Sunday, February 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Majitha poll: intervention of Akal Takht sought
Tribune News Service

MAJITHA, Feb 10 — Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, to take suo motu notice of the reports regarding the distribution of illicit liqour among voters by the ruling party.

“The party which claims itself to be Panthic should not adopt the Congress culture to woo voters with drugs and liquor,” he alleged.

Mr Mann said that Jathedar Vedanti had accused the Badal government of not controlling the menace of drugs in the state. He said it was the duty of Akal Takht to intervene in this matter.

Meanwhile, in a written press statement, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has urged the Election Commission to ban the entry of the Chief Minister and ministers in the Majitha constituency to ensure free and fair elections. The note alleged that the ruling party had been violating the Code of Conduct.

The PPCC also took exception to the nomination of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal who was defeated in the previous parliamentary elections, to the Rajya Sabha.

Meanwhile, the electioneering in Majitha has reached a feverish pitch with SAD, BJP and Congress leaders addressing a number of rallies in various villages of the area.


CPI backs Cong candidate
Tribune News Service

MAJITHA, Feb 10 — The CPI today joined the election campaign in favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Shavinder Singh Kathunangal.

Addressing an election rally at Waryamnangal village, Dr Joginder Dayal, state General Secretary of the CPI, flayed Mr Parkash Singh Badal for raising communal passion during byelection. He said Mr Badal should have raised issues like the performance of his government instead of playing the “communal card.”

Describing the BJP, coalition partner of the SAD, as “anti-farmer,” Dr Dayal alleged that in its recent resolution the BJP had decided to privatise the procurement of agricultural produce.


Govt employees plan protest in Majitha
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Feb 10 — The Mulazim Sangharsh Committee, Punjab has given a call to its members to assemble at the Grain Market in Majitha in protest against the “indifferent” attitude of the government towards the demands of employees.

The demands include regularisation of services of daily-wage workers, filling of vacant posts, recruitment on a contract basis and stopping the recovery of house rent allowance to employees posted in border districts.

Mr Kewal Singh, president, Mr Bachan Singh Gill, general secretary, PSSF, Mr Sucha Singh, president, and Mr Madan Gopal, general secretary, GTU, Amritsar, Mr Amrik Singh, president, and Mr Tarsem Singh, general secretary, Field Workshop Workers Union, Amritsar, Mr Gurinder Singh Sodhi, convener, Paramedical Coordination Committee, Amritsar, and Mr Harnek Singh in a joint statement asked the employees to reach Majitha in large numbers and seek an explanation from their political masters “in the court of the people”.


Custodial death: CBI probe sought
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 10 — The Ropar Police has failed to handle the alleged custodial death of Jaspal Singh of Morinda with the required urgency and seriousness, alleged lawyers for the Human Rights International at a press conference here today. They also demanded a CBI inquiry into the case.

The lawyers’ organisation also released a report on the alleged custodial death. A team of lawyers comprising Mr Arunjeev Singh Walia, Mr Ravinder Singh Bassi, Mr Kulbir Singh Bains, Mr Anil Kaushik, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan and Mr Shashi Sharma visited Morinda and the Civil Hospital, Ropar, on February 7 and 8 during the course of investigation, it met three witnesses and also saw the body of the deceased.

It was alleged in the report that high-ranked officials in the police and the administration had entrusted the inquiry and inquest into the custodial death of Jaspal Singh, and tried to help the erring officials. It said it was a case of gross and deliberate non-compliance of the Supreme Court guidelines on case arrests.

No arrest memo was prepared before picking up the victim. Nor any reason for such action was disclosed to him. The police also did not obtain signature of any relative or friend of the victim on any memo. The lawyers for the Human Rights International recommended the investigation case must be handed over to an independent agency like the CBI and the family of the victim be compensated.

Meanwhile, sources in the Punjab Government revealed that goverenment had setup an inquiry to probe into the reported custodial death of an 18-year-old Dalit from Saheri village of Ropar district, while the suspended Station House Officer (SHO) and three others involved in the case were still at large.

Constable Manoj Kumar and Saheri village Sarpanch Jagtar Singh were arrested last night after being booked for the alleged killing of Jaspal. But SHO Tarlochan Singh and three others involved in the custodial death have not been arrested. Superintendent of Police (Detective) Jagdish Singh has been assigned the investigation of the case.


Congress ends with appeal to diversify
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 10 — The Punjab Science Congress concluded its two-day session here today, expressing concern over the decline in standards of science and the pathetic state of education and drawing attention to the problems resulting from a high rate of growth in agriculture. It stressed on the need for adopting bio-technology and genomic research for sustainable economic development of the state.

Organised by the Punjab Academy of Sciences and Society for Advancement of Academics, Sports and Cultural Activities of the College of Basic Sciences and Humanities at Punjab Agricultural University, the congress identified the declining water-table, deteriorating soil health, increasing pest resistance and pollution caused by synthetic chemicals and burning of paddy as major problems besetting agriculture and rise in crime due to alcoholism and influx of immigrant labour causes of social tension.

The congress suggested dispersing of labour to other sectors, improving rural education and encouraging the industrial sector to join hands with science and technology for the socio-economic development of the state. It favoured curbing undesirable farm practices such as use of unrecommended varieties or sowing paddy early or overdose of fertiliser application by farmers. For better returns the congress asked farmers to diversify into basmati rice, maize, fruit and vegetables and exploring organised export of perishable farm commodities.

The congress referred to the major challenge of crop improvement match with the galloping population. India is expected to have a population of eight billion by 2025. Hence, the need for quantity production with matching quality due to world competitiveness. To check the declining water-table, the congress recommended three methods; conserving rainwater in paddy fields, timely sowing and renovation of village ponds.

