|Monday, April 24, 2000,
weaves information web
reverses stand on octroi
to surrender kerosene quota
price hike: Walia
unites to oppose shifting of hospital
schoolteachers teach Punjabi
unit heads hold meeting
secy rejoins BKU
|PCC prepares for MC poll
NANGAL, April 23 The local unit of Congress has asked for applications from aspirants for Congress ticket for the forthcoming Municipal Council elections, scheduled for May 28.
Nullah: boon once, bane now
engineers plan protest
fired up for upgradation
staff to stage rally on April 26
destroy wheat crop
distillers join mainstream
to offer 539 plots in Ludhiana
consoles Bibi Jagir Kaur
to tap canals for hydel projects
police chief honoured
to provide better medicare
staff to go on strike
forms teams for smooth procurement
by harassed cop
to abduct factory owner
case accused commits suicide
cleared of rape charge
Punjab weaves information web
CHANDIGARH, April 23 By using fibre optic cable Punjab is literally weaving itself into a web. Now the state is likely to opt for a joint venture with a US company to further expand the web literally taking information technology into every village and home in the foreseeable future.
For this to materialise, a delegation of state bureaucrats concerned will visit the USA on May 5 to attend a Tie-conference and negotiate on a joint venture with some companies. This will involve use of the vast network of Punjab State Electricity Boards supply poles for laying the fibre optic cables.
In its race to catch up with the future faster than other states, Punjab has the DoT Department of Telecommunication as well as Himachal Futuristic Company Ltd (HFCL) already on the job. DoT has completed laying of fibre optic cable, while the HFCL is still on the job. While DoT used its own telecommunication poles, the HFCL is laying underground cables along the state roads and will cover a network of nearly 2,800 km.
The new proposed joint venture being explored during May 5 visit will take off where DoT has left and spread the web wider. Enroute enabling setting up of studios for facilities like video voice data, Internet, intelligent network and cetrax etc.
According to the Principal Secretary, Industries, Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Punjab is all set to establish a knowledge valley in Ropar district, stretching from Mohali (SAS Nagar) to Anandpur Sahib. Mohali, in fact, along with Jalandhar, is already an international gateway operated by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) with two independent Satellite Earth Stations of Ku Band Type E-3, which provide state-of-the-art wide band data communication facilities (64 Kbps to 2 Mbps) to software exporters.
Besides the STPI the other key players are the Punjab electronics development and production corporation (ECP), the VSNL and PUNCOM. All that Punjab proposes to do is to give a push to the information technology in the field of infrastructure (by way of backbone support in the form of fibre optic cable web and earth stations), industry and human resource development besides, of course, E-governance. Given the status Punjab is enjoying at present in terms of hi-tech steps on the anvil even the joint capital Chandigarh of the two sister-states, Punjab and Haryana, now boasts of information technology march which has become possible due to backbone support available in Mohali.
Punjab will formerly unfolds its IT policy on April 29.
Mr Ramesh Inder Singh told TNS today that Mohali software park has already sent positive signals to the industry operating in different parts of the country. Within two years of operation, Mohali has registered, so far, 80 units which will contribute to the tune of Rs 100 crore software export in the coming year. The software giants like Infosys, Quark, HCL Perot, Videocon, Satyam, Future Devices, Max India etc are already operational.
This goes to show that STPI Mohali has registered 200 per cent growth in the past two years, he added. Punjab is keen to make multipurpose use of the new technology and make voice video data, Internet, intelligent network and centrax facilities a household thing. Most of the district headquarters and several sub-divisional headquarters are already wired to Chandigarh. Under the proposed tie-up on further expansion of fibre optic cable network with some US company the spread will go into the interior of Punjab ushering in WAN wide area network which will facilitate distant learning. Private firms are being involved in this.
President Bill Clinton, could have made it to Punjab in March. He did not partly because Punjab was slow to react and moreover it never pursued its invitation in the right manner. Nevertheless, spurred by his announcement that the USA was keen to set up at least four Global Institutes of Science and Technology, Punjab has now taken up cudgels in right earnest to have at least one such institute in the state.
Mr Ramesh Inder Singh said that during May 5 visit to the USA the team will meet with Professor Donald Mcquade, Vice-Chancellor, University Relations, of the University of California, Berkely, for setting up at least one of the four global institutions of science and technology in Punjab. Incidentally, those accompanying Mr Ramesh Inder Singh will be Mr G.S. Pirzada and Mr N.S. Kalsi, while the former is Managing Director, ECP, the latter is Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training.
Already, Punjab has decided upon the setting up of Triple I-T institution in Mohali. This abbreviation stands for Indian Institute for Information Technology. It will be a replication of a similar one functioning in Hyderabad.The proposed IIIT will be market-oriented besides being industry driven, financed and managed. A 20-acre plot has been earmarked and Rs 18 crore budgeted for the current year. The state will provide the infrastructure shell while corporate sector will occupy and operate it as an autonomous institute without profit being a motive.
