Sunday, January 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




SAD candidate tomorrow
Do-or-die battle in Majitha: Amarinder
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 27 — Even as the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal today authorised its president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to announce the candidate for the crucial Majitha byelection, Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has convened a meeting of the party on January 29 at Amritsar for launching a do-or-die battle against the ruling party.

Talking to TNS, Capt Amarinder Singh said he had sent a complaint to the Election Commission regarding the alleged misuse of official machinery and violation of the code of conduct by the ruling party in the Majitha Assembly constituency. The PPCC chief said he would be camping at Majitha along with other office-bearers of his party till the elections. Former ministers and senior party functionaries would be in charge of different zones of the constituency.

Sources in the Akali Dal said Mr Badal had kept the announcement of the name of the Akali candidate on hold till January 29 as he was under pressure from family members of Parkash Singh Majitha for allocating the ticket to Mr Simerjit Singh, a son of the deceased. Mr Simerjit Singh has reportedly threatened to contest the byelection as a rebel candidate if the ticket is allocated to his cousin Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, a Rajya Sabha member. This was why Mr Badal had rushed to Majitha to pour oil on troubled waters.

As a part of poll strategy, Mr Badal has decided not to announce the name of the candidate till the bhog ceremony of Parkash Singh Majitha whose death has necessitated the byelection. The members of the Political Affairs Committee were of the view that the ticket should be allocated to Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha as he enjoys tremendous influence in the constituency. After becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Majitha distributed liberal funds from the MP’s quota in Majitha constituency.

However, the family members of Parkash Singh Majitha claim Mr Rajmohinder Singh was made a Rajya Sabha member on account of his being a close relative of the late Parkash Singh Majitha. If Mr Badal denied the ticket to Mr Simerjit Singh the Majitha family would be wiped out politically.

A proposal was also mooted to allocate the Akali ticket to the widow of Parkash Singh Majitha. On the other hand, supporters of Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, Chairman of the Forest Corporation, assembled in good number outside the venue of the PAC meeting. They were demanding ticket for Mr Kang. Dr Manjit Singh Bhoma, Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Khadi Board and president of the All-India Sikh Student Federation (Bhoma group), is also lobbying for the ticket.

The Akali sources said had Mr Badal wanted to give the ticket to a member of the Majitha family he could have announced the same today or at the bhog ceremony tomorrow. Before making the announcement he would gauge the public mood at the bhog ceremony tomorrow.

True to his style, Mr Badal divided the entire Majitha constituency into 22 zones. Cabinet ministers and senior party leaders will be responsible for each zone.

Answering a question, Mr Badal said he would be camping here for about 10 days. He said he would personally monitor the election campaign as in the past.

On the other hand, the PPCC may allocate the ticket to Mr Swinder Singh Kathu Nangal who had contested the previous assembly election as a rebel Akali candidate. After the election, Mr Kathu Nangal had later joined the Congress. However, local party leaders have been supporting Mr Ranjit Singh Waryam Nangal, who had won the assembly election during the boycott by the Akali Dal in 1992. In case the ticket is denied to Mr Waryam Nangal he may also contest as a rebel candidate.

   Col Bal is RRD candidate for Majitha
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 27 — The president of the Punjab Rashtriya Raksha Dal (RRD), Col J.S. Bal (retd), will be the RRD candidate for the byelection to the Majitha Assembly constituency, which is scheduled to be held on February 19.

This was announced by Air Marshal GS Punia (Retd), and Col Harsharan Singh Sandhu (Retd), Chairman and President of the RRD, at a press conference here today. Mr Adesh Pal Singh Jhabal, General Secretary of the party, will be the covering candidate.

Blaming the SAD-BJP and the Congress for the present plight of the farmers in Punjab, Colonel Sandhu appealed to the other parties to support the RRD candidate.


Jagmeet loyalist expelled
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 27 — Clear divisions surfaced in the Punjab Congress with Jagmeet Brar loyalist Harinderpal Singh Mann, who was expelled from the party for six years by the District Congress Committee today, claiming that his expulsion would have reverberations in the Majitha byelection with Jagmeet Brar deciding not to join the election campaign in protest against the move .

The DCC ( Rural ) today expelled Mr Mann from the primary membership of the party following a meeting of its executive committee. The DCC (Rural) president, Mr Hardial Singh disclosed the reply sent by Mr Mann to the suspension notice was discussed and found unsatisfactory by the committee.

He said the committee members felt Mr Mann had violated party norms, spoken against the policies, programmes and leadership of the party . He said in this light the members felt that strict disciplinary action should be taken against Mr Mann for his anti-party activities. He said as the DCC was empowered to take action against Mr Mann it was decided to expel him from the primary membership of the party for six years .

Mr Hardial Singh also disclosed that Mr Mann had not even deemed fit to reply to the suspension notice sent to him and had only sent a copy of a letter written to Congress general secretary in charge of Punjab, Mr Moti Lal Vora, in this regard. He said the letter did not specifically rebut any of the charges levelled against him due to which the DCC was forced to take the decision to expel Mr Mann from the primary membership of the party .

Meanwhile, Mr Mann, while speaking to TNS on the phone when contacted on the issue, said his expulsion would have an adverse effect on the party’s fortunes in the Majitha byelection with Mr Jagmeet Brar likely to keep away from the election campaign now. He said Mr Brar had specifically conveyed to senior leaders, including Mr Vora and Mr Oscar Fernandes, that he should not be expected to participate in the byelection campaign if he ( Mann ) was expelled from the party .

Mr Mann said if Mr Brar did not campaign for the party in the Majitha byelection Pradesh Congress president Amarinder Singh would be directly responsible for it as the senior party leadership had conveyed to him that no action should be taken against him for organising a Congress function. He said the high command had also made it clear that Mr Brar was attending the function held at Samana to felicitate him on being appointed the party whip in the Lok Sabha with the blessings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Calling the decision to expel him a ‘’ predetermined ‘’ exercise which did not take into regard the explanation sent by him on the issue. he said he had thought fit to explain his actions to Mr Vora as according to the Congress constitution the DCC s were not valid until they were reconstituted following elections . He said due to confusion on this issue. he had also sent a copy of his explanation to the PPCC president as well as the Patiala DCC (Rural) chief.

The DCC (Rural) had served a suspension notice to Mr Mann a few days before his January 11 rally held in Samana where he felicitated Mr Jagmeet Brar. He was charged with speaking against the party policies and programmes as well as the senior PPCC leadership besides threatening to stand as an independent candidate from the Samana Assembly constituency if denied the party ticket from there in the forthcoming poll. He had been asked to submit his reply to the suspension notice till January 25. 


