischievous and politically motivated".
It was nothing but an attempt to impress certain minorities with an eye to grab their votes. These BJP leaders told mediapersons here today.
The two MPs said every body knows that the RSS is a purely voluntary organisation committed to the uplift of the society through cultural education. It had nothing to do with politics, they said.
No favour or preferential treatment was ever given to RSS workers in the matter of recruitment to services in that State, they said moreover, even when motivated by sheer political ends (just to punish the RSS) the governments led by the Congress had sought to debar government servants from joining the RSS, or ban this organisation, the various commissions and courts had always given a slap on the face of the Congress.
There was no sense, the two BJP MPs said, in raising a hue and cry over an issue that had long been decided.
In reply to a question regarding reported differences between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, they said that these reports were completely baseless and mischievous.
Lajpat Rai and Bharat Bhushan Saran Singh said the two leaders had not been only working in perfect harmony for the last 20 years, but had also never never uttered a word against each other .
Chawla to revamp health care
AMRITSAR, Jan 16 The newly-appointed Health Minister, Dr Baldev Chawla, has said he is determined to stem the rot in the health care services in the state. In an interview with The Tribune, he stressed the need to eradicate indiscipline and corruption from the Health Department. He said being a doctor himself, would try to bring a qualitative change in the attitude of the government doctors, who should project only nobility which was the hallmark of a good doctor.
The Minister said the department had been working under severe constraints due to various reasons and he had chalked out comprehensive plans to streamline its working. His priority would be to provide the best possible health care, round-the-clock availability of medicines and doctors at all hospitals and dispensaries in rural and urban areas.
On allegations of large-scale corruption at all levels, Dr Chawla said he had sent a clear message that he would not tolerate any kind of corruption in the department and the guilty would be severely dealt with.
The minister said there was also a plan to use information technology to link all district headquarters in order to get information on a daily basis from civil surgeons and senior medical officers.
Dr Chawla said he had formed a number of teams of senior officers of his department to carry out raids on all hospitals, dispensaries and health centres throughout the state, especially to check absenteeism.
He felt that the increase in the registration fee and other charges in the government hospitals was rather steep but hastened to add that it was his personal view. He, however, said he would look into the matter.
He said there was need to provide the poor with cheaper health care facilities but it required an indepth study, especially because of financial constraints.
He said the ministry was planning to buy fully equipped medical care vans which would have trained doctors and paramedical staff to tour the inaccessible and remote areas of the state where dispensaries and health centres, were not available.
The minister said there was also a plan to get the local MLAs involved in the running of civil hospitals falling in their respective constituencies so as to monitor the working of these hospitals and redress the grievances of the patients.
Dr Chawla said he would
personally monitor various diet schemes for the child and
mother on which the government was spending huge amounts.
He said he would ensure that the funds earmarked for
these projects were fully utilised.
CPI not to field nominee
NAWANSHAHR, Jan 16Mr Joginder Dyal, Secretary of the state unit of the CPI, while addressing mediapersons here today said that the party would not field its candidate for the ensuing Nawanshahr assembly byelection. However, if the CPM or CPI (ML) fielded a candidate, it would support him. The CPI would not support any faction of the SAD, he added.
He said that when Mr Badal was in the opposition he had termed the Congress leaders as corrupt and promised to constitute a commission for the purpose. But now, he had not only forgotten his promise, but also institutionalised corruption by shielding corrupt Cabinet colleagues and family members, Mr Dyal alleged.
He alleged that Mr Sikander Singh Malooka and Mr Balramji Dass Tandon were being shielded by the Chief Minister to save his chair. The CPI had been demanding a CBI inquiry into the allegations of corruption against Mr Badals family members.
He announced that the CPI would organise a chetna march from January 27 to March 1 in the state. The march would be flagged off from Harshachhinna village Amritsar and culminate at Kishangarh village (Mansa). The CPI would organise a state-level rally at Chandigarh on March 7 in support of its demands, which included waiving of farmers loans to the tune of Rs 5700 crore and constitution of a natural calamity fund and a Provident Fund scheme for the farmers.
While criticising the
BJP-led coalition at the Centre, Dr Dyal said that
national security had weakened under it. He cited the
examples of the Kargil, intrusion, the recent plane
hijacking and entry of Karmapa into India.
Efforts on for third front: Mann
NAWANSHAHR, Jan 16 Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, talking to mediapersons here today criticised the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mr Farooq Abdullah, for expressing displeasure over the release of three militants in exchange for hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines Airbus. He said the Centre had taken the right step.
