Tuesday, March 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Budget session non-starter so far
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
The Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha that began with the customary Address by the Governor, Lt-Gen J. F. R. Jacob (retd.), on March 1 has remained a non-starter thus far.

The discussion on the Address that was to commence on March 5 has yet to begin. In fact the Address itself was boycotted by the Opposition, chiefly the Congress and the “unattached” Akali MLAs, whose leaders having read out parallel statements on day one led the walkout amidst slogan shouting. Is it an act of disrespect to a Governor?

The House adjourned, as per tradition, after making obituary references to those who had died since the holding of the last session of the Vidhan Sabha. This was on March 2. When the House met on Monday afternoon, March 5, there was an uproar with the Opposition charging that the government was ‘’discriminating’’ against it in terms of development works and the allocation of funds to their constituencies and even the respect due to an Opposition member was missing. When a short adjournment, 10 minutes, did not help, the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, adjourned the House till March 7.

On that day, it was a repeat of March 5. The issue was the same: ‘’discrimination’’ against the Opposition MLAs. There were two adjournments lasting one and a half hours. In between even the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as Leader of the House, made a categorical statement holding out an assurance that he believed in the equitable dispensation of justice in development and was all for showing due respect to all members of the House, irrespective of the political party one belonged to. He went on to invite the Opposition leaders for talks. Even the Speaker intervened to broker peace between the Treasury Benches and the Opposition. But these efforts proved futile. The move of reconciliation aborted. The House was adjourned till March 13.

Mr Badal seemed so helpless with his failed appeals inside the House that he decided to repeat these outside the House. The occasion was Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, where the SAD held a political conference on March 9. He asked the Opposition to let the Budget session be held smoothly and not to disrupt its proceedings over an issue that had been blown out of proportion.

The Opposition has a grouse. Its leaders say they are not allowed to speak inside the House. If allowed, the time given is meagre. More often than not what they say is either disallowed or expunged by the Speaker. It has also charged that the Treasury Benches are often non-serious with regard to what the Opposition had to say. Some Opposition members said that the only time they could raise an issue was during zero hour that followed the question-hour. But that usually ended in noisy scenes with ‘’public interest’’ points raised getting lost in the din or being swept aside by the Speaker’s rulings.

The Treasury Benches, however, maintain that the session has just started and there will be ample opportunity for the Opposition to raise what it wished to during discussion on the Governor’s Address or the Budget that is to be presented on March 19.

As per the first report of the Business Advisory Committee of the Vidhan Sabha that met on March 2, a general discussion on the Governor’s Address ‘was to last from March 5 to March 14, when it would have concluded. In between there being holidays — March 6, 8-11, and a day off on March 12. In the same way the Budget discussion is to commence on March 21 and conclude on March 26 with non-official business day on March 22, and holidays on March 23 and 25.

The question that arises is should public money be allowed to be squandered away by the Opposition by not allowing the proceedings to be conducted? Who loses out? The members, 117-odd, will anyway get their Rs 300 per day allowance plus travelling allowance at the rate of Rs 4 per km for coming to attend the session a day before and for a day after. If there are two holidays in between they are still paid put. Add to this the subsidised rent they pay at the MLA Hostel and the free telephone calls they make, the expenses incurred on running of the air-conditioning plant.


Shift security fencing close to border: panel
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 12
The Border Area Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, has decided to fight through democratic and legal means to remove the grievances of frontier farmers which they have been facing on account of threat from across the border, harassment at the hands of para-military forces and apathy of civil administration.

Mr Hansa Singh, president of the committee, in a press note issued here today, said that committee had been urging the authorities concerned to shift security fencing close to the Indo-Pak border which was 1 to 3 km ahead of actual border in many villages and had rendered large area useless for cultivation.

He added that process of issuing identity cards to go across the fencing should be simplified and women home guards should be deployed for frisking the women for whom the area across the fencing had become out of bound and they had also been finding it difficult to help their kin in the cultivation.

He added the authorities concerned had also been urged to allow the cultivation of land situated across the fencing from dawn to dusk. The harassment of farmers by the BSF personnel, who allegedly force them to their work, should be stopped immediately.

He said the authorities concerned had also been urged to make arrangements to allow them to protect their fields from the wild boars being driven to the Indian side by the Pakistani Rangers.

The committee had demanded special incentives for the farmers who were not allowed to sow huge size crops near the border for security reasons. The compensation of Rs 3000 per acre to the farmers having land across the security fencing should be enhanced to Rs 5000, it demanded.

He added that as most of the frontier farmers were landless tillers, they should also be paid the compensation. At present, the compensation was provided only to the landlords. The benefits of border area should be given to the villages falling within 5 km distance from the zero line against the distance of 16 km from zero line as per present practice.

He said that committee had also urged the authorities concerned to ensure the teachers and doctors should report to their place of working regularly.


Special court recalls order on Bibi’s bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
In a turnaround, the Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Magistrate today recalled his earlier order directing former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Bibi Jagir Kaur to seek regular bail from the trial court.

Special CBI Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer earlier had directed the former SGPC Chief to file a bail bond of Rs 20,000 and had given her time till February 24 to get regular bail from the trial court. Bibi Jagir Kaur while not filing for bail in the trial court had submitted an application in the court of the Special Magistrate urging that the earlier orders be recalled.

