Sunday, February 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



College wall broken for VIP’s wedding
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 3 — Throwing all rules to the wind, the local Khalsa College management has allowed breaching of its boundary wall to create entry and exit points to the “pandal” set up at its playground on the occasion of the marriage celebrations of the son of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC member and Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister.

The boundary wall has been breached at two places and special pathways created to gain entry and exit into the ground to avoid entry into the college premises from the main gate which is a little further away from grounds. Besides, the iron pillars and barbed wire atop the wall have been pulled down.

The Khalsa college was closed down for three days period starting February 1. The entire college has been given a spring cleaning with its management going in for a major beautification exercise to coincide with the wedding celebrations of Mr Badungar’s son.

The college management through a notice yesterday said that the college was being closed for a three-day period for security reasons as the Chief Minister was to visit it. The notice dated January 31, however, did not mention the marriage celebrations in the premises. The college authorities also claimed that they had closed down the institution as the Chief Minister was to visit the main building besides attending a function at the playgrounds.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was in the city today to flag off relief material to Gujarat when quizzed on this score, said, it was a “very wrong decision” on the part of the organisers to hold the function at the college playground of the college. He said had he known about such measures, he would not have supported these.

Mr Badal said he did not approve of inconvenience to the public on account of his visit to a place. When told that the college management had closed the college on the plea that he was to visit the college building, he said: “I even visit the most narrow of lanes. This cannot be touted as an excuse to close down the college.

However, when asked whether any action was being taken in this regard, he said he had already said that it was an “unfortunate development.”

The Chief Minister, speaking at the marriage celebrations earlier, lauded the contribution’s made by Mr Badungar and his family towards the Panth and the party. The SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh also attended the function.

Various social organisations have condemned the ‘’blatant misuse’’ of power. The Forum for Educational Action and Research has described it as an anti-academics step with the examinations barely two months away. The forum has demanded that an inquiry be held into the incident to pin point responsibility for the “illegal” act.


Badal trying to humour BJP
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 3 — The appointment of Mr N. K. Arora as the Chief Secretary, Punjab is being described as a tactful move by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to keep his alliance partner, the BJP in good humour. The decision is understood to have been prompted by the compulsions of Mr Badal. Mr Arora is believed to be close to the BJP, particularly minister for local bodies, Balramji Dass Tandon.

The Chief Minister is believed to have his own compulsions in placating the BJP. With the assembly elections not more than a year away and an eroding support base in the urban areas, the BJP seems to be the only bet for Mr Badal. His (compulsive) soft corner for the BJP was also reflected in the decision to grant Rs 300 crore to the department of local bodies, after Mr Balramji Dass Tandon’s outburst against Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Although Mr Badal sided with and supported Capt Kanwaljit, but he had to give in to Mr Tandon’s demand.

Mr Badal draws considerable support from the peasantry in the countryside. With the paddy farmers already an upset lot and no better hopes for the wheat, the Chief Minister has reasons to worry. Because it will definitely have an impact on electoral prospects of the Chief Minister.

On the other hand the SAD has not so much following in the urban areas. Most of its MLAs elected from the urban areas like Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal from Ludhiana, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta from Amritsar, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli from Patiala have already deserted Mr Badal and sided with Mr Tohra.

Besides giving Mr Badal numerical strength, the BJP will also provide sound foothold to the Chief Minister in the urban areas. Because only the BJP can help him garner urban votes.

The Chief Minister’s worries also come from the intra-party feuds going on within the SAD and also within his family. The differences between his son Mr Sukhbir Badal and his son-in-law Mr Adesh Pratap Singh are too well known. In fact Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, Minister for Excise and Taxation has been accusing Mr Sukhbir Badal of patronizing Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Minister for Cooperatives. Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, who is the grandson of former Chief Minister Pratap Singh Kairon, has traditional rivalry with Mr Brahmpura that runs through generations.

Against all these odds Mr Badal has little option, but to ensure that his alliance partner the BJP is not antagonised. The BJP can at least assure Mr Badal of a sound support base in the urban areas, which he desperately needs. It may not be surprising if the BJP asks for more than Mr Badal expects. BJP leaders have already reportedly sought more seats than they contested in the previous elections.


PPCC team to meet poll officials today
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 3 — A deputation of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee will meet the Election Commission at New Delhi tomorrow for deployment of the CRPF or the Border Security Force for the Majitha byelection.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief, said he had ‘lost’ faith in the Punjab Police as senior police officials had been working like ‘district jathedars’ of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in the Majitha constituency.

He alleged that many police and revenue officials had been openly campaigning for the ruling party. “Many Station House Officers and revenue officials of the district are either on leave or absent for the sake of campaigning”.

Castigating the Election Commission for not initiating action against the ruling party, Mr Amarinder Singh said the Election Commission had promised him he would send electronic voting machines either from New Delhi or other states for the Majitha poll.

He said Dr Manohar Singh Gill, Chief Election Commissioner, who is due to retire on March 31, may be tipped for governorship or get a foreign assignment. Mr Gill had once been Principal Secretary to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he pointed out.


Poll observer’s visit kept ‘secret’
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 3 — The visit of Mr Y.P. Singh, a poll observer, appointed by the Chief Election Commissioner for the Majitha byelection has been kept ‘top secret’ though he has been camping here since January 31. Due to this, he could not receive even a single complaint regarding violation of code of conduct during his four-day stay here. He will be leaving for New Delhi tomorrow.

Mr Amrinder Singh, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, expressed surprise over the presence of Mr Y.P. Singh in the district. He alleged that the visit of the poll observer was deliberately kept ‘secret’ by the district administration so that the voters of Majitha could not contact him (the observer). “Had we known that the observer was camping here, we could have given a number of complaints to him”, Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, secretary, PPCC said.

