|Saturday, April 22, 2000,
trying to mend fences with BJP
leaders resent Badal move
drops Ravi Inder, Tohra from PAC
University scraps entrance tests
to expose board misdeeds
spy dies in Pak custody
faces unannounced power cuts, water shortage
given more powers
into Kargil fund embezzlement
section no ground for quashing FIR
to step up agitation
devotion to social service
technocrats await Class I status
on pollution must visit Amritsar
of vehicle thieves busted
form panel to probe rape
MD, GM manhandled
CM trying to mend fences
CHANDIGARH, April 21 The Shiromani Akali Dal president and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is making serious efforts to mend fences with the BJP, its ally in the government.
Mr Badal held detailed discussions with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, during his recent visits to Delhi and reportedly assured them of SADs loyalty and support.
Mr Badal blamed his rivals Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and former Speaker and MLA Ravi Inder Singh for the propaganda that the BJP would support the emerging combination if it obtained enough strength in the state Assembly.
According to sources, Mr Advani told Mr Badal to set his house in order and also to improve the performance of the government. Mr Advani, had apparently been well briefed by Punjab BJP leaders and officials. Mr Badal was told that the BJP leaders, including some ministers, were not happy with the working of the coalition government. They had complained they were not consulted on any issue and if all they expressed their opinion, it was disregarded.
BJP leaders, including two senior ministers, told the TNS that in nominations to public institutions like the Punjab Public Service Commission, Subordinate Services Selection Board, Zila Parishads, Block Samitis and Market Committee, the BJP had little role to play. We feel like a step-brother here, almost unwanted, a minister who had met Mr Advani told TNS.
Our criticism is not taken seriously and the state unit President, Mr Daya Singh.
Sodhi is a persona non-grata with the ruling Akali faction, he said.
Mr Badal had made attempts to divide the BJP by provoking two MLAs, Mr Jagdish Lal Sahni and Mr Satpal Goswami, to level charges against a senior BJP minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, in the state Assembly. Mr Badal made no attempt whatsoever to defend his senior minister. This allegation was reportedly brought to the notice of senior central leaders. Interestingly, Mr Badal has taken no action on the memorandum submitted by the two MLAs.
The two partners have had problems right from the beginning when the coalition was formed three years ago. Mr Badal did not concede deputy chief ministership as sought by Mr Tandon. The Akali Dal with its own massive majority and upswing in its political fortunes cared little for the BJP demand. But the split in the Akali Dal and poor performance of the two parties later on during the Lok Sabha elections last year, brought a qualitative shift in their ties. Now Mr Badal needs the support of the 18 BJP MLAs more than the BJP needs him. Some BJP leaders here and at the Centre have opened their doors to the rival Akali leaders, giving the signals that the party could reconsider its alliance if need be. This was why Mr Badal rushed to Delhi.
Also, on the Nanakshahi calendar issue, the BJP openly opposed the SAD. It saw in it a design to divide Hindus and Sikhs. Mr Tandons criticism invited vehement Akali rebuttal. The way Mr Badal has handled the tussle between the Akal Takht jathedars and the SGPC President has also been criticised by the BJP, though in private. We were not too happy, a leader said.
Mr Badal, however has not joined other NDA partners in criticising the recent hike in the price of fertilisers and of sugar, kerosene and wheat under the public distribution system.
It is not that the Akalis do not have any complaint against the BJP ministers and Mr Sodhi. The Akalis are reportedly not happy with their performance. According to senior Akali leaders, the BJP has begun making noises as Mr Badals political clout has gone weak. Mr Badal has been asked to keep mum on the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar district in the proposed hill-state of Uttaranchal.
The Akalis feel that as
good friends and as leaders of minorities, their feeling
should be better appreciated. It is a two-way process and
should be treated as such, the Akali ministers feel. What
is disturbing them is growing dissidence and the
emergence of Mr Ravi Inder Singh as the leader of
dissidents. Hence, the need to keep the BJP in good
SAD leaders resent Badal
AMRITSAR, April 21 Dissension within the ruling SAD, which has been brewing for the past few months, has come to fore when some MLAs,SGPC office-bearers, members and senior leaders opposed the reported move of the state government to appoint BJP men as chairmen of improvement trusts, Amritsar and Jalandhar.
Sounding a note of warning to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Akali leaders from the Majha region said they wont tolerate any move to accommodate BJP men for such posts.
The Akali leaders claimed that there was a clear understanding between BJP and SAD that the post of chairman, improvement trust, would be allocated to SAD in Amritsar and Jalandhar as BJP was given mayorship in these districts. However, the SAD leader was appointed Mayor, Ludhiana, and hence a BJP leader could be accommodated as chairman, improvement trust, there. Such an understanding was reached at a meeting of MLAs in Chandigarh a few months back.