The Special Magistrate today while recalling his earlier order also given notice to the CBI for March 29 following an application submitted by Ms Dalwinder Dhesi. Ms Dhesi has asked the court’s permission to go abroad for medical treatment.

Arguing for the recall of the earlier orders, the counsel of Bibi Jagir Kaur, including R S Cheema, Satnam Singh Cler and Manpreet Singh, claimed that the former SGPC Chief had been granted anticipatory bail in the case on November 15 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and that there was no need for her to apply for bail again. The counsel said the bail, granted by the High Court was for an unlimited period.

CBI counsel S K Saxena contested the application. He said only arrest of Bibi Jagir Kaur had been stayed in the case. He said the former SGPC Chief should be taken into judicial custody as she no longer remained on bail . Mr Saxena said despite the liberal attitude shown by the court of the Special Magistrate giving the Bibi time to file for regular bail, the former SGPC Chief had chosen not to do so.

Mr Saxena claimed that the defence lawyers were trying to confuse the court by claiming that the former SGPC Chief was on bail which was not the case. He said it was clear that the leader had not taken bail from either the Sessions Court or the Punjab and Haryana High Court despite being given ample time. He said under such circumstance the court should take the Bibi into judicial custody.

Bibi Jagir Kaur had filed an application in the court of the Special Magistrate on February 23 urging for the recall of the earlier order. The Duty Magistrate, who heard the case next day in the absence of the Special Magistrate, had referred the matter back to the Special Court and fixed the hearing for today.


Talwandi joins issue with Bibi
Tribune News Service

Amritisar, March 12
Reacting sharply to the statement by Bibi Jagir Kaur criticising the SGPC decision to send jathas to Pakistan from April 13 for visiting Sikh shrines there, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, today said the decision had been taken unanimously by the SGPC executive in due respect for the sentiments of the ‘sangat’.

Mr Talwandi said though Bibi Jagir Kaur had stopped jathas to Pakistan in protest against the formation of the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PGPC), yet she had failed to take up the case with the Government of Pakistan for disbanding the same.

Mr Talwandi alleged that the statement of the Bibi was “misleading” and “politically motivated”. He said except for press statements, she had failed to take any concrete steps for getting the PGPC disbanded during her stint as SGPC chief.

He said the decision to send jathas was the “collective” decision of the SGPC executive. It was taken at a “personal level”. Mr Talwandi alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur would announce the opening of new SGPC-run academic institutes almost ‘everyday’ during her tenure.


Confiscated firearms for wildlife guards
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Wildlife guards and other staff members posted in the notified protected sanctuaries will get firearms to counter the menace of poaching in Punjab. There are nearly a dozen such sanctuaries in the state.

Informed official sources said weapons confiscated by the state police under judicial orders would be provided to the Wildlife Department at a fixed price for allocation to the guards, etc. Such weapons had already been identified, priced and listed for allocation.

The step has been taken at the instance of the Union Government, which has been directed by the Supreme Court to take adequate steps to provide firearms to guards and other staff members concerned to counter poachers.

The Union Government has also reportedly provided money to the state government authorities for buying firearms. The money is due to be released by the state Finance Department. The Wildlife Department has taken up the issue with the Finance Department for getting the money released before March 31, it is learnt.

The sources said the recent incident in the Harike sanctuary had led to the urgency for providing weapons to guards.

On the night of March 6 some poachers fired at a wildlife guard, Mr Ajit Singh, and two labourers accompanying him on patrol duty in the sanctuary. Mr Ajit Singh sustained bullet injuries in the arm while a labourer, Gurcharan Singh, was injured in the thigh. Both of them are in hospital.

Though the police has registered a case at Makhu, no arrest has been made so far. The officials concerned of the department suspect the involvement of fish poachers in the incident. Fishing in the Harike sanctuary was stopped last year. Earlier, a fishing contract was given every year.

Following this incident, the department has written to the Punjab police chief for setting up an exclusive post to deal with criminal activity in the sanctuary. The sanctuary area is spread over three revenue districts — Ferozepore, Amritsar and Kapurthala. This often leads to passing the buck from one police station to another. The Wildlife Department authorities want that the jurisdiction of the specially created police post should extend over the entire notified Harike sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department has been reorganised. It has been put under the command of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab. The Chief Wildlife Warden, which was an independent post till a few months ago, will report to the PCCF. Besides, two Divisional Forest Officers (Wildlife) have been posted at Patiala and the Harike sanctuary. In other areas Divisional Forest Officers of the Forest Department have been entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act in their respective areas. In the case of any incident of poaching or threat to wildlife, they will be held responsible. The decision to reorganise the department has been taken at the level of Minister.

Informed sources said guards and other staff members like Wildlife Inspectors working under the Chief Wildlife Warden would be put under the command of the Divisional Forest Officers as part of the reorganisation. There are 62 guards and 12 inspectors. The Divisional Forest Officers would report to the Chief Wildlife Warden in the case of incidents of poaching and cases registered in this regard.