On the ensuing Nawanshahr Assembly bypoll, he said efforts were on to form a third front to defeat the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress. He said he had kept all options open for the byelection.
Mr Mann lambasted Mr Parkash Singh Badal for the "jumbo-sized ministry" when the state was facing a severe financial crisis. He said Mr Badal in his desperation to save his "chair" would further expand the ministry soon.
On the proposed uniform sales tax system, Mr Mann said Mr Badal should explain how he could champion the cause of a federal structure by supporting uniform taxation.
Reacting to the
inclusion of his son-in-law, Mr Adesh Partap Singh, into
his cabinet, Mr Mann remarked: "The sons-in-law of
Mr Sheikh Abdullah and N.T. Rama Rao had toppled their
governments in J and K and Andhra Pradesh. Now it is Mr
Badals turn to face the music."
Martyrs kin preside over Red
PATIALA, Jan 16 In a unique gesture, the closing of the five-day Red Cross Mela organised at the Polo Grounds here in memory of the Kargil martyrs was presided over by the families of martyrs of this district.
The district administration did not call any chief guest on the closing day and the families of the martyrs were given place of pride. They were garlanded and honoured, besides being presented gifts.
Earlier, the martyrs families were hosted to a lunch in which they interacted with the Deputy Commissioner and the district sainik welfare staff. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said the purpose of the interaction was to encourage the families to approach the district administration directly in case of any difficulty.
Mr Bir said the administration was taking special steps for the welfare of the kin of the martyrs. He said all the families had been requested to fill applications for grant of gas agencies which were being forwarded to the appropriate authorities. Besides this, a familys case had also been recommended for grant of a bus route as there was no one in the family who could benefit by being given a job. He directed district sainik welfare officer, Capt. M.S. Dhindsa, to complete all formalities in this regard.
Speaking on the occasion, Hospital Welfare Association Chairperson Ravinder Kaur Bir said the association was taking initiatives to provide free medicines in the government hospital, besides providing sewing machines and other necessities to the needy. She said a unique feature of the fair was that there were no gambling stalls, and clean entertainment was being provided to the people.
The entertainment today
included a patriotic song by students of Kendriya
Vidyalaya number two. Besides this the students of Sun
Flower School gave a beautiful rendition of the song
It Happens Only in India. A Bhangra sequence
was presented by students of Guru Nanak Academy and the
girls of Government College for Girls enthralled the
audience with a giddha performance.
No let-up in cold wave
CHANDIGARH, Jan 16 (PTI) Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were today left shivering under intense cold wave conditions as the mercury continued to fall.
Haryana and Chandigarh reeled under extreme cold with the temperatures in most parts of Haryana and Chandigarh dipping to between 3.3 degrees Celsius and 4.2 degrees.
The weather office warned here about ground frost in the night at a few places in Punjab and Haryana.
The weather in the region witnessed a sudden change with minimum temperatures remaining markedly above normal in most places 72 hours earlier and suddenly plummeting since yesterday.
Amritsar recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees, Shimla -1.8 degrees, Sundernagar -9.8 degrees, Una -1.5 degrees, Sriganganagar -3.0 degrees, Bhunter 0, Chandigarh 4.2, Ambala 4, Hisar 3.3, Safdarjung in New Delhi 4.9, Palam 3.4, Jammu 4.3, Ludhiana 3, Patiala 3.6 and Nahan 4.5 degrees.
A report from Srinagar said the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which links Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, was reopened to vehicular traffic today after four days due to the efforts of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
However, only Srinagar-bound vehicles which had got stranded at several places on the highway were being cleared today, but the road would be opened for one-way traffic from tomorrow, a BRO spokesman said.
The BRO pressed its men and machinery and worked round-the-clock to clear the highway of about five feet snow, which had accumulated on the road after it was closed on Wednesday following heavy snowfall.
The snowfall, which proceeded rain, triggered off mudslides and shooting of stones between Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop and hampered the snow-clearing operation.
However, with the improvement in the weather, the operation was launched again yesterday and the road was cleared early today, the spokesman said.
A report from Shimla said most parts of Himachal Pradesh continued to reel under biting cold wave conditions even as the region had a bright day.
The mercury registered a fall of two to four degrees in the middle and higher hills and thick ground frost occurred at all places, hampering vehicular traffic in the morning.
The minimum temperature dipped to minus five degrees in state capital Shimla, resulting in freezing and bursting of water pipes. People in several parts of the town had to remain without water as the pipelines were blocked due to frozen water.
