Monday, February 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




SAD will win Majitha byelection, says Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 18
Union Fertiliser and Chemicals Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today asserted that the SAD-BJP combine candidate would win the Majitha byelection with a big margin and this victory would be a forerunner for the victory of the combine again during the general election next year.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Dhindsa claimed that the ruling combine had already registered trendy wins in the Doaba and Malwa regions byelections and with the certain victory of Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, the combine would win over the Majha area as well. This would herald the return of the Parkash Singh Badal Government again after the next Assembly elections, predicted Mr Dhindsa.

However, the Akali stalwart sounded non-committal about the review of the unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of killings of Sikhs in Mahjoor Nagar.

When told that even BJP chief Bangaru Laxman had favoured a review of the ceasefire, Mr Dhindsa said the ceasefire had rather checked cross-border infiltrations, besides sending a clear signal to the world that India was for peace and good neighbourly relations.

Mr Dhindsa said the Atal Behari Vajpayee government had initiated steps for the security of Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir. Steps had been initiated to stall the migration of Sikhs from the valley and Defence Minister George Fernandes had gone to the site for confidence-building among the Sikhs, he said.

Union Home Minister L.K. Advani was also in touch with the situation and the Union Government was fully seized of the matter, claimed the union minister.

When informed that when in power the Akalis had a penchant for putting Punjab issues on the backburner, Mr Dhindsa did not agree with the suggestion. When told that Parliament had not passed any resolution even now for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots even though the Akalis had been raising this demand, Mr Dhindsa said barring the Congress, all other parties had supported the Akali stand and the Centre had set up a commission to probe the riots and punish the guilty.


End corruption, BJP tells Chief Minister
Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab unit of the BJP is partially satisfied with the performance of the Badal Government. This was clear from the observations and comments made by its President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, here today.

The biggest issue, when the SAD-BJP Government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal took over the reins of power four years ago, was political and official corruption. Mr Rinwa pointed out that steps to curb the political and other corruption were not taken. He admitted that non-curbing of the corruption affected the alliance image.

The Punjab Government should show the way to eradicate all sorts of corruption from every walk of life in the state. Admitting that there were tasks like elimination of corruption, unemployment and poverty which remained to be done by the state government, Mr Rinwa blamed the Congress rule of nearly four decades for these problems faced by the state and the country.

He said it was unfortunate that the corruption had entered the blood of people to the extent that no one felt ashamed while resorting to it. His therapy for eliminating it from public life was that the younger generation should be taught about moral values by making these a part of their curriculum.

He also disapproved of malpractices in elections. When his attention was drawn to the fact that liquor flowed freely in the Majitha assembly constituency to influence voters, Mr Rinwa said he was not aware of this. But at the same time he added that he was against such practices in the elections. If wrong means had been used in Majitha byelection, his party would look into the matter. He ducked further questions on this issue by expressing his ignorance about what was happening in Majitha.

As Mr Badal did not agree with the BJP’s demand to stop free power and water to farmers, the party dropped this demand. “We left it to Mr Badal to decide and he wanted to continue with this facility to farmers,” he said. When asked whether Mr Badal did not care about BJP’s demands, Mr Rinwa said it was not necessary that Mr Badal should agree to all the demands of the BJP. “Accord between coalition partners on all issues is not possible,” he added.

Mr Badal had conceded several significant demands of the party, he claimed. These included the induction of one more party MLA into the ministry and making one of its legislators Deputy Speaker and the formation of coordination committees of both parties for better understanding at the district level. The BJP had been asked to nominate a candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat allotted to Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal but the Chief Minister did not agree. Mr Rinwa said if and when a Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant, the BJP would stake claim to it.

He stated that Operation Bluestar was never made an election issue in the byelection. Its reference came in election speeches and there was nothing wrong in doing so, he added. The BJP never supported Operation Bluestar. It always held that there were several other ways to drive militants out from the Golden Temple. “No one tried to communalise the election in Majitha in any manner,” he claimed.


Low water levels hit power generation
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 18
Power crisis looms large over the region, with the water levels at major hydel projects remaining lower than normal. Due to water shortage at the Gobind Sagar reservoir the flow of water to the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal was stopped on February 14.

With this power generation has come to a halt in the Nakian and Ganguwal projects.

These projects used to generate 32 lakh units of electricity per day. Sources said the PSEB would incur a loss of Rs 1 crore every day due to generation loss from these projects.

The Anandpur Sahib hydel canal has a capacity of 10,500 cusecs. Generation at the projects on the canal is stopped if the water level drops below 21,00 cusecs. That much water is being maintained in the canal despite the low water level in the Gobind Sagar lake.

However, during a meeting of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), a member from Rajasthan pressed for more water for the state. Due to this more water was released in the Nangal hydel canal that carries water to Rajasthan and water to the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal had to be stopped. The decision to release water is likely to be taken up at the next meeting of the board on February 27.

