|Monday, February 28, 2000,
push for farm research
India-Turkmenistan pact on flights
No FIR on EPF fraud so far
Illegal cock fights thrive on
Verdict against Tohra: Sukhbir
Buta: punish guilty Cong workers
DCC blames leadership
Dalits dispossession: Channi
Book to be compiled on Sikh
Restoration work comes to a halt
Agro-friendly Budget promised
Youth festival results
Goods train derailed
Capt Chahal cremated
Aero show feast for the eyes
PMs remark on power boards
Magisterial powers for DDPOs
DoT ordered to pay Rs 5000 relief
Class IV staff found aiding
Woman held for sons murder
harassed in Khalra case
Ex-ministers staff held
under Excise Act
Plant to produce power from cane
Second push for farm research
CHANDIGARH, Feb 27 Besides the states "Economic Policy 2000" and "action plan" on diversification, shifting emphasis from wheat-paddy rotation or from high yields to value addition, both the political executive and the bureaucracy are working on ways and means to mop up resources to give a second push to research and development in agriculture.
The scientists at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, have already sent an s.o.s. to the state government to arrange money for new technology and programmes if agriculture, Punjabs mainstay of economy, is to remain sustainable as well as viable for the sons of the soil.
On the one hand, a proposal to levy a "cess" on foodgrain and some other commodities on ad valorum basis is almost through with the money going for research and development at PAU; on the other hand, steps are being taken to strengthen "agricultural management and extension training" to educate farmers and make them aware of whats in store for them.
A Punjab agricultural management and extension training society (with headquarters and operational base at PAU) is being registered under the societies Act as part of a central project on the same subject. Gurdaspur is one of the districts selected for crop specific programmes. The Centre has provided Rs 2.5 crore for that pilot project since Punjab is among the six states selected countrywide for the national agricultural technology project with financial and technical assistance being given by the World Bank.
The State Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has, it is learnt, received a detailed 38-page report on "plan proposal for diversification of Punjab agriculture" prepared by PAU. He had, in January, constituted a committee of experts, headed by Dr Kalkat to submit proposals to give concrete shape to the commitment he (Capt Kanwaljit Singh) has made to give agriculture the much-needed "second push" to ameliorate the economic lot of the farmers.
The expert have identified 11 schemes on diversification of agriculture to shift area from paddy and wheat, improve productivity levels, reduce cost of production, make better use of farm resources, improve farm income and minimise environmental hazards in Punjab agriculture.
Visualising the relative importance of each suggested programme, the total outlay for the implementation of the schemes has been calculated at Rs 198.93 crore for the period 2000-1 to 2004-5. The 11 schemes or programmes include, dairy development, dairy and animal husbandry, development of poultry, piggery, goat and sheep diversification of crops; development of horticulture; promotion of bee-keeping and honey; mushroom cultivation; and promotion of food processing industries.
The report mentions, yearwise, financial outlay for each of these 11 schemes.
Even the "Economic Policy 2000" and other plan documents talk in the same idiom. However, the report is silent when it comes to changing the basic rules of the game to wean farmers away from paddy, which is the prime culprit for having corrupted the natural resources, chiefly soil and water. Moreover power need rises during paddy cultivation, ecology gets threatened and mono-culture brings with it a host of problems of pests and diseases.
Agriculture is unremunerative, holdings are shrinking making them economically unviable and further pushing the cultivators to the brink of economic death, says the report. The debt burden has risen. Farm machinery cant be operated on small holdings and the land ceiling laws do not permit large holdings. The technological breakthrough in agriculture in itself has become an albatross in the neck of the farmers.
The proposed diversification blue-print makes a pointed reference to certain basic facts:
1. Against 63.51 per cent of the population in Punjab being absorbed in agriculture and livestock activities in 1970-71, the percentage is likely to decline to 54.01 in 2000-01;
2. Contribution of these sectors in the state domestic product declined still sharply: from 60.31 per cent in 1970-71 to 41.82 in1997-98;
The share of agriculture alone has also declined from 44.63 per cent in 1970-71 to 25.21 per cent in 1997-98; and
4. Punjab produced 240 lakh tonnes of foodgrain in 1997-98 against a mere 73.05 lakh tonnes in 1970-71; but the farm scientists and economists ask at what cost? at the cost of Punjab farmers being buried under a debt of over Rs 5,700 crore?