Planning for this IIIT is at a very advanced stage. Even a memorandum of association to be signed with Corporate giants is ready. So is the composition of the management body.
Mr Ramesh Inder Singh said Punjab has the potential and can compete in the field of information technology and knowledge. All it needed was an opening, which is now available. In Andhra Pradesh, for example, nearly 6,000 computer engineers at degree level and 4,000 at diploma level are produced annually. In Punjab, the corresponding figures are 700 and 900 , respectively. The state shall, therefore, have to increase the number of seats both in engineering colleges as well as in diploma institutions. Again the ECP will play a crucial role in this IIIT.
Besides the STPI satellite earth station, now Mahindra and Mahindra in a joint venture with the ECP has decided to set up another software technology park in Mohali on a 15 acre plot. Expected to be a Rs 300 crore venture, foundation stone is slated to be laid sometime in June.
Another project on the anvil is a Rs 300 crore similar park which Quark proposes to set up somewhere in Ropar, preferably, towards Anandpur Sahib or even in Anandgarh city, which is proposed to be built as a part of the tercentenary of the establishment of the Khalsa. This was announced by the Chief Minister at Anandpur Sahib in April 1999. This park has been given the green signal by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
Together all this is intended to establish a knowledge valley in Ropar district.
Meanwhile, a Rs 20 crore scheme is in the pipeline for introducing E-governance in Punjab.
The Chief Minister Office has a partially operative management information system, which keeps tab on the proposed projects and their progress mapped on turn-key basis. The implementation stage can be seen at the click of the mouse.The proposed E-governance is to be first introduced in areas where there is public interface to ensure transparency, eliminate delays, introduce efficiency and efficacy, improve delivery system and make available all information with a click.
A beginning will be made with revenue department. Octroi posts are already covered in some places which makes it easy to check the arrival and departure of goods.
Badal reverses stand on octroi
FATEHGARH SAHIB, April 23 In a clear reversal the Punjab Government has decided to give task of octroi collection in the state back to private contractors again.
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, while talking to The Tribune said the govt has taken a decision in this regard and it would be implemented.
Mr Badal had come to attend a marriage party at Mandi Gobindgarh town of the district today.
It is worth mentioning that soon after his partys debacle in the recently concluded Parliament elections, Mr Badal had declared that octroi collection for the state municipalities would not be auctioned or given to any private contractors from March 31 onwards.
He had admitted at that time that privatisation of octroi and high-handedness of the contractors was one of the major reasons for the defeat of the party.
Interestingly just yesterday Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, while talking to mediapersons at Mandi Gobindgarh town had advocated privatisation of the collection of octroi in the state.
He had said that if the collection of octroi was handed over to municipal staff, there would not be enough funds to pay the salaries of employees, what to talk of development activity.
Govt to surrender kerosene
NANGAL, April 23 The Punjab Government has opted to surrender its quota of kerosene for the 100 per cent supply of LPG. The Petroleum Ministry had given an option to Punjab Government in this regard which has been accepted by the Government said Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab.
Initially this scheme will be implemented in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts. The petroleum ministry has already started identifying the sites for setting up LPG for bottling plants in these districts. The work is expected to be completed within a year. Thereafter, the kerosene depots will be replaced by the LPG retail outlets, said Mr Mittal.
About the future of PDS in Punjab, Mr Mittal said the state government had accepted the decision of the Centre to deny the benefits of PDS to the income tax payees in the state. He said that he had suggested to the Centre to subsidise the annual increase in the procurement prices of foodgrains, paid to the farmers. At present the government is paying at both ends, firstly in the form of increase in procurement prices to the farmers and on the other hand in the form of DA to the employees. However, if the increase in procurement of food grains is subsidised, the price index will be controlled. This will lead to a situation when only negligible DA will have to be paid to the employees, which will reduce the burden on government exchequer, said Mr Mittal.
Regarding the procurement of wheat, Mr Mittal said 23,93,322 metric tonnes of wheat had been procured till April 22, in various mandis across the state. About 5.70 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was procured yesterday.
Withdraw price hike: Walia
AMRITSAR, April 23 Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and president of the Punjab State Services Federation today demanded immediate withdrawal of hike in prices of essential commodities which had adversely affected the employees and common man.
In a press note issued here today, Mr Walia said the hike in prices of fertilisers, diesel, kerosene and other commodities had caused a lot of resentment among the middle class and lower strata. He also demanded restoration of subsidies.
Describing the implementation of assured progression career scheme for Deputy Superintendent Police, PCS, PCMS-I doctors, Veterinary Officers and other technocrats as discriminatory, Mr Walia urged the Chief Minister to cover all categories of employees of various departments under the scheme. He said such benefits should be given to all government employees in order to counter stagnation. Mr Walia also demanded the implementation of the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission.
Mr Walia said the Pay Anomaly Committee had submitted its report to the state government and hence it should be implemented without any further delay.