The situation of the water inflow in the Gobind Sagar lake also remained lower vis-a-vis last year. The inflow in the lake on Thursday was just 4,258 cusecs against the inflow of 6,667 cusecs last year. In the Pong dam, the inflow was just 1,284 cusecs against last year’s 2,902 cusecs. The water level at Bhakra was 1,548 feet against the last year level of 1,577.7 feet while at Pong it was 1,308 feet against last years 1,340.9 feet.

At present, about 11,000 cusecs are being discharged from the Bhakra dam daily. Out of it, 10,500 cusecs are discharged in the Nangal hydel canal and 500 cusecs in the Sutlej. The inflows however, are much lower this year due to scanty rains. It had led to a decrease in the water level at Gobind Sagar. Generation at Bhakra stops if the water level drops below 1,471 feet. Only 158 lakh units were generated at Bhakra yesterday against an installed capacity of 3,00,000 lakh units per day.

The Chief Engineer (Power) BBMB, Mr L.S. Deol, admitted that less electricity was being generated at Bhakra due to the low water level. The inflows in the dam would increase when snow began to melt, he said.


Chief Secy’s agenda to make bureaucrats efficient
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 18
Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, today said that he would try his best to make administrative services at all levels accountable, responsive and fair to people, speedy with efficient delivery system. To achieve it a catalogue performance would be prepared soon.

Talking to newsmen, Mr Arora declared that while a DC represented government in the district, an SSP was in charge of law and order and day to day functioning. When probed whether he was suggesting that a DC was superior to an SSP, Mr Arora again said both belonged to the All India Services but a DC had multiple duties in the capacity of a District Magistrate, a Collector and a Deputy Commissioner. However, the suggestion about anybody’s role — supremacy would not be healthy for society, he said. We are passing through a transition and would have to stem growing unrest, continued Mr Arora. People were the best judge, he quipped. When asked whether he would ask bureaucracy not to brook any political interference, Mr Arora again replied tersely that he would want Civil servants to have greater dignity, self-respect and discipline.

Mr Arora declared that district administration would be made more strong. New dimensions and thrusts would be identified and functional rule made to strengthen the institutions of the DC and the SSP, he said. I would hold quarterly review meetings with DCs of at least four districts, he declared. I would also have periodic interaction with the DGP who would also have meeting with the SSPs, he continued.

He denied any knowledge about the letter written by the then Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, Mr Srivastava, that ACR of a police officer should be written by civil authority.

Mr Arora said he would give top priority to efficiency in administrative secretaries and himself would monitor 29 major projects to remove delay-factor. Mr Arora, maintained that decision making should be fast and there should be regular interaction for curbing delays. To check delays in Departments of Finance, Law, Personnel and Vigilance, a review of progress would be done after every 15 days, he said. He regretted that sometimes the delay went up to two years. Interaction of Resident Commissioner Dinesh Chander in Delhi would be ensured for systematising and curbing useless visits of officers to Delhi, declared Mr Arora. He admitted that funds from Delhi were not availed of adequately.

On Voluntary Retirement Scheme, Mr Arora cautioned that in case serious downsizing of bureaucracy was not done, we would soon be starved of funds for development. Seventy per cent of the income went to employees and VRS would yield good results, he continued. In local bodies, there were 35,000 employees while not more than 5,000 were needed in the department, disclosed Mr Arora, who had long been Secretary Local Bodies. Though nobody would be retrenched, but fever employees meant less cost of services and quality of service, said Mr Arora.

Earlier, Mr Arora held meeting with district officers including DC V.K. Singh and SSP Iqbal Singh. He asked them not to sit over any paper for more than 48 hours. Though administration would be made officer-oriented, but it would also be made accountable, he told officers.

Later, Mr Arora presided over the foundation laying ceremony of Kamla Nehru Public School and attended “bhoomi poojan” at local Hargobind Nagar. Mr I.K. Sardana, President, Mrs Manjit Kaur, officiating Principal local Kamla Nehru College for Women, Mr Kuldip Sardana of local Sukhjit Starch and Chemicals Ltd., Mr Paramjit Singh Sethi, President, Northern India Exporters Federation welcomed Mr Arora. It was Mr Arora’s maiden field visit after his elevation as a Chief Secretary.

Activists of Palahi village led by Mr Jagat Singh Palahi, today presented a memorandum to Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary Punjab, demanding widening of the Phagwara-Palahi road from present 12 feet to 22 feet. Accompanied by Mr Jatinderpal Singh Palahi and Mr Gurmit Palahi, Mr Jagat Singh Palahi told Mr Arora here that the estimate of widening of road had already been sent to the department concerned. Mr Arora assured the villagers to look into the matter in a positive manner, claimed Mr Palahi.


BJP ministers ‘patronise’ RSS-run schools
Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

Zira (Ferozepore), February 17
With the BJP sharing power in Punjab, the RSS-run Sarvhitkari schools are also gaining through donations being doled out by ministers from their discretionary fund.

The BJP ministers continue to be invited at these schools by members of the Sarvhitkari Education Society, an RSS affiliate, to ensure the growth of the institutions. These schools, apart from imparting the mainstream education to students, also emphasise on propagating the RSS ideology. Authoritative sources say that the pupil studying at these schools are familiarised with the life and philosophy of RSS founder Hegdewar.