“Reign of terror” in Tappa
Policemen deny allegations
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 27—To protest against the “reign of terror let loose” by certain policemen and to give vent to their feelings, a group of residents from Tappa, led by a human rights activist, Ms Naresh Kumari Bawa, moved from office to office here a few days ago to narrate “hair raising stories” in an endeavour to get “justice” besides seeking an “immediate end to their ordeal”.

In the group were two housewives, a milk vendor, a sweetmeat vendor, a PCO vendor and a transporter besides a few others. The common link was their “torture” by the police at Tappa in Barnala police district, which they alleged, had been continuing for more than a year now.

The police officers concerned, however, denied the allegations made against them and said some of the complainants were either known “satta” players or were engaged in “bootlegging”.

The group, though unable to meet Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal met one of his Officers on Special Duty, and submitted a complete set of representations on behalf of each member. Later, members of the group met the Additional Director-General of Police (Administration), Mr J.P. Aswal, and the Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters), Mr NPS Aulakh.

One of the technical issues raised by the group was the posting of an Assistant Sub Inspector holding the rank of Sub-Inspector (under Own Rank Pay provision) and working as Station House Officer against the directions of the Director-General of Police (DGP).

In the first week of January this year the DGP had reportedly conveyed his decision rejecting the request made by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Patiala Range, allowing SI (ORP) Nachhattar Singh to hold the post of Station House Officer, Tappa.

“The request has been considered and filed because the officer does not fulfil the conditions for the posting of Station House Officer. As such, he may be shifted from the post of SHO, Police Station, Tappa, under intimation to this office, immediately,” the order of January 5 said. Subsequently orders were also issued by the Senior Superintendent of Police on January 8. But to date, the group maintained, the orders had been again held in abeyance.

Alleging that the Sub-Inspector was a ”favourite” of his superiors, he was being shielded and all complaints against his “high-handedness” were being ignored.

Mrs Pinky Kumar, wife of Mr Rakesh Kumar, alias Malai, in a complaint filed in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Barnala, on December 7 last year against the Station House Officer and a Constable, wanted a case under Sections 323, 506, 354,452 and 34 IPC registered against them for allegedly trespassing into her house on December 6 at about 5.30 a.m. and started searching her house without any search warrants on the plea that they were looking for her husband who was allegedly involved in “satta and gambling”. She, however, protested saying that her husband, a sweetmeat vendor, was running his own small business in Bathinda and was not in Tappa.

At this, she alleged, one of them slapped her while the other allegedly tried to molest her and even forcibly tried to take her away. She maintained that hearing her shrieks, her brother-in-law, who lives in an adjoining house came to her rescue. Other neighbours, too, gathered there and the policemen left threatening to take her to the police station in case she did not produce her husband immediately.

“I was forced to file this complaint in the court of the Judicial Magistrate as no action was taken on my complaints to the higher authorities against this behaviour of the policemen,” Pinky said maintaining that her husband also made a representation to the Zonal Inspector-General of Police at Patiala on December 8 apprehending that he may be implicated in a false case after his wife filed a criminal complaint against the SHO and a constable. The two police officials verbally threatened him of implication in a case unless his wife withdrew her complaint from the court.

The SHO, Mr Nachhattar Singh, maintained that a case of “Satta” under the Gambling Act was registered against Rakesh Kumar, alias Malai, husband of Pinky, on August 17, 2000 and he was arrested in that case. He said it was his action against “satta” players that evoked some protests from habitual offenders or their families. He denied all other allegations of trespass and attempt to molest Mrs Pinky.

The second member of the group, Mr Naresh Kumar Garg, said that on a news story highlighting the “torture” he underwent at the hands of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Barnala, which appeared on page 1 in The Tribune on August 1, 1996, the National Human Rights Commission took a suo motto notice of it and directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Patiala Range, to conduct an enquiry into the case. He was asked to appear before the DIG in August last year. Subsequently he appeared before the DIG on September 3 and got recorded his statement through the PA to the DIG.

Subsequently on November 8, he received summons from the DIG, Patiala Range, to appear in his office again on November 9 . When he went there he was told to come again on November 11. This time he was produced before the DIG who reportedly advised him not to make any statement against the ASP, who was posted as SSP, Gurdaspur. Mr Garg said he kept quiet.

But on November 17 he said that the SHO and a constable came to his house and took him to the Tappa Police Station for speaking against senior police officials and pursuing complaints against them. He alleged that he was “brutally tortured” at the police station. The next morning, the police took him to Civil Hospital, Tappa, and got him medically examined and subsequently registered a case under Section 107/151 of the Cr P C against him.

The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sanjeev Gupta, described the allegation made against him as “mischievous and baseless”. “In fact, when he came, I made him feel comfortable and recorded his statement. He told me that though his case was settled with the ASP but he has been advised not to make any statement in writing and stick to his earlier written complaint as appeared in the newspaper. This he said he was doing on the advice of his counsel. There is no question of asking him not to make any statement or getting him subsequently tortured. It is all baseless and ridiculous,” Mr Gupta said maintaining that he was prepared to get all the complaints against Tappa police investigated by some police officer from outside Barnala police district.

The SHO also denied the charge saying Mr Nareh Kumar Garg was involved in a dispute with Mr Paramjit Singh, also of Tappa, on November 18 and a case was registered under Sections 107/151 of the Cr P C. He said that he was not even aware that Mr Garg had filed a complaint against a former ASP of Barnala. “I came to know of it only recently,” he said.

The third complainant, Mr Rashpal Kumar, a milk vendor, alleged that the Tappa police had forcibly taken away his scooter after implicating him in a case of gambling. In December last year, they threatened to put his picture at the police station as “Basta B” criminal besides implicating him in some other cases. They wanted him to withdraw all his complaints to senior officials against the SHO and a constable for taking away his scooter and also for implicating him in a false case.

Mrs Reshma, wife of Mr Rashpal Kumar, also alleged that she was badly treated and assaulted when the police came looking for her husband. They threatened her of dire consequences in case the complaint against the SHO was pursued any further.

Mr Nachhattar Singh said Mr Rashpal Kumar was a “Basta B “ criminal. Two cases under the Gambling Act were registered against him on June 19 and December 3 last year. He also denied that the police had taken his scooter in its “illegal possession”. He said certain people in the area were opposed to him and were taking delegations to the higher ups against him. As far as his posting was concerned, he said , it was upto higher authorities to take a view.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Barnala, Mr Ajaib Singh, maintained that some of the complainants, who went to Chandigarh in a group, were “habitual satta players”. At the behest of certain people of Tappa they wanted the SHO to be shifted out because he was taking a hardline against all underground activities in the town.

