Monday, April 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Moffar joins Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
For the Punjab Congress “programmed” electronic voting machines (EVM) were the villain in the byelections that led to the defeat of its candidates. The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Capt Amarinder Singh, is convinced of this and has even demonstrated it to the party high command in New Delhi.

He reiterated today that a writ to this effect would be filed in the Delhi High Court shortly.

But is the AICC convinced of the charge of “programing” that is supplemented by Capt Amarinder Singh alleging the misuse of government machinery during the elections resulting in huge upswing in votes in favour of the ruling, SAD-BJP alliance?

No, it seems, if the way the AICC treasurer and observer for Punjab, Mr Moti Lal Vora, today attempted to skirt the issue is any indication. To repeated questions put in different forms, he refused to give a straight answer. The question was whether in the light of the ‘’disclosure and demonstration’’ on EVMs by Capt Amarinder Singh, the party would still accept the use of these machines in the Assembly elections in the four states slated for May next?

Mr Vora kept saying that the AICC had been apprised of the Punjab experience. Some Congress Chief Ministers, too, had raised the issue and certain political parties had even gone to court. But he would not admit if the Congress had taken any policy decision on EVMs.

Capt Amarinder Singh, on his part, citing the example of the Lok Sabha elections, the Adampur Assembly byelection and nagar panchayat elections reiterated that the Congress had done well whenever a hand count was done. He reeled off the percentage hike in votes in favour of the Akalis in the Nawanshahr, Sunam and Majitha byelections where EVMs were used.

The two leaders were talking to the media before the commencement of their campaign on expose. They demanded that the NDA government should resign.

A former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said the PPCC would add the following issues as well: ‘’corruption, withdrawal of the Vidhan Sabha resolution condemning the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, for her alleged use of the word “traitor” for the Prime Minister, “murder” of democracy inside the House by suspending the Opposition for the entire Budget session and raking up old memories by pasting a resolution on Operation Bluestar in the Assembly in the absence of the Congress. Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, MLA, and Ms Santosh Chaudhary, MP, also spoke.

For the first time present on one platform were warring groups and leaders of the faction-ridden PPCC. At one point, Mr Vora emphasised that Capt Amarinder Singh was the PPCC chief.

At the media meeting today the lone member of the SAD (Amritsar) in the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Ajit Inder Singh Moffar, announced the ‘’merger’’ of his one-man legislatature party into the Congress, bidding goodbye to the ideology and policy programmes of the party led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann on whose steam he had won in February, 1997, from the Sardulgarh Assembly constituency by defeating Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, now Rajya Sabha MP, nominated by the SAD.

Mr Moffar described the Congress as a ‘’secular’’ party. Hence, his decision to joint it. Moreover, he said, it was the one fighting against ‘’corruption’’. Interestingly, faced with a barrage of questions, Mr Moffar was visibly flummoxed. Often, either Capt Amarinder Singh or Mr Avtar Singh Brar, MLA from Faridkot, came to his rescue, making a scribe remark: ‘’Mr Moffar is educated, let him speak for himself rather than prompting him’’.

The Congress has published four posters based on the disclosures that it would distribute and display all over the state during its rallies. It also hopes to have Ms Sonia Gandhi at the Ludhiana rally on April 11. Capt Amarinder Singh levelled charges against the Punjab Minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, alleging he had links with Mr R.K. Gupta who figures in the tehlka tapes. He also said that various corruption allegations against Mr Badal and members of his family had never been refuted.


DAC stone laid amid protests
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal today laid the foundation stone of an ultra-modern district administrative complex (DAC), which is to be built at a cost of 15 crore, which would be acquired by selling off a hospital in the city.

The complex would be built on 8 acres. The general and children’s hospital is located in the heart of the city. Various political, social and non-governmental organisations, have protested against the selling of the hospital.

Mr Jagsih Ghai, spokesman of the Save Old Hospital and Government Property Committee, alleged that the members of the committee wanted to meet Mr Badal, but were not allowed to meet him.

“We did not raise any slogan nor carried banners, in our hands but authorities did not allow us to meet him, Ghai lamented.

Mr Ghai said the offices of the bureaucrats and other officers, which would be established in DAC, had been renovated a few years ago at a cost of Rs 70 lakh and that there was no immediate need to demolish them. The government was bent upon selling it at throwaway prices to the supporters of the SAD-BJP government, he alleged.

Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, member of Parliament from Bathinda, said development of new offices should not take place at the cost of public health.

Meanwhile, the official press note said offices of 43 departments would be set up here, which would be of great help to the general public.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal said after the completion of the project the people would realise its benefits and effects. More such administrative complexes would be set up in Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala, and the government had already approved the projects, he added.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Law, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, Mr B.K.S. Sidhu, Chief Administrator, PUDA, were among those who were present on the occasion.


Jatha to visit Pak on Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 1
The SGPC will send a jatha of more than 2,300 Sikh pilgrims to Panja Sahib in Pakistan on April 1 on the occasion of Baisakhi. The jatha will stay there till April 14.

Addressing a press conference at the residence of Mr Jatinder Singh Gill, advocate, Akali leader, here today the President of the SGPC, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, said the SGPC had received more than 2,300 passports from the Sikhs who wanted to visit Panja Sahib on the occasion of Baisakhi. He said Jathedar Shingara Singh Lohian, executive committee member of the SGPC, would lead the jatha.

Jathedar Talwandi further said the dignity of the Sikhs was hurt after the jathas to Pakistan were stopped by the SGPC. He also said though the SGPC had stopped sending jathas to Pakistan, but private groups continued to send jathas there. He added that the SGPC had no relations with the PGPC.

The president of the SGPC said he could not a say anything about the SGPC election, whether it would be held on time. He said this was the duty of the Union Government to give its decision in this regard.