On the role of technology in engineering and agriculture, the congress wanted computer-aided designing of machinery and equipment and interactive communication. Awareness about information technology existed, but utility awareness was very low. The use was limited to communication but lacked application to marketing strategies. It expressed concern over the disastrous effects of the Internet on society.

The congress recommendations were presented by Prof of bio-chemistry S.K. Munshi at the concluding session. Giving a brief resume of the deliberations, Dr Munshi said: “Looking at the wholesome impact of psychiatric disorders in married couples the concept of medical horoscopes at the time of matrimony be introduced.” The role of “stress” in stablising the effect of menstrual stress in school going girls was also highlighted.

A special highlight of the fourth congress was poster presentation in which over 300 entries were received. The four best students were honoured by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat and the Punjab Academy of Science President, Dr Harjit Singh. The winners were Rajan Katoch (agricultural sciences) of HPKV, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, Jaspreet Kochar (veterinary medicines) of PAU’s bio-chemistry department; Mrs Alka Dewedi (applied sciences and biology) of GNDU, Amritsar, and Sukhjeevan Kaur (life sciences) of College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, PAU.


Scientists now and then
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 10 — How are today’s scientists different from those of yesteryear ? This question was posed and answered by Dr A. S. Paintal at the Fourth Punjab Science Congress here yesterday, where he spoke on “Present Status of Scientists”.

Dr Paintal, a former Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said in the past money was not important. Their aim was simple: work to give relief to human suffering. Take a look at the list of all Nobel laureates. They made inventions, discoveries and designed instruments so that others could benefit and not for personal gains.

But what is happening today is totally different. The pile of papers published and the number of citations collected is the be all and end all aim of the scientists. Today it is a different world. We hear of “patenting”. He said it was like minting money at the cost of human suffering. The need was of the hour “team spirit”. Competence of a scientist is not to be judged by number of papers and citations gathered but what work has been done and what are the achievements. Do not make promotions and give awards based on stack of citations and published papers. Look to the future. Set a goal. The aim should be to develop, imaginatively, human resource by achieving that goal, he said.

“Look at me. I have a goal. The goal is how to remove breathlessness, a problem from which each one of us will one day suffer. Weed out the bogus stuff and try to be the first and the best”, Dr Paintal added. He gave the example of Dr S. S. Goraya, a former head of Zoology at PAU asking young scientists to emulate him in his work, devotion and dedication.

Saying that he was an “experimental” man, he said scientific misconduct and scandals have tarnished the image of science. Without naming the scientist, he referred to the geological scandal of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and even the much earlier bogus wheat-variety scandal. Though no action has been taken, so far, on the geological scandal, we will see it was taken.

The second lecture was by Dr B. S. Dhillon, Director, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi. He gave a review of the international and national plant germplasm assets available, urging the 400-odd delegates and PAU scientists to preserve diverse germplasm for posterity ensuring someone was made in charge of the plant breeding germplasm bank so that precious material was not lost.


Holistic approach only way out
Farm research at crossroads
From P.P.S. GILL
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA: The Punjab Agricultural University’s Director of Research, Dr M. S. Bajwa, outlining the emerging challenges and the initiatives required, has mapped a plan on “Strategies for agricultural research and development in Punjab”.

The focus of the plan, which assumes significance in view of the ongoing Fourth Punjab Science Congress here, is based on the experiences and experiments at PAU and emerging global agricultural research trends. Interestingly, the plan calls upon the social scientists and economists to join hands in analysis and policy matters to accrue maximum benefits to small farmers while evaluating and promoting new technologies.

The new technologies require infrastructure and investment. For this public and private funding is imperative for research management and dissemination. The 50-paged document is in the nature of an introspection report covering all aspects of research, encompassing crop and animal husbandry, schemes that PAU has undertaken since its inception in 1962.

Dr Bajwa draws lessons from the past suggesting a new direction. Name a topic and it is mentioned in the plan. Cropping pattern, diversification, use of farm inputs, soil health, depleting watertable and its management, emergence of new diseases or need for genetically modified food through bio-technology, pests, insects and weeds or the ones that have developed resistance or shown resurgence to use of chemicals and their toxic affects on crops, humans and animals, ecological imbalance, endangered bio-diversity, post-harvest losses, concern over energy management etc.

The bottomline is a “holistic approach” since agricultural research is at crossroads. The need is to take a fresh, hard look and evolve new strategies that are demand-driven, focused, cost-effective, eco-efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable production systems through multi-disciplinary approach. Agricultural practices have to integrate with information system, and based on monitoring global economic, research and market trends.

The terms, “self-sufficient” or “surplus foodgrain” may be debatable given the ever-increasing population in the country. But if Punjab agriculture is to survive, ward off social tensions and for profit to small tillers, quality not quantity alone will do. For this to happen, Dr Bajwa calls for “integrated” natural resources, pest, gene, water, soil and nutrient, post-harvest and site-specific management. Since the bio-farming concept of research in which plants are used as bioreactors is getting attention, this aspect has to be pursued further.

For all this and much more to happen funding of agricultural research is the key word. PAU is a premier institution responsible for agricultural education, research and extension. Over a period of time, its budget has progressively increased from Rs 1.27 crore (1963-64) to Rs 100 crore (2YK-01).

In real terms the increase is much less (below 0.5 per cent). Allocation for research at PAU has invariably hovered around 50 per cent. The present budget is Rs 59.5 crore shared by the state (65 per cent), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (18 per cent) and other agencies (17 per cent). PAU’s own contribution is a mere 8 per cent.

The problem is acute when it comes to state funding of Plan and non-plan schemes.

There is a recommendation of the Standing Committee on Agriculture of Parliament that the outlay for farm research should be 1 per cent of the agricultural GDP as against the present 0.3 per cent in the country.

Dr Bajwa’s logic is that investment in productive agricultural research can result in high pay off and returns far in excess of those realised in any other development activity. During the past two decades, 1980-81 and 1999-2000, the total expenditure on farm research at PAU was Rs 480 crore.

