Monday, February 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal mingles with voters
Police on tenterhooks
Tribune News Service

MAJITHA, Feb 4 — Even as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, who has “Z plus” security, continues to freely mingle with voters of this constituency, once infested by militants, the police remains on tenterhooks.

Mr Badal often castigates security personnel if they prevent voters from coming too near him during electioneering.

The Chief Minister is among five persons in the country, including Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, and Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, a former President of the Indian Youth Congress, who are covered under the “Z plus” security.

Majitha was one of the worst-affected areas during the peak of militancy. Hence, it was carved out as a separate police district. The Majitha police has pressed sniffer dogs into service. The venue of the SAD rallies are thoroughly checked before the arrival of Mr Badal.

A senior police official, who did not want to be identified, said Mr Badal must not mingle with the voters.

During a visit to Mattewal village and its adjoining areas where more than 40 militants were killed in encounters during terrorism, Mr Badal was seen frequently chating with people. This invariably worried the security forces.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former Union Minister and son of Mr Badal, and almost the entire Punjab Cabinet are camping here, making the task of the forces even more difficult.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, a resident of Mattewal village, the ancestral village of Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, Advocate-General of Punjab, said: “Many youths of the region were killed in fake encounters. The state’s biggest encounter took place between Sheetal Singh Mattewal, chief of the Dashmesh Regiment, and the police which lasted 48 hours”.

The security forces are keeping a strict vigil on the border. The police does not rule out ‘mischief’ by Pakistan to disrupt the byelection. “We cannot take chances on this front”, another senior police officer told TNS.


Christian Front to back SAD
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 4 — The Christian Front Punjab has announced its support for the SAD candidate in the forthcoming Majitha byelection.

The constituency has nearly 30,000 Christian votes.

In a press note here, the front said at a rally of Christians at Tarpai village it was decided to support the SAD candidate.

The note claimed that all demands of the community had been met by the Badal Government which had also assured, the release of funds worth Rs 11 lakh for Masih Bhavan at Dera Baba Nanak.


Space shortage hampers milling
FCI ‘diktats’ slowing down operations
Tribune News Service

MUKTSAR, Feb 4 — The acute shortage of space to store rice and the alleged ‘diktats’ of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) authorities in connection with the acceptance of same, seems to have started hampering the paddy milling operations in Bathinda, Mansa and this district.

The slow movement of rice from the FCI godowns to other rice consuming states of country due to the fact that over the years the Punjab rice has lost its reputation and the rice consuming states have started declining to accept the same, has led to the scarcity of space.

Official sources said that in these three districts, the percentage of paddy milled was not significant and if the same conditions prevailed, the state procurement agencies could suffer huge financial loss.

The millers alleged that whenever they used to take one consignment of rice to the FCI authorities for acceptance, they were asked to give rice in the FCI quota despite the fact that they had milled that paddy which belonged to state procurement agencies.

They added that when they refused to follow the ‘diktats’ of FCI officials, their consignment of rice was not accepted and they were made to suffer losses. Due to non-acceptance of rice by FCI officials, they were left with no other alternative but to slow down the milling operation ignoring the further losses which they would suffer on account of overhead charges, including electricity bills.

They said that rice from those millers, who were falling into the line of FCI officials, were being accepted by violating the levy control order.

Official sources said that state procurement agencies which purchased about 68 per cent of total paddy that arrived in the purchase centres and grain markets last year could managed to mill 16.1 per cent of total paddy in Bathinda district, 8.5 per cent in Mansa district and only 6 per cent in Muktsar district from the millers under custom milling. On the other hand, the FCI which purchased the remaining 32 per cent of the total paddy arrived last year, had managed to mill 18.7 per cent, 12.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent paddy in the same districts in the corresponding period.

The FCI authorities had also been using the services of those mills, which had defaulted in making the delivery of rice in the previous years and barred from custom milling in this season, to get their paddy stock milled, the sources added. In this way, the FCI authorities had been violating the custom milling policy approved by the Punjab Cabinet.

The rice mill owners alleged that though they had been allotted the exclusive agencies for which they had been milling the paddy, the FCI authorities had been taking rice from them in its own account. They added that on the other hand, the FCI officials were making inordinate delays in delivering the paddy in lieu of rice taken by the FCI from them in advance. They alleged that FCI officials had been doing so despite the fact that they had not signed any contract with the FCI in connection with paddy milling.

Mr Devinder Singh, District Manager, FCI, Muktsar, when contacted on phone, said that there was no shortage of space to store the rice being delivered by the millers after milling the paddy. He denied that FCI officials were forcing the millers to deliver the rice to the FCI which otherwise belonged to state procurement agencies.

He said that no miller of this district ever complained to him against any official of FCI from whom the consignments of rice had been taken forcibly and the paddy in lieu of that rice was not delivered to him.

Mr K.L. Chaudhary, District Manager, Bathinda and Mansa, when contacted, said that paddy milling operations were running smoothly and FCI officials were cooperating with all millers. He added that reason for milling of less quantity of paddy so far was that milling operations during the current season were delayed.

Official sources said that state procurement agencies which purchased about 68 per cent of total paddy that arrived in the purchase centres and grain markets last year could managed to mill 16.1 per cent of total paddy in Bathinda district, 8.5 per cent in Mansa district and only 6 per cent in Muktsar district from the millers under custom milling. On the other hand, the FCI which purchased the remaining 32 per cent of the total paddy arrived last year, had managed to mill 18.7 per cent, 12.5 per cent and 6.2 per cent paddy in the same districts in the corresponding period.