What has disturbed the high command of SAD is that two MLAs Mr Ujagar Singh Rangreta and Mr Ajaipaul Singh Mirankot also attended the meeting. Among those who attended the meeting included Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah, general secretary, SGPC, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Mr Puran Singh Josh, Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate (all SGPC members), Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, president, district Akali Jatha (urban), Mr Sukhraj Singh Verka, chairman, District Market Committee, Mr Gurpartap Singh Tikka and Mr Joginder Singh (both Municipal Commissioners) and Bibi Parmjit Kaur.
They said Amritsar was the focal point of Akali politics and hence the party wont tolerate the appointment of any BJP leader as chairman of improvement trust.
Mr Subhash Sharma, a BJP leader, was Mayor of Amritsar.
The leaders further said they would force Mr Badal to scuttle any such move.
They alleged that discrimination was also done at the time of allocating tickets for Assembly Parliament and corporation elections. In spite of this indiscrimination the Akali leadership kept silent in the larger interest of the party. The Akalis had cooperated with the BJP in these elections for maintaining the SAD-BJP poll alliance. Keeping in view the discipline shown by the local Akali leadership in the past, the BJP leadership should also not to go for bargaining at this crucial juncture.
In a categorical statement, the Akali leadership urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal not to reach any understanding with the BJP leadership which could lead further dissension among party workers. Instead he (Mr Badal) should honour the loyalty of senior party workers.
It may be mentioned here that Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, who was a close confidant of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, (Mr Tohras loyal) is an aspirant for the post of the chairman, improvement trust. Though Mr Calcutta had resigned as minister following the tug-of-war between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, Mr Walia opted to support Mr Badal at that time. In spite of his loyalty at the crucial juncture, Mr Walia had not been accommodated by the party so far. So much so his renomination as president, district Akali Jatha (Urban), was not announced even after the completion of the recruitment drive of the party.
On the other hand, some MLAs from the Majha region are unhappy with Mr Badal for not accommodating them either as ministers or chairmen of corporations, etc.
Badal drops Ravi Inder, Tohra
CHANDIGARH, April 21 The Punjab Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today dropped dissident leader Mr Ravi Inder Singh and the President of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Mr G.S. Tohra, form the Political Affairs Committee of the party.
In a statement issued here today, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Secretary of the SAD, said the delegate session of the party had given powers to Mr Badal on March 3 this year to use his powers for taking decisions pertaining to the PAC.
Ms Upinderjit Kaur, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Inderpal Singh Khalsa from Delhi and Mr Ajit Singh Kohar have been taken as new members of the committee. Other members are: Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Tota Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura.
A meeting of the PAC will be held on April 24 according to Mr Badungar. He said that political issues pertaining to the party and latest political developments in the country would be discussed at the meeting.
CM follower of
CHANDIGARH, April 21 Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a former Speaker and MLA from Morinda, said today that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had lost faith in Sikh institutions and had become a follower of tantrik Chandraswami known for his links with defamed Congress leaders.
Punjabi University scraps
CHANDIGARH, April 21 Holding entrance tests has become a fad with all universities in the region.But Punjabi University, Patiala, is now an exception. It has decided to scrap the entrance tests for the postgraduate classes and courses.
This system came into practice somewhere in mid-eighties. Ever since it has grown in proportion consuming more and more courses and classes. In the process it has added to the psychological, physical and fiscal strain on the students as well as parents.
This new system, which brings shoals of money for the universities,in ways more than one, also reflects poorly on the existing system of annual examinations conducted by the universities. By all accounts the academic course content of studies is vastly different from the syllabi which forms basis for entrance test question papers, which are invariably objective type.
Another important dimension of the entrance tests is that as a consequence of this practice the routine, regular class-room teaching has received a serious setback. Even students attendance has dwindled. Naturally when a student knows that securing good marks in entrance test carries more weightage than in the annual examination he or she would prefer to spend time and money on private tuitions (there exist commercial coaching academies exclusively preparing students for entrance examinations) rather than in attending a college. A student prefers to get just minimum qualifying marks to be eligible to appear for the entrance test.
Thus what one sees now is that even before the annual examinations are over the universities announce dates for entrance tests as well as for submission of application forms.Each form costs money, between Rs 600 and 1,000 depending upon the university and the course and the class. The idea being to procure maximum forms for the entrance test. A student opting for a professional college, on an average, say medical or engineering , appears in as many as 20 entrance tests all over.
As a result of these entrance tests the universities mint crores of rupees. More often than not this income is not reflected in the budgets of the universities. Invariably it is quietly put in the higher education scheme; a case in point is Panjab University. One may even call this entrance test money as black money? The brunt of this uncalled for system is borne by parents and students alike.