The SAD leader further said the state government should fill up various posts which fell vacant after the retirement of employees. These vacancies should be filled up either by promotions or through direct recruitment. Mr Walia demanded an increase in the income tax exemption limit also.
Mr Walia, who is also a
president of the Punjab Mazdoor Dal, PSEB Employees
Federation and Punjab State Services Federation said
state-level May Day celebration would be held
at Mandi Gobindgarh on May 1. The Day would be observed
as Bhai Lalo Day. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa,
Union Sports Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Labour
Minister and Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Public Relations
Minister, Punjab, would attend the function.
Oppn unites to oppose
shifting of hospital
AMRITSAR, April 23 Pained at the proposed decision of the state government to shift the Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital from its present site, prominent citizens of the city today joined hands and vowed to oppose this move which, they alleged,was aimed at favouring a prominent politician related to the Chief Minister.
The leading citizens and Opposition leaders met here and decided to raise funds for the maintenance of this hospital which was one of the oldest in the country and catered to patients from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
If the government cannot maintain the hospital then the residents of the city will take up this task, a resolution passed at the meeting said.
They opposed tooth and nail the governments proposed move of selling the surplus land of the hospital at throw-away price and purchasing a new site for its re-location with the money earned through the sale.
Prominent amongst those who participated in the meeting were veteran Communist leader Satya Pal Dang, Congress member, Parliament R L Bhatia, BJP MLA Luxmi Kanta Chawla, Akali MLA Manjit Singh Calcutta, besides representatives of the India Medical and Social Organisation.
Mr Bhatia announced that he would give Rs 10 lakh from his MP development fund to the mental hospital.
Representatives of Opposition parties announced to launch an agitation if the state government failed to withdraw its decision to hand over the prime land of mental hospital to PUDA. A seven-member panel has been constituted for this purpose. Mr Dang has been made convener of the panel. Other members of the panel are Principal Jagdish Singh, Mr S C. Sood (CPM) Mr Onkar Singh Arora, Mr U K Chawla, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, Ms Pushav Marvaha and Mr Ripudaman Singh (CPI).
Opposition leaders said that instead of disposing of mental hospital, the state government should sell ministers bungalows, circuit houses and palatial houses of deputy commissioners and SSPs to cope with the ongoing financial crunch.
Though the hospital was in a bad shape as the authorities could not clear the bills of more than Rs 3 lakh pending with the Punjab State Electricity Board. However, the decision to sell the hospital was not a solution to problem, the Opposition leaders said.
Addressing mediapersons, Mr Dang said if the government implemented its proposal of shifting the hospital, they would file a public interest litigation in high court against the proposal.
Mr Dang claimed that if the hospital was shifted, the beneficiary would be a relative of the Chief Minister, who owned landed property behind the hospital. The price of this property would shoot up once the hospital was shifted, he claimed.
The mental hospital at present is lagging behind in both its treatment of patients and the infrastructure. This was due to the apathy of the state government, he said.
Science schoolteachers teach
PATIALA, April 23 Science and commerce teachers of senior secondary schools in the district are teaching Punjabi, Physical Education and even History. Laboratories have been converted into staff rooms and chemicals and other scientific equipment has been dumped in cupboards.
This state of affairs is prevailed in many schools in the district as few science or commerce stream students join schools at plus I and plus II levels. Subsequently, the staff is being entrusted with other tasks.
The staff at these schools has requested that their posts be rationalised and the Education Department has been collecting data regarding such mal-adjusted staff since the last two years. However, nothing has been done till now with the teachers continuing to teach subjects other than their fields of specialisation.
A visit to some such schools in the district revealed that the main reason for lack of students in science and commerce streams was the fact that most students preferred to shift to colleges in the city. The best students go to colleges in the city and the mediocre and non-serious ones take admission here, said a teacher of Punjauli Senior Secondary School. The teacher said though they had a plus I science batch last year, the students shifted elsewhere en masse when a teacher took maternity leave. As there is one teacher each for Physics, Chemistry and Biology students felt their studies would suffer with one of the teachers proceeding on long leave. As there was no replacement for the teacher they simply shifted elsewhere, the teacher said.
Presently at Panjauli the science teachers are teaching Punjabi, Physical Education and History. The school also does not have any commerce students in plus II due to which the Commerce teacher is also not teaching his subject. A similar situation prevails in Roshanpur, Tohra, Kalyan, Ajrawar, Samana (Boys) and Bhagwanpur Jattan Senior Secondary Schools in the district in all of which there are no science batches being taught.
School teachers while talking to TNS said the government should rationalise their posts by sending the science group teachers to schools where science batches were already going on. Some teachers also said they should be sent on deputation to urban senior secondary schools as at many such schools there was a shortage of science and commerce teachers. They said schools in Patiala, including the Model Town, Civil Lines and New Power House schools, had asked for more posts.