He denied any of the complainants met him and brought to his notice any of the “alleged high handedness of the SHO”. Regarding the PCO owner, Mr Singh maintained that the SHO was perhaps not even aware that Mr Garg had filed a complaint against a former ASP of Barnala in the National Human Rights Commission and maintained that Mr Garg was detained under Section 107/151, Cr P C after he had a tiff with Mr Paramjit Singh, also of Tappa.

He said he was not aware of alleged attempts to molest Mrs Pinky or assault Mrs Reshma by the Tappa police as no such complaint was brought to his notice.


Political interference stalls police work?
From Ruchika Mohindra Khanna
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 27 — Political bosses and obliging police officers are being held responsible for the all-time high crime rate in the city. The local police, however, claims that the heinous crimes that have taken place in the recent past were only sporadic incidents and that the police has been on its toes to check the crime in the megapolis.

Excessive political interference in police postings, particularly at the SHO level, is believed to be one of the main reasons for the alarming increase in the crime rate in the city. The posting of SHO is reportedly not decided at the local level, but at the top. It is alleged that the Chief Minister’s office, rather house, and a senior Akali leader decide on the SHOs’ posting. Both ruling party politicians who enjoy influence over the police and Opposition leaders belonging to the Congress have also been wielding a considerable clout among the police force.

Sources in the police reveal that over half of the police stations in Ludhiana are headed by officials from outside the district. And most of these officers are said to be from the home district of the Chief Minister or the nearby areas. These officials are obviously not familiar with the area, making their job difficult.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh, denied the charges and said that the police was not working under any kind of political pressure. “We have been doing our duty for the best interests of the residents of the city. If anywhere, a police officer has been suspected of dereliction of duty, he has been dealt with, his political connections notwithstanding,” he said.

This month itself, as many as four murders have taken place, including three on a single day. Violence and robberies are also reportedly becoming the rule of the day and the police has been working overtime not just to deal with the crime, but also to create a feeling of security amongst the residents.

The year began with a depressing note for the Ludhiana police, when a Congress leader and a financier alleged to be a loan shark for several senior police officers was accused of attempt to murder the husband of Akali Municipal Councillor Manjit Kaur Gogi on December 31, 2000. The police was reportedly on a lookout for him and several raids were conducted to nab him.

However, it was allegedly through his contacts in the police that he was being updated about the developments regarding his possible arrest. A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, had earlier admitted to The Tribune that they were under pressure from several police officers to slow down the arrest procedure. The Station House Officer of Haibowal, Inspector Rajeshwar Singh, was accused of allegedly tipping the accused that the police was likely to raid his premises and he made good his escape. Sources reveal that the accused Congress leader remained in constant touch with the SHO.

In another incident, a former “cat” and Inspector, Gurmeet Singh Pinki, reportedly shot dead Avtaar Singh on January 7. City residents took to the streets, demanding action against the erring police officer after the local police had earlier named only the gunman of the Inspector Bittu Gill in the first information report. It was alleged that the accused police officer is a favourite with senior police officers in the state and thus he was being let off the hook. An irate crowd also later tried to torch the newly constructed house of the Police Inspector, while the police allegedly stayed away.

It was only later that the police filed a new FIR and Gurmeet Singh Pinki was named as the main accused. Since then, the police has arrested eight of the nine accused.

The police was in for another shock when the body of six-year-old Amit was found from the Old Jail complex on January 13, three days after his alleged kidnapping. The residents of the Kote Alamgir and Islamnagar area had alleged that the sordid affair could have been avoided, if the police had acted on time. After this incident, the SHO of Police Division No 2, SI Randhir Singh was ordered to be placed under suspension. However, it subsequently turned out to be a case of transfer to the Police Lines, allegedly due to the police officer’s political connections.

On January 16, three murders were reported in the city. An ASI, Sat Prakash was murdered by unknown assailants near his house in New Kundan Puri. Bau was allegedly murdered by a brother of Satish, a businessman owing allegiance to Lovely of Haibowal following an attack on Satish by Bau in June, last year.

Tension prevailed in the city and a bandh was observed on January 19, when a few incidents of stone pelting were also reported. Panic-stricken residents closed down their businesses and life remained disrupted. 


LPG for all in 3 Punjab dists
State to surrender kerosene quota in Feb
From Lalit Mohan

ROPAR, Jan 27 — The Punjab Government will surrender its kerosene quota in Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts from Feburary. The scheme will be started from Ropar after the inauguration by the Union Petroleum Minister. The Petroleum Ministry has already taken steps to increase the quota of LPG at the existing agencies in these districts to ensure its easy availability for all. Besides this, some agencies will also be allotted at the focal points in these districts to ensure 100 per cent LPG availability in the rural areas. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, gave this information while talking to this correspondent here.

Earlier, the Punjab Government in April last year had opted to surrender its kerosene quota for 100 per cent supply of LPG. This was done after an offer in this regard from the Union Petroleum Ministry. The scheme would first be tested in the three districts before it is implemented in other parts of the state.

However, the total surrender of the kerosene quota may make life difficult for those living below the poverty line. Most of the daily wage earners take the supply of kerosene from the public distribution supply (PDS) depots at a cost of Rs 10-12 per litre on daily basis. Most of the time they don’t have the capacity to spend Rs 235 for a gas cylinder.

Moreover, an apprehension is also being expressed that with the decrease in subsidy on the LPG in future the gas cylinder may go out of reach of the poor. The district forest officials also say the non-availability of kerosene would increase the dependence of poor people on the wood which would pose a new threat to environment.

Mr Mittal, however, said these fears were unfounded. LPG as fuel was cheaper than kerosene. The poor people would be educated and motivated through awareness campaigns to use LPG in place of kerosene, he said.

Mr Mittal said work to identify the people living below the poverty line in the state had also been started. Under the new antodaya scheme launched by the Union Government these people would be provided 25 kg each of wheat, rice and flour per month at subsidised rates.

About the procurement of wheat, he said arrangements had been made to procure every grain of wheat that arrived in the mandis of the state. The procurement agencies had already been allotted their quota of procurement. The plinth areas near the mandis had also been marked for the storage of wheat. Mr Mittal also declined any possibility of the assembly elections being preponed.


