Sunday, April 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



10 lakh mt wheat procured: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 21
The Punjab Government has procured about 10 lakh metric tonnes of wheat against the target of 1.20 crore metric tonnes in different grain markets and purchasing centres of the state till now and the entire process will be completed by May 15. This was stated by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, while talking to mediapersons at Kotkapura today.

The minister, who was on a tour of various grain markets in Moga district, besides Kotkapura (Faridkot) and Muktsar admitted that a delay in the procurement had been caused due to untimely rain but said the situation had now improved.

He said he had got reports regarding the damage to crops due to the recent heavy rain in Faridkot, Ferozepore, Muktsar and Mansa districts and the respective Deputy Commissioner had been directed to make arrangements for assessing the loss and giving compensation to the affected agriculturists.

In reply to a question, Mr Mittal said the state government had received Rs 100 crore from the Centre to pay compensation to the farmers who had suffered losses in the last paddy procurement season. The minister said the government had already given a concession of more than Rs 100 crore to the traders by providing relaxation in sales tax and excise duty. He said the octroi contract system had been abolished during the current financial year in the state.

Mr Mittal said his party, the BJP, had also put a demand before the Punjab Chief Minister to reduce the power tariff for domestic use and for the small-scale industry.

In reply to another question, Mr Mittal said a meeting of state BJP MLAs would be held at Chandigarh on April 27 to chalk out the party’s strategy for forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Mr Dhani Ram Food Supply Controller, Faridkot, and Ms Gurcharan Kaur, state vice-president, BJP, were also present on the occasion. Later, Mr Mittal had a meeting with the party workers of Kotkapura.


Procurement of wheat reviewed
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 21
“Nobody showing laxity in the purchase of wheat will be spared,” said Punjab Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon after a tour of various grain markets in Nurpur Sethan, Rukna Begu, Shehzadi, Shukoor Loham and Mudki villages in the district, following complaints of non-procurement of wheat by government agencies.

He said regular procurement would be ensured till all wheat in the market is purchased. He asked the farmers to beware of the elements spreading false information. The minister admitted that adverse weather conditions and untimely rain had affected the process, due to which procurement agencies were facing problems.

Mr Sekhon claimed that the necessary arrangements had been completed for the lifting of wheat and gunny bags had also been provided. He said in order to ensure quick payment, a loan of Rs 500 crore had been forwarded to the procurement agencies. He issued directions to the officers regarding the procurement.


125 flour mills on verge of closure
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
About 125 flour mills in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are on the verge of closure due to stopping of the open market sale scheme by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in these states. At the same time, the FCI has slashed the rates of wheat in the entire country except in the northern zone.

Under the open market scheme millers in the northern zone, which includes the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi and the union territory of Chandigarh, would get wheat from the FCI for Rs 650 per quintal, while the rates for south, west and east zones were Rs 743, Rs 724 and Rs 736 per quintal, respectively. From March 1, the FCI slashed the rates in rest of the zones and retained the existing rate for the northern zone. The millers have been demanding that in this zone the prices should be fixed at Rs 600 per quintal.

According to Mr Gopal Bhushan Gupta, a representative of the Confederation of North Zone Flour Milling Industry, in case the FCI slashes the prices in this zone also, most of the wheat procured by it (the FCI) will be purchased by the millers here only.

The price is not the only problem for the millers in these states. The FCI has stopped the open market sale to millers in this zone except for Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The step has been taken to ensure that the millers purchase the wheat of the farmers. However, they cannot purchase it directly and can do it through the arhtiyas (commission agents) only.

Mr Gupta claimed, under this arrangement the wheat will cost them at least Rs 715 per quintal. Giving details, he pointed out, the procurement price of wheat is Rs 610 per quintal. If other costs like 13 per cent tax, labour, packaging and transportation charges were added the final cost per quintal came to at least Rs 715 per quintal. They said this price was not viable as the final product (flour) would not cost them less than Rs 800 per quintal, which was in no way a competitive price.

There are 125 flour mills in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. About 50 of them are already closed, while the remaining are not working to the full capacity. Mr Gupta said the total installed capacity is about 12,500 tonnes per day but not more than 4,000 tonnes of flour is produced on a single day. If the situation continues like this, the remaining mills will also shut down, affecting the livelihood of at least 20,000 people.

The millers recently met the Union Food Minister Mr Shanta Kumar, and urged him to resume the open market sale of wheat by the FCI and also reduce the price in northern zone from Rs 650 to Rs 600 per quintal. They assured the minister the wheat procured by the FCI will be lifted by the millers in the northern zone. 



Exodus of labourers
Rain hits wheat harvesting
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
Wheat harvesting season usually has an inflow of migratory labour from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan. However, this time a large number of labourers can be seen boarding trains to different parts of the country in search of work.

Untimely rain which lashed the region has hit not only the economy of the state, but also the labourers. Some of them had taken a break from their work in other states to earn decent money during the peak season in Punjab, with the rain, they had to return empty-handed.