During his stay, Mr Y.R. Singh, Director, Textiles, New Delhi, undertook an intensive tour of Majitha constituency though nobody came forward to lodge a complaint regarding and violation of the model code of conduct due to lack of ‘publicity’. He will come again on February 14.

CPI poll strategy on Feb 8
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 3 — The Communist Party of India will finalise its poll strategy on February 8.

However, Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC chief, said today he was sure that Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary, CPI would announce his party support to the Congress.

The PPCC chief said Mr Partap Singh Kairon, the then Congress Chief Minister, had advocated “Maha Punjab” while the Akalis had shrunk the boundaries of the state. He alleged that the per capita income of Punjab had come down and it was not ranked 17 in the country due to the “wrong policies” of the SAD-BJP government.

Lashing out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the PPCC chief warned that he could bring back the ‘black days’ in the state by dividing voters on communal lines.


BKU backs SAD
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 3 — In a significant development, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Amritsar, has extended support to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Alleging that the Congress misrule was the major cause of setbacks to Punjab, the Bhartiya Kisan Union said that the ‘unpopular’ policies towards farmers were the legacy of the Congress and had led to empty treasuries.

Mr Charanjit Singh Fatehabad, senior vice-president, blamed the Congress for ‘retrograde’ measures and alleged that the plight of the farmers today was the result of stringent loan policies of the Congress.

Publish report of poll reforms panel: Tohra
From Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

SULAR GHARAT (Dirba), Feb 3 — Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), today asked the Union Government to publish the report of the Inderjit Gupta Committee on election reforms.

He was addressing a press conference at Mata Gujari College for Girls here today before addressing a SHSAD conference at Dirba village on the Sangrur-Patran road.

Jathedar Tohra said in the present setup, an election could be contested and won only by corrupt means.

He demanded that at the time of Assembly elections, the entire ministry should resign and the elections conducted under the rule of the Chief Justice of the state High Court.

This would certainly help in holding a free and fair election as ministers often misused power to win the elections.

Jathedar Tohra said the decision not to contest the Majitha Assembly byelection was a protest against the Election Commission (EC) and the government because the EC had not accepted our demand to hold the byelection through the ballot paper in place of the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Markfed staff to march to Majitha
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 3 — The Markfed Employees Joint Action Committee has decided to organise procession on February 10 to Majitha constituency, where byelection is scheduled to be held later this month to meet Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, in support of its demands.

The Committee in a statement here today, said that its main demand was to get dismissal orders of certain field employees cancelled and to seek salary on a par with the employees working in the accounts wing of Markfed.

The committee said that there was great resentment among employees for various reasons which required to be set at rest by the authorities concerned.


Punjab to buy 2 lakh bags of potato
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 3 — The Punjab Government has decided to purchase two lakh bags of potato in cooperation with Nafed through a government intervention scheme at the rate of Rs 2 per kg to help potato growers of state who are not finding any buyers for their produce.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while talking to newspersons after flagging off a convoy of trucks carrying relief material to Gujarat, said a decision in this regard had been taken following a meeting with the Potato Growers Association .

He said the government had made out a case for government intervention and sent it to Nafed. He said under the scheme, both the government and Nafed would make an equal amount of purchase and bear the loss equally .

The Chief Minister also announced that a potato board would also be established in the state under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary N.K. Arora. He said the board, which would be fully set up within a week, was being formed to find appropriate solutions to various problems coming in the way of marketing potatoes. He said the other members of the board would be the Financial Commissioner, Development, and members of procurement agencies and persons from the Potato Growers Association.

He said a team of government officers and potato growers would also visit Malaysia, Sri Lanka. West Asia to study the export market there and find ways to market potatoes abroad. He said he was also taking up the marketing problems being faced by the Punjab farmers with Nafed and the Union Agriculture Ministry.

The Chief Minister when quizzed about allegations pertaining to his role during Operation Bluestar which had appeared in a section of the press, said they were baseless. He said he had been in jail for over one and a half years in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar and that those who were making the allegations had never done anything for the people. He also discounted reports of having any truck with the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Earlier, the Chief Minister flagged off a contingent of 500 volunteers along with 50 trucks containing foodstuff and other essential items to Gujarat. He said blankets, food items, clothes, tents and medicines were being sent to Gujarat in large quantities. He said the government would also send Rs 5 crore to the Gujarat Government for rehabilitation of quake victims.

Baba Mohan Singh, a representative of Baba Man Singh of Pehowa, who had earlier fed lakhs of people during the Orissa cyclone, said 5000 volunteers of the baba were being sent to Gujarat to start community kitchens. He said at least one and a half lakh persons were likely to be fed by the community kitchens which would be run for more than one month. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, disclosed the district administration had already sent relief material in 10 trucks for the quake victims.


NRI alumni bring hope for hospital
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 3 — Patients visiting the barrack-style humid and dark Emergency Centre of Government Rajindra Hospital here, can hope for things to improve. However, it is not the Punjab Government which is going to improve things, but former students of the medical college who have now settled abroad.

They plan to establish a state-of-the-art emergency and trauma care centre to replace the present primitive structure .

The NRI members of the Government Medical College and Hospital (GOMCO) Alumni Association have come to the rescue of the institution which is facing a severe resource crunch and difficult in maintaining essential services.

The association has started collecting funds for the centre and about Rs 15 lakh was collected at the annual conference of the NRI chapter of the body here in December. The chapter plans to collect Rs 80 lakh for the project by August before its next conference in Toronto.

Under the project, the body wants to build a superstructure at cost of Rs 2 crore, bring in modern equipment costing another Rs 2 crore and put Rs 2 crore in a corpus, so that the facility can be run efficiently, using the interest generated from this fund.

The chief of the body, Dr Ravinder Singh, said some of the NRI donors had planned to buy their own land for the project, but the body had persuaded them to establish the facility on the hospital premises.

