Tuesday, February 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Another poll code violation alleged
by Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

MAJITHA, Feb 12 — In yet another case of the violation of the code of conduct, the Superintending Engineer, Majitha division, Uppar Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) has floated a short-term tender notice for carrying out work on the remodelling of the canal.

Even as the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a number of poll rallies had been wooing voters that UBDC would be remodelled with an amount of Rs 180 crore, yet the inviting of the short-term tender notice in a vernacular paper has given concrete proof in this regard.

Though sealed tenders would be opened on February 26, a week after the byelection, yet it would definitely send a clear signal to the voters that the state government was ‘serious’ about the remodeling of UBDC which would subsequently increase the intensity of irrigation water by 20 per cent.

Interestingly, Mr S.S. Sandhu, was appointed Chief Engineer (Research), UBDC, on February 6, after the implementation of the code of conduct. Though the tenders for carrying out the remodelling of UBDC was floated on behalf of the S.E. yet Mr Sandhu is overall responsible for the major project.

The project, after completion would prove as a boon for the “Majha” region, comprising border districts of Amritsar (including Majitha) and Gurdaspur. Water which was going waste to Pakistan would be channelised by the newly constructed Ranjit Sagar Dam (Madhopur) and the same would be diverted for irrigation purposes through UBDC.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has sent a fresh complaint to the Election Commission wherein it has alleged that Ms S.K. Kahlon, District Education Officer, (Secondary) and wife of Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister, Rural Development, had been openly campaigning along with a group of teachers in favour of the ruling party candidate, Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha. The PPCC has sought the immediate transfer of the DEO.


Khera files papers for RS seat
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 12 —  Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal now has company in Mr Manjit Singh Khera who also filed his nomination papers today for the lone Rajya Sabha slot from Punjab.

In a day of swift political developments, more than 10 MLAs trooped into the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to propose the candidature of Mr Khera as an Independent candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat, polling for which is scheduled for February 22. This move is supported largely by MLAs owing allegiance to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal. Among the 10 who proposed the name of Mr Khera was Mr Ajaib Singh Raunta of the CPM.

Mr Khera, after filing his nomination papers and taking the oath, told newsmen that he would seek a “vote of conscience" and appeal to all MLAs to objectively judge the “past, present and future” of the candidate before casting their votes.

There were anxious moments when Mr N. S Mavi, secretary, dilly-dallied in administering the oath. Mr Khera showed the Election Commission rule book to him. Mr Ranjit Singh Chhajjalwadi raised his voice while Mr Inderjit Singh Zira stood up to ask how the oath could be denied and that it was for the Returning Officer to provide the necessary forms, etc.

Though the SAD- BJP combine has a majority in the House, the election, caused by the exit of Mr Barjinder Singh Hamdard, will not now go unopposed. Even if it turns out to be a token fight, it will lead to political ripples. In fact, when Mr Khera was asked if he would seek the support of Congress MLAs as well, he calmly replied that his appeal was addressed to the conscience of all MLAs.

Mr Khera’s nomination is backed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Raunta, Ms Daljit Kaur,Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Ajit Inder Singh Moffar, Mr B.S. Khalsa, Mr Chhajjalwadi, Mr Zira and Mr Jagtar Singh Rajla. Since the minimum number required is 10, Mr S. S. Kohli did not sign the nomination form.

Mr Khera is a senior Akali leader and was general secretary of the SAD led by Mr Surjit Singh Barnala. He had unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections from Patiala in 1992. Incidentally, Mr Kehra’s father, the late Kartar Singh, was a member of the first Rajya Sabha in 1952. He was elected as a Congress candidate.

In fact, after Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, who lost the assembly elections in February, 1997, and were nominated to the Rajya Saba, it is Mr Sukhbir Singh who, having lost the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat to Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar of the Congress, has been named a candidate for the Rajya Sabha. Mr Dhindsa is a Union Minister. Will Mr Sukhbir Singh, too, be obliged by the Prime Minister? His nomination as the SAD candidate is already being exploited by the Opposition in the Majitha byelection.

Mr Chhajjalwadi said supporters of Mr Khera would camp in Majitha and woo the MLAs of all parties.


EC directions on use of EVMs in Majitha poll
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 12 —  In order to remove any apprehension about the possible tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be used for Majitha byelection, the Election Commission today issued specific guidelines to be followed by the Chief Electoral Officer and the Returning Officer.

The issuance of specific guidelines on the use of EVMs has been prompted by a series of memoranda submitted by the members of Congress party, alleging and apprehending that the voting machines could be tampered with by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) in connivance with the polling officials, a senior Election Commission official said here.

As per the directions, initially, 300 EVMs will be requisitioned of which the final set of 150 machines for use in the byelections on February 19 will be made just before the stage of preparation.

All EVMs which will be used for the polls will be prepared in the presence of the candidates or their authorised representatives and their signatures will be taken after the machines are sealed.

To allay the fear of tampering of the machines on the eve of the poll, the commission has directed that the machines will be installed in polling booths only on the day of the polls and that the selection of individual machines to be actually allotted to a given polling station will be done through randomisation process.