Ultra’s wife arrested for murder
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
The district police has achieved a major breakthrough after arresting Sarabjit Kaur, alias Sarbi, wife of a terrorist Roop Singh of Bhairupa village for her involvement in the alleged murder of three persons of the Barnala area and sending a number of youths abroad through illegal means.

Sarabjit Kaur along with Manjinderpal Singh of Ghamndsingh-wala village in Sangrur district and her mother Gian Kaur tried to commit dacoity three times. Sarabjit Kaur after developing contacts with the terrorists also got the three persons killed who were involved in the murder of her father Mukhtiar Singh. She was having links with Dharamjit Singh Dhilwan and Hari Singh Babbar.

Police sources said the three persons involved in the murder of her father were also having links with terrorists. Sarabjit Kaur was in her teens when her father was killed.

After taking the revenge of her father’s murder, Sarabjit Kaur started sending the youths abroad and continued her contacts with those having links with the terrorist.

Sarabjit Kaur, who was operating with her associates used to sexually exploit the girls who expressed their willingness to go abroad.

Sarabjit Kaur had herself visited Thailand. Malaysiya and other countries. The gang led by her had also cheated people to the tune of the lakhs of rupees on the pertext of sending them abroad. So far she had managed to send dozens of youths abroad after charging huge amount of money from them.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Manjinderpal Singh and Gian Kaur were active members of Sarabjit Kaur’s gang. He added that Manjinderpal Singh had opened bank accounts in different banks. Various bank passbooks had been recovered from them.

The gang had established contacts in Delhi, Garhshankar, Jagraon and Karnal. They used to take the help of travel agents in their mission. The members of the gang used to commit dacoity at Sangrur, Moga and Barnala. They also purchased chloroform to loot a goldsmith of Samrala. The gang members had surveyed the area before looting the office of the PSEB at Patto.

They had also been developing contacts with the foreign-based terrorists. The fire arms had also been recovered from them.

Dr Jain said they had taken lakhs of rupees from nine persons of various villages belonging to this and other districts for sending them abroad.

He added that two persons namely Gurpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh who were sent to Korea had been deported from there. A case under Sections 420, 457, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC had been registered and another case under Section 25 of the Arms Act had also been registered at same police station. 


No hike in fee, says minister
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 12
Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, said today that recommendations of a committee headed by Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, to hike college and university admission and examination fees had been turned down by the government.

The government had decided to create a special fund out of the provident fund of teachers of aided colleges to grant pension to teachers of these colleges on the pattern of pension being given to teachers of aided schools.

The minister said about two months ago a meeting of representatives of teachers of aided colleges and managements was held at Chandigarh under his chairmanship. It was decided that all 172 added private colleges should deposit provident fund of teachers in a month’s time. He ruled out the possibility of regularising the services of ad hoc lecturers in government colleges.

To a question as to when the ITI building at Nanowal was being taken over by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for starting vocational courses others than available at the Regional Centre of the university at Gurdaspur, he said it would be done after completion of formalities.


Minister’s remarks ‘false’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 12
The Association of Principals of non Government Colleges affiliated to Panjab University today dismissed as “false and incorrect” the recent statement by Master Mohan Lal, Minister, Higher Education, that the decision on pension and gratuity for private college staff had not been implemented as managements and principals were not depositing the employers’, share in the provident fund. “Either the Education Department is deliberately misleading the minister to cloak its inefficiency, or the minister is not in touch with his own department”, alleged an association spokesman. “No, notification on the cut of date for pension and gratuity had been received by colleges for depositing the PF amount”, he said.


Tohra hopeful of Akali unity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 12
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, has claimed that unity among all Akali factions would be forged before the Assembly elections in the state.

Talking to the press, here on Saturday, Mr Tohra said unity with the ruling Akali Dal was not possible as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was not ready to appear before the Akal Takht.

He alleged that though Mr Badal was responsible for the denigration of the institution of Akal Takht, unceremonious removal of Jathedars and violation of ‘hukamnama’ (edict) yet he refused to accept the pre-condition of the SHSAD and other rival Akali factions for appearing before the Akal Takht.

Mr Tohra said that fact was that the then Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh had issued ‘hukamnama’ on December 31, 1998 for maintaining unity till the celebration of tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth which he “violated”.

“Though I had apologised for making a genuine suggestion for appointing an acting president of the ruling party which divided the party yet Mr Badal did not bother. He said the ruling party not only removed him (Mr Tohra) as SGPC chief but removed Bhai Ranjit Singh the then Jathedar of Akal Takht for issuing ‘hukamnama’ for maintaining panthic unity.

On the rise of drug addiction which has assumed an alarming situation during the ‘Badal government’ Mr Tohra asked the Jathedar Akal Takht to take stringent action against those who were responsible for the same. He also urged him to probe as to how the persons who were drug addicted succeeded in getting tickets of the SGPC.

Mr Tohra said that for the SHSAD, the ruling SAD was “enemy number one” while the Congress and the BJP were number two and three enemies.

In a significant statement, Mr Tohra said that his party had served a show-cause notice to Mr Darshan Singh Isapur, a member of the working committee who had openly supported the Congress candidate during the Majitha byelection.