The FCI authorities had also been using the services of those mills, which had defaulted in making the delivery of rice in the previous years and barred from custom milling in this season, to get their paddy stock milled, the sources added. In this way, the FCI authorities had been violating the custom milling policy approved by the Punjab Cabinet.

The rice mill owners alleged that though they had been allotted the exclusive agencies for which they had been milling the paddy, the FCI authorities had been taking rice from them in its own account. They added that on the other hand, the FCI officials were making inordinate delays in delivering the paddy in lieu of rice taken by the FCI from them in advance. They alleged that FCI officials had been doing so despite the fact that they had not signed any contract with the FCI in connection with paddy milling.

Mr Devinder Singh, District Manager, FCI, Muktsar, when contacted on phone, said that there was no shortage of space to store the rice being delivered by the millers after milling the paddy. He denied that FCI officials were forcing the millers to deliver the rice to the FCI which otherwise belonged to state procurement agencies.

He said that no miller of this district ever complained to him against any official of FCI from whom the consignments of rice had been taken forcibly and the paddy in lieu of that rice was not delivered to him.

Mr K.L. Chaudhary, District Manager, Bathinda and Mansa, when contacted, said that paddy milling operations were running smoothly and FCI officials were cooperating with all millers. He added that reason for milling of less quantity of paddy so far was that milling operations during the current season were delayed.


2 Babbar Khalsa men arrested
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR Feb 4—A Babbar Khalsa conspiracy to cause another round of bomb explosions in Punjab and Delhi was averted following arrest of two Pakistan-trained aides of Wadhawa Singh, Pakistan-based chief of the ISI backed militant outfit by the Jalandhar police along with 9 kg of PETN explosive and 15 kg heroin.

Narinder Singh, one of the arrested has been operating from the Kapurthala jail, where he had been lodged since October last after seizure of 5 kg heroin from his possession, while his associate Gurdial Singh, who has also been arrested along with him, had been in touch with his Germany, UK, and Norway-based links, particularly Baghel Singh with the help of latest electronic equipment and the tele-conferencing facility. The PCOs from where these people used to make phone calls abroad, were manned by blind persons so as to avoid any detection by the intelligence agencies.

In addition to the PETN and heroin, two ABCD timers, four mechanical and four electrical detonators and fake currency notes worth Rs 7000 has also been seized from the arrested persons. The bulk of consignment was passed on to Gurdial Singh, a resident of Kothe Kalasanghian village in Kapurthala district on the instructions of Narinder Singh, who has been made to join the investigation on the basis of production warrants. The consignment was found to have been buried at two different locations. revealed Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP.

According to Mr Yadav, the interrogation of the two arrested terrorists has revealed a multi-layered conspiracy, being cooked up by Wadhawa Singh and his Germany-based associate Baghel Singh to cause bomb explosions at various places in Punjab as well as Delhi. Baghel Singh acted as the link between Gurdial Singh and Wadhawa Singh, who used to sometimes contact the former at the PCO of Narinder Singh at his ancestral Shiekh Talwara village. Besides Gurdial Singh, Wadhawa Singh had been maintaining communication with other members of the terrorist module and parallel sub-modules.

Narinder Singh, who initially worked as a cycle mechanic at his Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala shop, was brought to the terrorist net by Gurvinder Singh Puppy, an operative of the International Sikh Youth Federation and also of the Babbar Khalsa. Puppy has already been arrested while Narinder Singh was out on bail in March last year but was again brought back into the ring by Baghel Singh for reactivating the dormant Wadhawa Singh in Punjab.

On the other hand, Gurdial Singh, who did his plus two from the RCF, Kapurthala Senior Secondary in 1991 to became the part of the outfit for he needed money for the treatment of his pregnant and ailing wife and was arrested in the same year for murder of Darshan Singh, a Chuharpur village resident. He went to Pakistan with Narinder Singh in September last year , came back and was allegedly planning to cause bomb explosions as per the instructions of his bosses across the border, said Mr Yadav.


No pay for docs doing postgraduation
From Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 4 — The Punjab Government has decided not to pay the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) doctors who chose to do postgraduation. This will adversely affect the rural healthcare with not many doctors opting to serve the rural areas of the state.

A major incentive for PCMS doctors in the state was 60 per cent in-house reservation for PCMS doctors with three years of rural service. During the period of postgraduation, these doctors were paid full salary with other incentives like annual increments, seniority, etc. But a recent decision of the state government to treat the duration of the doctors’ postgraduation as extraordinary leave is bound to have-far-reaching ramifications for the health care in rural areas.

As per the notification of the Government of Punjab, department of Medical Education and Research, dated January 5, 2001, “The PCMS doctors who get admission in postgraduate courses under the sanctioned quota would be treated as on extraordinary leave without pay for the period of the course and will be paid stipend at the same rate as is paid to those who gain admission against the balance 40 per cent seats”.

The direct implication of this decision will be that doctors will no longer prefer to undertake rural service. “The most important single factor that prompted medical graduates to undertake rural service was the benefit of doing postgraduation while in service at a later date”, according to Dr Hardip Singh, spokesperson for the Central Committee of the PCMS Association, Punjab.

