Saturday, March 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S





Govt to ensure quality of wheat procured
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 30
The Punjab Government will keep a check on the quality of wheat procured this year. Earlier, wheat from Punjab gained a bad name in other states due to corruption at various levels of procurement. To check this practice, the Punjab Government has made special arrangements this year. Mechanical cleaners will he used in all mandis across the state.

The arhtiyas and the procurement agencies have been directed to put their stamp on the bags of wheat procured by them so that responsibility can be fixed if the quality of wheat is compromised, this was stated here today by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. He was here to review arrangements for the procurement of wheat which is scheduled to start from April 1.

Mr Mittal said he was touring all districts to make sure that the farmers did not face any problem during the purchase of wheat. Funds for making prompt payments to the farmers had also been made available. It was estimated that a total of about Rs 10,000 crore would be in circulation in the state during the coming season, he said.

About the quota allocated to various agencies, Mr Mittal said the FCI would procure 33 per cent of the total produce, the Food and Civil Supplies Department Punjab 10 per cent, Markfed 20 per cent, Punsup 18 per cent, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation 18 per cent and the Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation 9 percent.

He said arrangements for the storage of additional 60 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had been made in the state. Mr Mittal however, expressed dissatisfaction at the movement of foodgrains from the covered godowns in the state.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had already taken up the matter with the Union Government and a meeting was likely to be held on the matter in the near future, he said.

When asked about the compensation to be distributed among the farmers for the distress sale of paddy, Mr Mittal said a budgetary provision of Rs 50 crore had been made for paying the compensation and it would be distributed soon, through the revenue department to the farmers.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, who briefed Mr Mittal about the procurement arrangements in the district said that 46 purchase centres would start functioning from April 1.


Cops torture two brothers
SSP writes to DC for probe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 30
Surjeet Singh suffered a fracture while his brother Harnek Singh had bruises after they were allegedly beaten up by the police in the Nathuwala police chowki for two days continuously.

Surjeet Singh (50) and Harnek Singh (60) were admitted to the Civil Hospital here on the orders of the Judicial Magistrate when they presented themselves before the court to get themselves medically examined.

Hospital sources said Surjeet Singh had suffered a fracture on the upper portion of his left arm and was still undergoing treatment, while Harnek Singh, who had suffered bruises, had been discharged yesterday.

Mr Sharad Chauhan, SSP, Moga, when contacted, said he had written to the District Magistrate today to make arrangements for a magisterial probe into the incident as the allegations levelled against the policemen were serious. He said he had urged the District Magistrate to take suo motu action regarding the news item appearing in a daily in this connection.

Mr Joginder Singh, Station House Officer, Bagapurana, under which the Nathuwala police post falls, said both Surjeet Singh and Harnek Singh were smugglers and had been indulging in the sale of poppy husk in their native village, Mahla Kalan.

He said they were picked by policemen a few days ago for questioning as they were suspected to be in possession of poppy husk. They had confessed to the crime and promised they would hand over the contraband to the police.

On the intervention of the sarpanch of the village, Mr Tirath Singh Sandhu, the policemen let them free and asked them to hand over the poppy husk. But the accused allegedly approached the political opponents of ruling politicians and “concocted” the allegations.

He denied the accused were beaten up at the police post. He said they were simply questioned about their illegal activities.

Mr Tirath Singh Sandhu, when contacted, said he had arranged for the release of both Surjeet Singh and Harnek Singh on the promise that they would hand over the poppy husk to the police.

Dr Chauhan, SSP, pointed out that earlier two cases had been registered against the duo for indulging in illegal activities. 


Behind bars for no fault
Chander Parkash and Pushpesh Kumar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 30
In one of the worst cases of human rights violation by the Punjab Police, Mohan Santri, a labourer from outside Punjab, was kept behind bars for more than two years though he had committed no crime.

This fact came to light when Mr Bhupinder Singh Sindhu, Judge, Special Court, Bathinda, delivered his verdict in a case registered under the NDPS Act on September 3, 1998, in the city police station.

In the judgement delivered by Mr Sidhu on March 23, a copy of which was procured by TNS yesterday, he held that Sub-Inspector Rajinder Kumar, who was investigating officer in this case, intentionally did not appear in the court on six occasions until bailable warrants and a notice under Section 350 of, Cr. P.C, was issued to him. The prosecution had failed to prove its case against Mohan Santri beyond reasonable doubt.

The judge held it was a serious lapse on the part of the police officer to have kept a poor person, who was unable to furnish the requisite bail bonds even after his release orders, in prison for more than two years.

The judge directed the prosecution to take suitable action against the official.

Mohan Santri remained in custody for the entire period for more than two years and five months. He was so poor that he could not engage a legal counsel for himself. A free legal counsel was provided to him by the state on the orders of the court.

A perusal of the judgement reveals that a case was framed by the SI against Mohan Santri under Section 15 of the NDPS Act on September, 3, 1998. It was stated that the accused was found in possession of 10 kg of poppy husk.

The gunny bag containing the contraband was said to have been opened before the arrival of the DSP after the accused had agreed to be searched. The judge held that the official witnesses had been found contradicting one another.

He said the prosecution had not been able to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Consequently, Mohan Santri was being acquitted of the charge framed against him and ordered that he be released.

“The prosecution is directed to take suitable action against the defaulting official, Rajinder Kumar, SI, in this case,” the judge added.