Replying to a question, Mr Tohra said that only ruling party could clarify its position as to why the inquiry committee against Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, could not be submitted so far.


Christians’ front stakes claim to RS seat
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 12
The Punjab Christians Front today staked its claim to the Rajya Sabha seat vacated after the election of Mr Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha to the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Anwar Masih, general secretary of the front and member of the Punjab Jail Board Reforms Committee, said on the basis of 16 lakh Christians in the state, at least five Assembly seats should be allocated to the community.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Masih said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and President SAD, would accept the genuine demands of the Christians.

Mr Masih thanked the Chief Minister for his appointment as member of the reforms committee. He said Mr Badal had agreed to construct a ‘Masih bhavan’ at a cost of Rs 25 lakh at Ferozepore. A sum of Rs 10 lakh had already been released by the state government for the construction of Masih bhavan at Amritsar.

Mr Masih said the Chief Minister had also released a sum of Rs 10 lakh for stationery items for schoolchildren belonging to the community.


CPI: Rail Budget ignored Punjab
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 12
Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, district secretary, CPI, said in a press note here today that the Union Government had ignored the state and given a “step-motherly” treatment to the northern region of the country.

He said not a single development scheme had been declared for Punjab by the Railway Ministry. The state had several demands, pending with the Centre. The proposals for double tracking of the Bathinda-Rajpura route and the Bathinda-Jakhal route and a train between Abohar and Fazilka had been on paper for the past many years, with no results.

Mr Joga alleged the claim of Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and the Chief Minister that a flyover would be built at the manned railway crossing at the local Paras Ram Nagar was “incorrect”.

“When no provision has been made in the Union Railway Budget for the same, how can a flyover come up without any money” he argued.

Mr Joga alleged social security schemes were being phased out and many had not been granted a single paisa for the past many months.

The education system in the state had been so designed so that students of ordinary families could not get admission in educational institutes, either state-run or private. The manifold increase in the tuition fee, capitation fee and examination fee had resulted in making education a “facility” rather than a necessity.

Giving the example of the local Government Engineering College, he said the annual fee of the college had been increased to Rs 66,000 from Rs 1500.

Mr Joga said to make the public aware of the ‘misrule’ of the ruling alliance, the CPI would organise a state-level rally on March 31, which would be addressed by prominent Communist leaders of the state and the region. 


Centre blamed for J&K Sikhs’ plight
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 12
Mr Sant Singh Teg, president of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Akali Dal and patron of the Refugee Action Committee, has urged Akali leaders, the SGPC, Sikh intellectuals and human rights organisations to raise their voice to protect the interests of Kashmiri Sikhs.

Talking to newspersons here today, he alleged that neither the Jammu and Kashmir government nor the Centre had done anything concrete to restore the faith of Kashmiri Sikhs and check discrimination against them. He said about 20,000 Sikhs had migrated from the valley after the massacres at Chhatisinghpora, Sher Bibi Banihal and Mahjoor Nagar and taken refuge in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur districts.

He alleged that the Sikh refugees were not being given the facilities provided to other communities who had migrated from the valley over the years.

He also alleged that despite the assurances of the state government and the Centre, no inquiry commission had been constituted yet to probe into the massacres. He demanded that the government should assign the job to the Justice Sharma Commission, which had been constituted in the state to probe into massacres of other communities in the valley.

Mr Teg said he had met Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann at Anandpur Sahib during the Hola Mohalla celebrations and urged them to rise above party politics and make efforts to safeguard the interests of Kashmiri Sikhs.


Suspended accountant cries foul
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Onkar Singh, chief accountant of the Dharam Prachar Committee under the SGPC, who was suspended from the post for alleged misappropriation of funds, has cried foul.

He on his part has alleged serious lapses in the funds allotted to contractors. In a letter dated March 1, the accountant claimed that he had not misappropriated funds, as stated in the notice served on him.

He has been accused of having changed budget figures for 2001-2002. However, he claims that each change was duly approved in the general house of the committee (point number 214, dated March 30, 2000). A sum of Rs 50,000 was given to each member under the discretionary quota. The amount thus totalled to Rs 90 lakh and a provision according to the number of members was made in the budget, he claimed and added that it cannot be wronged as it was duly passed by the House.


Tohra loyalist becomes Samana MC chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 12
Draw of lots decided the fate of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal supported candidate for the Samana Municipal Committee elections Mr Tarsem Singla who won presidentship of the Committee when his slip was pulled out by the Returning Officer.

Mr Tarsem Singla, a councillor owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party, but otherwise known for his proximity with local legislator Jagtar Singh Rajla a loyalist of AISAD Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, emerged victorious when the Sub Divisional Magistrate Manpreet Singh Chhatwal pulled out his chit.

The SDM relied on this solution after both Mr Tarsem Singla and Mr Balwinder Singh, who is aligned with the ruling Akali Dal (Badal), drew an equal number of nine votes each. Following the victory, Mr Singla took out a procession in Samana town astride an open jeep accompanied with Mr Rajla. The victory procession was taken out through the main bazar.

The election to the Municipal Council had become contentious after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the same following a writ petetion filed by a Municipal Councillor.

