|Wednesday, February 23, 2000,
nod to part privatisation
of police excesses untraced
complains against Sant Samaj
easy going in writing ACRs
blames Cong workers
(U) flays attack on Sharad Yadav
for fiscal autonomy to states
|No takers for Punjabi folk
PATIALA, Feb 22 "Kurian nahin aayian. Meri payment ghat paa jayegi kyonki ao art di jyada kadar kardian ne. However, I will get something out of men," says Eedu Sharif, while singing the ballad of Heer on his sarangi, accompanied by his sons, in one of the akharas at the fourth Punjabi folk music festival on Punjabi University campus here today.
Plan to boost cotton production
to dismantle track opposed
to complete synthetic track begins
back in Harike with fishermens exit
southern states: Gill
Boards slow work criticised
for SDMs dismissal
for Hola Mohalla discussed
over Ravi this year: DC
proclaimed offenders held
rams into house, boy killed
leader dies in mishap
of DSPs bail plea on Feb 25
grace marks to students: PTA
norms on teachers transfer
board denies report
PSEB nod to part
PATIALA, Feb 22 The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to privatise the generation and transmission sectors in the state in a limited manner.
Disclosing this here yesterday at a press conference, the PSEB Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, said initially around 10 per cent of the total installed capacity of power generation, about 50 MW would be privatised. He said it was necessary to go in for limited privatisation to create a sense of competition in the board but said attempts would be made to ensure that the move did not effect the business of the board.
The PSEB Chairman said the board would also approach the government to allow it to go in for privatisation in the transmission sector, which, he said, was unavoidable as the board did not have sufficient money to go in for various expansion schemes. He said the board was also in favour of a joint venture with neighbouring states to run pit head power stations at the source of coal as its transportation cost was phenomenal. He said the concept would be floated to neighbouring states after the governments consent was obtained.
Mr Sohal said private parties would also be encouraged to establish hydel projects . He said initially 50 to 60 MW of power would be produced by private sector. He said the board was also considering to establish captive power stations of 30 to 40 MW each.
He said according to the present demand there was a need to increase power generation capacity by four to eight per cent every year and an investment of Rs 1600 crore per year was needed for this. The Chairman said while the GBK company had been shortlisted for the 500 MW plant at Goindwal Sahib, stage two of Lehra Mohabbat would bring in another 500 MW. He said the downstream potential of Shahpur Kandi was also 300 MW.
When questioned on the issue of subsidies particularly those given to the agriculture sector, Mr Sohal said services became unviable due to the subsidies. However, it was up to to government to decide on the necessity of these subsidies. He said while the government had not given any package to the board in lieu of free power being given to the agricultural sector, the government had waived off interest on various loans taken by the board. He also made it clear that other sectors were also being subsidised with domestic tariff being only Rs 1.30 per unit and that for small scale industry being below Rs 3 per unit.
The Chairman said there
was an urgent need to educate the masses of the need of
timely payment of bills and coupled with this the board
was going in for a massive campaign to check the theft of
electricity for which four PSEB police stations had been
established. He said the purpose of the police stations
was not to harass the consumers but to nab the persons
responsible for meddling with meters . He said if the
board was able to stop the theft of electricity the
annual cash losses could be brought down to zero.
Victim of police excesses
FEROZEPORE, Feb 22 A resident of Jhoke Harihar village near here has charged the police with committing atrocities on his brother, who was allegedly picked up by an ASI and a Home Guard from their house on February 13.
According to Jagjit Singh, the whereabouts of his brother, Harjit Singh who has since disappeared from the police custody are not yet known. Even as Harjit Singh has moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission accusing the Ferozepore police of shaving his head and beard during an illegal detention, Jagjit Singh says the family is still not aware of his whereabouts.
Accusing the police of trying to implicate his brother at the behest of their political rivals, he alleged that Harjit Singh was rounded up by ASI Jugraj Singh and a Home Guard posted at the Sadar Police Station.
However, the whereabouts of Harjit were not yet known, he said, adding, the police is now denying its involvement in the disappearance. The two cops, according to him, took Harjit Singh to an undisclosed destination on a motorcycle. They, however, returned shortly with a message that Harjit had escaped from the police custody. To substantiate their claim, they returned Harjits shawl and a pair of shoes. Jagjit Singh told TNS.
Adding that Harjit Singh was being frequently harassed by the police for his involvement in a robbery case in 1997, Jagjit Singh lamented, Although he has been bailed out in that case, the police keeps questioning him for every crime occurring in the area. He was often called to the police station and humiliated, his wife, Sumitra alleged, adding that his being a gunman of Mr Dhian Singh Mand, a former MP, at one point of time, irked those associated with a rival political party.
Jagjit Singh further alleged political victimisation of his brother and said, Repeated pleas to the senior police officers have fallen on deaf ears.
Surprisingly, Harjit Singhs relatives were unaware of his having moved the human rights commission, which has directed the district police chief to reply by March 15. In a complaint to the commission, Harjit had charged the police with confining him in illegal detention and later releasing him after shaving his head and beard. Expressing shock, Harjit Singhs wife showed TNS the picture of the victim saying, he is an amritdhari Sikh, with choked voice.
