Friday, February 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Give TADA detainees’ list, panel tells Punjab
by Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 8 — The National Minorities Commission has sought from the Punjab Government a list of the persons who have been detained under TADA in the state.

The commission, according to sources, has maintained that Punjab was intentionally avoiding sending any communication about TADA detainees in the state.

In a letter addressed to Mr Naresh K. Arora, Chief Secretary, the Vice-Chairman of the commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, has reportedly said that all other states have already responded to the letters from the commission and sent the list of TADA detainees.

The commission has also referred to a report in The Tribune on January 23 about TADA detainees in Punjab.

In case of Uttar Pradesh alone, more than 600 persons detained under TADA had already been released following intervention by the National Minorities Commission. Similarly, releases were also made in Maharashtra and a few other states.

With the exception of Punjab, there were hardly any TADA detainees who were under trial.

Some of the states, including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, were keeping some of the TADA detainees from Punjab. As such, these states expressed their helplessness in releasing them.

Though the Punjab Government had on its own set up a committee under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, R.S. Mann, with the Principal Secretary (Home), Bikramjit Singh, and Director-General of Police, Sarabjit Singh as its members, for periodic review of all TADA cases, more than 120 Sikh youth, including militants, have been either facing trial in various cases registered against them or were serving sentences.

At present, there are as many as 70 such convicts or undertrials in various jails in Punjab. Some of the prominent militants in jails include Gurcharan Singh Gamma, Daljit Singh Bittu, Resham Singh, Manjinder Singh Issi, Gian Singh, Nishan Singh Kalanaur and Manjit Singh, alias Lal Singh.

The commission, according to sources, have been receiving representations from “dharam faujis” and also their relatives and friends for their release from various jails where they are undergoing imprisonment for various periods.

The commission, however, has expressed its helplessness in getting convicts, including “dharam faujis” released. The power to grant general amnesty or condone sentence was with the President.

In its latest communication, the commission has maintained that it had been writing regularly to Punjab’s Chief Secretary for a list of TADA detainees.

“Punjab is the only state which has defaulted on apprising this commission about the names of all such detainees. Almost all states have sent us the names and have also taken subsequent action on its recommendations of this commission,” the letter said.

Taking a serious view of this lapse, the commission wants that a report about the latest action taken and the complete list of all TADA detainees should be sent to it immediately.

Though the number of undertrials is about 25 in Punjab and another 10 to 15 in other jails in rest of the country, the major technical problem delaying of their release is their conviction.

While in case of undertrials, the state on its own could declare an amnesty and release them, while those already convicted and undergoing a sentence, a different procedure, which is long and cumbersome, had to be followed.


Coal smuggling causes Rs 20 cr loss to Punjab
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 8 — Mr R.S. Brar, president of Punjab Coal Association, has demanded a CBI inquiry into a “coal scam”, maintaining that the state was losing about Rs 20 crore a year because of its smuggling to neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking to newsmen here today, Mr Brar, known in business circles as Mr Gandhi, said since there was no duty on coal, owners of brick kilns of neighbouring states drew coal supplies from Punjab. “The scam has flourished after the transportation of coal from mines in Assam to Punjab was diverted from road to rail. At present, of the five lakh tonnes of coal received in the state every month, nearly three lakh tonnes came by rail and only two lakh tonnes by road.

“Punjab has about 2500 brick kilns who pay duty in a lump sum on coal consumed by them. Considering that each brick kiln consumes 500 tonnes of coal per annum, the total consumption comes to 12.5 lakh tonnes. After considering other options and uses, the state was still left with 30 lakh tonnes of coal which was being smuggled out of the state through clandestine means by evading both Central and state taxes running into more than Rs 20 crores,” Mr Brar alleged maintaining that the Punjab Coal Association had as far back as November, 1999, submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister to apprise him of this scam.

“He ordered an inquiry by the District Magistrate, Ludhiana. The inquiry was unfortunately wound up soon after it began under political pressure,” Mr Brar said maintaining that only a Central agency should be asked to look into the “whole scam and take action against the defaulters, irrespective of their social or business status. Whosoever is guilty should be punished,” he added.

Mr Brar maintained that the supplies of coal through rail head were mainly through Dhandari Kalan (Ludhiana), Madhopur, Mandi Gobindgarh, Bathinda and Amritsar. From these places, the coal was smuggled to the neighbouring states.

The coal dealers were using dubious means, he alleged, to account for the money they got from selling coal at a premium by evading duty to brick kilns of neighbouring states.

Mr Brar said there were two types of coal coming to Punjab — sponsored and non-sponsored. Non-sponsored coal was bought from private miners of Meghalaya and was being sold to brick kiln owners. The permit for sponsored coal was issued by the Punjab Food Supplies Department and was meant for consumers only. Traders have no such facility. It was here that corruption started. Permits were obtained in the name of small or defunct units and the coal was supplied to brick kilns.

The government rules also provided for rejection of coal damaged up to 40 per cent. By showing 40 per cent rejection and minimum production, payment of sales tax and excise liabilities were avoided. He alleged that sale of a single rake of coal by dubious means fetched a profit of Rs 10 lakh. On an average 200 rakes were broken in Ludhiana every year, thus giving coal traders Rs 20 crore by unauthorised selling of permit coal.


CPI backs Congress candidate at Majitha
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 8 — The Punjab unit of the CPI today announced its support for the Congress candidate in the Majitha byelection.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab unit of the party, said decision in this connection was taken at the meeting of the party’s apex body held here today.

He said the SAD-BJP combine was a communal one and followed anti-people policies. The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had extended his full support to the Union Government to implement the WTO agreement in the country.

