Monday, January 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal skirts HRA issue
Govt employees in Patiala disappointed
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 7 — The hopes of Punjab Government employees, who had gathered to listen to the speech of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at the “millennium conference” organised by the Punjab State Services Federation here today, were dashed when Mr Badal did not even comment on the issue of increasing the house rent of the employees to 15 per cent of their basic pay.

The Chief Minister had announced that the house rent allowance of government employees in Patiala would be increased to 15 per cent of their basic pay from the present seven and a half per cent on May 1998 at the annual function organised by the services federation. The employees had put forward this demand after Patiala was upgraded to an A class municipal town. However, nothing had come out of the announcement and the house rent allowance was not enhanced.

Even though the “millennium conference” of the employees was thinly attended most of those who attended it had come hoping that the Chief Minister would announce speedy implementation of the scheme today . The Chief Minister, however, was in no such mood. In his brief address Mr Badal first made out the case of not giving anything more to the employees by saying that 72 per cent of the budget was spent on their salaries.

Speaking further in the same vein, he said a decision on the long list of their demands could not be taken without proper deliberations and that such things are discussed and finalised across the table. He invited federation president Charanjit Singh Walia to come to Chandigarh so that all demands put forward by the federation could be discussed at a high level meeting .

However, the tone of the speech of the Chief Minister did not indicate that he was willing to give much. He said he had asked the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, to see if there could be a way of giving something to the employees and he had promised to look into the matter. He also told the federation president that he could look at the government expenditure list and give suggestions on what could be done further. However, in stark contrast while talking to mediapersons later, he said the government was now spending money on various development activities as it had funds now.

The Chief Minister also chided the organisers of the function for indulging in too much ostentation. He said there was no need to give away so many mementos and shawls and added that spending too much on flowers was also a waste of money. “You could have done better by giving away blankets to the poor on the occasion in the same amount of funds’’, he added.

Immediately after the conference employees were seen arguing with the organisers on their failure to get the demand for the enhancement of house rent allowance accepted by the Chief Minister. Most of the employees attending the conference said the Chief Minister had taken the services federation for granted as it was headed by an Akali due to which none of the demands of the employees had been accepted.

Earlier, federation president Charanjit Singh Walia while speaking on the occasion, said the federation had submitted its list of demands and now it was for the Chief Minister to accept them or convince the employees why they could not be accepted.

Others who spoke on the occasion included the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation president, Mr Tejinder Singh Sandhu; Senior Akali leader Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra; legislators Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu and Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur and Women Grievances Commission Chairperson Surinder Kaur Grewal were among those present on the occasion.


Inquiry ordered against PTU VC
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 7-The Punjab Government has ordered an inquiry against the Vice- Chancellor of the Punjab Technical University (PTU), Dr H. S. Gurm for various charges.

The charges include harassment to certain employees, awarding contract for conducting of the post graduate diploma course (PGDC) in e-commerce and software to a private company without following the norms, resulting in financial loss to the university and some appointments without applications.

However, Dr Gurm told TNS late tonight that he had no information about any such inquiry. At the same time he denied all charges being levelled against him.

The three main charges include the harassment of certain employees, who had complained to the National Commission for Women and had submitted a copy to the MLA,Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla. Mrs Chawla had taken up the matter with the Chief Minister, who ordered an inquiry at her instance. Dr Gurm said it was unfortunate that he had to face such allegations. He claimed, "My status and dignity can be confirmed from anyone in the town", adding that such allegations could be easily made.

The second charge is that he had awarded a contract to Aptech for the PGDC without inviting tenders. Under the terms and conditions of the contract all infrastructure for running the course at five centres in Ludhiana only was to be provided by the PTU. The fee per candidate was fixed at Rs 20,000. Of this, the university would get 30 per cent, while Aptech would get 70 per cent. It had only to provide three faculty members for each of the five institutes. The objections raised included as to why only Ludhiana was chosen for the course and not other cities in the state. Besides, no tenders were invited.

However, Dr Gurm said the process of awarding the contract had already been started before he took over. Although he was there when the MoU was signed, but the whole issue had already been finalised.

The third major charge is that he had made some appointments in the university without giving advertisements in newspapers and inviting applications. The Chairman of the Governing Body of the University on December 14 had written to the VC asking him to cancel these appointments as they were reported to be illegal. The appointments made were that of two directors and three deputy and assistant registrars.

Dr Gurm said he did not want to comment on the letter as it was a confidential matter, but asserted that as a VC he had certain powers, which he had used.

He pointed out that he had to run the university for which appointments had to be made. He claimed that since people were not available he did not think it necessary to issue advertisements and ask for applications. He asserted that all appointments were made only after verifying the eligibility criteria of the candidates. 



Kaura revolts against RSS “meddling”
Demands Rinwa’s removal from BJP
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 7 — In a major setback to the Punjab BJP, a very senior leader, Mr Jagmohan Kaura, today announced that he would no longer remain an active member of the party.