Sita Rammiya and Sham Singh of Sitamarhi (Bihar) who worked as labourer at a private factory in Delhi, left their jobs and landed in Punjab. But their hopes were shattered and they had to spend their money on meals. “We come here every year and save enough to take back home. The average daily wages range between Rs 120 and Rs 130. Also, the meals are free. This year, however, the rain has hit the crops. “We have been stranded here for more than a week and have exhausted our savings,” they said.

Hashim, another labourer from Bihar, said many of the labourers had suffered losses this season due to bad weather and had returned either to native places or to other parts of the country. Most of them had gone to the Jammu and Kashmir, Amritsar and Pathankot areas, he said.

The migratory labour had always been in shortage during the harvesting season for the past several years. There have been reports of some labourers turning into contractors, who arrange labourers from various parts of the country, who work as contract labourers in fields. This year even these contractors have faced losses.

Farmers of neighbouring villages told The Tribune that they had employed harvestor-combines at exhorbitant rates this season. The average rates charged for harvesting an acre by a harvestor-combine had been increased by Rs 100 in the region as the farmers were not taking any chance with the rain.


SHSAD: give relief to farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The General Secretary of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Prem Singh Chandumjra, today urged the Punjab Government to pay compensation to farmers hit by the recent hailstorm in the state. He said while the farming community had suffered a huge loss, the state government had done nothing in this connection.

He asked the government to defer the recovery of cooperative and other loans in areas where rains and hailstorm had caused damage.

Mr Chandumajra said the Punjab Government should urge the Union Government to pay compensation from the National Calamity Fund. He said in the past three years, the Union Government had given only Rs 13 crore to the state from the fund despite a huge amount at its disposal.

He said there was no truth in the statement of the Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, that farmers were given payment within 72 hours against the procurement of wheat.


Misappropriation of FCI funds alleged
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 21
The district police claims to have unearthed a racket in the local office of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) alleging it had enrolled fictitious labour and misappropriated funds.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that they had received a secret information that the FCI officials in connivance with some trade union leaders had allegedly shown fictitious enrolment of labour in their records and sanctioned payments to them.

Investigation revealed that 268 daily wage workers had been absorbed to work as regular labourers in the FCI warehouse situated in the new grain market here on January 1, 1995.

However, certain officials devised a way for not filling the vacancies in due course in connivance with some trade union leaders and misappropriated the salaries.


Zila parishad poll in June
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The election to zila parishads and block samitis in Punjab will be held some time in June. The process has been already put into motion.

The elections to these bodies were due in October last year but could not be held on one pretext or the other.

Political sources associated with the decision-making on the elections of these bodies told TNS today that a notification would be issued soon to create three new blocks-Sujanpur, Bhagta Bhaika and Raikot- raising the number of these bodies to 141 from 138.

The sources an ordinance effecting amendments in the Panchayati Raj Act to make a provision for electing 50 per cent members of Zila Parishads directly and the rest indirectly would be issued within two weeks. The draft of the ordinance was being finalised by legal experts.

Significantly, the Congress, the CPI, the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and certain other political parties have opposed the proposed amendments in the Act. Some of them have even threatened to knock the doors of the Punjab and Haryana High Court . They want that members of these bodies should be elected directly. At the time of Beant Singh’s government, 60 per cent members were elected indirectly and 40 per cent directly. The ruling SAD had then branded the provision as undemocratic.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s involvement in these elections is understandable as it would provide him a chance for assessment of the political situation in the state for preparing for the State Assembly elections due in eight months.

Sources said Mr Badal had already chalked out an extensive programme for addressing about 24 political conferences till mid- June in the state to mobilise the party rank and file for the elections. His party may also have to face the elections of the SGPC which are due in November this year. He has already made a statement that elections to the religious body will be held on the due date.

It had been speculated that the elections to the Assembly may be advanced to August because of the paddy factor and the elections to the zila parishads and the block samitis may be deferred. The SAD-BJP faced a lot of problems, including adverse publicity because of power alliance for paddy procurement arrangements in the past three years. Political circles have been saying that the SAD-BJP may opt for elections than face another paddy procurement in October-November.

Senior leaders of the SAD and the BJP told this correspondent that their government would not shy from this problem and would like to prove that their government alone could help the farmers when faced with any crisis. In fact, advancing the assembly elections could send the wrong signals in the countryside, allowing an opportunity to the Opposition to propagate that the SAD-BJP had advanced the elections as it was expecting more problems on paddy procurement this year.

Sources said after the issuance of the ordinance, the task of setting up zones in each block and district would be accomplished within two weeks. The zones had to have reserve seats for various categories, including women, as per the Act. Over 30 per cent seats were to reserved for women in the original Act. At last 12-17 members would be elected to each block samiti and Zila Parishad.