Meanwhile, road traffic to Chamba was restored but traffic on the 320-km-long Hindustan-Tibet road remained closed beyond Wangtoo.
The tribal valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Pangi groaned under piercing cold wave conditions with minus temperature ranging between minus 10 and minus 25 degrees Celcius. All lakes and rivulets and 10-km long stretch of Chandrabhaga and Spiti river were frozen, reducing the discharge of water in major rivers.
Teachers flay salary grants cut
PATIALA, Jan 16 College teachers of Punjab and Chandigarh today decried any move to reduce salary grants and urged the Akali Dal-BJP government to fulfil its election promise to bring all posts in affiliated schools and colleges under the grant and aid scale.
Participants at a seminar held on Challenges of Higher Education at Multani Mal Modi College here today under the aegis of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union said the move to reduce the salary grants to zero should not be considered by the Punjab Government.
Participants also demanded that all posts in aided and unaided affiliated colleges be brought under the purview of 95 per cent deficit grant and aid scheme. They also demanded better financial and management structure for government colleges and universities in Punjab. They said these institutions should be financed and administered in a more cogent way. They said the universitys system of granting affiliations was unjust, unacademic and commercial which should be checked with a firm hand.
Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Head of the Department of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala, said in his address that higher education should be made effective. He also said over the years, the number of universities and colleges had increased and all these were financially supported by the government. He said 95 per cent of the salaries of private colleges were also given by the government.
He said the state of colleges was such that the Zeera college had just one lecturer who also functioned as the Principal. He said the administrative staff should also be well chosen from among persons who felt responsible towards the future of the students and were sincere in their fields of education. Dr Gill said there was a lack of academicians in committees which made decisions on the present day higher education.
Condemning the reservation for the NRIs, Dr Gill said these seats did not actually go to the NRIs, instead these were given the children belonging to rich or influential families. He also stressed the need for primary education in rural areas.
The other speakers on this occasion were Prof H.S. Mehta, former General Secretary of the PCCTU; Prof Tarsem Bahia, Principal of A S College, Khanna; and Dr V.K. Tiwari, General Secretary of the PCCTU and National Secretary of the AIFUCTO. The function was presided over by Mr Balvir Singh, Secretary of the Punjabi University unit and Mr S.S. Hundal, President of the PCCTU.
In his concluding
speech, the Principal of Multani Mal Modi College, Mr
S.S. Sahni, criticised the decision of the Punjab
Government to take away the grants sanctioned to all
government colleges and universities.
Dhussi bundh for Mand
BHAIL DHAIWALA (Tarn Taran), Jan 16 Residents of the Mand area villages are facing harder of problems. The villages are Goindwal, Dhunda, Manakdeke, Bail Dhaiwala, Johal Dhaiwala, Munda Pind, Gujjarpura. These villages are situated on the bank of the Beas flowing from Goindwal to Harike in this area.
The crop in the fields here is washed away every year during the rainy season, especially when the water level in the river rises. Farmers of the consequently bear a heavy loss every year. The Punjab Government had made a survey of the area about two years back to construct a 5-km-long "dhussi bundh" Dhunda village to village. But work on it has yet to start. The proposed "dhussi bundh" is likely to protect about 10,000 acres of land from the floods.
The land of the mand area has been made cultivable after a years of hard work by farmers of the area as there was only elephant grass on it about 20 years back. The farmers planted sugarcane as it is less affected by the floods. But when militants began to use the fields to hide, the administration ordered the farmers not to grow sugarcane in large number of field.
To carry the crop out of the Mand area to the grain market too is not an easy job for the farmers as there are only kuchha paths where the plying of even a tractor-trolley is difficult in the rainy season.
Life in villages of the
area is not much better. Roads are not in good condition,
schools and health centres are without staff, the
drainage system as well as the streets are not pucca and
the bus service too is not adequate.
Their gallantry saved
FAZILKA: Mr Katar Singh, Deputy Commandant of BSFs 200 Battalion, Fazilka, was decorated with the Presidents police medal for gallantry along with constable Vinod Koul (posthumously) of the same battalion last month. The citation mentions that the two displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty of a high order.
Mr Katar Singh, giving details of the incident for which he has been awarded the gallantry medal said during his posting in the Srinagar sector on November 6, 1997, on getting information about the presence of militants at Firdous Colony in the Soura area, planned a special operation to nab the militants.