Punjab Police in great demand
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Punjab Police has been under pressure from various states going to the polls in May this year to spare its force for the election duty. Requests for sparing of 20 companies have already been received from Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Of late the Punjab Police has been in great demand from various states. Though requests were also received from Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir Governments, yet the force could not be sent to these states for one reason or the other.

Gujarat wanted some force after it was rocked by a devastating earthquake on the last Republic Day. The J and K Government wanted 20 companies of the Punjab Police for duty during panchayat elections last month. In the absence of any response from the borrowing government on its proposal to send the force there on payment basis, departure of the Punjab Police contingent was cancelled at the last moment.

Earlier, a contingent of the Punjab Police had spent nearly two months in Allahabad on Kumbh Mela duty.

Recently, the Chandigarh Administration also sought some companies of the Punjab Armed Police and Punjab Police Commandos during the nine-day-long dharna by farmers of Punjab at the Matka Chowk here. The men and officers from Punjab were also requisitioned for special agitations duty during the Budget sessions of both Punjab and Haryana Assemblies here earlier this month.

Though formal requests have been received from both West Bengal and Tamil Nadu Governments for the deployment of the Punjab Police in May for the state Assembly elections, no decision has yet been taken on these requisitions.

In all probability, the government will agree to spare its men and officers in khaki for these states on payment basis only.

At present, Punjab has 17 battalions in addition to those that are in the districts. Of these, seven battalions are with the Punjab Armed Police. There are five battalions each of Commandos and India Reserve Police.

The proposal of raising two more India Reserve Battalions in Punjab has not yet been cleared by the Finance Department though expenses are to be equally shared by the Union Government and the state government.

Until a few years ago, Punjab had a strong deployment of Central Police Organisations (CPOs), including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) for both the static — protection of vital installations — and other security duties.

The last of the CPOs was deployed for a specific duty of protecting banks, but has been subsequently replaced by the India Reserve Battalions. At present, except for some companies of the CRPF on VIP security duty and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) on security duty at the Civil Secretariat, there is no outside police force in the state.


Move to generate more power in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 30
The Punjab Government in collaboration with the Central Government, plans to set up two units each at Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda) and Goindwal Sahib, Amritsar Thermal Plants to generate additional power in the state.

All modalities in this connection have been finalised and the work on the project would start in the next three to four months.

This was stated by Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, Minister for Power, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons at Dagoromana village, 12 km from here, yesterday.

The minister who arrived there to preside over a rural mela said steps would also be taken to take loans from private agencies to start the units earlier.

The minister further disclosed that steps had been taken to rejuvenate the entire power supply system by installing electronic meters, more transformers besides improving the wiring system in the state.

Initially this project would be launched at Ludhiana and Mohali. It would cost about Rs 280 crore.

Mr Malooka admitted that there always remained a shortage of power supply in the three months of April, May and June in the state.

However, measures had been taken to solve this problem by taking supply from the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.

Due to a heavy expenditure on the establishments, there was also a proposal to abolish the posts of 14 chief engineers and the other officials in the near future.

More steps would also be taken to check the deficit budget of Rs 300 crore of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) every year.

In reply to a question, the minister said Punjab was supplying electricity to its inhabitants at much cheaper rates as compared to other parts in the country, except Himachal Pradesh.

He said during the past four years rates of power supply had been enhanced by 8 to 22 per cent against 48 per cent by the previous Congress government in the state.

He said the state government had also taken up the matter with the Union government to set up an atomic plant at Patiala to generate more power supply.

The Power Minister said the applications regarding tubewell connections received up to December 31, 1990, would be cleared in a few months.

Mr Malooka said the selection committee constituted to nominate the Chairman of the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Tariff Commission, had recommended the names of former Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann and Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr G.P.S. Shahi. Mr Parkash Singh Badal would take a decision in this regard shortly, he added.


People-oriented coop reforms on anvil
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
It will take some more time before the Punjab Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2000, is introduced in the Vidhan Sabha enabling the grassroot people’s organisations break free from the clutches of undue controls (bureaucratic included) giving a professional touch making these socially responsive.

The Council of Ministers has already approved it. But for reasons unexplained, the Draft Bill again listed for the March 7 meeting of the council was deferred, it is learnt. But a quiet change is already underway in the cooperatives through structural reforms, including downsizing and dispersing bureaucracy, to improve efficiency and delivery of services. A future policy programme is also on the anvil. The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who reviewed the department of Cooperatives recently, has appreciated the process of transformation and improvement of housekeeping.

The Registrar, Cooperatives, Mr Suresh Kumar, in an interview to TNS today announced the following new proposals:

— the retail price of urea sold by primary agricultural cooperative societies (PACS) had been reduced by Rs 6 per quintal and that of the DAP by Rs 15 per quintal;

— Markfed, henceforth, would supply urea and DAP to these primary agricultural cooperative societies at the village level saving societies from spending money on transportation; and

— the rate of interest on loans of cooperative agricultural development banks has been reduced from 16 per cent to 14 per cent effective, from April 1, 2001, while the share capital contribution on loans of these banks has been reduced from 5 per cent to 3 per cent effective from the same date. About 4,000 PACS are now to be given Rs 2 crore as development assistance during the next financial year, 2001-02.

Mr Suresh Kumar disclosed that a new Primary Agricultural Development Bank would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister at Raman Mandi in Bathinda on April 1. A bank was also proposed at Dharmkot in Moga.