On being contacted for comment, the SP (Headquarters), Mr N.P.S. Sidhu, denied the charge accusing Harjit Singh of concocting a tale. Adding that Harjit must have shaved his head on his own, he said, The police had never detained him. Our ASI had gone to his house for questioning him regarding some cases of thefts in the area, but he escaped much earlier.
He further said that
Harjit Singh was a listed criminal, who was booked for
robbery on an earlier occasion. Being a historysheeter,
the police only wanted to question him in connection with
recent thefts in the area he said, adding before we
could catch hold of him, he fled from his house.
SGPC complains against Sant
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 The ongoing Sikh crisis deepened today when the SGPC lodged a complaint against certain office-bearers of the Gurmat Gurbani Parchark Sant Samaj for holding a press conference at the Akal Takht in violation of the Sikh maryada.
The SGPC Secretary, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, told TNS that a formal letter to this effect had been sent to the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, seeking action against the office-bearers concerned.
The acting President of the Sant Samaj, Baba Mangal Singh of the Sat Satlani, and Baba Major Singh Vaan, General Secretary, reportedly gave an interview to a private TV channel and a section of the Press regarding the recitation of Sukhmani Sahib on every Sunday to counter a similar recitation being held daily at the Akal Takht by pro-Bibi Jagir Kaur Sikh organisations.
The letter to the Jathedar was sent after the SGPC took a serious view of the violation of the tradition of not allowing anyone to hold any assembly at the Akal Takht. The SGPC had sought a report on the matter from the manager of the Golden Temple.
NAAC team assesses GND
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) would engage itself in a serious dialogue with the various state governments for upgrading the infrastructure to improve the quality of higher education.
The Chairman of the NAAC, Prof A. Gnanam while talking to newsmen here today at Guru Nanak Dev University campus regretted that certain state governments were encouraging the setting up of medical and technical universities as a populist measure without providing funds for the infrastructure. He pointed out that the NAAC would be reluctant to give accreditation to such institutions.
Prof Gnanam felt the need to evolve a perfect system whereby all agencies involved with the higher education, both professional and academic, work in close cooperation to improve the quality of higher education.
The concept of NAAC, which was set up as an autonomous body by the Centre, was to evaluate various universities and colleges throughout the country and assess their achievements and limitations and grading them according to their performance so that various grants followed in automatically.
The idea behind the gradation was to generate healthy competition among various institutions of higher education.
Expressing his dismay over the newly set up Farid Medical University and the Punjab Technical University in the state which were operating from complex having just a few rooms. He added that the state government must provide immediate funds to set up a campus.
He said Guru Nanak Dev University was the first university in northern India, which had volunteered for assessment by the NAAC.
He said the NAAC aspired to be catalyst for achieving a well-functioning, diversified, self-sustaining and self-renewing system of higher education at all levels of teaching, learning and research so that it was equitable, efficient and of high quality and to make the ideas of accountability explicit, supportive and non-threatening.
He informed the
mediapersons that the accreditation status of an
institution would be valid for a period of five years and
revalidation of accreditation would be initiated after a
period of four years.
No easy going in writing
PATIALA, Feb 22 Employees not following Punjabi medium in official work from now on will not only invite trouble for themselves but also their superiors in case they have been given a certificate for doing work in Punjabi in their annual confidential report (ACR).
The new system will come into force from this year with the ACRs to be written shortly. Language Department personnel while conducting raids will ascertain the medium in which an erring employee has been certified of doing work in. In case of a wrong certification, his superior will be hauled up for writing a wrong ACR.
The department has also urged that it be given more powers to deal with those not using Punjabi in official work. Department director Madan Lal Hasija talking to TNS said there was need to enforce stringent punishment to ensure the use of Punjabi at all levels.
Talking of the steps being adopted to ensure that senior officers filled the Punjabi use column properly in the ACRs, said officers writing the ACRs had to fill in the medium of language in yes or no and there was no question of unambiguity on that front. This was also a non-expungable remark, he said.
The Language Department Director said power also should be given to the department to punish erring officials. The punishments could include censure of service, stopping of increments and witholding promotion. He said though the government had started punishing employees, most of them were being warned only. Giving details of the break-up of punishments this year, he said 79 officers and 265 employees had been found not using Punjabi in office work. He said action had been taken in case of 191 persons and that a majority had been served warnings. Eight had been censured and promotion was stopped in one case.
Dr Hasija said the directive was flouted mostly at the secretariat level. In the state secretariat, the Punjabi usage percentage was only 65 per cent while at the district level it was 85 to 90 per cent and at the tehsil level nearly 95 per cent.
He said the system of checking was being accessed further and the department had recommended that its district officials should also be authorised to check whether defaulters had been punished. He said this would ensure proper feedback to the department.