The Congress party leaders especially a former minister, Mr Lal Singh, and a backward class leader, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, held several meetings with Dr Dayal over the past few days to make him agree to extend support to the Congress candidate.

Sources said Dr Dayal had serious differences over certain issues including the WTO agreement with Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and because of it he was reluctant to extend support to the Congress candidate. The CPI, which otherwise used to be known as a natural ally of the Congress, in the past years, had refused to extend support to Congress, candidate in the Sunam byelection last year. It had put up its own candidate for the byelection.

However, Dr Dayal said today the decision to extend support to the Congress candidate had been taken in the larger interest of the state.

Meanwhile, the Punjab unit of the CPM today also gave a call to defeat the SAD-BJP candidate in the Majitha byelection. Mr Raghunath Singh, a member of the CPM State Secretariat, said the CPM along with other secular parties would launch a campaign in the Majitha assembly constituency soon to expose the “anti people” economic and other policies of the Badal Government: The Badal Government had sold government property at various places for a song and also burdened people by increasing bus fares, school, college fees, etc. The member alleged that the SAD-BJP combine was misusing official machinery in the Majitha constituency.


Probe mock pension camps: Dang 
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 8 — Veteran CPI leader Satya Pal Dang today demanded a high-level probe into the holding of “mock pension camps” and distribution of money in the Majitha constituency to woo voters.

Mr Dang said while hundreds of genuine old persons were being denied old-age pension, the filling of pension forms in the constituency was a ‘criminal offence’.

He said apart from violating the code of conduct, the ruling party had resorted to ‘unscrupulous’ means.

He said he himself had sent 800 genuine cases of old-age pension to the department concerned. These had not been scrutinised yet.

He said an FIR should be lodged against the officials accompanying ruling party activists. There was no rule to sanction on-the-spot pension as certain rules had to be followed.

He said the voters must not get cheated as the pension amount could be given to them through the nodal bank only. Any beneficiary could get pension by opening an account in the bank.

Meanwhile, emboldened by the stalling of the appointment of a kin of a councillor to a BMS post, Mr Dang, in a letter to Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, has contended that the Municipal Commissioner, Amritsar, “needs to be told” that ad hoc appointments included those made on a contract basis.

Mr Dang has said appointments to BMS had been made on a contract basis. Out of six posts in the corporation, two doctors had been appointed “even before the first election of the corporation” while three had been appointed recently reportedly on a contract basis. Allegedly, all three were relatives of councillors.


Zaffarwal’s statement ‘twisted’ by Cong
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 8 — The Punjab unit of the BJP said here today that it was Congress party which kept terrorism alive for 13 years in the state.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, General Secretary of the state unit, said in a signed statement that the Congress never wanted Hindus and Sikhs to remain united in the state as it was aware that their unity would result in the Congress being kicked out of power in the state.

He said the Congress party had twisted top militant Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s statement. The Congress party’s attempt to associate Mr Badal and the Shiromani Akali Dal with terrorists was a highly deplorable act. Wassan Singh had reportedly made a statement urging people in the Majitha constituency not to vote for the Congress.

Mr Jaiswal said the Congress party and its top leaders were responsible for the brutal killings of Sikhs in the 1984 riots. He claimed the Congress party had seen the writing on the wall, expecting to lose the Majitha byelection and its leaders were resorting to low level politics. Mr Badal was the undisputed leader of Punjabis, who were fully secure under his leadership.


Leaders throng ‘satarkata’ rally
Pay tributes to Prabodh Chandra

From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 8 — A big “satarkata and sadhbhavana” rally was organised to mark the 15th death anniversary of Prabodh Chandra a veteran Freedom Fighter, MP Speaker and minister, here today.

Paying rich tributes to Prabodh Chandra, Mr Moti Lal Vohra, AICC General Secretary and in charge Punjab affairs, said “satarkata” and “sadhbhavana” were essential for the unity and integrity of the country. He appealed to people to follow the path set by Mahatama Gandhi, adding that secularism was vital for any country.

Ms Mohsina Kidwai, another General Secretary, of the AICC, said the philosophy of Mahatama Gandhi was relevant today and opportunism in politics must be eliminated.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, former PPCC, President, Dr Kewal Krishan, Mr Khushal Bahl and Ms Sushil Mahajan, former Congress ministers, Mr Vijay Mishra, state CPM, secretary Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, General Secretary, SHSAD, Dr Subhash Sharma, President, INTUM Punjab, Mr C.D. Shashtri, President, Punjab Brahmin Sabha, and Mr Pawan Sharma, Secretary, PPCC.

Tributes in the form of messages were received from various national leaders by Mr Ashwani Kumar, son of Prabodh Chandra.

Mr Ashwani Kumar announced a contribution of Rs 1 lakh for the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation which is collecting relief for people of Gujarat.

Later talking to newspersons Mr Vohra said the Centre had failed to contain terrorism in the North-East. He said it was the duty of the government to give proper land orders to people in these states to win their confidence.

Mr Vohra said the Central Government’s plea on such occasions to take consensus decisions to arrive at solutions was a farce. It only involved the Opposition parties when the situation was beyond its control, he said.

Talking about the Majitha election he claimed that the Congress would win if the elections were held in a fair and free manner.

Talking about the likely alliance with other parties in the states where elections would be held soon, Mr Vohra said it depended on the position of the local Congress. The Congress high command would consider any input sent by the local party regarding an alliance.

Referring to the WTO agreement, he said it was being exploited by the SAD-BJP government in Punjab.


PSEB moots solar power scheme
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 8 — Villages of Punjab may be brought under a solar power scheme which will envisage continuous trouble-free power supply, as well as provide job opportunities to the rural youth.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has suggested the scheme to the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Resources and conducted a study in this regard. Under the scheme each selected village will be able to draw its own power supply through a 200 kw solar system .