Another important development pertained to giving financial relief to borrowers under the special settlement scheme. Under this, loans of 33,338 farmers, who owed Rs 52 crore, had been squared for Rs 29.61 crore, giving them a relief of Rs 22.39 crore. This scheme had found favour with NABARD and some other states had also made inquiries.

Referring to the administrative revamping and revitalisation, Mr Suresh Kumar said the staffing pattern of all apex cooperative federations had been restructured with a view to minimising administrative cost. Resultantly, over 3,000 posts had been declared ‘’redundant’’.

For the first time the working of the inspectors had been streamlined in the field. They all — 1,484 odd — now had a proper headquarters and jurisdiction, ‘beat’ as the Registrar called it, in rural areas. As had been the wont of the Chief Minister, there was a cooperative inspector at each of the 597 focal points in the state, he added. Moreover, there was a bank at 428 focal points out of 597.

Another quiet development had been the appointment of an Assistant Registrar, Cooperative Societies, at each Tehsil — 72 in all — headquarters. The unknown part was that against the existing 33 incumbents, the remaining 39 new posts had been filled up by surrendering 60 posts of inspector; promoting two-third of them and recruiting one-third directly.

Mr Suresh Kumar said administrative and structural changes aside, on the anvil was a scheme on disinvestment in sick and weak cooperatives, liberalisation of cooperative marketing, diversification of cooperative credit system, promoting self-reliant cooperatives and convergence of services for easy access to the public to the functionaries.

Punjab houses 22,000 cooperative societies with a membership of 44 lakh and a paid-up capital of Rs 711.55 crore.


Mann working for third front
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 30
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Akali Dal (Amritsar), is becoming active in national politics and is persuading splinter groups of the Akali Dal to join the People’s Front. The Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the SHSAD led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra have already joined the front.

Mr Mann told The Tribune today that he had met Mr Somnath Chatterjee, Leader of the CPM Parliamentary Party. At a meeting convened by the latter of non-Congress and non-BJP parties it had been decided to fight the policies of the BJP and the Congress. The meeting was attended, among others, by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Sharad Pawar, Mr Raghuvansh Singh, leaders of the Muslim League, the CPI and other Left groups. Mr Tohra had authorised him to hold parleys with People’s Front leaders. As a result he had succeeded in forming a third front in Punjab.

Mr Mann said he was persuading Bhai Jasbir Rode, President, Akali Dal (Panthic), and Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, President, Akali Dal (Democratic), to join the front. He was in touch with Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker, too.

Mr Mann said they would hold a joint conference at Damdama Sahib on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 13 is at which all constituents of the front would participate. He claimed the Sant Samaj had also extended the front its support.

Mr Mann said a meeting of Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the SHSAD would be held at Bathinda on April 5 to chalk out a joint strategy for the April 13 conference.

Mr Mann criticised the Centre for not having any Sikh judge in the Supreme Court nor appointing a Sikh as Ambassador. He also criticised Mr Badal for keeping away from the Vidhan Sabha during voting on resolution on Operation Bluestar.


Akalis lay claim to Phagwara seat
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 30
The wedge in the ruling SAD-BJP combine here has started widening with activists of the circle Akali Jatha launching a drive in the rural areas for mobilising public opinion for staking a claim to ticket during the next Assembly elections.

A meeting was held at Khurampur village where, among others, Mr Gurmukh Singh, President, and Mr Jatinderpal Singh palahi, Secretary-General, of the circle Akali Dal, spoke.

The seat is at present with the BJP.

In a press note today they called upon the Akali high command to allot the Phagwara seat to an Akali in the next general election. They declared to hold weekly meetings on Sundays in villages for building public opinion for the Akali claim.


Strike by Nangal NFL workers
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 30
As many as 1,800 workers of National Fertilisers Ltd (NFL) plant at Nangal struck work today against the proposed disinvestment of the company. The strike was held on the call of the coordination committee of unions of the NFL. The workers gathered at the main gate of the factory and raised slogans against the NDA government. They also sat on a dharna.

Union leaders said they had observed the strike as part of the their agitation against the proposed disinvestment of the company by the Union Government. Earlier this week, the workers had blocked traffic on the Nangal Dam bridge.

The president of the Nangal Khad Factory Mazdoor Dal, Mr G.L. Khera, said the coordination committee would meet on April 4 at Chandigarh to chalk out the further course of action.

All workers’ unions, including those affiliated with the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh of the BJP, participated in today’s strike.

The union leaders said after Balco, the Union Government was aiming at disinvesting in the NFL. Which was the second largest producer of fertilisers in the country.

The union leaders alleged that as per the estimates of the “so-called” experts of the government, the total price of all four units of the NFL had been fixed between Rs 800 crore and Rs 1,000 crore. It had been proposed that the 51 per cent equity of the company would be sold at a maximum price of Rs 500 crore. However, the cost of the Nangal unit was just about Rs 2,000 crore they said.

A priling tower that was likely to be commissioned by the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, on April 9 would cost Rs 161 crore. Besides this, there was an inventory of Rs 300 crore at the plant and the cost of the heavy water plant was Rs 100 crore.

The Nangal unit had been established on 2,285 acres after the land was acquired from locals at a cost of Rs 200 per kanal. The leaders alleged that now the government had valued the land at just Rs 600 per kanal whereas the market price of the land, even at the lowest estimate, was Rs 4 lakh per kanal.

They said since a heavy water plant was also at the unit, it would be against the security interests of the country to hand over the control of the management to private owners.