He said the government had been urged to give land for the project, allow the association to build the facility on it and install its equipment. After this, the facility would be handed over to the government.

Dr Ravinder Singh said the fund would be enhanced if necessary and the association had an understanding with its NRI chapter on the exchange of manpower and training of staff members of the centre.

He said the new centre would have facilities for neurosurgery and vascular surgery that were not available in the hospital now. He said both facilities were urgently needed in the region.

The association has already invested about Rs 16 lakh into the hospital. With this money, an intercom facility has been introduced in the college and the auditorium here has also been renovated.


Bid to capture coal trade with goonda tax?
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 3 — After the intense struggle witnessed between political heavyweights of the ruling Akali Dal for achieving supremacy in the liquor and cement trade in this industrial hub of the state, the attention has now shifted to the lucrative trade of coal and transportation from dry port Dhandari Kalan here.

The issue has come to the fore with the registration of a case against five transporters by the focal point police station here a couple of days ago. The police had claimed to have unearthed a huge scandal worth of Rs 2 crore or more with the arrest of these persons who minted money through sales tax evasion. They allegedly used the modus operandi of fake receipts and bogus companies. Even the transport company run by the accused is alleged to have been fake and not registered anywhere.

While the police claims that it had achieved a break through by exposing the scandal and it had no political interest in the issue, highly placed sources in the Police Department allege that the actual aim is to grab control over the transport business from the dry port.

The sources said a man hailing from Assam, who was close to two ministers in the Akali government and also to police officials, had threatened the transporters and coal merchants that they should pay a fee of Rs 300 per rake of coal arriving in the dry port, failing which he would harass them and disrupt their business. The merchants refused to succumb to the pressure, which would have meant allowing the man to collect at least Rs 60,000 daily.

Terming it as ‘goonda tax’ a number of transporters and coal merchants also corroborated the allegations. Office-bearers of the Punjab Coal Merchants Association, talking to newsmen here today asserted that ‘‘for the past few months, a person from Guwahati, who is known as the ‘Dada’ of the place, was trying to capture the coal trade and transportation by threatening them’’.

The association members — Mr Nirmal Chawla, Mr Rajiv Sharma, Mr Vimal Kumar and Mr Pawan Tyagi — in a statement alleged that during December, 1999, and January, 2000, a same kind of trouble had erupted at the dry port. They said the same man, with active support of two Akali ministers, tried to impose his ‘goonda tax’ by providing misinformation to the local authorities, including the police and other departments concerned.

They said at that time a former MP wielded his influence and saved the traders and the transporters from paying the ‘goonda tax’. However, they alleged that now the man had again used his influence with the Akali ministers and the local police and had started harassing them.

Interestingly, reports of an alleged gameplan behind the registration of the case holds significance as for the past two days, the police is only allowing the trucks of only one particular transport company to operate in the region.

The traders claimed that the case registered against them was false as there was no tax evasion.


FCI suspends two officers
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — The Food Corporation of India (FCI), Punjab, has placed two assistant managers under suspension for their alleged involvement in despatching the ‘beyond rejection limit (BRL)’ rice to Maharashtra from Rampura Phul through a special rake on February 1.

Official sources said the two, one each from quality control (QC) and depot wings, were placed under suspension after it was found that they were responsible for sending BRL rice to Maharashtra. An inquiry was conducted by senior FCI officials immediately after the bungling came to their notice.

Sources said during the preliminary inquiry conducted by two district managers, it was found that both assistant managers had despatched the rice from the stock which had earlier been declared BRL.

The same stock was declared BRL by the higher authorities of the quality control wing of the FCI in June, 2000, and the millers who had supplied the rice were asked to replace it with better quality rice.

The inquiry team said under no circumstances these stocks of rice could be despatched to the consuming state and, therefore, the irregularities committed by both assistant managers was “grave and alarming” and deserved stern action.

Sources said preliminary investigations had revealed that these two officials had managed to send about 4,000 bags of BRL rice to Maharashtra on February 1. These officials were also guilty of the fact that they did not make any efforts to get the BRL stock replaced with better quality rice from the millers who had supplied the same.


SHSYAD meeting postponed
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — The meeting of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (SHSYAD) which was to be held at Mansa on Monday has been postponed and the new date will be announced soon.

Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, district general secretary of the SHSYAD said here today in a press note that the decision to postpone the meeting was taken due to some unavoidable circumstances. He said that a fresh date would be fixed after the executive committee meeting of the party.


Devoted to TB eradication
From Praful Chander Nagpal

FAZILKA: The Social Welfare Society, a local voluntary social organisation engaged in serving the poor and ailing for the past 15 years, has been doing commendable service to the suffering by donating blood to needy patients and striving for the eradication of tuberculosis. Besides, the society has also launched projects to provide free books and woollen garments, etc to poor students and creating an awareness of social evils. The projects are turning into a mass movement for uplift of the poor.

Over the past five years the society has taken a lead in eradicating T.B. and has organised three T.B. and chest disease check-up camps. According to Mr Girdhari lal Aggarwal, president of the society, during these camps 3700 patients were examined for different diseases, 1150 xrays were conducted and laboratory tests on the blood and sputum of about 1000 patients were carried out free of cost. As many as 150 TB positive cases were detected in first camp, while 100 and 90 cases of the disease were found during the second and third camps.

The members of the society including Mr Sandeep Bhusari, project chairman; Dr Manohar Lal Sukhija, co-chairman; Mr Ram Krishan Gupta, vice-president, Mr Ashok Kumar Monga, general secretary; and Mr Kanwal Kishore Grover, secretary, motivated a large number of chemists, medical practitioners and philanthropists to adopt T.B. patients so as to supply them medicines. The system of providing the medicines to T.B.-affected patients is so meticulous that patients are given cards and issued medicines for one month. On the expiry of a month, the patients return the empty wrappers of the medicines and are issued fresh stocks for the next month till the completion of the treatment course spread over nine months. The expenditure incurred on treating one patient is around Rs 3500. The patients are examined periodically. Whenever an emergency arises, additional care of patient is taken by society members. Society volunteers are so particular that if a patient does not turn up for taking the medicines, they look for him.