Dr Hasija said the
Language Department was developing a software in Punjabi
so that the introduction of computers in offices did not
change the medium of work. He said the software would
have a dictionary and a spell-check facility. He said the
Accountant-Generals office was also being targeted
and it had now started taking cases in Punjabi. He said
to make this possible, training was being imparted to the
AISSF blames Cong workers
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 The president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, Mr Karnail Singh Pirmohammed, has urged the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr Manohar Singh Gill, to take serious view of the firing incident which took place at Pilli Chhikki polling booth during the Nawanshahr Vidhan Sabha byelection on February 17.
In a statement yesterday, he criticised the Congress chief, Mr Amarinder Singh for saying that the incident happened as the federation workers were trying to indulge in booth-capturing and casting bogus votes.
He said that the Punjab Congress President made wild allegations that the federation workers torched tents, furniture and scooters whereas this was done by Congress workers themselves.
JD (U) flays attack on
LUDHIANA, Feb 22 The state unit of the Janata Dal yesterday condemned the attack on Mr Sharad Yadav, Union Minister of Civil Aviation.
In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Sukhchain Singh Tuli, vice-president of the state unit of the Janata Dal, alleged that there was jungle raj in Bihar where even the lives of national leaders were not safe.
The Janata Dal leader
expressed his concern over the alleged rape of a minor
girl committed by a DSP of Jagraon. He stated that he had
sent a telegram in this connection to the SSP, Jagraon,
and urged him to arrest the DSP concerned.
Dhindsa for fiscal autonomy to
PHILLAUR, Feb 22 Union Minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has stressed the need for more fiscal autonomy to the states and described the step taken by the Centre to constitute the 11-member Constitution Review Committee as right.
Talking to newspersons at Samrai and Haripur villages in Phillaur subdivision today Mr Dhindsa, while commenting upon the Congress allegations that the BJP government wanted to saffronise the Constitution under the pressure of the RSS, said the basic structure of the Constitution would not be changed.
Plan to boost cotton production
BATHINDA, Feb 22 The Agriculture department, Punjab, has made a comprehensive plan to boost the production of cotton in the state in a phased manner.
Addressing a press conference here today, Capt Deep Singh Sahota, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said today that to boost the production of white gold in the state farmer scouts would be formed, education camps with the support of World Bank would be held and seminars would be organised at block-level before the start of the next cotton sowing season.
He added that about six lakh hectares would be brought under cotton farming for producing 15 lakh bales in the next crop season. He said farmers would be provided with disease resistant seeds, including the seeds of LHH-144 variety, which was not prone to the leaf curl virus disease.
Captain Sahota, who was here to preside over a state-level seminar on the cotton production in which experts from PAU and field staff participated, said the Agriculture Department was arranging for the replacement of 10 per cent seeds in the coming crop season.
He pointed out that Rs 9.33 crore had been granted to the state under the Cotton Technology Mission for providing seeds on subsidised rates to the farmers, holding camps for them and to intensify the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme.
He pointed out that about six lakh hectare area in the cotton belt in the state would be brought under the cotton crop by replacing one lakh hectares presently under paddy crop with cotton crop in these pockets of Muktsar and Ferozepore districts where the waterlogging problem had been resolved or the ground water-level had gone down by six to seven feet.
He added that to control the attack of American Bollworm, the farmers had been advised to eradicate weeds and other unnecessary plants which nurture the bollworm after the picking of cotton fruit.
Captain Sahota said the department was also making arrangements for supplying the seeds of short duration and early maturing varieties to the farmers so that the crop could be harvested in September before the start of unseasonal rain. The department was also thinking of introducing the hybrid varieties for increasing the yield and PAU scientists were working on it.
He claimed that the
field staff of the agriculture department was fully
vigilant to check the inflow of spurious pesticides and
fertiliser in the markets. He added that department
laboratories had been equipped with more instruments and
manpower to increase its capacity so that more samples
drawn from pesticide dealers could be analysed.
Move to dismantle track
FEROZEPORE: A controversy has arisen over the proposed move to dismantle the railway track connecting the Hussainiwala border and the samadhis of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev with the city. The reported move aims at meeting the scrap disposal target.
Local residents seem to be perturbed about this move. They feel that if the 100-year-old Ferozepore-Hussainiwala track is dismantled it will prove to be big loss.
The local DRM, Mr N.K. Goel, is understood to have suggested that the line between Ferozepore and Hussainiwala may be dismantled and the rails and sleepers should be offered for disposal because the line is not feasible.
Reacting sharply to the proposed move, Mr K.C. Aggarwal, son of freedom fighter Hans Raj Aggarwal, says that if the move is carried out it would be a sign of disrespect to national heroes.
A special train is run between Ferozepore and Hussainiwala on March 23 the martyrdom day of the three revolutionaries who were stealthily cremated by the British at Hussainiwala on March 23, 1931.
Mr Aggarwal points out that dismantling of the track would hurt sentiments of all those for whom the track is not a historic monument alone but also a piece of attraction twice a year on March 23 and Baisakhi, when special trains are run.