Throwing a bombshell at a press conference here this afternoon, Mr Kaura, the former organising general secretary of the party Punjab unit cited the growing interference of the RSS in the party affairs as reason for his resignation. Categorically blaming the state unit RSS general secretary, Mr Devinder Gupta, and the state BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, for compelling him to resign, he also announced his decision to give up some other responsibilities, like patronship of the Seva Bharti and the executive membership of the Sarva Hitkari Education Society, an offshoot of the RSS.

In no uncertain terms, he charged Mr Gupta with imposing an inexperienced leader, like Prof Rinwa on the party rank and file in violation of the BJP constitution. He also accused Prof Rinwa of encouraging nepotism in the party, by projecting his wife and the son as leaders of the party women and youth wings.

Referring to Prof Rinwa’s statement of staking BJP claim on the Chief Minister’s post, he said: “The statement reflects his inexperience in politics”. He also claimed to have cautioned the party high command of adverse consequences the statement could have on the SAD-BJP alliance.

Describing Prof Rinwa as “a rubber stamp” in the hands of Mr Gupta, he said, the two leaders had departed from the party decorum, by allowing the RSS to meddle in party affairs. He said Mr Gupta had set a wrong precedent by meddling even in the local bodies’ election. He also charged Mr Gupta with dictating his terms during the formation of local BJP units in the state by sidetracking committed and experienced party workers.

“True BJP workers felt strangulated and humiliated under their leadership”, he alleged and warned that the “popularity graph of the state BJP is declining, because of these two men”.

Seeking their immediate removal from the party, he asked the BJP high command to either remove them immediately, or else he would expose their misdeeds. Giving a 15-day ultimatum to the high command, he said these leaders should be “kicked out” to save the BJP from a political death.

Mr Kaura alleged that the two leaders were indulging in a witchhunt by denying official posts, to his loyalists.

At least two of his loyalists, Mr Ashwini Mehta and Mr Surinder Chopra, who have been disowned by the party were also present at the press conference. Significantly, Mr Bachittar Singh, the personal assistant of the BJP legislator, Mr Girdhara Singh, was also present.

Mr Kaura, however, said he will continue to remain the primary member of the BJP and expressed his desire to work as a true party soldier. On being asked if he was planning to float a new party, if the BJP expelled him, he said “I have kept all options open”.


Akalis to make WTO pact poll issue
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 7 — The Shiromani Akali Dal, which is currently pitted in a battle of wits with the Punjab unit of the Congress on the World Trade Organisation agreement, is likely to make this a major poll issue with the party telling Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that the pact was not acceptable to it in its present form and must be amended to safeguard the interests of farmers.

The Akali Dal is pitted in a battle of wits with the Congress with both of them having taken parallel stands on the issue. The Akalis have stridently opposed the pact, claiming that the farmers of the state would be economically ruined if foodgrains and other agriculture related products are allowed into the country under the pact. The Congress had claimed the Akalis do not understand the issue and that there were sufficient safeguards under the WTO to ensure that dumping of foodgrains or any other commodity did not occur.

The Punjab Finance Minister took the issue further today, claiming that his party had made it clear to the Prime Minister that the WTO pact was not acceptable to it or the farmers in its present form. He said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had already conveyed the resentment of the state as to why it was not consulted with regard to the WTO pact. Earlier, the Chief Minister had attacked the state unit of the Congress for supporting the WTO agreement. Pradesh Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh had maintained that the WTO was a reality which had to be accepted.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the Prime Minister had conveyed he would ask for amendments in the WTO so that the interests of farmers were safeguarded. He said the Central Government was also in the process of forming a joint stand with other developing countries on the WTO so that the economic interests of all these countries were safeguarded.

The Finance Minister said he had also discussed the apprehensions of the state on the WTO pact at a meeting of state Finance Ministers recently and that all other eight Finance Ministers of the committee were unanimous in their stand that the interests of the farmers would suffer if the WTO pact was implemented in its present form.

He said even though the Punjab farmer was trying to diversify to other crops leaving the wheat-paddy rotation recent experiments had not given the farmer the desired economic returns. 


Another custodial death in 48 hrs

MOGA, Jan 7 (PTI) — Within 48 hours of the custodial death in the Muktsar jail by Iqbal Singh, an undertrial from Jaitu in Faridkot district died yesterday.

Moga Senior Superintendent of Police Arun Kumar Oraon said today an accused Ranjodh Singh (35) facing trial under an old murder case of 1960 of Gidderbaha in Muktsar district was brought by a police party from the Bathinda district jail to Faridkot to appear in the sessions court.

After appearing in the sessions court at about 3.45 p.m. the escort police party took the undertrial and boarded the bus for Bathinda, the SSP said, adding that when the bus was crossing Kotkapura on way to Jaitu the undertrial, Ranjodh Singh, complained of pain in his chest.