Regarding 33 per cent reservation to the women in the SGPC elections by SAD, Jathedar Talwandi said his party would not provide any separate reservation for women, but it would provide reservation to women on the Central pattern.

With regard to unity between SAD and the SHSAD, he said he wanted unity between the two parties for the betterment of the Panth. He said Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra had opened a way for unity by the contesting the Majitha assembly byelection, but also clarified that the unity efforts between SAD and the SHSAD based on conditions laid down by Jathedar Tohra could not mature.

Jathedar Talwandi reiterated that the SGPC would not open any college in the future as majority of the educational institutions being run it were not showing profit. He said he was of the view that the money collected through the gurdwaras should only be spent on “dharam parchar” (dissemination of religious ideology and principles).

He claimed that the had curbed corruption in gurdwaras by taking effective administrative measures. He also said income from “golaks” had increased while the expenditure on “langars” had decreased.


Vends’ auction: 2 pc rise in excise revenue
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 1
The auction of liquor vends has been fair and transparent and the state government will achieve the target for the year 2001-2002.

Claiming this Mr Y.S. Ratra, Financial Commissioner (Taxation), told The Tribune that there was 2 per cent increase in the overall revenue of the state Excise from the auction of vends so far this year and the government was satisfied with it. The government had fixed a target of Rs 1370 crore as Excise revenue from the sale of liquor in 2001-2002 against Rs 1310 crore of the previous year.

The auction of the vends in Ludhiana district had caused controversy and the first auction of the vends on March 26 had to be put off which was scheduled to be held at Ludhiana because of alleged differences between the state government and the liquor contractors.

The government which organised the auction of Ludhiana district vends at Patiala yesterday again failed to complete the auction of all circles groups. Only two groups were auctioned and the state government fetched a revenue of more than Rs 3 crore from the same.

The liquor contractors alleged that the government had raised the fixed price of liquor circles which were financially unviable for them. However, Mr Ratra maintained that two groups were auctioned and they were got by the contractors if the same were found to be financially viable to them. The government did not force any one to buy the vends.

Nine circles of Ludhiana district are yet to be auctioned which included a number of vends in Ludhiana town and all rural area vends.

Mr Ratra said the government would fix a fresh date for the auction of the remaining vends in Ludhiana. Till the auction was completed, the state Excise Department would run the same.

Mr Ratra disclosed that they had identified the shops and would procure liquor from the distilleries and same would be sold in retail... to the consumers.

Mr Ratra admitted that the state government had suffered losses in the auction of vends in Ropar and Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts while increase was recorded from Ferozepore, Muktsar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur. Ludhiana district gives the maximum Excise revenue to the state as it has the highest quota of liquor in the state. The state Excise revenue last year from Ludhiana district was to the extent or of Rs 217 crore.

The government has created a separate Ludhiana division for the purpose of collection of state taxes, including Sales Tax and Excise Duty and Fatehgarh Sahib district, has been included in the Ludhiana Excise Division. Earlier, Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib were attached to Patiala Division. Ludhiana district had three Excise districts and the Division is headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC).

The liquor contractors of Ludhiana alleged today that the auction was not fair and the state government had made an increase of 10 per cent over the fixed price.

Mr Mann Garcha, a brother of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, alleged that this was done to prevent them from entering in the trade. However, the Garcha group got a group for Rs 12.86 crore. He said the liquor contractors suffered heavy losses last year and the government should have been sympathetic to them instead of ‘fleecing’ them.

Mr Harmohinder Singh MLA and noted liquor contractor of the state regretted that the state government was concerned only with its revenue and did not bother about the interests of the licencees and the consumers.

He said the government should have positive attitude and three things —interests of the government, licencees and the consumers should be kept in view while deciding the bids of liquor vends. At present the government was destroying the licencees, he alleged.

The differences between the Excise and Taxation Minister and the Technical Education Minister were responsible for the deadlock in the auction of vends in Ludhiana district.


AICTE bans diploma course in pharmacy
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 1
On the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Council of India, the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), has decided to stop diploma courses in pharmacy. New permission is not being given to start a diploma college in pharmacy. The existing institutes have also been directed to upgrade facilities to start the B. Pharma courses. An institute having appropriate facility and is coming to the AICTE for permission to start the degree course in pharmacy is being granted the permission to do so. The chairman of the AICTE, Mr R.S. Nirjar, stated this here yesterday. He was at the Institute of Engineering and Technology Bhaddal, Ropar, to attend the national seminar on “Human Values and Technical Education.”

To another query, Mr Nirjar said the AICTE was also considering the proposal accepting the bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh, from any institution or body that intended to open a new technical institute. Earlier, the AICTE used to accept the said amount in cash as security from the party that intended to start a technical education institute. This was being done to help those institutions that did not have the liquid capital but the resources to start the new institutions, he said.

Mr Nirjar added that the AICTE was taking steps to regulate the activity of foreign universities and the non-formal education in the country. The students are being exploited in the name of foreign universities that are offering degrees worth nothing at huge costs. A committee under a former Vice-Chancellor, Mr B. Ilango, has been formed to suggest methods to check exploitation of the students.

The chairman of the AICTE also dismissed the idea that increasing number of technical institutions were creating lop-sided demand and supply ratio of technical manpower in the country. In Tamil Nadu only 200 persons per one lakh population were technically qualified, whereas in Punjab the number was as low as 60. The statistics prove that unemployment was lower in those states that had the higher number of technically qualified people. In addition to it the government also has to adopt a pro-active strategy to create jobs for the technically qualified youth of the country in local and international markets, he added.