The EVMs will be delivered to the polling parties at their respective locations by the zonal officers only. Further, the candidates may be allowed to send their representatives to follow the zonal officers while they deliver the machines to the polling parties, he said.

According to sources, complaints pertaining to possible tampering have been received only from Majitha constituency and there was no such complaint from other Assembly constituencies in different states going for bypolls on February 19.

“It is unfortunate that even as almost entire political spectrum and voters — both literate and illiterate — have accepted EVMs and the machines have been in use successfully since November 1998, there is apprehension in the minds of a few people in Punjab,” the official said, adding the Election Commission was going out of the way to ensure transparency and to eliminate the slightest of doubts in the minds of the people concerned.


Market panel remains without Chairman
From Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 12 —  Although only a year is left for the next Assembly elections in Punjab, the ruling BJP has failed to appoint a Chairman of the local Market Committee. The recent revolt within the party has further eclipsed the hope of such an arrangement in the near future.

Even the party’s Executive Committee and the district president are not certain when the appointment shall be made. This has denied the BJP an opportunity to make its presence felt among local traders and commission agents ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls.

As the Market Committee remains under the administrative control, the party has also failed to accommodate its rank and file by offering odd jobs to their relatives and supporters.

Shortly after the SAD-BJP combine assumed power in the state, the two parties had agreed to appoint their respective members as the committee Chairman within their own Assembly segments. As the Ferozepore City Assembly seat is represented by a BJP legislator, Mr Girdhara Singh, the party has an obvious claim on the Chairman’s post.

However, the party did not appoint anyone on the post primarily on account of internal contradictions, besides the continued absence of Mr Girdhara Singh from the city due to prolonged illness.

Although a local commission agent, Mr Surinder Chindi Chopra, was earlier tipped for the post by the party, unanimity eluded his appointment. The recent revolt within the party after the suspension of a senior BJP leader, Mr Jagmohan Kaura, has further eclipsed the chances of Mr Chopra’s appointments. Since Mr Chopra is considered loyal to Mr Kaura, the party may go for other options.

It is learnt that several Akali Dal leaders had also staked their claim on the post, although this was in violation of the agreement reached upon by the two coalition partners.

On being contacted for comment, both the district BJP chief, Mr D.P. Chandan and the party’s executive member could not explain when the appointment would be made. They, however, attributed the delay to the prolonged illness of the party legislator. Mr Chandan pleaded that since he was appointed as the district BJP chief only a few months ago, he was not aware of the exact cause of the delay. He assured that a meeting of the coordination committee of the SAD-BJP members would discuss the issue afresh after the Majitha byelection.


40-cr project sanctioned for Muktsar
Tribune News Service

MUKTSAR, Feb 12 —  The Central Government has sanctioned the district water and sanitation project for the district in the recent past.

Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, said under the project worth Rs 40 crore, new water works would be constructed in the village. The 90 per cent cost of each water work would be given by the Central Government while the remaining 10 per cent would be constructed by the panchayat of respective village.

To implement the project, village level committees would be set up by February 28 while the district level committee for implementation of the project are already functional.

This project would be executed under the supervision of the village level committees. After the construction of water works, their maintenance would be looked after by these committees also.

He added that under this project, 22 new water works for supplying the adequate quantity of drinking water to 25 villages would be made while the capacity of 62 existing water works would be increased. In some of the uncovered areas the under ground pipes for the supply of drinking water would also be laid down.

He said that Central Government had released the instalment of Rs 11.20 crore for the implementation of the project.


Case against cops in girl’s custodial death

MOGA, Feb 12 —  The Punjab Police has registered a case of abetment of suicide and wrongful confinement of a minor girl against the local police for custodial death on the directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The case has been registered with regard to the death of a minor girl, Dimple, in police custody on June 24,1997.

Earlier, the high court had sought a report from the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Moga who found that Dimple had died while in custody.

The high court had also directed that after the registration of the FIR, the investigating officer would have the right to investigate not only the allegations with regard to the circumstances which led to the death of Dimple but also with regard to the allegations of rape on the person of Dimple while in police custody.

As per the orders of the high court, the investigation in this case must be completed within three months after which the final report is to be submitted to the high court.

Since the allegations were against the Moga police it was further directed by the high court that investigation in this case would be conducted by the crime branch of the Punjab Police by an officer not below the rank of SP (crime) which would be further verified by the Additional Director-General of Police (Crime), Punjab before any further action was taken thereof.

Dimple was allegedly abducted by one Malkiat Singh of the same village of Dhaleka on May 14, 1997, and case was registered on May 18, 1997. She was recovered by the police on June 24, 1997.

On the same night she committed suicide.

Her grandmother filed a petition in the high court seeking an inquiry into the custodial death of Dimple who was in custody of the Moga police at the relevant time. — PTI


Challaned for axing trees
Tribune News Service

FEROZEPORE, Feb 12 —  The involvement of the brother of Punjab Forest Minister’s personal assistant in the recent tree felling incident has exposed the safety of environment in the hands of the custodians of forestry in the state.