While members of the society deny that their schools are running at the mercy of the ruling BJP, at least four ministers, including one from the Akali Dal, have announced funds for the two local Sarvhitkari schools.

Sources in the Sarvhitkari Education Society revealed that the maximum donation of Rs 1.25 lakh was made by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tandon to these schools. Although Rs 25,000 from Mr Tandon’s discretionary quota was received by the school management committee, the remaining Rs 1 lakh could not be realised for technical reasons.

On other occasions, two BJP Ministers — Mr Surjit Jyani and Mr Baldev Raj Chawla — had announced donations worth Rs 30,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively. Interestingly, former Akali Dal Minister Inderjit Singh Zira, who is highly critical of the RSS, had also announced a donation of Rs 25,000.

A former member of the executive committee of the Sarvhitkari Education Society, Mr Jagmohan Kaura, pointed out these schools were not only getting financial support under the BJP regime, but also recognition from the state education board.

Mr Kaura, who had recently resigned from the BJP, also charged the government with helping these schools in getting land either through allotment or encroachments.

This has given a tool to the left parties to beat the BJP with Mr Randhir Singh Gill, a member of the CPI state council, accused the BJP ministers of “favouring” the RSS-run schools to pursue their “Hindutva agenda“. He lamented “While the RSS-run schools are mushrooming under the SAD-BJP combine, the condition of government schools has worsened.”

However, Mr Rajinder Kakkar, President of the local Sarvhitkari School Management Committee, has denied that their institutions are running at the mercy of the state. These donations, he claimed, were made by the ministers out of spontaneous reaction during their visits to the school functions. “Most donations were made from discretionary funds. Where is the question of the state helping the RSS-run schools?” he asked.


Pannu died from injuries, says report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The death of Mr Balbir Singh Pannu, Vice-President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, in a road accident on the Bareilly-Lucknow Road on February 16 was because of ante-mortem injuries.

According to the post-mortem reports, Mr Pannu and three of his accomplices, who were travelling with him in his Qualis at the time of the accident on Friday morning died of ante-mortem injuries.

From the wreckage of the ill-fated Qualis, the police recovered an AK-47 rifle, a 9 mm carbine and a case of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (Royal Challenge), of which only four bottles were intact while the rest were broken. Other items recovered from the vehicle were some household items besides a jar of pickle.

Since the cause of death was established to be ante-mortem injuries, the policemen investigating the case say that the preliminary autopsy report indicated that both the driver, Mr Sukh Simratpal Singh, alias Timmi, and the gunman, Mr Sukhbir Singh, alias Billa, might have consumed liquor some hours before the accident.

The police sources say that at the time of the accident, Mr Balbir Singh Pannu and Ms Nirmaldeep Kaur Randhawa were on the rear seats of the vehicle, while Mr Sukhbir Singh was with the driver on the front seat. The accident took place about 40 km from Lucknow.

The pickle and other household items belonged to Ms Nirmaldeep Kaur Randhawa, reported to be a college student in Amritsar who was related to both Mr Pannu and Mr Sukh Simratpal Singh.

The police recovered her photo identity card from the vehicle which probably indicated that she had been a student of an Aptech Institute at Lucknow.

Her parents and uncle (tayyaji) live in Lakhimpur district (UP) and she reportedly insisted on accompanying Mr Pannu and Mr Sukh Simratpal Singh to Uttar Pradesh as she wanted to visit her parents. Otherwise, she was reportedly living with her aunt at Amritsar because of her studies.

Though the exact time of the accident was not known, the police suspect that it took place around 5.30 a.m. as could be made out from the broken watch of Mr Sukh Simratpal Singh, the driver of the ill-fated vehicle. The watch stopped at 5.30 probably because of the impact of the collision.

Sources in the police at Bareilly reveal that the probable cause of the accident was a wink of sleep that made the driver of the Qualis to lose its control as it moved towards its right.


Kanshi predicts political realignment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 18
The Bahujan Samaj Party president, Mr Kanshi Ram, yesterday said there was every likelihood of realignment of political forces in the state before the Assembly elections. Mr Kanshi Ram was here to supervise the arrangements being made for the March 15 BSP rally.

Criticising the Akali-BJP government he said, it would be good if a third front emerged in the state. It could provide a better option to the people since they were fed up with both the ruling alliance as well as Congress.

Talking to reporters, Mr Kanshi Ram said he was hopeful that a new front consisting of non-Congress and non-Akali-BJP parties might emerge in the state soon.

He said the BSP was a force to reckon with in Punjab and the party would play a key role in any future political dispensation. He declared that the BSP would like to contest all seats in Punjab without entering into any alliance with anyone. However, he did not rule out an alliance if it suited the party interests.

The BSP leader disclosed that his party attached great importance to Punjab. He said the party cadre was being organised and reactivated for the forthcoming Assembly elections. At the same time, he clarified that the BSP had not restricted itself to the backward classes but was open to all. However, it would continue to pursue their cause.