Earlier speaking at the seminar, Mr Nirjar, lamented the fact that in the new open markets scenario much stress was being laid on the “Success” and not on the means by which it was achieved. This was leading to degradation of moral values in the society. The Institution of family was the strength of the Indian society but the same family values are not being carried forward at the society level. The onus of inculcating the values in the students falls on the educational institutes, he said.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, the chairman of the Kandi Friends Educational Trust, speaking on the occasion said that the reforms had to be started from the individuals. The human values should be integrated with the education for the modernisation in the country.

Dr R. S. Seehra, Principal of the college told that students in his institution are also motivated for social work besides formal education. The college has adopted many backward villages in its vicinity and the students were doing the development work there, he said.

Seventy four delegates who included Vice-Chancellor, PTU, Mr Gurum and other faculty from the engineering colleges of region, participated in the seminar.


Talwandi for patch-up with Tohra

Sangrur, April 1
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief and senior leader of Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, today advocated patch-up with the All India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD), without any pre-condition from AISAD chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Mr Talwandi said a patch-up was the need of the hour keeping in view the forthcoming assembly elections due early next year, which might witness tougher contest with rivals as compared to the byelections won by the SAD in Majitha, Sunam and Nawanshahr.

Mr Talwandi was talking to mediapersons at the residence of AISAD leader Jatinder Singh Gill here. He took strong exception to the utterances of Mr Tohra that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had no right to comment that the SGPC elections would be held after the assembly elections.

The SAD was prepared to contest the SGPC elections whenever scheduled by the Union government, he said.

Mr Talwandi ruled out the possibility of 33 per cent reservation for women in the SGPC elections till it was passed by Parliament. The SAD had already given due representation to the women in the SGPC now represented by 30 members, he said.

Referring to the change in the definition of ‘Sikh’, Mr Talwandi said Mr Tohra, who had raked up unnecessary controversy, was also signatory to the change in its definition.

He ruled out the possibility of opening any new college in the state by the SGPC because the previous colleges run by the SGPC were already running under loss.

He said a ‘jatha’ of 2,300 pilgrims would leave for Pakistan on April 11 to visit Panja Sahib in Pakistan.

He expressed dismay at handing over the management of the Sikh shrines in Pakistan to a board constituted by the Pakistan Government and demanded that their management should be in the hands of the SGPC. PTI


Kanshi Ram meets Kamal Chaudhry
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 1
Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP chief, held a meeting with Mr Kamal Chaudhry, former MP, who recently resigned from the BJP, for more than two hours at his residence here last evening. He came to Hoshiarpur from Delhi to meet Mr Chaudhry only. On receiving information about the meeting, mediamen reached the residence of Mr Kamal Chaudhry to know the outcome of the discussion. They had to wait for two hours to meet both leaders.

Coming out from the meeting, Mr Kanshi Ram said he simply met Mr Chaudhry to seek his advice and cooperation on certain issues. Mr Chaudhry explained to him the reasons of his resignation from the BJP. They discussed the present political situation in Punjab. The BSP chief said he had suggested to Mr Chaudhry not to join any political party hastily. He should think before joining any political party in future.

He added that he was satisfied with the BSP performance in UP and had authorised Ms Mayawati to look into the political affairs of the State. He was now concentrating on Punjab politics to unite the Bahujan Samaj for elections of State Assembly during February 2002.

He claimed that the BSP was the only political party in the country to become national party in seven/eight years whereas the Congress and the BJP had to wait for several years to become national parties.

To a question Mr Kanshi Ram said the BSP would not make alliance with any of the political party and contest elections in Punjab independently. He made it clear that the BSP would not join the third front.

He said his politics was based on casteism. He was trying to unite Ramdasias, Mazhabis Ad-dharmis and Balmikis, who had considerable vote bank to grab power. He emphasised on installing a non-Jat Chief Minister in Punjab. He remarked that none of the person of non-Jat community ever thought of becoming the Chief Minister of Punjab. He had made up his mind to break this tradition.

Mr Chaudhry said people of Punjab would soon see a revolutionary change in the state politics. He alleged that the people had been fed up with the corrupt rule, mis-management and anti-farmer attitude of the SAD-BJP government.


Congress rally on April 5
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 1
The Congress is making every possible effort to exploit, the Tehelka expose. For this it has planned a massive rally at Jalalabad on the April 5 where senior Congress leaders like Mr Moti Lal Vohra and Dr Balram Jakhar will participate. This was disclosed by Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, District Congress chief, while interacting with mediamen here yesterday. He said the Vajpayee government which used to talk of transparent, neat and clean governance stood exposed in wake of the events revealed by the Tehelka team. 

He lamented that the case slapped on the personal secretary of the Congress chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, as politically motivated Repositing faith in the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, PCC chief, Mr Jakhar said the Congress was prepared for the next Assembly elections imminent in Punjab. He admitted that some senior Congress leaders of the region were at loggerheads and nursing grievance against one other but asserted that very soon they would be able to resolve all differences and the rally planned at Jalalabad would mark the resurgence of the Congress party in the region. 


Cong men join SAD 
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Mr Gopal Rana, president, United Welfare Society, along with Mr Balraj Rana and Mr Raj Kumar Maheshi, both Congress workers, have joined the Akali Dal. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, has welcomed all workers. This was stated in a press note here today.


Lawyers threaten agitation, oppose changes in CPC
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 1
Lawyers at a state-level seminar here yesterday threatened agitation against the proposed amendments in the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) under the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2000, presented in the Rajya Sabha by the Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitly, on December 22, 2000.

The Bill to amend the provisions in the CPC was first passed by the government in 1999. But before it could be implemented, the lawyers across the country protested against the proposed amendments. Succumbing to the pressure the government, after the intervention of the Prime Minister, held the proposed amendments in abeyance.

The lawyers at the seminar alleged that the new Bill had been given cosmetic treatment and proposed similar amendments that were earlier rejected by the lawyer unions. Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath, president of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Lawyers Union, while speaking on the occasion said the governments compulsion to amend laws, including the Advocates Act, emanates from its commitment to the agenda of globalisation.