While the Forest Department has challaned Upinder Kumar, brother of the minister’s PA, Mr Madan Lal Bhamboo, the incident has sparked a debate. Ironically, the incident occurred at Bodiwala near the native village of the minister in Fazilka.

The department is learnt to have slapped a penalty of Rs 15,070 on Upinder Kumar, who allegedly axed the trees along the Ghaloo Minor canal.

While the Divisional Forest Officer, Mr Karamjit Singh, confirmed that the trees belonged to the department, Mr Bhamboo tried to play down the controversy saying, whatever his brother did was out of ignorance.

He said the axed trees were old and as they were on their agricultural land, these were axed by Upinder in ignorance. “What are we supposed to do with old trees ?”, he asked.

However, sources in the department dispute Mr Bhamboo’s claim, as all axed trees were numbered by the forest officials. Being a PA of the Forest Minister, Mr Bhamboo or his kin could not plead ignorance about this fact.

The incident occurred after Upinder Kumar challenged the department’s claim on trees, as they stood within his fields. Following his persistent demand for allowing him to cut the trees, the department had decided for fresh demarcation of the disputed area on February 20. Instead of waiting for the decided date of demarcation, Upinder Kumar allegedly axed the trees on February 9. 


Oppn councillor’s no-trust move fails
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 12 —  The no-confidence motion against the President of the municipal council, Malerkotla, belonging to the ruling SAD, failed today when no opposition member arrived to defend the motion. The opposition municipal councillors presented a requisition notice on February 2, 2001, to the executive officer, alleging that the President of the council, Mr Ajmat Ali Khan, had lost the support of two-thirds majority and hence should be sacked.

Fourteen municipal councillors out of a total 27 signed the notice and demanded a requisition meeting as early as possible.

Taking action on the notice, the executive officer fixed the meeting for today and issued an agenda in this respect, which the opposition councillors alleged was not properly served. However, the executive officer claimed that information for the meeting was properly given to all members, but they failed to defend their version.

Mr Kewal Jindal, vice-president of the municipal council and the main contender for the post, alleged that the meeting failed for the want of quorum as only four members were present. He further alleged that the president was trying to keep his post in connivance with a local minister and the council’s executive officer.

He alleged that the president had kept four members in his captivity and that was why they could not attend the meeting.

The executive officer said that this meeting now could not be called for six months because it was a special meeting called for the no-confidence motion.


Border villagers feel ignored
From Our Correspondent

GURDASPUR, Feb 12 —  Residents of over two dozen villages in the district across the Ravi feel alienated in view of the apathetic attitude of the successive governments towards the development of the area.

The problems of education, health care, communication and potable water haunt the residents of the area and the Punjab Government has done nothing to redress them.

The villages in the area include Kharkara, Thuthowal, Fladpur Kohlien, Kilpur, Mansingh Pur, Mirzapur, Kajle, Khoske Chack, Tash, Manwal, Anwal, Bamial, Kot Bhattian, Kot Punnu, Mansingh Pur and Mirzapur etc.

When Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), Governor, Punjab, visited Barmial last Saturday residents of the area brought to his notice the problems faced by them. Mr Surinder Kumar, sarpanch, Bamial, said the area had no college. Bamial has a school but there was no provision of science classes. It had a dispensary but no medical officer. The ITI here had eight trades but the Punjab Government had posted teachers for four trades only.

Mrs Rama Devi, sarpanch, Gole, said the area had 19 primary schools with dilapidated buildings which leaked during rain leading to the closure of schools. There were no toilets in the schools.

Farmers complained that the area had no facility for marketing their produce cut. They were compelled to resort to distress sale of their produce in the neighbouring area of Jammu and Kashmir. They said there was a huge potential for covering more land under sugarcane cultivation. Moreover, the quality of sugarcane in the area was very good. The government could set up a sugar mills in the area.

The roads in the area particularly from village to Tarna river, Kot Bhattian to Kot Punnu, Kharkara Tuthowal to Faldpur, Kohlien to Kilpur, Mansingh to Mirzapur and Narot Jaimal Singh to Bamial were in a bad shape and needed repairs.


Children’s hospital to be demolished
by Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 12 — The Punjab Government has decided to demolish a 100-bedded general and children’s hospital located in the heart of the city. This hospital caters to the needs of a population of more than one lakh. The decision has been taken to generate adequate funds for constructing a modern administrative complex.

Though the state government has decided to construct the modern administrative complex of the district on the pretext that it is being done for the convenience of public as all major offices will be housed in one complex the demolition of the hospital in the city will deprive people of medical care.

The move to shift the children’s hospital from the city to the civil hospital by the authorities concerned had created a controversy. Residents say if the hospital is shifted then there will be no arrangement of medical care for them in case of an emergency.

However, Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) which had been entrusted the task of constructing the district administrative complex (DAC) would make a modern dispensary in place of the hospital.

Mr Dinesh Vasishat, general secretary of the Vigilant Citizens Forum, Bathinda, said there was no logic in the move of the authorities concerned to make a dispensary in place of a 100-bedded hospital.

He pointed out that this hospital, situated in the heart of the city, had been catering to the needs of residents of all trans-railway colonies, Veer Colony, Nai Basti, Namdev Nagar and other localities surrounding it. Shifting the hospital to some other place would cause great inconvenience to the public.