Mr Kanshi Ram alleged that there was no significant change in the plight of the Dalits in the country. Only the BSP could emancipate the downtrodden from the exploitation they were subjected to, he added.

As part of its mobilisation campaign the BSP will organise rallies at different places in the state. In Ludhiana a rally will be organised on March 15. It will be addressed by Mr Kanshi Ram and Ms Mayawati besides other senior party leaders.


Helping rehabilitate addicts
K.K. Goyal

The district branch of the Indian Red Cross Society last year opened a 15-bedded deaddiction centre in a building in front of the office of the Civil Surgeon under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Previously, the building was occupied by police personnel, who have now been shifted to the new Secretariat building.

Fifteen patients are admitted every fortnight to this centre and later discharged after treatment.

Dr Inderpal Singh, in charge of the centre, says that after breakfast, a team of doctors attends on each patient and counselling is arranged. In the evening various facilities are made available to the patients, including indoor games, playing cards, newspapers, books, a television set, etc. Talks are organised by religious and community leaders with the help of NGOs. A few sports activities are also planned to be introduced soon. Members of the Baba Baban Dass Sports Club of Bareh village assists the management in this noble cause. They also provide food to patients.

Dr N.S. Suman, Civil Surgeon, said 92 indoor and 394 outdoor patients belonging to Mansa district had been treated during a two-month period. Cooperation was being sought from various non-government organisations to identify addicts so that they could be helped.

Seminars were organised by the local Lions and Apex Clubs at which Prof Hazari Lal Bansal, President of the Punjab unit of the AIDs Control Organisation, gave talks on drug addiction, AIDs and safe blood. More seminars would be held to make people aware of the ill-effects of drugs. Special teams led by the medical officers of the area and the drug inspector had been constituted to check the sale of intoxicants in the district, he added.

A 70-year-old patient from Namanandi village, who had been taking poppy husk for the past 20 years, appealed to the Deputy Commissioner to arrange camps, particularly in the rural areas, to make the youth aware of the bad effects of drugs. Other patients have also expressed similar views.

A 35-year-old resident of Narinderpura village, who had been addicted to opium for the past 10 years, expressed his gratitude to the centre for helping him.

The Deputy Commissioner says the Red Cross will soon approach the Central Government to allocate funds for the expansion of the centre and the provision of more facilities.


‘Cancel’ promotions to police cats
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 18
Expressing concern over the “violation” of human rights in the state Justice Ajit Singh Bains, chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation has urged the Punjab government to cancel promotions granted to the Punjab Police cats.

Justice Bains, who was speaking at a function organised by the PHRO here yesterday also exhorted the rights organisations to strive to guard of human rights but at the same time should keep themselves within the ambit of law. He said that major role in the violation of human rights was played in the past by some police officials, but instead of making them face trial the government rewarded them with undue promotions, which should be withdrawn at the earliest. He said the government should make efforts to post only honest and hard working officials at key posts.

Mr Amar Singh Chahal, a Chandigarh-based advocate and human rights activist, said that the best way to safeguard one’s rights was to make one fully aware about law and rights and without arming themselves with these two arms, it was difficult for people to protect their rights. He asserted that it was resolve of his organisation to serve the needy people and offer legal aid free of cost to them.

During the function, the PHRO received 150 complaints pertaining to police and civil administration. Most of complaints were about dowry, illegal possessions and police high-handedness.


250 pets vie for prizes in dog show
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 18
It was virtually a day of dogs as more than 250 of them of different breeds from Northern part of the country, descended on the local Guru Gobind Singh Stadium today to display skills for spectators and make their masters feel proud.

They vied each other to catch the eye of the Norwegian Judge couple Wera and Rodi Hubenthal for which some of them got themselves attired in colourful robes even wore colourful sun-glasses, caps, socks and other gadgets which caught the fancy at one and all, especially, small kids, who came in large numbers to see the dog show organized by the local Kohinoor Kennel Club.

Entire stadium came to life with claps and applause when Wilson and Dr Khan, a black and brown labradors trained by Master Jagdish Lal of Jalandhar, set feet in the ring just like a prince as it was wearing a floral T-shirt, a brown sunglasses and socks up to its knees. What impressed the most was its ability to do some household jobs like picking up a basket, a news paper and some utensils. Spectators burst into laughter when announcement came”, hold your breath, it can even fetch vegetables for you from the market.” Another grey coloured great dane kept idling about, seemingly showing off people its colourful jacket and coned cap and at the same time kept itself oblivious about the comments being passed on by spectators.

For kids, poodles, pugs, spitz and poms were the most attractive participants of the show especially for they could touch them since these were not ferocious looking like great dane and rottweilers. The biggest in the show was a five year wrinkled faced St. Bemard, owned by Geetika Matharu carrying a small pom in a plastic basket. Lovely, a small kid from Urban Estate said it was for the first time that he had attended the show and no doubt it had impressed him. “Actually, somebody had told me about it. So I thought I should attend it with my pom so that it could acquaint itself with the atmosphere and participate in the show and compete for some prize next year, he quipped. Master Harmanpreet, from Jalandhar said, he had come along with Rooma, a Great Dane of his aunt,” I find it too interesting “Interestingly, some people who had no experience of participation, had even come to the show with their small dogs and pups stuffed in bags”.

