Tuesday, April 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Commission agents exploit farmers
We are helpless, says administration
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 23
Though taking loans from commission agents is an established practice among farmers of Punjab like any other part of the country, but what is unusual in the case of mand area farmers is the exorbitant rates of interest and use of muscle power by commission agents.

A large number of illiterate farmers, who have not been able to repay loans in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts have been forced to hand over their lands to commission agents and work as labourers with other big farmers of their villages.

The authorities are helpless as illiterate farmers avoid lodging complaints against commission agents, who have “helped them during the dark days.”

A tour of some villages in mand area revealed that interest rates being charged by commission agents range from 2 per cent per month to 50 per cent per annum, depending on the need of a farmer.

Yet another widely prevalent method of exploitation among commission agents is that they extend loans to farmers, ask them to come with their crop to their shops where the offer them less price for the yield on one pretext or the other. In case the farmer is unable to pay back, he is made to part with his piece of land, at times with the help of the local police authorities.

Mohinder Singh of Parjan Biharipur village in Nakodar subdivision said he had taken a loan of Rs 20,000 from a village commission agent two years back, who was “demanding” an amount of Rs 5 lakh from him now.

“It did not end here. I had to spend three days in the Sidhwan police station in Ludhiana district where one of his relatives is posted. I was pressurised time and again to sign papers for handing over the land to him, but I refused,” he said.

Similarly, Sukhjinder Singh of Lohgarh village maintained that he had taken a loan of Rs 40,000 about a year back, but the money-lender was still demanding an amount of Rs 1.30 lakh even as he had “returned’ an amount of Rs 30,000 after taking a loan from a bank after pledging an acre of his land.

Gurmail Singh of Adarman village said he had taken a loan of Rs 52,000 from a commission agent about four years, back the latter was demanding an amount of Rs 9.30 lakh from him now.

“He has threatened to take my 23 kanals and has made this clear to the village panchayat as well,” he said, adding that he was being threatened by the commission agent.

Makhan Singh of Sidhwan Dona said he had to hand over his three acres of land about three years back to the commission agent for a small loan amount of Rs 32,000 which he had taken about six years back. “Now I am working as a labourer with other farmers of the area. So many people do this.”

Pushpinder Singh of Nasirpur village in Kapurthala district maintained that farmers had got used to this practice. Tarsem Peter of Mehatpur, who is also president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said the administration and the Punjab Government had turned a blind eye to the issue.

“The Punjab Chief Minister during a meeting with leaders of five organisations of farmers last month had assured that he would ensure formation of a high-level committee to review such cases, but nothing has been done”.

Mr K. Shiva Prasad, Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner, maintained he was aware about the matter but could do little as the farmers were not ready to lodge a complaint against the commission agents for a number of reasons.


Soldiers’ kin traumatised
No word from BSF HQ yet
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 23
The families of two BSF soldiers of 118 Battalion hailing from Gurdaspur district who are suspected to have been killed at the hands of the Bangladesh Rifles are yet to receive any official communication about the tragedy. Traumatised, they survive on a dim ray of hope.

Officials of the BSF at the local Punjab Frontier headquarters maintain that they cannot say anything as they too have not received any information on the matter from Delhi. “Moreover, as per the established practice, it is the responsibility of officials of the battalion concerned to inform the parents in case there is any casualty”, they say.

For the families of 28-year-old constable Sukhjinder Singh of Kothe Majithi village in Gurdaspur district and of 33-year-old Gurbax Singh of Nainakot village in the same district, a visit by any outsider or a policeman or a phone call shakes them.

“It is so hard to handle such a situation, particularly in the presence of children, when we have no information of my son,” says Bachan Singh, father of constable Sukhjinder Singh. He says he has been trying to establish contact with his son’s battalion.

Constable Sukhjinder has a three-year old girl and a ten-year-old boy. His wife, Ranjit Kaur, is unable to speak with tears welling in her eyes.

Family members of Gurbax Singh at Nainakot village are totally confused. As visitors trickle in the house, Gurbax’s wife Manjinder Kaur consoles her children — three-year-old Harmanjot Singh and seven-year-old daughter Simmi.

According to the Gurdaspur SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, the Punjab police has not received any information about the “death” of the two soldiers on the Indo-Bangladesh border. “Nothing has come to us so far officially”.

It is learnt that the BSF authorities in Delhi have finally swung into action and have sent messengers to the families. The BSF’s Punjab Frontier IG, Mr A.S. Aulakh, was, however, not available for comment.

The DIG, Mr R.A. Tiwari, said: “I have talked to our Delhi headquarters and asked them to inform the families. The process must have started by now, though I still cannot say anything about the death of the two soldiers.

“It takes time to emerge out of shock. It is a big shock for the BSF to have received such treatment at the hands of Bangladesh. This might have created problems”, he explained. 


SAD women’s wing dissolved
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
The controversy over the presidentship of the Istri Shiromani Akali Dal (ISAD) took a new turn here today when Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD and member of the Rajya Sabha, said party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had dissolved all the wings of the party and nobody was heading the body at present.

The controversy over presidentship of the ISAD erupted when a conference was organised at Talwandi Sabo on April 12 and Dr Shavinder Kaur Johal, a kin of Mr Badal, was elected president of the ISAD.