He further pointed out that about two years ago this hospital was given a facelift by spending a huge amount when the children’s hospital was shifted here from the civil hospital. Apart from it, 17 medical specialists and more paramedical staff had been deployed in the hospital. The hospital was also empowered to deal with medico-legal cases.

He added that if the hospital building was to be demolished then there was no need to shift the children’s hospital here two years ago. He added the hospital had been equipped with various facilities. He added the rationale behind this move was therefore very difficult to understand and would be against public interest.

A cross-section of residents to whom TNS talked to said that apart from suffering inconvenience due to the hospital getting shifted they would have to pay through their nose for reaching the hospital.

They alleged the authorities concerned had planned to demolish the building of the hospital and then sell off the land to generate funds under pressure from vested interests.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary of the Bathinda DCC, pointed out that it would be very difficult for the authorities to determine the price at which the land would be sold.

Information gathered by TNS revealed there was no proper arrangement in the civil hospital to house the children’s hospital for which the building was under construction and likely to be completed by the end of November 2001.

Dr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, Civil Hospital, Bathinda, when contacted said so far the civil hospital authorities had not received any order for shifting the children’s hospital to the civil hospital by the state government. He added that whenever such an order was received the children’s hospital would be shifted to the newly constructed rooms of the OPD.


No check on illegal blood banks
by Lalit Mohan

ROPAR, Feb 12 — Illegal blood banks are running in most of the private nursing homes, maternity hospitals and other clinics in the district. Most of the said private hospitals are taking blood from donors and carrying out transfusion operations in gross violation of the provisions of the amended Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Due to the threat of the diseases like AIDS and hepatitis attaining epidemic proportions, the Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, amended the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to make it mandatory for all hospitals dealing with blood, to obtain a licence. The licence for running a blood bank is given to those hospitals that have a separate space of at least 100 square metres, comprising a spacious room for laboratory, resting room for staff and a room for operating.

However, most of the nursing homes in the district hardly have that much space.

As per the norms notified by the Central License Approving Authority any hospital operating a blood bank should have minimum staff of four technicians. It should have atleast one MBBS doctor with specialisation in pathology/transfusion as medical officer, one supervisor technician, a technician and a registered nurse working exclusively for the blood bank. The bio-medical waste of the blood bank should be treated and disposed as per the provisions of the Bio-Medical Wastes Rules 1996. The laboratory of the blood bank should contain general equipment, including blood agitators, electronic thermometers, laboratory thermometers, Rh view boxes, blood container weighing device, refrigerators and deep freezers etc. It should also have the equipment to detect diseases like hepatitis, syphilis and HIV.

During a random survey hardly any of the nursing homes in the district was found having these facilities or laboratories. In most of the cases doctors (not specialists) running the nursing homes were performing the bleeding and transfusion operations. The hospitals also did not have proper laboratories for detecting the blood transmitted diseases. Certain nursing homes had the Tri-Dot apparatus for detecting HIV in blood but none had the provision for Elisa test. The bio-medical waste generated by these hospitals was also being disposed in the open exposing the surrounding areas to infections and pollution.

The provisions of the amended Drugs and Cosmetics Act also make it mandatory for the blood banks not to collect blood from any professional or paid donor. A proper record of donors should also be maintained.

In most of the private nursing homes and the maternity hospitals no records of donors had been kept. Sources said, though in most of the cases patients in these hospitals were given blood donated by kin but instances of blood donated by professionals were also common.

Due to strict norms, almost no private hospital in the district has the licence to run a blood bank. Still bleeding and transfusion operations are being performed with impunity. Though most of the government hospitals have the licence for operating blood banks, some of them like NFL hospital at Naya Nangal haven’t got it renewed.


Children’s murderer excommunicated
by Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Feb 12 — The dhobi panchayat here has excommunicated the family of Gagan Kanaujia, who had allegedly done to death two minor school children of a local drycleaner, Hina and Abhishek, in June in brutal manner.

It is for the first time after 1982 that such stern action has been taken by the dhobi panchayat. The ‘biradari’ numbers around 15000 in Jalandhar alone and will have no ties with the family of Gagan Kanaujia, who is at present lodged in the central jail here and is facing trial for the murder of the two children. In 1982, an Ambala youth was excommunicated by the community after being accused of rape and murder of a two-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, the dhobi ‘biradari’ is annoyed over the alleged failure of the local District Bar Association to implement its unanimous decision immediately after the murder of the two children that none of the lawyers would take up the case of the accused.

“They had been crying hoarse that one would become the defence counsel. But now when one of the advocates has been engaged they are keeping mum over it despite my repeated pleas to the association,” said Kamal Kishore, father of the two children. 


Holiday on Feb 19
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 12 —  There will be a holiday on account of the byelection in the Majitha assembly constituency on February 19, the day polling will be held there, according to information available here.

The holiday will be observed within the meaning of Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.


Vets’ absence draws villagers’ ire
From Rajnish Sharma

NABHA: Resentment prevails among residents of Chhintanwala, Alipur, Faizgarh, Hasanpur, Tunga and Kot-Kalan villages due to non-availability of a veterinary doctor at the dispensary in Chhintawala village.