A cross-section of teachers TNS spoke to maintained that if the universities fund such entrance tests to be mere money-spinners why not involve the University Grants Commission or some such national organisation and hold one single all-India entrance test for professional colleges, medical, engineering to name just two? That will ensure one all-India date. Students would also be spared the agony due to clash of dates for the same entrance test on the same day at different places.
Even before a student is free from taking annual examinations their preparation start for the entrance tests requiring purchase of separate set of help and guide books.
The list of entrance tests has lengthened over a period of time. Take for example Panjab University. It will be conducting entrance tests for M.Com, LLB, LLM, Library Science, Mass Communication, Master of Computer Education, Bachelor of Computer Application, Bachelor of Business Administration, Physical Education, B.Ed, M.Ed, MA Education, M.Sc (Hons) School, Anthropology, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Biotechnology, Botany, Zoology, Physics,Maths,etc. Thus as a result of such entrance tests academic waste involving basic teaching and basic examinations is being incurred. To what intent and purpose ?
How did this whole entrance test system start in the first place ? One of the teachers, Mr Charanjit Chawla, said that somewhere in mid-eighties students scoring less marks in pre-medical and pre-engineering would invariably migrate to Ganganagar to improve their marks. The following year they would return with a higher score percentage and get admission. At one stage it was felt that only such students be asked to appear for entrance tests who came via Ganganagar. However, the entrance tests gradually became part of the system.
Mr Chawla says that the issue of scrapping the system of entrance tests was raised in the Senate and Syndicate of Panjab University but the discussion remained inconclusive. While appreciating the decision of Punjabi University in doing away with entrance tests for postgraduate classes, Mr Chawla said Panjab University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. M M Puri, should follow suit.
Several Syndics feel that scrapping of entrance tests should form part of the agenda of the next meeting of the Syndicate, scheduled for April 30. But will it happen? Who would like to lose a good amount of money because given the financial constraints and constant pressure from the state governments asking universities to improve their resources and lessen their financial dependence on the state support for the universities entrance tests are like the hen which laid the proverbial golden eggs !
Has anyone tried to study the outcome of the actual result of the annual examination and the entrance test result as to who are the students who eventually make it to the postgraduate classes? Some teachers said merit almost remained unaltered with top positions being retained by students irrespective of the exam, may it be entrance, university or board.
The multiplicity of examinations must be checked and done away with. The existing system of a string of tests causes the students mental tension robbing them of unalloyed initiative and creative instincts. Moreover as in the case of other examinations, even in respect of entrance tests one occasionally hears of scandalous leakage of papers and favouritism in marking etc.
There was a time when
the joint entrance test conducted by IITs was respected
and carried merit and weightage. Now entrance tests have
become a commercial proposition. This being a serious
issue facing society its time the government and
the academician and administrators give a second-look to
entrance exams which are an economic drain in a poor
PWD to expose board
CHANDIGARH, April 21 Tension is building up between the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board headed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Public Works Department (Buildings and Roads). The board has been set up by the Punjab Government to attract private investment for development of infrastructure in the state. It plans to execute projects worth Rs 1700 crore during the ensuing two years.
At an internal meeting of senior officers of the PWD and the coordination committee of Sub-divisional engineers and junior engineers, all persons including in the department, Chief Engineers and Superintending Engineers, have been directed not to cooperate with the board and not to sign any document pertaining to the board regarding surveys and reports of consultants regarding road and bridge projects.
Confirming this to TNS, Mr M.S. Nijjar, convener of the coordination committee, alleged that Punjabs bureaucracy was out to destroy the PWD (B and R). Hence the decision not cooperate with the board in any manner. He said the Sub-divisional Engineers Association had also met the PWD Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah. The minister had assured he would protect the interest of the department in all respects.
The coordination committee has given a call for a protest march here on April 26 to highlight the alleged misdeeds of the board. Technocrats from other state government departments have also been requested by the committee to participate.
Mr Nijjar said the committee was not against the board, it was opposing its style of functioning and creation of a parallel department at the cost of PWD (B and R).
Mr Nijjar said at a meeting held here today, decisions taken at the boards meeting yesterday were critically examined and discussed by members of the coordination committee. The committee reached the conclusion that top functionaries of the board were misleading the Chief Minister.
A distorted picture of the PWD had been presented to the Chief Minister just to hand over major projects to private companies. Mr Nijjar alleged that in the garb of attracting private investment, crores of rupees were being embezzled to procure feasibility studies and strategic option studies, and project reports from so-called consultants. He said that the committee had sent a detailed note to the Accountant-General (Punjab) for holding a special audit of the payments made by the board to various consultancy firms.
The PWD (B and R) had the infrastructure to carry out surveys and to prepare project reports. But its services had not been utilised by the board or the government. On the other hand several lakhs of rupees had been paid to certain consultancy firms which collected most of the data from the various offices of the PWD to prepare reports for the board. He said that even senior bureaucrats pressurised officers of the PWD (B and R) to extend help to the consultancy firms in procuring the data.