He gives an example of wheat variety, PBW-343. Other inputs remaining constant, in a single year its production shot up from 4.5 million tonnes (1998-99) to 15.9 million tonnes (1999-2000), resulting in addition of more than Rs 800 crore to the state’s economy.

The plan document devotes considerable space to soil health and its ills. It is a depressing scenario. If not rejuvenated with organic fertilisers and changing cultural practices, Punjab could be in serious problem. Soil’s declining fertility will upset all research strategies as will dwindling genetic material, diminishing bio-diversity and increasing pollution of soil, water, and air and food articles.

If “exploitive” is the pre-fix, Dr Bajwa prefers to describe agricultural practices and patterns resulting in emergence of new pest problems and diseases in major crops, “mining” is the word he uses for withdrawal of sub-surface water without attempt at recharge it. If the process continues, it will put more constraint on electricity leading to installation of new pump sets, thereby adding to the cost of cultivation, besides making Punjab a desert.

Dr Bajwa lists the following pests in different crops: Cotton is now attacked by the American bollworm, tobacco caterpillar, serpentine leaf miner, lucerne cater pillar; sugarcane by stalk borer, thrips and white grubs; rice by brown plant hopper, armyworm and thrips; wheat by armyworm and American bollworm, fruits and vegetables by serpentine leaf miner and poplar by case worm, leaf webber and defoliators.

The new plant diseases that have emerged are: head blight in wheat; foot-rot, sheath-rot, kernel smut, root-knot nematodes, rice tungro virus in rice; leaf curl virus, root-knot nematodes in cotton; powdery and downy mildew in sunflower; rust in winter maize; wilt and wet rot (chillies), downy mildew and mosaic (cauliflower), white rot (crucifers) in vegetables; and downy mildew (grapes), stem-end rot (citrus), root-knot nematodes (peach) in fruits. Indiscriminate use of plant protection chemicals has resulted in either resistance or resurgence and outbreak of non-target organisms like natural enemies and pollinators. Some insecticide-induced resurgence of insects and mites is as follows: brown plant hopper, green leaf hopper, white-backed plant hopper, leaf-folder (all in rice); aphid, whitefly, jassid, spider mite, mealy bug, yellow mite, leaf hopper (all in cotton); aphid (in mustard); and scale, aphid and mealy bug (all in sugarcane).

Given the complex, close and fragile relationship between soil-plants-animals-humans, a comprehensive research strategy must involve scientists, technologists and specialists from the respective fields. 


No-trust move declared ‘illegal’
MC officials’ report rejected, Cong threatens action
From J.S. Malhotra

JALANDHAR, Feb 10 — Even as the Local Bodies Department has decided to reject the report submitted by municipal corporation (MC) officials pertaining to the removal of the Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal, during a meeting on January 30, the Congress has declared that it will take legal action.

Mr Sehgal had been removed from the post of Mayor through a controversial no-confidence motion with the help of 22 Congress members, 10 SAD members, three BSP members and two Independents. However, Mr Sehgal claimed since he had adjourned the meeting after paying tributes to those who had died in the recent earthquake in Gujarat, the proceedings thereafter stand null and void as per the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976.

Mr Balramji Dass Tadon, Local Bodies Minister, talking to this correspondent, termed the proceedings of the House as illegal. “The Local Bodies Department has decided to reject the report submitted by the MC officials since the House was adjourned by the Mayor after paying homage to the earthquake victims and all proceedings after the adjournment of the House by the Mayor were illegal as per the Act”, Mr Tandon said.

“If a majority of the members of the House are against the Mayor they can ask for a special meeting as per the rules to discuss a no-confidence motion against Mr Sehgal,“ he added.

Mr Bachan Lal, a BSP councillor who had been elected Mayor by the 37 councillors during the meeting, had written a letter to the Joint Commissioner, demanding withdrawal of all facilities provided to Mr Sehgal since he had been removed from the post.

However, Mr Tandon declared that Mr Sehgal was the Mayor and there was no question of withdrawing the facilities.

In a tactical move to remove differences among the councillors of the SAD and the BJP, Mr Tandon said Mr Gurcharan Singh Narula, leader of the 10-member SAD group who had been removed from the post of Senior Deputy Mayor eight months ago by the BJP with the help of the Congress, could be elected again during the next meeting of the House.

According to sources, keeping in view the Majitha byelection, Mr Narula has been told by the high command not to press the issue further since it could have a bad impact on the results.

Meanwhile, the Congress has decided to approach court in this regard.

Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, leader of the 22-member Congress group, alleged that the Punjab Government was undemocratic and the department had rejected the report under pressure from Mr Tandon.

“We will challenge the decision of the department and an indefinite agitation will be launched in the city after discussing the matter with senior party leaders,” he said. 


Deploy Army in Sikh-dominated areas: SAD
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 10 — The Shiromani Akali Dal (sad) today advocated the deployment of army and paramilitary forces in the Sikh-dominated villages of Jammu and Kashmir to instill a sense of confidence and security among them.

The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who led a two-member team to make an on-the-spot study of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the killing of eight Sikhs there last week told newsmen this morning that the confidence of the Sikh minority community was totally shaken and they were living in fear of militants. Capt Kanwaljit Singh pointed out that the Sikhs continued to nurse a grouse against the Central government for its inability to provide them security, despite a promise to them.

The Finance Minister who was accompanied by the Rajya Sabha Member and general secretary of the SAD, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, said that the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had assured the representatives of the Sikhs settled in the valley after the massacre of Chitti Singhpora that protection would be provided but nothing had been done to this effect.

In minister said that they had suggested certain security measures for protection of Sikh employees of the Jammu and Kashmir Government and it assured them that suitable steps would be taken for their security.