This dispensary caters to the needs of all these villages and has been without a vet for the past six months. The villagers have to transport their cattle to Nabha and Dhuri, about 15 km from this village. Several head of cattle die on the way to Nabha owing to the severe cold in the mornings. The residents of other villages complain that it took them about two hours to bring their cattle to Chhintawala dispensary, where there was no one to treat their ailing cattle. They allege that a pharmacist visited the dispensary but only once in a blue moon.

Dr Yadwinder Singh, whose clinic is just opposite to dispensary, points out that a healthy buffalo costs anything between Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 these days and many of them perish due to non-availability of doctor and other staff. He stated that the dispensary had no medicine for common diseases such fever, diphtheria (gahl-ghotu), etc which afflict cattle. He adds that the dispensary has only a compounder who visited the dispensary once a week and rustic folk had to wait for him for hours together as their economic condition was not good enough to move their cattle to Nabha or Dhuri.

Another farmer, Manjit Singh, lamented at the pathetic condition of the dispensary as the building was two feet below from the level of its surrounding area and thus unsafe.

The village folk are sore over the callous attitude of the authorities. They say that despite assurances from ministers from time to time, nothing concrete has happened so far. They had written to Mr Raja Narinder Singh, their MLA who is the Public Health Minister, as well as the Chief Minister to intervene immediately to solve their problem.


‘Stitches of Love’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 12 —  Arpana, a spiritual, service oriented community, is holding a ‘‘Stitches of Love’’ Exhibition at Hotel Skylark, Jalandhar, from February 13 to 16. In the last 20 years Arpana has trained more than 1650 rural women in exquisite hand embroidery at its 13 village centres. Arpana makes baby wear and linen, ladies nightwear and household linen. This income generation programme has benefited not only the women but their families as well. There are 200 rural trainees currently working with Arpana.

Arpana is located at Madhuban, Karnal (Haryana), 114 km north of Delhi on National Highway 1, and consists of some 70 volunteers from diverse backgrounds, including professionals in the fields of medicine, finance, computer technology, education, engineering, architecture and law. All have gathered around Param Pujya Ma, their Light and Inspiration, in a unique experiment in community living. They contribute to the wellbeing of society through selfless service by imbibing and practicing the eternal values contained in the scriptures of all religious.

Arpana has been recognised by the Government of India as an organisation carrying out research in social sciences. Arpana is building a research centre, including an open air theatre for the intensive study and dissemination of eternal values.

Arpana was awarded the prestigious WHO Sasakawa Health Prize jointly in 1993 for ‘‘outstanding innovative rural health programme’’. This honour is open to all members of the United Nations and has come to India only thrice since its inception about 30 years ago. The Himotkarsh National Integration Award was conferred on Arpana on February 6, 2000, by the Himotkarsh, Una, Himachal Pradesh, for Arpana’s Health and Care and Socio-Economic Services to an area of over 200,000 rural folk in the states of Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh as well as in the slums in New Delhi.


Power cuts irk parents
From Our Correspondent

MOGA, Feb 12 —  Parents of students in the town yesterday expressed resentment over the alleged failure of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to provide uninterrupted power supply.

They complained that power cuts during the early hours were affecting the studies of students preparing for the forthcoming annual examinations. They demanded that regular power supply be provided to the town. 


RCF donates 14 lakh to relief fund
From Tribune Reporters

KAPURTHALA, Feb 12 — About 5,500 employees of the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) have contributed more than Rs 14 lakh towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the earthquake victims. The employees today sent two truck loads of relief material which include clothes, wheat, rice, pulses, tea leaves and other consumable goods to Gujarat. The RCF Women Welfare Organisation President, Mrs Usha Govindarajan, flagged off the trucks.

PHAGWARA: Activists of the local Public Welfare Club on Sunday left for the quake-hit areas of Gujarat with relief material worth Rs 5 lakh. Mr Rajwinder Sandhu, club president, said relief material included 100 tents with pitching poles and other stuff, 400 blankets and other articles.

Meanwhile the local unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad on Sunday held a sarbdharam shardanjali sabha for those who died in recent quake. 


SPO kidnap case: 5 cops get bail
Tribune News service

PATIALA, FEB 12 — The Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Magistrate today granted bail to five police personnel, including a Sub-Inspector and two Assistant Sub-Inspectors, in a case of alleged abduction and illegal detention of a family in Muktsar district in October 1994.

Special Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer granted bail to the five police officers, who are accused of picking up a special police officer Gurmit Singh from the premises of the Muktsar police station and subsequently torturing him besides harassing the family members of the SPO and even keeping them in illegal custody.

The police officers granted bail today are Sub Inspector Gurmail Singh, Assistant Sub Inspectors Naib Singh and Teja Singh, Head Constable Karamjit Singh and Constable Pritam Singh. Non-bailable warrants had been issued against them by the Special CBI Magistrate on January 8 and the Punjab Director General of Police had been asked to execute the warrants.