Former District Education Officer Gyan Singh said the government had discriminated against senior secondary schools in rural areas by allowing plus I and plus II science classes to run in colleges. Mr Gyan Singh said as the same schools had groomed children till class X students should be encouraged to study in schools only by removing the duplication in the system. He alleged that the Education Department was not taking any steps to check the growth of private institutions and tuition classes started by college teachers.
government is yet to take action on the proposal of
teachers and others to open model schools at block-level
where Science and Commerce could be taught as there are
less students taking up these streams in rural schools.
District Education Officer (Secondary) Kharak Singh
Cheema said the government was considering a proposal to
rationalise the posts of science and commerce teachers in
BJP unit heads hold meeting
CHANDIGARH, April 23 A meeting of the Punjab BJP organisational chiefs and party office bearers was held here today with the national BJP general secretary, Mr Narinder Modi, and the all-India party elections returning officer, Mr Om Parkash Kohli.
The state unit president, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi could not attend due to preoccupation. The meeting was presided over by partys vice-president, Mr Brij Lal Renwa.
The discussion, according to the BJP office secretary, Mr Raj Bhatia, concentrated on organisational elections. The participants were urged to adhere to the time-table drawn up for the elections. The BJP has 130 mandals out of which 80 per cent have had elections. The remaining are to complete the process by May 7 and the ward committees were expected to complete the process by April 28. Mr Bhatia said that district elections would be over by May 25 and the state president would be elected on May 28.
To a question, he said the issue of BJP-SAD relations was not raised, instead party workers, karyakartas, were asked to propagate the achievements of the SAD-BJP government right to the village level.
Ex-gen secy rejoins BKU
FEROZEPORE, April 23 A former general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Mr Ajaib Singh Khara, has rejoined the union here today.
Mr Khera said he had left the BKU about three years ago due to certain ideological differences with the union leaders. All differences have been removed now, he added.
PCC prepares for MC poll
NANGAL, April 23 The local unit of Congress has asked for applications from aspirants for Congress ticket for the forthcoming Municipal Council elections, scheduled for May 28.
This was decided in a meeting of the block Congress committee, held under the chairmanship of the organising secretary of the Congress, Mr Ram Prakash Bali.
Ganda Nullah: boon once, bane now
PATIALA, April 23 Not long ago, Patialas Ganda Nullah used to be a boon for the efficient disposal of sewage. But today, thanks to the swelling population of the city, it can no longer carry the burden and has instead become a bane.
As old as the city, the nullah criss-crosses through intricate lanes of the walled city. It was constructed to drain out household waste and excess rain water. The design was such that water from all streets and sewerage pipes flowed smoothly into it and was later deposited in the Patiala Nadi out of the city.
The system worked remarkably for the past two centuries. In the past few years, it has surrendered to the enormous pressure of sewage flowing into it. Not only has it become an eyesore, but the pungent smell emanating from it has made life miserable for scores of residents living near it. Their woes have now been multiplied as the nullah is a breeding ground for all kinds of germs and bacteria spreading disease in the ongoing hot weather.
It is also surprising that in spite of technological advancement in all fields, an issue which concerns almost half the citys population is yet to be addressed in a proper and efficient manner.
Enquires by The Tribune have revealed that residents around the nullah and the Municipal Corporation have to partake the blame for the present problem. While the MC has failed to provide proper cleaning system of the open drain, the residents have not helped matters by throwing garbage and other waste in the nullah, causing blockage at several places. Both parties conveniently put the blame to each other. The MC accuses the public of regularly violating prohibitory orders of throwing garbage, especially plastic bags, in the nullah. The residents accuse the corporation of not carrying out desisting and cleaning of the open drain.
Dr Mohan Verma, a physiotherapist living near the nullah, says several reminders are regularly sent to the corporation for doing something about the nullah. He adds that the nullah, apart from being a serious health hazard, also brings destruction in monsoons, when it overflows and enters low-lying houses.
A senior citizen, Dr Verma remembered that in the 1960s, the nullah was so clean that one could spot a silver coin on its bed. A number of other residents said, it had become difficult for them to live near it as sharp pungent smell, flies and mosquitoes surrounded them day and night. They said children of the area were always the first to fall ill every summer due to the germs spread by the nullah.
Mr K.S. Kang, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, says the issue of Ganda Nullah is a grave problem and cannot be solved by the efforts of the corporation alone. He says MC employees have been regularly cleaning the nullah but residents have not cooperated with them. They do not stop throwing plastic bags in the drain. The waste flowing from several dairies also chokes it, he adds.
Mr Kang claims that the MC has studied several proposals of ending the problem. The nullah cannot be covered completely as then it will be difficult to clean it and if desilting is done with machines it can break the concrete bed, allowing the water to contaminate underground drinking water, he says.
PSEB engineers plan protest
CHANDIGARH, April 23 The executive committee of PSEB Engineers Association at its meeting today decided to hold regional protests meetings on May 3 to be followed by a dharna at the board headquarters at Patiala on May 9 to protest against the signing of a Power purchase agreement (PPA) by the PSEB with M/s GVK Power company for the execution of 462 MW Thermal Project at Goindwal Sahib.