The government had introduced the Bill in the Rajya Sabha initially because it was in minority in the House and hoped that the member there would pass it unaware of its ramifications. In the Lok Sabha, where the NDA was in majority, the Bill would be passed easily, he alleged.

The government through the amendments in the Advocates Act was trying to convert the legal profession into a kind of business by diluting its independence and allowing the entry of multi-disciplinary partnerships of business tycoons on the plea of making available “services from one window”.

Mr Chatrath was of the view that any amendment in the CPC should be effected only after taking into confidence the district and subdivision level bar councils because it was only at these levels that the CPC was used the most.

Mr K.R. Joshi, president of the District Bar Council, Ropar, spoke against the reintroduction of Section 89, CPC, in the Arbitration Act, 1940. The Act provided that those who agree to resolve their disputes through arbitration would take recourse to it in preference to the civil suit. However, in the newly proposed provisions the court has been given the powers to formulate the terms of settlement between the parties. The court has also been authorised to direct the parties to resolve their disputes through arbitration, conciliation, judicial settlement, including settlement through Lok Adalats.

After the amendments are implemented the court would have the power to shunt out even those cases in which the litigants don’t want to settle their disputes through arbitration, he alleged.

Mr Joshi while condemning the delegation of court powers in favour of certain forums, said the abdication of courts jurisdiction was not effective. Most of the cases settled through these forum revert back to the courts on various grounds that involves more time and expenditure. Mr Joshi, while passing the resolution condemning the proposed amendments in the CPC, also called upon the bar councils in the state to shun the court work on April 4 in protest against the said Bill.

Other office bearers of the union, speaking on the occasion, were of the view that reason behind piling of unresolved cases in various courts across the country was the inadequate number of courts and the unfilled vacancies in the existing courts and the tribunals. The courts in the country spend most of their time only in adjourning the matters rather than deciding them. The proposals to amend the CPC was not in the interest of the general public, they alleged.

Mr Darbara Singh Dhillon, president of the All India Lawyers Union AILU, Punjab, Mr Joginder Singh Tur, president, AILU, Chandigarh, Mr Tara Singh Chahal and Mr Gill general secretary of AILU, Ropar, were among those present at the seminar.


Railway overbridge by June 30
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
Residents of the district can breathe a sigh of relief because their long-standing demand for the construction of a railway over-bridge (ROB) on the railway crossing at Sirhind has borne fruits. The work on the overbridge is going on round-the-clock and is likely to be completed by June 30.

It was a popular saying that the fate of a poor and the “phatak” of Sirhind seldom open. Sirhind, district headquarters town, is located on the main trunk route of Delhi and Amritsar double-line section. More than 152 trains pass through this busy railway junction daily. These include 82 passengers and mail trains.

According to Railway officials, the railway gate has to be closed for at least 15 minutes before the passage of a train resulting in its closure for 15 to 20 hours a day. This leads to chaos and traffic jam with people having to wait for hours to reach Fatehgarh Sahib from the GT Road side and vice versa. The railway electronic signal had further aggravated the situation.

People from all walks of life had been demanding an ROB for decades. Many times patients seriously ill lost their lives because they could not reach the hospital in time due to the closure of the railway gate.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, during his inspection tour of ongoing development project in the district told The Tribune that the ROB was the lifeline of the district as all development work here depended on it. He said the work on the ROB was started in October last year and would be completed in a record time by June 30. Its finishing work would take another one-and-a-half months and finally it would be opened for the traffic on August 15.

He said the bridge was being constructed at a cost of Rs 922 lakh, which was being shared in the 50:50 ratio as per the laid policy. According to this ratio the Railways was contributing Rs 459 lakh and Rs 463 lakh would be borne by the state government. The ROB was being constructed by the Railways and its approaches by the PWD.

Mr Kewal Krishan, XEN, said the state share of Rs 463 lakh had been arranged by raising a loan from Hudco. The Railways had deposited Rs 100 lakh out of its share till date. He said the total length of the bridge would be 32.24 metre and of the approaches 570 metre. The XEN drew the attention of the Deputy Commissioner to the width of the bridge which would be 37 feet, whereas the width of the approaching roads on both sides was 22 feet.

The Deputy Commissioner assured the XEN that the matter would be taken up with the state government for the widening of the approaching roads in proportion to the width of the bridge. He also stated that a proposal would be sent to the government for the proper utilisation of the 29,000 sq feet area available under the bridge. He said the completion of the bridge would certainly provide a new lease of life to the residents of the district and other people, who had to wait for a long time just to cross the railway line.

Various leaders belonging to different political parties had made their best efforts for the sanctioning of the ROB. Dr Harbans Lal, MLA from Sirhind, had organised a dharna for the construction of the ROB. Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, took personal interest in getting the ROB sanctioned. After he left the ruling party, the matter was taken up by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, with the central government. He also managed the funds from the state government as well as from the Railways. All this has produced the desired results.


Poets bemoan travails of modern life
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
Noted Punjabi poet and recipient of several literary awards Surjit Pattar enthralled audience at a tri-lingual mushaira organised jointly here last night by the Navchetna Sahit and Kala Manch and the Rotary Club central, Phagwara.

The paradox of seeking greener pastures abroad and getting exploited and even killed in the pursuit, fissures in family bonds and subsequent pressure on women, women’s capacity to withstand social pressures, sense of alienation, pangs of borders, pent-up feelings, fratricidal fights, need for amity, resolve to fight it out to the finish in life, dominated the poetic concerns at the tri-bhashi kavi darbar attended by 20 poets.