A cordon was laid around 5 p.m. by BSF Battalion Nos 24, 48, 89 and 200. After laying the cordon, the late Vinod Koul, who was leading the search party, while approaching the targeted house, spotted a militant. He challenged the militant to surrender but the militant fired a burst from his automatic rifle. One bullet hit his forehead but even then Mr Koul retaliated and injured the militant. Vinod Koul later succumbed to his injuries.
Mr B.N. Kabu, BSF Additional DIG, who was leading the operation after assessing the situation and placing troops at appropriate places, decided to put off action in view of the darkness and presence of civilians in the surrounding houses.
Next morning the BSF party advanced towards the targeted house but came under militants fire. The advancing party located a militant hiding under a car in a garage. The militant was kept engaged in firing. Other militants were told to surrender, instead they lobbed grenades at the BSF party. Mr Katar Singh, manning one of the LMG posts adjacent to the house, along with Mr Jagat Singh moved at great risk, under heavy fire and lobbed grenades inside the garage. As a result, the car caught fire. The militant was than seen moving beneath the car and was killed. Thereafter ADIG Kabu again warned the remaining militants to surrender but the militants opened heavy fire, which was returned leading to a fierce encounter. He then directed all BSF parties to lob grenades at the targeted house.
Mr Katar Singh, without caring for his personal security in the face of heavy fire, moved from his location to the house window and lobbed two grenades inside. The house caught fire due to cooking gas cylinders inside exploding. Two militants jumped out of the window to flee. They were shot in the process.
Sacred rivulet to be cleaned
SULTANPUR LODHI (Kapurthala), Jan 16 (PTI) Waking up to the stench from a pollutant-choked sacred rivulet where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have received enlightenment, the authorities will soon launch a cleansing operation.
A sprawling gurdwara on the rivulets bank marks the place where the Guru spent over 13 years in meditation and gave his famous message: "Na koi Hindu, na Musalman" (all are one, no one is Hindu or Muslim) before he received enlightenment.
The authorities for the first time have come up with a plan to set up a water-treatment plant on the outskirts of Kapurthala, where the rivulet Kali Bein flows, to give back some of its old glory, Deputy Commissioner Vijay Singh told the PTI.
"The Housing and Urban Development Corporation has sanctioned Rs 6 crore for the plant. Currently, the sewage from Kapurthala is flowing into the Kali Bein and the hyacinth growth has nearly choked the rivulet," Mr Vijay Singh said.
"If we want to save the rivulet, we must clean up our act first. Two big nullahs currently discharge sewage into the Bein," he said.
"Besides, the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Mukerian Paper Mills and a few other industries also discharge pollutants into the rivulet, but till the time the administration does not set up its own sewage-treatment plant, we have no moral right to ask the industries to set up theirs," he reasoned.
HUDCO Chairman and Managing Director V. Suresh was enthusiastic about the project and, as the Deputy Commissioner claimed, took just minutes before giving his go-ahead.
Normally HUDCO contributes not more than 70 per cent cost component in such projects but Mr V. Suresh has assured that it will be raised to 80 per cent.
"As for the rest of the 20 per cent, the district administration would be contributing nearly 10 acres of land required for setting up the sewage treatment-plant on the city outskirts. I plan to even appeal to the people to join in the rivulet-cleaning by way of kar seva as we will be saving the Kali Bein connected with Sikh history from dying," Mr Vijay Singh said.
The administration has not stopped only at the sewerage-treatment plant, but is now thinking of ensuring a permanent water resource for the Kali Bein by connecting it with the Dasuya-Mukerian subdivision Hydel project, about 15 km away in Hoshiarpur by a canal.
"The water from the headworks is currently being put into Beas. If it is diverted through a canal into the Kali Bein, we will have a fresh water rivulet and devotees will be able to take a dip once again in the holy river," he said.
Executive officer of Kapurthala Municipal Council R.K. Mittal said the rivulet would only need 10-15 cusecs of water from the headworks.
"We can later develop the river front and set up a tourist centre at Sultanpur Lodhi," he said.
One held on duping charge
GURDASPUR, Jan 16 (UNI) The police has arrested a man on the charge of duping another man of Rs 25,000 on the pretext of getting his wife cured of an ailment and getting her government job.
SSP Virender Kumar today said taxi driver Ramesh Kumar of Gharala village has been arrested, but his accomplice Surti Baba of Narainpur Taragarh was absconding.