4 Malerkotla scholars to get literary award
From Our Correspondent

MALERKOTLA, Feb 12 — Among the 39 awardees chosen recently by the Punjab Languages Department, Patiala, for the Shiromani Sahityakar Awards, four scholars — Mr Soot Dev Hans (Sanskrit), Mr S. Tarsem Punjabi), Mr Mohammed Sultan Anjum (Urdu) and Mr Gurdev Singh Mann (NRI Punjabi) — belong to the town.

Mr Mohammed Iqbal, member of the Languages Department Advisory Board, while giving this information to The Tribune here yesterday, said this was the first time that four scholars of different languages had been selected from the town for the award. The state award carries Rs 1 lakh in cash, a gold medal, a siropa and a silver plaque. The awards would be presented by the Chief Minister of Punjab on February 26, he said.

Local cultural, and literary societies have expressed happiness over the achievement of Malerkotla scholars.


400 ticketless passengers fined
From Our Correspondent

PHILLAUR, Feb 12 —  A railway checking team headed by Senior Divisional Commercial Manager Harbhagan Ram conducted surprise checking on more than 20 trains today and caught 400 ticketless travellers at various railway stations between Amritsar and Ambala.

Mr Harbhagan Ram said the checking team comprising Chief Inspectors of Tickets Tara Singh, J.S. Randhawa, Surinder Singh and 40 other ticket-checkers raided the Deluxe Mail, the Dadar Express, the Flying Mail, the Jaipur-Amritsar train, the Shane-Punjab and other trains and charged more than Rs 40,000 as penalty from those apprehended.


Penning poems for noble cause
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 12 — “Lakhon ho chuke hain maut ke shikar, mach gaya hai charon aur dekho hahakar. Manavta ko waqt ne phir hai lalkara, uth chuke hain haath dene ko sahara”.

These lines are from the poem “Manavta ke Naam” penned by a local man, Mr Narinder Kumar, to motivate people to do something for the victims of the earthquake in Gujarat.

An employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Mr Narinder Kumar has been penning poems on topical issues which he considers relevant to society.

Since January 26, when the killer quake struck Gujarat and claimed thousands of lives he has written about five poems projecting the sufferings of those who have survived this tragedy, the worst ever in this century.

In one of the poem titled “Zinda Kaise Rahe”, Mr Narinder Kumar has projected the plight of the victims of the quake by writing these lines, “Hum rah gaye khali haath, apne hi chhod chuke hain saath, pyar se pita ka sir par jo phirta tha haath, dhunde nigahen ab unka saath.”

“Kahar ye kaise barpa dala, pal bhar mein sab tabah kar dala, hanste chehre aansoo se bhar gaye, jeete ji hi zindagi se dar gaye,” the lines of the poem titled “Sahai Ban Jayen” reflected the devastation caused by the earthquake.

He is not penning the poems on sensitive issues for the first time to generate funds. Earlier also, he wrote a number of poems during the Kargil conflict to generate feelings of nationalism and motivating people to donate liberally.

Mr Narinder Kumar while talking to TNS, said he had developed the urge to write poems on such subjects as he found that by doing so he could motivate even those people who remained unmoved during such disasters. He could make them do their little bit for the suffering sections of humanity.

He added that he did not need any special environment to pen the poems as he always clothed his emotions in words having rhythm. He added that his poems had been broadcast from radio stations and published in various newspapers.

He said that most of the subjects on which he had written poems concerned the nation and people at large and were for the betterment of society.


Senior citizens, widows await pensions
From Our Correspondent

MOGA, Feb 12 —  A former president of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Mr Kuldip Singh Sandhu, said here yesterday that a large number of aged persons, widows and other deserving people had not received monthly pensions for the past several years although the government had sanctioned a huge sum of money for the purpose. He said all efforts to get the pensions disbursed had failed. They would be forced to launch a statewide agitation if the monthly pensions were not disbursed, he added.


Regional Arorvansh conference held
From Our Correspondent

FAZILKA, Feb 12 —  The fifth North Zone Arorvansh conference was held here yesterday. Delegates from 40 towns of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi participated in the conference.

Mr Madan Lal Khurana, former Delhi Chief Minister, Justice M.M. Punchhi, retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Joginder Singh Punchhi, retired CBI Director, Mr Varinder Kataria, former Rajya Sabha member, Mr Lachhman Dass Arora, former Home Minister, Haryana, and Mr Radhe Shayam, MLA, Sri Ganganagar, were among those who addressed the delegates.


Growth of wheat crop affected
by Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 12 — Even as the Malwa region has been facing acute shortage of canal water, its inadequate supply has started affecting the growth of wheat crop in the area.

Official sources said that acute shortage of canal water has occurred as the level of water in the Gobind Sagar Lake of Bhakra Dam had fallen by 40 feet as compared to last year. The Irrigation Department had started closing down various canals by rotation to rationalise the distribution of water.

Various branches of the Sirhind Canal and those canals which originated from Ropar head works were closed on account of shortage of water in Bhakra Dam.

After keeping these canals closed for 10 days, the water was released into the same for a week and again they were closed for 10 days. The Irrigation Department authorities had been doing so as the release from Bhakra Dam for the canal systems catering to the malwa region had been reduced drastically.