The SAD leaders also sought the registration of murder case against SHO Shaukat of Jammu who was allegedly responsible the killing of the Sikh bank employee, Mohinder Singh, during their agitation.

They also wanted a ban on various newspapers spreading rumours which was vitiating the already surcharged atmosphere in the state.


Splinter Akali groups propose third front
From Our Correspondent

ROPAR, Feb 10 — The splinter Akali groups today stressed upon the need to forge unity to offer a third front in the next assembly elections.

In a rally held today at Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Kurali, the proposal was put forward by various leaders, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of SAD (Mann), Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala. These leaders, however, had differing views about its timing and organisational structure.

Mr Tohra, while talking to newsmen, said that the process of the formation of the third front was on, but added it would take a long time for it to become a reality.

Mr Ravi Inder and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala said that an agreement on forming the front had been reached.

Many disappointed ruling party leaders may join the new front, they asserted.

Earlier, addressing the public, Mr Mann criticised the RSS for interfering in the affairs of the Sikhs.

The leaders of the proposed third front would meet the Pakistan President against the killing of the Sikhs in J & K. This would usher a new era in international Sikh diplomacy.

His party would also celebrate the birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on February 12 at Fatehgarh Sahib, he said.

Today’s rally at Kurali, the assembly constituency of Mr Ravi Inder, was organised as a show of his strength in the area and as a platform to bring together the third front leaders. Most of the leaders criticised Mr Badal for adopting corrupt poll practices to win the byelections. The government was tampering with electronic voting machines and narcotics were being supplied to the youth to ensure win the Majitha byelections, they alleged.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh criticised Mr Badal for projecting Mr Sukhbir Badal for the Rajya Sabha seat. Mr Badal had ignored the faithful and competent Akali leaders while projecting his son for Rajya Sabha, he said.


Punjab ‘adopting’ double standards
Recommendations of all-India conferences
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 10 The Punjab Government seems to have adopted double standards as far as the implementation of the recommendations of the all-India conferences held in connection with the Vidhan Sabhas and state governments in previous years.

The state government, which has set up an example by according the status of Cabinet minister to the Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal, had failed to implement other recommendations made in 1997 and 1998.

Mr Hardev Arshi, leader of the CPI, group in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while talking to mediapersons alleged that the state government had failed to implement the recommendations of the All-India Conference of Whips held in Srinagar in 1997 and All-India Speakers Conference held in Shimla in 1998 regarding the status of Advocate-General.

He added that the main recommendation of these conferences was that every Vidhan Sabha should hold at least 75 sittings in a year and other recommendations included the granting of status of state minister to party chief whips.

He pointed out that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had failed to hold the full session of the Vidhan Sabha except for a few days.

He added that the Vidhan Sabha session had been shortened.

He alleged that Mr Badal, who always claimed that his party had always fought for restoring democracy and fundamental rights of the people, had been doing just the reverse after coming into power.

He added that in Punjab democratic norms were breached and human rights were being violated by politicians.

He alleged that the status of Cabinet Minister was accorded to Mr Mattewal because of the fact that his native village fell in the Majitha assembly segment where the byelection would be held on February 19.

He alleged that the Vidhan-Sabha was being made just a spectator as most of the decisions were being taken by the Punjab Government. Even the powers of the Speaker were being diluted.

He added that even the meetings of the state advisory committees were not being held.

He demanded that the state government should cancel the order of granting the status of Cabinet Minister to Mr Mattewal and take necessary steps to implement the recommendations of various all-India conferences.


A blood bank for the poor
From Ravinder Sud

HOSHIARPUR: The Bhai Ghanayiaji Charitable Blood Bank is truly doing a commendable job by providing safe blood to needy patients at an affordable price in and around Hoshiarpur. This blood bank was granted a licence to manufacture human blood by the Central Drug Authority last January and since then it had saved the lives of hundreds of patients by providing safe blood to them.

Before setting up this bank, patients admitted to various hospitals in the area had to face a lot of problems to get safe blood. They had to depend on commercial donors and blood selling agents.

Keeping in view the plight of patients, Mahant Tara Singh of Dera Hari Bhagatpura in Model Town, Hoshiarpur, decided to set up a charitable blood bank in the memory of Bhai Ghanayiaji, a social worker and a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, to provide healthy blood to needy patients.

The late Mahant provided land and other infrastructure for this noble cause. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal laid the foundation stone of this blood bank in 1997 and provided Rs 1 lakh to complete this venture. After struggling hard, the blood bank management got a licence and its inauguration was done by Mrs Mohinder Kaur Josh, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare. She also provided Rs 50,000 for improving its infrastructure.

The blood bank is now being run under the patronage of Mahant Pritpal Singh, successor to Mahant Tara Singh, by a board of directors comprising Baba Harbans Singh, Prof Bahadur Singh, Dr Ajay Bagga, Mr S. Rabinder Sethi, Mr Jasbir Singh and Mr Manmohan Singh.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Pahwa, president of the blood bank, told this reporter that the aim of setting up this blood bank was to discourage and eliminate commercialised blood banking, serve the suffering humanity and provide safe blood. Initially the blood bank used to provide 1.5 units of blood daily to the needy patients but now an average of 5 units were being given. He said Rs 350 was being charged per unit as service charges against Rs 450 per unit fixed by the state government. No service charges were taken from those who were poor or had no attendant. The blood bank had prepared lists of voluntary blood donors for providing blood, whenever required.

He said 21 members of an advisory board comprising eminent personalities had been constituted to supervise the blood bank’s functioning. Dr S.K. Narad, former Civil Surgeon, was regularly providing his able guidance. This blood bank was also affiliated with the Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohaema-tology, he added.


Relief collection by DEO sparks row
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 10 — A circular issued by the District Education Officer (Secondary) here to various schools, seeking the collection of relief fund for the quake-ravaged Gujarat, has sparked a controversy.