Recently the society organised a fourth camp from January 19 to 21, sponsored by a local philanthropist vinod Gupta in memory of his father. At the camp 1100 patients were examined by a team of specialists, comprising Dr A.P. Kansal of T.B. Hospital, Patiala; Dr Gian Chand Aahir of the Medical College, Faridkot; Dr Anil Pathak of Amritsar, Dr B.D. Godara of T.B. Hospital, Abohar; and Dr Vijay Sachdeva and Dr Yash Pal (both from Fazilka). Up to 325 patients were x-rayed, more than 200 blood and sputum test were conducted and E.C.G. examination done on 25 patients. All expensive tests were done free of cost by local medical practitioners and laboratories of town and staff of the Civil Hospital. Of the patients examined 66 positive cases of T.B. were detected. All of them have been adopted and treatment has commenced.

The concluding camp was presided over by Mr Vijay Kumar Chopra, Chief Editor of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers, jalandhar, who distributed medicine packets to patients. The sponsors, volunteers and philanthropists who had adopted the patients in previous camps were honoured by Mr Chopra. Mr Surjeet Kumar Jyani, Punjab forests minister, announced a grant of Rs 51,000 for the welfare of the ailing. In addition, Mr Jyani gave Rs 11,000 from his pocket.

Members of the society have the credit of donating more than 2000 units of blood. In certain cases they went to distant places to donate blood. In addition, the society regularly provides books, woollens, etc to school children, free medicines to poor patients. Poor and intelligent students are adopted for higher studies.

The society has declared that it would not allow any patient to die for want of treatment or blood. Studies of any student would not be hampered for lack of books or resources.


PNFC workers hold blockade
Una-Chandigarh traffic hit
From Lalit Mohan

ROPAR, Feb 3 — Workers of Punjab National Fertilisers and Chemicals (PNFC) at Nangal today held a blockade at the Nangal Dam bridge, disrupting traffic on the Una-Chandigarh road for about an hour.

The workers, including the General Manager and other officers, moved in a procession from the plant, raising slogans against the Punjab Government. They blocked traffic on the bridge the only connecting link across the Sutlej here.

The workers of the plant, that has closed down production since the past three years, were protesting against non-payment of salaries and the delay in the decision regarding the plant’s future.

Addressing the workers at the Nangal Dam, various leaders accused the Badal government of apathy towards the workers’ condition. They alleged that the WTO pact and the GATT were the main factors behind the closure of industrial units in India, which had rendered thousands jobless.

The NDA government was blindly following disinvestment policy without fresh investments for creating new employment opportunities. The use of new technology was not feasible in a country like India that had a large number of unemployed.

The union leaders said they would submit a memorandum to the Managing Director, PSIDC, who is also Chairman of the PNFC, on the demands of the workers. If the management or the government did not find any solution to their problem, they would “permanently” block traffic on the Una-Chandigarh road, they warned.

The workers of PNFC, who have not been paid salaries since the past 18 months, had been earlier assured by the local administration that their grievances would be taken to the higher authorities.

The irony of the situation is that the workers have to come to the plant almost daily and mark their attendance. They sit idle in the plant for the entire day without work or pay. At least five workers have died of heart attack or other ailments since the last five months.

The union leaders alleged that while they were struggling to make their both ends meet, the MD of the company was drawing a salary of Rs 40,000 per month. A meeting for a decision on the fate of the workers, which was fixed for December 26, 2000, was postponed due to the busy schedule of the Chief Minister.


Scarcity of potable water irks residents
Underground water declared unfit
Tribune News Service

KOTKAPURA, Feb 3 — Residents of this town known as Asia’s biggest cotton market have not been receiving potable water supply for the past one week but the authorities concerned have “failed” to take necessary steps in this connection.

For the past one week, the residents of this town, which witnessed a number of deaths due to diarrhoea in 1998 and reported more than 500 cases of gastroenteritis in 1999 and 2000, have been consuming underground water which has been declared unfit for human consumption.

Some residents have made arrangements for underground water in their respective dwellings by installing hand pumps in the past two days as the authorities have failed to provide them adequate potable water.

However, Mr A. Venu Parsad, Deputy Commissioner, said piped water was being supplied to the residents in a restricted manner from storage tanks.

He added that due to closure of canals, all canal-based water supply systems in the area had been facing a shortage of water and to cope with the situation, the residents were being supplied water for two to three hours a day.

He said now water had been released in the canal systems in the area and residents would start getting adequate water supply within a day or two.

The residents pointed out that even in the localities where water was being supplied, they had to keep late hours at night and wake up early in the morning to fill a few buckets of water.

Even in these areas, water was being supplied after two to three days.

The residents fear that the piped water supply, when resumed, may be contaminated.

They pointed out that earlier, due to mixing of drinking water with sewage, diarrhoea epidemic had struck the town, resulting in over 500 persons being affected by gastroenteritis.

They have demanded that the authorities should make proper arrangements for the adequate supply of potable water.


Donates Rs 1 lakh on Waheguru’s order
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 3 — An old man dropped in The Tribune office here, handed over a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to the staff and moved towards the exit. On being stopped, he emphasised that he did not want publicity but only to help the unfortunate rendered homeless by the fury of nature in Gujarat.

The saintly figure was reluctant to reveal his identity but relented after a lot of persuasion. He identified himself as Ajit Singh Kular (75) of Sansarpur village, after The Tribune team followed him to a posh hotel where he has been putting up for the past about four years.