Punjab Social Welfare Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur was the chief guest, Principal Neelam Goel, wife of Director, Local Bodies, Punjab, J.B. Goel, lit the “shama”. Shiromani Kavi Dr Jagtar presided.

The Minister gave Rs 31,000 to the manch. Shiromani Kavi Dr Anoop Virk was felicitated on this occasion with a trophy and shawl. The club headed by Romesh Kaura honoured all poets with mementoes.

Surjit Pattar stole the show with ghazals. Poetess Sukhwinder Amrit drew applause when she spoke of female fortitude.

Sukhminder Rampuri, Gurbhajan Gill, Jaswinder, Darshan Buttar, D. R. Dhawan, Hardial Sagar, Inderjit Hasanpuri, Biba Kulwant, Avtarjit, Satish, Ajaib Chittarkar, Dr Anoop Virk and Surjit Juj were among other poets in the kavi darbar that continued till midnight.


People worried over dryspell
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 1
Mr Brij Mohan Puri, organising secretary of the PPCC and former Chairman, Local Improvement Trust, has expressed concern over the drought-like condition prevailing in the Dhar Kalan and other Kandi areas. He criticised the SAD/BJP government and said the ruling party had failed on all fronts.

In a statement issued here yesterday, he said the prolonged dry-spell had created shortage of fodder in the Area/ The people of the area were affected by the drought and wheat and other crops had been affected, due to wrong policies of the present government.

Mr Puri, urged the government to prepare definite plan to deal with the situation.

Mr Puru condemned the lathi charges on the Youth Congress leaders and workers, while they were demanding resignation of the Vajpayee government following Tehelka expose, in which Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, President, All-India Youth Congress, and others were injured.


Govt to allot plots to SCs free of cost
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
The Punjab Government has decided to allot five-marla plots free of cost from Shamlat village land to the houseless Scheduled Castes, according to Punjab Social Welfare Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur.

The minister said here last night that in villages which did not have shamlat land, the government would purchase five-marla plots and allot to Scheduled Castes for constructing their houses. Even places for garbage dumping would be provided to the SC category people in rural areas, said the minister.

The amount for various welfare schemes and the Special Component Scheme for SCs had been raised considerably this year, he said. Now, Rs 572 crore had been earmarked for these during this financial year. An amount of Rs 27 crore would be spent on shagun scheme and all pending cases would be cleared this year, he said. Ten crore more will likely to be sanctioned for it.

Mr Sarwan Singh declared that the quota of free power for SCs had been increased from 30 units to 100 units and these would now be deducted at sources in the electricity bills. A new column would be created in the bills for SCs and the units would be subtracted by the PSEB itself, he added.


Residents feel let down by authorities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Although the city has grown geographically but the authorities concerned, have failed to provide basic civic amenities to the residents who feel let down by the authorities.

In some areas of the city even the lanes and bylanes have not been metalled so far.

The city is known for poor sewerage system and residents of certain areas are still having the age-old ‘bore-type-laterines’ as sewerage pipes have not been laid in these areas or are reportedly non-functional.

The development work of the city has been suffering due to the lack of funds and half-hearted efforts of the officials.

The trans-railway localities of the city have been worst affected as there is no fly over on the level-crossing of the Paras Ram Nagar. The prices of lands have not increased for many years altogether.

Numerous streets of the Jogi Ram locality were dug up a couple of years ago and have not been remetalled till date. In an application forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner, residents of the street number 7 of Jogi Nagar alleged that their street had not been remetalled and all requests had proved to be futile.

Mr Randhir Bobby alleged that as the Municipal Councillor of the area belonged to the Congress, the ruling SAD-BJP alliance was hampering the development work of the ward.

Stray animals, pot holes, heaps of garbage, and over flowing drains greet the visitor, much to the embarrassment of us, he lamented.

The president of the municipal council had visited the area but the conditions have not improved so far.

Verbal requests to Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, MLA, have also failed to improve the situation.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, said there was no discrimination, whatsoever, in the allocation of funds or in the development works being done in the city.

Even if some discrepancy was there it would be removed at the earliest, he added.


Need to revive traditional Punjabi poetry
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
The Punjab Sahit Sabhayacharak Manch organised a function to promote and save the traditional art of writing poetry in Punjabi at the Punjab Languages Department on Friday.

Presiding over the function, Mr Madan Lal Hasija, Director of the Department, welcomed Punjabi poets settled abroad and appreciated their work in enriching and globalising the various dimensions of Punjabi literature at the conceptual level.

Dr S.P. Singh, Dean, Colleges, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, while felicitating migrant Punjabi poet Gurcharan Singh Musafir said that such poets bridge the gap between the traditional and the modern poetry and help in reviving the old instinct to prevent its complete elimination from the rich Punjabi literature.

Mr Hasija, while describing Musafir as a visionary poet said his works contained a variety of soulful elements and had a lot of historical and literary value. He added that it is in his works alone that one finds the elements of both intellect and emotions rendering a unique quality to his literary efforts. Elaborating upon his achievements, he said. Musafir has contributed 13 books to the Punjabi literature.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, OSD to Punjab Chief Minister said such a grand function had been held for the first time. Dr Gurnam Singh, Mr Balbir Singh Bedi, Prof Kirpal Singh Kasel and Mr Harcharan Singh Bedi also spoke on the occasion.


Pain of fitness freaks
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, April1
Misplaced zeal sometimes can prove to be counter productive.

This is precisely what is happening to the hundreds of fitness freaks who register themselves with innumerable gyms dotting this sports conscious city. They are quick to step in the gym but barely a few days later after trying to melt down that extra flab or trying a bit too hard to develop their biceps to superhuman levels, they fall victims to the fitness misinformation boom. Reason enough why the dropout rate is spiralling day by day as these freaks start suffering from an assortment of ailments, including muscle spasms, sprains, swollen joints, premature arthritis, acute chest pain and in extreme cases even broken bones.