The officers’ union of the plant also supported the strike. In a letter to the General Manager of the unit, the president of the officers’ union, Dr K.R. Arya, stated that the officers were against the government’s decision to disinvest in the NFL. However, about 400 officers did not participate in the strike.

They said they did not participate in the strike because they wanted to keep the plant running and avoid any damage to it in view of its chemical nature.

The acting general manager of the unit, Mr Khurana, said due to the non-participation of the officers in the strike, the plant was running smoothly. The production was normal and the other operations were also continuing.


Rape victim alleges harassment
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 30
A 20-year-old girl residing in a locality of the city, who is a granddaughter of a freedom fighter who has been honoured with a ‘Tamar Patra’ by the Government of India, who was reportedly raped by two businessmen on the evening of March 20, today alleged that she was being harassed by the police under the pretext of inquiry into this case.

In the telegrams sent to the Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda, SSP, Bathinda, Punjab State Human Rights Commission and other authorities, she alleged that the police, under political pressure, was harassing her and trying to record her statement again and again.

She pointed out that she did not want to make any more statements except before a court of law. She has appealed that her statement recorded in the FIR should suffice and the police should be directed to not visit her house and call her or any other member of her family.

She added that she should be saved from further humiliation and harassment. She was allegedly raped by Kamal Ketak, along with Jaswant Rai Sharma.

In a separate affidavit circulated to mediapersons, she alleged that she had an apprehension that she, her parents and other family members, witnesses and supporters would be implicated into a false case at the instance of the suspects and the politicians who were supporting them.

She alleged that while recording her statement, her signatures on blank papers were obtained. There was a likelihood of misuse of those papers.

The main suspect Kamal Ketak was moving about freely in the city as he was not arrested at the instance of politicians. She added that she apprehended that this would weaken her case.

In the medical examination report of the victim, which was procured by the Tribune News Service, it was clearly mentioned that there was a tear on a section of the vaginal wall, the hymen was torn and absent and having multiple tearings.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, said the DSP (R), Mr Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, had been deputed to personally investigate the matter. He added that there was no threat to the rape victim from any one.


Hope for mentally challenged
Lalit Mohan

Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd. (GACL), a private sector company, has established a school, Ambuja Manovikas Kendra, for imparting education to mentally challenged children.

The school, set up here in 1998, aims at improving the quality of life for mentally challenged children by providing services and facilities for their care, education and rehabilitation. The pupils are classified into three categories: “educatable,” “trainable” and “custodial,” based on their IQ ratings. The “custodial” group consists of severely mentally challenged children. They are taught self-management, aimed at making them self-reliant in everyday activities such as brushing of teeth, bathing, combing of the hair, etc. The other two groups learn various crafts like making of cards and files which could help them later in becoming self-reliant.

Keeping in view the special needs of the children, the curriculum is designed to help them develop both mentally and physically. Besides the normal studies, emphasis is laid on yoga, games and music. A major handicap from which these children suffer is that they are unable to express themselves. To tackle this problem, the institution has employed speech therapists. They assist the pupils in improving their communication skills using scientific techniques.

At present the school has 26 pupils with disabilities ranging from borderline problems to profound mental retardation. The school management says training at the institution has helped the pupils become more confident.

Pupils participated in the north-west zone special Olympics for the mentally challenged held in Chandigarh and won four gold, three silver and two bronze medals. They also took part in various district-level functions and won consolation prizes.

The school management is now planning to organise a training camp for the parents of the pupils to help them look after their children better. A survey is also being conducted in the district to identify more children who could benefit from the institution.

The GACL authorities spend about Rs 3 lakh per annum on the school which they propose to increase in the 2001-2002 financial year.

The school is being run in rented accommodation. The GACL authorities say they have requested the district administration to provide them with land for constructing the school building. Once the building is constructed, the management plans to increase the facilities to accommodate mentally challenged children from all over the state.


Class IV staff take out protest march
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 30
Members of the district unit of the Class IV Government Employees Union, Punjab, today took out a protest march against the district police authorities for not doing “justice” to them in three different cases.

The protesters also held a rally in front of the local police station. The speakers accused the police of not taking proper action against the alleged culprits. Later, they marched towards the Deputy Commissioner’s office where they held a rally which was addressed among others by Mr Ranjit Singh Ranwa, state general secretary of the union, Punjab; Mr Bhajan Singh and Mr Jeet Singh Banga, president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the union.

The union leaders also submitted a memorandum to the Assistant Commissioner (General), Sangrur, Mr Rajesh Dhiman, with regards to their demands.

Earlier, they also held a rally in the Banasar Garden here which was addressed among others by Mr Bhajan Singh, Mr Jeet Singh Banga, Mr Sita Ram, a Punsup leader, Mr Sukhdev Singh Barnala and Mr Khushia Singh, both union leaders.

Mr Bhajan Singh alleged that the Ahmedgarh police had registered a “false” case against Mr Jangir Singh, a Class IV employee, while the Dirba SHO, Mr Sikandar Singh, had not given Rs 19,000 to him which the SHO had received from a party during an agreement. He also said the Sangrur police had not arrested the culprits so far who had attacked the houses of employees here on March 1.


MC staff withdraw agitation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 30
The day-long parleys between the local SAD leaders and civic officials resulted in the withdrawal of the indefinite strike by the Drivers’ Union and the Safai Sewak Union of local municipal corporation, who were demanding the arrest of an Akali councillor for his alleged involvement in the beating up of drivers and burning two MC vehicles on Tuesday.