Mr Kular, attired in a plain shirt and trousers, refused to be photographed. “I am acting according to the Waheguru’s order. I don’t want my name to figure in paper for God will curse me and so will my innerself,” he said.

Mr Kular came to Jalandhar in 1987 after serving with the Railways in England for more than 30 years. Mr Kular has donated huge sums for the construction of a road in Bhunga Khurd village of Hoshiarpur district and construction of temples and gurdwaras. He has also contributed towards a school building.

In a novel gesture, Guru Nanak Mission Netarheen Birdh Ashram and the Sangeet Academy, Sapror Nangal village, decided to adopt at least 100 children who have been rendered orphans by the earthquake. Mr Paramjit Singh, secretary of the organisation, said the academy would keep the children at Sapror Nangal and bear expenses on their education and food.

A number of residents have approached The Tribune office with donations. They include Lt-Col K.S. Toor (Rs 20,000), Jyoti Nagar Welfare Society, Jalandhar (Rs 20,000), retired SP Surpal Singh (Rs 10000), Mr S.C. Shekhar, (Rs 5100), and Mr Gandharava Sen Kohli (Rs 5,933) of Jamsher Khas village. 


Galiara Yojana” faces neglect
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR: The glory of ‘Galiara’ (Beautification of the surroundings of Golden Temple), which was started amid fan-fare in 1988, has started fading away due to indifferent attitude of all concerned.

Patches of ‘dry grass’ can be seen at different places of the ‘Galiara’ even as two phases of the ‘five-phased’ Galiara scheme are yet to be completed. Garbage was seen littered at some places. The ‘grey areas’ have become an eye-sore for the devotees and residents of the surrounding areas. The district administration and the SGPC are equally responsible for the ‘neglect’ of Galiara.

Though the work on fourth phase of the Galiara Yojana has started after four years of the SAD-BJP coming into power, yet some “un-authorised” religious structures, which do not have any historical significance would hamper completion of the remaining phases as per original design. For the past four years, the Badal government did not bother to complete the ‘Galiara’. The earlier three phases were completed during Congress regime with total cost of Rs 75 crores. Mr Charnjit Gumtala, Senior Vice-President, Amritsar Vikas Manch alleged that the Badal government had virtually ignored the ‘beautification Plan’ for the past four years. He said while executing the fourth phase of ‘Galiara’ the department concerned was ignoring the original architectural design for want of funds. He said the remaining funds to the extent tune of Rs 50 crore should be released immediately for proper beautification of the surroundings of Golden Temple. Mr Jagmohan, Union Urban Development Minister, while reviewing the progress of ‘Galiara Yojna’ last year committed that adequate funds would be released immediately, but in vain.

On the other hand, widening of the road is being hampered as the SGPC Secretary, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, had wrote to the Deputy Commissioner that proper width of the road should be left while completing the fourth phase of ‘Galiara Yojana’.

As per the original architectural design, made by Delhi-based architect Ravindra Bhan, there was under-ground parking for more than 200 vehicles, apart from the fountains and green-belt from Serai to Chowk Ghanta Ghar - Mai Sewa Bazaar. There was also provision for land-scaping, dotted with fountains after demolishing the market in front of main entrance to the Golden Temple as part of fifth Phase of the ‘Galiara’ scheme. However, due to paucity of funds only a part of the fourth phase is being completed. Rupees 50 lakh would be spent on ‘Jora Ghar’ (Place for keeping shoes), apart from beautiful corridor for devotees. The Amritsar Vikas Manch spokesman said that non-historical structures should be demolished at the earliest to pave the way for the completion of rest of the phases of ‘Galiara’ scheme. The Manch said that the proposed parking should be shifted to proper place and ‘green belt’ should be developed as per the original design. It said at least Rs 100 crore should be spent on the surroundings of Golden Temple out of the Rs 300 crore received by the Punjab Government from Central Government for promotion of tourism. The Golden Temple is visited by Sikhs and foreigners of tourism. The Golden Temple is visited by Sikhs and foreigners from all over the world.

The residents of Amritsar demand that an Information Centre of international standards should be developed around the Golden Temple on the pattern of Anandgarh Sahib for the convenience of devotees. More than 30000 devotees throng Golden Temple every-day during the normal days. However, due to lack of traffic control traffic bottlenecks have become a routine.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch has urged the Punjab government to demolish all remaining structures, the owners of which had already claimed compensation worth crores of rupees some years ago.


No progress beyond foundation stone
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — Over the years, it has become a fashion among ruling politicians to cash in on the crowds available at religious melas by organising their party conferences on these occasions and laying foundation stones of minor schemes to project the developmental face of their government.

What is the fate of these projects after the foundation stone laying ceremony seems to be no concern of theirs. The number of foundation stones in this town has been rising every year.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, laid the foundation stone of a mega Punjab oil refinery project on November 13, 1998. In over two years, only a boundary wall and small administrative complex have come up on the about 2000 acres acquired for this project.

The project, which was to be completed within four years from the day its foundation was laid, has been delayed as the Union Government has not given any budgetary support for it. Now a new deadline in 2005 has been fixed for its completion.

On November 23, 2000, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, laid the foundation stone for a multi-storeyed Punjabi University College of Education building on a 20-kanal plot donated by the local Municipal Council.

The Punjabi University authorities claimed that Rs 25 lakh had been given to it for starting the construction of a four-storeyed building with all modern facilities. B.Ed. classes were to start from July, 2001, and 120 students were to be admitted for the course.

However, the Punjabi University authorities have not started construction at that site so far and the foundation stone is being used by the residents of surrounding areas to tether their animals.

Earlier, too, the district witnessed a number of foundation stone laying ceremonies by ruling politicians and bureaucrats and most of these projects turned out to be non-starters.