The decision of the Punjab Government has come as a second setback for the government doctors, as the government postgraduate doctors have already lost the benefit of three increments as per the Fourth Pay Commission recommendations. The decision to stop further increments till the doctors are doing postgraduation will further hit them financially.

The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, which is conducting an admission test for its postgraduate course, has invited applications by February 12. The prospectus of the university clearly states that the candidates desirous of seeking admission against the 60 per cent reservation would be treated under the new rules of the state government.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the PCMS Association, Punjab, has decided to launch a state-level agitation against the government’s decision. A dharna would be held in Amritsar on February 11. This was decided at a meeting of the committee held here and presided over by Dr D.C Sharma, state general secretary, and Dr Ravinder Sethi, Vice-president of the association.

Those who decide to go ahead and join postgraduation despite the new rules will have to pay about Rs 73,000 and will, at the same time, lose their salary and other benefits.

All those wishing to seek admission at the Government Medical Colleges Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, Government Dental Colleges Amritsar and Patiala and Government Ayurvedic College Patiala would be affected by the decision.


Rival group misleading docs: PCMSA
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 4— PCMS doctors doing postgraduate courses in state medical colleges will continue to be considered on duty and get full pay instead of a stipend, as mentioned in a recent advertisement for admission to postgraduate courses.

This was claimed by Dr M.S. Randhawa , Dr D.S. Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, President and General Secretary of the PCMS Association, respectively, here today. They said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Health Minister had already given an assurance in this regard to the PCMS Association recently .

The association claimed that a handful of ‘self-styled-leaders’ of a breakaway group were trying to exploit the matter to embarrass the state government and appealed to the PCMS doctors to ignore the propaganda, alleging that it was politically motivated .

Meanwhile the association decided that all PCMS doctors would donate at least their one-day salary to the Gujarat earthquake relief fund.

All doctors, nursing and paramedical staff and Class IV employees of the local Mata Kaushalya hospital donated their one-day salary for the relief fund and volunteered their services for medical teams to be sent to Gujarat.


Riot-hit descend on Majitha
By Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

MAJITHA, Feb 4 — Corner meetings being held by Delhi riot victims may trigger communal passions in this area which witnessed a number of killings during terrorism.

A large jatha of widows and other victims of the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 have launched an intensive campaign against the Punjab Pradesh Congress. “Voting for the Congress will justify Operation Bluestar and the riots”, they say.

The riot victims have fitted the public address system on specially designed four-wheelers which carry huge posters of Sikhs with burning tyres around their necks.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, has also been harping on the infamous Operation Bluestar.

Mr Surjit Singh, president, Danga Pirat Welfare Society, told TNS that 1,000 riot victims, including 200 widows had reached the Majitha constituency for campaigning against the Congress.

He said the society had ensured the defeat of the Congress during the Nawanshahr and Sunam byelections.

Riot victims from Delhi, Bokaro (Bihar) and Uttar Pradesh had already reached here. Most victims were staying in serais run by the SGPC.

Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Surjit Singh Saluja, senior vice-president and secretary of the society, respectively, said they would remind to the voters of Majitha how mercilessly Sikhs were ‘butchered’ by the rioters.

They denied the riot victims were being ‘used’ by the ruling party. However, ‘specially designed trucks’ were seen parked in the SGPC complex.


Demolition drive triggers violence
From Harjeet Singh

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — The demolition drive launched by the Punjab Urban Development Authorities (PUDA) on the Dhobiana road today triggered violence, leaving many policemen and other people injured and forcing the police to resort to firing in the air.

The anti-encroachment drive launched this morning by the PUDA officials went on smoothly till 3 p.m. Residents of permanent and kutcha dwellings first started demolishing their own structures. Some of them shifted their belongings to other places and allowed the demolition squad of PUDA to pull down the structure.

The demolition squad faced resistance when they were clearing the structures on the proposed 80-foot wide road passing from phase three of Urban Estate. At this moment, a number of residents of this area who turned into a mob started pelting stones on the policemen and also started beating them with lathis and sharp-edged weapons.

To disperse the mob, the police fired four rounds in the air and resorted to a mild lathi charge. The police also took an unspecified number of encroachers into custody.

The injured in the incident included an inspector of police and two other cops, Angrej Kaur and Ram Singh.

Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Chief Administrator (ACA), PUDA, who reached the spot, said about 60 houses had been pulled down. He added that all the encroachers were issued prior notice for vacating their houses. Some of them were also given 25 square yard plots free of cost.

He added that the encroachment had to be removed as some vital roads were to be constructed.

The encroachers also damaged the bulldozer used by the officials.

However, the residents alleged that they were not served any prior notice to vacate the land. The demolition squad descended on the area in a surprise move and started demolishing the structures without giving them enough time to shift their belongings.

They also alleged that they were only offered but not given any plots in lieu of vacating the land which they were occupying.


From militancy to anti-ageing methods
By A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 4 — From rearing Punjab militants to teaching anti-ageing techniques is a long journey. But Dr Sohan Singh, a one-time leading ideologue of the dreaded Panthic Committee which spearheaded the violent “Khalistan” movement in Punjab for more than a decade, appears to be moving towards the road to normalcy rather smoothly.