Surprisingly, the scheme is being touted as one which will be more economical in the long run than the present thermal generation in the state. Its main benefits are stated to be efficient power supply without breakdowns associated with the thermal supply as well as job opportunities.

The PSEB Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, giving details of the scheme, said each 200 kw solar system, which was proposed to be installed in selected villages, would be under the direct charge of the local junior engineer or sub divisional engineer. Educated youth of the village, including those who had received technical training from a polytechnic, would be recruited for day-to-day operations. Eight persons were needed for running the project, including four shift operators, a mechanic, a finance manager and a supervisor.

Giving the economics of the system, he said though the cost of each mega watt generated from a solar system varied from Rs 12 crore to Rs 15 crore compared to only Rs 4.5 crore to generate an equivalent amount of thermal power and Rs 5.5 crore to Rs 6 crore for the same amount of power generated through hydro or nuclear means, a study revealed that it compared well if the transmission and distribution losses in case of thermal power were taken into consideration.

Mr Sohal said in case of thermal power another Rs 4.5 crore were spent on transmitting power from the generating station to the last consumer. Another few crores worth of revenue was lost due to theft of electricity. All this did not apply in case of a village-based solar system which would only transmit electricity to households and farmhouses in the village.

He said installing solar systems was also economical if the jobs it generated were taken into consideration. He said each job opportunities per crore of investment in solar power was three times than in thermal generation.

Sources said the cost of the solar power could be reduced further if the custom duty on silicon, which was used in the manufacture of photo-voltaic cells, was reduced. The present duty on photo-voltaic cells was 65 per cent. There was a corresponding excise duty of 20 per cent on storage batteries, which also needed to be reduced.

The sources said another factor in favour of establishing solar power systems was the difficulty being faced by the board in tackling the issue of theft of energy in rural areas. It had become difficult to take action against culprits due to political compulsions.

They said the board may go in for a model solar power generating system in a rural area. The success of the system would result in more such independent plants being established in villages.


Jalandhar gets diagnostic centre 
From Our Correspondent and UNI

JALANDHAR, Feb 8 — Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced a Rs 3 crore diagnostic centre for Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences being set up in the city.

Speaking at a function on the occasion of 624th birth anniversary of Guru Ravidass at its temple in Basti Nau here, he said the centre would be equipped with the facility of CT scan. The function was presided over by Punjab Medical Education Minister Manoranjan Kalia, who took the initiative in getting the sanction for the diagnostic centre for the institute, whose administrative block has already been built with Central assistance.

The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for Guru Ravidass Bhawan, whose foundation stone was laid by him. The bhavan was being built by Guru Ravidass Sabha.

Mr Badal announced the transfer of government land to government school at Kot Ram Dass in Chuggitti area for its use as a playground. He directed the Deputy Commissioner to complete the transfer formalities within two months. He also announced the transfer of another piece of land for government school at Basti Mithu for which he had already sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 lakh earlier, according to Mr Kalia, in whose assembly constituency it was located.

Meanwhile, the three day-long annual fair dedicated to the memory of Guru Ravidass concluded at the local Boota Mandi here today.

More than one lakh persons from all parts of the state thronged the fair and participated in the colourful religious event. Several youth clubs organised langars.

Mr Sat Pal Malh, convener of the Guru Ravidass Sabha, said the fair had now turned into one of the biggest fair in the state dedicated to the memory of Guru Ravidass.


RCs with Lions Club help
From Surinder Bhardwaj

FATEHGARH SAHIB: The local District Transport Office is perhaps the first such office in Punjab to introduce computerised, compact and coloured registration certificates for motor vehicles with the help of a voluntary organisation. Under the scheme, neither the government nor the applicant will have to bear the expenses on the document.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the issuance of computerised card-type registration certificates here.

Mr M.S. Jaggi, DTO, said the scheme had become possible with the help of the Lions Club, Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind. The computer and related equipment, the software and the stationery had been donated by the club. The software was got prepared from a private vendor through the club. He said he had drawn up the project.

He said the computerisation of work relating to road tax was being carried out. The district had also taken the lead in the state in issuing computerised driving licences. Shortly, the entire work of the office would be fully computerised.

Computerisation would help redress public grievances quickly and bring about transparency in work. As per government policy, dealers in cars, two wheelers and tractors would be persuaded to install computers in their offices. Those who did so would be allowed to carry out the registration of vehicles at their own level and their customers would not be required to visit the offices of the DTO and the SDM for this purpose.

He said keeping in view the problems faced by transporters while getting fitness certificates for their vehicles, it had been decided that no transporter would be required to bring a fresh tax clearance certificate from the DTO’s office. The tax entry made in the registration certificate would suffice.

Mr Satpal Gupta, president, and Mr Ashwani Kaura, secretary, of the club, who were present at the inauguration , said their club would continue to initiate such public-oriented projects.


14 trucks carrying relief flagged off
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 8 — Punjab Tourism Minister Swarna Ram today flagged off 10 trucks loaded with relief material for the Gujarat quake victims. Besides this, Som Pritam Singh presented a draft for Rs 5,67,175 to the DC Mr U.K. Singh.

Earlier, Punjab Transport Minister Raghbir Singh flagged off 14 trucks from Kapurthala, the DC said.

The Arhtiya Association contributed Rs 1.06 lakh, the city Cable Network Rs 70,000 the petrol stations association Rs 49,000 Revenue Patwar Union Rs 75,000, peace committee Rs 32,800, Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi Rs 32,400, BDPO Rs 32,250, All-India Anti-Corruption Forum Rs 31,000, City Club Rs 21,000 Janseva Society Rs 21,000 and the truck union Rs 21,000.