The Citizens Forum patron, Mr Hari Ram Khindri, says that the Ferozepore-Hussainiwala section does not have any manned barrier or signal on the way. Therefore, maintenance of this track does not cost the Railways much. Then why is the Railways adamant on dismantling this track, he asks.
Mr Vindo Murgai, a freedom veteran, says that the Railways could not earn too much from scrap disposal of the track. But, if the track is dismantled, a symbol of pre-Partition India would be lost for ever.
A local resident on the basis of anonymity comments: It seems that the Indian Railways has become bankrupt that is why it has decided to dispose of the tracks, including historic ones like the Ferozepore-Hussainiwala.
Further criticising the move, the agitated resident said the Indian Railways is not a profit-earning organisation. Rather, it was meant only to provide service to the countrymen and not to debar them.
Giving a suggestion to the Railways, Mr Ashok Gupta, a former propaganda secretary of the District Congress Committee, said a 70-seat bus should be started between Ferozepore and Hussainiwala daily for those visitors who go to watch retreat ceremony between both the countries at Hussainiwala joint checkpost on the pattern of bus being run daily between Goindwal Sahib and Beas for pilgrims.
The Deputy Commissioner,
Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, has also reportedly asked the
Railways to reconsider the proposal to remove the railway
track. However, the Divisional Railway Manager, Mr N.K.
Goel, has been non-committal on dropping of the move.
Work to complete synthetic
PATIALA, Feb 22 After overcoming initial problems, work has started on a war-footing to lay the imported eight-lane synthetic track at the NIS here.
With the Sydney Olympics fast approaching, pressure had started building up on the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to increase the pace of laying the track, the contract for which was awarded, on a turn key basis, to a Germany-based firm. The total cost of laying the 8-lane synthetic surface is estimated to be Rs 2 crore, excluding the amount of Rs 48 lakh for preparing the base. Because of delay in laying the surface, the amount of cost escalation comes to about 5 per cent of the total cost of laying the surface.
Meanwhile, a two-member Mumbai-based team of representatives of the German firm is camping here to oversee the progress of laying the track and to iron out any problem arising out of building the crucial base, which is on the verge of completion.
The requisite measurements along with corrective measures to be effected for outer and inner drainage for providing an outlet to water which may accumulate in the track, have already been completed. The Executive Director of the NIS, Col B.S. Ahluwalia confirmed that the base work would be completed within the next two to three weeks and the track would be ready in the first week of July.
Earlier, athletes practised on a three-lane synthetic track, which was laid at the NIS on the eve of the 1982 Delhi Asian Games, and the AAFI-sponsored domestic competitions were held on the cinder track. Now, the three-lane synthetic track, which seems to have outlived its utility, has been dug up to make way for the 8-lane surface.
The laying of the track at the NIS here as assumed all the more significance as both the Bangalore and Calcutta 8-lane synthetic tracks have worn out and have become too slow for athletes to practise. Moreover, Indian athletes will counter a super fast synthetic track at Sydney, which is similar to the one being laid at the NIS.
Birds back in Harike with
HARIKE (Ferozepore), Feb 22 With the bird sanctuary lake and its periphery here having been cleared of the fishermen, the arrival rate of migratory birds has risen in the area.
Earlier, on the account of frequent movement by fish contractors in the area, the birds had confined themselves in certain pockets of the sanctuary. The authorities have now succeeded in resolving the stand off due to an earlier court stay which had allowed the contractors to use sanctuary waters. The birds can now be seen descending at the Harike Lake in large numbers.
Wildlife officials here admit that the arrival rate of the migratory birds at the main lake has increased in recent days and attributed it to the eviction of fishermen from the periphery of the sanctuary. About 500 fishermen hired by some influential contractors were camping near the sanctuarys lake and were using its waters to travel to the fishing area, affecting the birds movement.
More than 250 boats used to frequently criss-cross the sanctuary lake, posing threat to the birds. Although the contractors claimed that they never indulged in poaching in the sanctuary and only used its waters to travel to a distant fishing site, the wildlife officials were reluctant to allow them permission to use the lake.
However, the contractors were granted a stay by a Patti court enabling them to use the sanctuary waters to travel to the fishing site. The bird arrival was also adversely hit by the development of slums of fishermen near the lake.
Ironically, during most of the migratory season, the birds, mainly the ducks, were confined to certain pockets in the sanctuary lake on account of the human intrusion. A team of bird watchers from Calcutta had also expressed concern over the use of sanctuary waters by the fishermen and shown displeasure with the low rate of bird arrival in the main lake. With legal stand off been cleared of, the birds are coming back to the sanctuary.
However, about 60 km of the Harike-Hussainiwala stretch of the Sutlej here continues to remain vulnerable to the threat of illegal fishing.
Sources in the Department of Fisheries revealed that the cases of illegal fishing by migratory labourers had mounted during the past several years. During the previous year alone, 23 cases of illegal fishing were registered. While most of these cases were reported from the Sutlej river stretch, two offences were committed in the Fazilka area.
Officials alleged that those challaned were professional fishermen hired by local contractors. Although the offences detected so far were not of a serious nature, the officials accused the contractors of poaching during July and August when fishing is barred on account of the breeding season.