The circular, a copy of which is with The Tribune, categorically asks all principals and headmasters of government and government-aided schools to collect funds and deposit these through a demand draft issued in favour of the District Education Officer (Secondary).

A section of the teachers has resented the move, saying that the department cannot collect the fund in the name of the DEO, and the employees should send the demand draft to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Pleading anonymity, several teachers expressed apprehensions that the money might go into wrong hands.

A member of the CPI state council, Mr Randhir Gill, said the move was unprecedented and the employees should be persuaded to donate directly to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. “The move reflects that certain vested interests are at work and the Chief Minister should intervene to stop such collection,” he said.

The circular appealed to the teachers to donate a day’s salary for the welfare of quake victims and deposit the collection at the DEO’s office through a special messenger by February 7. The DEO had allocated the job of collection to the principals of five senior secondary schools falling in Ferozepore, Zira, Jalalabad, Abohar and Fazilka.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, agreed that the funds should be contributed through a demand draft issued in favour of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. He assured that he would verify the facts before making any comments.

On being contacted, the District Education Officer, Mr Laxman Singh Brar, denied that there was any resentment among the teachers. He said the money being collected would ultimately go to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. He added that there was no reason for anyone to suspect foul play as the drafts would not be pocketed by him.

Meanwhile, Mr Sidhu has flagged off six truckloads of dry ration, medicines and blankets, collected with the help of local panchayats and Red Cross for the quake-hit in Bhuj. 


Rs 2.5 lakh grant for village
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Feb 10 — “The Sangat Darshan” programme of the district administration has been successful. Now, the people of the district do not have to come to the office of the Deputy Commissioner to get their grievances redressed,” said Mr A.K. Singla, officiating Deputy Commissioner, at a Sangat Darshan, programme at Salempur village in the district.

Mr Singla also announced a Rs 2.5 lakh grant for development works here.

He said the government had released Rs 3.04 crore for the various development projects in the district.

He said new roads were being constructed in the district and desilting of all village ponds was in progress.

He said special camps were being organised in every block to distribute pension to beneficiaries.

He said efforts were being made to fill all vacancies in rural schools. He urged the people to give correct information to the census workers.

Mr Shammi Kumar, SP (O), Mr D.S. Walia, ADC (D), Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, Mr Harpal Singh, Civil Surgeon, and Mr Jarnail Singh, Sarpanch of the village, also addressed the villagers.


No weapons to keep poachers off
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 10 — Paucity of funds has exposed the Abohar wildlife sanctuary near here to danger as the authorities are unable to purchase weapons and vehicles for round-the-clock protection of the area.

Spread in a cluster of 13 villages, the sanctuary has only two checkposts, which too are unmanned. This has also affected the wireless communication between the checkposts and the wildlife office at Abohar.

A visit to the sanctuary revealed that the department inspector and guards do not have weapons to counter poachers. They frequently use two jeeps lent by the villagers for patrolling. The staff is also finding a difficulty in footing the fuel charges for the only mobike present in the office.

Even as the department is taking special care of the Harike wildlife sanctuary, the one in Abohar is virtually neglected. This has sparked a resentment among the local Bishnoi community that is highly opposed to hunting. As the sanctuary houses the black buck and blue bull, the alarmed Bishnoi leaders are pressing for the provision of weapons and vehicles to the wildlife staff.

“Frequent demands for the provision of arms to the wildlife staff have fallen on deaf ears”, Mr Hanuman, president of the All-India Jeev Raxa Bishnoi Sabha, lamented.

He cautioned that since the sanctuary is not fenced, the hunters could strike anytime. “The poachers are well-equipped with weapons,” he said.

The wildlife staff relies on the support of Bishnoi leaders in night patrolling. The Bishnoi Sabha willingly lend them jeeps and armed volunteers, as and when required.

The wildlife inspector, Mr Natha Singh, also admitted that manning the sanctuary without a vehicle or a gun was an uphill task. He disclosed that four poachers had been challaned since December last by the department.

However, the Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Mr Jagdeep Singh, assured that the problem would be solved in the next budget session. “The department is likely to allocate necessary funds after the next Budget to re-employ the labourers, who have been given the marching orders”, he said.

He added that the Ministry of Environment and Forest may also provide some funds for the purchase of weapons and a vehicle for the Abohar sanctuary.

Jacob visits Bamial, finds no change
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 10 — Lieut- Gen J.F.R. Jacob, Governor of Punjab while listening to the grievances of people in the Bamial block in Pathankot subdivision of the district, said today that the Punjab government as had border area development its top priority.

Lieut-General Jacob said earlier he had visited the area in 1973 as Core Commander after crossing the Ravi near Kathlaur, and did not find any development in the area.

He said the state government had already taken a decision to start computer education at school level. He directed the Deputy Commissioner and the MLA of the area to ensure the introduction of computer education in the said institutions.

The Governor also directed them to make funds available for providing playgrounds in the area and for promotion of sports.

He inaugurated a free medical camp at Bamial and ordered the Civil Surgeon to appoint a medical officer at the village health dispensary at the earliest.

Replying to the demand of opening a college at Bamial, General Jacob directed the Deputy Commissioner to weigh this possibility by providing additional staff and building in the existing school.

The sarpanches and panches of the area during their interaction with the Governor raised certain problems, which included the construction of bridges over the Ravi near Kathlaur and over Ujh river near Khojke Chak village provision of pure drinking water, regulation of power supply etc.


Trains catch their fancy
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 10 — “We love India and trains” say children from Jammu and Kashmir who had never ventured outside the troubletorn valley and never seen the train, except in Bollywood movies.

These schoolchildren from various parts of Anantnag and Pulwama districts are on a tour of Punjab and adjoining areas as participants of “aman yatra” being conducted by the Army and its Victor Force. The first of its kind, the 13-day “yatra” took off from Anantnag on February 4. It reached here today after a visit to Amritsar and border areas of Punjab.