Punjab gains on cotton front
Registers 30 pc rise in production
From Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — Punjab, which was facing a big crisis on the cotton front for the past several years, has made substantial gains this year as far as cotton production is concerned. Already eight lakh bales of cotton have arrived in the cotton market in the state. By the end of the cotton season next month two lakh bales more are expected in the market.

It will be about 30 per cent increase in cotton production compared to last year when the production was just seven lakh bales. Interestingly, Punjab is the only state which has gained on the cotton front this year. According to details available here, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have had a poor cotton crop this year.

Before the beginning of cotton arrival in the markets the Cotton Advisory Board of the country had estimated production of 153 lakh bales this year. However, the production will not go beyond 142 lakh bales, according to the latest estimates. There was a carryover of about 40 lakh bales of cotton from the last season with the cotton industry.

Cotton prices reigned between Rs 2200 and Rs 2300 this year against those of last year when the maximum cotton price was Rs 1800 per quintal. Informed sources said as cotton prices in the international market this year were much higher than those in the domestic market traders were discouraged from importing cotton from the international market. As a result of less cotton being imported from abroad traders offered relatively higher prices of cotton in the domestic market this year compared to last year.

Abohar, which is known as an area which produces best quality cotton, registered an increase of two lakh balesin production this year. So is the case with Malout and Mansa mandis. In the past years because of attack of American bollworm the cotton used to be damaged in a big way. Though the cotton crop was attacked by the worm this year also but because of better surveillance at the level of the farmer and the Punjab Agricultural University scientist the damage caused to the crop has less this year.

The moot question is of the revival of the farming economy in this area which is known as the cotton belt. Despite the revival of the cotton crop this year there will be no major difference in the poor economic condition of the farming community in this part of the state.

As a consequence of repeated failure of cotton crop in the past few years farmers suffered a heavy loss financially. A majority of them are caught in a debt trap and unable to pay loans. Describing the plight of farmers, a commission agent said, “It was true the cotton crop was better this year compared to last year but it would prove hardly good to the farming community, which, by and large, is neck-deep in debt”. He said two or three good crops of cotton in the next few years could help change the fortune of the farming community. Cotton is a major cash crop and it could certainly help in the removal of the farming economy in this part of the state with sustained efforts by all concerned.


Revival of temple issue ‘exposes’ BJP
From Our Correspondent

BARNALA, Jan 27 — Following the revival of Ram Temple issue the hidden agenda of the BJP stands exposed.

Mr Gurchran Singh Dadhahoor, member All-India Congress Committee (AICC) and a former MP from Sangrur, said while addressing a public gathering at the Republic Day function organised by the local unit of the Congress at Bhagat Singh Chowk yesterday.

Mr Dadhahoor said the Prime Minister’s statement that the construction of Ram Temple was an expression of national sentiments, amply indicated the BJP’s communal agenda. He said the VHP’s declaration of a deadline for the construction of Ram Temple further exposed the BJP’s hidden agenda.


Reorient farm research: Jacob
From Tribune Reporters

PATIALA, Jan 27 — The Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) yesterday called for reorientation of research in the agriculture sector with greater thrust on biotechnology, besides diversification of cropping patterns to maintain the pre-eminent position of the state in this field .

Addressing a large gathering on the occasion of Republic Day at a state-level function organised at the Polo grounds here, the Governor said the state could also give a second push to agriculture by establishing agro industry.

He expressed confidence that the state would be able to meet the challenges posed through the current globalisation of the world markets and that Punjab, a mere 1.5 per cent of the land mass of the country, was contributing 70 per cent of wheat and 45 per cent of rice to the Central pool.

Speaking about the attempts being made by terrorist organisations to sabotage the peace initiative taken by the Central Government in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the recent attack at Red Fort and attempt to kill Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah were aimed in this direction. He urged people to be vigilant against such designs and redouble their efforts to counter them.

Speaking about the attempts being made by the Punjab Government to tackle the problem of unemployment, he said the government was promoting the information technology park in SAS Nagar in a vigorous way and that job opportunities would be created for educated youth of the state there.

The Governor presented 43 tricycles, 13 sewing machines and nine hearing aid machines among needy persons. Earlier, he inspected the parade and took salute from the contingents of the PAP, Punjab police, ITBP, Home Guards, NCC, lady police and Red Cross Scouts.

Earlier, workers of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal presented a memorandum to the Governor saying that Sikhs should be accorded a special status in the country, and innocent Sikhs in jails should be released.

The District Congress Committee also organised a function to commemorate Republic Day at Quila Chowk. The function was presided over by DCC (Urban) President Ved Parkash Gupta.

SANGRUR: Raja Narinder Singh, Minister for Public Health, Punjab unfurled the national flag on the occasion of the Republic Day celebrations at the local War Heroes Stadium on Friday. He also inspected the parade and took salute from a march past comprising contingents of Punjab police, NCC, and Guides, among others.

Eight tricycles, 11 sewing machines and 10 quilts were distributed among the needy by the District Red Cross Society. Children from different schools presented a PT show and a cultural programme.

The minister also inaugurated a blood donation camp organised by the Lions Club (Sangrur Greater).

He remembered the Kargil heroes and freedom fighters who laid down their lives for the country.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Republic Day was celebrated with enthusiasm here. Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, took a salute from the contingents of the Punjab police, Home Guards and NCC cadets.

He urged people to maintain communal harmony and peace for the development of the state.

Mr I.S. Randhawa, the SP (H), the DSP, the ADC, the Civil Surgeon the SDM and the DPRO were honoured for their work during the rail accident here recently.

Nineteen tricycles and 29 sewing machines were given to the handicapped and widow by the district Red Cross Society. School children presented a cultural programme.

FARIDKOT: Education Minister Tota Singh unfurled the national flag and took a salute from different contingent of forces at the district-level Republic Day function held at Nehru Stadium. He distributed 10 sewing machines and 10 tricycles among the needy. He also gave Rs 25,000 to participants in the cultural programme.

A two-minute silence was observed to pay homage to those who laid down their lives during the Independence struggle.

The District Congress Committee celebrated the function separately.

Mr Sumer Singh, SDM, hoisted the national flag at Jaitu in an impressive function.

BATHINDA: Republic Day was celebrated at District Sports Stadium. Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, who was the chief guest unfurled the Tricolour.

Seventy freedom fighters and 38 others were honoured on the occasion.

MANSA: Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, Power Minister, hoisted the national flag at the district-level Republic Day function organised on the premises of Government Nehru Memorial College here.

People who has contributed in the field of education, sports and social services and freedom fighters were honoured on the eve of Republic Day.