The officer said when local resident Dharm Pal hired a taxi of Ramesh Kumar for going to Amritsar where his wife had been admitted for treatment of stones two years ago, the driver took the gullible to Baba Surti, saying he could cure her. The baba prescribed a series of five havans at a cremation ground, adding that each havan would cost Dharm Pal Rs 2000. The victim handed over Rs 10,000 to the accused for the purpose.
Meanwhile, the driver told Dharmpal that Baba Surti has contacts with senior officers at Chandigarh and could get his wife a job in local municipal council. Dharmpal gave 50 per cent of the total Rs 30,000 demanded by the accused who took the couple to Chandigarh but, returned without meeting any officer.
The complainant said when he started asking for return of his money as his wife neither got cured nor the job, the accused started misbehaving with him.
Student attempts suicide
LUDHIANA, Jan 16 Depressed by his poor performance in the plus two pre-board examination, an 18-year-old student of Srimati Satyawati Oswal Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School attempted suicide in the school premises here on January 11.
According to the
information available, Jatinder Pal Singh, a bright
student, had flunked in his pre-board examinations held
recently. His friends teased him about his failure.
Jatinder is alleged to have got a bottle of kerosene to
school. He told his friends that he was leaving school.
He went to a secluded spot near the cycle stand and set
himself ablaze. Students and teachers managed to blow out
the flames. He was rushed to the Christian Medical
College and Hospital with 40 per cent burns. His father
Jaswant Singh, a local businessman, said, "we had no
idea that he was under depression because of his poor
performance. I am sorry that he did not take me or other
family members into confidence and decided to take this
Two found murdered
TARN TARAN, Jan 16 Mr Harbans Singh (80), a resident of Patti, and his gunman, Mr Karam Singh, a Punjab Home Guards Jawan, were found murdered this morning.
Retired DSP Gurmej Singh, son of Harbans Singh, lodged a report in this connection with Patti police station.
The killers who had used sharp-edged weapons to kill the two, also took away the gunmens stengun.
Mr Harbans Singh had two wives one living with her three sons at Assal Uttar, a border area village, while the other is settled in Canada along with her daughter Darshan Kaur.
Billiards, pool joints raided, 50
LUDHIANA, Jan 16Around 50 persons, including four girls, were arrested by the police during raids on two billiards and pool joints located on the Mall Road here on Friday night. The owners of a club were also among those arrested.
According to the
information available, a police team in plain clothes led
by the CIA Inspector, Mr Maninder Bedi, raided the two
joints around 7.30 p.m.. The police had received
information that the entertainment joints were in fact
"pick-up joints", operating for the past year
and a half.
Growgreen promoter held
JALANDHAR, Jan 16 The ecomonic offences wing of the local police claimed today to have achieved a major breakthrough in the Rs 30 crore fraud by Growgreen Forests India with the arrest of its promoter, Mr Ranjit Kumar Verma, from Orissa.
According to the SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, a police party headed by Mr Bhupinder Singh, Sub-Inspector, left for Orissa in the first week of January on a tip off regarding the whereabouts of Mr Verma who was arrested on January 7 from a restaurant in Puri he was produced before an Executive Magistrate who sent him to jail custody. Initially, the police faced difficulty in obtaining a transit remand. In the meantime, Mr Verma applied for bail.
Mr Arun Pal Singh, Assistant Superintendent of Police, was sent to Orissa where the relevant record was produced before the judge and the bail application of Mr Verma was rejected.
A transit remand was granted to take the accused to Jalandhar who was produced in the court of the Judicial Magistrate here today.
The SSP said Mr Verma hailed from Chandigarh. He had a masters degree in commerce. He launched and promoted Growgreen Forest India with headquarters at Mani Majra on October 5, 1995. The company collected money from the public on a massive scale, offering to double the investment in two years and promising to invest the same in forestry. According to the audits of the company, Rs 14 crore was collected from the public by the end of 1997. It was estimated that the collected amount was around Rs 30 crore.
The SSP said that a lot of property had been bought in the name of the company the company owns 36 cars, Hotel Growgreen in Ambala, 12 acres of forest land in Mahilpur in Hoshiarpur district, 3000 square feet of prime land in Mukerian, 30 acres of land in Sonepat, Haryana, 2 acre of poultry farm in Panchkula, an apple orchard in Kotkhai near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, and two showrooms in Manimajra.
Mr Yadav said Mr Verma failed to pay back the money to investors. Two cases were lodged against Growgreen Forests India here under Sections 420,406 and 120-B, IPC.
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