Over exploitation of soil and water is another grey area. If the falling water table, report warns, is not checked over 2 lakh tubewells in the identified "grey zone" will go out of function. Consequently, power needed to pump water will be three times more. On the other end of the scale is the South-West Punjab, where water-logging and salination poses a challenge.Unless basic policies are changed and system of incentives and disincentives introduced to encourage or discourage sowing of particular crops or following a particular crop rotation. With assured market, remunerative price nothing will change or succeed. Even more important is the question: where is the money all Rs 198.93 crore for the diversification plan when most of plans went haywire in the current year for want of money?
In sum, report
emphasises that "squeezing per hectare profits,
accompanied by dwindling farm size has deteriorated the
economic condition of farmers in Punjab", they need
a break and agriculture a breakthrough.
India-Turkmenistan pact on
CHANDIGARH, Feb 27 After Middle East, it is now turn of Central Asia and Europe to be connected with Punjab by air.
Following a bilateral agreement between India and Turkmenistan, an erstwhile Soviet Socialist Republic, avenues have been opened for direct flights between Raja Sansi International Airport at Amritsar and Ashkhabad from where connections would be available to various destinations in Europe and North America.
Turkmenistan, according to sources, is keen to introduce Amritsar-Ashkhabad-London(or Birmingham) flight at the earliest.
The new flight, as and when introduced, is a reminder of the "Balle, Balle Birmingham" flight operated by Air-India in the early eighties. At that time, Air-India used to operate the Delhi-Amritsar-Moscow-Birmigham flight on the sector which was subsequently discontinued after escalation of militant violence in Punjab in the mid eighties.
Since then, only cargo flights of Ariana, the official airline of Afghanistan, operated on the Kabul-Amritsar sector.
Last year, on insistence from the Punjab Government, Air-India introduced hub-and-spoke service on two days a week allowing air travellers from Punjab to check in at Amritsar for their connecting flights to destinations in Europe and other places. Similarly, on the scheduled days of the services, instead of alighting at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi , they can travel up to Amritsar.
The facility, however, evoked a poor response as the beneficiary travellers maintained that it prolonged their journey besides making it very "inconvenient for them" to use the Delhi-Amritsar or Amritsar-Delhi sector flights.
In the meanwhile, the Indian Airlines introduced a flight to the Middle East from Amritsar, which has done pretty well.
Since the management of both Air-India and the Indian Airlines have initiated "disinvestment process", any new connections from Amritsar may not be possible in near future. The Union Government has now decided to allow Turkmenistan to use Raja Sansi in Amritsar as one of its bases in North India.
Official airlines of some of the erstwhile Soviet Union, including Russia, offer much cheaper travel to Europe compared to other airlines. Turkmenistan flights, once introduced, are also expected to get a good response from economy class travellers.
The Punjab Government is
reportedly pressing the Union Government hard to upgrade
the facilities at Raja Sansi International airport to
make it operational for bigger aircraft used by most of
international air carriers these days.
CM claims on airport false:
BATHINDA, Feb 27 Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, today said his party workers would stage a dharna in front of the residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in protest against the shelving of the international airport project at Amritsar approved during Mr I.K. Gujrals government.
Addressing a press conference here, he said Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who was making "false" claims on the matter, had been asked to show a photostat copy of the cheque worth Rs 105 crore given for the airport project within three weeks to the public or else his party would launch a stir .
He alleged that the money given for the airport at Amritsar had been diverted for other airports of the country by the present Central Government.
Mr Ramoowalia pointed out that so far the Central Government had not taken any step for setting up Guru Gobind Singh oil refinery in Punjab for which the foundation stone had been laid by Mr Vajpayee.
So far the HPCL had not found a partner for setting up the refinery in the joint venture. Even clearance for a crude oil terminal had not been obtained so far.
He said an action committee of 45 villages of Majha region of Punjab had also been formed to start an agitation to press the authorities to complete the international airport at the earliest.
Amritsar-London flights in March
RAJASANSI (Amritsar), Feb 27 The Uzbekistan Airlines and the Turkmenistan Airlines will start operating Boeing 757 and Airbus 310 flights from Rajasansi Airport from the next month. The air fare between Amritsar and London in these flights would be less than Rs 10,000 which is approximately equal to the fare from Amritsar to Bombay.