In June, 1984, when Operation Bluestar was undertaken in the Golden Temple complex by the security forces to flush out Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his band of armed militants, Dr Sohan Singh says that he was in Shimla on an assignment of the Himachal Pradesh Government. But the security forces were looking for him in the Golden Temple complex because they suspected that as an aide of Sant Jarnail Singh, he should be in the shrine. Dr Sohan Singh then went underground in Shimla.

He continued to evade the security forces for nearly a decade. He claims that he remained in India and Nepal all these years before he was arrested from a locality in Nepal by the police of that country and handed over to the Indian authorities on October 23, 1993.

Although the Punjab police says that he had crossed over to Pakistan and has photographs showing him in the company of the Afghan warlord, Gulbudddin Hekmatyar, Dr Sohan Singh insists that there was no such thing and the photographs, if any, were doctored.

He is reluctant to talk about the years of militancy in Punjab but says that it was a chaotic movement. “I never knew who was issuing statements on my behalf and sending these to newspapers”, he points out in a talk with Tribune News Service.

He has now returned to his favourite topic of “reversal of ageing through anti-gravity techniques”. He held a seminar today at Lajpat Rai Bhavan here where he held forth on the benefits of anti-gravity techniques to reverse ageing for more than hour.

He began research in the field when he was the Director of Health and Family Planning, Punjab, in the 70s. The research is still continuing but on the basis of his findings so far he is convinced that ageing can not only be slowed but also reversed.

A human being tends to shrivel up in old age. According to him, there are three causes for it. First is the heat deficit: the body cannot produce enough heat to keep its temperature at 98.4°F. This is the first cause of ageing. The second is calorie deficit: the body does not have enough food or enough appetite. This in turn affects all bodily functions. The third cause is the fluid deficit: if a man’s fluid intake is reduced, his body will shrivel.

He believes that compressional stress on the spine caused by gravitation is the direct cause of ageing. If gravitation can be reduced by putting the patient on an inclined bed for some time, the results could be miraculous. He got an inclined bed made in Hisar way back in the 70s and experiments on patients showed positive results. As a matter of fact, he treated the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, on an inclined bed and he showed immediate positive results with regard to his stress-related problems.

He soon perfected the technique and opened a clinic in a house opposite the General Hospital in Sector 16 here and started treating between 70 to 80 patients every day.

He regretted that the PGI declined to accept his research. The Government of Punjab, too, failed to recognise his anti-gravity techniques as a line of treatment for ageing.

Dr Sohan Singh quotes his example. “Look at me. I am 87. My memory is sharp. My face has few wrinkles, if any. I have not shrivelled as an old man of my age should. I weigh 83 kg. I am ramrod straight. I feel not more than 60-62 years of age. My beard, which should be absolutely white, has strands of dark hair. My head, which was absolutely bald till not very long ago, has started growing dark hair once again. All this is due to my anti-gravity techniques”.


Illegal constructions continue unabated
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 4 — Unauthorised high-rise constructions that may pose threat to the life of general public are continuing unabated in the market area of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) township at Nangal.

In a complaint to the Chairman of the BBMB, the owner of a shop in the township, Mr Bhupinder Singh, has alleged that his building has developed cracks and holes due to the unauthorised construction of a five-storey structure adjoining his building. The BBMB management which owns the entire land in the township seems to remain a mute spectator to these illegal constructions. It has not done much beyond filing a case against the accused in its estate office. In the estate office, hardly any case has been settled in the past decade.

Many cases of bias on the part of the local BBMB management have also come to the fore. While it has given the electricity connections in certain cases, it has denied it to the others. A stay order from the civil court has been obtained in the case of a six-storey building that came up recently in the market area. However, the other such buildings do not face any action.

After the earthquake in Gujarat and a predicted quake in north India, panic has spread among those who own buildings adjoining the high-rises.

The ex-Chief Engineer of the BBMB (Irrigation), Mr Khosla, had blamed the non-cooperative attitude of the local police in failing to check encroachments.

The current Chief Engineer (Irrigation) said, “I have no right to comment upon the issue. Only the board office at Chandigarh has this right.


Bibi meets supporters ahead of hearing
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 4 — Former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur last night had closed-door meeting with her close associates at an eating place on the outskirts of Phagwara block. Eyewitness today told this reporter that while Bibi Jagir Kaur came around 9 pm, her supporters started trickling in a few minutes later.

Bibi was accompanied by three women, one of them believed to be Mrs Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, owner of Phagwara-based palatial Jasdil Mansion where Harpeet Kaur, daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, had stayed before her controversial death on April 21 last year. The meeting continued a little after 10 pm, the sources said. However, what transpired at the meeting could not be known.

CBI had filed a charge sheet on January 31 at Patiala dropping Section 302 against Bibi but accusing her of getting her daughter Harpreet kidnapped, keeping her in illegal detention and hurriedly disposing of the body.

Accepting the charge sheet, the Judge had fixed February 13 as next date of hearing and issued notice to Bibi and others to appear in court. In this context Bibi’s last night’s meeting with her associates is seen as significant, sources said.


18 Lok Adalats held in Hoshiarpur
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Feb 4 — Eighteen Lok Adalats were organised under the presidentship of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, at the PWD Rest House, Dasuya, 40 km from here, today. Mr Justice N.K. Sood, Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr D.S. Grewal, SP, were also present on the occasion. As many as 2685 cases were taken up of which 2,000 were settled on the spot. Awards amounting to Rs 3 crore were passed.