Although the gym culture is spreading like wildfire in this city — known for its rich sporting tradition — the problem is that just a fraction of the fitness freaks adopt the proper mode and manner to knock off those extra kilos. A gym owner, speaking on the condition of anonymity, made this interesting revelation that most of the injuries occur due to ‘ego-training’, which means competing with a friend. He cites the case of a young obese girl who did 120 sit-ups on her very first day in the gym, just because her friend had also done them an hour earlier.

Dr Manmohan Singh, a renowned cardiologist and member of the Medical Commission of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), attributes such incidents to “getting slim the fast way”. He opined that without following a proper regime coupled with lack of knowledge, these freaks do not fine tune their body before stepping in the gym. “Jogging, skipping and doing light weights in a scientific manner are the proper methods to get rid of that extra flab. However, people seldom do this and straightaway jump on the accelerator in an effort either to loose weight or build their bodies in double quick time.” He also laments the lack of qualified trainers who could chalk out a proper exercise programme catering to the needs of different individuals.

Says Dr Rajeev Aggarwal, an orthopaedician, “Gyms are just business propositions. Anybody who has the money and space in a centralised area is quick to jump on the gym-bandwagon, but there is nobody to teach how to exercise in a professional manner.” He is of the view that exercise should be gradual and overdose should be avoided at all costs.

However, it seems that neither gym owners nor those visiting them are listening. A top orthopaedician said that most of the gym owners were unaware that over exercising underprepared muscles by stretching was an invitation to disaster. He adds that most of the owners do not suggest drinking of water as dehydrated muscles protest with spasms.


Kohar grilled on Punjab demands
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Lohian (Jalandhar), April 1
The Punjab Minister for Jails and Sainik Welfare, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, virtually pushed the main and long-pending Punjab demands like transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas and Chandigarh to the state and sharing of river waters, on the backburner by claiming that the biggest achievement of the SAD-BJP was creating the atmosphere of communal harmony in the state and all other issues comparatively held little relevance for the alliance.

Mr Kohar was participating at the first function of its kind in the state, “Ru-bru” (face to face) organised here today by the Patrakar Forum Lohian. The minister was virtually grilled at the question-answer session, particularly about the implementation of the SAD manifesto in the past four years.

Mr Kohar was discomfited by questions about what his party had done to meet the long-pending demands of Punjab, including transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas and sharing of the river waters, which the SAD had vowed to fulfil in its manifesto and had launched a number of “morchas” to achieve its aim.

On why the SAD-BJP took four long years to get a formal resolution passed in the state assembly in this regard, he said, “What else can we do than to pass a resolution in the assembly and to take up the matter with our partner BJP. In any case, we cannot part ways with the BJP on this issue. Moreover, the major success of our party was to create and maintain an atmosphere of communal harmony in the state and all other issues, including these demands, were secondary things, we, however, are doing a sangharsh for the implementation of these demands.” He ruled out the possibility of withdrawal of the SAD support to the BJP even if the long pending demands like release of Jodhpur detainees were not accepted by the BJP-led NDA government.

He was also visibly unnerved when asked why the SAD-BJP had introduced a resolution in the Assembly condemning the 1984 riots and Operation Blue Star after four years of coming to power.

On whether the elevation of Mr Sukhbir Badal to the post of SAD secretary-general and later to the Rajya Sabha was a sign of decay of democracy within the party, he justified the decision, claiming that the former had helped to attract a number of industries to Punjab.

When reminded of a statement by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti that a nexus between Punjab police officials and smugglers had led to an increase of the menace in the state, Mr Kohar said this was the view of the Jathedar and he did not agree with it.

The minister was again on the defensive when Mr Kulwant Rai Sharma, the president of the Beopar Mandal, Lohian, reminded him that the SAD manifesto had promised abolition of octroi when the party came to power.


Kiranjit case panel rally today
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 1
The Kiranjit Kaur Abduction Rape and Murder Case Action Committee has again decided to resort to the path of agitation by staging a demonstration and protest rally at Grain Market, Mahel Kalan, tomorrow to express its resentment against the Barnala police.

It has alleged that the police has implicated three action committee members Prem Kumar, teacher, Manjit Dhaner and Narain Dutt by including their names in the FIR pertaining to the assault on four persons in local courts complex on March 3. Mr Narain Dutt, convener of the committee, said the panel members had no link with the assault case.


25 marriages solemnised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
A total of 25 marriages of poor girls and boys were solemnised at Amar Ashram here today. These marriages, were organised by Satya Nishkam Sabha, a voluntary social organisation.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, granted a sum of Rs 51,000 for conducting the marriage ceremonies. Prominent among those present on the occasion were the Income Tax Commissioner, Mr B.M Singh, the SP City, Mr Gurpreet Singh Gill, and the DSP, Mr Rashpal Singh.

The sabha gave double beds, chairs, sewing machines, ceiling fans, blankets, quilts, utensils and ornaments to the girls. The sabha thanked the residents of city for their help. 


Camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
A free medical camp organised at Maisarkhana village by the Dost Welfare Society to provide first-aid to the injured at Maisarkhana mela has concluded.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Anil Verma, vice-president of the society, said 1,200 persons were given first-aid during the mela.


Billing Bar body chief
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
Mr Balbir Singh Billing was elected President of the Patiala District Bar Association at a meeting held here today. Mr Dinesh Kumar Batish was elected (unopposed) Joint Secretary, Mr Ravinder Nath Kaushal vice-president, Mr Wirsa Singh Wariach — secretary and Mr Baljinder Singh Cheema — cashier.