Dr. S.S. Bhatti of the club, said the show had 250 entries from all over the North India. Giving a piece of advice to Indian dog lovers, Mr Rodi Hubenthal, said it was a misconception that foreign breeds could not be reared and bred in India successfully. “Climate here is suitable to all breeds, subject to some precautions. One of the major precaution is that to relax, all breeds need a cool and shady place otherwise they will definitely develop some health problems,” he said. 


Coverage of sewerage tank sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
Residents of the Bharat Nagar locality of this town have been pressing the Improvement Trust authorities to make arrangements for the coverage of the sewerage water collecting tank and the construction of a high boundary wall around it.

The members of the Bharat Nagar Welfare Association in various representations given to the Executive Engineer, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) and the Chairman, Improvement Trust, have demanded that the tank should be covered with a roof, the length of the shaft should be enhanced to avoid overflow and the earth level raised and a high boundary wall constructed around it.

Mr Paramjit Singh, president of the association, said the location of the tank was between the residential areas of Bharat Nagar (25.57 acre scheme) developed by the trust and it was more than 25 feet deep and 50 feet wide. The uncovered tank could lead to some unfortunate incident it was feared.

He added that if the tank was not covered, the foul smell, which would emanate from it, would be a major source of health hazard and irritation for the residents of the houses located near it.

Mr Gora Lal Jindal, Executive Officer, Improvement Trust, when contacted said at the moment he was not aware of the estimate of the money to be spent on the construction of the collecting tank. He added that the trust authorities would do the needful.

He pointed out that the work of construction on the tank was going on and the wall to be raised around it was yet to be completed.


Punjab fails to highlight quake relief effort
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab Government has failed to project its human face in the country and abroad with regard to the help extended by it to the earthquake victims in Gujarat.

Though it sent six aircraft and several trucks loaded with food, blankets, etc to Gujarat at the instance of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Rs 2.83 crore in cash for speeding up relief measures, all these actions found hardly any mention in the print media.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala and his son, on the other hand, made it a point to highlight Haryana’s contribution to the quake-stricken. In fact that state is ahead of Punjab in many areas.

Though it was important for Mr Badal to camp in the Majitha constituency to campaign in the byelection, but a visit to Gujarat despite his busy schedule would have certainly added not only to his credit but also to the people of the state who have taken several initiatives to extend help to the affected families.


Malta tragedy probe mission to protest
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 18
Parents of victims and activists of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission will wear black robes and stage dharna near the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at Chandigarh tomorrow in protest against the inaction of the state and Central governments in the case.

This was stated by Mr Balwant Singh Khera, chairman of the mission, that has investigated the “mass murder” and visited the site. Mr Khera also condemned the slackness of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, in the matter.

Mr Khera demanded Rs 50,000 compensation for the family of each victim, restoration of Rs 3 lakh each from travel agents, compensation from foreign shipping companies and cases against Malta, Greece and Italy governments.


Sheesh Mahal minaret falls, 3 children hurt
From Our Correspondent

Patiala, Feb 18 
A part of a minaret of the Sheesh Mahal fell on some children who were participating in a painting competition held by the ‘Talent Search India’ in collaboration with the North Zone Culture Centre here today.

The incident occurred when the competition was in full swing and some bricks from the minaret suddenly fell, injuring three children. The children who had sustained minor injuries were taken to a private nursing home and were given first-aid.

About 50 schools of the city participated in the competition. A cultural programme was also held. Painting of most of the students depicted the Republic Day devastation in Gujarat.


Debtors get 50 pc rebate
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 18
A Lok Adalat was held here on Saturday at the subdivisional court complex under the guidance of Mr M. M. Bhalla, District and Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, as per the directions of Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Executive Chairman, State Legal Services Authority, Punjab.

The two benches were presided over by Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) and Mr Lalit Kumar Singla, Civil Judge (Junior Division). Mr Krishan Lal Bishnoi, Dr Sharwan Kumar and Mr Satpal Khariwal were the members of the benches representing the public.

Fifty four cases were taken up in the Lok Adalat presided over by Mr Rajinder Aggarwal out of the 41 cases settled, 26 cases were presented by various banks.

The bank officials were told to give concession up to 50 per cent to the debtors in view of their poor financial condition.


Decision to refuse burial was ‘right’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur February 18
Members of the local Christian community feel concerned at the news item appear in The Tribune on February 10 regarding priest Sardar Masih’s refusal to perform Zohra’s burial.

In a press note issued by the priest and Mr Yaqub Masih, general secretary of Mona Memorial Church, Hoshiarpur, said Zohra had married Hans Raj, who belonged to a different faith, 35 years ago. She had not been observing Christian rituals since then.