The ‘best site” for these children, all Muslim, was a chugging train and the ambience of the local Devi Talaab Temple. “We are part of India and don’t want any trouble in the valley, “they said in unison, reflecting concern for the developments in the valley even as at the tender age of 12-15.

“We love trains,” said Nisar Ahmed Batt of Anantnag, who like his companions had never seen a train. “They keep moving like snakes,” he chuckled. Mohd Ashraf Bir of Badgam seemed perturbed at the killings in the valley. “I don’t want bloodshed in the valley more,” he said. Shabir Ahmed of Pehalgam said the people of Punjab were “good.”

The group interacted with senior Army officers, including Major-Gen A.D. Nargowala of the Vajra Corps. The children are scheduled to visit Anandpur Sahib, Nangal Dam Patiala and various places of historical importance before leaving for the valley on February 17.


VHAP to fight drug abuse 
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — The Voluntary Health Association of Punjab (VHAP) with the help of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib has decided to launch a war against the use of drugs by the people of Punjab.

Bhai Manjeet Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, and Mr Manmohan Singh, Executive Secretary, VHAP, has written to different organisations of Punjab working against drug addiction or working for the welfare of addicts, inviting them to a two-day meeting at Anandpur Sahib to chalk out a programme in the direction.

The meetings will be held on February 17 and 18 at which a series of seminars and debates will be held on drug addiction and possible solutions to the problems.

Jathedar Manjeet Singh and Mr Manmohan Singh in the letter have expressed concern at the problem of drug addiction, particularly among the young.


Drive to beautify Ferozepore
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 10 — As part of the beautification measures in the city, all important crossings have been illuminated, road-side plantation started and electricity poles installed on the traffic dividers.

Big gateways, indicating important routes on roads leading to the city from different directions have also been raised to facilitate highway travellers. Special attention has been given to the historical and tourist spots around the city, like Hussainiwala and Harike, which have been mentioned on these hoardings.

To guide the local commuters, the authorities have also installed glow sign boards, indicating the direction of important offices and routes within the city.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, is monitoring the project sites. 


BSF troops kill infiltrator
From Our Correspondent

WAGHA (Amritsar), Feb 10 — A BSF party of Kahangarh border outpost killed a Pakistani infiltrator, equipped with a plier and wrench, at around 11.40 p.m. last night.

He was close to the border fence when he was challenged by the BSF party. As he tried to run away, he was fired upon by the ambush party.

The incident took place 100 metres inside India and close to the fence near Rattan Khurd border outpost.

Mr Hemant Purohit, DIG, Amritsar range, who visited the spot today said the intruder seemed to have been sent by Pakistani agencies with wire-cutting equipment to breach the fence.


Concern over falling level of biodiversity
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — A convention on the topic “Save biodiversity” was held here today, in which a large number of agriculturist, scientists, farmers and zoologists took part.

The convention was organised by the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab at the Teachers Home where the delegates expressed deep concern over the falling levels of biodiversity in the country.

Mr Daljit Singh, Deputy Director, Department of Forests, Punjab, said the excessive and irrational use of insecticides had damaged the environment. Many insects, birds and reptiles have become extinct.

Mr Daljit Singh expressed concern over the recent diseases afflicting kikkar (Acacia arabia) and said the main reason for this was the excessive use of weedicides and other chemicals. He refuted the charges that the cold conditions were the reason of the same.

Mr H.S. Roz, Head of Zoology Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, said biodiversity was the key to sustain life on earth.

Ms Harsangeet Kaur, lecturer, Government Engineering College, Bathinda, said plantation drives by the students and voluntary organisations were very important and the awareness among the masses should be created at all costs. The state had a very thin forest cover and it was no way near the 33 per cent minimum requirement of forest cover. There was a great scope of work and improvement, she added.

Mr Hamuman Singh, member of the All-India Save Animals Committee, said the laws against the cruelty to animals should be made more strict and the enforcement should be ensured. The use of hormonal injections on dairy animals and use of pesticides and insecticides should be banned and the people should be made aware of the long term ill-effects of these.

Farmers of Bathinda, Sangrur, Muktsar and Mansa, who attended the convention, expressed concern over the “ineffectiveness” of the insecticides and the increasing frequency of their use.


DMC comes to aid of another martyr
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA Feb 10 — The Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC) management today provided cash assistance of Rs 50,000 to the family of Naik Harinder Singh of Bassian village, in Bet area near here, who was martyred on March 11, 2000 in an encounter will militants in Asam. 31-year-old Harinder Singh of Artillery Regiment, is survived by his wife and a four-year-old daughter.

The relief was provided to the family in the form of Kisan Vikas Partra, which will doubled in six-and-a-half years. Besides, the DMC management provided three medical cards to the mother, wife and daughter of Harinder Singh for free medical treatment for life. The management would bear all the educational expenses of his daughter and would also provide a job to his wife, said secretary of the Managing Society Mr Prem Nath Gupta.

Naik Harinder Singh’s family has a rich military tradition. His father also served in the Army and his brother was also serving in the Army. Surprisingly, there has been no word of consolation from the state government for the family of Harinder Singh, although the army has provided all sorts of assistance.

Mr Gupta said, the purpose of adopting the families of the martyrs was to ensure that the people who lay down their life for the integrity of the country are not forgotten and their families are not left alone to suffer. The DMC management has adopted several families of such martyrs earlier also.

The Kisan Vikas Patra was presented to the family at a simple and solemn function organised in the village. It was attended by a few hundred villagers, including the sarpanch of the village. The DMC management was represented by Dr G.S. Wander, Chief Cardiac Surgeon, Hero Heart Centre and Dr Sandeep Puri the Medical Superintendent of the DMC, besides the administrator Col. T.S. Kanwar, who has been instrumental in getting the families of the martyrs adopted. 