As soon this process is completed, the state government will request the state Election Commission to hold the elections to these bodies. Though dates for holding the elections will be suggested by the state government, the commission has the powers to alter the election schedule proposed by the government, it is learnt. The issue of elections to these bodies came up at the meeting of the Political Affair Committee( PAC) of the SAD, which was presided over by the Chief Minister, yesterday. The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, attended the meeting as a special invitee.


Chhat Bir tigers for Gaddafi
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chandigarh, April 19
As a token of gratitude, the Government of India has decided to gift a pair of tigers to the President of Libya for the relief material sent by his country for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake.

The President of Libya, Col Moammar Gaddafi, had sent material worth Rs 200 crore, including tents and blankets, for the victims.

Ms Gurbinder Kaur Chahal, Financial Commissioner, Forests, and Secretary to the Punjab Government, told the Tribune that the Government of India had asked the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to select healthy tigers from any zoo or park for gifting these to the Libyan leader.

Following the government’s directions, the CZA had chosen the Chhat Bir zoo for this purpose, she said.

Sources say Colonel Gaddafi is an animal lover and will provide a natural habitat for the big cats at a zoo in Libya.

The two tigers will be airlifted from Chhat Bir and flown to Libya. On the demand of the Libyan Government, the Zoo Authority of India and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has agreed to send Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden, Zoos, Punjab, along with the treasured consignment to Libya. He will help the Libyan zoo authorities in Tripoli in the proper delivery of the animals and to give his advice on the upkeep of the animal at Tripoli. Dr Sharma will be flying to Tripoli tomorrow.

He said the authorities had also decided to exchange animals, including reptiles, at the Chhat Bir zoo with those in zoos and parks in Patna, Lucknow, Kanpur, Gwalior, Bhilai, Rohtak and Pipli.

Dr Sharma said the newly formed Wildlife Welfare Society of Punjab, Chandigarh, had decided to procure wild animals for the upgradation and expansion of the Chhat Bir zoo.


Militants roam ‘freely’ in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
The efficiency and ability of the state police has come under a shadow with reports of proclaimed offenders moving about freely, evading detection. Certain ‘wanted terrorists’ are also reported to be frequently visiting the state without being noticed by the security forces in Punjab.

The laxity on the part of these authorities has been exposed once again with the revelation made by Rachpal Singh alias Lali, a wanted terrorist who surrendered before the Jagraon police early this week. Talking to reporters at Central Jail here yesterday, where he is under judicial custody, he confessed that he had visited his village at least four times in the past.

On one occasion, he had even visited the district courts and tehsil offices in connection with the purchase of a house in the Rajguru nagar area. Surprisingly, no one came to know about his visit even though he had come with his family.

Family sources also revealed that Lali had spent at least a month in the state during his visits. Though he kept shifting from one place to another, yet not even once, any police or intelligence sleuth could catch him. This despite the fact that his photograph and other details were available with security agencies.

According to inquiries, Lali was declared proclaimed offender in 1991 after he jumped bail in a case of snatching registered against him. Though his photographs were pasted in several police stations and flashed across the world yet Lali managed to slip through the security net.

His frequent visits were a pointer to the failure of the security forces at the airports in the country. A senior police official who did not wish to be quoted said his visits highlighted the loopholes and sheer laxity on the part of the security forces, especially the state police.

He said one also had to investigate the role played by politicians in such a case as without their help such visits were not possible.

Rachpal Singh Lali had surrendered before the Jagraon SSP Jaskaran Singh on Monday, 10 years after he ran away from the country. In his earlier interviews to mediapersons, he had alleged that he had to run away from the country as he and his family was regularly harassed by the police. He had settled in Manila but wanted to return to his homeland. His wife and two children are still in Thailand.


AISSF seeks amnesty for militants
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 21
In an unprecedented move, the All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) has demanded that Punjab Chief Minister should announce general amnesty for all those militants who had migrated to western countries during the decade-long terrorism in the state and SAD ticket to be given to them to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, president of the AISSF, in a press note released here yesterday said these militants should be given the Shiromani Akali Dal ticket in the coming Assembly elections so that they could raise their genuine demands in the state Assembly in a democratic way instead of adopting gun culture. He further said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was detained in Tihar Jail, had allotted the party’s ticket to the Pando brothers in 1980 after her release and had got them elected as MLA and MP.

They were responsible for the hijack of an Indian Airlines aeroplane. She had done this to press the then Desai government to release her.

Even, Phoolan Devi, who was allegedly responsible for hundreds of killings, had been granted amnesty and she was elected an MP twice from Uttar Pradesh.

Why cannot the Punjab militants be granted amnesty to enable them to join the mainstream by contesting the assembly elections? Mr Bhoma quipped. He advocated the cause of the families of those militants who were killed during the days of terrorism, by demanding pension and jobs for their kin.

Though several Panthic political and social outfits have demanded that all foreign-based Sikh militants should be granted general amnesty to enable them to join the mainstream, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today opposed the move by urging the state government to deal strictly with these militants.

Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the state unit of the BJP, while talking to reporters at the Circuit House here yesterday, said these hardcore militants should be dealt with strictly as per the law of the land and his party was totally against any move to grant general amnesty to them.

“We, however, have no objection if someone surrenders before the authorities,” said Mr Rinwa.


Non-affiliated institute dupes students
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
The district administration today recommended the registration of a case of cheating against owners of a Raikot-based institute, who have allegedly defrauded over a 100 students from all over the state by granting them admission in one year paramedical courses even when it had no affiliation.

The recommendation comes after a series of inquiries conducted by the district administration and the Jagraon police pointed to the alleged fraud. While the police had conducted its own inquiry and indicted the institute , another, inquiry with same conclusions was done by the ADC (Development) and the civil surgeon. However, for mysterious reasons action was not being taken against the management of the institute.

Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu said after going through the inquiry reports and the opinion of the DA (legal), he had recommended the registration of a case. He said time was needed in such inquiries and one had to be sure about the facts.

The recommendation has come as a shot in the arm of the Raikot wing of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) which had exposed the fraud. The Tribune had also highlighted the alleged fraud.

Uncertainty, however, prevails over the future of the students. Not only have they paid thousands of rupees to the institute, but have also wasted a year in the pursuit of the degree. Interestingly, unmindful of the recommendation, the institute has already announced the date of the annual examinations scheduled to start next week.

The Indian Institute of Paramedical Training, Raikot, is alleged to have cheated about 105 students by charging lakhs of rupees from them for paramedical courses. The institute is being run in the name of “Sadbhavna Society”, a charitable trust which claimed in the prospectus that the institute was affiliated to the All-India Academy of Paramedical Training Association (AIAPTA), New Delhi.

The course began in July 2000 and the students were charged Rs 15,000 as annual fee and Rs 12,000 as other charges. The students were admitted in 12 paramedical courses. They were also assured of employment after completing the course.

Matriculates and 10 plus two pass students were allured with catchy advertisements. The institute also claimed that after completing the course, the students would also be eligible for service also in the Gulf and European countries.

However, lack of proper infrastructure and faculty members in the institute made the students suspicious about the credibility of the course. Some of them approached the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Ministry of HRD, New Delhi, and found that no such institute was affiliated to them. The AICTE had discontinued this course two years ago.

The Raikot unit of the IMA then carried its own investigation and brought the matter to the notice of the district administration and the police. Dr Ramesh Jain, president of the association said investigations revealed that three such institutes were also opened in Delhi, Gurgaon and Koita. He said however all of them had already been closed. The police station concerned was inquiring into the cases.

He claimed that the institute in the prospectus said it was a franchise of a Delhi based institute, but inquires revealed that it had been closed down. The owner had given post-dated cheques amounting to Rs 50,000 to the landlord as rent. The cheques, however, bounced.

The police inquired from the state government which vide a letter dated March 7, informed that the government had given only a no objection certificate for offering a course in general nursing and mid-wifery and not for all courses.

Varsity recognises parallel PUTA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 21
The Punjabi University authorities accorded formal recognition to a parallel Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) body which expressed no confidence in the elected PUTA organisation which has been at loggerheads with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, hours after it was formed yesterday.

The recognition of a new group of teachers was preceded by a flurry of activity yesterday which included addressing of two separate meetings of teachers, who have been regularised recently or those who are due for promotions, by the Vice-Chancellor in the morning. The elected PUTA body had earlier levelled allegations of various irregularities against the VC which are presently being probed by the Punjab Government following orders of inquiry in this regard by the Higher Education Minister, Mr Mohan Lal.

According to the notification released to the press today, the Registrar said he had been intimated yesterday by the newly elected PUTA president, Dr Manjit Singh, that in exercise of its inherent plenary powers, the general house of the PUTA had unanimously passed a vote of no confidence against the PUTA executive except for the three members who had convened the “general house”.

The Registrar, Dr B.S. Bhatia, stated in the notification that the “general house” had unanimously voted for the new executive in place of the outvoted executive members. The notification said the “new PUTA executive” had sought formal recognition which had been accorded and notified. It said if the “outvoted PUTA executive” members were able to get a vote of confidence from a larger majority of the general house then derecognition of the “outvoted” PUTA executive would be reconsidered accordingly. The notification said a copy had been forwarded for information to the “ex-PUTA president”, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira.

Yesterday a meeting of a group of teachers was convened by the three PUTA elected body executive members, Dr Jamshed Ali Khan, Dr Ajit Singh Bhatia and Dr R.N. Mishra, all members of the United Teachers Front, which had been defeated in elections to the PUTA body. While condemning the anti-teacher policies of the dominating group in the elected body, the teachers passed a “vote of no confidence” against the elected body and elected Dr Manjit Singh as the “new PUTA president”.