Admitting that illegal fishing had mounted in the area, the Assistant Director, Fisheries, Mr T.B. Singh said most fishermen challaned last year were not issued licences by the department.
He said traps recovered by the department from fishermen were lying unclaimed, adding that fishing was not allowed during the breeding season to ensure protection of the parent stock.
He, however, said not a single offence of serious nature, such as poisoning or use of dynamites by the fishermen had been detected so far.
The Chief Executive
Officer, Mr S.K. Dass, said a regular check was kept on
the local fish market to ensure that the licenced
contractors were not violating the norms laid down under
the Punjab Fisheries Act.
Emulate southern states: Gill
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, has called upon all the parties of Punjab to emulate the southern states for faster and better development.
Asked to comment on the statement of Capt Amarinder Singh that it would participate in the counting of votes as its objective of bringing to the notice of the Election Commission serious irregularities committed in Nawanshahr byelection, Dr Gill said for the past one week he had been busy with the funeral and last rites of his father, Col Partap Singh Gill.
In my absence the election work was being effectively controlled by the commission from its office in New Delhi. I certainly read about the firing incident in Nawanshahr. What I said in Tarn Taran was that people and political parties of Punjab have no tradition of violence at election time. Therefore, it was most unfortunate that it had happened. It was the duty of the police to take immediate action.
But I would like to tell all political parties that they should copy the southern states for faster and better development and not to copy other states to introduce violence in the political culture of Punjab.
No takers for Punjabi folk
PATIALA, Feb 22 "Kurian nahin aayian. Meri payment ghat paa jayegi kyonki ao art di jyada kadar kardian ne. However, I will get something out of men," says Eedu Sharif, while singing the ballad of Heer on his sarangi, accompanied by his sons, in one of the akharas at the fourth Punjabi folk music festival on Punjabi University campus here today.
Girls more than made up by their absence at Eedu's akhara by turning out in good numbers at other akharas, including those of bhands, who had everyone in splits with their risqué jokes and pranks.
There were a good number of dhadi, kavishar and traditional folk music and dance groups at the festival, which gave the students a chance see folk music at its best.
Eedu sang Heer and Sasi and was able to pursuade men and boys to loosen their purse strings. While he sang with a sarangi as an accompaniment, his sons accompanied him with daurus. There was no provision of mike.
Artists performed at the four akharas put up at various prominent parts of the university. They were also given liberty to move around and perform if they wished and a dhakka akhara was also put up at one place.
Eedu is fairly well established and has come to perform at the university as a sewa. Other exponents of folk art said they had nothing better to do as there was no demand for them.
Eedu said former Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen B.K.N. Chhiber, had got him appointed on a project to teach folk music to school children of Chandigarh but his services were terminated after eight days after Chhiber was relieved. "It is not my insult but that of art as I am capable of earning Rs 10,000 for a two-hour performance," Eedu claimed.
Talking to TNS, artists painted a dismal scene of the future of folk art in Punjab. Baba Saudagar, a dhadhi from Shahbad (Haryana), said no one wanted to listen to the folk ballads they had to offer. "We are a rich oral source of history, which I have tried to pass on to my future generation," he added.
Raj Mann Dhadhi, the seventh generation of Sufi dhadhis of the Mardana clan, said, "Asi khandaani han par kadan paan nu kuch nahi." Awarded by the state government, he said the government should provide them with facilities like free bus travel.
Folk artists are limited to singing in marriages and fairs. The condition of some is pathetic.
"Behind all this make-up and colourful clothes is a life steeped in poverty," said Mahinder Singh of Madaur village in Patiala district. "We do not have the money to educate our children. People want to listen to Harbhajan Mann and even organisations like the North Zone Cultural Centre has gone in for commercialisation of art," he added.
One of his sons said, "We are oppressed as we cannot do anything except play music. Even labour work is not easy to find."
The festival was
inaugurated by Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia,
Vice-Chancellor. Dr Gurnam Singh, Head of Music
Department, said the festival would be recorded in
documentary and audio-visual forms and would provide
researchers with source material.
Villagers demand change of block
PATIALA, Feb 22 Residents of five villages falling in Rajpura subdivison have demanded change of their block in the Dera Bassi region.
In a resolution passed by the panchayats of Adda Juhngian, Nabha, Naraingarh Jhungian, Dayalpura and Chatt here yesterday, the villagers said they were located near Dera Bassi, but fell in Rajpura block which was more than 20 km away.
The villagers said due
to the distance they experienced difficulties in
administrative work. A copy of the resolution was handed
over to Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, who
assured a delegation of the villagers about accepting
Ecological balance under threat
PATIALA: ECOLOGICAL balance, natural drainage, animal health and peaceful living is under a grave threat in rural areas of this district as more and more tobbas (ponds) are vanishing rapidly from the village scene.
Isolated cases of filling-up of the ponds had been occurring for the past few years but the trend had picked up momentum during the past one year. So much so that 70 per cent of village disputes centre round the issue of encroachment of the ponds, a district official revealed.