The cases were dealt with simple claim applications filed by the banks without any regular suit, which not only benefited the banks to effect recoveries without any stamp duty, counsel fee and other expenses but also saved the defaulters/loanees from other expenses. Banks also waived a portion of the loan amounts in certain cases.

These courts were presided over by Mr C.D. Gupta, ADJ, Hoshiarpur, Mr D.K. Monga, member secretary, Punjab Legal Services Authority Chandigarh, Mr B.C. Gupta, ADJ, Hoshiarpur, Mr H.P.S. Mahal, Additional Director, Legal Services, Chandigarh, Mrs Archna Puri, CJM, Hoshiarpur, Mr Tejwinder Singh, SDJM, Dasuya, Mrs Romesh Kumari ACJ (SD) Hoshiarpur, Mr R.K. Gupta CJ(JD), Hoshiarpur, Mr Sangeet Pal Singh, CJ(JD), Hoshiarpur, Mrs Vineeta Modi CJ(JD), Hoshiarpur, Mr CJ(JD), Hoshiarpur, Mr Virinder Aggarwal, ACJ (SD), Garhshanker, Mr D.R. Arora, CJ(SD), Jalandhar, Mr J.C. Garg, CJM, Jalandhar, Mr M.P. Singh Pahwa, ACJ (SD), Jalandhar, Mr K.K. Kakkar, CJ(JD), Jalandhar, and Mr H.S. Grewal, CJ(JD), Jalandhar. The participating banks were Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala and Punjab and Sind Bank.

There was also a seminar on free legal aid and the role of Lok Adalats. Mr Justice H.S. Bedi gave details about various schemes of the Punjab State Legal Authority regarding free legal aid and legal services to the poor and weaker sections of society.

He added that the state legal services authority had received 28,477 applications up to November, 2000, of which legal service was provided to 26,131 persons. He said 1,621 Lok Adalats were held in the state in which 1,30,001 cases were put up. As many as 86,924 cases were disposed of and awards worth Rs 129,38,51,180, including motor accidents claims, were decided.

He said for the settlement of bank loan cases 15 special Lok Adalats were organised till January 21 in which 7,364 cases were taken up out of which 3,417 were disposed of and award of Rs 14,62,13,106 had been passed.

He said keeping in view the success of Lok Adalats, a special Lok Adalat to dispose of criminal cases with the help of police would be organised on March 4 in Patiala.


Broken roads cause back injury
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — Drive carefully on the city roads or you may land yourself in hospital with back problem.

Most of the interior as well as main roads are dotted with potholes. Several persons who have driven motor cycles and scooters without taking due care have subsequently suffered from disc displacement.

A cross-section of orthopaedic doctors talking to TNS said they received patients with disc displacement almost daily. Most sustained the injury during driving.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the Bathinda-Goniana road, the Bathinda-Barnala road, the Bathinda-Dabwali road, the Bathinda-Barnala bypass and the Bathinda-Mansa road upto the ITI Chowk were in bad shape and required immediate repair.

Most of the roads in the city interiors are also in bad shape with deep potholes.

Dr Rajesh Badyal, a local orthopaedic doctor pointed out that disc displacement and vertebra injuries were common among those who travelled in tractor-trailers. Those who used rickshaws to commute also suffered such problems.

Sources said the main roads have not been repaired as Punjab Government has been facing financial crises.

Sources said though the national highway authorities had sent the estimate for recarpeting of a section of the Bathinda-Goniana road, the authorities concerned could not provide adequate funds for the same.

Most roads have developed cracks during the rainy season. Due to a defective sewerage system, at times sewerage water flows on to the city roads.

Some of the newly carpeted roads in the town developed potholes after these were digged up for laying telephone cables.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, when contacted, said in the first phase the main roads had been given a fresh coating of premix. In the second phase, which would start in March, all lanes and bylanes would be recarpeted.


Improvement trust fails to deliver
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — The Bathinda Improvement Trust (BIT) was founded in 1973 and since then its budget has grown to Rs 9 crore for 2000-01.

The budgetary requirements of the BIT are taken care of by the various charges, fees, fines and profits generated by the trust and it has no grant-in-aid system. The trust operates on a no-profit basis for the residential plot holders and they pay heavy development charges to the BIT for undertaking development works.

Even as the development charges levied by the BIT have grown over the years, development schemes exist only on paper. Of the various schemes launched by the BIT, the 16.44 scheme, which was launched way back in 1992-1993, has not got the ‘facility’ of an underground sewer system. The 25.21 scheme was also launched in the same year and under it drinking water has been made available only in some parts and work on the sewer system is yet to be completed. The main line of the 25.21 scheme has been completed and the branches would be completed soon, an official of the BIT said.

Interestingly, a newly released information brochure of the BIT claims that the water and sewer connections would be released within three working days from the date of receipt of a plot holder’s application.

However, a senior official of the trust said such promises could not be implemented as there was no main sewer line in the area.

Tenders for roads, street lights, water supply connections and sewage disposal had been floated under the 49.50 scheme, which was launched in 1998. Though all development charges were paid by the plot holders, only poles have been erected in the past three years since the 25.21 scheme was launched in 1998. Legal complications and litigation at various stages was the main reason behind these problems, officials claimed.