Keeping in view the harassment caused to residents due to non lifting of garbage for the past two days, Mr Sarabjeet Singh Makkar, a senior SAD leader and Chairman of the local Improvement Trust, held a meeting with the representatives of both unions in the presence of the Commissioner and the Mayor.

Briefing reporters on the withdrawal of the indefinite strike by the union, Mr Makkar said all misunderstandings between the union leaders and Mr Kamaljit Singh, an Akali councillor, had been removed. “The Drivers’ Union and the Safai Sewak Union have agreed to withdraw strike and will resume their duties from tomorrow,” he said.

“The unions have also agreed to withdraw their complaints against the councillor and we will approach the district police to withdraw all cases against the residents of Basti Sheikh and the councillor for allegedly manhandling the drivers and burning MC vehicles on Tuesday night, ” he said.


Mahila Morcha to meet on April 6
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 30
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mahila Morcha will observe April 6 as “Rashtriya Suraksha Sankalap Divas”. This was disclosed by the Punjab BJP general secretary, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, while talking to newsmen here Wednesday. He said that activists of the morcha led by its state president Ms Trishna Minhas, Ms Gurcharan Kaur and Ms Saroj Malhotra would tie “raksha sutra” on the hands of the jawans on the Wagah border on that day.

Mr Jaiswal said that state executive meeting of the morcha would also be held on April 6 at Amritsar. It would be followed by a state-level rally at Amritsar. The morcha’s national president Ms Soorma Pahri besides the Punjab BJP president would address the rally, Mr Jaiswal added.


Spiritual voyage from April 15
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 30
The first-ever spiritual voyage, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, is being undertaken by Guru Nanaksar, Kaleran, from April 15.

Before boarding the chartered ship, the pilgrims will visit all five Takhts of the Sikhs, namely Akal Takht, Kesgarh Sahib, Damdama Sahib, (all in Punjab), Takht Patna Sahib (Bihar) and Takht Hazur Sahib (Maharashtra).

Baba Sukhdev Singh, talking to the Press here today said that the Sikh sangat would visit various holy Sikh shrines in cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore through a special train. After that the Sikh Sangat boards a ship from Bombay to Goa for the pilgrimage. He said the pilgrimage had been planned as per the instructions of Baba Kundan Singh.

This would be a second spiritual journey through special train, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib which would cover about 17 states of the country. However, it will be first spiritual voyage by ship. Baba Sukhdev Singh said Gurdwara Nanaksar had already sought the help of the SGPC, Takht Hazur Sahib, Takht Patna Sahib and managements of various other gurdwaras of the country and abroad.


Liquor hoarding begins
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
Even as the new financial year is just to begin and the auction of liquor shops has been completed in the state, people have started hoarding liquor, particularly in this region.

Bathinda, the “heart land of Malwa” shares its borders with Rajasthan and Haryana and is the traditional “hub” of smuggling. The prices of alcohol will go up with the next financial year. It was declared the “wettest” district in 1975 and has the lowest literacy rate in the state as per the 1991 census.

“Navratras” have begun and some avoid consuming liquor during this period. Most of them have begun hoarding liquor. This trend is not limited to the city alone. Villagers have also reportedly started hoarding liquor.

Liquor vendors are giving heavy discounts. The Excise and Taxation Department has turned a blind eye to the phenomenon. People are violating the law by storing even up to 24 bottles of alcohol at a time.

The liquor vendors usually, off-load stocks of liquor during the last few days of a financial year. They have been advertising “sale” of liquor by means of loudspeakers, posters and banners.

Mr Charanjit Bhullar, a farmer who was here to purchase liquor, said: “Now we can get IMFL at the price of country liquor”.

A cross-section of students said the stock purchased now would last for months as they were not regular drinkers.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said as far as the slashing of prices was concerned, the police was helpless. The trend of hoarding would be checked, he said.


Mishaps claim three lives
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 30
Ranbir Kumar was killed on the spot when a speeding truck collided with a parked truck at Adda Paldi, near Mahilpur last evening. Ranbir was crushed between the trucks near his shop where he was shifting some hardware material lying on the road. The police has registered a case.

In another accident, 12 pilgrims were injured, including Charan Singh of Tola Nangal village in Amritsar who was seriously injured, when their truck overturned near Pur Hiran byepass yesterday.

Charan Singh succumbed to his injures on way to the local Civil Hospital. The pilgrims were going from Anandpur Sahib to Amritsar.

In yet another incident, Sita Devi was killed when her clothes caught fire while she was cooking food on a stove at her jhuggi in Mohala Kirti Nagar last night. She was alone at the time of the incident.


Plots given to slum dwellers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
Under the Site and Serve Plan, a dharmshala and a school would be set up and the facilities of drinking water and electricity provided by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to the colony developed by it.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, announced this while presiding over a function at which 144 plots of 25 square yards each were given free of cost to slum dwellers.

He said the dwellers should vacate the land belonging to PUDA and rather than living in slums, construct pucca houses on the land provided to them by the PUDA authorities.

Mr Vivek Aggrawal, ADC (D), said to improve drinking water supply in PUDA colonies, Rs 2.5 crore would be spent.


Painting exhibition opens today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
The Hastakshar Sahitya Kala Manch and Teachers Home Trust will organise a three-day painting exhibition of Samir Ajay Kumar on the plight of earthquake victims of Gujarat from March 31 at Teacher’s Home. The theme of the exhibition will be ‘Prarthana’.

Mr Gurdial Singh, eminent Punjabi writer, will inaugurate the exhibition and Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, will preside over the musical evening on the last day, April 2.