While the Boeing 757, having capacity of 200 passengers, would connect Ashkand (Turkmenistan) with London via Amritsar, the Airbus 310 would connect Tashkant (Uzbekistan) with London via Amritsar. The capacity of the Airbus would be 320 passengers.
According to Mr V.S. Mulekar, Director, Rajasansi Airport, the Boeing 757 flights would operate on Mondays and Thursdays and the Airbus 310 on Sundays and Thursdays. Mr Mulekar said both airlines had conducted surveys and studied the economic viability. The airlines had taken the decision to operate from Amritsar as many Punjabis had settled in foreign countries. Both airlines had been charging Rs 20,000 as fare between Delhi and London.
However, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Rajya Sabha MP and former union minister said the operation of the two flights was an eyewash. He alleged that instead of upgrading the airport to the international level, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wanted to appease the Punjabis by launching "small flights".
Mr Ramoowalia also sat
on a protest dharna and blocked traffic on the
Amritsar-Rajasansi road in this regard. He said his
party, the Lok Bhalai Manch and the Punjabi Vikas Party
would launch an agitation if the international airport
project was shifted to elsewhere.
Taking lead in computerisation
FATEHGARH SAHIB: The district has become the first in the state where offices of sub-registrar and BDPO are being provided Internet and e-mail facilities. The National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Information Technology, Govt of India, has already provided computers for installation at all block headquarters. Besides, the registration of documents like sale deed, gift deed and mortgage deed in the offices of the sub-registrar has been computerised. Now the photographs of executants and witnesses shall be taken through the computer and printed on registered documents. This will put an end to fraudulent transactions carried out by impression and there will be no scope for addition and alteration in photographs.
As per the directions of the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary to make use of modern information technology tools to improve the working of government offices, the district has taken the lead in computerisation. According to Mr V.K. Janjua, Deputy Commissioner, the old method of registration will give way to the modern method and there will be a great improvement in customer services.
Besides, it will bring transparency and accountability to the working of the offices. Delays shall be eliminated and people will get their registered documents on the spot. Another benefit of computerisation will be the eradication of undervaluation of property. The detailed charges had different kinds of property in different parts of tehsils have been fed into database. Before registration, the computer will compare the charges mentioned in the document with the market rate so that there is no undervaluation. It will earn more revenue to the government. Information regarding sellers, buyers, witnesses and details of property along with photographs will also be stored in the database. Moreover, the languages and words for various deeds have been simplified and a new format has been designed, which uses only Punjabi words so that the common man can understand these. Formats have also been prescribed accordingly for deed writers.
The Deputy Commissioner further revealed that the district had already taken the lead in information technology. The district had also become the first in the state to start distributing computerised jamabandies to farmers. The jamabandies of 325 of the 454 villages in the district had already been fed. The database created by the computerisation of jamabandies would be linked to the registration database, so that the information could be used to counter-check the authenticity of papers submitted by the executants for registration. This would eliminate frauds committed by people by selling someone elses property. For the security of data, operators had been given passwords so that no unauthorised person could access the database. The entire software for the computerisation of jamabandies and registration had been developed by the National Informatics Centre in visual basic at the front-end and access/SQL Server, Oracle at the back-end, keeping all security features in mind.
The Union Government had
also sanctioned a Rs 63 lakh project for the digitisation
of musavis and field maps called lathas as a pilot
project in Punjabi. The Deputy Commissioner further
revealed that the district was also the first to have its
own website on the Internet. Besides the computerisation
of the entire work of social security office such as the
old-age pension schemes, the widow pension schemes and
financial assistance to the disabled, all branches of the
Deputy Commissioners Office had been provided
No FIR on EPF fraud so far
ROPAR, Feb 27 Despite two communiques from the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on February 17 and February 23 to the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) authorities regarding lodging of an FIR against labour contractors for their alleged embezzlement of the employees provident fund (EPF) worth Rs 1 crore, the RTP authorities have not acted so far.
According to reliable sources in the RTP here, on February 17 the PSEB ordered that an FIR be lodged in the case immediately. As the RTP authorities failed to do so, the PSEB on February 23 again asked the authorities to intimate the board if the needful had been done or state reasons for not doing so.