On the other hand, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, BIT, said that sewerage facilities were not provided in the 16.44 schemes due to the non-availability of main sewer line in the area. Now the main line has been laid and so sewers would be provided to the residents soon. The BIT had waived the non-construction charges for residents in the areas where sewerage had not been available. Basic amenities would be provided soon, Mr Garg assured. Various new schemes had been launched by the BIT and the current year would be a year of development for the city, he added.


Cattle tethered on hospital land?
From Anirudh Gupta

FEROZEPORE: The 60-bedded Civil Hospital block near Shaheed Udham Singh Chowk here, which houses the TB ward, the children’s ward, the family planning wing, the artificial limb centre and the office of the Deputy Medical Commi-ssioner, is located in unhygienic surroundings.

The area behind this hospital building,whose foundation stone was laid by Mr Joginder Pal Pandey, the then Health Minister, in May, 1982, looks more like a place for keeping cattle rather than part of a hospital. Garbage littered around and the stink have made life miserable for nearby residents. The possibility of ill-effects on patients cannot be ruled out.

A few doctors said, on condition of anonymity, that they, too, were upset over the unhygienic conditions, but since they were likely to shift to the new Civil Hospital building, they had not taken up the matter with the authorities .

It is learnt that the area has apparently been encroached upon by certain persons who are using it to keep their cattle.

According to Mr S.K. Sharma, president of the Manav Kalyan Kendra, several complaints have been made to the authorities in this connection but to no avail.

Dr Prem Lata, Civil Surgeon, Ferozepore, says she has already written to the department concerned to construct a boundary wall. She denies any encroachment on hospital land and says the moment any such attempt is made, she will get a case registered against the offenders.


Irate farmers hold meeting with BSF
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 4 — A meeting between irate members of Border Area Sangharsh Committee and BSF officials was held recently at Mamdot, near here, to discuss the difficulties being faced by the farmers on account of security restrictions.

The committee leaders had charged the BSF guards with harassing the farmers having lands close to the Indo-Pakistan border on one pretext or the other. The guards were accused of forcing the farmers to cut wild grass and raise pickets before being allowed to go to their fields.

However, the two sides now claim to have hammered out a solution. The committee president, Mr Hansa Singh, told TNS that the BSF had assured the farmers of cooperation and necessary action in case of any genuine complaint against any guard.

The committee had earlier threatened to hold an agitation at the BSF headquarters in Jalandhar to expose the “atrocities” being committed on them.

Mr Hansa Singh demanded that such meetings should be held more often to restore confidence among the villagers. He also advocated for the participation of the civil administration in such meetings to ensure monitoring of their concern by the state government.


All set for langar for quake victims
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 4 — The ‘langar’ tradition in Sikhism that has stood the test of time from a daily offering to meeting national exigencies has once again emerged to meet the formidable challenge of feeding the people suffering in the aftermath of the Gujarat quake.

For the Sikh community to put a morsel of food in a hungry mouth is the biggest service to humanity, hence the 12 trucks carrying dry ration, wheat flour, cereals, dal, sugar, rice, ghee and beddings, besides 100 gas cylinders and a 200 strong contingent of “langaris” (who prepare langar) are all set to visit Gujarat tomorrow to prepare the biggest ever community langar being organised by the SGPC.

Serving langar to the suffering and hungry means a great honour to the Sikh community,” Mr Gurdayal Singh, in charge of the langar fleet of trucks said.

About 200 “langaris” check out cash and make last minute checks for their stay in Gujarat, cooking, serving langar round-the-clock.

Quake victim cremated
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 4 — The mortal remains of Yogesh Bhaskar, who died in the Ahmedabad disaster after saving several lives, were consigned to flames here today.

He had gone to Ahmedabad to visit his sister on Lohri.


MP : govt misleading public on projects
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 4 — Member of Parliament Santosh Chaudhary today accused the Punjab Government of misleading the public on various projects.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mrs Chaudhary alleged that while a certain minister kept saying that a flyover would soon be constructed at the local Satnampura railway crossing, a letter of the Railway Ministry had told her that the state government had not yet sponsored the project.

She showed a letter written to her by Mr R. Sivadsan, Executive Director, Accounts, Union Ministry of Railways, in this regard.

Ensure security of Sikhs: Talwandi
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 4 — Taking a stern note of the merciless massacre of six Sikhs in Mahjoornagar, President of the SGPC, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, recalling that this being second attack on the Sikh community after Chattisinghpura, demanded a strong notice of the incident by the Centre.

Demanding safeguards for Sikhs living outside Punjab, Jathedar Talwandi said the wounds of Chattisinghpura were yet to heal among the Sikhs when this unfortunate attack was carried out. He said the government should ensure security of minorities to thwart the designs of those out to breach peace. Appealing to Sikhs residing in Jammu and Kashmir, he told them to keep faith and peace and desist from acting out of revenge otherwise, they would be helping those who were trying to create a rift among different communities.

Immolation threat by Ramdasia Sikhs
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 4 — The Ramdasia Sikh Reservation Defence and Struggle Committee, Punjab, has threatened to resort to fast and self-immolation if the issue of reservation of the community was not settled forthwith.

This was decided by the committee at its state-level emergency meeting held here, according to a press note issued today.

The meeting sought the intervention of the Chief Minister and Prime Minister in taking corrective steps for removing a technical mistake and getting the notification issued after inserting the word “Ramdasia” in it.