According to the resolution No. 48/98 of the Pastorate Committee of the church, only a member of the local church of North India is allowed to bury the dead in the graveyard of the church. As Zohra was no more a member of the church, so her burial was rightly refused by the priest.

Mr Lawrence Chaudhry, president of the Christian Youths Front, Punjab, said the aforesaid news was a conspiracy by certain undesirable elements to defame Christianity.


Ban on digging soil extended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 18
Mr B. Vikram, District Magistrate, yesterday extended the ban on digging soil for brick-kilns from the Chakki bridge to the limit of this district.

The step has been taken keeping in view the small gap of a few metre at certain points between the national highway and the Chakki river. Villagers and Army establishment in the area have expressed concern.

Mr Vikram said if the brick-kilns were allowed to dig soil along the Chakki it was likely to breach the national highway causing a lot of damage to life and property.

By another order, the District Magistrate prohibited all types of movements from the international border to 500 metres inside the border security fencing from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the district with immediate effect.

Both orders will remain in force till April 5. 


S. S Dhaliwal made Chief Engineer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab Government has ordered the promotion Mr Shivdev Singh Dhaliwal as Chief Engineer. He has been given the charge of drainage wing in the Irrigation Department. Earlier, he was posted as Superintending Engineer in the local circle of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation.


Drive against POs fruitful: SSP
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
Gurdeep Singh, an accused in a case relating to illicit distillation of liquor registered in 1998 in the Nathana police station, had been declared a proclaimed offender by the court where the trial of his case was going on as he jumped bail.

He kept on deceiving the police by changing his name and started smuggling of poppy husk. However, he could not keep his crime secret for long and fell into police net for smuggling of narcotics. He kept the police in dark for some time by his fake name.

However, the police authorities succeeded in detecting his real name and came to know that the accused arrested in the smuggling of poppy husk was Gurdeep Singh, who had been declared as proclaimed offender in an Excise Act case by the judicial court.

The district police, which has launched an intensive drive against the proclaimed offenders, have been getting better results as in the last 13 months, about 40 proclaimed offenders have been arrested by it.

Police sources said that about 87 proclaimed offenders were yet to be arrested and after every 10 days, a proclaimed offender was being arrested. For this task, a separate cell had been set up.

Sources added that 10 accused, who had been arrested by the police, had been declared as proclaimed offenders in the smuggling of narcotics cases. One of the proclaimed offenders namely Mohinder Singh was wanted in a case relating to the smuggling of opium registered in 1978.

Sukhdev Singh, who had committed a murder and was subsequently declared proclaimed offender in 1972, had also been arrested by the police. The police had arrested eight such proclaimed offenders, which had been declared so about 20 years ago.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said that some of the proclaimed offenders, were living in other states to evade arrest by Bathinda district police. He added that police authorities had been cultivating informers and trying to arrest the proclaimed offenders.


BSP leader booked on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 18
BSP leader Pritam Kaur, alias Preeto, along with her husband, Chanan Singh, son Chand Singh and relative Surjit Singh, alias Kala, all residents of Deh (Sheron), village have been booked under Section 302, 34, IPC, on a charge of killing Baldev Singh (22), alias Bagga, a resident of the same village.

Police sources said Bagga was killed with sharp-edged weapons allegedly by the accused. Political enmity is said to be the cause of the murder. 


Police foils bid to build gurdwara unauthorisedly
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 18
The timely intervention by the police foiled the bid of the Guru Ravi Dass Gurdwara Management Committee to build unauthorisedly a gurdwara on a plot measuring 9 kanal 11 marla at Badewal village 2 km from here. The plot is common village land and used for storing storm and excess village water.

The management started the construction of the gurdwara on February 6. One room was built and construction of a boundary wall started.

The Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) lodged a report in this regard. A case under Section 447, 506, 432, 148, 149, IPC, was registered with the sadar police station against 13 persons of the management.

Supporters of the management met at Government Primary School at Arya Nagar, near here, today to protest against the police action.

Mr Puran Singh Purewal, DSP, City, also reached the spot. An understanding was arrived at, according to which the management will undertake the construction of the gurdwara only after completing legal formalities. The 24 persons arrested by the police will be released tomorrow and the case registered against them withdrawn.


One killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 18
One person was killed and seven injured when a Maruti car and a Gypsy collided near Gharachon village on Bhawanigarh-Sunam road this afternoon.

After the accident, eight persons were admitted to the Sunam Civil Hospital for treatment while one of them, Raghbir Chand, succumbed to his injuries after some time, sources in the hospital said this evening.

The sources said four persons namely Ms Madhu (22), Reemu (9), Sachin Kumar (23) and Sumal (6 months) had been referred to the Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. The names of other injured persons were Kiran (25), Jatinder Kumar (35) and Kanchan (32).


Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur February18
The police has busted an inter-district gang of thieves and arrested three members of the gang, Harpal Singh, Devinder Singh and Satnam Singh, all residents of Gill Manj village under Kahnuwan police station in the district.