NRI kids call on Punjab Governor
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH Feb 8 — Twenty non- resident Indian children led by Mr David Finn, Mr. Jia Bhatti and Mrs Jasvir Kaur now on a visit to India at the initiative of the NRI Sabha, today called on Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen. J.F.R. Jacob (retd) at Punjab Raj Bhavan here today .

Mrs Geetika Kalha, Commissioner, of Jalandhar Division, who heads the NRI Sabha, informed the Governor that this was the first delegation of Punjabi children living abroad which had been brought by the NRI Sabha to India to educate them regarding their cultural roots in Punjab. She informed that the Mayor of Derby had sponsored the trip and children are being conducted to different parts of Punjab and Chandigarh and also to other places of tourist interest.

The Governor while talking to children said Punjab had the oldest civilization — more than 5000 years old. He advised them to go to the Chandigarh Museum and Sanghol Museum to see the artefacts of Harappa and the Kushan age. Children must be encouraged to live in the villages for two to three days so that they can understand the region’s culture.


Beopar mandal to expose corrupt
From Our Correspondent

FAZILKA, Feb 8 — The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal will constitute a 25-member committee to gather information regarding assets amassed by officers by illegal means and the gathered information will be sent to the CBI for probe. This was stated by Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, in an interview to this correspondent.

Mr Kapoor alleged that the officers today were more corrupt than the traders. He said the mandal should expose all corrupt officers by providing information about their property to the CBI. The traders were facing problems with regard to octroi, sales tax and other tax barriers.

Mr Kapoor accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of backing out of his promise of abolishing octroi. He also criticised Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, for adopting a volte-face on octroi issue now for personal and political gains. He alleged that in many towns sales tax officers were harassing businessmen.

He said for safe guarding the interest of the traders community the mandal would put up its own candidates in the ensuing Assembly polls by entering into an understanding with the like-minded parties.


Complainant tricked by GM?
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — Mr Raj Singh Sidhu, General Manager, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Bathinda-1, allegedly forced Mr Gurdeep Singh, a conductor working in his office, to sign an affidavit stating that he had no complaints against him.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, who has filed an application against the General Manager with the Transport Commissioner for alleged malpractices, today in a written statement said that on the night of February 6, the General Manager took him from office and forced him to drink liquor with his associates. Then, he made him sign an affidavit stating that he (Gurdeep Singh) had no complaints against him and that the officer had never demanded any money or bribe from him. The General Manager and his associates went to the village of Mr Gurdeep Singh late in the night to drop him but were caught by villagers.

The villagers were able to procure the affidavit from the General Manager. They reported the matter to the police at Maur Mandi. Mr Pritam Singh, Deputy General Secretary, PRTC Workers Union, Bathinda, alleged the General Manager was one of the “most corrupt” officers of the state transport and complaints against him had been filed many times by the general public, mini bus operators and employees of the PRTC.

Mr Gurdeep Singh had made a written complaint to the State Transport Commissioner, last year and an inquiry was underway. The General Manager had pressurised the conductor several times to withdraw the complaint, Mr Pritam Singh said.

The General Manager, when contacted, said the conductor was “mentally upset” and was a drunkard. “He has been made a scapegoat by union leaders and they take undue advantage of him and have filed false complaints against me.

“He came to my house drunk with a signed affidavit with him. I want to drop him at his native village just to help him but his associates took hold of me and I was forced to have photographs taken.

The compromise at the Maur police station was only to say that I had pardoned him for his mistakes and not otherwise as claimed by him,” Mr Sidhu said.


Leisure valley that stinks
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 7 — Gobinder Singh (name changed) of hazoora-Kapoora Colony of this town is hardly 25 but he is suffering from asthma.

Another resident, Remal Singh (name changed) was fit a few years ago, but now his health has started deteriorating even though he is yet to complete 35. He is also asthmatic.

Vomiting and diarrhoea here and in the adjoining Mata Jeevi Nagar locality does not bother inhabitants as it has become a common feature since the past six years.

A very strong stench emanates from the adjoining leisure valley which is being used by the authorities concerned as an “official site” to dispose of sewage.

As the localities lack underground sewerage, the contaminated water flows to the leisure valley and over the years, it has turned into a breeding ground of insects.

Interestingly, these colonies are located at a stone’s throw from the official residential colony of the staff of the municipal council.

People who go for morning walks have stopped going to the leisure valley which used to attract a huge crowd earlier.

Ms Amarjit Kaur, a resident of hazoora-Kapoora Colony, says she had started using room freshners and incense sticks to ward off the foul smell. The regular use of freshners had started causing respiratory problems to occupants of the house, she adds.

The residents said they had started feeling like second-class citizens as their repeated pleas to the authorities for an underground sewerage had failed to yield any result.

They said they could not use the rooftops for sleeping in summer and they could not sit in the sun in winter. Moreover, their relatives and friends had stopped visiting their houses.

Stagnant water had started eroding the plaster of walls.

Hardarshan Singh (name changed) said eversince the authorities concerned had started using the leisure valley for disposing of sewage, he had been suffering from some ailment or the other.

No social function was ever held in that area and the residents who could afford to shift elsewhere have begun to do so.

They said when an epidemic would break out in their locality, only then would the authorities wake up.

Mr S.K. Mittal, Executive Officer, said a plan had been made to lay down a sewerage in that area and to link it with big sewers. At the moment, no space was available from where sewers could be taken to the colonies, he added.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that the municipal council had been facing an acute shortage of funds as the Punjab Government had not given the crores of rupees belonging to it on account of excise duty and devolution of funds generated from various taxes.


Collapse of market feared
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — Two-feet garbage at the basement of the Mahabir Gole market, a shopping complex in the heart of the city, has caused fear among all shopkeepers that the multi-storeyed building built 24 years ago could collapse any time if the district administration did not solve the long-pending problem.