Sub-division-level Republic Day functions were also organised at Budhlada and Sardulgarh and were presided over by the respective SDMs.

FEROZEPORE: The Republic Day celebrations went off peacefully as the Army and the police were on maximum alert in view of threats from Pakistan-based militant outfits here.

The Punjab Cooperative Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, unfurled the national flag at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium.

Mr Brahmpura recalled the contribution of Punjabis in the freedom struggle and lauded the Indian Constitution and its architect, Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

HOSHIARPUR: Republic Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm at the local police ground. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, unfurled the national flag and took the march past salute from the contingents of the BSF, police, Home Guards, ex-servicemen, NCC, Scouts and Guides.

Mr Mittal said the Constitution had ensured freedom to every citizen of the country.

He said gas agencies would soon be opened at all focal points in the state. Wheat and rice would be provided to the poor on cheaper rates under the Antodaya Scheme. A sum of Rs 312 crore was being spent under the special component scheme for the welfare of the Schedule Castes in the state, he said.

The District Red Cross Society provided 25 sewing machines to needy women and 25 tricycles to the handicapped. Twelve persons who achieved distinctions in various fields were also honoured on the occasion.

Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Minister for Information and Public Relations, Punjab, also unfurled the national flag at Dasuya. Mr Dalam honoured 13 families of Kargil martyrs and freedom fighters of the area. He also announced Rs 25,000 each to Guru Teg Bahadur College for Women and Rotary Club, Dasuya.

KAPURTHALA: Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Housing and Urban Development Minister, unfurled the national flag at Guru Nanak Stadium on Friday and took a salute from contingents of the Punjab police, N.C.C., Home Guards and Scouts.

She honoured kin of Kargil martyrs, freedom fighters, educationists, sports persons, NRIs and students.

She distributed 15 sewing machines and 14 tricycles among handicapped and needy woman.

A two-minute silence was also observed in memory of those persons who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country.

A cultural programme was presented by schoolchildren.

Reports of Republic Day celebrations were also received from Pathankot, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Balachaur, Phagwara, Fazilka, Tarn Taran and Nawanshahr.


Sonar named Director of Agriculture
By P. P. S Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 27 — The manner in which the Punjab Government appoints and removes Director of Agriculture every other day makes insides ask:

Is the post jinxed or is caste politics at play?

The latest is the appointment of Dr Mewa Singh Sonar as Director of Agriculture, with effect from January 25. He replaces Dr S.S. Bains, who was appointed Director of Agriculture on January 1 on the retirement of Capt Deep Singh Sahota.

The orders say that the appointment of Dr Sonar is subject to the final orders to be passed on a civil writ petition pending in the high court or any other case in a court of law.

Since the SAD-BJP Government assumed office in February, 1997, there has been frequent change of agricultural guard every few months ever since Dr Bains was shifted and appointed Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Punseed, on June 11, 1997. Dr Sonar is the sixth incumbent. He was Director (March 23 to August 4, 1999) earlier too having been given “current duty” charge when he was suspended following a fertilizer scam. A subsequent enquiry exonerated him.

Except for Capt. A. S. Randhawa, who was “regular” Director before his retirement on February 28, 1999, all others have had either “additional or current duty charge” of the post. In fact, the appointment of Capt Sahota on July 19, 2000, was quashed by the high court on October 10 ordering the state fill the post of Director, on a regular basis within a month.

The state appointed a departmental promotion committee that placed Dr Sonar at number 1. This was challenged by Capt Sahota. The case has been pending since then. The court “stayed” the operation and Capt Sahota continued till his retirement on December 31. Thereafter, Dr Sonar moved the court praying that the writ be considered infructuous as Capt Sahota had retired. The court decision is awaited.

Meanwhile, Dr Bains was appointed Director on January 1. It is interesting to note that when agriculture is facing a serious challenge under the WTO (World Trade Organisation) regime, the state Department of Agriculture remains neglected. In fact, it was without a Director for 22 days, from March 1 to March, 22, 1999, after Capt Randhawa retired.

It was then that Dr Sonar was appointed Director on March 23, 1999. After his removal, Dr Balkaran Singh held the post while working as Director, Seed Certification Authority. This was from August 5 to November 30, 1999. He was placed under suspension on January 6, 2000, following the lodging of an FIR against him in cases related to certification of seeds.

Most of the Directors or aspirants have been to the court off and on, including Dr Bains, who is designated as Adviser, Agriculture. He joined as Adviser on May 2, 2000.

The Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr C. L. Bains told TNS that the comeback of Dr Sonar was as a “regular” Director as he was placed at number 1 by the departmental promotion committee. The appointment of Dr Bains was “temporary”.


Kanwaljit for cash incentives to farmers
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — “The agriculture of Punjab is at the crossroads, the input cost has gone up many times, whereas the income of the farmers has reduced significantly,” Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, said here yesterday.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh, who was here, as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations, said during a press conference, last evening that the problems of the agriculture sector were due to the lack of a national policy on agriculture. He said heavy amounts were spent as subsidies to the farming sector but still the farmers were debt-ridden, committing suicides. Their living standard had gone down significantly. This was due to the indirect subsidies, which leader to corruption, red-tapism and harassments of the farmers. They were being deprived of the real benefits of the subsidies, issued for them he said.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh suggested that the indirect subsidy system should be done away with direct subsidy should be given to the farmers on their produce. Instead of giving indirect subsidy on fertilisers, pesticides, and other inputs give cash incentives should be given to farmers on the produce. This would ensure that the benefits of the subsidy reached the farmer and were not taken away by the middlemen. Many developed countries like the USA, the UK, Germany and Japan were already following the direct subsidy system with good results, he added.

The Finance Minister said that the share of the agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP) of Punjab was about 37 per cent and the contribution in the total sales tax collection by it was about 33 per cent, still the farmers were poor. As compared to the 1970s the cost of production had gone up 15 times, thereby the farmers were making a loss of 7 per cent as compared to the 1970s, he said. The direct subsidy system would help to improve the lost of farmers and the crisis like the panic sale of paddy and the recent potato crisis could be prevented.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh refuted the theory of surplus-foodgrain stock by commenting that the country imported wheat worth Rs 2700 crore and edible oil worth Rs 8000 crore whereas wheat and paddy stocks in the state were rotting in the godowns. The theory of surplus stocks was not supported by facts, and figures and statics, even the Prime Minister had admitted that 40 crore Indians went to sleep every without food, he added. According to statistics available the food grain production should be doubled by 2005. At the present level of population growth the country would need 7.5 million tonnes of additional rice to feed people, he said.