Mr Nijjar said that while a private firm was made monthly payments of over Rs 4 lakh for the past 15 months for identifying the projects which had been already identified by the PWD. There was no logic in carrying out this exercise, he said. In fact, there was a public demand for the four laning of the Chandigarh-Ludhiana-Moga highway, southern bypass in Ludhiana, four laning of Ropar-Nawanshahar-Phagwara highway and upgradation of Khanna-Samrala-Machiwara-Rahon road. There was nothing new in the reports submitted by the consultancy firms except data pertaining to the volume of traffic.
In fact, he said, there were several glaring disparities in the reports. For instance one consultancy firm in 1996 carried a survey of Ludhiana-Chandigarh road and gave a report that more than 20,000 passenger car units (PCUs) ply on this road. After four years another firm gave a report for the same road that the number was 11,026. Even considering the growth rate of 7.5 per cent per annum, the traffic on this road should have been increased at least 1.5 times and it should have been reflected in the latest report. This clearly proved that one of these reports was false. Moreover, payment has been made twice for the same purpose.
Opposing the special purpose vehicles (SPVs), which have been constituted for executing the projects by the board, the committee said since there was a full-fledged PWD (B and R) having 300 sub-divisional engineers, 80 executive engineers, 1,200 junior engineers, 29 superintending engineers and four chief engineers there was no need for setting SPVs. The committee said that the SPVs would not be able to handle projects on its own and these would have to engage consultants for designing, construction and supervision etc.
Recalling the Punjab
Governments experience in four-laning the
Sirhind-Shambu Section of the G.T. Road, Mr Nijjar said
that the PWDs estimate for this section was of Rs
82.74 crore whereas the work was allotted to the private
firms for Rs 199.34 crore which was likely to escalate to
Rs 250 crore. The completion of this section had been
delayed by one and half year and there were also failure
of designs given by consultants in case of at least two
Indian spy dies in Pak custody
GURDASPUR, April 21 (UNI) An Indian reportedly working for military intelligence died in custody in Pakistan on April 17, and his body has been lying in a Lahore hospital since then, according to official sources.
The sources told UNI today that Pakistan authorities had agreed to return the body of Satpal, who hailed from Dadwan village in this district.
Satpals father Tej Ram received the news of his sons death through an official of the Indian intelligence on April 19 and inquired if the bereaved family wanted the body.
The father told UNI that he had been assured by the official that his sons body would be handed over to him on April 20. We (family) waited in vain for the body yesterday, he said.
Tej Ram said the agent again returned to him with the message that the family would have to bear the expense of bringing the body from Lahore. But I have expressed my familys inability to bear the expenses due to poverty.
Satpal, who worked as a painter, had been working for military intelligence on contract basis. His wife Jeeto said she had been eking out a living for herself and her two children, aged 15 and 14, by working as a domestic help for a year after Satpal did not return home for long.
The couples elder daughter is married, while son Surinder Pal, 15, had to leave his plus two education midway because of family circumstances. The couples second daughter Jyoti, 14, assists her mother in making both ends meet.
Jeeto said her husband had been working for military intelligence eversince their marriage some 20 years ago. She said earlier he would go to Pakistan for a few days and on return gave her about Rs 500 to Rs 600.
Jeeto said she learnt that her husband had died of torture during interrogation by the Pakistan army. When this correspondent reached Satpals house in the village, the family members were preoccupied in looking after Jyoti who had been shaken mentally on hearing the news of her fathers death. The villagers said the family had not cooked food since Wednesday when the news of Satpals death was broken by an intelligence official.
Jeeto said she was proud that her husband preferred to die than reveal any secrets. She expressed the hope that the government would make arrangements to get back the body of her husband.
Manuel, a resident of the same village who had also worked for military intelligence, said at least 15 residents of Dadwan had been working for the Indian agency. He disclosed that besides Satpal, David, Bhola and Ashok were being languishing in Pakistani jails.
Manuel, facing a court
trial on the charge of spying for Pakistan, alleged that
whenever agents like him or Satpal were captured in
Pakistan, they were abandoned by the Indian agencies
which never looked after their families. Disillusioned by
apathy of the Indian handlers of agents like him and
Satpal, he said he had stopped working for the Indian
Patiala faces unannounced power
cuts, water shortage
PATIALA, April 21 Residents of this city, who are already facing an acute water shortage, now have to do without electricity also, with unscheduled power cuts and voltage fluctuations becoming the norm since the past one week.
A duststorm heralded the summer in the city around one week back, said a resident. It also heralded the start of power cuts and severe fluctuations, he added.
The outer colonies in the city are the worst hit, with residents doing without electricity regularly in the evening. The fault is never corrected quickly and electricity returns to the areas only close to midnight.