Annual Rotary conference inaugurated
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 10 — Samarpan, the two-day annual district conference of the Rotary opened here today.

Justice Y.K. Sabherwal of the Supreme Court while addressing the delegates lauded the role of voluntary organisations, like the Rotary. He pointed out that people from all professions put life into the organisation and today the Rotary was providing relief and help to thousands of needy people.

Earlier, the president of the All-India Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, Swami Mitrananda Ji, inaugurated the conference.

Tomorrow’s session will be inaugurated by the Editor of The Tribune, Mr Hari Jaisingh. The other speakers include Dr Sardar Anjum and Mr Hemant Ahuja.


PSEB employees falling victim to drugs?
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — When Bachittar Singh (name changed) of Sangrur district and employee of the PSEB took a small quantity of poppy husk about five years ago to be able to do more work, little did he know that he would be a drug addict.

At 34, his face looks like that of an old man’s. He has been spending a major part of his earnings to buy poppy husk.

His friends and relatives persuaded him to undergo treatment at a de-addiction centre where he is slowly recover.

Another PSEB employee, Dhumal Ram (name changed), was offered liquor by those whom he had given power connection for a tubewell motor. After taking a drink there about a year ago, Dhumal Ram developed liking for it and is now an alcoholic.

He is being treated at the local de-addiction centres.

Yet another employee, Rampal Singh (name changed) of this district has become an addict even though he is not yet 30. Before joining the de-addiction centre, he used to take 30 tablets of carrisoma daily to get a “kick”. He had been doing it for the past one year and had become indifferent to his family.

Sources said more and more PSEB employees had been falling prey to drugs. Those employees who were doing manual and labour jobs had been taking drugs to work harder while those on higher posts had become addicts due to various factors.

The sources said so far the de-addiction centre had been approached by 12 employees in the past eight months. They were addicted to opium, poppy husk, liquor and other intoxicants.

Dr Mohboob Singh Sran, Project Director, Red Cross De-addiction Centre, said most of the employees had fallen prey to drug addiction as they had been performing duty during odd hours.

He said they were being motivated to bring their colleagues who had also been taking drugs to the centre.

Police sources said in the recent past, an employee of the PSEB had been arrested for smuggling narcotics.


Decline in oilseed cultivation
Pushpesh Kumar

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — The area under oilseed cultivation is declining reportedly due to the indifferent attitude of the government and officials concerned. Farmers cultivated vegetables, fruits and oilseeds on the recommendation of agriculture experts but due to the non-availability of timely advice on the control of various diseases of crops, their efforts failed. The other problem faced by the farmers was that of marketing and they had no option but to return to the traditional crops.

On the one hand, edible oils are being imported and on the other hand, the so-called “anti-GATT and anti-WTO pact government” has done little to improve the quality and production of oilseeds.

Various varieties of mustard (sarson) and sunflower can help the debt-ridden farmers.

In 1980-81, the area of Punjab under oilseed cultivation was 3.65 lakh acres. It has now been reduced to 1.35 lakh acres. In this district the area under oilseed cultivation was 1.25 lakh acres which has now shown a marked decline.

The trend of sunflower cultivation caught up in 1990 when the total area under sunflower cultivation in the state was 50,000 acres and the production was 30,000 tonnes. With the introduction of hybrid seeds and wide publicity, sunflower cultivation recorded an increase and the area under oilseeds increased to 2.9 lakh acre in 1997.

Last year, due to the attack of pests, the farmers had to suffer losses. Marketing was also a problem. The minimum support price of the crop announced by the government was Rs 1,060 but no procurement was done by state agencies. The results were drastic and the produce was sold at throwaway prices ranging from Rs 700 to Rs 750 per quintal. The farmers now refuse to cultivate oilseeds.

About four years ago subsidy was given for the cultivation of oilseeds but it had now been stopped.

District Agriculture Department sources revealed that in 1991-92 the area under sunflower cultivation in the district was 20,000 hectares which had now reduced to a 43 hectares.

The farmers said expansive oil and oilseeds were being imported at the cost of indigenous produce.


PUDA to get 125 acres vacated
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — The Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has launched an anti-encroachment drive to get about 125 acres of land vacated which would generate an income of Rs 300 crore with the implementation of the phase-III scheme of the Urban Estate in that area.

It has started selling vacant houses constructed by it and the Punjab Housing Development Board to the people after making them worth living to generate enough money to fund various development projects, including construction of vital roads, setting up of water works, development of parks and green belts and setting up of an electric sub-station.

Official sources said PUDA would demarcate 1500 residential plots in the phase-III scheme. Out of the 1500 plots, 260 plots would be given on concessional rates. Apart from it, out of a total of 377 houses, constructed in 1984-85 and 1993-94, and lying vacant, 112 houses had been allotted, similarly, 36 houses of the HIG category constructed in 1992 and 1997 had been sold.

Sources said for this exercise, PUDA would earn more than Rs 15 crore while the residents would be given such facilities as well-maintained parks, piped water supply and underground sewerage.

For setting up of water works and a 66 KV grid station, all formalities had been completed and estimates prepared. The construction of two vital roads would be completed at a cost of about Rs 40 lakh.

Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Additional Chief Administrator (ACA), PUDA, Bathinda, said PUDA had also undertaken the construction of a ring road and a district administrative complex (DAC) in the city to reduce traffic congestion and to bring all government offices in one complex for the convenience of the public.

He said the phase-I and II schemes of the Urban Estate had been absolutely implemented and these areas would be handed over to the municipal council authorities shortly. Reform handing over these schemes to the municipal council, roads would be given a fresh coat of premix and “pressure-type” sewerage would be laid. Parks would also be developed.

He pointed out that ‘jhuggi’ dwellers who had been illegally occupying PUDA land had been allotted a 25-square-yard plot each for rehabilitation. For providing basic amenities to them, a sum of Rs 40 lakh would be spent.