The minister, referring to the WTO agreement, said that it was biased in the favour of the developed and the rich countries. Developed countries wanted to capture the Indian markets by dumping cheaper products and the WTO was harmful not only to the agriculture sector but to the industrial sector also. The SAD-BJP government of the state was working on its case to present it before the Union Government against the WTO, and it would be done before April, 1 he said. There was no consensus over the WTO agreement even in the developed countries, although the agreement favoured free flow of commodities but imposed restrictions on the free movement of human resources, which was not in the favour of developing countries, like ours, he added. The import of wheat worth Rs 2700 crore and edible oils worth Rs 8000 crore had affected our local industry badly.

He said that the ‘paddy package’ announced by the government was still pending and admitted that there was a shortage of funds to be given as subsidies to the industries also. Mr Kanwaljit Singh that the new Budget of the state would be ‘people friendly’ and many development schemes would be provided with ample funds. People wanted that the SAD-BJP government should continue to rule in the state and had been demonstrated by them in the two byelections.

‘Green card’ for farmers
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — The Union Bank of India has launched the “green card” scheme in the country from Bhagwangarh village of the district to provide direct benefit to farmers.

Mr G.L. Mukhija, Assistant Chief Administrator, Union Bank of India, who inaugurated the scheme, said with this card, the farmers would be saved from making rounds to the banks for taking loans. The card would enable them to purchase seeds, fertilisers, insecticides and agriculture equipment according to their wishes.

The cards would be valid for three years from the date of issuance and the bearers of the cards would be liable to pay the loan once in a year, he added.

Four Pak intruders chased away
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Jan 27 — The BSF claims to have foiled an attempt by the ISI to disrupt the Republic Day celebrations by chasing away four unidentified Pakistanis from intruding into the Indian territory from near Jagdish post here.

The DIG, Mr K.S. Walia, said soldiers on duty fired at the suspected militants, who tried to snap the security fencing raised along with the border a few days ago.

They, however, escaped without any retaliation leaving behind a Chinese pistol. The weapon and an empty magazine was later seized by the BSF.


Truck that stopped rail traffic
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — The traffic on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section was affected when a truck broke down in the middle of a level crossing on the Bathinda-Mansa main road on the intervening night of January 25 and 26 here.

An express train Sriganganagar-Hardwar covered 7 km in six hours due to this incident. The train known as Dainik Express came to a halt at the Bathinda cantonment station at 10.30 p.m.. It could proceed towards Bathinda junction at about 3.30 a.m. The Jodhpur-Kalka express train could not depart from the local railway station at its scheduled time. It started off from local station about three hours behind its scheduled time.

Sources said that the traffic on the Bathinda-Ambala rail section came to halt near Bathinda city when a truck overloaded with sugarcane broke down in the middle of the level crossing falling on the Bathinda-Mansa main road.

The railway authorities, when came to know about the traffic disruption, pressed its crane into service to remove the truck at the earliest. The truck removal operation, however took six hours. By that time long queues of vehicles were formed on the both sides of level crossing.

The railway authorities also failed to make arrangements to shift the passengers of the Dainik Express to local junction from the Bathinda cantonment station. The passengers had to spend the night without food and adequate woollens under the biting cold.

This is not a first incident of this kind in this area. The express and other passenger trains are being forced to halt journeys midway. Earlier also on the night of January 14, the New Delhi-Bathinda Express train was stopped at the outskirts of the city when a tractor-trailer carrying heavy goods broke down in the middle of railway line near Kartarsinghwala village.

Official sources said the railway authorities were worried over the repeated incidents of forced detention of express trains. They had been trying to work out a strategy to avoid such happenings in future.

Sources also added that the railway authorities would challan the vehicles which would broke down on the level crossings and would impose a fine on those drivers who abscond the vehicles broke down. 


Polluting unit closed
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR, Jan 27 — A confectionary unit located near the main post office was closed on Thursday in compliance with the orders of the SDM, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal.

Mr Grewal had ordered the closure of the unit on a complaint filed by the residents of the locality on September 9 last year, the hearing concluded on January 5. Last week members of the opposition in the local municipal council had also raised the issue of increasing noise pollution, unauthorised functioning of small industrial units and insanitation at a meeting of the council. They wanted to know what action the president was going to take in view of the notice received from the Punjab Human Rights Commission, in this regard. The president, Mr Babu Ram Arya, had tried to play down the controversy. Members of the Opposition alleged that many small industrial units were working in the town due to prevailing corruption and irregularities in the municipal administration.

The Punjab Human Rights Commission had taken cognisance of complaints filed by some local residents against the failure of the authorities in checking noise and environment pollution. In an order passed on complaint from persons residing near the main post office here. The commission had issued notices to the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Abohar, and Chairman, Punjab Pollution Board, directing them to submit action-taken reports on or before March 14.

After the perusal of the complaints the commission said it was a fit case to be registered under the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Certain residents had complained of heavy noise pollution by the units causing severe headache, tension and depression to the neighbours. It also adversely affected day to day domestic and professional work. The factories produced lot of smoke causing heavy pollution and serious difficulties in the respiration. The eatables manufactured at the factory were allegedly sub-standard. The products were manufactured in an unhygienic environment leading to stinking atmosphere causing ill-effects on the health of the residents as well as consumers. But the Health Department had never bothered to take any strict action against the offenders.

The residents had complained that wastes from such units were thrown in the streets causing sewerage blockage, traffic hazard & inconvenience to them.

It is pertinent to mention that several residents had submitted memorandums to the SDM, the Municipal Council, the District Magistrate and the Punjab State Pollution Board directly also alleging that many units in the heart of the town were running without obtaining licence from the council and other authorities.


VRS for govt staff soon: Kanwaljit
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Jan 27 — The Punjab Finance Minister, Captain Kanwaljit Singh, has disclosed that a very attractive voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for government employees would be notified in the next few days.

Talking to newsmen at local Guru Nanak College, he claimed the scheme had been finalised. When asked whether the coming Budget would have tax holiday, he quipped that it would showcase the story of development in state over the past four years as well as the good health of economy which was in shambles when SAD-BJP government had taken over. Our financial position has improved and the coming Budget would be accelerated-development-oriented and satisfy everybody, he continued. The revenue had increased by 45 per cent this year while small savings had gone up from Rs 9 crore four years ago to targeted Rs 3,000 crore in this financial year, he claimed.

On the minimum support price of wheat, the Finance Minister demanded the formulation of a comprehensive agriculture policy for supporting the farm sector.