The summer has only begun. If this is going to be the state of affairs right now, what will happen during the paddy season when electricity has to be diverted for paddy sowing, asks a resident of Upkar Nagar. The power cuts are more agonising as they are never announced in advance. Complaints to the local centres do not yield prompt action.
In the outer colonies, people have to suffer not only due to power cuts but also due to faults from poles in front of their houses. When such a problem arises, we call a private electrician to correct the fault as official help takes much longer in arriving, say Deshmesh Nagar residents.
There is also the problem of voltage fluctuation due to which in many areas it becomes difficult to operate airconditioners. Houses where air conditioners are functioning repeatedly see fuses going off from the poles.
Due to water shortage, the jet pump is also being used frequently in many houses, causing more strain on the system.
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has appealed to consumers to not use airconditioners during the peak hours from six to ten. The board has decided to start a drive from May 1 to check unauthorised loads. The board has warned the people to get their loads upgraded according to the consumption or be ready for heavy penalties.
Board Chairman G.S. Sohal disclosed that though no electricity cuts had been imposed in the city, irregular power supply at some places could be due to disturbances in the system. He said at many places the equipment had become obsolete due to which there were frequent breakdowns. Extra load on the system had also not been registered at many places, causing problems in the system.
Chief Engineer (Operations) G.S. Hara said there had been problems in supply after the duststorm. He said preventive maintenance work was being done in many areas, including the Lower Mall and on the Sirhind Road. He said the board informed residents of power cuts wherever work was to be done through loudspeakers.
The people are, however,
not buying this. If maintenance work is to be done
in a particular area, the PSEB can release news about the
cut to the press so that people can anticipate the
cut, they say.
Sarpanches given more powers
BHAGTA BHAIKA (Bathinda), April 21 In a significant decision, the Punjab Government has given powers to the sarpanches to monitor the functioning of the water supply schemes, patwarkhanas, schools and hospitals in their respective villages.
Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Rural Development Minister, Punjab, who was here today to inaugurate 148 blocks of the state, said the sarpanches were now fully empowered to write against any employee of government institution being run in villages for their misdeeds to the deputy commissioner concerned.
He added that deputy commissioners had been directed by the Punjab Government to take action on priority on the complaints received from the sarpanches.
Mr Kahlon said in another decision, the state government had also empowered the sarpanches to withdraw the amount given to his village for development works directly from the bank without any intervention of the block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs). He added that earlier the amount could be withdrawn from the banks only when a BDPO put a signature on the cheques. Now the signature of any panchayat member on the cheque apart from sarpanch would be sufficient.
He said the zila
parishad and panchayat samitis elections would be held
shortly. He added that 70 per cent of the members of zila
parishads and paychayat samitis would be elected by the
sarpanches while the remaining 30 per cent would be
elected by the other electorate. He said chairmen of zila
parishads and panchayat samitis would be elected on the
basis of the numerical strength of the supporters of each
Probe into Kargil fund
AMRITSAR, April 21 An inquiry has been initiated into the alleged embezzlement of Kargil fund to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh.
The money was collected for the Kargil fund by the Managing Director of the Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank (ACCB). The ACCB comprises 55 branches and the donations were collected from 430 employees.
On the supposed pretext that money would go to the families of Kargil martyrs accountants and higher officers were asked to donate Rs 1000 each or more, clerks Rs 800 each and peons Rs 600 each.
But it was found that the amount collected never reached the aggrieved families.
A question in this connection was raised by Mr Hardev Arshi, CPI MLA in the Assembly and subsequently an inquiry was ordered.
The inquiry will be conducted by the PGO here. Meanwhile, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has alleged that the inquiry against the questionable deeds of the Director will be partial as he is in the good books of a minister.
It may be pertinent to mention here that soon after the said appointment of the Director generators were purchased for all branches, including those not needing them, at double the market price. An inquiry was conducted but the findings were never made public.
Mr Dang demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter and the suspension of the said director for a fair trial.
Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Pal Singh Chhina, Managing Director of the ACCB defended his stand that he was being made a scapegoat as a CPI leader headed the bank board at present and elections for which were due to be held shortly in the first week of May.
He alleged that it was a
conspiracy to defame him after a stay was vacated on
April 19 for the board elections as CPI leaders wanted
their fellow comrade to head the board. He said leaders
should await the inquiry before charging him as
PATIALA, April 21 After Maruti vehicles now it is the turn of agricultural tubewells to come under the ambit of a Tatkal scheme started by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) which besides providing tubewells on demand also aims to generate funds for releasing general category tubewell connections.
Under the scheme applicants will be charged Rs 10,000 per horsepower for a connection which will be released within four to five days of the receipt of the test report. Each tubewell installed under the scheme will fund the connection charges of two tubewells of the general category.