The five-storeyed building built in 1977 has two levels in the basement and one level of this has been covered with garbage. Dirty water is being thrown by shopkeepers.

This market has become the dirtiest market of the city and those coming here do not want to look inside the market and shopkeepers, too, avoid even to ‘think’ about the ‘garbage well’.

There are 160 shops in the whole market and of these seven shops are of the Municipal Committee while the rest are owned by private persons. There are all types of shops in the market such as electronics, chicken shops, computer, photo laboratory, tea stall, crockery, eatables and also the offices of business houses.

There are three reasons which have made the market a hell — the apathetic attitude of the administration, clash among the owners of the shops and shopkeepers and the general public. Almost all owners do not want to make efforts to solve the garbage problem as some of the shopkeepers have occupied the shops and do not want to vacate them. The shopkeepers of the neighbouring markets use the basement of the market as a ‘dustbin’. The residents of the nearest localities, too, throw the house garbage into the basement.

The district administration seems to have ignored the market since past many years when the owners of the shops spent Rs 51,000 to remove the garbage from the market.

The shopkeepers also have the fear that an epidemic might break out any time as the authorities concerned never bother to spray DDT or any other pesticide on the mound of garbage as a preventive measure.

Mr Uday Chand Satpal, who has the share of four shops in the whole complex, alleged that it was the indifferent attitude of the authorities due to which the garbage problem could not be solved, so far. He feared that due to the water seepage and garbage the whole building could collapse at any time.

Another shopkeepers said that the owners of the shops had the claims of lakhs of rupees on the Municipal Committee and the authorities were not willing to return the amount. He pointed out that now the owners think that if the complex collapses at least they would be able to get their land.

Mr Joginder Pal, who has the share of five shops in the complex said that they already had spent Rs 50,000 collectively to remove the garbage but now none was ready to spend again.

Another shopkeeper said that the engineers of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala and the students of local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering had visited the complex to solve the problem but nothing had come out so far.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, Municipal Committee, when contacted regarding the garbage problems of the complex, admitted that the shop owners of the Gole Market had some claims of Rs 2 lakh which had been accepted last month and the payment of the claims would, approximately, be made next month.

Mr Ved Parkash Garg, President, Shop Owners Association, could not be contacted. 


March to protest Sikh killing
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — A march led by Jathedar Kewal Singh of Takht Shri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, was held in the city today to protest against the killing of Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir. The march started from the Quila Mubarak and concluded at the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Jathedar Kewal Singh expressed grief at the recent killings. “These killings are the handiwork of the ISI and are aimed at disturbing the communal harmony in the country, he said.


DSP denies arrest
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 8 — No person was arrested by the Varanasi police here on Tuesday. This was stated by Mr Kulshinder Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, today. He denied reports published in newspapers regarding the arrest.

Mr Prem Goyal, co-chairman of the local DAV Centenary Senior Secondary Public School, talking to mediapersons here said that the news report on his arrest was “totally wrong, false and baseless.”


Exchange inaugurated 
From Our Correspondent

KAPURTHALA, Feb 8 — Mr Ram Vilas Paswan inaugurated 10,000 line exchange at the local Kamra Garden.

Mr Balbir Singh, a member of the Lok Sabha, Mr Raghbir Singh and Mr Swarna Ram, both Cabinet ministers also addressed the function.


Centre to give aid to disabled soldiers
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — The Central Government has taken the decision to provide the financial assistance to the next of kin of those who died in war and to disabled soldiers who were boarded out in medical category ‘EEE’ between August 15, 1947, to 30, April, 1999.

In a letter sent from Jharkhand, Mr T.P.S. Gill, Deputy Commandant, Sikh Regimental Centre, Ramgarh Cantonment (Jharkhand) said the grant of Rs 50,000 would be given to the next of kin of those who died and Rs 1 lakh to those who were declared but were still alive.


Census phase II begins today
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Feb 8 — Population enumeration, the second phase of “Census of India, 2001”, will begin in Punjab from tomorrow. The exercise will be carried out up to February 28. The enumeration will be done by 53,000 enumerators and supervisors.

The census, the sixth after Independence, will be conducted throughout the country except Jammu and Kashmir and snow-bound areas of Himachal and Uttar Pradesh.

The entire state of Punjab has been divided into 42,083 enumeration blocks. Census helplines/census help centres will be set up to provide technical assistance to the enumerators.

For the first time, the signature/thumb impression of the respondent and his relationship to the head of the household will be obtained.


1.59 lakh fake currency seized
From Our Correspondent

PHAGWARA, Feb 8 — The CIA, staff, Kapurthala, last night nabbed three persons with fake currency notes worth Rs 1.59 lakh. Some computer scanners were also recovered from the local Hargobind Nagar market, it was learnt today.

Navin Sharma, Makhan, alias Dharminder of Jalandhar and Bheekhu Walabh of Kerala were arrested. Investigations revealed that they had inter-state nexus.


4 killed, 11 hurt in mishap
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Feb 8 — Four residents of Jhinger Kalan village were killed and 11 injured when a truck hit their tractor-trailor from the rear on the Jhinger Kalan Sikri link road at about 10.20 a.m. today.

They were going to Sikri village to mourn the death of their relative.

According to Mr Sanjeev Kalra SSP, while Surjit Singh and Swaran Kaur died on the spot Parkash Kaur and Kulwinder Kaur succumbed to their injuries at the Primary Health Centre, Tanda.

The injured have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

3 killed, 5 hurt as jeep, Canter collide
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Feb 8 — Three persons were killed and five injured when a Jeep and a Canter collided on Moonak-Tohana road near Moonak today.