There are usually three or four ponds in a village. They are natural stores for rainwater and are also used for bathing of animals, especially buffaloes. The mud of the pond is used for construction purposes or flooring the constructed ones. Then there was always the added advantage of prospering of wildlife like fish and birds. While the fish is a staple diet for villagers, especially the poor ones, the birds were helpful in reducing the menace of insects and worms on crops.
A survey of a number of villages in this district revealed that all these advantages have either been lost or are on the verge of it. New problems like accumulation of rain and sewage water on the streets, irreparable loss to the remaining ponds that have to take all sewage water and are no longer fit for use has added to the miseries of the villagers.
There is also an additional threat of loss of milk yield from cattle and buffaloes, who primarily being aquatic animals need regular bathing in a pond.
The Samana-Patran belt is the worst affected. Encroachments of the pond were going on when this correspondent undertook the survey. Chanagra village had once three ponds. One of them had already passed into oblivion and the process to fill up the second one was going on. Says Gurmail Singh, a villager who lives near the second pond, when the other pond was filled up all the rain water and sewage was made to flow into this pond. It resulted in complete pollution of the pond rendering it unfit for human or animal use, he said.
Similarly, at Gajjumajra village two ponds have been filled up. Mr Partap Singh of the village said overuse of the remaining one pond had polluted it to such an extent that it had become a breeding ground for all kinds of germs and bacteria. he said the villagers had begun encroaching the ponds by emulating the others.
At Lalochi village this correspondent saw a filling-up drive in process.
Mr R.S. Randhawa, Additional Deputy Commissioner, while acknowledging the problem said the trend was worrisome. He said due to increase in population the village had crossed the redline boundary. There was pressure for more land to construct more houses. For this purpose, the commonland like that of ponds are the easily available targets.
Mr Jasbir Singh Bir,
Deputy Commissioner, conceded that the problem of
vanishing of ponds was surfacing at sangat darshan
programmes. He said as the ponds came directly under the
panchayats without their co-operation the menace could
not be checked. He said the villagers were themselves to
be blamed for this unfortunate development.
Wakf Boards slow
HOSHIARPUR, Feb 22 Mr Mohmad Sharif, Chairman, Intizamia Committee, Jama Masjid, here criticised the Punjab Wakf Board for not implementing the rules and regulations in its functioning and doing nothing for the welfare of the Mulsims. In a press note here today he said the board was formed for the welfare of Muslims of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
The board has properties in all these states from where it gets regular income. He alleged that the authorities concerned had made bunglings in the boards property in rural and urban areas of these states. He cited an example in this connection that where there were Muslims there was no graveyard. At some places where graveyards were existing they had been leased out or were encroached upon. Similarly most of the mosques were either occupied illegally or leased out.
Mr Sharif said Imams of
mosques, who were employees of the board, were being
given meagre salaries. Moreover, the Imams were being
transferred frequently without any reason. He alleged
that political leaders were misusing the board. He said
that representations regarding the discrepancies had been
sent to Mrs Maneka Gandhi, Union State Minister for
Welfare and the authorities.
Badal congratulates Dosanjh
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today congratulated Mr Ujjal Dosanjh on his election as Premier of British Columbia province in Canada.
Mr Badal in a message to Mr Dosanjh, said that Punjabis are proud of you. Wishing him success, Mr Badal said Punjab would be benefited by your (Mr Dosanjh) elevation to the office of Premier.
Guru Granth Sahib in French
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, released today four volumes of the first-ever translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in French by Dr Jarnail Singh at a function organised by Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi.
Mr Mohinder Singh, Director of the sadan, in a statement, here today said Dr Jarnail Singh was working on the project for the past 15 years.
Dr Gill presented the volumes to Dr Jean Marie Lafont of the French embassy in India.
Mayor for SDMs dismissal
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 Mayor Subhash Chander Sharma yesterday sought the dismissal of the SDM, Ajnala, and a registration of a case against him (SDM) for his alleged involvement in the demolition of a large number of houses belonging to mahants in the Ram Tirath shrine area.
He said in a press note issued that the houses were legally constructed.
Mr Sharma said the SDM
had ignored revenue records and title deeds of the
mahants who had been living there for the
past several decades. He urged the Punjab Government to
order an inquiry into the demolition.
Protest against demolition
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 Mr Ramesh Talwar, the Secretary, Shree Durgiana Committee, has protested against the wreckless demolition of a large number of living quarters at Shree Ram Tirath. He said the spot was an ancient place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. The SDM, Ajnala, had thoughtlessly tried to change the character and topography of the place of pilgrimage without consulting and taking into confidence the representatives of the community, he added, and further said the committee was a well-known representative of the Hindus. It should have been consulted and taken into confidence before taking of such a mindless task.
He alleged that the SDM, Ajnala, had played into the hands of one particular community and thus injuring the religious feelings of the entire Hindu community. He reiterated that the government should immediately take the SDM to task and he must be made to explain his arbitrary act.
Moreover, he demanded the affected families should be amply compensated and properly rehabilitated.