Irrigation Department officials pointed out that acute shortage of water had occurred as snowfall in this winter had been less. Apart from it, the region did not get adequate rain.

Due to acute shortage of canal water, the farmers were left with no other alternative than to irrigate their fields with the underground water, which was not fit for the purpose as it contained high fluoride content.

On the other hand, the farmers had also been facing a problem as the warm climatic condition had been affecting the growth of wheat crop adversely.

Mr Harraj Singh, a leading farmer of Chunnu village of Muktsar district, said that if the condition of water did not improve, the production of wheat would go down. He added that interrupted supply of power for running the tubewells had also been causing a problem in irrigating fields.

The Irrigation Department authorities pointed out that they had been finding it difficult to supply adequate quantity of water to the farmers as the present level of Bhakra Dam was 1551.57 feet, which was about 20 feet less than the level last year. Last year, the amount of rain was adequate and climatic conditions were conducive for the growth of wheat crop.

They pointed out that while the inflow of water into Bhakra Dam was 3856 cusec from all sources and outflow was 15047 cusec, this was the main reason that canals were being closed turn by turn.

They added that five canals in the Malwa region — Bist Doab, Patiala Feeder, Abohar Upper Branch, Sidhwan Canal and Bathinda branch — were being closed in rotation so that the available water could be distributed fairly in all needy areas.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said that farmers, who were reeling under heavy debt, were also finding it difficult to arrange money to purchase diesel for their tubewell motors.

The farmers pointed out that other crops, including barley, mustard and sugarcane, would also witness low yield.


SC farmers’ pleas for power to be okayed
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 12 — In an unprecedented move, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have decided to clear all applications of Scheduled Caste farmers lying with it for power connections for their tubewells.

Official sources said that the PSEB authorities, in a circular issued to all its offices, had lifted the ban on issuance of demand notice for Scheduled Caste land owners under priority category and directed them to clear all pending applications received for the same shortly.

Earlier, the PSEB officials were processing only those applications which were received up to March 31, 1995. Now these officials had been directed to process all applications for issuance of demand notices without any cut-off date.

Every applicant would be charged Rs 5,000 per horse power for the tubewell connection under priority category of a self-financing scheme (SFS). Only those applicants would be able to take the benefit of this scheme who owned at least one acre of land.

However, the sources said, the PSEB would suffer a huge loss on this account as it would have to give thousands of power connections to the Scheduled Castes free of cost. The PSEB had already been facing financial crises due to the facility of free power for agriculture purposes extended to the farmers of Punjab.

The anti-theft drive launched by the PSEB authorities had also failed to yield desirable results and could earn much on this account.

In the circular issued on January 15, 2001, for processing the applications of the Scheduled Castes, no deadline had been fixed. The circular also did not contain a provision for the fresh applicants.


Drug scam: plea to cancel FIR
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Feb 12 — The case relating to the unearthing of a fake medicine manufacturing factory in the focal point in this city by the district police on February 10, has taken a new turn with the kin of Arun Bansal, one of the accused, who had been arrested, moving an application before the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) for cancellation of the FIR.

Mr Pritpal Singh, a close relative of Arun Bansal, in an application given to the SSP, alleged that a false case had been registered by the police in connection with the manufacturing of fake medicines by misusing the process of law.

He added that Bansal, who had been arrested, was doing the Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application (PGDCA) and had nothing to do with M/s Silva Drugs (India) Limited, Bathinda. Mr Pritpal Singh further alleged that Bansal had been involved as he was a son of Gurbaran Singh, the other accused in the case, who had been managing the affairs of this factory.

He pointed out that the Delhi High Court had appointed a local commissioner to visit the premises of Silva Drugs (India) Limited to prepare an inventory of all blaster packings and cartons. The local commissioner was also authorised to take assistance from the local police. There was, however, no direction from the court to register a case.

He added that a case had been registered for alleged manufacture of fake medicines by infringing the copyright of another manufacturer, but this point was yet to be decided by the civil court.

He claimed that all medicines which were being manufactured by Silva Drugs had been duly approved by the Punjab authorities. The name and colour of medicines was totally different from those which were alleged to have been copied by Silva Drugs.

The districts police authorities, which unearthed a factory manufacturing fake medicines, recovered empty and filled capsules — named Proxyfan and Spasmo Proxyfan — which were imitations of the Proxyvon and Spasmoproxyvon being manufactured by a reputed company of the country.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, claimed that Bansal was caught red-handed from the factory premises and he had not been booked falsely the case.

He added that though there was no direction of the Delhi High Court to register a case, the manufactures were violating the direction of the High Court to stop manufacturing imitations of drugs being produced by a reputed company.

Child murdered by uncle
From Our Correspondent

KAPURTHALA, Feb 12 — An 11-year-old boy Bikramjit Singh was killed and his mother Mrs Ravjit Kaur was seriously injured in an assault by their close relative Jaswinder Singh at Sheikhupur village this afternoon.

The accused was caught by the villagers when he tried to escape from the spot.

Ravjit Kaur was first admitted to a local Civil Hospital but was later shifted to a hospital at Jalandhar in a critical condition.