‘Disinvestment in education wrong’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 18
A convention was held here today by the Save Education Committee (SEC) in which scholars delivered their lectures.

It was second in the series of the conventions being held by the SEC in various districts of Punjab. The convention was meant to create awareness among the public about the bad effects of the new education policy being adopted by the government. The convention which was held at the local Teachers’ Home was attended by the teachers and students of the city and its surrounding areas.

Those who spoke on the occasion were Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar, Department of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala, Prof Narinder Sharma, Department of Political Science, Delhi University, Prof Sucha Singh Gill, Punjabi University, and Dr Surjit Singh Dhillon.

Dr Brar said the disinvestment policy of the government in the education sector was totally wrong as rate of return from this sector was maximum. He said the return from it might not be counted in terms of money alone as an educated person would earn more and be useful for the society.

Dr Brar said it was a myth that the developed countries did not spend on education. In advanced countries the share of education was about 7 per cent while it was only 3 per cent in India, he said and added that out of the total number of students who were rolled in different schools and colleges only 7 per cent were able to complete their studies. Dr Brar said the number of students would further reduce with the increase in fees and other expenditures of the universities.

Dr Brar said the role of a teacher had been reduced to instructor only. Privatisation of education could be harmful for the students as well as the society he added.

Prof Narinder Sharma said of the Central Government was “saffronising” the education.

Dr Surjeet Singh Dhillon was also the view that education was being misused by the ruling government to fulfil their “hidden” agenda. He said the aim should not merely be to give degrees to the students but to make them good citizens. He said that the commercialisation of education was not good as it would deprive the poor children from getting educated. He said the educationists should be given a chance of forming the policies. The active participation of teachers and students was necessary while framing such policies and added that the trend of making the colleges self-sufficient was not in favour of the poor students.

Prof Sucha Singh Gill said the developed countries did not entrust the task of education to the private sector and added that imparting good education was the responsibility of the government. He said that the surveys had shown that whenever the percentage of the fees and funds were increased more than 15 per cent in the total earning of an institute the decline in the number of the students had started.

He said the universities should generate their own resources and the burden should not be shifted to the students.


Update Punjabi University statutes: FEAR
From Our Correspondent

Patiala, Feb 18
The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR), at its meeting held here today, urged the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, to update those statutes of the university which have become obsolete and redundant due to the amendment of the Punjabi University Act by Punjab Act Number 27 of 1975, which had made its Senate a deliberating body only.

Before 1975, the Senate was, “the Supreme authority of the university”, as incorporated in Section 11(7). The Syndicate was to act “subject to the control of the Senate”, as provided under Section 12(5).

The forum noted that before 1975, the Senate was empowered to “make statutes”, to “consider ordinances”, “passing the budget” and “reviewing the acts of Syndicate and Academic Council”. However, the amendment of 1975 had done away with all the powers and functions of the Senate. 

Under amended provisions, it has become merely a “deliberating body” to “review broad policies and programmes” of the university and to suggest measures for the improvement and development of the university. The forum added that the Syndicate was made “the principal executive body” of the university and was no more “subject to the control of the Senate.”

The forum was surprised to see that even after 25 years, the statutes were guiding the overall control of the Senate. This had to be either deleted or amended as they had become redundant and obsolete.

The recent contradiction between the Act and the statutes came to the forefront from the Punjabi University’s press release, in which it was stated that the university would contest Dr K.C. Singhal’s reinstatement as Head of the Department. The forum was astonished to note that even the highest functionary of the university was governed by the statute.


Primary kids face bleak future
Shortage of teachers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 18
Ten-year-old Rajni and her parents are in a quandary. Rajni has never done well in studies and hardly knows even the basics of English and mathematics. However, she has managed to reach Class V due to the ‘all pass’ policy of the Punjab government under which every primary student is ensured progression till class V.

However, with the revocation of the earlier policy, Rajni's future is in the dark as she may not get admission in any middle school as there is a bleak chance of her passing the Class V examination due to the new rules under which every child would have to attain 33 per cent marks in each subject for promotion.

Sources said Rajni's is not a single example. There are many others like her who face a bleak future. The tragedy, they said, is not that the children have not been taught properly. It has more to do with the unavailability of teachers to teach them, with more than 800 posts of primary teachers lying vacant in the district.

There are 75 schools which have only one teacher and 791 which have only two teachers. To make matters worse, the teachers have also been given census duties.

It is necessary to ensure the appointment and presence of at least three teachers in every primary school during the months of January, February and March and conduct the examination in the first week of April, said Dr T. R. Sharma, retired Professor of Education from Punjabi University.

Former District Education Officer (DEO) Gian Singh said the Ghaggar belt in Patiala district had always remained backward from the education point of view because teachers were not willing to serve there. He said the posts in rural schools in this belt were never filled, except for a short period when ad hoc teachers were appointed to fill them.

He said that earlier the DEOs were given powers to recruit teachers on an ad hoc basis whenever any regular teacher was on long leave or a post had become vacant.