Chief Secy’s advice to PCS officers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 10 — Addressing a meeting of PCS officers, Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, today urged them to discharge their duties with dedication and honesty.

He said the officers should uphold the traditions of the service and work hard to implement the programmes and policies of the government at the grassroots level. Mr Jaswant Singh, president of the PCS Officers Association, assured Mr Arora that officers would make all-out efforts for the overall development of the state.


Eight booked in dowry case
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 10 — The police has registered a case against eight persons of Bahadurpur village for torturing Ms Paramjeet Kaur for bringing lesser dowry.

Ms Paramjeet Kaur in a complaint lodged at the Sadar police station here said her in-laws, including her husband, had been torturing her to bring more dowry. Her father, Mr Amrik Singh alleged that his daughter, who was married to Balwinder Singh, in 1998, was being harassed by her in-laws.

A case under Sections 498, 408, 506, 148 and 149 has been registered against Balwinder Singh (husband), Mr Jarnail Singh (Father-in-law), Malkeet Kaur (mother-in-law), Baljinder Kaur (sister-in-law), Mr Jagwinder Singh (brother-in-law), Mr Malkeet Singh, Ms Jaswinder Kaur and Ms Hardev Kaur.


Truck driver shot at, injured
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 10 — Bahadur Singh, a truck driver, was shot at allegedly by three armed migrant labourers here yesterday. He was admitted to CMCH and was reported to be responding to treatment.

According to the police, three migrant labourers allegedly tried to rob Bahadur Singh and his associates on gun point. However, he resisted and caught one of them who fired at him.

The police has registered a case of attempt to murder and robbery against the three unidentified persons. No arrest has been made so far.


‘Expired’ lottery racket unearthed
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — The district police authorities have brought to light the scandal of expired lotteries being sold in this city.

Police sources said Balkaran Singh, Krishan Kumar and Ajay Kumar, who were running lottery stalls at various points in the city, had been selling the outdated lotteries to customers on the pretext that their results were yet to come.

The three accused had also been indulging in gambling on the numbers of lotteries. The accused had been using mobile phones for indulging in gambling and minting money in this manner.

Two mobiles, Rs 3050 cash and outdated original lottery tickets were recovered from the accused who had been causing the loss to state exchequer by selling outdated ‘Raj Shri’ lotteries and also indulging in gambling on the game.

In another case, the district police has registered criminal cases against three officials of Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation (PAIC) and the owner of a rice mill at Rampuraphul.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said on January 17, 300 bags of 50 kg each of wheat were stolen from a godown of PAIC located near Lehra Dhurkot village. The police party working on a tipoff had solved the case.

He added that those found involved in the crime included Bhagwan Singh, mandi in charge, Bant Ram, Assistant mandi in charge, Sube Singh, security supervisor and four chowkidars apart from Pritam Singh, owner of Deep Rice Mill.

In another case, three persons have been arrested under the NDPS Act and 32 kg of poppy husk recovered from them. Two cases have been registered against four persons under the gambling Act.


Bus-car collision claims 3 lives
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — When Sita Rani of Partap Nagar here decided to take her husband to Barnala for treatment, little did she know that death was waiting for both of them at Lehra Mohabbat, about 18 km from here.

The accident, which took place on the Bathinda-Barnala road, claimed the lives of Sita Rani, her husband Hans Raj and driver of the hired car in which they were travelling. Mukand Singh of Dayalpura Bhaika village, while the fourth passenger of the vehicle, Ved Parkash, of Kangar village was seriously injured. He has been admitted to the Civil Hospital at Rampura.

The Maruti car in which they were travelling collided head-on with a bus near village Mohabbat Lehra village.

The bus with registration No PB 13 F 5117 was coming towards Bathinda and while trying to overtake another vehicle the driver of the bus lost control of the vehicle when he saw the car coming from the opposite direction.

He tried to apply the brakes but failed and hit the car.

Three of the occupants of the ill-fated car died on the spot.

The driver of the bus has absconded.

A case under Section 304-A of the IPC has been registered.


Unidentified bodies cremated
From Our Correspondent

BATHINDA, Feb 10 — The local Sahara Jan Sewa cremated two unidentified bodies here today. The body of a unidentified youth, about 25 years old, was found from Doomwali village. He was wearing a gold ring inscribed “S.S.”. His body was consigned to the flames by volunteers of the Jan Sewa.

The other body was that of an 80-year-old homeless woman.

The police has registered cases in this regard.


House burgled 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 10 — A house near Octroi Post, Ferozepur road, was burgled today afternoon. The burglers decamped with gold ornaments, clothes and about Rs 5,000 worth of cash.

According to an FIR registered at Sarabha Nagar police station, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sodhi and his wife had gone out for duty, and when they returned, they found their house burgled.


Govt decision on admission flayed
Tribune News Service

SANGRUR, Feb 10 — The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has appealed to the Punjab Government to withdraw its controversial decision with regard to giving equal weightage to marks obtained by a student in plus two examination and those obtained in pre-medical enterance test (PMT) for getting admission in medical colleges in Punjab.

Dr Surinder Singla, secretary, public relations wing of the association, expressed doubts over the credibility of this new system and added that there was no need to introducing such a system.

Dr Singla claimed that the new system would not only encourage malpractices at the plus-two level examinations, especially in practicals. He further said the new system would also affect the performance of students in plus two examinations and the PMT.

Dr Singla further said the introduction of the new system would indirectly hamper the transparency in the admission to the medical colleges.

He flayed the government over its excuses with regard to the introduction of the new system that this would encourage teaching in classrooms in place of coaching classes, promotion of learning basic subjects and assistance to students unable to afford expensive coaching classes for the PMT. He said these were lame excuses.

Dr Singla also urged the state government to ban expensive coaching classes than introducing the new system.

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