The other “office bearers elected” were Dr Ajit Singh Bhatia as vice-president, Dr Dharam Pal Goyal as secretary and Dr Jamshed Ali Khan as joint secretary-cum-treasurer. The newly elected body immediately rejected the memorandum submitted against the Vice-Chancellor to the Chancellor and the Punjab Government by the elected body claiming that it contained baseless and motivated allegations against the VC. It claimed that 226 teachers had attended the “general body” meeting but no list was released on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the elected PUTA body today while calling the notification released by the Registrar “illegal”, said it would draw an action plan which could include approaching the university teachers for an agitation on the issue as well as approaching the court for justice. The PUTA secretary, Dr Balwinder Singh, said the Chancellor and the Punjab Government would be informed of the developments so that this issue could also be taken up in the agenda of inquiry against the Vice-Chancellor.

The PUTA secretary said the notification released by the Registrar was ridiculous as he had recognised a self-proclaimed executive body which had not been elected according to the rules and procedures listed in the university calendar. He said it was surprising that the Registrar was according recognition to a body after being “informed” about an election when he was supposed to act as a returning officer in the PUTA elections. He said it was also surprising that a vote of no confidence had been passed against the PUTA executive except for three members.


Gosain, Sethi clash on CM’s tour plan
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
The factionalism in the local BJP unit came to the fore today with the district BJP president, Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, and the Deputy Speaker in the Punjab assembly, Mr Satpal Gosain, clashing in public on the issue of drawing up the tour programme of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Badal is conducting sanghat darshan programme in the Assembly segment represented by Mr Gosain.

The clash occurred at the house of Mr Gosain. Mr Gosain insisted on certain tour programme listing different areas falling in his own constituency, while Mr Sethi wanted the Chief Minister to visit other areas as well.

While Mr Sethi wanted tour according to his programme, given that he was the district president of the party, Mr Gosain wanted that he should have the final say in the tour programme since the Chief Minister was touring his constituency.

Timely intervention by some party workers prevented the situation from taking a serious turn. Mr Sethi left Mr Gosain’s house in anger. But late in the evening he was motivated to return for drawing up a joint tour programme.

Mr Sethi and Mr Gosain’s aversion for each other is not new. While former is said to be close to senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Lala Lajpat Rai, the latter is believed to be close to Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. The supporters of the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balram Ji Dass Tandon are maintaining a tactful silence.

On the other hand Shiromani Akali Dal leaders like Mr Amarjeet Singh Bhatia and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar are feeling that they were being ignored and the BJP leaders were given preference. 



CM has ‘disturbed’ govt functioning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, chairman of the economic and planning cell, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today castigated the Akali Dal-BJP government in the state for projecting the Chief Minister as the “fountainhead of all developmental activities” in the state.

In a signed statement, Mr Bhardwaj said development of villages and urban areas was routine function of the government. He said the Chief Minister because of political compulsion had taken all powers upon himself and disturbed the well-established system of government functioning.

Distribution of funds by the Chief Minister during “sangat darshan” could at best be described as a political gimmick with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The Congress favoured decentralisation of power and giving funds to local bodies like panchayats through normal channels. By personally distributing money to these bodies, the Chief Minister was making an attempt to “kill democracy at the grassroots level.”

Mr Bhardwaj said it was a fact that a sum of Rs 1 crore had been earmarked for each Assembly segment. This was against the accepted norms of democracy. Moreover, distribution of money on the recommendation of any MLA was done only due to political considerations.


Cheques won’t buy votes: Cong
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 21
Former PPCC President Virendra Kataria and DCC chief Sajjan Kumar Jakhar have said the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab may not succeed in luring people of Punjab by offering cheques for development at the fag-end of its term.

Addressing mediapersons here yesterday, the Congress leaders said there had been discrimination in distributing the cheques as the sangat darshan was politically motivated. Wards where Dalits and poor people were in majority, had been ignored. Grievances of the public were not redressed as the local authorities allowed only BJP and SAD workers to meet the Chief Minister for presenting demands relating to development of their respective wards. Congress MCs were not invited at such meetings.

Mr Jakhar, a former minister, said the Congress government headed by the late Beant Singh had released Rs 17.53 crore for the urban development project of this subdivisional town besides funding other important projects relating to sewerage, drinking water, irrigation water and link roads in rural areas. But Parkash Singh Badal could spare only a day for this town after four years and released grants amounting to less than Rs 3 crore.

The DCC president said the Chief Minister had completely ignored the basic and chronic problems of this town. Construction of sullage water carrier was hanging fire, the waterworks tanks were completely damaged. The estimates committee of the Punjab Assembly had submitted its report after conducting a survey here but no development project was approved thereafter. Mr Badal had said he would ask the local municipal council to prepare a project to get financial assistance from Hudco for sewerage and drinking water expansion. Perhaps no one had told the Chief Minister that the council had not only passed a resolution in this regard but also approved the amended draft from Hudco No. funds were allotted by the Chief Minister for renovating the municipal bus stand and major roads.

Mr Kataria and Mr Jakhar expressed concern over reports that drain water was being mixed in canal water.