The police said Hanso Devi, Sonari Devi and Mahinder had been killed and Suba Ram, Kartara Ram, Mandip, Jassi and Khatu Devi injured. The driver of the Canter is absconding. The police has registered a case.


Woman, paramour killed by husband, kin
Tribune News Service

PHULA (Bathinda), Feb 8 — Darshan Singh and Hamir Kaur of this village, who had developed a liaison, were done to death by Hamir Kaur’s husband Gurmail Singh, his brothers Hakam Singh and Bikkar Singh and father Bachan Singh last night.

Police sources said the deceased were found by the accused in a compromising position at Hamir Kaur’s residence. They lost their temper and started attacking them with lathis and sharp-edged weapons. Both Darshan Singh and Hamir Kaur died on the spot, sources added.

Sources said Hamir Kaur had been urged time and again by her husband and his relatives to break her relationship with Darshan Singh but to no avail. He had also brought the matter to the knowledge of prominent citizens of the village.

The bodies have been sent for a postmortem. A case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the four.


Cyber cafe set on fire
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, Feb 8 — Some computer engineers entered a cyber cafe located at Shimla Pahari Chowk here and stole compact discs (CDs) and other software before setting it on fire last night.

Computers, furniture, records etc were destroyed.

Mr P.R. Sharma, managing partner of the cafe, said the robbers climbed up the corridor of the centre through an adjoining public toilet and cut a part of the door. They first removed the CD drives of all five computers and stole other valuable parts. The total loss is estimated to about Rs 4 lakh, he added.

The fire brigade controlled the fire after an hour. A case has been registered. 


Kehar Singh gets 3-yr extension
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 8 — The Punjab Government has granted a three-year extension in service to Punjab School Education Board Chairman Dr Kehar Singh.

Sources said the term of the office of Dr Kehar Singh, had been extended with immediate effect. Dr Kehar Singh has earlier served two continuous terms as Chairman of the board.

He earlier served in the Political Science Department of Punjabi University as Professor. During his tenure in the university, he spearheaded an agitation against the then Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Puar.

He was also a candidate for the post of Vice-Chancellor of the university.


Master plan for regional centre ready: Soch
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 8 — Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, talking to the media here today, said the master plan for a regional centre here was ready. The construction of the centre would be completed by December 31 and would involve an expenditure of Rs 1.5 crore.

Dr Soch said admission to Bachelors in Information and Technology would be started at the centre from the next academic year.

He said the cases of private colleges that had applied for affiliation to the university were being assessed.

On the much-talked issue of the Nainakot ITI building being handed over to Guru Nanak Dev University and being attached to the regional centre, Mr Soch said no written proposal by the Punjab Government had been received by the university in this regard.

However, Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, has at several meetings here and Kahnuwan announced the attachment of the ITI building with the regional centre.

Dr Soch said all vacant posts in the university and the regional centre here would be filled before June 30. Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, and Dr Sujan Singh, co-ordinator of the university, were present.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor laid the foundation stone of a canteen and the boundary wall of the regional centre.


PTU tussle takes new turn
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 8 — The invisible tussle of power at the premises of the Punjab Technical University here has taken a new turn with the Vice-Chancellor asking the Income Tax Department to withdraw the Deputy Registrar, Mr Rakesh Suri, an IRS officer, who was on deputation with the university and the tendering of resignation by the Registrar, Rear Admiral A.P. Singh, following allegations that he misrepresented himself as a senior citizen and had availed concession for railway travel on this account.

Mr Suri had been appointed as the Deputy Registrar by the former Vice-Chancellor and the Secretary, Technical Education, Mr N.S. Rattan, in February 1999. Mr Suri had allegedly not been on good terms with the Registrar, Rear Admiral A.P. Singh (retd), who had sought a number of explanations from the former in connection with different issues and some alleged irregularities. Mr Suri proceeded on medical leave and his wife had alleged that the way her husband’s boss sought a number of explanations and notices had been a cause of mental depression for her husband, particularly when both he and his mother were invalid. One of allegations against Mr Suri was that he had been working against the interests of the university, especially by leaking some documents to a section of media. Mr Suri had vehemently denied the allegations.

In the course of what is described as a long-standing tug-of-war between Rear Admiral A.P. Singh and Mr Suri anonymous persons had complained to the university and railway authorities that the Registrar, who is 61 had shown himself to be 65 years of age and had availed 30 per cent concession meant for senior citizens. Following the allegations, the Registrar had tendered his resignation on “personal grounds” last week saying although matter concerned only him and the railway authorities and the university did not come into the picture but he was resigning so as to avoid any controversy which could show the university in a bad light. The probe team found that it was the Registrar’s personal assistant who booked the railway tickets but he had been instructed by the Registrar to mention that he was 65 years old.

In a strongly-worded letter to Mr A Balasubramaniam, the Chairman of the Board of Direct Taxes, which might lead to the exit of Mr Suri, the Punjab Technical University Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Gurm, has clarified that the university did not require the services of Mr Suri any more and hence, he would be relieved by the end of this month, even though his appointment was for three years from March 29, 1999. The letter, dated January 31, also pointed out that a number of explanations had been sought from Mr Suri regarding various issues, but he had not bothered to reply to any of them.

On the other hand, official sources said the cause of contention was that Mr Suri had been nurturing a dream to be the Registrar of the university and had even urged the Department of Technical Education to upgrade his designation in accordance with his pay scale, which, however, was turned down by the university Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar went to the extent of saying that if the present arrangement did not suit him, he could exercise the option of seeking reversal to his parent department. Dr Gurm has confirmed that he had written to the Income Tax Department authorities about Mr Suri and that Rear Admiral A.P. Singh had tendered his resignation.