The Goindwal PPA guarantees a minimum of 16 per cent post tax return, plus incentives that could be a further 5 per cent. It guarantees of off take of energy at 75 per cent plant load factor (PLF), which means that company is in a position to dump unwanted power into the PSEB system even during low demand periods, forcing the PSEB to buy costlier power from GVK after surrendering cheaper energy or else pay for deemed generation.
The PSEB has a surplus power for seven months and in the remaining five months summer and paddy season three to 40 per cent of time the system has high frequency i.e. low demand problem. The estimated loss on his account only would be approximately Rs 115 crore per year. It would be an eye-opener to the Punjab government that the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission had adopted a tariff based on availability norm of 85 per cent. In spite of these developments over the past year, the PSEB has shockingly ignored the same and gone ahead with outdated PLF-based PPA with the single object of ensuring high profits to the company. The PPA has a provision that while the company will have profits the PSEB shall pay the income tax, says a press note.
It is claimed that GVK has offered tariff based PPA and not capital cost based. If it is a tariff based PPA then the tariff should be in rupees only. There is no bases for dollar component.
Further, the GVK agreement does not even recognise the legal system of this country because arbitration proceedings shall be held in London and governed by the laws of England and New York convention.
The claim of Chairman PSEB that Goindwal tariff will be only Rs 2.42 is clearly misleading. It does not take into account effect of devaluation of the rupee, indirect cost of backing down boards on units and other variable factors.
The state government which has neither compensated the PSEB for the supply of free power to the agriculture sector amounting to Rs 934 crore, not allowed it to revise tariff due to increased cost of inputs, is forcing the board to pay Rs 50 crore for electricity duty for the period October 1999 onwards.
The PSEB has already been forced to pay Rs 70 crore Electricity Duty for the period Dec. 1998 to October 1999. had the PSEB got Rs 934 crore in lieu of free power, the PSEB could have started both Lehra Mohabat state-2 and Goindwal projects departmentally.
The association demands that the PPA of GVK be scrapped. The financial health of board be restored. The association warns the government board to desist from sell-out of power sector to profiteers, Indian or foreign.
Dept fired up for
LUDHIANA, April 23 The Local Bodies Department seems to have finally woken up to the long-standing demand for the upgradation of the Fire Department here, one of the most busy departments North of Delhi.
According to sources, work has already begun for the construction of six new fire stations in various parts of the city, filling of all vacancies in the department here and providing state-of-art equipment to combat fires and help in rescue operations.
While tenders have been floated and construction work has begun for four new fire stations at Transport Nagar, Sunder Nagar, Jalandhar bypass and Haibowal Road, efforts are on for acquiring land for two other fire stations at Civil Lines and Daresi Road.
The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Dr S.S. Sandhu, when contacted by TNS said Ludhiana being an industrial hub, a lot of hosiery industry is often located in the narrow bylanes of the old city area. As a result lot of fire accidents are reported and because of this we are now giving top priority to the upgradation of this department.
Recently, the Municipal Corporation invited Mr P.N. Panchal, former DIG Fire (CISF) and Fire Adviser to the Government of India. He had advised that other than constructing six new fire stations, new fire tenders and specialised equipment like snorkel ladders (computerised hydraulic ladder to be used in fire fighting operations of high-rise buildings) be bought, besides recruiting more firemen, leading firemen and fire tender drivers in the department.
Mr Harjinder Singh, Joint Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, who is in charge of the Fire Department here said, We have already begun redeployment of a few MC employees into this department after they fulfilled the desired physical and educational qualifications. Other than this, we have also decided to buy a snorkel ladder at the cost of Rs 3 crore and add a few fire tenders to the existing fleet of 20.
He also informs that it has also been decided to upgrade the existing four fire sub-stations at Focal Point, Millerganj and Samrala Chowk and the Central Fire Station opposite the main railway station. Presently the Central Fire Station is located in a two-room set, which also houses the Municipal Corporation library and tuberculosis clinic. It is proposed to construct other rooms and make a central fire control/watch room, offices for head of fire service, DP/ADO and other staff here.
Meanwhile, the Fire Department is at present housed in deplorable conditions. As against the rules set by the Ministry of Home Affairs for the provision of one fire sub-station for a population of 50,000 persons, the city at present has only four fire sub-stations catering to a population of 30 lakh.
Interestingly, though the Fire Department also caters to Jagraon, Samrala, Hambran, Raikot, Malerkotla, Machhiwara, Phillaur and Khumano, there are a number of vacancies. Of the 86 posts of fire men, 34 are vacant, all 18 posts of leading firemen are vacant, seven of the 19 posts of drivers are vacant and three of the four posts of station fire officers are vacant.
PWD staff to stage rally on
NANGAL, April 23 The coordination committee of subdivisional engineers and junior engineers of the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) (B&R) have decided to hold a protest rally at Chandigarh on April 26, against the constitution of a Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB).
This was stated by Mr P.K. Agnihotri, the president of the Chandigarh circle of the coordination committee, at a press conference here yesterday.
The engineers of the PWD (B&R) claimed crores of rupees was being wasted on various development projects being carried out by PIDB.
In the past one year the PIDB had spent Rs 1.86 crore on feasibility studies of various roads in the state. These studies were conducted by private companies hired by PIDB, despite the fact that the PWD had the relevant data and the means to collect fresh data.
They claimed the PWD department was forced to provide data compiled by its staff to private companies hired for conducting the studies.
The engineers also questioned the authenticity of the data collected. They said the Punjab Government had in 1996, got a traffic survey done for the Ludhiana- Chandigarh road by a private agency, `Loa Associates South Asia Private Limited.
The agency had calculated the traffic volume on this road to be 20,000 PCUs.
However, four years later an agency hired by PIDB estimated traffic volume at 11026 PCUs , although the traffic volume should have increased manifolds in the past four years.
They also criticised PIDB for inviting fresh bids for project consultancy for Zirakpur-Patiala-Sirhind highway, for a bridge over the river Sutlej in the Jagraon-Nakodar section and for a bridge on the Beas in Gurdaspur-Mukerian section, despite the fact that these reports had already been submitted to the Finance Department by PWD (B&R).
Giving a comparative
study they said the Sirhind-Shambu section of about 40.05
km was constructed by PIDB at a cost of Rs 199.34 crore
where as per the B&R estimate, it could have been
constructed at a cost of Rs 82.74 crore. Thus the state
suffered a loss of Rs 116.60 crore with which another 50
km of road could have been constructed.
Fires destroy wheat crop
MUKTSAR, April 23 Hopes of getting much-needed hard cash after selling their wheat crop were dashed to the ground when the fields of three farmers, Ajaib Singh, Kulwinder Singh and Manjit Singh, of Muktsar village in the district caught fire today.
Official sources said the cause behind the fire which destroyed the standing wheat crop worth lakhs of rupees in about 35 acres of land and a combine harvester was being ascertained. Preliminary investigations by revenue officials reveal that the crop caught fire when a spark from the combine harvester fell on it.
Fire tenders from Bathinda, Muktsar and other surrounding town were pressed into service to check the spread of the fire in the surrounding fields. The fire was extinguished after several hours struggle by fire brigade personnel.
The sources said during the past one week the standing crop of wheat in more than 150 acres of land in Bathinda, Muktsar, Moga, Mansa, Ferozepore and Sangrur districts was destroyed by the fire. The farmers had suffered losses worth lakhs of rupees on this count.
In Bathinda district yesterday, fire, which broke out in more than four places, destroyed the standing wheat crop in more than 15 acres of land. Last night, the wheat crop in more than 20 acres of land at Bishnandi village in Faridkot district was destroyed in fire.
At Langeanapurana, Wadhaghar and Tharaj villages of Moga district, the wheat crop in more than 40 acres of land was destroyed by the fire.
Mr A. Venu Parsad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, said whenever any fire was reported, the field staff was pressed into service immediately to ascertain the cause of the fire. He added that after ascertaining the cause, the party responsible for it was asked to compensate the farmer concerned for the loss suffered.
The Deputy Commissioner said so far in four incidents of fire in the district, wheat crop in 10 acres of land at Bhebal Kalan village was destroyed. More than 10 acres of wheat crop was also destroyed in fields located on the outskirts of Faridkot town. Wheat crop in about seven acres of land was also destroyed at Sadiq village.
Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, when contacted said that apart from the destruction of wheat in more than 35 acres of land at Muktsar village today, wheat in two acres had also been destroyed at Rupana village and in six kanals at Sarawanwala village about four days ago.
He added that most of
the fires broke out due to sparking in the electricity
wires passing over the wheat fields. He added that two
cases for getting compensation for the farmers who had
suffered heavy losses due to fire had been sent to the
Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities.
Illegal distillers join
FEROZEPORE, April 23 Increasing pressure from the Excise Department has forced many illegal distillers to quit the trade and join authorised liquor contractors to check the menace.
At least eight such distillers are now on the pay rolls of city-based liquor contractors and are a big help to them in tracking down other illegal distillers to check loss of revenue to the Excise Department.
This has paid dividends to the excise authorities and the contractors, who are now able to plug the loss caused by illicit distillation in the border districts.
As the distillers know the tricks of the trade, they are a big help during raids at unknown liquor dens. While three of them are deployed at Chandiwala and Alike posts, the remaining five accompany the contractors and excise authorities during raids. They have helped in seizing home brew stored in tyre tubes and hidden in rivers and creeks.
It is learnt that most of these distillers, who come from poor families, have now been hired by the liquor contractors on a monthly basis and are provided with salaries and free lodging.
They earlier used to illicitly distil liquor and sell a bottle each for Rs 25 to 50, causing loss to the company. However, fear of being apprehended and poor economic conditions forced to surrender and work for the contractors, who were too willing to engage them for checking the menace and offered them the job security.