Minister-MC chief row hits civic works
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 1
In violation of norms the executive officer of the Municipal Council, Fazilka reportedly on verbal instructions of the Surjit Kumar Jyani, local MLA and Forest Minister, Punjab, has summoned a meeting of the council for April 3 without the concurrence of Mr Mohinder Pratap Dhingra, president Municipal Council.

The meeting is construed as a sequence of alleged wordy duel between the minister and civic body president at the state-level conference of the BJP at Muktsar last week and the effort of both warring factions of BJP Municipal Councillors to show dominance in municipal affairs. Controversial resolution number 58 regarding the construction of new bus stand is to be debated at the meeting.

The Municipal Council, Fazilka, with its then president, Mr Bajrang Lal Gupta, had got the foundation stone for the new bus stand laid from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, in 1998 without approval of civic body House at a site earmarked for a residential colony for the poor. The disputed site is half a kilometre from the Fazilka-Abohar road.

Mr Badal then had visited Fazilka to lay the foundation stone of multicrore canal water project for Fazilka town.

The faction of BJP Councillors led by Mr Dhingra and five Municipal Councillors of the Congress allege that the minister is keen is keen to get the bus stand constructed at new site a remote place for the alleged benefit of relations of former civic body president Mr Bajrang Lal Gupta who owns land adjacent to the site where foundation stone was laid.

Meanwhile due to factionalism and following pressure of BJP high command and to fulfil the promise made to Mr Dhingra, Mr Gupta had to relinquish the post and Mr Dhingra was installed civic body chief even as Mr Jyani was not willing for it. Following pressure from Mr Brij Lal Rinwa president Punjab BJP Mr Dhingra was installed president of the civic body.

It is stated that Mr Dhingra was not keen for early construction of bus stand. On the other hand Mr Jyani reportedly directed the executive officer to summon a meeting without the consent of the Municipal Council and issue a agenda for the construction of the bus stand. It is stated that some Municipal Councillors are trying for putting off the meeting.

The row between Mr Jyani and Mr Dhingra has taken such a turn that Mr Jyani has started interfering into all matters of civic body allegedly to let down Mr Dhingra.

Few days back Mr Dhingra had allegedly got a resolution seeking nomination of members of house tax committee passed with support of Congress Municipal Councillors by defeating the members supported by the Bajrang Lal Gupta faction, Mr Jyani has already got the resolution suspended by the Director Local Self Government on March 29, 2001. Due to factionalism development of the town has come to a standstill.


Rs 1.98 cr for roads, sewerage
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 1
The local Nagar Council has earmarked Rs 1.98 crore out of its budget of Rs 4.5 crore for development during the 2001-2002 financial year in this town. Stress will be laid for repairing roads, maintenance of sewerage, besides pavement of drains and streets in the slum areas.

This was stated by Mr Gurtej Singh Gill and Mr Vijay Kumar Gupta President and Executive Officer respectively, of the Nagar Council, while talking to this reporter here yesterday.

They disclosed that 14 solar lights would also be installed on certain points where power supply was be young reach. Both Mr Gill and Mr Gupta and Mr Gupta said a proposal had also been made to approach the Life Corporation of India and Hudco for advancing a loan of Rs 10 crore to lay sewers in different parts of the town. Priority in this connection would be given to the colonies like Harindra Nagar, Bhan Singh Colony, Old Cantt Road and new Cantonment road.


2 killed as car, bus collide
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 1
Two occupants of a Maruti, car, including an NRI, Girdhawar Singh, and a trader, Lalit Kumar, were killed on the spot and two others, Balbir Kumar and Hausla, sustained injuries, when their car was hit by a speeding bus on the Goraya- Jandiala road late last night.

The police has arrested the bus driver and impounded the bus. The bodies have been sent to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

In another mishap, Paramjit Singh (21) was killed and two others injured when the scooter that they were riding was hit by a jeep near Darvesh Pind village last night. The driver of the Jeep was reportedly under the influence of liquor. The body has been handed over to the family after post-mortem.


2 car occupants die in mishap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 1
Two Rurka Kalan residents were killed when their Maruti Zen car hit a mini bus last evening.

According to the police, Lalit Kumar and Godawar Singh were proceeding from Goraya to Rurka Kalan in their car when it collided head-on with a Goraya-bound mini bus. Both car occupants died on the spot.

The police has booked mini bus driver Dilbagh Singh under Sections 279, 337 and 338 and 304-A of the IPC. 


B.Ed course may be discontinued
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
To clear the backlog in jobs, the B.Ed. course should be discontinued for at least five years, opined Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, who was here today in connection with the annual prize distribution function of the local Government Rajindra College.

Mr Lal said: “In my view, the backlog will be cleared only if the course is banned for at least five years. A proposal in this connection was under consideration and would be brought for review by the Cabinet by Mr Tota Singh, Minister for Education.

On the condition of minimum 180 teaching days in educational institutes, the minister said the proposal had been accepted. Now it was up to the heads of respective institutes to look for effective implementation of the same.

To implement the 180 teaching days scheme in B.Ed. colleges, the course may be extended up to one-and-a-half-year, the minister said.

Mr Mohan Lal said 485 posts of lecturer were lying vacant in the state. These would be filled in the coming session. Of these 25 per cent would be advertised and the rest filled through promotions. Ad hoc lecturers would be appointed and they would be paid Rs 8000 per month if the Finance Department approved the same.

Mr Mohan Lal said a proposal had been sent to the University Grants Commission (UGC) that senior professors with more than 25 years of service be exempted from the condition of PhD for appointment as principals.

The minister claimed that the SAD-BJP combine had not increased fees in higher educational institutes. The universities had their own rules and he was not aware of any fee hike by the universities, he explained.

The minister pointed out that the menace of tuitions was not only due to poor academic standards, but also ambition on the part of parents who wanted their wards to excel in competitive exams. The universities had been directed to open regional centres in rural areas of the state to provide higher education at the doorstep of villagers, he added. 