Information technology to help villagers
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — Information Technology (IT) has helped reduce distances and surpass the time zones and the very same is all set to happen in the district with the opening of computer centres at focal points.

Out of the 27 focal points of the district, computer centres have been opened at 10 centres which have been provided with the facility of Internet and duly affiliated with the local branch of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) run computer centre. The project is at the initiative of DRDA, Bathinda and the rural youth is finding this it a good self-employment opportunity.

Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Development said that the project was initiated by the DRDA to help rural youth gain self employment so that the benefits of IT reached the rural people at their doorstep. The scheme has been launched under the Margin Money Scheme and the candidate has to pool Rs 40,000 and the other part was given by the banks as soft loan. The computer centres would be linked to the offices of the district administration very soon and the villagers could lodge complaints and grievances at the computer centres located near their villages.

Mr Aggarwal said that the scheme had a very bright future and it was the first scheme of its kind in the state. With the Internet and E-mail facility at their doorstep the rural people would have access to the latest information needed by them. The computer education at the centre would be as per the DRDA and DOEACC levels and syllabus. The youths who operate and manage the centres have been trained under the supervision of the DRDA by a New Delhi-based NGO, Tara Infotech and they would be given further assistance to overcome the initial troubles, added Mr Aggarwal.

The residents of the villages of the focal points have been given preference and other mandatory conditions are that of being a graduate and computer literate. As this is a new project and most of the rural population was still hesitant to adopt the IT. It would take a few months for the projects to take off , Mr Aggarwal said.

Mr Iqbal Singh Brar, Centre Head, Tara Informatics Computer Centre, Kotha Guru village, said that the villagers, specially illiterate, were hard to convince that their “Chitthi” had reached the addressee in paperless, electronic mode. The papers, files, receipts and acknowledgements are well received by people and it would take time for them to adopt the new modes of communication, Mr Singh added. Although the response of the student community was good he added.

Mr Aggarwal said that after these centres were connected with the offices of the district administration people would appreciate benefits of IT.


Non-medical lecturers seek PCMS scales
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Feb 8 — Resentment prevails among the non-medical lecturers against the alleged indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards their demands which include revision of their pay scales and promotions at par with PCMS doctors. There are 18 such lecturers who have been working on isolated posts at three state government medical colleges at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala since long. They have no promotional avenues and will retire on the same post.

A spokesman of the Non-Medical Teachers Association said here today that the lecturers with medical qualification had already been availing the benefits of the revised PCMS scales. They were placed in higher scales after 4, 9 and 14 years of service and also redesignated as senior lecturers, he said. The same had not been done in case of the non-medical lecturers, although they also fulfilled all conditions, he alleged.

Non-medical lecturers have given representations to the minister concerned, Principal Secretary, directors and other officers several times but to no avail. About six months back a deputation of the teachers had also met the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, but their demands have not been heeded.


Copying scandal: threat to Headmaster’s life
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — “My life is in danger. A senior civil official of the Punjab Government has been threatening to kill me and get me terminated from service,” reads the attested affidavit of Mr Karnail Singh Sidhu, Headmaster of Government Middle School at Phoosmandi village, sent to the Chief Secretary of Punjab Government in Chandigarh.

Mr Sidhu, who has been running from pillar to post to save himself after he exposed a copying scandal involving wards of “bigwigs”, alleged that he was earlier transferred to Amritsar for this reason, however, the transfer was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He said acting on a call given by the Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, to check the menace of copying, he brought the matter of the issuance of two roll numbers and allocation of two examination centres to the wards of a senior civil official to light. It was later corroborated by the Punjab School Education Board authorities who also found these candidates guilty of misconduct.

He said in another case, a close kin of an official of the Education Department was also found possessing some incriminating material while taking the final examination of plus two conducted by the board. He said both cases occurred in 1999.

He said ever since, he had exposed the scandal, the functioning of the school had been affected.

He said he had also informed the DPI, Schools, Punjab, that due to bottlenecks being created in the functioning of the school, he had no option but to proceed on leave. He also alleged that an employee of the Education Department was trying to cause physical harm to him for the same reason. He said he had informed the police.


University reinstates Dr K.C. Singhal
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 8 — Punjabi University today reinstated Dr K.C. Singhal as head of the School of Business Management by directing the stay of a Syndicate decision making Dr M.S. Bedi as department’s head after the removal of Dr Singhal.

The university authorities took his decision following an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the Dr Singhal’s removal from leadership of the department. However, a university note made it clear that the body would contest the decision.

The authorities said the stay order would be contested under Statue IV of Chapter II of the university calendar which stated that all appeals against the decisions of the Syndicate should be made to the Senate. It said similarly any appeal against a decision of the Vice-Chancellor lay with the Chancellor. It said this rule had been upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court earlier which dismissed a writ petition filed by then political science Professor Dr Kehar Singh challenging his removal from leadership by the previous Vice-Chancellor.


Kids bring village life alive on paper
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — When the students of more than 30 schools were asked to draw on papers what they had in their minds regarding the richness of village life, almost all of them brought the village culture alive.

The themes varied from “jago” ceremony related with marriages to village women grinding wheat and a group of girls spinning charkha.

Some of the students also drew scenes of urban life like cars and other vehicles. The competition was organised by Sobha Singh Memorial Chittarkar Society at Teacher’s Home yesterday and today.

The competition was organised in three groups. Group A comprised inter-school painting competition. Ashnav Deep Grewal of Baba Fareed Public School stood first Damandeep Kaur and Neelam Triky of St Joseph Convent Secondary School stood second and Jatinder Kumar of Punjab Central School, Harwinder Singh of Government Middle School of Mahi Nangal village and Apinder Pal Singh of Guru Nanak Dev Public School stood third.

In group B, Vikramdeep Singh of St Joseph Convent School won first prize, Mr Jatinder Pal Singh of Guru Nanak Dev Public School and Neeru Rani of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Public Senior Secondary School won the second prize and Abhinav Gupta of St Joseph Convent Senior School, Ramandeep Kaur of Police Public School and Sukhmandeep Kaur of Shri Guru Harkrishan Public School won the third prize.

In group C, students of different colleges also participated. Surinder Singh of Government Senior Secondary School, Mandi Kalan, won the first prize, Rashminder Pal Kaur of DAV College and Lakhvir Kaur of SBBS Memorial Girls College, Sukhan Nand, Moga district, won the second prize and Kanwaljit Kaur of SBBS Memorial Girls College, Rishminder Sidhu of SSSS Senior Secondary Government School, Paras Ram Nagar, and Ranjeet Kaur of DAV College won the third prize.

The students who performed well were given consolation prizes.


Full pay for PCMS staff doing PG courses
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 8 — Doctors of the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS), who will be doing post graduation (PG) courses will be paid their salary and allowances throughout the duration of the course, a press release issued by the state Mass Media and Education Officer said here today. 

 Previously a decision was taken that doctors doing PG courses will be paid a stipend instead of regular pay and allowances. 

Following the decision, the PCMS Association ,Punjab, has cancelled its plan to stage a dharna in Amritsar on February 11, Mr D C Sharma, general secretary of the association, in a statement here today said the government had decided to treat the three- year graduation course period of PCMS doctors as on deputation with the Medical Education Department of the state government.


Staff complain to cops against head
From Chander Parkash & Jaswinder Paul Singh
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 8 — Staff members of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology have moved an application with the police for registering an FIR against the principal of the college, Dr Narinder Singh, for “preventing” them for joining the ‘Shobha yatra’ held on the occasion of Guru Ravi Dass Jayanti yesterday by denying them a half-day holiday as announced by the Punjab Government.

“Dr Narinder Singh, when contacted, said on the occasion a restricted holiday had been declared and he had not refused anyone holiday. At least 25 employees were on half day yesterday.

Punjab Technical University was required to apply for leave on a restricted holiday. As per the rules, 180 academic days were mandatory in a year in every engineering college.

In the application to the police, the staff members alleged that the principal had hurt their religious sentiments by not allowing them to join the ‘shobha yatra’. Even though it was a holiday today, they were forced to be on duty despite the fact that all government departments had been closed on account of the holiday.

The principal said he had not caused hurt to the religious feelings of any staff member. He had simply issued a notice in which it was mentioned that no meeting could be held during working hours, unless convened by him and that heads of departments should ensure that the classes were held even if a single student was present.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, when contacted, said the matter would be inquired into.


MoU for technology transfer
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Feb 8 — The Sri Guru Harkrishan College of Management and Technology has entered into a MoU for technology transfer with WEBCOM Technologies, USA.

The main aim is to produce IT professionals who will also be good for communication and public relations skills. The college will provide several courses on the campus in collaboration with WEBCOM.


Mobile cos in each circle to increase
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 8 — In what may be good news for mobile users, the Union Telecommunication Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, said today that to increase competition and to benefit the consumer, it had been decided to ensure that at least four mobile-service providers would operate in each of the telecom circles, where presently the number of operators is limited to one or two.

Mr Paswan, who was addressing a press conference here, said the decision had been taken after complaints from various quarters that mobile-service providers were charging customers according to their will, particularly in areas like Punjab, where there was no competition and areas where such companies had monopoly over the trade.

To ensure participation by more companies the DoT has already called tenders and the matter will be finalised within a period of one month, Mr Paswan said, who admitted that variation of mobile phone tariff existed in the country due to lack of competition and monopoly of service providers in certain circles. “In the new arrangement, we have planned that one of the four operators in each circles will be that of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL)”.

He further said personally he was of the view that there should be no charges on incoming calls on mobile, but it was to be decided by TRAI, with which the matter was pending.

“Our new telecom policy is very customer-friendly and we want that people, particularly those living in rural areas, should have the limited mobile phone facility, which will be provided through their land sets and for which they would not need to pay extra. The recently provided facility of local calls within an area of 200 km is a concrete step in that direction,” he said. The Telecom Department was aware of the competition posed by the entry of private companies and was ready to respond to it in a very positive manner, he added.

Mr Paswan admitted that the 200 km scheme had created problems for consumers all over the country for five days. “I had apprised the DoT high-ups about my intention to provide the facility to people much before it was implemented,” he said adding that he had directed the Punjab Circle Chief General Manager to give a report to him with regards to problems faced by the users in the circle, pertaining to the facility and other basic services. He also pulled up the DoT’s Jalandhar General Manager when mediapersons brought a number of problems being faced by the people of Doaba region.

On the political front, he said, “in fact we will be there in all elections and our party is becoming stronger in UP, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar”. He said it had been decided that Dalits, upper-castes, OBCs and other sections would have equal importance in the Lok Jana Shakti Party. He said the Punjab unit of his party was likely to be headed by Mr Amar Singh Mehmi.

UNI adds: On various demands of STD-PCO operators, the minister said their national body had submitted him a 15-point demand charter, and except for the demand of raising their commission from the present 16 per cent other demands had been met.

He added that a six-member committee comprising three representatives of the BSNL and of operators had been set up to consider the demand for a hike in commission also, and this issue would also be resolved when the committee submitted its report in about a fortnight.

Mr Paswan admitted that private telephone companies had failed to fulfil their commitment of providing rural telephony in 58,000 villages in the past three years, adding that they claimed to have accessed only about a thousand villages so far. 

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