Talking to TNS today, Mr Satish Mittal, Chief Engineer of the RTP, said it was difficult to register a case against the contractors involved in the EPF fraud case till the bank authenticated that the bank challans produced by the contractors as proof of having deposited the amount in the EPF accounts of workers engaged by them were fake.
Mr Mittal was unable to explain why the bank was delaying information regarding the authenticity of the bank challans.
Meanwhile, Mr Raj Kumar Tiwari, President, Workers Union of the Ropar Thermal Plant, has warned that if the authorities failed in lodging an FIR within a day or so, workers would go on an indefinite strike to safeguard their interests.
Mr Tiwari also said the workers would not accept their wages till these were released to them by the PSEB. He said the workers had not been paid their wages for the month of January by the contractors.
Illegal cock fights thrive on
PATIALA, Feb 27 In violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), the "nawabi" game of fowl or cock fighting still takes place in Polo Grounds here. Activists of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) today found themselves helpless in stopping the torture on the innocent birds.
After receiving reports of the illegal activity taking place on select Sundays in the grounds, a Tribune team was today witness to the sadistic pleasure of nearly 300 people. The bleeding wounds of the cocks only increased the enjoyment of the onlookers. That there were no takers for the animal protection was evident from the fact that Mr Mahavir Sharma, Secretary, local chapter of the SPCA, tried in vain to stop the cock fights. He even got a cold-shouldered response from the police who refused to register a case on his complaint.
Mr Sharma said the organisers of cock fighting claimed to have the permission of the district administration for the event. Scrutiny of the papers revealed that permission was granted only for exhibiting the species and not for fights.
Mr Sharma said an animal lover, Mr Manmeet S.P. Singh, a teacher in a reputed school, telephonically informed, him of the unlawful activity. When he reached the Polo Grounds, he was horrified to witness the jubilation of the organisers at beholding that fight for kill of the cocks.
Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner and President of the district unit of the SPCA, was unavailable for comments, but his personal staff claimed that no such permission had been given.
Dr Manjit Singh, joint secretary, SPCA, said fowl fighting was a punishable offence under the PCA Act, 1960. He said the SPCA would take up the matter with the administration and the police.
At the venue, one could see hundreds of people coming from far off places like Nabha, Malerkotla, Ambala and even Delhi all of whom are regulars in the cock fighting circuit. Sources say that there is a vast network involved in cock fighting and betting in the events.
Because of the high stakes involved (bets between Rs 50 and Rs 3000 are placed). Care is taken by the proprietors of cocks to make them a winning breed. The cocks are fed on a varied diet, including almonds, magaj and desi ghee. Besides, the fighter cocks are massaged and their beaks are sharpened on the eve of the event. This ensures that if the cock wins the bout, the proprietor stands to gain an astronomical price and he sells the cock immediately at the spot.
There are two ways by
which a cock losses a bout: one is if a cock
goes out of the approximately 35 x 40 feet arena, which
is cordoned off by a synthetic rope, and second if a cock
turns his back on the opponent and walks away for at
least three yards.
Verdict against Tohra: Sukhbir
LUDHIANA, Feb 27 Former Union Minister of State for Industry and son of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal hailed the win of SAD candidate Jatinder Singh Kariha in Nawanshahr bypoll and said that people had endorsed developmental and welfare policies of the state government and rejected the "scandalous Congress" and the "opportunist Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra".
Mr Sukhbir Badal was speaking at a function at Humbran village, 20 km from here, today.
He said that in Punjab, agriculture sector was not able to provide more job opportunities for the youth and time had come to divert more and more youth to the industrial sector, which had potential to absorb trained and professional workers. He claimed that he brought Rs 22000 crore units in the state including the largest oil refinery of Rs 16000 crore being set up at Bathinda.
Mr Badal stressed the need to enhance the Union sports budget to Rs 500 crore so that the sports could be improved and the potential of youth tapped in different sports disciplines.
Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, state Minister for PWD, Punjab said that the government had prepared a programme to strengthen and repair all link roads in the state by June 2000 and Rs 600 crore had been arranged to widen main roads and construct new bridges. He announced that the Ludhiana-Sidhwan bet and the Humbran-Mullanpur roads would be repaired by April 2000.
Buta: punish guilty Cong
PHILLAUR, Feb 27 The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee should deal with a firm hand those party workers who did not actively campaign for the Congress candidate in the Nawanshahr Assembly byelection.