Within a short period his condition became very serious and the police party took him to the hospital, he said.

The undertrial reached the civil hospital at Jaitu at about 5 p.m. The doctors attending on him found the undertrial Ranjodh Singh had breathed his last.

The District Magistrate directed the SDM, Jaitu, to hold an inquiry of causing the death.

The SSP also said the state Human Rights Commission had also been informed by the police authorities.

On January 5, an accused Iqbal Singh (35) had committed suicide by hanging himself in the police lock-up in Muktsar.


Badal ‘subverting’ Sikh tenets
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 7 — Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a Sarb Hind Akali Dal MLA, yesterday flayed Rashtriya Sikh Sangat’s recent utterings about Guru Gobind Singh he said RSS was for the expansion of pan-Hinduism concept and it was trying to subjugate the minorities, including the Sikhs.

Mr Calcutta pointed on that by distorting the Sikh history and its tenets, the Sikh Sangat was trying to penetrate the Sikh religion.

Lashing out at the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal for what he described as playing a second fiddle to the BJP which was trying to twist historical facts with a view to promoting its own agenda of pan-Hinduism, Mr Calcutta felt that the Akali Party’s major plank was for the protection of the Panthic identity but Mr Badal was subverting its very principle for which the Sikh fought valiantly.

He urged the Sikhs to unitedly fight the RSS agenda and put up a joint fight against the communal forces.



Third front next month
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 7 — Even as political activity in Punjab has picked up in view of the Assembly elections, the formation of the third front comprising non-Congress and non SAD-BJP political outfits is likely to materialise on February 11.

Highly placed political sources said so far the move to form the third front in Punjab to provide an alternative to the Congress as well as the ruling SAD-BJP alliance had been initiated by the Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) president, Punjab unit, Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) president, Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, and Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) president Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

The other key players in the formation of front were Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic), and a section of the Sant Samaj led by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi.

Sources said for the first time kisan unions would be an important part of the front, the ideology of which would be announced at a rally on February 21 at Ludhiana.

Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, talking to TNS here, said the Samata Party led by Mr Mulayam Singh and the Janata Dal led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and the CPM would also take active part in the formation of the front.

He pointed out that the need for the front was felt when it appeared that the Congress had failed to play the role of principal Opposition in the Centre and Punjab while the SAD-BJP alliance government had failed to deliver the goods.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary, SHSAD, said on January 8 talks would be held with former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and his blessings sought. He said a massive rally in Ludhiana would be held on February 21 and the formation of the front announced in the presence of national-level leaders like Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr Deve Gowda and Mr Mulayam Singh.

Mr Jeeda said he along with other leaders of Punjab had held several meetings with Mr Shekhar to take his guidance so that the front could come into power in Punjab with a comfortable majority. He said the front would be led by collective leadership under the patronage of Mr Shekhar.

He said the main agenda of the front would be transparent and corruption-free government to the people and overall progress of all sections of society.

He said the front would expose the “communal” activities of the SAD-BJP alliance and also make arrangements to save farmers from the ill-effects of the W.T.O. treaty. Apart from this, traders would be saved from “bureaucratic loot”.

The PPCC president, Mr Amarinder Singh, and the CPI secretary, Mr Joginder Dyal, have already said that they are ready to form a front of secular forces in Punjab.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, has indicated a number of times that a third front can be an alternative to the present SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab.


Tandon denies rift, but sticks to stand
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 7 — The Minister of State for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today played down his reportedly strained relationship with the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. While standing by his statement that funds were being denied to his ministry, he sought to clarify that there was no rift between the Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP.

Mr Tandon, who was here to inaugurate a sports meet at RSS-run Bhartiya Vidya Mandir School, claimed his statements regarding the allocation of funds had been distorted and misinterpreted. He said the issue had been raised with the Chief Minister. He said it was an issue involving two departments and not two alliance partners.

While maintaining that he had no differences with the Finance Minister, Mr Tandon tried to justify his remarks at a press conference at Chandigarh.

He pointed out that municipal corporation were supposed to get the excise duty on liquor. Recently, it had been decided that the duty amount would be directly provided to local bodies. But for the past two years, no amount had been provided to the bodies. The matter was also taken to court by 34 of the 36 municipal corporations. Eight corporations had been provided relief by the court, Mr Tandon said.

He said his ministry was not getting the full quota of funds for the Centre-sponsored National Slum Development Project in urban areas. He said that while Rs 30 crore had been provided by the Centre, the local bodies could get only Rs 11 crore, while the remaining had been diverted for other purposes.

He claimed that the municipal corporations had got only Rs 292 crore, while Rs 350 crore had been sanctioned.

Referring to the issue of abolishing the contract system for octroi, he said the existing contracts would continue till their maturity and further contracts were being considered. He also hinted at the abolition of the contract system.