Strict regulations had forced us to quit the trade. The blessings of the contractors have changed our lives and objective too, one of the eight distillers said. He said all his poverty-stricken colleagues found illicit distillation a profitable venture that gradually became a risky affair.
A senior representative
of the company said by hiring these seasoned distillers,
they had been successful in smashing large number of
illegal liquor dens. He admitted that daily raids, with
the help of these distillers, were paying dividends and
they looked forward for the distillers
rehabilitation by the state government now that they have
joined the mainstream.
PUDA to offer 539 plots in
CHANDIGARH, April 23 The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is offering 539 residential plots at Dugri Road at Ludhiana. Of these, 156 plots will be offered in the first phase, 201 plots in the second phase and the remaining in the third phase of the urban estate.
The Chief Administrator of PUDA, Mr KBS Sidhu, said 666 LIG houses were also being offered for allotment at Ludhiana. The cost of these double-storeyed houses would vary between Rs 93,820 and Rs 1,52,560, depending upon the covered areas.
He said 50 per cent of
the houses had been reserved for employees of government
departments. He further said PUDA was entering into the
joint venture with Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, and
Punjab Infrastructure Development Board to commercially
develop the ring road.
Chautala consoles Bibi Jagir Kaur
JALANDHAR, April 23 (UNI) Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today condoled the death of daughter of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) President Bibi Jagir Kaur.
Plan to tap canals for hydel
BATHINDA, April 23 The Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) has identified about 130 sites along various canals for mini-micro hydel project there.
The PEDA expects to generate more than 125 MW of electricity which will be sold to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) at the rate of Rs 3.01 paisa per unit.
Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, while talking to TNS said so far 50 sites had been allocated to private parties up for mini-micro hydel projects while the remaining sites would be allocated by the end of June 2000.
Five such mini-micro hydel projects had been commissioned while more five projects would be ready for commissioning within six months.
Punjab police chief honoured
AMRITSAR, April 23 The Punjab Director-General of Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, was presented with the Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Award for his services to people of Punjab and the Ramgarhia community here yesterday.
The award was presented at a function organised by Ramgarhia Bhai Bandi and Bhai Lalo Ji Mission Hospital on the occasion of Baisakhi darbar. A shawl and a kirpan were also presented to the police chief.
Speaking on the
occasion, Mr Sarbjit Singh exhorted the youth to excel in
computer and technical education and serve the country
and the community with dedication. He later presented
awards to prominent members of the Ramgarhia community.
Roadways staff to go on strike
JALANDHAR, April 23 In protest against the anti-employee policies of the state government, employees of Punjab Roadways will observe a statewide strike on May 11.
In a press note issued
here today general secretary of the Punjab Government
Transporter Workers Union, said resentment prevailed
among the employees against the ongoing move of the
government to wind up public sector organisations.
Punjab to provide better
PHILLAUR, April 23 The Punjab Government has decided to gear up government machinery to provide better medical facilities and corruption-free service to the people. This was stated by the Punjab Health Minister, Dr Baldev Chawla, while talking to a correspondent here yesterday.
DC forms teams for smooth
ROPAR, April 23 The Deputy Commissioner has formed six teams to make surprise checks and to ensure that proper facilities were being provided to the farmers during the current wheat procurement season in the grain markets and procurement centres in the district.
Giving this information here today, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, said each team would have four gazetted officers. Four teams would be headed by the SDMs of their respective sub-divisions, while the remaining two teams would be led by Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner and District Food and Supply Controllers.
Mr Grewal said these teams would ensure proper lighting, drinking water and receipt of market and rural development fee. Besides, the team would also ensure the availability of pucca yards and gunny bags in sufficient quantity. Tax evasion by the traders would also be checked by the teams.
The Deputy Commissioner
has also exhorted the farmers bring their problems to the
notice of these teams for immediate redressal. He also
stated that these teams would submit their reports daily
to him which would help the administration in removing
all difficulties and problems with regard to wheat
Suicide by harassed
BATHINDA, April 23 Bhupinder Singh, a Constable and national-level hockey player,committed suicide last evening allegedly after getting fed up with harassment at the hands of his wifes sister.
Police sources said in a suicide note recovered from deceaseds pocket, he had alleged that his sister-in-law used to interfere in his domestic affairs and was being mentally tortured by her.
Bhupinder Singh, who ended his life by throwing himself in front of a train yesterday evening had reportedly written in the suicide note that he had been forced to take this extreme step to get rid of the atrocities being committed on him by his sister-in-law, Charanjit Kaur.
Police sources said a case in this regard had been registered against Charanjit Kaur under Section 306 in GRP police station. The body of Bhupinder Singh was handed over to his kin after the post-mortem.
In another case Raj Singh, a resident of Mansa district, who was sentenced to 10 years jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh in a narcotic smuggling case by the district courts here yesterday, died under mysterious circumstances today.
Mr B.S. Gill, Superintendent Jail, when contacted said that Raj Singh felt uneasy today morning and was shifted to civil hospital, Bathinda immediately where he died after few minutes.