It may be recalled that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had unseated a Ramdasia Sikh minister last year on the ground that the word “Ramdasia” was not mentioned in the notification.


NRI Sanjay Puri cremated

PHAGWARA, Feb 4 (PTI) — The twenty seven-year-old NRI Sanjay Puri, who was murdered by taxi driver Harjinder alias Bittu, near Gujrali village near Doraha yesterday, was cremated here today.

A security supervisor at an airport in USA, Sanjay Puri was returning from Delhi in taxi, alongwith his wife Tarun Kanta, when the taxi driver allegedly hit him with a rod after robbing the couple.

Puri had married about six months back and had come here again in connection with visa and other formalities for taking his wife to America.

He had hired the taxi for two to three months during his sojourn here for convenience of transport. Before leaving for the USA, Puri was a journalist here.

The local journalists today mourned his tragic end and demanded arrest of the killer.

Peon being made scapegoat?
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 4 — A peon at the office of the Assistant Registrar (AR) of the Cooperative Societies here is being made a “scapegoat” for the alleged violation of the Flag Code of India on the Republic Day.

The AR has warned the peon, Jagdish, of disciplinary action for failing to lower the National Flag and wrap it respectfully after sunset on January 26. The flag was earlier raised at the Cooperative Societies office on the Mall Road, but continued to flutter even the next day in violation of the code.

In his reply addressed to the AR, Jagdish has contended that he being an uneducated person, he was ignorant of flag code.


Lions Club Patiala Eves office-bearers
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 4 — Mrs Disha Gupta was elected the president of the newly formed Lions Club Patiala Eves. Ms Sonu Singla and Mrs Jasbir Singh were elected secretary and treasurer of the club, respectively. Mr Anand Khosla, president of the Lions Club (Quila Mubarak), who presided over the inaugural function of the club, announced a sum of Rs 31,000 for the Gujarat quake victims. Dr N.K. Grover, District Governor 321F, was the chief guest.


‘Free’ power vs solar power
By P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 4 — Solar-powered tubewells, introduced by PEDA, acronym for Punjab Energy Development Agency, as a replacement for diesel and small capacity electric pumps — two horse power (HP) — are poised to serve a twin purpose.

One, take the heat off (partially though) the government for its decision to give “free” power to operate tubwells; and two, effect saving on diesel and electricity making agriculture economical, eco-friendly and pollution-free.

Punjab has a project to install 500 solar pumps at a cost of Rs 22.80 crore with the Centre chipping in 18.05 crore. State’s own contribution is Rs 3 crore.

Trials for introducing solar pumps were being held for the past two years with demonstrations in 39 blocks across 14 districts once the agency found a warm response at the Kisan Mela held at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, in March last.

The cost of a Two HP solar pump, suitable for drawing water from open wells, bore-wells and ponds with a permissible total dynamic head of 10 metres, is Rs 4.56 lakh, including charges for “trouble-free” operation lasting five years. PEDA, under a special subsidised scheme, ensures that a farmer does not pay more than Rs 35,000 for the installation of the pump on a lease-hold basis. PEDA avails of liberal financial incentives from MNES (Ministry of non-conventional energy sources) and IREDA (Indian renewable energy development agency) and the state.

According to PEDA Executive Director, P. S. Aujla a solar pump works on a photovoltaic array of 1,800 Watts capacity that runs a two HP direct current mono-block pump-set converting solar energy directly into electricity.

Punjab, incidentally, is the first state to introduce these pumps, which have found favour with the farmers. Against a target of 500 for the current year, PEDA has request letters from nearly 562 farmers. Already, 280 solar pumps have been installed and balance will start pumping by the close of this month.

Mr Aujla said a team of scientists from Administrative Staff College, Hyderabad, inspected the installed pumps and later wrote to say how impressed the team was by the farmers’ response to solar pumps and their performance. The team has suggested that the MNES spread the scheme to other states as well on Punjab pattern.

Field reports, Mr Aujla said, continued to be encouraging. A pump delivers a discharge of 1.40 lakh litres to 1.60 lakh litres of water per day depending on the depth of the water-table. It is found useful to irrigate four acres to five acres. It has been found useful for horticulture and fish farms as “it is farmer-friendly”.

PEDA proposes to raise the solar pumps’ target to 1,000 in the next financial year, hopefully, attracting central assistance of Rs 36 crore from MNES and IREDA against the estimated project cost of Rs 45.60 crore.

The solar pumps will add non-conventional power generation capacity of 1.8 MW resulting in a saving of 12 lakh litres of diesel per annum costing about Rs 2 crore or an equivalent saving of 3,240 Mega Watt Hours of electricity. These pumps will conserve foreign exchange spent on importing oil. Mr Aujla is optimistic that these pumps can totally replace diesel-operated and small capacity electric pumps used for irrigation in future thereby meeting the ever increasing demand for power (free or otherwise) in the agriculture sector.


New timings of telecom office
From Our

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — The working hours of the telegraph office in the city have been changed from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the evening. After the normal working hours the public is charged double the normal amount of the bill and Rs 3 as extra fee.

Mr Pawan Taneja who went to the Posts and Telegraph Office yesterday was shocked to know that not only he would have to pay double the normal bill but also Rs 3 as extra fee “I doubt that the recent fee hike has been introduced to make up the loss of the recent local call facility up to 200 kms, which would result in a loss of Rs 200 crore to the Union Government,” Mr Taneja added.

Sources revealed that the office was charging normal bill, double charges and Rs 3 as extra fee as per the orders of officers. The Rs 3 extra charged from the customers go in the pockets of the officers after being deposited in the government account. The officers were getting Rs 3,000 approximately by the means of extra fee being charged, the sources added.

The normal business of the telegraph office is about Rs 70,000 per month and one can easily ascertain the amount generated by the ‘extra fee’. The public allege that when they are paying double the amount then why are they made to pay Rs 3 extra per fax message and telegrams.

Those managing the fax machines said they were charging Rs 3 extra fee as per the orders of the officers. Although we have not ‘seen’ any written order but an order is an order, said an employee.

The authorities of the Telecom Department could not be contacted.


2 held for smuggling kerosene
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 4 — The police has unearthed a racket of smugglers selling kerosene meant for distribution to ration card holders only in the black market.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, today said that Kewal Krishan, depot holder at Damtal and Jagbir Singh resident of Chaugan, both in Himachal Pradesh, had been arrested and 7,000 litres kerosene recovered from them.

The tanker in which kerosene was being smuggled has been also impounded by the police.

The SSP said the other members of the gang, including Kulwant Rai, alias Bubbi, Pawan Kumar, and Jugal Kishore all depot holders in Himachal Pradesh villages were at large.

The SSP said that the CIA staff, Pathankot, received information that the accused with a loaded tanker were going to Amritsar for selling kerosene on the black. The oil was drawn from a depot of the Indian oil Corporation Pathankot on February 2. The CIA staff intercepted the tanker and arrested the accused.


Scribe’s murder case: cops clueless
From Our Correspondent

MOGA, Feb 4 — Mystery shrouds the murder of Tejram Gupta of Ramganj area here, who was a reporter of a Jalandhar daily, at his residence yesterday.

According to a report, certain persons entered Gupta’s house and strangled him to death with an electric wire.

The police suspected that the accused were more than one as they had tea with the victim before committing the crime. A case has been registered. Tejram was alone in the house when the murder took place.

Meanwhile, local journalists today mourned his death.


Constable held
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 4 — The police has arrested Constable Balwinder Singh, a resident of Duddipur village under the Dhariwal police station, posted in Batala police district for his involvement in the extortion of money from youths on the promise of sending them to Libya.

According to Mr Varinder Kumar SSP, the arrested cheated Joginder Pal of Rs 10,000, Ranjit Singh of Rs 10,000, Satpal of Rs 2,000, Bira Masih of Rs 32,000 and Kannan Masih of Rs 8,000.

The SSP said on February 1 last year, Joginder Pal reported to the police that he had been cheated by the constable on the pretext of sending him to Libya. He promised to send him abroad with the help of Sukhdev Singh, a travel agent.

A case under Section 420 had been registered against the constable, and he was being interrogated.


Body identified

HOSHIARPUR, Feb 4 — The local police has succeeded in identifying the body which was recovered at Thathalan village on January 28.

A case under Section 302, IPC had been registered in this regard. Mr Lakhwinder Pal Singh Khaira, DSP(R), said the body was identified as that of Babu Lal of Pur Hiran locality here and belonged to Pahaar of Jharkhand.

Narinder, presently residing in Pur Hiran locality Mahuwari village of Jharkhand was arrested in this connection. Mr Khaira alleged that Babu Lal had illicit relation with the wife of the accused. They had confronted each after several times in this regard.


Students block traffic in protest
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — Students of various educational institutions yesterday blocked traffic near the Lehra Mohabbat village in the district in protest against the alleged negative and non-cooperational attitude of the minibus operators.

Mr Roop Singh, Convenor of the Students Coordination Committee, said that the traffic on the main road was blocked for about four hours and students of Bhundar, Lehra Mohabbat, Bath and Lehra Khana village also participated in the protest.

He claimed that the jam was removed after the Minibus Union, Rampura Phul assured them that they could use their identity cards and government passes to travel in their buses.


CM assures justice to PMT aspirants
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 4 — The decision of the Medical Education Department to club marks of class XII with the marks of the per-medical test (PMT) has taken a new turn, as the Chief Minister has assured the PMT aspirants that no injustice would be done to their interests.

A joint delegation of the district units of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the Medical Service Centre (MSC), the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMS) and the Medical Entrance Problems Redressal Forum (MEPRF), met the Chief Minister at the Aviation Club, Patiala, yesterday. The delagation said the decision was not in favour of transparency of the system and would lead to malpractices at various levels.

Representatives of the delegation told the CM that both the systems were not compatible with each other being of different nature. “It was a constitutional violation to change the pattern of PMT merit at the end of the current academic session”, said a representative of the delegation. Dr Ashok Gupta, president of the MEPRF, said the CM assured that the fairness of the PMT merit would be ensured and the interest of the aspirants would be protected.


PFUTA ultimatum to Pbi varsity VC
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA, Feb 4 — The Punjab Federation of University Teachers Association (PFUTA) has given an ultimatum to the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, to stop the “victimisation” of Prof K.C. Singhal who was recently removed from the headship of the Punjab School of Management Studies and against whom a vigilance inquiry was initiated for alleged irregularities during an alumni meet of the school two years ago.

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