Its surrender to APHC : Bitta

PHAGWARA, Jan 7 (PTI) — All India Anti-Terrorist Front president and former All India Youth Congress chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta today flayed the ‘complete surrender’ of the Union Government to the All Party Hurriyat Conference by agreeing to allow its several executive committee members to visit Pakistan for holding parleys with ISI -backed and Pakistan-based terrorist outfits.

Addressing a press conference, here, Mr Bitta said things had come to such a pass that the Union Government was kneeling down before terrorists for settling the Kashmir issue.

The Centre’s capitulation to the APHC would embolden terrorists operating in other parts of the country, he said.

He criticised ‘ignoring’ Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and demanded he should be associated at every level during talks.

On the anti-terrorist Bill to be tabled in Parliament next month, Mr Bitta called upon all political parties to create a concensus for giving more teeth to the proposed Act and providing for a bullet-for-a-bullet clause for tackling terrorism.

An anti-terrorist court should also be created, he demanded.

The Rajasthan border should also be brought under barbed wire fence like Punjab and J and K while the Nepal border should be handed over to the Army following ISI-sponsored anti-Indian activities in Nepal, he said.

Mr Bitta declared that the Anti-Terrorist Front would soon create a force of “marjeewaras”(sacrifical squads) in the country. The “marjeewaras”would stand with the people against terrorists and even lay down their lives while combating terrorism.


No party sincere about women’s Bill: Sangma

PATIALA, Jan 7 (PTI) — General Secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party and former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma today made a scathing attack on political parties in the country, saying that none was sincere in providing reservation to women in the Lok Sabha.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Sangma, who was here to preside over a zonal level convention of his party being organised by the Punjab Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party, said due to insincerity on the part of political parties, the Bill aimed at providing 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament as well as Vidhan Sabhas could not be passed.

On the political scenario in the country, he said the concept of third front was not a permanent solution to the ongoing instability. The emergence of a “solid political party” to run the country was the need of the hour.

He said the Nationalist Congress Party was doing well and had consolidated its base all over the country.

Asked why the party had supported the Congress-run government in Maharashtra, he said the decision had been taken to check forces like the Shiv Sena and the BJP from capturing power there.

He said his party was not satisfied with the policies and programmes being followed by the Congress under the leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

He held Mrs Sonia Gandhi responsible for providing a chance to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to run the government at the Centre.


AISSF to hold rally on January 25
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 7 — The All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), in a press note issued today, announced the holding of a protest rally on January 25 at Ludhiana to press for their demands.

The demands include release of Sikh youths languishing in jails and rehabilitation of families affected by terrorism. Denouncing RSS activities tops the list comprising eight demands of the federation — separate identity for Sikhs, besides restraining migratory labourers from procuring voting rights, buying land in Punjab or using ration cards.

Instead, the federation suggested to the government to issue them work permits.

The rallyists will demand passes for students under the kilometre scheme of the government and Pepsu roadways. Another rally is slated for February 5 at Mansa by the Sarb Hind Youth Akali Dal for similar demands.

Mr Harminder S. Gill, president of the federation, said despite extensive ‘sangat darshan’ by the ruling party and doling out of grants the public was disgusted at the high corruption graph, familial rule and red-tapism in the ruling coalition.


Tandon communal, says Peermohammad
From Our Correspondent

TARAN TARAN, Jan 7 — The All-India Sikh Students Federation (Peermohammad) president, Mr Karnail Singh Peermohammad, newly elected Director of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, in a written press statement issued here today condemned the controversial statement released by Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Punjab Minister for Local Self-Government, against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister.

Mr Peermohammad called Mr Tandon a man of communal thinking and said his statement may be called an act of indiscipline and aimed to create a rift between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP. The AISSF leader also said Mr Tandon always gave stepmotherly treatment to SAD workers.


A village cities would envy
From Ashok Kaura

PHILLAUR: By getting access to Internet, Palahi village came into limelight as the first Internet village in India. Palahi has made a mark in every sphere of infrastructure development essential in modern world, this is mostly due to the contribution of the NRIs of the village particularly and of the area in general. This was stated by Mr Jagat Singh Palahi responsible for the service provided in the village.

This village is situated between Phagwara and Hoshiarpur on Sher Shah Suri Marg. It is 3 km from Phagwara connected by a pucca road leading to the Adampur- Jalandhar road. The village has the distinction of having been visited by three Gurus, Guru Hargobind Sahib, Guru Har Rai Sahib and Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib. As witnessed by historians Mohasanfani and Prof Satvir Singh in books on Sikh history. Both writers have mentioned about the war fought between Guru Hargobind and Mughal forces. A seven-storey building of Gurdwara gives the evidence of the battle having been fought and won.

This village is connected by seven pucca approach roads. It has a population of 3800 at present which has been static on account of immigration of the population to various countries.