Harjinder Singh, father of the deceased told newsmen that his brother Jaswinder Singh had settled in Delhi after being declared proclaimed offender in the Arms Act about 20 years back.

He alleged that Jaswinder visited Sheikhupur on December, 2000, and started demanding his share in the property which he had already sold.

He alleged that Jaswinder inflicted serious injuries on Bikramjit Singh while he was returning to his house from school. On hearing his cries his mother rushed to thechild’s rescue but Jaswinder Singh attacked her with sharp weapon and seriously injured her. On hearing cries of Ravjit Kaur the villagers chased the suspect and handed him over to the police.

Harjinder Singh was away from the house when this incident took place. The police has registered a case.


Lecturers reject seniority list
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Feb 12 —  The seniority list of school lecturers, which was released recently by the state government, has been rejected by the Government School Lecturers Union, Punjab.

Mr Jiwan Parkash Sharma, patron of the union, in a press note issued here yesterday alleged that several irregularities were committed by the Education Department while finalising the list.

The list was based on the assumption that the cadre for lecturer and master was the same, whereas the basic qualifications for the appointment for both categories were entirely different, he added.

He further said the union would approach the Supreme Court in this regard.


Inter-Zonal Youth Festival begins
From Our Correspondent

PATIALA — Feb 12 — Mr Lajpat Rai, Member, Rajya Sabha, announced a contribution of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of Punjab Kala Bhavan, while inaugurating the three-day Annual Inter-Zonal Youth Festival at Guru Teg Bahadur Hall in the Punjabi University campus here today.

Speaking on the ocassion, Mr Lajpat Rai said the youth of the country have a great responsibility in all fields, especially in academics, sports and cultural activities. Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, said that the University had taken up responsibility of protecting, nurturing and enriching Punjabi culture.

Baba Zorawar Singh Fateh Singh Girls Khalsa College, Morinda, of Ropar Zone lifted the trophy for Gidha competition, while Government College, Malerkotla of Sangrur Zone were declared runners-up in Gidha. In Bhangra, the Punjabi University team of Patiala Zone was declared first, whereas Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib of Ropar Zone was declared second.

In the collage competition, Mr Baltej Sandhu of Government Barjindera College, Faridkot and Ms Bhavneet Kaur of Shanti Tara College, Ahmedgarh were declared joint winners, whereas Ms Deepinder Kaur of Talwandi Sabo and Ms Sneh Lata of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, were declared joint runners-up.

In the painting competition, Mr Gurminder Singh Sohal of Vikram College of Commerce, Patiala and Mr Mohammad Iqbal of Government College, Malerkotla were declared joint winners while Ms Parneet Kaur of Government College of Girls, Patiala and Ms Narinder of Government College, Mohali, were declared joint runners-up.

In cartoon-making, Mr Sanjiv Grover of Shanti Tara College, Ahmedgarh and Ms Simran Sidhu of Government College for Girls, Patiala were announced first and Mr Parminder Kumar of Government College, Dera Bassi and Mr Harpreet Singh of Guru Teg Bahadur College, Anandpur Sahib were declared runners-up.


Student union elects office-bearers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 12 — The Punjab Students Welfare Union in a meeting held here today chose its office-bearers. Parvez Rana will be president district Sangrur; Paramjit Singh will be president, Patiala; Satinder Singh, president, Ropar; Malkit Singh, president, Amritsar; Sukhdev Singh, president, Ferozepore; Sukhdeep Singh, president, Ludhiana; Baljinder Singh, president, Muktsar and Nirmal Singh, president, Jalandhar.

Mr Navpreet Singh Hundal, Mr Mukhtiar Singh and Mr Yadvinder Sharma will be the patrons and Mandeep Sharma its senior vice-president. Mr Tarsem Singh Barnala, Mr Kuljit Singh Waraich and Mr Gurcharan Singh Bhogiwal have been chosen as the vice-presidents, Sukhdev Singh the general secretary and Harvinder Singh the Treasurer. Mohammad Ikhlak, Manish, Avneep and Sameer will be the secretaries. Harbhajan Singh Gill, Mukesh, Kapil Dev, Amandeep Sharma will be the joint-secretaries. 


NIFT students show off creations
Tribune News Service

PATIALA — Feb 12 — The second annual exhibition by students of the National Institute of Fashion Designing (NIFT) which concluded here displayed a variety of designs. The exhibition, which was inaugurated by the Assistant Commissioner (general), Mr Rahul Gupta, showcased a wide-range of modern chic from floral to dots, casuals and some hot stuff for the daring. Visitors opined that they have got wonderful ideas of how to modernise their wardrobes by integrating modern trends.

The stalls featuring a large number of salwar kameez collections was the favourite of the elder generation. Besides, dupattas were also up for grab in myriad colours, prints and embroidery.

A special baby section included baby frocks, jump suits, baby shorts and jeans and party dresses. Baby quilts were also showcased besides sheets, cushioned and pillows for the house.

The NIFT Centre Head, Mr Sachin Goyal, said the aim of holding the exhibition was to encourage talent as well as give them exposure to the market which the young designers would be entering shortly.

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