Late Chief Minister Beant Singh had laid the foundation stone for a Town Hall on September 3, 1992, on the Bathinda-Goniana road. Today, the foundation stone is being used to dry clothes and paste posters by the jhuggi dwellers in the area.

Similarly, the foundation stone for a veterinary college was laid at Rampuraphul by Beant Singh when he was Chief Minister, but the project has still not been completed. The gymnasium whose foundation stone was also laid by late Beant Singh is also lying incomplete.

Various projects, including Vishwakarma Market and Teachers’ Colony, named after first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, have been hanging fire for the past two decades.

The Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, had laid the foundation stone of a commerce block in the local Rajindra College about one-and-a-half year ago. Now this foundation stone is standing in isolation encircled by a high boundary wall.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, a number of big and small projects, whose foundation stones were laid by central and state politicians in and around this district in the past few years, are either non-starters or are lying incomplete, leading to wastage of funds and resources.


Fish market bane for residents
From Harjeet Singh and Jaswinder Paul Singh

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — The fish market opposite to the railway station here has become a nuisance for residents of a nearly locality.

Whereas encroachments are galore in the market, residents of Madhok Pura have to encounter foul smell, parking problems and abuses of drunkards who throng the area.

Owners of shops selling fish, electronic goods, etc and dhabawalas and hoteliers have encroached footpaths even though the district authorities have visited the market many times to check encroachments.

The real “filmi” scene at the fish market starts in the evening when many drunkards come here to buy fish and wine. Women and children of Madhok Pura prefer to go from the other gate of the locality instead of the market.

The residents say that the fish market should be shifted to some other place. However, the shopkeepers argue that they cannot go anywhere else as their business would fail.

Sources said that the Senior Superintendent of Police, Additional Deputy Commissioner, District Transport Officer and other senior officials had visited the site but nothing had been done in this connection.

Interestingly, the fish market is located at a short distance from the city kotwali.

Being a major railway junction in the region, many trains arrive here from all parts of the country. Passengers do not prefer to go through the fish market as the footpaths are occupied by vehicles which are parked by owners of the shops.

A resident of Madhok Pura said that they were facing various problems due to the fish market and the negative attitude of the shopkeepers. He said they did not prefer to come to the market in the evening as drunkards as hurled abuses at one another.

Asked why they did not lodge a complaint with the authorities concerned, another resident said the ADC, SSP, DTO and other officials were already aware of the whole situation.

Mr B.D. Singla of the municipal committee said they were aware of the whole situation and had done what they were supposed to do.


Doc gives law a ‘go-by’, builds structure
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — In a glaring example of violation of law, a piece of land which was to be used as a coal depot is to be converted into a hospital by a private doctor in the city. Dr Shiv Dutt Gupta, who owns the land on Amrik Singh Road has constructed a building to be converted into a hospital shortly.

The land was given to the doctor on concessional rates at one-fourth of the commercial price by the Improvement Trust. Due to the accumulation of the non-construction charges, the gross fine on the doctor added up to Rs 3 lakh of which an amount of Rs 1.80 lakh was waived by the authorities. The doctor then appealed to the Punjab Government that the remaining amount of Rs 1.20 lakh should also be waived.

The doctor was blessed doubly. He got the plot at concessional rates and then constructed an “unauthorised” building on it.

Residents of the area allege that political pressure on the Improvement Trust authorities has restrained them from taking action against the doctor.

As per the original plan of the trust, the plot was to have a coal depot and only open sheds and a room for the manager was to be constructed.

The residents have given applications in this regard to the district administration but to no avail.

Sources in the trust revealed that the doctor had been served notices under Sections 195-A and 195 of the Municipal Act and a notice under Section 81 of the same Act was “under process”.

The sources added that if permission was given under Section 81, the building would be demolished. However, the doctor has appealed to the higher authorities that “land conversion” should be allowed.

Dr Gupta said he was not aware of any illegal aspect of the construction on the plot.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg, chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, said the process of land conversion was going on with the higher authorities. The construction was irregular and not illegal, he added and denied any political pressure in the matter.


Plea for CBI inquiry rejected
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 3 — The Union Home Ministry has rejected a plea for a CBI inquiry into senior bank manager Naresh Mahajan’s murder case.

In a letter to Mr Gurdas Dasgupta, a former MP, Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, has clarified that unless the state government proposes and gives its consent under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, for extension of jurisdiction of the CBI in respect of that offence, the Central Government cannot suo motu entrust the investigation of an offence which has taken place in a state to the CBI.

He said since the matter was referred to the Punjab government which had reported that the Police Department was making all-out efforts to trace the culprit, there was no need to hand over the case to the CBI.

Expressing shock over the rejection of the plea by the Home Ministry, Mr Satya Pal Dang, a veteran CPI leader, and members of the family of the deceased said the stand of the Punjab Government of opposing the CBI inquiry did not come as a surprise to them considering the fact that the case had “ping-ponged” since 1998 from Amritsar to Chandigarh and back involving at least eight SPs and DSPs as investigation officers.


Pak flag, LeT’s effigy burnt
From Our Correspondent

WAGAH (Amritsar), Feb 3 — Taking a serious note of the help taken from Pakistan by India regarding relief operations in quake-hit Gujarat, the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front’s Amritsar unit, headed by Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu, general secretary, Punjab, today burnt an effigy of Lashkar-e-Toiba, and of the Pakistani flag.

Members of the front gathered in a protest march led by Mr Sidhu through the markets of the city and reached Wagah border.

The gathering was addressed at the border by various leaders of the front.


7 hurt as bus overturns
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 3 — At least seven persons were injured when a Himachal Roadways bus overturned on the Chandigarh-Ropar road near Charheri village, about 10 km from here. According to the sources, the accident occurred when the driver of the Chamba-bound bus got dazed due to the sharp light of a vehicle coming from the opposite direction and lost control. The bus was coming from Delhi.