Since the inception of the scheme more than 5,000 applications had been received and PSEB hopes to generate about Rs 8 crore from it. Already 500 connections have been given to the consumers and the Board is planning to expedite connections under the scheme.
The Board Chairman, Mr G. S. Sohal, disclosed that at present there was a demand for 25,000 connections out of which 5,000 were from the tatkal category . He said 4,000 connections had been reserved for special categories 6,000 under self financing schemes and 10,000 under general category. Under the self finance category connections would be provided in earmarked waterlogged areas of the state, including Muktsar district, besides giving them to categories like ex-servicemen.
Mr Sohal said under the self finance category applicants would have to pay Rs 5,000 per horse power. As far as the scheme was concerned the department had only allowed connections to be released at places where the average expenditure was less. He said at present 1,800 test reports of tatkal applicants were pending with the Board.
He said it would be the endeavour of the Board to clear general category connections in a time bound and customer friendly manner. This had already been achieved in the case of industrial connections through the Lok Sahayak. He said not a single industrial connection was pending with the Board as it was processing 660 test reports of industrial connections.
However, farmers are not pleased with the scheme. Mr Amarjit Singh, a farmer of Dakala, said the Board was now encouraging farmers to opt for the tatkal scheme instead of making an attempt to fasten the process of giving connections under the general category. He alleged that this was an attempt to collect revenue as the scheme could only be availed by landlords who could only pay Rs 50,000 necessary for a minimum five horse power connection.
Wrong section no ground for
CHANDIGARH, April 21 The Punjab and Haryana High Court here has held that the mentioning of a wrong section was no ground for quashing first information report.
Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice T.H.B. Chalapathi observed: One has to look into the contents and the averments of the FIR to find out whether these constitute any offence under any provision of the Act or under any other law.
The observation was made on a petition filed by an Abohar shopkeeper, Mr Des Raj Teneja, seeking directions for quashing the FIR dated October 7, 1999 registered under Sections 6A and 9B of the Explosives Act, besides Section 286 of the Indian Penal Code. He had contended that Section 6 A was not attracted at all.
The FIR, it may be recalled, was registered after the police received information regarding the keeping of fireworks in large quantity by Mr Tenaja without licence.
Dismissing his petition, Mr Justice Chalapathi observed: Simply because in the FIR Section 6 A (of the Explosives Act) has been mentioned it cannot be said that the averments in the FIR do not disclose any commission of offence.
In his detailed order, the Judge observed that it was for the investigating agency to find out whether the averments in the FIR were correct and whether there was any contravention of the rules or the conditions mentioned in the licence for keeping the fireworks.
Mr Justice Chalapathi added: At this stage it cannot be said that no offence has been disclosed in the FIR.... I do not find any ground to quash the FIR. This petition is, therefore, dismissed.
Provide gunman to former Major
Directing the state of Punjab to provide a gunman to former Major Gurpaljit Singh, involved in anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 90s after the one previously deputed sustained injuries in an attack on his house, the High Court here has issued notice of motion to Punjab Chief Secretary Mr R.S. Mann and Hoshiarpurs Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr R.P. Mittal.
Seeking interim directions for providing him with another gunman, the ex-Major, residing in Bala village of Hoshiarpur district, had earlier stated that his family was under constant threat as no arrangements for security had been made after the attack on March 25.
Claiming to have served in 17 J & K Rifles in Rafiabad and Sopore area for four years from 1991, the petitioner had further stated that a death warrant on the letterhead of a banned militant organisation, Hizbul Muzahideen, was received in 1995.
Going into the background, counsel for the petitioner had stated that the High Court, while taking up an earlier petition, had directed the respondents to provide security as long as the threat from militant outfit persisted.
the orders in the open court, Mr. Justice Aggarwal:
It is directed that till the next date of hearing
the state of Punjab would provide a gunman for security
of the petitioner immediately.
PCMSA to step up agitation
PATIALA, April 21 The Punjab PCMS Association (PCMSA) yesterday criticised the Punjab Government for adopting dilatory tactics towards the long-pending demands of PCMS doctors to intensify the agitation by organising a series of rallies at various district headquarters in May.
In a joint statement issued by Dr B.S. Sahota, Dr R.S. Sethi and Dr D.C. Sharma, president, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, the PCMSA said the time-scale pattern at 4, 9 and 14 years service was granted and notified by the Punjab Government in May, 1998, to nine categories of officers including veterinary officers, PCMS doctors, DSPs and PCS officers, on the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission, but was kept in abeyance after September, 1998, under the garb of issuing guidelines for the implementation procedure.
Many officers got it in that period and many were left. Now these guidelines had been issued after one and a half years.