The neighbouring town of Malout was said to be in the grip of jaundice. This could spread to Abohar also if potable water supply was not ensured. The farmers were sore over indiscrimination in the supply of canal water and electricity.


No power cuts for Mohali IT units
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 21
Information technology industrial units of Mohali have been exempted from power cuts by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

An official spokesman said here today this decision had been taken keeping in view the state government’s decision to encourage the development of information technology industry at Mohali. He said these units were also exempt from observing staggered weekly days off.

The board has also decided to exempt Patiala from power cuts. The board spokesman said due to the spell of rain, the power position in the state had become a little more comfortable. He said power supply restrictions on other industrial consumers had also been relaxed for the time being and the instructions for weekly day off on industry had been held in abeyance.

The spokesman said there was no power cut on essential services and continuous process industry. He said supply to rural areas was also being given in excess of schedule. He said the hydro power houses at Ranjit Sagar, Anandpur Sahib and the UBDC would, however, continue to remain inoperative due to shortage of water. 


Abduction case referred to CBI
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 21
In a significant order, the Supreme Court has directed that the case of abduction of Giandeep Singh, alias Richi, minor son of Dr Hardeep Singh Nirman, posted at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, be handed over to the CBI.

Giandeep was kidnapped on August 19, 1996, while he was returning from his school in the cantonment area of Amritsar. 

The Punjab Police had finally recommended the case to be closed.

However, the efforts of the parents to approach the Supreme Court have bore fruit as the case has been handed over to the CBI. 


Union Secretary reviews schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Mr Arun Bhatnagar, Union Secretary for Rural Development, called on the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today to review the progress and implementation of various centrally sponsored schemes in the state. The Financial Commissioner Rural Development, Mr J.S. Kesar, the Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, and Administrative Secretaries of the Department of Public Health, PWD (B&R) and Education attended the meeting.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal stressed on suitable modifications to the Jawahar Gram Samridi Yojna guidelines and on raising the grant from the existing average scale of Rs 10,000 per village per annum to Rs 50,000 so that a visible durable infrastructure could be created for the benefit of village community.

He impressed upon the Union Secretary for speedy clearance of border area development projects pertaining to rural housing, primary schools buildings, roads and bridges in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore districts.


Sangrur all set to be TB-free district
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21
To make Sangrur district a tuberculosis free zone, the district health authorities in a special survey have examined about 4,000 workers of industries, dhabas, restaurants and brick-kilns. Out of these as many as 25 were found suffering from TB. These workers have been covered under the anti-TB programme to prevent the spread of the disease among other workers.

As many as 2,093 cases of TB have been detected in the district so far. To provide facilities for diagnosis and drugs free of cost to TB patients as many as 41 special centres in the mini-primary health centres and urban and rural hospitals have been set up by the authorities.

Dr C.P. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, talking to TNS here yesterday disclosed that the district health authorities had collected Rs 9.14 lakh through the administration, voluntary organisations, and the Health Department to arrange drugs for TB for free distribution.

The district health authorities have also persuaded people working in industrial units, brick-kilns and dhabas through different medias to get themselves and family members examined if they show any signs like fever and cough for more than two weeks, loss of appetite, weight.

The district health authorities have also written to the municipal councils to ensure that new licences are issued to only those restaurants and dhabas that procured ‘free from TB certificates’ for their workers.

The district health authorities have decided to hold a survey of people working in dhabas, restaurants, hotels and sweet shops from May 1.


Health panel hails edict
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Voluntary Health Association of Punjab has hailed the edict issued against female foeticide by the Jathedar of Akal Takht. In a statement, Mr Manmohan Sharma, a spokesman of the association, said the step taken by the Jathedar was a progressive one. Organisations working on this front would feel encouraged and work more enthusiastically to stop the evil which had assumed dangerous proportions in the state in the recent years.

Mr Manmohan Sharma requested the Jathedar to instruct granthis, Sikh organisations like the SGPC, Singh Sabhas and Sikh missionary bodies to play an active role to stop female foeticide by educating the masses.


Traders oppose shifting of bus stand
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 21
Most of the shops here remained closed today on a strike call given by the local Beopar Mandal in protest against the proposal of the Municipal Council to shift the local bus stand at an interior site on the Abohar road. Hundreds of members of the mandal, led by Mr Satish Kumar Dhingra, organising secretary of the state unit, took out a protest march through town bazars and submitted a memorandum to the SDM, Fazilka.

The memorandum said the shifting of the bus stand at the proposed venue would adversely affect the trade of the shopkeepers. Moreover, litigants from other towns would face hardships as the offices of SDM, DSP, BDPO, railway station, police stations city and sadar and courts would be at a distance of about 3 km from the proposed site. The Beopar Mandal members have demanded that the bus stand be shifted by evolving a consensus on a main road of the town.


Charges against vet officers to be dropped
Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab Animal Husbandry Minister, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, has agreed to withdraw charge the sheets issued to three Deputy Directors of the department in connection with pay revision. This was claimed here today by the Punjab State Veterinary Officers’ Association headed by Dr Gurcharan Singh Chahal.