Pashupati Nath, flutist, and Rajesh Mohan, Vijay Sachdeva and S.B.L. Khandelwal, classical vocalists, will perform.


Shifting of office irks residents
Our Correspondent

Moga, March 30
Resentment prevails among the people, especially the unemployed youth of this region, over the shifting of the Moga District Employment Exchange office from the Tehsil office to a place 4 km farther on the G.T. Road.

The people are demanding that the office to be shifted in the town.


Fire in plastic furniture godown
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 30
A fire broke out in a godown in the Field Ganj area here today evening.

According to Fire Brigade sources, the fire broke around 5.30 p.m. in the godowns where steel and plastic furniture, and children’s toys were stored in the ground floor and on first floor.

Eight fire tenders were sent to the spot after receiving information at 5.40 p.m.

Mr Somnath owner of godown said that he had purchased goods in bulk just two days ago under a discount scheme. Plastic furniture and other material were destroyed. However a large amount of material was saved by the fire tenders, he said.

The cause of fire could not be known.


Principal Secy bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Punjab Principal Secretary, Higher Education and Languages, Mr G. P. S. Sahi, lost his mother, Ms Mohinderpal Kaur, here today. She was 89. She had been ill for a long time. 

The cremation will take place tomorrow at 3.30 pm, said family sources.


Survey to assess damage to wheat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
The state government has announced that special girdwaris will be made to assess the loss to the wheat crop, which has been damaged by the hailstorms that lashed the region during the past few days.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the officials of the Revenue Department had been instructed to conduct special girdwaris within a week as the wheat and brassica crops were near ripening. The patwaris had been instructed to complete the job with the active participation of the farmers.

The standing wheat crop was damaged extensively in the villages of Rampura Phul subdivision particularly in Sandhu Khurd, Ghanda Wanna, Dhanpali, Fulewalla, and Bhai Rupa villages. A team of officials, including Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Bharat Bhushan Garg, SDM, Rampura Phul, revenue officials and Mr Sikandar Singh, Power Minister, visited the areas where wheat crops were damaged today.


Conduct ‘girdawari’ to assess damage: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal , has directed all Deputy Commissioners of the state to immediately conduct special “girdawari” of the damage to crops in their respective jurisdictions due to the recent thunder showers, hailstorm and strong winds. He said the process of “girdawari” should be foolproof so that genuinely affected farmers get relief.

The Chief Minister has also urged the ministers and MLAs to keep a watch on the situation and ensure that full justice is given to the affected people in this exercise. He said the farmers whose standing crops had been destroyed should be compensated.


Abohar MC budget passed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 30
It took the local municipal council just half-an-hour to perform the ritual of passing the annual budget of Rs 8.54 crore for next financial year beginning April 1, at a special meeting held last evening. The president of the council ignored the protests from some members against the alleged leakage of the budget proposals which delayed the meeting by a week.

The budget provided Rs 6 crore for payment of salaries to the staff. A sum of Rs 2 will be utilised for all types of development works. About 50 per cent of the income was expected to be generated from the collection of the octroi duty. Members of the Congress and the BSP expressed doubts about the amount earmarked for development works because the council had failed to spend the same amount even during this financial year.

Mr Satish Narang, Vice-President of the council, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had reportedly directed the state government to release Rs 21 crore share within a week. The local council would be getting Rs 70 lakh on this account. 


472 crore annual credit plan
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 30
Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday launched the annual credit plan (ACP) of Rs 472.29 crore for the year 2001-2002.

The Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the representatives of different departments and banks, said 469 persons had been given loans by different banks under the Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana against the target of 400 persons. He pointed out that the district had achieved high targets and was leading in the state.

Mr Jaspal Singh said Rs 28.95 crore had been allocated for the non-priority sector and the total plan was for Rs 501.24 crore. He said the Punjab government had reserved maximum amount for the agriculture sector and Rs 392.40 crore had been reserved for agriculture and allied occupations in the district.


Husband summoned in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 30
Mr Bhajan Ram, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, following a complaint of Ms Santosh Kumari, has summoned her husband Thakur Dass and father-in-law Prem Chand for a criminal breach of trust of dowry articles and for cruelty towards the complainant under Sections 406, 498-A and 34, IPC.

According to the complainant, she married Thakur Dass in 1997. She alleged that at the time of marriage, large number of gifts were given to the accused. Soon after, they expressed dissatisfaction with the dowry and began to harass her.

She said they demanded more dowry and Rs 30,000 in cash from her family. Her father-in-law reportedly took a bottle of kerosene and threatened to burn her alive.

In another case, the police arrested a person and reportedly seized 15 litres of illicit liquor from his possession.

The accused has been identified as Pawan Kumar, alias Pamma, of Chak Phool Piara village.

A case has been registered under the Excise Act.


Woman held for fraud
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 30
The Rahon police has arrested Santosh, alias Shhindo, wife of Gurdeep Chand of Mahaddipur village for allegedly duping Rajinder Kumar of Kotbadal Khan (Nurmahal) village of Rs 6.50 lakh on the pretext of sending him to the USA.

In another incident, the police has arrested Mohanlal, Rajesh Kumar,

Alias Babbu and Varinder Kumar under the Gambling Act. Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP said this in press note issued here on yesterday.