Criticising the implementation procedure laid down by the government, the PCMSA said it had been made cumbersome and simple placements in time-scale shall be processed like the case of a regular promotion which would not only delay the implementation but would also lead to corruption.
The PCMSA said there was nothing specific for the doctors in granting time-scales which had been granted to nine categories and not doctors alone.
Rather the recommendations of the pay panel specific to the doctors such as the revision of conveyance allowance, academic allowance, ESI allowance and the redesignation of the regular posts of senior medical officers with a promotional increment were yet to be implemented.
In May last year, the government had assured a group of doctors to issue notifications on these issues within a fortnight. But now after one year, it had decided to refer these issues to the implementation panel.
The PCMSA said even the recommendations of the pay panel, which the government failed to implement even after three years, were much short of the central pattern of pay scales and allowances for the Central Health Services doctors and the PCMSA had been demanding parity with their counterparts in the Central Health Services which was being denied to them.
The PCMSA further
deplored the government for not adopting the central
pattern of non-practising allowance. It demanded the NPA
should be implemented with effect from January, 1996, and
it should be treated as pay for all intents
and purposes, including house rent allowance. It also
demanded the removal of the ceiling on pay plus NPA which
never existed earlier.
Life-long devotion to social
DAAD (Ludhiana): Dreams, ambitions, aspirations we all have them. But there are few people who get the opportunity to work towards the fulfilment of these dreams, and fewer still, those who actually realise their dreams. This is the story of a man who lived, breathed and dreamt to work for the larger interests of society and has today accomplished his goal.
Shravan Kumar, founder of Nishkam Seva Ashram, says: Now, in the evening of my life, I can look back and easily say that there is no desire left unfulfilled and if I were to leave this world for my ultimate union with the parmatma, I would be going in absolute bliss.
The conviction with which he says this is proof enough that he has been successful in his endeavours in social service. And rightly so, for during the past 25 years since its inception, the Nishkam Seva Ashram under his guidance, has expanded its horizons in the sphere of providing shelter to the elderly, vocational training to poor girls in the rural areas, medicare, day-care centres and general education in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
The Nishkam Seva Ashram Charitable Trust runs two old homes (one here and another at Raikot), three eye hospitals, six dispensaries, one dental clinic, 76 sewing school centres for girls at various places in Punjab, Haryana and HP, three day-care centres, a school for children with special needs, four schools for slum children and a pathological laboratory for the poor, both in Ludhiana: the list is endless.
Other than this, the trust has been actively engaged in providing vocational training to girls in typing production of jute products, etc. The trust also plans to start a computer education centre shortly and to begin with, the State Bank of India has already promised to provide them with four computers. The satisfaction of supplementing a familys income through adequate training and proper education of poor girls is what propels us to work in this direction, says Mr Kumar.
Recently, when thousands of people had been rendered homeless during the cyclone that hit Orissa, the trust sent 11 truck-loads of foodgrains, clothes and tarpaulins collected through donations. The ashram has also organised numerous free medical and eye check-up and operation camps, provided scholarships for higher education to needy students. It has helped seven children become doctors and engineers.
Mr Kumars embarked on his mission at a young age, when he saw an old woman being thrown out of her house by her own children. He brought her home and provided for her and slowly he visualised accommodating old persons and the Nishkam Seva Ashram Samiti was formed in 1983. Later on it started sewing classes for needy girls living in the labour colonies of Ludhiana and with the passage of time more social causes were taken up by the trust.
In this long and sometimes arduous journey, I got the full cooperation of my wife and other family members, who let me ignore the more mundane things in life and devote all my time and efforts towards my lifes ambition. It was the constant support and guidance of friends like K.K. Sood, K.L. Dua and A.C. Goel that has helped make Nishkam Seva Ashram a success, he recalls with a glint in his eye.
Mr Maharaj Krishan Gupta, a member of the trust, states: On the ashram premises here, we also train spastic and mentally retarded children in the art of candle and chalk making, the inmates of the Vriddh Ashram here were engaged in different types of work of the ashram and we have also recently started an ink production unit, being run by the old home inmates.
Talking about the Vriddh Ashram, Mr Shravan Kumar says its emphasis has always been on counselling old people and their children to reach a compromise and not to have them displaced from their homes and forced into the Vriddh Ashram. Quite a number of times our efforts succeed and reconciliation is reached between the two sides, he pointed out.
He, however, regrets
that the government has not been doing enough in the
field of social service, so vital for society.
So far, we have been managing our expenditure
(around Rs 3.5 lakh per month) through voluntary
donations and in spite of repeated requests to successive
governments over the years, we have only recently been
granted a small amount, which is peanuts, he
Farm technocrats await Class
CHANDIGARH, April 21 Can an incumbent of a similarly placed, identical category with the same pay scale working in different departments of the same government be granted different status?