The councillor Sewa Singh had alleged that all development work had come to a standstill after Mr Singla had been removed from Presidentship in May 2000 and that fresh elections were not being held to the post. Mr Tarsem Singla had earlier been removed from the Presidentship of the Committee on a corruption charge.

The Sub Divisional Magistrate had postponed the elections on March 5 claiming there was danger of breach of peace. The orders had been passed by the SDM following an alleged scuffle on that day.

However the decision had come in for flak from Tohra loyalists who had claimed that the SDM had played into the hands of the ruling party as the opposing candidate Balwinder Singh did not command sufficient votes.

Sources disclosed that councillors of all the major parties — the Congress, the Akali Dal (Badal) and the Tohra faction were divided among themselves.

They said Mr Singla had derived his support from the Tohra loyalists , BJP members and the Congress and that BJP and Congress members had also voted for the lone candidate owning allegiance to the Badal Dal.

While Mr Singla had been elected President, Congress aligned councillor Pawan Shastri has been elected as Vice-President of the Committee.


Cong MLA accuses admn of discrimination
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, senior Congress leader and MLA, Talwandi Sabo, has alleged the district administration has been discriminating against him in carrying out development works in the Assembly segment being represented by him.

In four separate letters written to Punjab Education Minister Tota Singh, Chief Secretary N.K. Arora, Deputy Commissioner Jaspal Singh and Chairman, Punjab Mandikaran Board, Mr Jassi had brought various discriminations and irregularities in the implementation of development scheme to the notice of the Punjab Government by the authorities concerned.

Mr Jassi has threatened to file a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against Mr Jaspal Singh for denying that new link roads in his Assembly segment and laying down the new roads in selective village.

He alleged that district administration had also changed the name of Integrated Waste Land Development Project and Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission to Chief Minister’s Integrated Waste Development Project and Chief Minister’s Drinking Water Mission.

He alleged that in various villages, chairman of the committees constituted for executing the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission Project, were the same persons who had been given the contract for execution of same works.

He alleged that funds given by the Central Government under Integrated Waste Land Project for levelling the sand dunes in Talwandi Sabo Assembly segment had been diverted to other areas despite the fact that all villages where the project was to be implemented, were not covered by the authorities concerned.

He further alleged that Deputy Commissioner Jaspal Singh had been changing the decision taken in the meeting of district planning board on his own. He added that decision taken in the meeting of district planning board could be changed only in the same forum. He said the Deputy Commissioner would be responsible for the implementation of those decisions which he had changed.

Mr Jaspal Singh, when contacted, said that all allegations being levelled by Mr Jassi were baseless. He said that name of Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission Project was not changed. He added that village-level committee for implementation of this project were constituted as per its norms.

He said funds of market committee for laying down the new link roads were being spent under the jurisdiction of that particular market committee.


Basic amenities prove elusive
Parmod Bharti

Despite the fact that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had during the Nawanshahr byelection named the newly developed colony behind Gurdwara Baba Sri Chand (Tahli Sahib, Garshankar road) here as Baba Sri Chand Nagar and assured its all-round development, the residents are still crying for basic amenities.

Residents of the colony allege that the Municipal Council has not only not provided drains and other amenities but has also left the work of earth-filling of streets half-done. During heavy rain, water accumulates in the streets, causing inconvenience to the residents.

Residents of Guru Angad Dev Nagar, Guru Nanak Nagar, Bhatti Colony and Ranjitgarh Nagar, developed on the Chandigarh road here about 15 to 20 years ago, had during the byelection brought to the notice of the Chief Minister that as their colonies were under Town Planning Scheme No. 5, the council was unable to undertake development work there. They urged him to drop these areas from the scheme and bring these within the jurisdiction of the civic body so that basic amenities could be provided to them.

The Nawanshahr byelection had proved a boon to the residents of these colonies as the Chief Minister fulfilled his promise by issuing a notification regarding dropping of these colonies from scheme no. 5 and authorising the council to spend money on their development. Construction work on streets and drains started in Guru Angad Dev Nagar last year.

Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, MLA, and Mr Chamkaur Singh Kauri, president, Municipal Council, said the Chief Minister was keen on fulfilling all his promises and a pilot project for the extension and augmentation of the sewerage and the water supply system costing Rs 775.48 lakh had been prepared. HUDCO would provide Rs 664.16 lakh as loan and the council would have to spend Rs 155.08 lakh as its share on this project. They said the council had passed resolutions in this connection and had completed the necessary formalities. The construction of streets and drains in the outer colonies had been postponed as the council first wanted to lay sewer and water pipes.


Jawan cremated with full honours
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 12
The body of Subedar Jagir Singh of 20th Sikh Regiment, who lost his life on March 9 while fighting intruders from across the border in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, was consigned to flames at his native village Mari Tanda in the district with full military honour yesterday. Gurvinder Singh, 14-year old son of the martyr, lit the pyre.

A large number of people from Mari Tanda and its surrounding villages attended the cremation. Capt Balbir Singh Bath, MLA, on behalf of the Chief Minister, Mr Pradip Sabharwal, SDM, Batala, on behalf of the district administration, Col J.S. Mangat on behalf of the Chief of the Army staff and Col G.S. Mukherjee on behalf of 11 Core presented floral tributes to the martyr.