He claimed that it was not a case of suicide as the deceased had lose motions and vomiting.
Official sources said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jaspal Singh, had asked Ms K.P. Brar, Executive Magistrate, to hold a probe into the death of Raj Singh.
Meanwhile, the local
civil hospital authorities had constituted a panel of
doctors to conduct the post-mortem. The doctors in the
civil hospital said the real cause of death could be
known only after the post-mortem examination report was
Teenaged girl abducted
TARN TARAN, April 23 The Chabbal police has registered a case under Sections 363, 366, 120B, IPC for abducting a teenaged girl of Chabbal village against Sukhchain Singh, alias Kala, resident of the same village and four other members of his family including two women.
Mr Gurcharan Singh, father of the victim in a complaint lodged with the police yesterday said that Sukhchain Singh, in connivance with his father Bakshish Singh, mother Balbir Kaur, widow sister and brother Kuldeep Singh, abducted his daughter on April 15, 2000, when she had gone to appear for her plus two examination at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, of the village. The victim and the accused have not been traced till now, he added.
The father of the girl alleged his daughter was abducted by Sukhchain Singh and other members of his family so as to get her married to Sukhchain Singh whose first marriage took place about 10 year back but he could not have any children.
Bid to abduct factory owner
JALANDHAR, April 23 A daring bid made by a girl and five of her accomplices to allegedly abduct a local ice factory owner from one of the busiest areas left residents stunned this morning.
Mr Pawan Kumar, a resident of the Islamganj locality and an ice factory owner, had no idea when he had left his home in the morning that he would be abducted by one of his female acquaintances, who had a tiff with him over some trivial issue some days back. Today the car of the factory owner was forced to stop in full public view on Bhagwan Mahavir Marg near Adarsh Nagar by five Maruti-borne boys. After barging into his car, two of the boys forced him to accompany them to a house in Danish Mandan locality, where Sarabjit Kaur, a resident of the same locality and an old acquaintance of Mr Pawan Kumar was already waiting.
The abductors then allegedly proceeded along with Mr Pawan Kumar towards Ludhiana and on the way beat him up with a baseball bat before landing into the police net. According to a senior police officer, Mr Pawan Kumar and Sarabjit had quarrelled over some issue during a week ago in which the latter had abused the former who in turn had slapped her. The matter was reported to the police and Mr Pawan Kumar had apologised for his act.
But Simranjit Singh, another friend of Sarabjit Kaur and son of a police Sub-Inspector, was not satisfied and wanted that the ice factory owner should be taught a lesson in an effective way and hence the abduction took place, police sources said.
The drama ended as one of brothers of Mr Pawan Kumar, who had lodged a complaint with the police, identified his brothers car.
On seeing the police the accused tried to run away but were nabbed by the police after a chase.
Mr Gaurav Yadav, Senior Superintendent of Police, said five of the six accused, including Sarabjit Kaur, Simranjit Singh, Sonu, a Harbans Nagar resident, Amrik Singh, a resident of Basti Mithu, Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Basti Danish Mandan and Gurdev Singh have been arrested, while Resham Singh, another accused, has absconded.
Mill case accused commits
FATEHGARH SAHIB, April 23 The district police claims to have solved the Disco Mill case which took place at industrial town, Mandi Gobindgarh, in the district. The incident occurred a few months ago in which robbers had killed the watchman of the mill and seriously injured the entire family of the mill owner. They had also looted cash and jewellery worth lakhs of rupees.
Talking to The Tribune, Mr Paramjit Singh Umrenangal, SSP, said the police today got information that a marriage party was going to Hardwar and a hard core criminal was accompanying it. He said the police immediately set up a naka on the G.T. Road at Sirhind and signalled the marriage party to stop. While the police was searching a car, the driver of the car consumed some poisonous substance. The police took the occupants of the car and the bridegroom to CIA office. When the police started interrogating them, the driver fell unconscious. He was taken to the Civil Hospital, where he was declared brought dead, the SSP said.
He said on interrogation
they identified the deceased as Ram Kumar, alias Ramu, a
resident of Ladana in Mahendragarh district. He was
living at Dhokan Mohalla, Ludhiana and was the father of
the bridegroom. The SSP said he was the kingpin behind
the Disco Mill incident and was a proclaimed offender
under Section 460, IPC, at the Gobindgarh police station.
The police recovered a country-made .315 bore pistol and
two cartridges from him.
Sant cleared of rape charge
LUDHIANA, April 23 The fact-finding committee constituted by the residents of Sahnewal to look into the alleged rape of a woman by Sant Deedar Singh and his disciple, Dr Lakshmi Datt Joshi, today exonerated the two of the charge.
The 18-member committee
comprising of leaders of various political parties was
formed on April 21, after people residing near the Swami
Bhola Ram Lok Seva Trust alleged that the Sant and his
disciple had been falsely implicated, at the behest of a
close relative of an Akali leader.
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