Pak intruder held
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 30
A Pakistani intruder was nabbed by jawans of the BSF at Mauzam checkpost here on Wednesday night while he was moving suspiciously near the Indo-Pakistan border inside Indian territory, according to a delayed report. The youth had been identified as Abdul Rehman of Gurjan village in Punjab province of Pakistan.

The BSF officials later handed him over to the local police.

The police had registered a case under Sections 3, 34 and 20 of the IPC.

According to police sources, Rehman had disclosed that he had been travelling in different parts of Punjab for past few days and about 24 others had sneaked into Indian territory along with him.

Meanwhile, he was produced before the Judicial Magistrate, who remanded him in police custody.


Medical admissions mired in controversy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 30
The counselling for admission to various post-graduate courses in various medical colleges of the state affiliated to the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, has been mired in controversy with Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC), one of the leading post-graduate institutions of the state, staying away from the admission process, including the counselling.

The DMC management had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court in January against the notification of the Punjab Government on admission to various medical post-graduate courses for different medical colleges in the state. The DMC has been maintaining that the Punjab Government notification was at a variance with the Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines.

The final date of hearing for the petition has been fixed for April 16. The Principal of the DMC, Dr Subash Ahuja, said the institution stayed away from the counselling since the matter was pending in the court of law. He pointed out, “There is no logic in holding counselling and making admissions when the matter is sub judice”, adding that the admissions to the post-graduate courses could only be made after the high court announced a decision.

Despite the opposition from the DMC, the university conducted a written test and also declared the results. The counselling started yesterday and continued today as well. Since the DMC stayed away from the counselling, questions are being raised as to how should the seats be allotted to the institutions and admissions made there. There are 54 post-graduate seats and about 20 seats for diploma courses. Dr Ahuja said the admissions could be made only after the high court decision and strictly according to the court ruling.

Doubts were raised during the counselling also as it was pointed out whether there was any validity of the admission process, including the counselling, in view of the case pending in the high court.

While the case has already come up for hearing twice in the high court, the respondents had asked for more time to frame a reply. Now the case is likely to come up for final hearing on April 16.


Teaching work hit in primary schools
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 30
Teaching in primary schools in the state has virtually been disrupted with primary teachers busy in supervising examinations in secondary schools since March 12 besides evaluating answer books of their own schools.

A tour of several primary schools in the district revealed that the rural schools were the main sufferers. Most of the schools, including those in Bibipur, Kalyan, Purbia Colony, Jahlan, Wajidpur, Dhalelan and Ablowal Jhungian were found locked. Teaching work in the city was found to be no better with most of the city schools functioning with only one teacher.

The main reason is that primary school teachers have been given supervisory duties in middle, high and senior secondary schools for the ongoing examinations of the Punjab School Education Board. While more than half the primary school teachers of the district are busy with supervisory duties most of the others are engaged in evaluating answer books of the fifth grade state-level examination. The administrative callousness towards primary education is not limited to this month only. Earlier, in February there was no teaching work in primary schools for most of the month as the teachers were busy with Census duties.

Dr T.R. Sharma, a former Head, Department of Education, Punjabi University, said the results of students of class V could be affected due to lack of teaching in the schools. He said while the average teaching days in primary schools will around 224 in a year, this year teachers were put on non-academic duties for long spells due to which teaching days were reduced by another 80 to over 100.

He said the pressure on primary school teachers had resulted in them rushing through the examinations of students studying between class I and IV. He said this would only result in the continuance of the ‘’all pass’’ syndrome under which all students of these classes were passed irrespective of their merit which had been continuing for the past many years.

Dr Sharma said even the evaluation work of the fifth standard board examination was being carried on in an unrealistic manner. He said he had visited the examination centers and found out that every teacher was expected to mark 80 answer books everyday besides compiling the results within three days of the commencement of the evaluation which started on March 27. He said no instructions had been given to evaluators and no serious effort had been made to maintain uniformity in the evaluation standard followed by different teachers. 

Meanwhile sources said there was a vast difference in the percentage of teachers posted in the rural and urban schools . They said on an average there were 1.8 teachers for each school in the rural areas compared to 6.5 teachers per school in the urban areas. They said this dichotomy proves very costly for the rural students as their studies were hit if the teachers are deputed for other duties. District Education officer (Primary) Gurbakshish Singh Brar said rural schools had not been closed due to primary teachers being deputed for secondary school examinations. 


Varsity laments cut in govt grant
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 30
Guru Nanak Dev University senate unanimously approved the budget estimates of Rs 5487.46 lakh for 2001-2002 showing a deficit of Rs 1123.32 lakh. The Finance Committee and the syndicate had accorded their concurrence to the budget estimates. The senate also approved the annual report showing overall development of the university for the year 2000.

Placing the budget on the table of the House, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Soch, made an appeal to the Punjab Government to release a special economic package for developmental projects in view of the laudable achievements of the university at the national and international levels in various fields. He informed the House that no increase had been given by the state government under the revised estimates to meet the additional liability such as DA and other increase in salaries, including for the staff employed at Guru Nanak Dev University regional campus, Gurdaspur, and taking over Shaheed Ram Singh Pathania Memorial College, Niare. He said the promised grant of Rs 1 crore for these institutions was still awaited from the government.

The maintenance grant from the Punjab Government was shrinking every year while the university had been consistently generating additional resources, Dr Soch said. In addition to that, the university was recognised with five stars status by the National Assessment Accreditation Council (NAAC) for overall achievement. Also the university made a benchmark by winning the National Youth Festival trophy for the first time and winning the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad trophy 15 times.