Earlier, he inaugurated the administrative block of the college. He announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the college. He also presided over the annual prize distribution function at community polytechnic of Palahi village. He inaugurated two IT courses there. 


Helping youth overcome stress
From Pushpesh Kumar

BATHINDA: “Invest in youth if you want to build a healthy nation” is the motto of Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. The real future of the country lies in the youth and proper care, guidance and motivation at the tender age should be ensured so that they grow up as productive members of society, says one of the student guides of the vidyalaya.

The vidyalaya is affiliated to the United Nations as a non-government organisation with consultative status at the Economic and Social Council and UNICEF. The vidyalaya, which has branches all over the country, has its headquarters at Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The local unit of the vidyalaya is in Ganesha Basti and is chaired by Ms Kamlesh. “Our unit organises awareness programmes relating to drugs, AIDS, moral and value education in various parts of the region from time to time,” she says.

“Our basic stress is on youth as they are passing through a very stressful and competitive phase and are tempted by the lure of virtual peace and happiness,” Ms Kamlesh says. “We organise regular free meditation and self-help camps and lay emphasis on a tension-free and peaceful life. Even five minutes of daily meditation can lead to a remarkable improvement in the personality, increasing the will power of the individual and controlling temper,” she asserts.

To achieve the goal of a stress-free, drug-free and peaceful life, the Brahma Kumaris organise camps from time to time at educational institutions here and help in the de-addiction drive launched by the Red Cross and other NGOs of the region. The emphasis is on self-development and strengthening the will power of the individual so that he is able to leave bad habits.

The real aim of life is happiness, peace and the all-round development of society and this can be achieved by individuals only with determination, says one of the Brahma Kumaris.

As part of its efforts to help the youth, the vidyalaya organised an exhibition at Khalsa Girls College here recently at which students were made aware of the ill-effects of drugs and stress. The students were eager to know how meditation could help them in the examinations in particular and in life in general. Krishna, one of the college students, said that at this stage of their life students were concerned with examinations and interested in anything that could help them overcome “exam phobia”.

Ms Shivani, an active member of the vidyalaya, says: “We have made arrangements for organising meditation camps for students in groups of 25 or more at our vidyalaya. The response from the younger generation has been very good. In future, there is bound to be a significant reduction in the number of cases of drug addiction.”


This exchange offers few jobs
From Our Correspondent

ABOHAR, Jan 27 — The performance of the Employment Exchange here during the past one year has been poor. The balance sheet of the exchange reveals that only three persons have got employment through the local exchange which has registration of 7101 persons, including 1325 women and 5776 men. The exchange released the list of unemployed candidates for 48 posts during the past year to LIC, Post Office, Horticulture Department and a private cotton factory. All posts were for Class IV employees.

The Notifications of Vacancies Act, 1959 has made it mandatory to issue public notice for employment of all categories but institutions/office have been allegedly violating this rule. Even if some vacancies were advertised in newspapers, the survey said, these were not read in more than 90 per cent villages of the region. The unemployed persons registered here mostly belong to rural areas.

The Employment Exchange is required to give an unemployment allowance to those who were registered here after doing Matric or Graduation on condition that their family’s total income does not exceed Rs 1,000 per month. The exchange has reportedly released the allowance amounting to Rs 76,000 to only 33 males and 2 females. Official sources said the payment had been made quarterly. Three posts are lying vacant in the exchange itself for three years.


Spurs to check soil erosion demanded
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Jan 27 — Residents of more than 12 villages located on Indo-Pak border across rivers Ravi and Ujh are facing problems due to the soil erosion by these rivers. Around 12 houses and standing crops were washed away in the floods about eight months ago at Kajle village.

This correspondent observed that 2,000 acres of fertile land of Manke, Rajji Bela, Manjwa, Nikka, and Toor villages had been washed away due to the change in course of the Ujh.

Mr Karnail Singh, Sarpanch, Toor, has demanded the construction of two spurs on the Ravi.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr B. Vikram said a Central team visited the area about a week age and sanctioned two spurs near Kajle and a spur opposite Toor village on the Ravi. He said the spurs’ construction was expected to complete before the monsoon.


Artificial limbs hospital opened
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — An artificial limbs hospital has been opened in the city. Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, today inaugurated the hospital built at a cost of Rs 30 lakh by non-government organisation.

The Deputy Commissioner said the physically challenged persons should be given equal opportunities for growth and the NGOs should come forward to help them. The district Red Cross Society would distribute 100 tricycles among the physically challenged, he added.

The hospital has been established by the P.D. Shekhsaria Memorial Trust. It will benefit residents of Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar and Sangrur districts.


PUTA may launch agitation over Singhal issue
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 27 — The removal of Punjabi University School of Management head, Dr K.C. Singhal, from his post by the Syndicate may turn into a major source of attrition between the authorities and the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA), with the latter deciding to put up the issue before the University Vice-Chancellor as well as start an agitation to set right the ‘’injustice’’ done upon Dr Singhal.

PUTA sources disclosed that the organisation was gearing up to launch an agitation on the issue as it felt that the university Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, had tried to enter into a conflict with teachers by removing Dr Singhal from the headship of the School of Business Management.

The Syndicate had removed Dr Singhal from headship of the department on January 25 following submission of recommendations of a six-member committee formed by the Vice-Chancellor to probe the alleged irregularities committed by Dr Singhal in the holding of an alumni meet in October 1999. The Syndicate also recommended registration of a case against Dr Singhal and forwarded an application in this regard to the State Vigilance Department.

PUTA sources said the body would meet both the University Chancellor, Lieute-Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, as well as the political leadership, to apprise them of the circumstances which had led to the removal of Dr Singhal from headship of the Business Management department . They said the PUTA leadership would also apprise the Chancellor and the government of the “wayward style of functioning of the Vice-Chancellor as well as highlight the fact that the academic atmosphere of the university was being spoiled due to this style of functioning.

The sources said the issues raised by Dr Singhal earlier, the unavailability of the Vice-Chancellor for official work as well as the undue delay taken by his office in clearing files , would also be taken up by PUTA. The body was likely to agitate on the issue also. It would also challenge the university authority’s claims about transfers done during the time of the present Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed that the PUTA had tried to thwart any adverse decision against Dr Singhal by meeting him and Requesting that this should not be done. This, however, did not have the likely effect.

The agitation of PUTA on the issue might not be unanimous with a section of teachers aligned with the United Teachers Front, which had opposed the functioning for former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Joginder Singh Puar, were perceived to be in favour of the present dispensation. This group had earlier spoken out against PUTA for going ahead with a dharna to highlight the alleged anti-teacher attitude of the present administration for going ahead with a scheme to allow students to apprise their teacher, besides partial implementation of the Career Advancement Scheme.