Three of the injured were reported to be serious and were sent to PGI Chandigarh. Two were admitted to the local civil hospital and one in a Kurali hospital. Driver Surjit Singh and conductor Satish Kumar also sustained minor injuries and were treated at Anandpur Sahib hospital.


Action against contractor sought
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — Chander Shekhar, general secretary, CITU, Punjab, has condemned the alleged bullying by the new contractor of the local National Fertilisers Limited (NFL) and demanded action against the goons who threatened labourers on Thursday.

Addressing the mediapersons here today, he said the actions of the contractor were pre-planned. He alleged that the new contractor was using unfair means for forcing the labourers to accept low wages.

Mr Shekhar said according to the Labour laws, the contractor was liable to pay the existing wages to the labourers. He said they would meet the civil and police administration tomorrow to get a case registered against the culprits.


800 cases taken up at lok adalat
From Our Correspondent

PATHANKOT, Feb 3 — A special lok adalat for bank cases was held here today under the guidance of Mr Justice N.K. Sood of The Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority and Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, also of the same court.

As many as 800 cases of Bank loans were taken up for disposal. Out of these, 700 cases were at the preliminary stage as no suit had been filed by the banks concerned.

A total of five courts were held. The courts were presided over by Mr Satwinder Singh, PCS, Civil Judge, Senior Division, Gurdaspur (Senior Sub Judge), Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, PCS, Civil Judge, Senior Division Chief Judicial Magistrate, (Gurdaspur), Mr Bhajan Ram, PCS, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Pathankot, Mr Harish Anand, PCS, Civil Judge, Junior Division, and Mr Karnail Singh, PCS, Civil Judge, Junior Division, Pathankot.

Mr M.R. Batra, PCS, District and Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, Mr D.K. Monga, Member Secretary, Punjab State Legal Services Authority, were also present. As many as 600 cases were settled with mutual consent. The lok adalats persuaded the banks concerned to relinquish their claims to arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement. In some cases, even 52 to 80 per cent of the claim amount was relinquished.

A seminar on free legal aid and lok adalat was also held in the Bar complex. Mr Justice Bedi presided over the seminar.

He informed that persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, children, under-trial prisoners, retarded or handicapped persons, industrial workers and any others having an annual income less than Rs 30,000 were entitled to free legal Aid.

Mr Justice Bedi further disclosed that up to November 30, 2000, the Punjab Legal Services Authority received 28,477 applications and legal services were offered for 26131 cases. As many as 1621 lok adalats were held during his period at which 1,30,001 cases were put up for hearing and 86924 disposed of.

Mr Batra, District and Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur, welcomed the chief guest and the local Bar Association hosted a lunch in honour of both judges.

Mr Bikram, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Varinder Sharma, SSP, Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Mr K.K. Garg, SDM, and Mr Vibhu Raj, were also present.


Technical staff hold protest
From Our Correspondent

ABOHAR, Feb 3 — Technical and Mechanical Employees Union organised a protest march here today. The procession, which started from the Public Health Department’s divisional office, converted into a rally near the bus stand.

The employee leaders, including Mr Gurdial Singh Sandhu, Mr Piyara Singh Mangat, Mr Suba Ram, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Mr Harbhajan Singh Nizzar, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Bisheshar Nath, Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Rakesh Kumar, Mr Maya Parkash, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Om Prakash, Mr Kashmiri Lal and Mr Mohinder Singh expressed concern over the increasing political interference in the day-to-day working of the department.

They warned the local MLA to desist from interfering otherwise all unions would resort to a demonstration at his residence.

Book exhibition
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — The managing committee of the local Public Library organised a book exhibition in which the different titles of the old and new books were displayed.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, who donated Rs 1.5 lakhs for the construction of freedom fighter hall at the library.

Mr Jagdish Singh Ghai, general secretary of the library, said the library had more than 30,000 books, 110 magazines and 32 dailies.


Residential scheme brochure
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — The local Improvement Trust has released a brochure containing information on various residential and commercial schemes, rules and regulations for plot holders and on its future plans.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, talking to TNS, said the brochure had been released to bring about transparency.

Ashram to adopt 50 orphans
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 3 — The Guru Nanak Netarheen and Birdh Ashram cum-Sangeet Natak Akademi, of Sapror village yesterday declared that it would adopt 50 children who had become orphans in Gujarat earthquake.

The Ashram, which houses the blind and the aged, is run by five “netarheen” NRIs,


Punjab Stamp Duty “collection up”
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 3 — Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, Punjab, said that his department had collected Rs 285.60 crore by way of registration fee and Stamp Duty in the first half of current year which was Rs 73.50 crore more than the corresponding period of last year. He said that there was 34 per cent increase in the collections of various duties in the Revenue Department.

He said that revenue collection had gone up because of computerisation of the entire office work in the department. It has marked the end of fake registration of revenue documents and also had plugged other several loopholes in the revenue work. He said that to avoid frauds in the registration of land deeds, the authorities concerned had been told to affix the photographs of the registering officer and both parties on the deeds. He said that efforts were being made to reconstruct the missing record of the department. In future supervising officers would be taken to task in case of report of missing record from any place in the state.


Youth stages own kidnapping
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Feb 3 — A case of extorting money from one’s own parents has come to light in the district following the arrest of Amrik Singh a resident of Bhadla village by the police.

SP (H), I.S. Randhawa told The Tribune, that taking a clue from the spurt of kidnapping for ransom, Amrik Singh concocted a story to grab money from his own parents.

He said Amrik Singh was employed with Jai Maan Industry, Mandi Gobindgarh. He used to collect payments for the industry from other towns. On January 23 he collected a payment of Rs 40,000 from the owners of Aggarwal Industry, Rajpura, and informed his employers that he had collected the payment and would come the next day on January 24, his parents lodged a complaint with the police that their son had gone to collect money but had not returned.