‘Guru Nanak Bani’ in ‘Shahmukhi’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 1
The academy of Punjabis in North America (APNA) headed by Dr Rachhpal Singh Aulakh, and the Punjab Heritage Foundation headed by Dr Manzur Ejaz, both settled in the USA, have brought the East and West Punjabs (Indian and Pakistani Punjabi) closer.

Their relentless efforts have resulted in the Punjabi literature into “shahmukhi” (Persian) and “Gurmukhi”.

For the first time, ‘Guru Nanak Bani’ published in ‘Gurmukhi’ by Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1967 has been translated into “shahmukhi” (Persian) under the new title of “Kalam Baba Nanak”. The volume of ‘Kalam Baba Nanak’ spreads into more than 1000 pages.

It took Dr Aulakh three years to complete the task. The book will be released at Lahore on April 3: Dr Karnail Singh Thind, a former Registrar of Guru Nanak Dev University and an authority on Pakistani literature will be the chief guest at the function where Prof Puran Singh’s poetry in the Persian script and ‘Guru Nanak Bani’ will be released.

Dr Aulakh said “Kalam Baba Nanak” was published in Pakistan with the efforts of Mushtak Sufi, a Pakistani Punjabi poet, on behalf of Dr Manzur.

Interestingly, Dr Aulakh and Dr Manzur both belong to the Health Department in the USA and they have had no formal education in Punjabi literature. Dr Aulakh did his MBBS from Medical College, Patiala, and worked in the PGI, Chandigarh, going abroad.

He said the APNA, the Sikh Heritage Association and the Academy of Punjabis and the Punjab Heritage Foundation, all based in Washington DC, had been working together to promote the composite Punjabi culture.

Dr Aulakh said the three US-based associations had been holding competitions of Punjabi plays in the USA and other countries. The APNA had opened a branch in Patiala. The association would give an award of Rs 1 lakh to the ‘Best Punjabi Writer’ every year. Apart from this, the association would give an award of Rs 25,000 every year to the “best Punjabi writers” in East and West Punjab.


PUDA allots 28 school sites
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has issued letters of intent (LOI) allotting 28 school sites in the six urban estates in Punjab at concessional rates and terms and conditions with the approval of the Finance and Accounts Committee under the chairpersonship of Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Punjab.

Out of the total of 28 sites allotted, 15 have been allotted at SAS Nagar (Mohali), four at Patiala, one at Bathinda, four at Jalandhar, one at Phagwara and three at Ludhiana. This will enable the residents of the six urban estates and surrounding areas to avail themselves of the 85 per cent quota in engineering and medical colleges fixed by the state government for the domiciles of Punjab. Earlier, PUDA had allotted 12 school sites and one college site of Mohali to the state Education Department.

The rates fixed by PUDA are lower than those offered by Haryana and Chandigarh. The rate being charged per sq yd is Rs 1,880 Mohali, Rs 1,830 Jalandhar, Rs 2,260 Ludhiana, Rs 1,480 Bathinda, Rs 1,550 Patiala and Rs 1,630 Phagwara. The allottees are required to deposit only 15 per cent of the cost of the site within 90 days of the issue the letter of intent. The balance of 85 per cent cost is payable in eight equal yearly instalments with a moratorium of two years. The total cost is payable over a period of more than a decade. No interest will be charged during the entire payment period. The rates are exclusive of 4 per cent human resource development charge levied by the Government of India.

PUDA had invited applications for the allotment of school sites after inserting an advertisement in the Press during February, 2000, and received 76 applications of which 52 were only for Mohali.

Out of the total of 28 sites, 14 have been allotted to senior secondary schools, three to middle high schools, seven to primary schools and four to nursery schools, according to the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr K. B. S. Sidhu.


Rajindra College celebrates annual day
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The annual function of Government Rajindra College concluded here today amid fun and frolic. Mr Gopal Singh, Principal of the college, while highlighting the achievements of the college, said 39 students of the college had bagged merit positions in the April, 2000, examination conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala. Giving details of the sports achievements of the students of the college, he said Ms Babita Rani, who represented India at the Junior World Power Lifting Championship in Taiwan, bagged four medals. She had also set four new records at the National Power Lifting championship and had bagged two gold medals at the university-level.

Ms Beant Kaur, power lifter, bagged two gold medals at the university-level and got a silver medal at the inter-university competitions, while Mr Inderpal Singh, who represented Punjabi University team of weighlifting, bagged the gold medal at the inter-university competition.

Interestingly, the college auditorium, which is in bad shape, has been duly mentioned in the annual report of the college and today’s function was held under tents, at the open-air theatre of the college.

Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, who was the chief guest at today’s function, gave away trophies and merit certificates to the students. He announced that Rs 20 lakh of the total Rs 40 lakh, which were lying ideal in the amalgamated fund of the college, could be used. He also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the college.


School holds annual function
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Baba Farid Public School organised its annual function at which Mrs Gurbinder Kaur Dhillon, Vice-District Education Officer, was the chief guest.

Addressing a gathering, Mrs Dhillon said parents should avoid the habit of sending their wards to tuitions. She praised the school for showing good results in every field. She gave away prizes to outstanding students.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Dhaliwal, principal, speaking on the occasion, said the main aim of the school was to save students from heavy home work and schoolbags and to make students confident and complete human beings.


Promotion sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The class IV (matric pass) employees of the Education Department, Punjab, have been waiting for promotions for the past many years despite the fact that posts of clerk and lab attendant have been lying vacant in the department.

In a press note issued here on Thursday, Mr Raghveer Singh, representative of the Class IV (matric pass) Employees Union, Education Department, Punjab, demanded the authorities concerned should take steps in this direction.

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