Dr Singhal was earlier installed as head of the Business Management department in controversial circumstances when former Vice-Chancellor Dr J.S. Puar removed the then head, Dr Gurdeep Singh, for indulging in indiscipline at a selection committee meeting and installed him as head during the fag end of his term.


Prof Dandiwal honoured
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 27 — Prof D.G. Singh Dandiwal, an eminent educationist and research scholar of Jalandhar, has been honoured by the New Delhi-based International Integration and Growth Society and India International Council for Industries and Trade with the Vikas Ratan award, a gold medal and the Rashtriya Nirman Ratan award.

He has been honoured in recognition of his individual achievements and contribution to nation-building. Earlier, he was honoured by the IES in New Delhi with an excellence award, a gold medal and a certificate.

Dr Dandiwal is in the process of completing his research book on Sikh history.

His name for various honours was recommended by Mr Joginder Singh, a former Director of the CBI, and Mr G.V.G. Krishnamurthy, Election Commissioner of India.


21,600 pupils to get free education
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Jan 27 — The Punjab Government plans to provide higher education free of cost to those pupils who will get top positions in the middle standard examinations in the state. Under the scheme 100 pupils will be selected from each block in the state. There are 216 blocks in Punjab. Special attention will be paid towards Dalit pupils in this connection. The scheme will be introduced from the next academic session.

Mr Tota Singh, Punjab Education Minister, while talking to media-persons disclosed this here yesterday. Counting various achievements made by the state in the field of education under the leadership of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Education Minister said the introduction of English from Class I had evoked a good response. Besides, five types of question papers in the annual examinations had given tremendous results in checking mass copying in Punjab.

The Education Minister disclosed that a special reference of the state’s eductional policies was made at the NCERT meeting of education ministers held at New Delhi on December 13 last. Even the neighbouring state, Haryana, had both the policies. He said a directive had been issued to all private educational institutions to introduce Punjabi and Hindi as compulsory subjects from classes I and III, respectively. If the schools failed to do their bidding they would lose their affiliation with the Punjab School Education Board.

However, the Education Minister regretted that the state which was once a leader in the education field in the country was lagging behind at the tenth place due to the inefficient policies of the previous governments. In order to cover this deficiency, the state government had chosen eight districts, including Faridkot, Moga, Mansa, Bathinda and Nawanshahr to eradicate illiteracy. The central government had promised to allocate adequate funds in this regard, said the Education Minister. He expressed concern over the rising population which was one of the major factors in encouraging illiteracy in the state. 


Training centre for rural girls
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — A training centre for girls from rural areas has been opened at Mehta village in the district. The centre will train the girls in embroidery and sewing skills.

The centre has been established by the Community Polytechnic (CP) wing of the local Government Polytechnic. Mr B.R. Gupta, Principal of the polytechnic, inaugurated the centre.

He said the scheme was more beneficial as no formal education was required to learn these skills. After the completion of the course the students would be given certificates, he added.

A certificate distributing ceremoney was also held at the polytechnic.


BSNL to start Internet facilities in Patiala
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 27 — Problems in Internet connectivity will soon be a thing of the past for local residents with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) deciding to start Internet facilities here from next month. Internet nodes will be commissioned at Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib on February 1. Following this, 1000 connections will be given on both nodes, according to sources in the Telecom Department.

Some connections are likely to be transferred to the new nodes and new subscribers will also be enrolled under the scheme. The department has offered Internet services for commercial activity under a scheme which offers the users 1500 hours free time. ISDN facilities, which allow the users video conferencing, have also been started in the city.

The Patiala division Telecom General Manager, Mr Bhag Singh, disclosed that under the new scheme, incremental tariff in slabs of 20 hours at the rate of Rs 25 per hour would be permitted beyond 500 hours. He said students would be given 100 hours’ concession on their account per year and their renewals would be at normal rates. He said 50 per cent of the normal rate would be charged on Sundays and between 11 pm and 8 am on weekdays.

Mr Bhag Singh said the ISDN scheme launched in the city had attracted some applications but only one service had been started so far. He further said the department was charging Rs 30,000 for releasing the demand note for the service to subscribers.

He added that the department was also in the process of establishing Internet dhabas, under which those having space in commercial areas or having STD and PCO booths along the main highways were being encouraged to start this business. They would be offered free time of 1500 hours and would get connection on STD and PCO lines. He said they would have to give a fixed percentage to the Telecom Department for the service and exchanges would be upgraded to reduce the fault rate.

The division had a waiting list of around 20,000, he stated. The department hoped to cover this by establishing 25 new exchanges in the rural areas. He said a drive was also on to lay underground cables in the rural areas to improve the quality of the service there.

Power frequency meters mooted
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 27 — To encourage power supply discipline, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB ) is getting frequency meters installed in all medium and large scale business consumers so that they could regulate the supply themselves.

The scheme is designed to give the consumer a clear picture of the frequency of the power supply so that the department does not have to reduce generation in case of excess generation of power or endanger the grid due to excess withdrawal.

The PSEB has, however, decided to encourage the medium and large-scale consumers to opt for the scheme, but not made it mandatory. Under the scheme, all business consumers will have to purchase frequency meters and get them installed on their premises. The Board has decided to rope in various business associations to ensure that businessmen install these meters. The factors of low cost of the meters (around Rs 1400) and the resultant benefits to the consumers are being used to lure consumers.

Board Chairman G.S. Sohal said the frequency meters would encourage consumers to exercise self-constraint and build a direct link between them and the board. The consumers will be informed that the ideal frequency per cycle of power should be between 49 and 51 cycles per minute. They would be advised to reduce the load when the reading started getting below 49 cycles per minute and draw more if the reading was above 50 cycles per minute.

The Chairman said the installation of frequency meters would complement the modern electronic meters on business premises. Under a new scheme, domestic consumers would also be targeted for installation of modern meters to plug widespread tampering of meters, he said. A proposal had been finalised to purchase meters worth Rs 63 crore through the REC. 

PCO owners seek more commission
From Tribune Reporter

BATHINDA, Jan 27 — Ms Rupinder Pal Kaur and Mr Balwinder Singh Cheema, both physically handicapped, started the STD-PCO shops in the town to keep the kitchen fire burning.

But, the decision of the government to localise whole of the Punjab through telephone line, has made these PCO owners economically weaker as 50 per cent of their daily calls has reduced within two days.

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