If this is true, then this violation of equal rights exists in the department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab. The agriculture technocrats, for the past five years, have not been granted PAHS-I. status while their counterparts in the parent Agriculture Department got Class-I gazetted status in 1994.
According to Punjab Animal Husbandry Services Association general secretary, Dr Hazara Singh Cheema, the agony of these agriculture technocrats dates back to days when the feed and fodder wing was created in the Animal Husbandry Department.
Later agriculture technocrats were granted the status of PAS-1 and PHS-1 in 1994. The pay scale of ADO (Agriculture Development Officer) (feed and fodder) was also revised accordingly.
The case of ADO (feed and fodder) for declaring as PAHS-I was sent to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms for the required approval. It gave the required approval in February 1995. But since then the administrative department has not declared these posts as P.A.H.S.-I.
According to the departmental sources, Dr Cheema said the case was still pending with the Standing Committee of Personnel especially framed for the reclassification of posts on the recommendation of the Pay Commission.
In dealing animal
husbandry officers as PAHS-I officers no expenditure is
involved. But contrary to this by not declaring them as
Class-I, the incumbents working on these posts become
eligible for bonus every year. And they receive lakhs of
rupees as bonus since 1994. It is an avoidable loss to
Panel on pollution must
AMRITSAR, April 21
The Pollution Control Committee, in a
communication to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh
Badal, has demanded that the panel of contract pollution
experts visiting Ludhiana next week should also include
Amritsar in its itinerary.
BARNALA, April 21 The local police has arrested Ajit Singh, who along with two others escaped from police custody near Dhaunala town last evening while they were being taken to the Patiala Central Jail by a police party after hearing in the Phul courts of the district.
Mr Jatinder Jain SSP, said that all four police men had been placed under suspension and matter was being investigated.
Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said that Ajit Singh, a kingpin, was arrested while he was making a phone call from STD booth near the railway station last night.
The two other accused who escaped with Ajit Singh from police custody namely Makhan Singh and Tarsem, however, managed to give a slip to the police again.
The three criminals involved in numerous cases of theft, looting in Bathinda and Fatehgarh Sahib districts were brought at Phul court for hearing. They put red chillies in the eyes of policemen who were taking them back to the Patiala Central Jail last evening and escaped.
They snatched the scooter of a passer-by to flee from the site of crime. After covering some distance they dumped the scooter and snatched another at a gun point. After some time they also dumped the second scooter. The incident occurred when the policemen along with them came down from a mini bus on which they were travelling to drink tea at a dhaba near Dhaunala town.
Gang of vehicle thieves
AMRITSAR, April 21 In a major break through an inter-state gang of vehicle thieves have been busted following the arrest of Kashmira Singh, a resident of Gopalpura mohalla in Tarn Taran and Sawinder Singh.
During blockades laid
down near the Bohriwala Chowk a truck bearing fake
registration number (DIG 7357) was stopped. The truck
driver was asked to produce its documents. No documents
were found during the search of the truck. While police
was conducting an enquiry. Two persons managed to excape
and two others were arrested. Their interrogation
revealed that they belonged to a gang which used to steal
vehicles from different cities of Punjab and its
adjoining states. They admitted having stolen nine trucks
three scooters and a car.
Locals form panel to probe rape
SAHNEWAL (Ludhiana) April 21 The controversy over the alleged rape of a woman by a sant at a dera near here took a new turn today with the people of the area forming an 18-member action committee to inquire into the incident.
The people residing near the dera being run by Swami Bhola Ram, Lok Seva Trust, yesterday alleged that Sant Deedar Singh Andhis disciple, Lakshmi Datt Joshi, had been falsely implicated in the rape of a woman residing near Jalandhar bypass by certain politicians keen to grab the dera land.
The woman had alleged that the sant had called her at the dera on the pretext of giving her some medicine, but was raped by the sant and his disciple. An FIR had been registered at the Sahnewal police station on April 18.
However, the dera inmates and the people residing near the dera had alleged that there was an attempt by a relative of an Akali minister to grab the dera land and he had coaxed the alleged rape victim to falsely implicate the sant and his disciple in a rape case.
A public meeting was held at the dera today and representatives of various political parties like the CPI, CPM, SHSAD and the BJP participated in the meeting.
Many party leaders condemned the criminalisation of politics and blamed the government for its failure to control the land mafia. They nominated the 18-member action committee to be headed by Mr Baldev Pathak of the BJP.
Mill MD, GM manhandled
PHAGWARA, April 21 Mr Vir Khana, Managing Director, Punjab Bone Mill, Chaheru, was manhandled by some workers when he turned down their unacceptable demands while Mr B.D. Sharma, General Manager, was attacked when he was coming back after reporting to the police the incident of Managing Directors roughing up today. Mr Sharma had to be hospitalised here. The police reportedly rounded up two persons in this connection.
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