Subedar Joginder Singh gave Rs 20,000 to the wife of the martyr on behalf of 20th Sikh Regiment. Capt Bath said Rs 5 lakh or a plot, 2 lakh as ex-gratia grant and employment to a dependent of the martyr would be given by the Punjab Government, in due course of time.

The deceased is survived by his wife Nirmal Kaur, a son and two daughters.


Conference on ‘natural hazards’ begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
Nearly 60 per cent of the Himalayas at present has eoughelastic energy stored to drive five to eight great earthquakes (or M8). These observations made by Dr Roger Bilham, an international expert on Himalayan earthquakes besides being a professor, Department of Geological Sciences University of Colorado, Boulderusa, Dr Bilham stated that “past two decades have seen infrequent earthquakes although an increased awareness of the potential for great earthquakes which could cause untold damage if and when they occur. Dr Bilham was delivering his key-note address on future great Himalayan earthquakes at the international conference on “Natural Hazards: Mitigation and Management (NHMM)” which opened here today at the Guru Nanak Dev University.

Prof Bilham said that no great event had occured for 51 years, and the previous longest known interval between great Himalayan events has 70 years (1833-1905) both M 7.8). He said our current state of ignorance is that although one or more great earthquakes could occur immediately with magnitudes equal to the Bihar/Nepal 1934 event. The first of these events may not occur for decades or centuries, but with a correspondingly large magnitude.

This conference is being organised by Earthquake Research Centre (Physics Department) of the Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with Natural Disaster Management (NDM) Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt of India and supported by the Geological Survey of India and Department of Space, Bangalore.

Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, Dr K.K. Bhandari, Director, CSIR, New Delhi and Prof George Marx also expressed views on this occasion.


Community centre to be built in urban estate
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 12
A Community Centre would be constructed in the urban estate which would house lawn tennis and badminton courts and a hall that could be used for organising functions.

This was stated by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, while presiding over a meeting of various organisations. The meeting was attended by the officials of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), including Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, and Mr Ajmer Singh, Estate Officer, PUDA.

Mr Garg said about Rs 12 crore would be spent on various projects for the development of various phases of the estate. He said the Citizen’s organisation should work to keep their localities clean. He added that without the cooperation of the residents, the administration could not do anything.

He said the union leaders should start an awareness campaign in their colonies to educate the people so that they should not throw their household wastes in the open.

Mr Garg said the repair work on the roads of the Phase-I would start soon and added that anti-encroachment drive would also be launched in various phases of the estate. He said five solar lights would be installed in the estate by the Punjab Energy Development Agency soon. The PUDA would construct parks at different locations at a cost of Rs 5 lakh each.

Mr Vivek Aggarwal said the work on various development projects had been started in the city. He said to provide adequate drinking water to the residents a new scheme had been made at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore, work on which would start soon. He further said Rs 1.5 crore would be spent on the development of the sewerage system of the city.

He said Rs 3.5 crore would be spent on the construction of Barnala-Mansa bypass.


Tricycles distributed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, distributed tricycles to physically challenged at function organised by the Red Cross Society on behalf of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department at Red Cross Bhavan here today.

Moreover, letters will be written to all Sarpanches for the recognition of the physically challenged people. Mr Bir added that such people can register their names with the Red Cross office for any help required by them at any moment.

About 70 tricycles, clippers, artificial body parts and hearing machines were distributed. Mr Bir added that under the Gramin Punarvas Yojna, those earning less than Rs 5,000 will be given the artificial body parts free of cost.

Mr Bir said that a special training will be organised the mentally retarded children and free polio check-up will be carried out in the hospitals.


DC’s appeal to check noise pollution
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
Casess have been registered against 150 persons found to be violating the Noise Control Act for the past two months in the city, and an approximate amount of Rs 1 lakh has been collected as fine.

This was stated by Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, while appealing to all religious and social organisations to take proper steps to control noise pollution Mr Bir added that loud speakers affect the studies, of a number of students especially during the examination days.


Dharna by PSEB staff 
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 12
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today staged a dharna at the old power house near the main bus stand here in protest against the demolition of buildings in the old power house complex allegedly by Ms Pushpinder Kaur and other (decree holders) on February 24 and 25 last despite a status quo order by a local court. The dharna was addressed among others by some leaders, Mr Karam Chand Bhardwaj, Mr Phaljeet Singh, Mr Manjit Singh, Mr Avinash Sharma and Mr Anil Sharma.


2 found dead
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 12
Two unnatural deaths have been reported in and around this town, Piara Singh, 85, was killed last night. He was a former president of the local Akali Jatha. In another incident, the body of Jeeta, 45, was found from his house at nearby Rampur Sunra village today. The foul smell emitting from the house suggested that Jeeta might have died a few days ago. 


Farmers’ stir from March 15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 12
Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said today that five farmers’ organisations supported by Left parties would start an indefinite dharna here on March 15 in protest against the “anti-farmer” policies of the state government. He said the BKU (Ekta), the Punjab Kisan Union, the Kirti Kisan Union and two farmers’ organisations owing allegiance to the CPI and the CPM would also hold a rally at the parade ground and a protest march on March 15 to launch their stir. 


PUDA fetches 1.38 cr in auction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 12
The Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has fetched Rs 1.38 crore from the sale of 19 sites. Fourteen commercial and five residential areas came under the hammer today with the maximum rate fetched for residential at Rs 8,600 per square yard and Rs 20,500 for commercial, respectively.

The site handed over to the PUDA under the optimum utilisation (OUVGL) scheme at the Majitha road adjoining Ram Lal ENT Hospital is aimed to forward the proceeds of the auction for completion of wards of Guru Nanak hospital.

The auction was conducted by a committee headed by H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Jalandhar. The other members of the committee included R.K. Arora, ACA, (technical), Mr Rajiv Moudgil, SE (Headquarter), Mr T.S. Bhatti, EO, PUDA, Ms Gurpreet Sapra, SDM, Amritsar.

Mr H.S. Nanda said the department was launching a new scheme of 500 residential plots on allotment basis along the UBDC canal (G.T. Road) adjoining the New Amritsar Scheme of the Amritsar Improvement Trust. This scheme is likely to be launched in the first week of April and the residential plots would be allotted at the rate between Rs 1,950 to Rs 3,000.


Delay in administrative block’s construction
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 12
Uncertainty prevails about the initiation of construction of the district administrative block here. Possession of major part of land of a poultry farm by PUDA for this purpose was taken more than three months ago. The office of the Deputy Director had also been shifted to his official residence in the premises and two sign boards of PUDA earmarking the site of district administrative block had also been fixed on both the corners of the site.

The insiders, however, said that agreement arrived at between PUDA and the Department of Animal Husbandary had not been implemented so far causing delay in construction. According to the agreement the Department of Animal Husbandary would get Rs 50 lakh in cash and 4 acre of land for construction of buildings for offices of the department and shifting of a pig farm.

The insiders said that land to be transfered to the department was part of land associated with a TB hospital at Jeewanwal near here. The mutation of this land was in the name of the Health Department and involved cumbersome formalities.

The insiders said that the Department of Animal Husbandary was in no hurry to shift till it developed infrastructure of its own which was likely to take some time. The district administration was keen to get the foundation stone of the block laid by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal when he was here on January 26 in connection with the Republic Day celebrations.

The insiders said that district administrative blocks were to come up simultaneously at Patiala, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur. Tender for construction had been floated by PUDA in this regard for all blocks except Gurdaspur.

Mr B. Vikram, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said that all formalities were likely to be completed in March for the construction to begin at the earliest.


Civil aviation may go private
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 12
Punjab is thinking of privatising its Civil Aviation Department keeping in view its ineffective functioning. A proposal for the same has been prepared.

This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Minister for Public Health and Civil Aviation, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons at the PWD rest house here today.

He said a committee comprising 14 members had been constituted to finalise the matter. Referring to the Flying Clubs at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Jalandhar, Raja Narinder Singh said their condition was not up to the mark. He said all institutions running in heavy losses should be privatised.

Referring to Public Health Department activities, Raja Narinder Singh said 172 deep tubewells at a cost of Rs 5 crore had recently been installed in kandi area of Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ropar districts. These had been handed over to respective panchayats for maintenance. It had been decided to restrict water supply from the existing tubewells to only one village of the area. The water level had already gone down due to which the water supply had been affected. It was not possible to supply water to five or six villages through one supply point.

The department did not have the requisite funds for the maintenance of old tubewells. It had been decided to have at least one electric motor at the sub-divisonal level for replacement in case of damage to the existing one so that the people did not suffer.

To a question, Raja Narinder Singh said the Assembly poll would be held on due date. There was no need for early elections. He said the Congress had no issue to attract voters.


Encourage employees to use Punjabi: DC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 12
The increments of government employees would be stopped if the employees do not start using Punjabi for official work. According to sources, strict action would also be taken against those IAS officers who do not do official work in Punjabi.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, during an informal talk with reporters, while launching a campaign organised by the State Language Department, said that during the procedure for police verification and other work, the task was carried normally in English. However, Mr Bir urged police authorities to do all the verification work in Punjabi in future.

Dr Madan Lal Hasija, director of the department, said that the purpose of the campaign was to bring awareness among government employees use Punjabi. The campaign to encourage employees to use Punjabi was being put into effect after a gap of 10 years.

The Deputy Commissioner also urged the authorities concerned with various developmental departments of the district to communicate with the panchayats of various villages in Punjabi.

Mr Bir stressed that the statement given by the witnesses must be recorded in one’s mother tongue so as to facilitate working in courts. He added that English could be used at the international level, but at the state level, the endeavour should be to use Punjabi only and avoid references from English.

Dr Hasija added that a special Punjabi dictionary has also been provided to facilitate work in various departments and the authorities could easily make use of it for routine procedures.


Arms supplier took 8 men to Pak: police
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
Bakhshish Singh, alias Shisha, a supplier of firearms and narcotics to terrorists who was arrested by the district police yesterday, used to take along anti-national persons from India to Pakistan for training in disruptive activities.

Police sources said Shisha, who had been frequenting Pakistan at will, has so far taken at least eight persons to that country for training in terrorism-related activities.

During investigation, it came to light that he was the main person who took Jarnail Singh of Roadanwali village in Muktsar district to Pakistan to receive training as a human bomb.

After getting training in various disruptive activities, Jarnail Singh returned to India with the help of Shisha. However, he was arrested by the Bathinda police before he could perform his job.

Jarnail was to carry out the killing of Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other key political figures. He was arrested by a special team led by the DSP, Mr Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, from Jaipur.

Police sources said Shisha used the Punjab border to enter Pakistan and was involved in the smuggling of narcotics and weapons.


‘Unsafe’ building made exam centre
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, March 12
In a classic case of official neglect and apathy, over a thousand students from various private and government schools were made to take their exams in Govenment Senior Secondary School in Paras Ram Nagar locality, here today despite the fact that the building has been declared ‘unsafe’.

The school, which was renamed after Shaheed Sipahi Sandeep Singh, who laid down his life in the Kargil war, is in dilapidated condition. It has developed thick cracks and had been declared ‘unsafe’ by the authorities, a senior teacher of the school said.

The school was declared an examination centre by the higher authorities and students of this school and those of some private schools also appealed for their annual exams in the school, she confirmed. An estimated 1500 students took their exams in this building, sources added.

A science teacher of the school said that the number of students in the school was so large that its management proposed to run the school in two different shifts, to cope with the space and furniture shortage.

The teaching staff of the school pointed out that the poor condition of the school was known to the higher authorities as various written and verbal complaints have been made to them. Despite several representations to the PWD officials the only response of the authorities was that they had no funds, the teachers lamented.

The shortage of furniture was so acute that even jute carpets could not be arranged for the students and they had to sit on the bare floor to take their exams.

While girl students were seated in the rooms, boys were made to sit on the floor in the school varandah. Although no case of the unfair means or cheating was reported from the school today, a supervisor said that the possibility of cheating could not be ruled out.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, educationist, demanded that the budgetary allocation for education should be increased to at least 10 per cent.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, said that though Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, was the chairman of the District Planning Board, the district had seen no development in the education field.

No senior official of the Education Department or of the PWD was available for comments.


College teachers boycott exam duties
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 12
Following a controversy over the “breach” of protocol, college teachers boycotted plus two examination duties throughout the state today.

According to sources, the controversy erupted when the authorities concerned asked college lecturers to perform only supervisory and invigilation duties under the overall control of schoolteachers, who had been made superintendent and deputy superintendent of examination centres set up in the colleges.

The college teachers, who are Class-I officers, decided to boycott examination duties in protest against the decision of the authorities concerned to make them work under the schoolteachers, who are Class-II officers.

The college teachers, who sought the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal into the matter, said the breach of official protocol was condemnable.

The Punjab Government College Teachers’ Association (PGCTA), which had decided to boycott examination duties, pointed out that even the District Education Officer (DEO) was junior to a college teacher.

Mr Jaipal Singh, president, PGCTA, while talking to TNS said the decision to make schoolteachers superintendent and deputy superintendent had caused resentment among college teachers and it should not have been taken by any wing of the state government.

He said by boycotting the examination duties, the college lecturers had rejected the move of the Punjab Government or other authorities to doubt the integrity of college teachers.

According to information gathered, in certain colleges where centres for plus two examinations were set up, the non-teaching staff also boycotted the duties.

Mr Jaipal Singh said the Punjab Government should take necessary steps to ensure that such a controversy did not erupt again.


Exam delayed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 12
Due to shortage of question papers for general English for class XII at examination centre No III at the local Government Senior Secondary School the examination could be started late by half-an-hour.

Mr Satish Kumar Jhamb, controller of the centre, said due to the negligence on the part of the Punjab School Education Board 60 question papers were dispatched less to the centre. While the number of examinees were 200 only 140 question papers were received.

The centre authorities had to bring question papers from the nearby examination centres, which took it about half-an-hour. The question papers were brought from the local Government Girls Senior Secondary School, S.D. Senior Secondary School and Maharaja Ranjit Singh Public School.

Mr Jhamb further said the board had also sent less question papers for some other subjects.


NFL staff to hold rallies today
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 12
In anticipation of the government’s move to privatise the National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), its worker’s unions have decided to start an agitation to oppose it.

The government has decided to disinvest its 51 per cent equity in the NFL. The global tender for selling the equity was given last year.

Sources told that besides a few multinationals, major fertiliser producers in the country are also trying to take over the NFL because this would automatically make them the market leader here. The NFL unions were apprehensive that after the sale of Balco, the government would now privatise the NFL.

Mr G.L. Khera, president of the Nangal unit of the NFL, told this correspondent that the coordination committee of the recognised unions of the company had earlier decided to hold a strike against the privatisation move on February 26. It was deferred on the request of the management. However, no sincere efforts were made by the management to stop the disinvestment process. The unions had, therefore, decided to resume their agitational programme, he said.

The NFL unions would hold gate rallies in all units tomorrow. Later, the workers would wear black badges and sit on dharnas in their respective units from March 19 to 20. A dharna would jointly be conducted by all unions in front of the corporate office on March 23.

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