The village has a Community Hall, Stadium, Clock Tower, banks, senior secondary school, public school, dispensary, women’s Health Club, Co-operative Society, beautifully maintained park, Fish Pond, Biogas Plant, Solar Street lighting system etc. “The village has all infrastructure as a result of their own efforts and financial contribution”, says Mr Jagat Singh Palahi. The village has not sought any help from the government.

“Our Khalsa school was the first in the area to impart education to villagers in 1918”, stated Capt Gurdial Singh Bajwa, Principal, Sri Guru Hargobind Senior Secondary School, Palahi. The school was first established with the efforts of NRIs residing in America and Canada to meet the needs of the people. It was upgraded to middle level and in the year 1988, it was upgraded to senior secondary level. Now more than 1000 students study in this school and it is among the top schools of the Kapurthala district.

To meet the needs of the rural unemployed youth a Community Polytechnic in this village is providing training to 1500 youths a year in Refrigeration, Electrician, Welder, Computer and other vocational courses says youth social worker, Mr Jatinderpal Singh. This institution is the only institution in North India, imparting not only skill in appropriate technology like Ferro, Cement Technology & Bio-technology, but also implementing and popularising these technologies to the village and area, says Mr Gurmit Palahi, Principal Community Polytechnic College, Palahi.

The village was selected as “Urja Gram” by the Government of India, DNES, New Delhi. The department has installed street lights, solar pumps, water heater system and domestic lights in the village on subsidy, stated Mr Joginder Singh Sall, Sarpanch of the village. The village is providing free e-mail facility to the villagers. All e-mail personal messages are delivered to the villages at their door-step.

We have planned cleaning and green up of village so there is no pond in the village. There is pucca main drain to carry dirty water from the streets of the village. A pond has been converted into a stadium and another pond has been converted into a fish pond. All streets are pucca. Small drains are constructed by the panchayat to carry dirty water and rain water also. Almost every house has cheap-design latrine constructed with the help of the panchayat, the young Sarpanch said.

Environment of village is very healthy. Along all seven roads connected to other villages, different types of trees have been planted by the panchayat. To clean the village streets and road, a tractor-trolley to carry out dust, dirt, mud etc work day and night.

We are proud of the Palahi village. We are on the Internet having www Palahi. org website. We feel pride in saying “Palahiwalas”, says an NRI, Mr Jagtar Singh Gill, who has come to village after 20 years to see the changing face of his homeland “Palahi”.


Steps to make roads safe
From Tribune Reporters

JALANDHAR, Jan 7 — To make roads safer during night, the Jalandhar police has decided to put reflectors on tractor-trailers free of cost.

As most of the accidents on the highways involved tractor-trailers, especially those without reflectors, the district police authorities decided to undertake the task of providing reflectors to owners of such vehicles at different nakas in the district with the help of different NGOs and other social organisations.

“Nearly 1,000 reflectors have already been distributed among vehicle owners and we have planned to install about 20,000 more reflectors on slow moving vehicles, particularly, motor driven trailers within a period of two weeks,” said Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP. The Bhogpur Truck Union has also joined hands with the police authorities in this drive.

“Besides other road safety measures, our target is to install atleast 500 reflectors on slow-moving vehicles and we think that this will result in lesser accidents,” said Mr M.F. Farooqi, SP, (Headquarters) and in charge, traffic wing.

As a part of the Road Safety Week awareness programmes were also organised in various schools, with a view to acquainting school children with the traffic rules and norms. A medical camp was also organised by the police authorities on Friday at Akal Hospital during which 1,200 persons were checked free of cost.

Meanwhile a painting competition was organised by the Punjab Transport Department on the premises of Lions Club.

Over 300 students from nearly 12 schools took part in the competition.

Miss Preet of Tagore Day Boarding School won the first prize along with a cash price of Rs 500, Miss Sukhjit Kaur and Miss Simrat Kaur of Guru Amar Dass Public School were awarded second and third prize with cash price of Rs 300 and Rs 200, respectively.

Later speaking at the function state Transport Minister, Mr Raghbir Singh said the Punjab Government had decided to induct 300 new buses into its ailing fleet at a cost of Rs 27 crore.

The Minister said a Rs 5 crore Central Government funded “National Institute for Road Safety” would come at Kapurthala for which 20 acres of land had already been earmarked.

This institute would impart special training to drivers of buses and trucks. A special training programme for children would be a part of its training schedule, the Minister added.

SANGRUR: A large number of students drawn from different schools yesterday participated in a rally organised in connection with the ‘Road Safety Week’ here.

The rally, which started from local district administrative complex and culminated at the Banasar garden here, was flagged off by Mr Deepak Raj Garg, District Transport Officer, Sangrur. The rally passed through the main bazaars in the town spreading the message of road safety measures.


BSF harassing farmers: panel
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 7 — The Border Sangharsh Committee’s convention held at Attari yesterday resolved to take up the issue of continued harassment of farmers by BSF personnel, who not only subject them to stringent and humiliating frisking but allow them limited hours for working in their fields lying across the fence.

The farmers are perturbed at the recent BSF practice of disallowing them into their fields. “Consequently fields are left unattended for days together”, laments Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa of the committee. Fog was a lame excuse, he alleged.

The committee has taken in 41 more members who represent border villages and who will intensify the struggle and try for implementation of their demands which includes reinstatement of the 1989 policy to give educated village youth priority in job opportunities in the Defence forces.

The convention also pressed for the continuance of house rent to public welfare organisations who took it as an incentive to work in hostile areas.


Border dist farmers prepare for stir
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 7 — Ridiculing the central government’s decision to compensate the owners of agricultural lands along the Indo-Pakistan border, the landless tillers — who have actually been cultivating these fields are gearing up for an agitation. Under the aegis of the “Border Area Sangharsh Committee”, the poverty-stricken tillers from three border districts of Punjab — Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore have resolved to impress on the government not to leave them out of the compensation package.

The president of the committee, comrade Hansa Singh told The Tribune that a public meeting of the tillers was being held in Amritsar on January 27 to prepare the future course of action.

He lamented that despite the fact that more than 11,000 landless tillers were actually cultivating the area along the border since early 60s, the government had formulated a package only to benefit the landlords.

The government has decided to dole out Rs 3,000 per acre as compensation to the owners of the lands close to the border in view of the extra-ordinary difficulties involved in cultivating the fields across the security fencing raised to check infiltration from Pakistan.

However, scores of tillers who were encouraged by the authorities to clear the central and provincial government lands of wild growth for strategic reasons way back in early 60s have been kept outside the ambit of the package.

Ironically, many of them have been issued the identity cards by the Border Security Force and actually face the hardships of cultivation along the border. Even the Revenue officials continue to treat them as unauthorised occupants of the government lands.

The tillers assert that if ownership was the stumbling block in the compensation package, these lands should be transferred to them at concessional rates. Comrade Hansa Singh warned that the state government’s inability to meet their demand was prompting the tillers to take to the streets.


Boy’s letter helps revive library
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR, Jan 7 — By spending just Rs 3 for sending a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, a student succeeded in getting sanctioned books worth Rs 50,000 for the district library which had been lying in a state of neglect for the past decade.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, at the inauguration of the Bar Room at the sub-divisional complex here on Thursday. A team of Bar Association members led by its president, Mr Hans Raj Sarswa, had succeeded in getting sanctioned a grant of Rs 5 lakh from the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, last year.

The SDM and judicial officers here had, thereafter, formed a sub-committee which comprised members of the Bar and engineers from different departments. The earth work was done under the supervision of the sub-committee and tractor-trailers were deployed directly. The building was completed within six months.

Inaugurating the building, the Deputy Commissioner said too much of governance and dependence on government needed to be checked. He urged social organisations to make residents of the town aware of sanitation and develop in them civic sense by keeping garbage away from streets and roads.

The Deputy Commissioner also sanctioned Rs 70,000 for buying law books for the library. The SDM, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, promised to provide Rs 10,000 for purchasing furniture.

Mr Sidhu asked the civil administration to further develop eco-friendly atmosphere for the citizens so as to enhance their cooperation in development activities besides bringing awareness to fight out social evils.


Need to reduce toxic pollutants stressed
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Jan 7 — Participants at a seminar on Protection of Environment held here yesterday in the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology stressed the need for reducing toxic pollutants. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the Patiala Management Association (PMA) and the Citizens for Social Action.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr M.C. Mehta, Magsaysay awardee, laid emphasis on various means of increasing awareness among people. He discussed ways to take protective measures against carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, sulphur trioxide and radioactive elements which were not only cancerous but also fatal. Mr Mehta touched briefly upon his first environment protection case, in which he took up the cause of Taj Mahal in 1984. He also dwelt upon the incident when the Ganges caught fire due to the discharge of chemical affluents into it by two major factories at night.

Talking about the Master Plan of Delhi, Mr Mehta said the government had adopted a mild approach while asking the industry owners to shift from inside the residential areas and move to the outskirts of the city. He added that the notice was not instant and everyone was aware of the move, yet action were not taken till the deadlines were given. He favoured imposition of rules to keep environment clean and green.

In his presidential address, Mr M.P. Kapoor, Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, said happiness was decreasing with the increasing comforts. The general scenario was that there was no pause for introspection, barring the exploitation of natural resources, he added. He concluded that we wasted time on mundane activities without realising that we were a part of the developed India.

Mr Sudarshan Singh, an ex-serviceman and environmental activist, said garbage was thrown outside from homes, from where it went to the outskirts of the city, leading to filthy and foul smell. He emphasised that political will was required to overcome this impasse and corruption had destroyed everything, including environment.

The seminar concluded with an assurance that protective measures would be taken to ensure cleanliness of environment, with thrust on tree plantation. The speakers believed that the things were not moving at the right pace primarily because of technological constraints. They called for proper and systematic management of water resources, garbage and sewerage.



Veterinary institute site shifted

BATHINDA, Jan 7 (UNI) — Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Punjab Power Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, in a surprising development, told mediapersons here that the proposed veterinary institute at Rampura Phul, the foundation stone of which had been laid by former Chief Minister Beant Singh, would now be built at Talwandi Sabo.

The proposal for the veterinary institute at Talwandi Sabo had been cleared by the state’s Animal Husbandry Department, he said in response to a question.

Mr Maluka, who is the president of the Bathinda unit of the party, claimed that 47 out of the 49 panchayats of the Rampura Phul block had joined his party after deserting their respective parties, including the Congress, the CPI, and the SHSAD.

He said the sarpanches and the panches of the 47 panchayats had been honoured by him and party general secretary Balwinder Singh Bhunder at a function in Bhagta Bhai Ka.


BSNL doomed, says Sukh Ram
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 7 — Ridiculing the claim of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Mr Sukh Ram, Chairman, Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) and former Telecommunication Minister, said the absence of check and controls on the working of the BSNL were likely to make it an unsuccessful venture.

Mr Sukh Ram was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Himachal Bhavan organised by the Himachal Sudhar Sabha, Amritsar. He said as BSNL was not answerable to the government, it could misuse its powers.

Expressing his views on Himachal tourism, he said the state, though possessing an unlimited potential for attracting tourists, was lagging behind due to paucity of financial investments. 


Cuban envoy overwhelmed by hospitality
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 7 — The Cuban Ambassador to India, Mr Mirel Kordova, talking to mediapersons after addressing a function organised by the Indian Society for Cultural Cooperation and Friendship at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hail here today, said he was overwhelmed by the hospitality extended to him by Punjabis.

On the ties between Cuba and India, the Ambassador said these were historic and the bond would grow stronger with the passage of time. He said his country backed India’s claim to permanent membership of the Security Council of the United Nations owing to its democratic set-up and strategic importance in Asia. 



Council: cut govt holidays
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 7 — The Freedom Fighters Council at its annual meeting held today requested the Punjab Government to cut short the number of holidays in schools and government offices.

The council demands that the administration should impose discipline and accountability in government offices. Plan to celebrate the 104th birthday of Netaji Subash Chander Bose on January 23 was also declared.


Rs 2 cr for trees along link roads
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 7 — The Central government has given Rs 2 crore to Muktsar district for planting saplings along link roads under the “Gram Vanikaran Samridhi” scheme. About 4 lakh saplings will be planted on the both sides of link roads in the next two years.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab gave this information while presiding over a function at Ghumiara village in Muktsar district.

Mr Badal said the Central Government gave the money to the district because most of the trees had been destroyed due to water-logging. He added that when these plants would grow up, the income incurred from these would be distributed equally among the owners of the land where these would be planted and the village panchayats.

Mr Badal said attempts would be made to plant maximum saplings throughout the state.

Mr Badal, while addressing a gathering of people belonging to the Scheduled Castes in the village said the Shagan scheme would not be discontinued.

He said the funds were issued to all districts at regular intervals for the purpose.

Mr Badal said Rs 382 crore would be spent for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes during the current financial year.



6 held in grenade attack case

MOGA, Jan 7 (PTI) — The Punjab police today claimed to have a major breakthrough in the case of hand grenade attack on the vehicle of Joginder Singh, president of the fci Labour Union, injuring him, his cousin Surjit Singh and Gurcharan Singh near the grain market on December 21 by nabbing six out of the eight accused, including the main conspirator Hansa Singh, president of the rival fci workers’ Union.

Three accused identified as Hansa Singh, Atma Singh and Virsa Singh were arrested yesterday while other three named Resham Singh, Ninder Singh and Jhaggar Singh were arrested by the police in the early hours today.

Disclosing this to mediapersons, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Dr Arun Kumar Oraon, said the main cause behind the attack was enmity between two fci labour factions, one led by Joginder Singh and the other by Hansa Singh.

Majority of the labourers are aligned with the union led by Joginder Singh.

Mr Oraon said the most of the work of labour by the fci was allotted to Joginder Singh resulting in frustration among the labour attached to Hansa Singh.

The ssp claimed the interrogation revealed that during the last paddy season Hansa Singh union could not get labour contract and this led to the attack on Joginder Singh.


Father-in-law booked for man’s death
From Our Correspondent

DHURI, Jan 7 — Allegedly harassed by his father-in-law, a newly married local youth ended his life by consuming poison here on Friday.

Mr Som Parkash, the father of the deceased, in an FIR has alleged that his son Neel Kamal got married to Shelly, the daughter of Bal Mukand of Rama Mandi, on March 26 last year. Soonafter, Bal Mukand started compelling Neel Kamal to live separately from his parents.

Neel Kamal refused to do so. But Bal Mukand continued to compel him.

He said on Thursday, Bal Mukand asked Neel Kamal over the telephone either to live separately or to commit suicide and made derogatory remarks about his parents, which led Neel Kamal to take the extreme step.

The police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against Bal Mukand.


Bank manager booked for forgery
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Jan 7 — A farmer Savroop Singh, resident of Hathoa village, has lodged a complaint with the police against officers of the Agriculture Cooperative Development Bank here, including the bank manager Nahar Singh, field officer Varinder Singh.

He said in his complaint that Jora Singh and Rajinder Singh, both residents of Rajinder Nagar, had got a loan of Rs 72,000 sanctioned by producing fake documents of his land.

Without his knowledge, the bank officers helped them to get this loan sanctioned. By forging his signatures, they allegedly mortgaged his land. According to Savroop Singh, he came to know about this embezzlement only after the bank issued a notice to him to deposit a sum of Rs 1,56000. A case has been registered.


Thieves injure 5 of family, loot cash, valuables

HOSHIARPUR, Jan 7 (UNI) — Five armed miscreants yesterday looted cash and valuables worth about Rs 1.25 lakh after wounding five members of a family at Khudda village near Dasuya in the wee hours, the police said.

Intriguingly, the domestic help was left unharmed and the pet dog did not bark when the robbery occurred.

Mrs Sharan Kaur, a member of the family told the police that the intruders, wearing black caps and shawls, assaulted her, her sons Daljit Singh and Manpreet Singh, daughter Jyoti and father-in-law Surjit Singh with iron rods. She said one of the robbers was armed with a double barrel gun, though it was not used in the crime.

After locking them in a bathroom, the robbers ransacked the house and decamped with the booty comprising cash and gold ornaments, she said.

The wounded were admitted to the Civil Hospital at Dasuya. Daljit Singh was later shifted to DMC, Ludhiana in view of his serious condition, the police added.

A case under Sections 395 and 397 of the IPC has been registered.


Syal’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 7 — A Local court today extended the police remand of Golden Forest Managing-Director R.K. Syal till tomorrow.

Duty Magistrate Mewa Singh today extended the remand after the accused was presented before him by vigilance officials .

Mr Syal was brought from Ropar and produced in court here on January 3 after a warrant was issued in his name.

A case was registered against Mr Syal and other officials of the company following raids on their offices in various districts . The Vigilance Department has accused the company officials of duping investors, besides inflating the value of land bought by them by getting it registered for higher amounts than those prevailing in the market. 


Split in Arya sabha hits 7 institutions
From Our Correspondent

NAWANSHAHR, Jan 7 — A split in the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Punjab, in two groups headed by Mr Harbans Lal Sharma and Mr Sardari Lal, have started showing its repercussions on the seven educational institutions run by the sabha.

These are R.K. Arya College, the DAN College of Education for Women, the DAN College of Education (Art and Craft), BLM Girls College, W.L. Arya Girls Senior Secondary School and Doaba Arya Senior Secondary School.

Both Mr Harbans Lal Sharma and Mr Sardari Lal have reconstituted the local managing committees to run the affairs of these institutions.

Both managing committees have organised meetings in the educational institutions and have sent intimations to the Education Department and banks.

As a result, bank operations of all these educational institutions have been freezed. Employees of all these institutions will have to suffer as they cannot get their salaries till the problem is solved.


Programme launched
From Our Correspondent

NAWANSHAHR, Jan 7 — The SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, the District Health and Education Departments and NGOs launched a special comprehensive programme for the welfare of the schoolchildren at Government Middle School, Sauna, about 5 km from here on Thursday. Under the programme, medical check-up camps for schoolchildren will be held.


Medical reps to begin stir today
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 7 — More than 50,000 medical representatives across the country, who are on the war-path for non-implementation by the government of their 27-point charter of demands, have decided to go off-work for the next five days from tomorrow.

The Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives Association of India (FMRAI), national level body of medical representatives, who has given the strike call, today maintained that they had to resort to it because of the non-implementation of the long pending demands.

Of the estimated 50,000 medical representatives from different pharmaceutical companies, about 1600 are working in Punjab, and the strike is likely to caste an adverse shadow on the business of retailers of medicines and sale of medical products in the state. The consumers and patients are, however, not likely to suffer immediately owing to availability of stocks with both wholesalers and the retailers.

What have pushed the FMRAI to call a nation-wide strike is the frequent unchecked merger between the multinationals and Indian companies, resulting in large-scale retrenchment of field employees and mainly the non-implementation of the Sales Promotion Employees Act.

In the light of non-implementation of the Act, most of us are not getting benefits like bonus and gratuity. But since 1972, the government has done nothing in this direction. This apart, even the Minimum Wages Act is not applicable on most of us, leading to a large scale exploitation of our colleagues,” said Mr Anirudh Shandilya, member of the state committee of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives Union. 


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