Dr Chahal said a deputation of the association, which met the minister, brought to his notice that the Deputy Directors charge-sheeted had carried out the state government’s order pertaining to the implementation of the revised pay scales in their respective jurisdiction and committed no offence.

Dr Chahal said that accepting the association’s plea, the minister ordered that the charges against the officers concerned be dropped.


MLA inaugurates hospital
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 21
Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, today said that better educational and health facilities at the grassroot level was the key to progress of any country.

Mr Badal, who was here to inaugurate Badyal Bone Joint and Children’s Hospital, said that the state government had been making sincere efforts to provide the educational and health facilities to every section of society.


Warrants against ex-president of MC
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 21
Mr Dharam Singh, Chief Judicial Magistrate, yesterday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Mr Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, former president of the local municipal council, for being absent in connection with a criminal complaint pending in his court. Mr Aggarwal is facing trial in a criminal complaint under Sections 218, 425, 465, 471, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code filed by Mr Alam Singh, a local senior lawyer. Mr Dharam Singh, CJM, has issued non-bailable warrants against Mr Aggarwal for producing him in the court by May 5.


73 kg of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
Five persons have been arrested for alleged smuggling of poppy husk and 73 kg of poppy husk seized from them.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said in a press note issued here today that Ajaib Singh, resident of Bhai Rupa village in the district, had been arrested for possessing 30 kg of poppy husk and a case has been registered against him.

Major Singh of Sidhana village has been arrested for carrying 11 kg of poppy husk. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against Mahinder Singh, resident of Bhai Rupa village, for possessing 12 kg of poppy husk.

Chhatarpal from Rori in Haryana was booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 for carrying 10 kg of poppy husk. A case has been registered against him at Raman Police Station. Kaka Singh of Naglan village has also been booked for possessing 10 kg of poppy husk.

The police has arrested three persons under the excise act and recovered 10 litre of illicit liquor and 110 kg of lahan from them. The culprits have been identified as Bhag Singh of Mehraj village, Hardial Singh of Malooka village, Sikander Singh of Multania village.

Five persons have been arrested and cases registered against them under illegal satta transactions. An amount of Rs 1,620 has been recovered from them. Those arrested have been identified as Ruldu Singh of Bhuchu Mandi, Sukhdev Singh of Gurusar, Raj Kumar, Pawan Kumar and Jagannath, all of Rampura. The district police has registered a case against Baljeet Singh, alias B.S. Soni, resident of Rampura, for allegedly selling the banned medicines to youths.

Dr Jain said Baljeet was running a hospital at the Gandhi Basti locality of Rampura. He was doing practice without a licence, the SSP said. 


Murder accused arrested
Tribune News Service 

Rajpura, April 21
The Rajpura police has arrested all the four accused allegedly responsible for the murder of a labourer of a local industrial unit, from Jharkhand. The accused, who have been identified as Ranjit Singh, Dateshwar Yadav, Arun Kumar, Manki Ram and Bablu Singh, have been arrested from Palamu district of Jharkhand. According to the police, they were responsible for strangulating their colleague Tribhuwan Singh, with whom they shared a room in a plastic factory.

According to police sources, all the accused had furnished wrong addresses to the factory owners. Rajpura city police station in charge William Jeji disclosed that on the directions of DSP R K Sharma, a police party was able to round up an acquaintance of the accused at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh, who was able to guide them to Jharkhand.

The police recovered clothes and a suitcase belonging to Tribhuwan from the accused. The accused had allegedly spent the money looted from Tribhawan, the sources disclosed.


22 hurt in road accident
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 21
Twenty two persons were injured when a tractor-trailer carrying them overturned near a cinema house here today. The driver tried to save a pig this reportedly caused accident. All those injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital. A majority of them are women. They were going to work in a potato field. The condition of three persons was stated to be serious.



Reallocation of colleges finds no favour
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 21
The Punjab Government’s proposal to reallocate colleges to various universities has evoked strong criticism among the educational elite of the town. As a result, the intellectuals, principals, parents and students of the affected colleges have decided to form a Joint Action Committee to start an agitation against any such move. 

The government had constituted a committee comprising DPI (Colleges) and deans of various universities to submit a report on the redemarcation of the jurisdiction of the three universities namely Panjab University, Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University. According to the information available, the report of the committee has now been accepted by the State Council of Higher Education and is likely to be placed before the Council of Ministers for the final nod before issuing a notification. 

Mr H.R. Gandhar, Principal of DAV College, Abohar, while strongly criticising any such move, said the decision was totally illogical as well as irrational as there was no demand from any quarter to reallocate the colleges. He said the government had taken this decision without taking into confidence the heads of the affected colleges. He added the plea advanced by the authorities to maintain ‘uniformity in distance’ or the ‘proximity factor’ sounded unconvincing.

According to the report submitted by the committee, all colleges of Ferozepore district will go to Guru Nanak Dev University whereas that of Moga and Muktsar districts will be transferred to Punjabi University. The managements of these colleges, some of which have been affiliated to Panjab University for more than five decades, are sore over this decision and term it as high-handedness on the part of the government.

Mr Madhu Prashar, Principal of Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore, said there were certain courses for which no facilities existed with Guru Nanak Dev University, but were available with Panjab University. Hence it would pose problems for students pursuing these courses, in case this switch over took place. She said the ‘proximity factor’ did not hold water as rapid transport facilities were available everywhere. She further said that even if the colleges are recallocated to Guru Nanak Dev University, frequent visits to Chandigarh would be inescapable as the DPI, SCHE, Education Board and other offices were located there only.

Dr R.P. Asija, Principal, DAV College of Education, Abohar, termed the proposal as sheer discrimination” with Ferozepore district which had already been bifurcated a couple of times. He said it was a one sided and an authoritarian decision taken by the authorities. According to him instead of reallocating the colleges, opening of a sub-centre would have been a much better proposition.

School building unsafe
Anita Tayal

Patiala, April 21
Primary school attached with the Government Girls Senior Secondary School is in stark contrast when viewed in relation with the parent institution. While the secondary school is comfortably ensconced in a proper building, the primary wing has been completely ignored.

The primary section has stinking bathrooms, broken walls, doors separated from their hinges and dangerously loose bricks. Its bathrooms are in a dilapidated condition and are virtually unfit for use. The authorities, however, have not locked these and small children using these are at a great risk of getting infected.

The primary section has also not been allotted proper classrooms due to which teachers are forced to hold classes outside in a shed or in the open under a tree.

The school authorities also admitted that the rooms at the back of the school were unsafe yet the children were being made to sit under the shed attached with the unsafe building.

Authorities of the senior secondary school said, the younger students spoil the school furniture and classes. But despite this they have been allotted new rooms built recently by the authorities from the PTA fund. However, people on the spot revealed that no such classrooms had been allotted to the primary school and the classes were still being held in the open.

The boundary walls and stairs leading to the music room of the senior secondary school are also in a dilapidated state. The electricity wires are hanging openly in the passages full of cobwebs. Sources revealed that the electricity wires could be dangerous during the rainy season. Along with this cement from the roof is coming out and the screws of the window panes are also loose.

The school authorities, however, denied this and said only one of the rooms was unsafe and it was being used for keeping documents. However, the staff working in the rooms fear for their lives due to the bad condition of the rooms. Sources said the rooms were once declared unsafe. But one coat of distemper in the rooms and the unsafe word was omitted from the walls by the PWD.

“We have been working in such conditions for the past five years and despite repetitive reminders to the PWD, no action has been taken by the department,” said a staff member. The harried staff members also added that the complaint had been filed since the floods in 1994, but nothing except for the distemper had been done by the authorities concerned.

Ms Manjit Kaur Cheema, the Principal of the senior secondary school, said the lack of finances was the main cause of lack of improvements in the school. She said the authorities had also added the Arjan Nagar’s Primary School in their school premises in the morning hours as that school lacked infrastructure. She said the authorities had claimed that this arrangement would be temporary, but nothing worthwhile has been done in this regard for the past one year.


Teachers seek representation in Senate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh April 21
The Panjab and Chandigarh Teachers Union, has demanded elected representatives of college teachers and principals on the Senate, Syndicate and other academic bodies of Panjabi University Patiala and GNDU University, Amritsar.

The demand was raised by Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, President, of the union at a meeting of the state council of higher education held at GND University, Amritsar, on April 16 under the chairmanship of Master Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education Punjab.

A press note issued by union president stated that the opinion of the college teachers and principals of Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepor was not sought before making the move to shift their affiliation from Panjab University to GND varsity and Punjabi University, Patiala and teachers were unhappy with it.


Telecom customer centre opened
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 21
The BSNL will start limited mobility phone services in Punjab, using the Wireless in Local Loop (WILL) technology by the end of this financial year. Initially, these services will be started in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Patiala.

Mr Prithipal Singh, the Director (Operations) of the BSNL, stated this while talking to newsmen here today. He was here to inaugurate a Telecom Customer Service Centre here.

He said the mobile services of the BSNL would also be started in other districts of Punjab. Tenders for procuring the equipment for the purpose had already been issued and work on the project would start very soon, he said.

Earlier, after the inauguration of the service centre, the Director said these centres would provide the facilities for the registration of telephone demands, issuing telephone bills and their payments, fax, sale of Internet and telecom cards and providing other commercial information at one window, he said. More such centres were being planned by the organisation in the state, he added. Mr Prithipal Singh appreciated the efforts of the local Telecom officials for taking the initiative to establish the centre.

Mr S.C. Chaudhary, CGMT, Punjab circle, Chandigarh, Mr J.P. Shrivastava, GM (operations), Chandigarh circle, and Mr J.S. Sahota, TDM, Ropar, were among others present on the occasion.

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