On January 25 they made a representation to the SSP in this regard and informed him that the previous night someone threw two letters and the clothes their son was wearing into their house.

In these letters the ransom of Rs 5 lakh was demanded from his father and Rs 10 lac from his uncle, who is a commission agent for the release of their son and it was also threatened in the letter that if they failed to give the ransom up to January 30 by 5 p.m. their son would be murdered.

Policemen in plain clothes were deputed around the site mentioned in the letter for handing over the ransom amount, but no one came to collect the ransom amount.

Again on January31 the parents got a telephone call to bring the money near Indoor Stadium, Mandi Gobindgarh. The police again laid the trap to nab the extortionists. On the given time a young man wearing a helmet came to the site on a motor cycle. When he was about to take away the ransom amount, the police nabbed him and took him to CIA staff, Sirhind.

Mr Randhawa said when the complainant was called for identification, he was stunned to see his own son Amrik Singh.

On further interrogation he confessed that just to grab money from his parents he had enacted the kidnap drama.

On the request of the panchayat and prominent residents the police did not register the case.


Rs 30,000 looted from petrol station
From Our Correspondent

FAZILKA, Feb 3 — At least 10 masked men looted Rs 30,000 from a petrol station on the Fazilka-Abohar road near Banwala village, 6 km from here, today. According to a report lodged with the police by Mr Raghav Dhuria, operator of the government-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd petrol station, the dacoits, carrying some firearms and other weapons, reached the petrol station around 2 a.m., cut off telephone wire and forcibly took keys of safe from the employees.

They decamped with nearly Rs 30,000 from the safe. They also threatened the petrol station staff with dire consequences if they informed the police. The police has registered a case and investigations are on in this regard.


Drive against flesh trade yields results
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 3 — Sandy (not real name) has been running a brothel in this city for the past one year and has been luring innocent girls belonging to rural areas of this district into the profession of flesh trade. She used to charge between Rs 500 and Rs 1000 from the customers.

Similarly, Richpal and her husband Madan (both names changed) used to bring girls from the rural areas to earn money after forcing them into the flesh trade in their rented accommodation in this city.

All three persons are now facing criminal proceedings after finding themselves in jail as the district police authorities have launched an intensive drive against flesh trade and succeeded to a considerable extent to check this menace.

Police sources said that in the past one year the district police had registered six cases of flesh trade against many persons under Sections 3 and 5 of the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956. In January the district police had registered two more such cases in different police stations.

Sources said in most of the cases the girls who were found working in these brothels had been lured to this profession by the accused under false pretexts. Most of the girls belonged to the rural areas and had not acquired college education.

The police authorities had also arrested one couple where the husband, who was running a hotel in the city, was running the brothel in connivance with his wife in the same hotel. The husband also used to exploit the girls.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, most of the brothels were being operated from residential areas so that these could escape the attention of the police. The girls were brought from other states also.

According to information, a majority of these women had joined the profession under duress due to their bad economic condition.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said the district police so far had registered cases against 25 women and nine men belonging to different areas of the district.

Most of the women are in the 20-28 age group and belong to the less developed localities of the city. The areas where these persons have been running the flesh trade are Amarpura Basti, Ajit Road, Street Natha Singh Wali, Deep Singh Nagar, Power House Road, Chandsar Basti, Guru Nanak Mohalla and Takht Mall Road.


Move on colleges opposed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 3 — Mr Narinder Sharma, President of the Muktsar district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union has strongly opposed the move to transfer the affiliation of Colleges of Muktsar district to Punjabi University, Patiala from the Panjab University.

Mr Sharma, in a statement, said that there would no benefit of such a move to any one. Instead, students would be put to a lot of inconvenience. The Government has set up a committee of officials of various universities to re-allocate colleges to various universities on the basis of their proximity to the University concerned.


PCCTU academic session today
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 3 — Annual Academic Session of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will be held at the Panjab University Extension Library, Ludhiana on February 4.

General Secretary PCCTU Charanjit Chawla, stated in a press note that Master Mohan Lal, Minister Higher Education, Punjab will preside over the session while Dr H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, will be the guest of honour. Mr Joginder Singh, former Director, CBI, and Prof Sucha Singh Gill, eminent economist, will present papers on “Excellence in Education” and “Crises in Higher Education” on the occasion. Delegates from more than 170 colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh are expected to participate.

Meanwhile the PCCTU expressed shock over the devastation caused by the earthquake in Gujarat. The PCCTU has called for maximum contribution from its colleges to the State Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.


Procession taken out to collect relief material
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Feb 3 — A large procession was taken out through the streets of the city, headed by Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University here today.

The procession comprising teachers, students and employees of the university and of all the institutions affiliated to the university such as Modi College, Bikram College of Commerce, Patiala College of Management, College of Information and Technology and Government Mohindra College who started collecting donations for the relief of victims of Gujarat from Baradari Garden passing through Sherawala Gate, TB Hospital, Lahori Gate, Arya Samaj, Old Press Road, Sher-e-Punjab Market, Dharampura Bazar, Anardana Chowk, Adalat Bazar, Quilla Chowk, Gur Mandi, Shahi Samadhan and culminated at the campus of Mohindra College.

The overwhelming response of the people of city, who made generous donations for the earthquake victims of Gujarat, alongwith amount of Rs 6 lakh collected by over 400 teachers, 700 students and 200 employees of the university would be sent to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

The students of the Fine Arts Department prepared various paintings depicting the tragic scenes of the effect of earthquake including dead and crushed bodies, misery, pain and destruction which were displayed during the procession. The students of the Theatre and Television Department staged nukkar nataks at various junctions during the procession.

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