Meanwhile, the Hindu
Shiv Sena chief, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, also took
exception to the demolitions at Shree Ram Tirath. In a
letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Billa lamented that
the administration had acted in a cruel
manner against the sentiments of the Hindus. He
advocated action against those who had perpetrated this
Arrangements for Hola Mohalla
ROPAR, Feb 22 The six-day annual Hola Mohalla fair will be celebrated from March 16 to March 21 this year at Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib.
To finalise the arrangements for the fair, the district administration held a meeting here today. A large number of district officers attended the meeting which was provided over by Mr G S Grewal, Deputy Commissioner.
Mr Shivdular Singh Dhillon, SDM, Anandpur Sahib, was made Mela Officer. He will maintain close liaison with different departments in order to provide basic amenities and necessary facilities to the pilgrims.
It was also decided at the meeting to set up a central control room at Tehsil Complex in Anandpur Sahib where senior officers of various departments will be available during the mela days.
The meeting also decided to divide the mela area into different sectors, which would be manned by magistrates and police officers to maintain law and order and to ensure smooth flow of traffic. The administration will also earmark parking sites in the mela area for the general public. Special buses will also be arranged from different parts of the state to carry pilgrims to Anandpur Sahib. Besides this, there will also be a shuttle bus service between Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib during the mela days.
The meeting also decided to make alternative arrangements for vehicles plying between Ropar-Nangal and from Ropar to different places in Himachal Pradesh. During the fair all heavy vehicles will ply via Nurpur Bedi for Nangal, and via Nalagarh for Himachal Pradesh.
The meeting also decided to ensure 24-hour water and power supply and deployment of 150 extra sanitation workers in the mela area. As many as 14 temporary and four mobile dispensaries will also be used.
The Deputy Commissioner also directed the PWD authorities to repair all roads leading to Anandpur Sahib before the start of the fair.
It was also decided to organise a state-level exhibition to depict the development related activities in the state. Nearly 20 stalls will be put up in this exhibition on March19 and 20 in Anandpur Sahib by different government departments.
Hope for patients of
AMRITSAR, Feb 22 A new neurosurgical procedure for the treatment of Parkinsons disease was introduced recently and successfully accomplished at the Department of Neurosurgery, Army Hospital Research and Referral, Delhi.
Parkinsons disease affects nearly 1 per cent of the population above 60 years of age and is caused by an imbalance in neuro-transmitters of the deep brain nuclei producing symptoms of tremors and stiffness.
The surgery for advanced stage of the disease has shown promise and offers hope and improved quality of life to patients who remain severely disabled despite adequate medication.
Bridge over Ravi this year: DC
GURDASPUR, Feb 22 Pantoon bridge over the Ravi near Kathlour in this district will be constructed this year. This was stated by Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here yesterday.
He said no objection certificate for the bridge had been cleared by the Army. The bridge would provide access to residents of about 70 villages to the rest of the district. They had to come to Gurdaspur via Pathankot.
Mr Sandhu said Rs 80
lakh had been sanctioned by the Punjab Government for the
construction of a bridge opposite Makaura on the Ravi in
this district. The bridge will connect residents of the
Bharial area comprising nine villages on the Indo-Pak
38 proclaimed offenders held
SANGRUR Feb 22 Thirtyeight proclaimed offenders were held during a campaign launched here last month.
The district police chief said here today that out of the 38 arrested, 18 were wanted by the Sangrur district police. Nineteen other proclaimed offenders had been traced, he added.
Truck rams into house, boy
PATIALA, Feb 22 A 14-year-old boy was killed and 16 persons were injured when a truck loaded with passengers rammed into a house on The Mall Road, near Rajindra Lake, here this morning.
Mr Gurcharan Singh, a peon with the Public Works Department, here was sleeping with his family when the truck (PB-13-A-4466) carrying waiters returning from a marriage party and some others rammed into the bedroom of the house. Fourteen-year-old Inderveer Singh died on the spot, while his mother Narinder Kaur, brother Amrinder Singh and sister Reema received injuries. The peon, however, escaped unhurt.
Thirteen passengers, most of them belonging to Nabha town and serving as waiters in a marriage party, travelling in the truck, too, received injuries and were hospitalised. The names of some of the injured are Sonu, Akash, Fateh Singh, Rinku, Rana, Talwinder Singh, Kulwinder Kaur, Kaka Singh, Jujhar Singh and Bunty. There were about 20 persons in the truck.
Dr O.P. Aggarwal, Associate Professor, who conducted the post-mortem, said the boy died of traumatic asphyxia as he was buried under debris. He said most of the injured were less than 20 years of age.
The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A, 279 and 337, IPC, against the driver who is reportedly absconding. The police said, according to the passengers, the driver was drunk and was driving rash. The truck was also travelling on the wrong side of road.
Cong leader dies in mishap
MOGA, Feb 22 (UNI) Narinder Singh Gill, a 42-year-old Congress leader of the town, died in an accident when his car collided head-on with a jeep, near here, yesterday.
The occupants of the jeep fled from the accident site.
Hearing of DSPs bail plea
on Feb 25
LUDHIANA, Feb 22 The court has given February 25 as the next date of hearing for the bail application of DSP Ashok Puri, accused of physical assault and rape of a minor from Jagraon.
An FIR under Sections 376, 342 and 120 of the IPS had been registered against the accused on February 19 and he has been absconding since then.
Youths assault cops
PATIALA, Feb 22 Two personnel of the Punjab Police Head Constable Pramod Kumar and Constable Satish Pal were assaulted by a group of youths near Anardana Chowk here today.
According to the information available, the commandos, gunmen of Mr Narendra Bhargava, Assistant Commandant, First Commando Battalion, Bahadurgarh, had an altercation with the youths over the parking of their Gypsy outside a government school. Tempers ran high and the youths assaulted the policemen.
Campus violence: case
PATIALA, Feb 22 The sadar police today registered a case against three persons and their 30 unidentified accomplices in yesterdays clash between two rival student groups on Punjabi University campus.
The police said Hardev Singh, Musa Khan and Gurpreet Singh alias Raju, along with their accomplices, had been booked under Sections 324, 307, 148, 149 and 120-B of the IPC for attacking Jashandeep Singh, an MBA student, and his friends at a restaurant on the campus yesterday afternoon. No arrest had been made so far, the police said. The students admitted to Rajindra Hospital are recovering.
Meanwhile the Akhil Bharatiya Yidyarathi Parishad, in a press note issued today, condemned the attack on Jashandeep Sandhu, President of the PUSA. Subhash Sharma, State Joint Secretary of the ABVP, criticised the university administration for not taking action against the culprits involved in an earlier attack on Sandeep Kapoor, an ABVP activist. He also alleged that the Vice-Chancellor of the university was protecting these elements.
In a representation sent
to the Minster for Higher Education, Mr Mohan Lal, the
ABVP urged him to take action against these elements. The
delegation of ABVP would soon meet the Chief Minister and
the Education Minister on this issue, the not added.
Give grace marks to students: PTA
PATIALA, Feb 22 The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of SSMD Ayurvedic College, Moga, yesterday alleged that Baba Farid University had violated norms while declaring its first BAMS result by not granting grace marks in line with the rules of various universities with which students were registered earlier at the time of admission.
It said the students who were registered with Panjab University, Chandigarh (SSMD College) and Punjabi University (Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala) were switched over to the new university just before their final examinations in December, 1999, and Baba Farid University decided to follow the rules of the respective university for conducting the examinations.
The association said the statutes for awarding grace marks said 15 per cent of the aggregate marks could be awarded to a candidate who failed in one or more subjects. The University had violated the norms twice by first allowing grace marks in case of MBBS students when grace marks could not be given in a clinical subject and then not giving grace marks in the BAMS examination when the rules provided for them, it alleged.
It said by denying grace marks, the BAMS students would complete the degree in seven years as they had already lost a year due to the switch over.
New norms on teachers
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Punjab Education department has issued guidelines for the transfer of school teachers from one place to another during general transfers after the end of the academic session in April.
The department has linked the transfer to a pass percentage in the subject taught by a teacher in the school. At least 50 per cent students should pass in subjects like mathematics, science, English if a teacher teaching any these subjects wants to get transferred. In the remaining subjects, the pass percentage should be 65.
Applications for transfer will be considered only of those teachers who fulfil these conditions, a spokesman of the Education department said here today.
School board denies report
SAS NAGAR, Feb 22 The Punjab School Education Board said today that there was no change in the practice of allowing the students to attempt their question papers, especially of mathematics and science, in the English medium.
Placement cell created
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, has set up a placement cell at its Sector 36 office here.
Headed by a placement officer, the cell was maintaining a liaison between the passed-out trainees and the industry.
Set up under the guidance of the Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, Mr N.S. Kalsi, the cell was organising camps and interviews at 10 industrial training institutes (ITIs) in Punjab. Industrialists were being invited to camps to recruit persons of their choice.
A spokesman of the department said tying up with companies abroad to export manpower was also being planned.
Recently the placement
cell was computerised
Punsup denies selling inedible
CHANDIGARH, Feb 22 The Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation (PUNSUP) today denied that it had sold wheat that was unfit for consumption.
The PUNSUP authorities said in a statement that the wheat stock put on sale was duly inspected by the parties concerned before responding to tenders floated by PUNSUP inviting bids to sell the stocks. The rates offered in tenders by parties aspiring to buy stocks were above Rs 600 a quintal. If stock would have been unfit for human consumption, parties would have never offered such high rates.
The statement was issued in reference to the report published in this newspaper about the sale of inedible wheat in the Abohar area by PUNSUP.
The wheat stocks were sold on as is where is basis and buyers were authorised to make an assessment of the rates offered.
However, PUNSUP has
ordered an enquiry into the alleged shortage of stocks at
various places in Ferozepore district. The exact quantity
of shortages in wheat stocks would be known on the
liquidation of these stocks, the authorities said.
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