This was demanded by former Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader Buta Singh during his one-day tour of the state today.
To a question, Mr Buta Singh said the SAD and BJP both would face an internal "storm" soon. He alleged the SAD-BJP government had misused government machinery in the byelection.
DCC blames leadership
LUDHIANA, Feb 27 A meeting of the District Congress Committee (Urban) was held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Jarnail Sharma to discuss the party debacle at Nawanshahr.
Dalits dispossession: Channi
HOSHIARPUR, Feb 27 Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, demanded an inquiry into the forcible possession of land by the state government from 34 families of Dalits at Bhaliala village near Hariana on February 9. He also demanded the setting up of a commission to probe circumstances under which Dalit families were divested of the land and their crops damaged by ploughing the fields with tractors.
A meeting of the leaders of various political parties was held in the District Congress Committee office here yesterday in which Comrade Kabul Singh Kaloya, District Secretary CPI, Comrade Gurmesh Singh, District Secretary, CPM, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, Mr Romesh Dogra MLA and President of DCC, Mr Ram Rattan, Senior Vice-President DCC, Mr Pankaj Kirpal, General Secretary, Punjab Youth Congress and many other senior leaders participated. The meeting criticised this action of state government.
In a press note Mr
Kuldip Nanda, General Secretary of the District Congress
Committee said that the aforesaid land had been in the
possession of these families for the past 50 years. These
families had taken loan for seed and fertiliser for the
standing crops. He said that the Punjab Government had
already announced that Government lands in the possession
of Dalits would be allotted to them. But instead of
making allotments to them they were thrown out from these
Book to be compiled on Sikh
PATIALA, Feb 27 The Minorities Commission of India will compile a book on rare Sikh artefacts.
Announcing this to mediapersons here today, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minorities Commission of India, said the book would contain detailed information and photographs of ancient weapons, items and other things of the glorious Sikh history. Special attention would be given to the relics of the Sikh Gurus.
Meanwhile, Mr Singh criticised the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for not living up to the expectations of preserving the Sikh heritage and its values. He said the SGPC, which is known as mini-Parliament of the Sikhs and has a budget of crores of rupees, should have complied such a book so that coming generations do not forget about the rich past of the Sikh culture.
Earlier, Mr Tarlochan Singh was honoured by the Chardikala group of newspapers in its complex here in the afternoon. Addressing the audience, Mr Singh lamented that Sikh martyrs who had laid down their lives protecting both pre and post independent India had not received reverence given to other martyrs in the country. He said the contribution of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a secular ruler, had been undermined. He informed that he had urged Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to celebrate a day, preferably April 12, in his memory.
Prof Gursewak, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, said the country could not prosper as long as the minority, communities remained unsatisfied.
Restoration work comes to a halt
PATIALA, Feb 27 Hopes of saving the historic Ranwas building in the Quila Mubarak Complex here have suffered a setback as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had decided to stop the forts restoration work due to non-supply of funds by the State Government.
The cessation of work leaves the restoration work incomplete and the work done on roofs and canopies to stop seepage of water may become redundant as water can still trickle down through other fallen ceilings and cracks in the untouched portions.
The fort suffered damages for the past many years, with the State Department of Conservation not protecting it. Media reports and intervention by the Punjab and Haryana High Court saw the restoration task handed over to the ASI last year. An arrangement was made that while the ASI would provide the expertise, the State Government would provide the requisite funds.
The State Government did not kept its promise of providing the required amount of Rs 42 lakh and only dished out Rs 10 lakh. That amount has now been spent, as a result of which the restoration work has to be stopped.
Sources reveal that apart from the problem of funds, the cold shoulder given by the State Department of Conservation, particularly in case of supplying unusable wood for ceiling work, has also affected the restoration project.
Sources also reveal that with this amount and the nine-month restoration work, the ASI has managed to construct four ceilings of rooms, besides repairing galleries and canopies on the top floor of the Ranwas (abode of queens). It has also stitched many cracks through which water seeps below, damaging the rare paintings and the Sheesh Mahal. As the work has to be stopped now, work on other damaged roofs on the top floor cannot be taken up.
Mr Ashok, Assistant
Conservator, ASI, who is in charge of the restoration
work here, has confirmed the stopping of work by the end
of this month. He said they had more money for continuing
the work. He added that the ASI had spent nearly Rs
50,000, earned as department charges from the State
Government for carrying out the restoration work.