This concept could be restarted by taking the help of employment exchanges which could furnish a list of qualified candidates who could be appointed after their merit list had been made by the department .

He said temporary teachers could also be appointed for a six-month period till the regular appointments were made, adding that not doing so had resulted in a severe loss to primary students who were likely to be at sea giving the first real examination in their lives.

Even as the government has yet to step in and save the studies of children from suffering further, the Sikh Nishkam Welfare Council has taken up the task of saving the situation to some extent.

The council has adopted one block in the district consisting of 63 schools. The council has on its own expenditure posted one teacher in 19 schools where there is a serious shortage of staff.

The scheme was started three months back keeping in mind that the examinations were approaching and that students needed help if they were to pass them.


5 GND varsity students selected
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
Five MBA students of Guru Nanak Dev University got placements in the Trident Group of Industries at a salary package of Rs 6 lakh per annum before completion of their studies. The interviews for recruitment were conducted at the university campus recently, a press note issued by the university stated here yesterday.

A 10-member team headed by Mr Rajendra Gupta, Managing Director of the Trident Group of Industries, visited the university and preplacement talks and interviews were held for recruitment from batch 2001 of MBA and MBE students.

The selected MBA students include Aman Mehrotra, Punit Sikand, Manbeena Dhillon, Gurpreet Singh and Sameer Shingari.

Three students of this batch had already been selected by the CMC and Dunroll.

Other companies like the TCS, Panacea Biotech, the HFCL, Vardhman, Coca Cola, the HDFC, Capart etc have agreed to interview more MBA students.


Central excise notices irk industrialists
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 18
Resentment prevails among the managements of all seven large and medium scale industrial units of the district against the direction to them by the Central Excise Authorities not to utilise MODVAT/CENVAT amounts and to pay the excise duty through personal ledger account (PLA).

At a recent meeting with representatives of these units in Chandigarh, the Central Excise Authorities, Delhi, had instructed them to pay the excise duty through PLA only and not to utilise any MODVAT/CENVAT amount.

A spokesman for the Hoshiarpur Large and Medium Industries Association told this correspondent here on Friday that the industry was already reeling under depression on account of recession. The instructions of the Central Excise Authorities would further hit the units.

The managements of these units has to deposit excise duty worth crores of rupees through PLA. This step will prove disastrous for the industry which is already passing through a financial crunch.

The managements had no arrangement to deposit crores of rupees as excise duty through PLA.

He pointed out that all the units of this district had provided direct employment to more than 15,000 persons. Under these conditions they would have no option but to either curtail production or face closers.

Meanwhile, the Central Excise Department has decided to under take a study of MODVAT utilisation and its accounting in income tax return by all major assessees. The department has served notices to all industrial units, debarring them not to utilise CENVAT credit on account of both capital goods and inputs till the verification is completed.


PCO owners’ earnings dip
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 18
Mr Mohan Lal a PCO owner at Mansa road, has made up his mind to wind up business as more than 40 per cent of his daily earnings has gone after the decision of the government to localise calls in a radius of 200 km from January 26, 2001.

Mr Rupinder Singh (name changed), a PCO owner in Paras Ram Nagar, does not allow the customer to use 95 digit to talk to any part of Punjab as he cannot get service charge from the customers for local calls in Punjab.

Mr Surjeet Singh (name changed), a PCO owner near Bhagu Road, too does not allow the customer to use 95 digit for dialing out stations of any part of Punjab and if allows gets Rs two to three as service charge from the customers to make up the loss he has to suffer after the decision of the government.

All these PCO owners, who started business some years ago to earn livelihood are not satisfied with the decision of the government which has compelled them either to give up the PCO or get, willingly, the service charge from customers.

Even PCO owners of rural areas have resentment against the government as the commission of these PCO owners has been decreased from 25 to 16 per cent.

These PCO owners are not able to pay shop rents to meet other expenses of the shops. Now they feel that they have become ‘employed’ unemployed who spent the whole day in the shop but what they earn in the evening is the bill of the tea cups.

There are more than 500 PCOs in the district and if half of them give up business, the number of unemployed would increase.

Now they are waiting for the new decision of the government regarding the commission being paid to them. At present PCO owners of rural and urban areas get 16 per cent commission.

Some of the PCO owners of rural areas are not aware that they are being given only 16 per cent commission as they are not informed directly. A PCO owner of Mehraj, on the condition of anonymity, said that he did not know that the commission being given to him had been reduced from 25 to 16 per cent.

Mr Mohan Lal, who has been in the business for the past many years, when contacted said that the number of calls had come down to 50 per cent and this had affected daily earning.

He added that he did not allow the customers to use 95 digit for Punjab calls. He demanded that now the government should increase the commission being given to the PCO owners or they would give up the business.

Another PCO owner near SSD Girls College, said that he did not allow the customer to use 95 digit local call but customer too did not pay the service charge.

He admitted that due to the new decision of the government, PCO owners were applying their own rules to earn the money.

He added that most of the PCO owners were the victim of policies of the government.

No official of the Telecommunication could be contacted for comments.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |