Saturday, February 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Minimum wage only on paper
From Lalit Mohan

ROPAR: Gopal, an eight-year-old migrant from Uttar Pradesh, works for about 12 hours a day at a dhaba on the Kiratpur Sahib-Chandigarh road. Although his duties include sweeping, cleaning utensils and acting as waiter, he is paid a paltry sum of Rs 500 per month besides being given two meals and two cups of tea a day at irregular intervals.

However, as per the labour manual of the Punjab Government, Gopal should get a minimum salary of Rs 1,367 per month, two meals and two cups of tea a day and the lodging facility or Rs 1,843 per month without these facilities, Gopal’s employer, who claimed he was not aware of the law, said: “When so many workers are available for wages ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per month, why should I pay more?”

Illiterate and poor labourers are not the only ones who are not being paid the minimum wage. Graduates, diploma holders and trained teachers in large numbers are being paid salaries below the minimum wage fixed for any category of workers.

Mechanics at various authorised workshops in the district are being paid salaries ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month. Graduates working as supervisors with contractors or in various showrooms are rarely paid salaries above Rs 1,500 per month.

The plight of teachers in unaided schools or computer centres is even worse. Teachers in such schools are paid salaries ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month.

However, all this in sharp contrast to the minimum wages for various categories mentioned in the manual of the Labour Department of Punjab. As per the minimum wages notified in Ropar, an unskilled worker should get a salary of Rs 1,843 per month or Rs 70 daily; semi-skilled (upper) Rs 1,989 per month or Rs 76 daily; semi-skilled (lower) Rs 1,921 per month or Rs 73 daily; skilled (upper) Rs 2,151 per month or Rs 82 daily; skilled (lower) Rs 2,130 per month or Rs 78 daily; highly skilled (upper) Rs 2,339 per month or Rs 89 daily; and highly skilled (lower) Rs 2,259 per month or Rs 86 daily.

For clerks, timekeepers, salesmen and conductors the minimum wage has been fixed at Rs 2,056 per month; for accountants, graduates and cashiers at Rs 2,138 per month; and for drivers of trucks, Tempos and buses at Rs 2,339 per month. In hotels, restaurants and halwai shops the minimum wages are: sweeper or helper Rs 1,843; waiter Rs 1,917; cook Rs 1,997; head waiter or butler Rs 2,034; office staff Rs 2,056; and accountant or assistant manager Rs 2,140 per month.

Government organisations, public sector units and big industries are perhaps the only set-ups in this district which are paying the minimum wage.

Labour Department officials admit that the minimum wage is not being paid in the unorganised sector. They say it is often difficult to ascertain the wages being paid in this sector because most employers do not maintain proper records relating to their workers. Whenever a raid is conducted on the premises of employers, they claim that most of the workers there are on daily wages. The workers, for fear of losing their jobs, rarely complain against the employers, the officials say.

In addition, the officials say, the laws meant to protect labour from exploitation are ineffective. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, are the principal laws under which the Labour Department exercises powers. Under these acts, department officials have no powers to prosecute employers for not paying the minimum wage. They can only register a case against the employer for not producing proper records of the employees. The maximum punishment for any employer found guilty under the Minimum Wages Act is a fine ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 500. The Labour Department, Ropar, had registered about 25 cases against employers for not paying the minimum wage. In all cases the accused got away with fines ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 500.

The officials say that employers prefer paying Rs 500 as fine when prosecuted rather than giving higher salaries. Besides, the Labour Department does not have any powers to act on the complaint of an exploited labourer. Its role is limited to advising him to approach the labour court to get justice, they say.

The Punjab Government had announced an increase in the minimum wages on December 15, 2000. The lowest wages for any category of workers were fixed at Rs 2,000 per month. However, the notification in this regard is yet to reach the offices of the local organisations.

Non-government organisations say it is time to make effective laws to check the exploitation of workers.


Punjab science congress begins
Emphasis on economic development
From P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 9 — Science and technology have to act as a driving force to reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment and also to bring about socio-economic justice to an individual. Its application to agriculture and other critical areas of human welfare and development, besides conservation of natural resources, has to be understood in the global context.

In respect of agriculture, if biotechnology is essential so is science and technology in electronic governance and environment protection for development. Agriculture has to become an industry and for this, it is imperative to add value by diversification, marketing and processing.

This was stated by the Principal Secretary, Science and Technology, Mr Rajan Kashyap, in his address at the Fourth Punjab Science Congress that began its two-day session at Punjab Agricultural University here today. The theme of the congress is “Science and technology in economic development of Punjab, vision — 2020”.

Organised by the Punjab Academy of Sciences and Society for advancement of academics, sports and cultural activities, it has six broad issues to focus on. These are Agriculture, including home science, physical, chemical and mathematical sciences, life sciences, engineering and information technology, veterinary and medical sciences and policy planning and educational sciences. There were two lectures after the inauguration today. One on “Present status of scientists” by Dr A.S. Paintal, a former Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the second on “Intellectual property protection in relation to plant genetic resources and management” by Dr B.S. Dhillon, Director National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources.

Mr Kashyap based his hypothesis on the assumption that the government would recognise the potential of science and technology in shaping the economic development and understand that the process of globalisation was irreversible. He made a pointed reference to the Green Revolution that had now soured. It had its limitations since it was confined to wheat and rice, production (not marketing and processing) and the shortage of foodgrain in the country.

He sought to dispel the impression that today the country, particularly Punjab, faced a problem of plenty. This was an illusion. By 2020, cereal gap would be 36 million tonnes. Besides, new problems had emerged, namely, marketing, storage, processing, distribution and pricing. He had a dig at the procurement agencies when he remarked, “Personal economies of inspectors can not be allowed to depend on the storage of foodgrain”.

Mr Kashyap emphasised on biotechnology and genetically-modified food. He also referred to the WTO, regime’s implications, its influence on Punjab agriculture and need for diversification. He said rather than running away from it, it was time to adjust to rules that were not heavily tilted against Indian agriculture.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, stressed the need to check “burgeoning population”. No science or technology could help increase production to infinite extent that would continue to match the rise in population.

The second point he raised was diversification. The farmers who did venture out to opt for crops other than wheat and rice gave up in frustration for want of competitive price and market support and in view of government policies on imports. In the absence of diversification, economies would be affected and the farmers’ incomes would dip. The other worrying factor was shrinking holdings, and fragmentation of land, rendering them uneconomical since cost-effective technologies were not yet available for small and marginal farmers. Marketing and processing also remained neglected.

He said it was essential to improve general and science education at the village and primary school level.

The President of the Punjab Academy of Sciences, Dr Harjit Singh, said unless scientific pursuits were there development would come to a standstill. Scientists had a commitment to society and they should play the role of facilitators.

The pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, said the congress should show how to match quantity with quality, increase per unit productivity and match imagination with experience.

The Director of Research, Dr M.S. Bajwa called for a multi-disciplinary approach to map new farm strategies.

Dr M.A. Zahir, Chairman of the organising committee and Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, urged participants to remember that removal of poverty and unemployment depended on sustained GDP growth over a longer period of time. Unless the socio-political thinking changed and economy was restructured, India could collapse in another 50 years, he warned.

On the opening day, 12 scientists were awarded fellowships of the academy. 


SHSAD seeks minorities’ protection in J&K
From Our Correspondent

SUNAM, Feb 8 — Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretray of the SHSAD, yesterday accused the J and K Government of not being sincere in solving the problem of militancy. He also criticised the J and K Government for not protecting the minorities, especially the Sikhs in the state.

Prof Chandumajra was addressing a press conference here today before flagging off a relief material truck for the victims of Gujarat earthquake. The truck was brought back to Sunam from Lehragaga. When tension arose in the town following a comment made by a BJP leader over sending the truck by collecting money from the public through a local social organisation.

Prof Chandumajra further said the SHSAD leadership along with its workers on February 11 would attend the bhog ceremony of the five Sikhs recently killed by the militants in the valley. He said on the bhog day the SHSAD leadership would also issue a warning to the J and K Government either to protect the Sikhs or be ready to face the consequences. He also appealed to Sikhs not to leave the valley in the larger interest of the community.

He further stated that the state-level political conference of the SHSAD, which was earlier scheduled to be held on February 21 in Ludhiana would now be held in the third week of March in Ludhiana.


18 colonisers booked by PUDA
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 9 — Adopting a tough posture against unauthorised colonisers, PUDA has booked 18 persons from the Doaba region who had been offering plots in their illegal colonies.

Unauthorised colonies are on the rise in the Doaba region where money from NRIs, makes it easy for their family members to construct houses or invest by buying plots in such colonies located on the outskirts of cities like Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Amritsar — all part of PUDA’s Jalandhar zone.

The PUDA authorities have booked 192 such colonisers during this year and have urged the police to register cases against them since the construction of their colonies is violative of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995. Under the provisions of the Act, nobody can convert a piece of land into a residential colony without obtaining a certificate of a license from PUDA.

These “influential” big coloniers make all their “benami” transactions in the name of their servants and even those doing petty jobs for them.

Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, said it was for the first time that 18 violators had been booked within a month. He said the colonisers against whom the cases had been registered included Dilbagh Singh, Baldev Singh, Kehar Singh of Nawanshahr, Raj Kumar, Harvinder Singh, Kulwinder Singh of Phagwara, Ved Prakash, Munshi Ram and Malkiat Singh and Lehmber Ram of Jalandhar, Charan Singh, Gurdip Singh of Amritsar, Charan Singh, Gurdip Singn of Gurdaspur, Satpal and others of Kapurthala, Tejwinder Singh, Ranbir Singh, Darshan Singh and Dharam Singh of Hoshiarpur. He said a number of illegal colonisers had been convicted by different courts.

Who is paying cops’ cell phone bills?
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 9 — Even as most police stations in the district are finding hard to pay telephone bills of “thanas”, more and more police officials are abandoning the regular phones for state-of-the-art mobiles. Mobiles have become an integral part of the uniform of every policeman from the rank of ASI and above.

Who pays the bill of these phones? It is certainly not the cash-strapped state police department, whose failure to pay the bills of the regular phone at the focal point police station has led to a disruption in services. Nor can these police officials afford to pay the bills from their meagre pay packets. The latest “acquisition” by them is the wireless loop ‘connect’ phone fitted in their ‘private’ cars and gypsies — whose source of fuel itself is suspect.

“Jaan-pehchan does the trick”, says a police official who confided in this correspondent. A clear sign of the rampant corruption and misuse of power by the police personnel, the use of cell phones has begun to be accepted as normal and is being ignored by the vigilance and the Income Tax Department.

Every other day, one comes across a news item that due to the non-payment of the BSNL telephone bills, the connection had either been cut or rendered one-way at one police station or the other. It raises the question about who is footing the bill of these mobile phones.

Some, discontent with one mobile, have two or more mobiles the numbers of which are given out selectively. While an ASI earns about Rs 8,000, an Inspector gets Rs 9,000 and the SSP Rs 12,000. With the cost of living going up, it is hard to incur additional expenditure on a mobile phone.

A senior police official, who does not carry a mobile, said: “It is tough to get even my uniforms stitched from my salary, mobiles are only a dream if one has to pay from the salary.” He said with the ever-increasing cost of essential commodities, he could not afford such luxury. Interestingly, as soon as a police official is shifted from a “lucrative posting”, his mobile phone goes dead.

A senior official of the police department confirmed the “Jaan-pehchan” theory with a grin. He said they were helpless as there is too much work pressure and the department was not providing anything to the officials to keep in touch. 


Nuclear plant
Villagers’ fate in babus’ hands
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

DRAULI (Patran), Feb 9 — Displaced once during partition, residents of this village waited for the whole day today to interact with “babus” from the Department of Atomic Energy, who may well write their fate again and displace them from their homes to facilitate the installation of a 500 mw nuclear power station here.

At least 150 villagers waited for the site selection committee in the morning as planned. The crowd became thinner when the team finally arrived along with officers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in the evening. The team could not say the amount of compensation envisaged for the villagers.

In the wake of not being able to put forward their case to the sub-committee nor getting any concrete proposal from the state electricity board, the villagers have decided to form a committee and put their case before the Chief Minister.

Most of the villagers are wary about leaving their homes. Malkit Singh, whose mother is the village sarpanch, said the villagers did not want to leave their land as they were doing well here. He said decision on moving or not was yet to be taken as they had not got any concrete proposal from the electricity board. He said the village elders had, however, decided to form a committee and take up the issue with the Chief Minister, adding that they would demand compensation on the same pattern as was being given to villagers being displaced due to the Anandgarh project. He said if this pattern was followed than the compensation amount would be around Rs 17 lakh per acre.

The scare about the effects of radio-activity arising due to the nuclear plant have somewhat lessened in the neighbouring villages because of a tour of the Narora nuclear plant conducted for villagers of the village and the neighbouring ones.

Meanwhile, PSEB authorities were today upbeat claiming that the people of Drauli were willing to offer their land for setting up of the nuclear plant and that the negotiations were stuck on the issue of compensation. Board Chairman G.S. Sohal disclosed that the villagers would be compensated “suitably”.

The members of the sub-committee, which visited Drauli, also interacted with newspersons later. The team comprised Mr S. Krishan, former Director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Mr K.N. Naik, member secretary, Nuclear Power Corporation, Mr Satya Sarthi, soil expert and Mr Sunder Rajan from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Talking to newspersons Mr Krishan said the effects of activity due to the establishment of the plant would be little. He said the plant would be constructed following the defence and depth philosophy, under which there would be a multi-layered fallback system in case of machinery failure in any one section. 


Bharatiya Samaj Party floated

JALANDHAR, Feb 9 (UNI) — Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar) general secretary Vijay Hans, who quit with supporters on February 5 after levelling charges against party president Devi Das Nahar, today announced formation of the Bharatiya Samaj Party, with himself as its convener.

Addressing a press conference here, he claimed that the Haryana unit state president Maya Ram Sahota had also quit the party to protest against the “arbitrary” style of Mr Nahar’s functioning. He showed his resignation letter to the media on the occasion.

Mr Hans said Mr Bharat Bhushan Nahar had been appointed acting president of the new party’s Punjab unit. He said an 11-member ad hoc body of the new political outfit had also been set up.


Bhattal joins campaign
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 9 — Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister, and senior party leader Birdevinder Singh today joined the Congress campaign in the Majitha constituency.

Talking to TNS, Ms Bhattal said being a big party, there could be differences of opinion. However, so far as electioneering was concerned, the Congress would put up a united fight. She said the Congress would ensure the victory of Mr Savinder Singh Kathunangal, Congress candidate.

However, supporters of Ms Bhattal, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that she had not joined the campaign earlier as she was not approached by Mr Amarinder Singh to do so. 


Schemes galore, but no implementation
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, FEB 9 — Mr Parkash Singh Badal had assured the people that the SAD-BJP government would provide them with exemplary rule.

Many schemes were framed for the welfare of the people. The ministers gave assurances that these would be implemented soon, and that the shortage of funds would not hamper these schemes. But facts reveal something different as many schemes chalked out by the state government were still on paper only or were not implemented due to lack of funds. One such was the “shagun scheme” where the beneficiaries held protest marches against the non-payment of shagun money.

Statistics collected by The Tribune revealed that there are a total of 36, 600 pensioners in the state drawing up a pension of Rs 200 per month totalling Rs 7.32 crore every month. Officials of the District Social Security Officer (DSSO) maintained that it was ensured that no eligible pensioner was left out, but the facts show something else.

Mr Jagir Singh (name changed) of Nehlanwala village lamented that he was trying hard to get his pension restored for the past four months, but in vain. “My pension would be only Rs 200 per month and I am spending double the amount just to get it restored. It would be best that all such schemes were stopped rather than harassing us, he lamented.

Mrs Balwant Kaur (name changed) of the same village said she was trying for the past six months to get her pension but each time the officers point out some discrepancy in the forms. “Once my photograph was detached from the identity card and I had to wait for three months to get the new photograph re-attested by the office so that my pension may continue”, she lamented.

Not only old age pensioners but those who are drawing pensions from the state government are also waiting for their turn. Mr Manjit Singh said, “The officers of the department were very cooperative but the “babus” of the department harass them a lot. “We are given second-class treatment and employees of the department abuse us verbally”, he added.

As most of the beneficiaries are illiterate they find it difficult to fill the forms and thus fall easy prey to touts, who offer their services for anything ranging from Rs 50 to 150 per form.

A senior officer of the DSSO said he was not aware of any touts operating in the office. No one had ever complained about the employees of the office nor any case of bribe had been reported to me, he asserted.


IAF officer recounts moments of terror
From Our Correspondent

FAZILKA, Feb 9 — Mr Sandeep Sharma, Warrant Officer, Indian Air Force, a local resident, who is posted at the Air Force station at Bhuj, Gujarat, in a talk with this correspondent here yesterday, said on the fateful day he was shaving when he heard a thunder and simultaneously felt tremors in his apartment.

He rushed out into the open and saw his neighbours, Sergeant V. Singh and his family members lying buried under the debris of the collapsed building.

He along, with four more officials of the station pulled out Mr V. Singh, his wife, 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son from about three feet deep rubble. He along with other officials and civilians also rescued Sergeant Tiwari and his 11-year-old daughter.

They rushed the injured to the Army Hospital at a distance of about 5 km.

Mr Sharma said a strange feature of the earthquake was that the temperature in the area immediately came down from 12°C to 5°C. This created problems, particularly during the night, as there was shortage of blankets and quilts.

Most of the surviving population of the town had fled to safer places following warning of repeated tremors. Members of social organisations, R.S.S. volunteers and Delhi-based Punjabis had joined the Army and civil administration in the rescue operations.

Mr Sharma said though all kind of aid had poured in Bhuj in abundance on January 27 the distribution had not been proper.


Relief for quake victims
From Tribune Reporters

KAPURTHALA, Feb 9 — The district administration yesterday sent 14 trucks loaded with relief material to Gujarat for quake victims. Mr Raghbir Singh, Transport Minister, flagged off the trucks. The relief material includes blankets, bed sheets and eatables etc.

AMRITSAR: Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, on Thursday flagged off another instalment of relief material for the Gujarat earthquake victims on behalf of the district Red Cross Society. Five trucks loaded with blankets, woollen clothes, foodstuff and mineral water etc left for Gujarat.

BALACHAUR: A truck containing relief material collected by the local Friends Club was flagged off here on Wednesday by Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, local SDM for earthquake victims. Ms Kashmir Kaur Saba, president, Nagar Panchayat, Balachaur, Mr Sham Kumar, president, Friends Club and Mr Balbir Singh Sohal, social-worker, were also present on the occasion.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner flagged off 11 truckloads of household articles to Bhuj for the earthquake victims from the district Red Cross Society office here on Thursday. Mr Varinder Bajwa, president of the district unit of the SAD and Mr Hans Raj Makra, president of the district unit of the BJP, among others, attended the flagging off ceremony.

MANSA: At a meeting of the district PCMS doctors held on Thursday, it was decided to donate a day’s salary for the earthquake relief fund, said Dr Ramesh Katodia, president of the association.

SUNAM: Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, flagged off a relief material truck on Thursday for the victims of Gujarat earthquake. The truck was brought back to Sunam from Lehragaga on Wednesday when a controversy arose following a comment made by a BJP leader over sending the truck by collecting money from the public by the local Manav Sewa Mission.

Professor Chandumajra also expressed unhappiness over the circumstances in which the relief material truck was brought back.

MOGA: Sixteen truckloads of foodstuff, blankets, tents, biscuits, rice, sugar, ghee and other relief material had so far been despatched from the district for the victims of earthquake to Ahmedabad, said the Supply Commissioner, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, here on Friday.


CAT decision not binding on govt: Joginder
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 9 — The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order quashing the appointment of the CBI Director, Mr R.K. Raghavan, is not binding on the government and the latter may move the court to challenge it.

This was stated by the former CBI Director, Mr Joginder Singh, at a press conference here today.

Referring to the Opposition demand that the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, as he was an accused in the Babri mosque demolition case registered by the CBI, he said: “There is no need for Mr Advani to resign”.

Discounting the possibility of Mr Advani influencing the CBI in the case, he remarked: “Since it is political and not a corruption case, such a possibility is remote.”

Asked to comment on the secret funds being offered by the Punjab Police to help its officers booked by the CBI in various human rights violation cases, Mr Joginder Singh said there was no evidence to suggest this.

Census begins in Faridkot
From Our Correspondent

FARIDKOT, Feb 9 — The census operation began in this district today. Inaugurating the foundation at the local mini-secretariat, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Principal Census Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, said Faridkot had been divided in to five civil and two paramilitary and armed forces sectors.

Five senior gazetted officers had been appointed in charge of the civil sector. They would help 1,008 enumerators and supervisors to complete the process by February 28. Work in the other two sectors would be completed by the Army and paramilitary officials, he said.

Census of “houseless families” would be done on the night of the last day of the operation.

The Deputy Commissioner said each enumerator would cover 130 families in the urban area and 150 families would be covered in the rural areas by an enumerator. Each member of the staff would get Rs 1,500 for the work. However, teachers who would conduct the census would be free to avail two hours’ leave either in the morning or in the evening.

Mr Madhav Shyam, Deputy Director, Census, Punjab, who was also present on the occasion said emphasis had been laid to gather correct information, particularly about women who were involved in the cultivation of land.

SANGRUR (TNS): Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, in the presence of Mr Inderjit Singh, Director, Census, Punjab, on Friday launched the second phase of census operation in Punjab from here.

Mr Anirudh Tiwari (DC) cum-Principal, Census Officer, Sangrur, said the information gathered by the enumerators would be kept confidential.

‘Seventies Club’ rises to occasion
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 9 — They all are members of the 70 club. Moved by the suffering and misery of the people of Gujarat following a devastating earthquake on Republic Day, they took upon themselves the onerous task of collecting donations for the quake victims.

Inspired by voluntary donations made by Major Surat Singh Sandhu (retd) and residents of Ballian village in Sangrur district, as reported in these columns, they not only cut across all barriers, including those of age, religion and their background, they moved from house to house in their locality in Phase IV, SAS Nagar, and turned up at The Tribune office with two drafts for Rs 66, 231.

Among those who made the team were Mr Ajaib Singh Tung, an advocate-turned journalist, who at 73 heads the Sector 59 (Phase IV) Welfare Association, Mr S.S. Tiwana, a retired Superintendent of Police, Mr G.S. Bains, Secretary of the society, Major Gurbaksh Singh (retd), and Mr Rajeshwar Sharma, vice-presidents.

Some of them work voluntarily for a temple and others for a gurdwara. But the purpose is common — serving the suffering humanity. “It is why when The Tribune made the appeal for help for the quake victims, we got motivated and started working,” they said.

It was in November last year that the new team of office-bearers was elected and collecting donations was the first major and significant task undertaken by it.

“We had set a target of Rs 1 lakh. Today we contributed Rs 66,271 and another draft for Rs 20,000 would be ready any time now. We are confident that we will exceed our target,” they said maintaining that they always appreciated the lead taken by The Tribune in aid of the suffering humanity.

Meanwhile, members of the staff, both teaching and non-teaching, of AS College, Khanna, donated one day’s salary to the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and sent a draft of Rs 53,100 to The Tribune for onward transmission to Ahmedabad. Students of the college, too, made their contribution.


Pay compensation, LIC told
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 9 — The Consumer Forum here has directed the Life Insurance Corporation of India to pay compensation to complainant Yashpal Gupta for deficiency in service.

Mr Gupta, a resident of Kharar, in his complaint before the forum had alleged that he had got himself insured with the company and obtained two policies (number 160905324 and 161686060), each for Rs 1 lakh.

Each policy contained a provision for award of a fixed sum in case of illness or a serious disease.

The complainant suffered a heart attack in December, 1998. On the recommendation of the local doctor, he got himself checked at the National Heart Institute Centre, New Delhi. He was admitted to hospital and operated upon by cardiac surgeon P. Bhatnagar.

The complainant alleged that he spent about Rs 2.5 lakh on his treatment. Hence, he applied for the compensation due to him under the LIC policies. The documents demanded by the LIC were supplied. However, instead of paying the claim the officials concerned demanded more documents.

The complainant demanded a compensation of Rs 30,000 and Rs 5,000 as litigation costs besides payment of the policy claim.

In its reply, the LIC admitted that the complainant held two polices and had lodged a claim application before it. It, however, said the complainant had no reason to file the complaint. There had been no deficiency in service as the complainant had not supplied appropriate documents as demanded by the authorities concerned.

Moreover, the Consumer Forum had no jurisdiction to entertain and try the complaint, it maintained.

After hearing arguments of both parties, the two-member forum comprising president, J.P. Gupta and Mr S.K. Bhatia maintained the LIC had been languid lackadaisical in effectively dealing with the complainants claim.

The claim had been denied on flimsy grounds.

The complainant was allowed the litigation cost of Rs 2,500 and a compensation of Rs 20,000. The LIC authorities were also directed to make a payment of Rs 1 lakh with interest at a rate of 12 per cent per annum from the due date to the complainant.


Rummaging garbage for gold
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 9 — The local Sarafa Bazar and Sarafa Street are gold-mines for sweepers. The municipal authorities post their favourite sweepers in these areas.

Mr Sat Pal Verma, a jeweller of the area, said the sweepers of the area usually sweep the streets and drains before the sunrise. They collect the garbage and then thoroughly examine it.

Mr Verma said the search of the garbage often yields dividends as there are chances of finding small quantities of gold in it. Each sweeper working in the area thus makes Rs 100 to 200 daily. At times, sweepers happen to find some gold ornaments and thus make huge sums of money.


WTO pact to be taken up with Centre: CM

MOGA, Feb 9 (UNI) — Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers of eight northern states would meet the Union Minister of Commerce to hold discussions on the WTO agreement.

Talking to mediapersons in Dharamkot in this district yesterday, Mr Badal said. “An empowered committee of the finance ministers of the northern states was in favour of amendments to the agreement as it would help save the agriculture community as well as the economies of the states and the nation”.

The Punjab Government had already constituted a high-level committee to examine the clauses of the WTO agreement and it was expected to receive the report of the committee by the middle of March.

Discrimination makes councillor resign
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 9 — In a significant development Mr Sewak Ram Bhola today resigned from the post of the municipal councillor in protest against the discriminatory attitude of the municipal council authorities in connection with the development works in wards which were being represented by those municipal councillors who belonged to the Congress and other opposite parties.

Mr Bhola, who belonged to the Congress, alleged that for the past three years no development work had been carried out in the ward which was represented by him and for the past many months.

Talking to TNS here, he alleged that the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, had been interfering in the municipal affairs and had even given “verbal” orders to the municipal authorities not to carry out development in the wards which were represented by those who belonged to the opposition.

He pointed out that a major part of the roads and streets falling in his ward had not been recarpeted for the past three years while 30 per cent of the total population of the ward was yet to be covered under the water supply and sewerage system.

He added that in certain areas where the sewerage pipes had been laid, it did not function properly. In Arya Nagar the sewerage had not been functioning properly for the past 15 years.

He alleged that about three months ago the laying of sewerage in the Pukhraj colony had been started but the municipal council stopped it in midway. In Arya Nagar, the contractor agreed to recarpet the streets and lay the sewerage pipes but the municipal council did not allow the things to proceed further.

He alleged that certain development works had not been started in the ward represented by him, despite the fact that tenders for the same had been floated.

He added that under these circumstances he was compelled to resign from the post of the municipal councillor and his resignation should be accepted immediately.


SHOs shifted for defying court orders

MOGA, Feb 9 (UNI) — District police chief Sharad Satya Chohan, taking a serious view of “non-compliance” of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders, has sent SHOs of Moga and Kot Isekhan, Inspector Ram Prakash and Inspector Maninder Singh, to the police lines and placed under suspension Assistant Sub-Inspector Randhir Singh.

The SSP said here today that the action was taken after the three failed to file their replies even after half a dozen dates in connection with a criminal writ petition pending against them in the court of Mr Justice V.M. Jain.

The criminal writ petition was filed by Ajaib Singh of Khukhrana village alleging that he was framed under Section 307 of the IPC because of “political pressure”.

Dr Chohan has directed Police Superintendent (Detective) Shiv Kumar to conduct inquiry regarding lapses on part of the three officials.

Conviction upheld
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, FEB 9 — The Punjab and Haryana High Court has upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of two Amritsar residents in a murder case.

The two — Pawan Kumar and Balwinder Singh — were booked by the police for murder and common intention under Sections 302 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code after taxi driver Shamsher Singh was found dead in a hotel room in Dabwali in July, 1994.

According to the prosecution, the body was discovered by a waiter. The post mortem examination had revealed that the victim had died due to strangulation.

Convicting them, the Additional Sessions Judge had earlier observed: “It seems both the accused and the deceased entered the hotel in a drunken state. Immediately upon entering the room, some altercation took place and feeling enraged, both the accused strangulated Shamsher Singh and left the hotel room in a huff”.

After hearing the arguments, Mr Justice A.S. Garg and Mr Justice H.S. Bedi of the High Court observed: “We are of the firm view that the conviction of the appellants under Section 302 read with 34 of the IPC and life sentence are not required to be disturbed. The appeal fails and is dismissed”. 


Christian woman denied burial

HOSHIARPUR, Feb 9 (UNI) — The last wish of Zohra, who had married a Hindu, to be buried according to Christian rites could not be fulfilled because of narrow-mindedness of local heads of the community.

Her husband Hans Raj, a Class IV employee in the local tehsil office, in an affidavit alleged that his wife throughout their married life had remained a Christian. She died on February 1.

Mr Hans Raj said her last wish was to be buried according to the Christian rites. He took the body in a coffin box to the local Christian burial ground the next day, where priest Sardar Masih “refused to perform the last rites and disallowed the burial”.

Even the local Sub-divisional Magistrate failed to convince the priest to perform the burial, the husband said. Having left with no other option, Mr Hans Raj said, he had to consign the last remains of his wife to the flames.


Special Lok Adalat on February 17
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA FEB 9 — A special Lok Adalat will be held on February 17 during which five courts would be set up to hear bank loan cases.

Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority (DISA) said in a pressnote issued here today that all banks in the district had been asked to inform the secretary, DISA, about the cases of loan defaulters. They had also been asked to submit the list of such cases which had not been admitted in the course yet, he added.

Mr Rajput further said so far about 2,000 loan cases of State Bank of Patiala, Indian Overseas Bank and Dena Bank had reached the pre-litigation stage. Among these about 100 cases had been settled and the rest would be dealt during the special Lok Adalat.

He added that loan defaulters would be persuaded to return the loans either in lump sum or in instalments. He further said to reduce the workload of the courts a special drive has been started in Punjab for the settlement of the bank loan cases.

Mr Rajput further stated that on March 2 a labour court special Lok Adalat will be held in Bathinda and on March 3 a Lok Adalat would settle marriage-related disputes like dowry disputes, civil suit, criminal cases and motor accident claim cases, etc.

He said the court of the District and Sessions Judge or the court in which the case was pending could be contacted to put up a case in a Lok Adalat. 


Dial 95 for trouble 
From Our Correspondent

ABOHAR, FEB 9 — The introduction of regional subscribers dialing (RSD) scheme has hampered the telecom services in the region. The scheme was launched on the intervening January 26. All lines remain busy and one gets to hear the same line again and again “please dial after sometime”. Internet services were worst affected. Moreover, there were frequent interruptions during the operation, particularly after noon hours.

The Consumers Movement today faxed a complaint to the higher authorities expressing resentment over the conduct of the STD PCO holders. Mr Satpal Khariwal, chairman of the organisation, said the RSD scheme had become a big nuisance since its launching as PCO owners were not allowing the customers to make calls by dialing 95 within the specified distance of 200 km. The customers were allegedly asked to use STD only. If a customer insisted on dialling 95, he was forced to pay Rs 2 or even more as service charges on each call even if the bill was less than Rs 2.

Mr Khariwal said in his complaint that the name of the owner was not displayed on the booths and some of them had no receipt book. Besides, there was no checking on the computerised meters kept at STD booths in Ferozepore district. There were reports that the department had issued licenses for local PCOs to those persons who could not get regular connection and were in the waiting list. These PCOs were not displaying any sign board and the owners were not allowing the public to make any call from there. They were themselves getting the benefit of concession in rates applicable at calls made from such PCOs, besides enjoying commission on the bills.

Mr Khariwal urged the Chief General Manager, Punjab circle, to issue necessary clarification as whether STD PCOs were authorised to levy service charges on the RDS calls.

Mann to lead team to Pak
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 9 — Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A), said he would lead a deputation to Pakistan to take up the issue of massacre of innocent Sikhs by Pakistan-sponsored militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Mann said the six like-minded parties had authorised him to approach Pakistan High Commission for the proposed visit. He said he would meet Pakistan Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf. He would also meet the Prime Minister and the President of India for ensuring the life and property of Sikhs in other parts of the country.


Eat garlic, onion and avoid heart attack
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 9 — The inclusion of dietary foods like garlic, onion, tomato, amla and alsi in everyday diet of persons who are at risk of having coronary heart disease, can help in avoiding a heart attack. These are the inferences of a young scientist at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), who presented a paper on “Efficacy of Multiple Dietary Approaches in Reducing Coronary Heart Disease” at the fourth Punjab Science Congress being held at the PAU here today.

Ms Parneet Baring, a research scholar at the Department of Food and Nutrition, who has presented this paper, had experimented on 35 males in the age group of 20 to 49 years belonging to the same professional class and at the risk of coronary heart disease.

The experiment did wonders as noteworthy changes were observed in their lifestyle along with increase in physical activity reducing their consumption of alcohol and smoking.

* * *

Dr Vidwan Singh Soni, Principal, Mahindra College, Patiala, presented a new discovery in space time physics at the congress. His discovery showed an extremely short and simple solution to clock paradox, which also yields an observation of backward flow of time. While talking to The Tribune he claimed that the new discovery would help in better understanding of paradoxes of special relativity, a theory propounded by Einstein.

* * *

If cottage cheese is fried for a longer time and at a higher temperature it increases the fat content of the product. These are the inferences of Mr H.K. Sharma, a research scholar at the Department of Food Technology at SLIE &T, Sangrur.

He had experimented on cottage cheese cubes which were fried in sunflower oil under varying time and temperature.

* * *

Exotic forest tree species like eucalyptus, poplar, wattles and subabul have a good potential in Punjab and these tress have been well accepted by the farmers of the state. Ms R. Chauhan from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, PAU, has drawn this conclusion and her paper “Potential of Exotic Forest Tree Species in Punjab” has been among the nominations for Young Scientists Award.

According to her the increase in the wood requirement and the supply for domestic and industrial needs has necessitated the growing of fast multipurpose indigenous and exotic tree species. Exotic trees have been introduced mainly to supplement indigenous resources of wood-based raw material, integrated with agricultural crops and to afforest barren lands with a view to step up production and revenue.


Cell to give aid to mishap victims
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, FEB 9 — To provide immediate medical help to the injured in the road accidents, the district police plans to establish a Highway Integrated Traffic Enforcement Cell (HITEC) near the Goniana bypass.

The cell is the third in a plan to set up five such centres at the various accident-prone points on the outskirts of the city. The HITEC would be equipped with an ambulance, a first-aid box, an oxygen cylinder and wireless system etc.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, today laid the foundation stone of the centre on the Bathinda-Faridkot road near Goniana village. Dr Jain said the proposal to establish such centres was under consideration for quite some time. The first centre was set up at the Muktsar-Malout crossing in January.

Mr Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, DSP (Rural), said other centres would be established near Kotshamir and Jassibagwali villages and near the Bhuchu Mandi Chowk.

2 jawans drowned
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 9 — Two Army jawans were drowned when they slipped from the boat bridge in the UBDC canal during exercise near Tibri Cantt, 5 km from here. The Army authorities have not identified the drowned persons so far.

According to the police, the jawans belong to Dogras and were on exercise for the past four days.

The police sources said four jawans of 9 Dogras fell into the river out of which two were immediately rescued. One of them was admitted to the Military Hospital at Tibri Cantt. The level of water in the river was 12 feet when the mishap occurred.

Shutters were closed to stop flow of water in the river from Madhopur Headworks and water in the river was diverted to river Beas. Arrangements for searchlights and generators have been made to carry on the rescue operation after sunset.


Urdu poet dead

MOGA, Feb 9 (UNI) —Renowned Urdu poet, well known school teacher and staunch believer in Arya Samaj Harbans Lal Bhushan died here yesterday. He was 87.

A gathering of over 2,000 persons that included a number of school and college teachers, doctors, journalists and writers, among others attended his funeral last evening.

All the institutions run by the Arya Samaj here remained closed today as a mark of respect to the veteran educationist who served for 44 years in the M. DAS Higher Secondary School. 


Waive loans, say farmers
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Feb 9 — A large number of members of the Bharati Kisan Union (Rajewal) led by Mr Jhanda Singh, district president, today staged a dharna against the “anti-farmer” policies of the government had held a rally in favour of their demands in the district administrative complex here.

The farmers staged a dharna. They demanded that all pending loans be written off and the prices of their produce linked with the price index. They also demanded the release of the Rs 350 crore package announced for paddy growers recently.

Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur, president of the Punjab unit of the BKU, supported the implementation of the WTO pact.

Among others who addressed the dharna and rally were Mr Jhanda Singh, Mr Nek Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh and Mr Malkit Singh Dakhmirwala.


PUDA audit for CAG
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 9 — The Punjab Government has entrusted the concurrent audit of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India. A formal request has been sent to the CAG.


16 kg heroin found in truck
From Our Correspondent

PATHANKOT, Feb 9 — The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Amritsar, achieved a major breakthrough here when it intercepted a truck with heroin on a tip-off near Satish & Company petrol station, Sarna. The truck was coming from the Jammu side.

About 16 kg of heroin was found in the stepney of the truck. The driver has been identified as Dilbagh Singh of Panju Rai village in Amritsar.

The Intelligence Officer, Mr T.P.S. Sandhu said the value of seized heroin was about Rs 16 crore in the international market.

A case under Section 21, 23 and 29 of the NDPS Act was registered and the accused remanded to judicial custody.

Lineman held for smuggling
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, FEB 9 — The district police has arrested Malook Singh, member of an inter-state gang of narcotic smugglers, and recovered 2 kg of opium from him.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said here today that the culprit used to purchase opium from Jandwala village in Haryana and sell it on retail in various villages of the district. He had been working as a retail agent for the smugglers for more than four years, Dr Jain added. He said Malook Singh, who has been employed as a lineman with the Punjab State Electricity Board at Raman, owned a Maruti Gypsy, which he used for smuggling purposes.

The SSP said the culprit was arrested along with some opium while he was trying to enter the district. He was caught at a naka near Giana-Malkana village.

A case has been registered against him under Sections 18, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act at Raman police station.

Dr Jain said five others were also arrested in connection with the smuggling of narcotics. Five cases were registered against them at various police stations of the district. The police recovered 40 kg of poppy husk from them. They were identified as Wazir Singh of Kothaguru, Mukhtiyar Singh of Kararwala, Darshan Singh of Talwandi, Jagsir Singh of Phulo Mithi and Jalaur Singh of Shekhupura.

The police seized four .12-bore pistols and five cartridges from the accused and four cases under the Arms Act has been registered against Neeta of Rampura Mandi, Sukhdev Singh of Talwandi Sabo, Bittu of Rampura and Iqbal Singh of Kilianiwali.

The district police has registered 13 cases under the Excise Act and arrested 12 persons. Nearly 45l of illicit liquor, 80 l of country-made liquor and 45l of lahan was recovered from them. He added that an illegal distillery was also unearthed.

The culprits have been identified as Kaka Singh of Chumba Bhaika, Gurtej Singh of Buraj, Chanan Singh of Bambiha, Roop Singh and Ladha Singh of Gobindpura, Pritam Singh of Akalia, Sukhdev Singh of Namdev Nagar, Bathinda, Rana Singh of Behniwal, Gurtej Singh of Changer, Puran Singh of Bir Talab, Jagseer Singh of Malkana and Megh Singh of Kotbhara.

Seven persons involved in satta trade have also been arrested and seven cases registered. Rs 4377 were seized from them. Those arrested have been identified as Bikramjeet Singh, Daya Nand, Makhan Lal and Sulakhan, all residents of Bathinda, Parveen Kumar of Bhuchu Mandi, Tara Chand of Raman Mandi and Makhan Lal of Balianawali, Mr Jain added.

Man on bail beaten to death
Tribune News Service

RAMPURAPHUL, Feb 9 — Karnail Singh, a resident of Sidana village, was beaten to death by three persons last evening.

The police sources said Karnail Singh, who was on bail, was allegedly beaten to death by those whom the deceased, along with his son Gora Singh, had beaten up three months ago.

Karnail Singh, who suffered multiple fracture, fell unconcious and was taken to hospital Rampura. He was shifted to the local Civil Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.


“Education for all” ‘mere’ slogan
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 9 — Eminent educationists, professors and academicians are of the view that falling standards of education should be checked and its commercialisation should be stopped.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, co-convener of the Save Education Committee and the Editor of “Sahi Buniyaad”, said here today that the commercialisation of education which started with the national policy of education (NPE) in 1986, had harmed the education system. With the introduction of “free economy” in the country, universities were being forced to hike fees, funds and various donations to take care of their budget as the funding by the government had been reduced significantly, he said.

At least 10 per cent of the Union Budget should be allocated for education.

“Education for all” and “my country literate country” had been reduced to mere slogans. Even the district primary education programme was being run under the World Bank funding and the government was shirking from its responsibility, he alleged.

Criticising the education policy and syllabus, Mr Kaushal said the so-called “child-centred” approach of education had destroyed the creativity and inquiring nature of children. Stress was on cramming and mark-oriented approach. More and more examination and entrance tests had ensured that the students had no time for themselves or extra curricullar activities. Reservation system and capitation fees made higher and quality education only in the reach of the privileged.

Commenting on the recent move of the Union Government to introduce new syllabus at the school level, Mr Kaushal said it was aimed at “saffronisation” and “communalisation” of education. He alleged that unscientific, myth-based and communally-biased view of history was being promoted.

He said a convention would be organised in the middle of this month in which educationists from all over the country would take part.

Their main demands would be that the commercialisation and privatisation of education should be stopped and the practice of capitation fees and hike in admission fees should be done with. At least 10 per cent of the Union Budget should be set aside for education and it should be the duty and responsibility of the government to ensure that every student desirous of admission to any educational institute should get one. 

VC condemned for harassing teacher
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, FEB 9 — Mr Aminderpal Singh, Secretary of the Punjabi University area of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union, has condemned the victimisation of Mr K.C. Singhal, a teacher of the Punjabi University, by the Vice-Chancellor.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Aminderpal said the treatment given to Mr Singhal by the Vice-Chancellor was unfair. He said Mr Singhal, who had been president of the Punjabi University Teachers Union (PUTA), had become the target of the university administration because he had dared the Vice-Chancellor during a meeting of the syndicate by expressing his views about “functioning” of the university authorities.

He further said the Vice-Chancellor used unfair means to tarnish the struggle of the employees. He said when the PUTA had staged a dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office, the authorities, in order to create fear in the minds of the teachers, had put on banners stating not to take part in the dharna. He said the dharna was also videographed which was not justified.

He said if the Vice-Chancellor did not put a stop on his dictatorial behaviour, their union would launch a massive agitation in which the college and university teachers from all over Punjab and Chandigarh would participate.

Exam date changed
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 9 — The annual examinations of B.Ed and M.Ed. courses of the Guru Nanak Dev University will now commence from April 6 instead of April 26 as already notified. This has been stated here today by Mr Ramesh Bhandari, Deputy Registrar (Conduct) of the university.


No NOC required to extend load
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 9 — Under the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS), the owner of the small and medium-scale industries have been exempted from producing no objection certificate (NOC) for the extension of electricity load which was till now issued by the municipal council concerned.

This was stated by Mr V.K. Singal, Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board, here today. He said the scheme would remain open till March 31. He said now, the small-scale industrialists could extend their running load upto 100 per cent and medium-scale industrialists upto 50 per cent of the current load.

Mr Singal said after the extension of the load, the service charges would be applicable according to category. He added that the consumers could deposit their electricity bills upto Rs 5,000 in cash.

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