Coming to the budget, the Vice-Chancellor said during 1992-93, the grant provided by the state government was 82.41 per cent of the total budget of the university (at Rs 1108.43 lakh). Now, it has dwindled down to 31.49 per cent (1786.53 lakh). This year the committee’s expenditure for 2001-2002 is estimated to be Rs 5499.10 lakh, including an opening balance of Rs 11.64 lakh.

Revenues receipts will be approximately Rs 2559.40 lakh and Rs 1786.53 lakh and Rs 29.85 lakh as maintenance grant and for job-oriented courses, respectively, already placed with the government.

Thus an amount of Rs 4375.78 lakh will be available and a deficit of Rs 1123.32 lakh.

The construction programme will incur an expenditure of Rs 971.45 lakh. However, the VC informed the projects were subject to the availability of funds.


Minority status to SGPC colleges hailed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 30
As many as 60 members of the SGPC last night hailed as historic and revolutionary the decision of Punjab Government to accord minority status to professional institutions being run by the SGPC and thanked the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur under whose tenure as SGPC president the resolution was adopted by the SGPC general house.

A joint statement of these members, released here by Tarlochan Singh Dupalpuri, said the far-sighted decision of the Badal government would benefit Sikh students for whom 50 per cent seats could now be reserved in the SGPC-run medical, dental, engineering, technical and other professional colleges.

The statement is significant as it gives all credit for the decision to Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur baulking the present SGPC incumbent of claiming any credit for the move.


Medical slip to give the slip
K.K. Goyal
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 30
An impersonator was caught in the examination centre of the local Government Senior Secondary School on March 21. The impersonator appeared in the Social Studies paper of matric examination in place of Hardarshan Singh, class IV employee in the Education Department.

Enquiries revealed that the impersonator was the son of Hardarshan Singh. To save his son from impersonation charges Hardarshan Singh is trying to prepare false record with the help of some medical officers of the local Civil Hospital.

He has already obtained an OPD slip from three medical officers, Dr Ashok Kansal (orthopaedic surgeon), Dr Parshotam Goyal (skin specialist) and Dr Sat Pal Jindal (medicine), supposed to have been issued on the same day that is March 21. It reads as “patient is unable to write properly due to tremor on write hand, he may be provided with a helper under rules”, although Hardarshan Singh is medically fit to write.

It is pertinent to mention here that in case a student is unable to write, he is required to seek prior permission from the examining body and the helper provided is such case writes the answer book as dictated by the student. In this case the impersonator was caught red-handed along with attempting the question paper and Hardarshan Singh was nowhere to be seen. Moreover, the OPD slip is dated March 21, the date on which the examination took place.

Enquiries further reveal that the son of the candidate has been appearing on behalf of his father since the commencing of the examination from March 12.

Hardarshan Singh is a ‘beldar’ in the government school in Joga and he is working as a driver to Ms Bhupinder Kaur, District Education Officer (Secondary). He is trying to get a regular posting as driver but he did not possess the minimum qualification for the post.


Proposed service tax ‘unconstitutional’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 30
Terming the proposed 5 per cent service tax on hire, purchase and leasing transactions in the union Budget as unconstitutional, the Punjab and Haryana Finance Companies Association has demanded that the BJP-led Central Government should withdraw the proposal.

According to the association, as per Article 366 (29A) of the Constitution, hire, purchase and leasing transactions have been defined as “sales” and no service tax can be imposed in this category.

Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, President and Mr Alok Sondhi, Vice-President, of the association, respectively, said at a press conference today that the imposition of service tax would ruin the entire hire, purchase and leasing business.

Mr Samra said more than 400 companies in Punjab and Haryana, with an annual turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, would have no option but to close their business.

Mr Sondhi said either the Central Government should amend the Constitution so that hire, purchase and leasing transactions were not considered as “sales” or withdraw the service tax.


Power cuts on steel industry go
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 30
The PSEB today removed restrictions on the steel industry by doing away with cuts imposed on alternate days on arc and induction furnaces.

The board had classified the steel industry into two groups and decided to give electricity to both groups on alternate days as it was overdrawing from the Northern Grid due to a reduction in availability in view of low generation.

An official spokesman said power had been resumed to all arc and induction furnaces in the state since last night. He said other restrictions on industry, including a decision to extend the weekly off for all industry in the state to two days a week, had also been withdrawn.

The board had also stepped up power to the rural sector with uninterrupted power for tubewell operations. Board sources said the availability of power to the industry and the urban areas was likely to improve further as water would not be required to irrigate the wheat crop in view of the recent rain in the state.

Meanwhile, officials said the third unit of the Ropar Thermal Plant continued to be inoperational today. They said there was a problem in the boiler tube of the plant, adding that repair work was going on and that power generation was likely to be back to normal by tomorrow night.

The officials also said the 207-MW Mukerian hydel channel was being closed down for 20 days for maintenance. They said the power position would not be adversely affected by the closure as the channel was already running at half its capacity, generating 23 lakh units of power against its peak capacity of 49 lakh units due to low water levels.


Ropar thermal plant to get silver shield
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, has qualified for the award of a silver shield for having achieved a record generation as well as the prescribed plant load factor ahead of schedule.

According to the Chief Engineer, Mr S. K. Thaman, the thermal plant exceeded last year’s generation, giving an excellent performance even by the terms set in the MoU signed with the PSEB management, by generating 84,000 lakh units against the target of 82,500 lakh units for 2000-01. The target was over shot on Thursday.

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 |