Agro-friendly Budget promised
LALRU, Feb 27 "The Punjab Government has kept special provisions in the next Budget for the agriculture sector, primary education, drinking water and uplifting the living standard of weaker sections of the society," said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister of Punjab, here today.
The minister made the statement at a public meeting held at Guru Tegbahadur Singh Gurdwara on the annual Jor Mela at Humayunpur Tasimbli village.
He said ours was an agriculture-dependent country in which most citizens were directly of indirectly linked with agriculture. He criticised the Congress for ignoring the agriculture sector during its rule in the Centre.
He demanded that the Centre should implement the Central Agricultural Policy. He also said there should be more funds for the agriculture sector in the policy. He said besides rights, state governments should be given financial resources so that they did not have to depend on the Centre.
Youth festival results
PATIALA, Feb 27 Government College for Girls, Patiala, bagged the over-all championship trophy and SD College, Barnala, came a close second in the Inter-Zonal Youth Festival of Punjabi University that concluded at Guru Teg Bahadar Hall in the campus here today.
Government College, Malerkotla, which put up a spirited fight, came third. The winners were awarded Rs 11,000, the runners-up Rs 7,500 and the second runners-up Rs 5,100.
An over-all trophy for fine arts was awarded to Government Barjindra College, Faridkot. The prizes were given away by Prof Daljit Singh, Director, Youth Welfare, Punjabi University.
The one-act plays and skits in the morning held the audience spell-bound. These were on a variety of themes, from social issues to the countrys Partition.
The play by students of Government College, Malerkotla on the dowry menace came first. The College also bagged the first position for the skit "Chhake Pe Satta".
The mime contest was won by Government College for Girls, Patiala. The theme was the change in the Indian woman. The festival came to a close with mementoes to the organising officials as well as the dignitaries. The results were:
Poetry recitation: LBSM College, Barnala, and Government College for Girls, Patiala, first and Patiala College of Management and Government Rajindra College, Faridkot, second.
Elocution: Government Mohindra College, Patiala, and Multani Mal Modi College, Patiala, first and Mata Gujari College, Fatehgarh Sahib, and Government Barjindra College, Faridkot, second.
Goods train derailed
BATHINDA, Feb 27 Traffic on the Bathinda-Sriganganagar rail section was closed today following the derailment of three wagons of a goods train near Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here this morning.
Interestingly, the crane which was pressed into service by the railway authorities for clearing the rail track to restore the traffic, also derailed while it was lifting the wagons.
Preliminary investigations have ruled out sabotage. The derailment took place due to a defect in the rail track. The train was coming from GNDTP after unloading coal. The derailment took place at 7.40 a.m. Six trains, including two express, were cancelled.
Capt Chahal cremated
JALANDHAR, Feb 27 Capt Gurpreet Singh Chahal (24), who attained martyrdom while fighting militants in Rajouri sector in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, was cremated with military honours here today.
His mortal remains were consigned to flames by his father, Col (Retd) Hardayal Singh. A large number of relatives, senior Army and civil officers, including SSP Gaurav Yadav and Deputy Commissioner Som Parkash were present.
Col Hardayal Singh said he was proud his son had kept the family tradition and died fighting for his motherland.
Only last Sunday, he had bade adieu to his only son at the local railway station with a bear hug.
Aero show feast for the eyes
JALANDHAR, Feb 27 The spectacular aero show, organised by the Army authorities as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Vajra Corps at Guru Gobind Singh Stadium here today, turned out to be a feast for the eyes, particularly for schoolchildren.
The military precision came to the fore as onlookers enjoyed dare-devils performing sky diving after alighting from helicopters. Motorcyclists of the military police performed different feats on their bikes.
2 trains restored
PHILLAUR, Feb 27 The northern railway has decided to restore 4647/4648 dn Amritsar-Muzaffarpur Flying Mail and 4535up/4536dn Amritsar-Kalka Kalka Mail with effect from March 1.
The Flying Mail was
cancelled on July 3 last year while the Kalka Mail was
cancelled on December 26, 1998. Railway sources said that
now the Flying Mail would leave Amritsar at 11.35 am
daily while the Kalka Mail would originate form Amritsar
at 11.55 am daily.
G.S. Cheema bereaved
CHANDIGARH, Feb 27 The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has expressed condolence over the death of Mrs Daljit Kaur, wife of Mr Randhir Singh Cheema, a former PWD Minister of the State and mother of Mr G.S. Cheema, a Deputy Advocate-General of Punjab.
Mrs Daljeet Kaur died today following a heart attack. She was 60. She would be cremated at her native village, Karimpura, on the Morinda-Sirhind road tomorrow at 1 p.m.
PMs remark on power boards
LUDHIANA, Feb 27 The All-India Power Engineers Federation has taken a strong exception to the statement of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the dismantling of state electricity boards as part of the reform and restructuring process in power sector and encouraging private sector participation in this sector.
In a statement issued to the press today, Mr M.S. Bajwa, vice-chairman of the federation, cautioned the common man against what he alleged as the plan and policy of the World Bank being pursued by the Government of India.
He informed that a two-day meeting of the federation would be held at Baroda on March 11-12 to take stock of the situation and decide on the action plan to "oppose this move of the World Bank to capture power sector in the name of reforms."
He pointed out that state electricity boards were serving the residential consumers by providing electricity at a marginal rate, but the electricity generated from new generating project would cost less than Rs 3 per unit thus making it out of reach for more than 80 per cent of the consumers. In the agriculture sector, too, the free electricity or subsidised rates being charged, would no longer be there, he said.
The federation said that the losses being suffered by the electricity boards were mainly due to free electricity/subsidised electricity and misuse and abuse of electricity by unauthorised persons. They said that so far, the government had failed to project any alternative solution to curb power theft.
Power engineers alleged that efforts were on to control the economy of the country by dictating terms in the power sector. They also opposed the Power Reform Bill to be introduced in Parliament shortly.
The federation pointed out that the state electricity boards in the country have shown great dynamism and their rate of growth and expansion was much more than any other government department. At present, India had generation capacity of 90000 mw and serious efforts, if undertaken to reduce the losses of theft money, states would be able to meet their requirement even with the present generating stations they said.
The federation said that
there was no reason to privatise power generation,
transmission or distribution wings of electricity boards.
They would certainly welcome any reforms within the
framework of the state electricity boards.
Magisterial powers for DDPOs likely
BATHINDA, Feb 27 The Punjab Government has decided to carry out various reforms in the Rural Development Department by vesting the District Development and Panchayat Officers (DDPOs) with the executive powers of the collectors and granting the Class I status to the Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs).
The Class I status to the BDPOs will be given in a week or so at a meeting to be held at Chandigarh by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The Chief Secretary and the Financial Commissioner (Development) will participate in the meeting apart from Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh.
Stating this here today while talking to reporters Mr Sujan Singh, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, a notification in this regard would be issued before the next assembly session from March 6.
He pointed out that Punjab Government had decided to vest the DDPOs with executive powers of the collectors so that they could act as executive magistrates while dealing with cases pertaining to the encroachment of the panchayat land.
He said at present the executive magistrates were overburdened with their routine works. The minister said from now onwards only elected representatives of the panchayats would be allowed to attend the official meetings. He said earlier husbands of women panchayat members were attending official meetings in place of their spouses.
He directed the officials to register cases of impersonations against those indulging in this practice.
The minister said the Punjab Government would conduct a survey of villages and grants would be given to only those villages where the development works were yet to be completed.
He stated that the state government had decided to make provisions of pension for the panchayat secretaries.
DoT ordered to pay Rs 5000
LUDHIANA, Feb 27 The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, has directed the Department of Telecommunication to pay Rs 5000 compensation to Mr Paramdeep Singh before March 8, 2000 as telephone was not provided to him even after one and a half years of issuing of the advice note to the SDO.
In a complaint filed before the forum on September 7, 1999, the complainant alleged that he had applied for a telephone at his residence on January 6, 1997. However, later he applied for change of address for installing the telephone at his shop. The Department of Telecommunication issued an advice note for the same on March 23, 1998, but the SDO concerned claimed that he had not received it, thus, the complainant was not provided with the telephone till October 9, 1999.
Class IV staff found aiding
MAKHU (Ferozepore), Feb 27 Harike Wildlife officials charge Class IV employees of the Irrigation Department with "helping" fishermen to venture into the prohibited area of the downstream Bird Sanctuary zone.
Sources reveal that ever since the Punjab Government has prohibited the entry of fishermen into the sanctuary lake, certain Class IV employees of the Irrigation Department here have been found helping them in poaching in the downstream area.
Although a kilometre of the downstream area also falls under the prohibited zone, wildlife officials noticed irrigation employees helping the fishermen in that area last month. The wildlife inspector, Mr Rupinder Singh, is understood to have warned them of stern action.
The wildlife officials allege that certain irrigation employees had lifted a barrage gate to enable fishermen to catch them in large numbers. "On the pretext of checking the water level, these Class IV employees were seen helping the fishermen whose entry into the sanctuary has now been disallowed", the Inspector explained.
He, however, said the irrigation employees had been spared after a stern warning. "Henceforth, there shall be no leniency", he cautioned adding that the irrigation officials had assured him they would keep a check on the activities of their subordinates.
On being contacted, the SDO, Irrigation, Mr Satish Bansal, denied the charge. He, however, said Class IV employees had been cautioned against helping the fishermen.
Woman held for sons
KAPURTHALA, Feb 27 The police has arrested Surjit Kaur, wanted in connection with the murder of her son. She had absconded after the killing of her son last year.
Mr Iqbal Singh, SSP, said she was arrested after the police received information that Surjit Kaur had come to the town to meet her acquaintances in a locality near Charbatti Chowk.
The SSP said a case
under Sections 302, 304, 34 of the IPC had been
registered against her on the charge of allegedly killing
her son Lakhwant Singh in connivance with her other son
Baljit Singh. Lakhwant Singh had reportedly refused to
sign the papers for selling his share in the house. He
was killed after he was hit on his head by a blunt
harassed in Khalra case
AMRITSAR, Feb 27 The Khalra Mission Committee has alleged that important eyewitnesses in the case of "assassination" of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra were being harassed by the police.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Surinder Singh Ghariala, said a special police officer (SPO), who was an eyewitness to the murder, had not been paid salary for the past many months.
Mr Ghariala added that the matter would be taken up in the Supreme Court as the CBI, which investigated the murder, had recorded the statement of the SPO and he was provided security. The police was now ready to consider him as an eyewitness in order to save a former Punjab DGP, Mr KPS Gill, he alleged.
held under Excise Act
LUDHIANA, Feb 27 Two employees of a former Punjab Minister, Mr Harnek Singh Mangewal, who was minister in the Beant Singh Ministry, were arrested when they were allegedly trying to smuggle 24 bottles of liquor into Ludhiana.
A police party led by the CIA in charge, Mr Joginder Singh, arrested Ram Shah and Guni Ram, during a naka at Shri village near Alamgir and recovered two boxes of whisky from their possession. It is learnt that the accused were bringing liquor from Maloud to a sales officer of India Oil, residing in Ludhiana, allegedly as bribe on behalf of their employer, Mr Harnek Singh Mangewal.
Besides having a share in the liquor shops at Maloud, Mr Mangewal also owns two petrol stations there.
Guni Ram, driver of the jeep with registration number HR-24 E-5195 from which the liquor was seized said that he was a driver at the godown of liquor owned by Mr Mangewal. He said that he had been asked by Mr Amrik Singh, son of Mr Harnek Singh Mangewal to deliver the consignment to the officer at Ludhiana.
JALANDHAR, Feb 27 (UNI) The bloated body of a divorcee, in his forties, was found today in his house here by his brother Sukhdarshan Singh, police sources said.
The cause of death of Pritpal Singh, who had been living alone ever since his divorce and used to drinking heavily, was yet to be ascertained, the sources added.
Plant to produce power from
cane waste opened
FARIDKOT, Feb 27 A non-conventional electricity plant was commissioned in the cooperative sugar mill here today by Mr Pritam Singh Kotta, Chairman, Sugarfed, Punjab.
In a press note here, the local public relations authorities claimed that cooperative sugar mill here became first in North India where power would be produced from sugarcane waste.
Mr Kotta said that such non-conventional power plants would be set up in all 22 cooperative sugar mills in the state and 220 MW electricity would be produced from these plants.
Mr Jagjit Puri, Managing Director, Sugarfed, said that Rs 95 lakh had been spent on setting up the non-conventional electricity power plant. He added that power produced from this plant would be supplied to 20 villages of the district apart from meeting the requirements of the sugar mill here.
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