To counter the move Mrs Surjeet Kaur Barnala, wife of Governor of Uttaranchal, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, held a meeting at Barnala on April 19 and claimed that Dr Johal could not become president of the ISAD as the wing had been dissolved by Mr Badal.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, who was here today in connection with the inauguration of Hi-tec traffic post, categorically, said all the wings of the SAD, including the ISAD, had been dissolved by the party president.

He added that claim over its presidentship being made by different groups and individuals were false. He said Mr Badal would shortly work out for reconstruction of these wings.

Dr Johal, who was elected president of the ISAD, announced that the organisation would help the SAD in the political field. She also announced that the ISAD would also play a pivotal role in establishing peace in the Jammu and Kashmir by motivating the militants to join national mainstream.

Mrs Surjeet Kaur Barnala, on the other hand, while addressing the meeting alleged that such moves would weaken the party. She had reportedly said Dr Johal could not become president of the ISAD as Dr Johal was not primary member of the SAD.


ST on lotteries remains on paper
Sarbjit dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The decision to levy 20 per cent sales tax on lotteries in Punjab has not been implemented so far. The state’s Council of Ministers, after a lengthy debate, cleared the proposal to levy sales tax on February 22.

Waiving aside the strong objections raised by the state Finance Department against the proposal to levy tax on lotteries, the Excise and Taxation Department had convinced the Council of Ministers that such a provision would not only add revenue to the state government’s coffers but also provide an opportunity to streamline the lottery trade.

When asked what happened to the implementation of tax on lottery, a top functionary of the excise department, said the department had been told to take up the issue with the Directorate of Lotteries to expedite the implementation.

The department was busy in auctioning liquor vends and in sorting out related problems till last week. Owing to these reasons, the implementation of tax on lotteries was held up, he added. He said the Directorate of Lotteries had been told to put up a proposal mentioning all details with regard to the sale of lottery tickets, expenditure, total revenue and profit for the purpose of working out a way to levy the tax. As per the proposal submitted to the Council of Ministers, the tax was to be levied on the profit earned from the sale of lotteries. The department has estimated revenue of Rs 30 crore from the tax on lotteries.

Meanwhile, the excise department has cause to celebrate. Punjab has registered the highest growth in sales tax collection in 2000-2001 since Independence. It has been calculated 40 per cent — the highest in the country — according to Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister of the State for Excise and Taxation. He said Delhi had registered a growth of 36 per cent in the last financial year.

Mr Sud said during the last financial year, the department had collected Rs 2757 crore as sales tax and Rs 1324 crore from excise. The total collection had gone beyond Rs 4080 crore, a record. The collection from sales tax in 1999-2000 was only Rs 1872 crore and excise Rs 1310 crore.

Quizzed about the revised target set for the department for the current financial year, Mr Sud that the revenue target from sales tax had been fixed Rs 3300 crore and from excise Rs 1370 crore. The revenue from auction of liquor vends for the current financial year was Rs 1110 crore, about Rs 8 crore less than the previous year.

Asked about the problem in the auction of vends in Ludhiana, Mr Sud said the department had managed to auction all vends in that district. He refused to comment further.

A senior officer of the excise department said the auction of vends in Ludhiana district fetched Rs 193 crore for the current financial year whereas last year’s figure was Rs 217 crore. The department had suffered a loss of Rs 24 crore as far as auction of vends in the Ludhiana district was concerned but it did not compromise on the monopoly issue. Vends had been taken by various groups while earlier a certain group was insisting that it should be given vends in the entire district but its offer was below Rs 200 crore.


Judicial custody for Zaffarwal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
The Additional Civil Judge of Baba Bakala, Mr S. S. Dhaliwal, today remanded in judicial custody Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, self-styled chief of Khalistan Commando Force till May 7.

However, the Rajasansi police obtained his police remand from the local Duty Magistrate till April 25 in a case relating to his entry into Raja Sansi Airport on forged documents on April 12 (FIR number 47) on the basis of production warrant.

Earlier, Zaffarwal met his relatives on the Baba Bakala court premises. 


Explosives found near Doraha
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 23
Panic gripped Katani Kalan village near Doraha here today when some explosive substance packed in bottles was found under the Sidhwan canal bridge near the village.

The police has not confirmed that the substance contained in the bottles was of explosive nature, Mr K. S. Bajwa, SHO, Doraha, said explosive experts of the Army have been called to verify the substance and defuse it.

Khanna: Six persons, including three children, received serious burns in a gas cylinder blast that took place at a house in Deep Nagar here this evening.

The injured included five of a family. They were rushed to a private hospital in the town. The sixth person, an employee of a gas agency, who also got injured in the blast, however, ran away.


Kanshi Ram admits to have ignored Punjab
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 23
The BSP Chief, Kanshi Ram, has inspired to analyse their vote value and work for attaining power. Addressing a public meeting at Goraya sub-division on Monday evening, he accepted his mistakes for ignoring Punjab politics and said I was busy in those states having above 40 MPs of the BSP, but now I would work to get power in Punjab.

He said the BSP would contest on all 117 assembly seats and try to get more than 60 assembly seats, which would be sufficient to make state government. He clarified that government could not be formed with announcements of making streets, drains, dharamshalas, but it could be made only with the united strength of Bahujan society.

Addressing the rally and later talking with newspersons at Goraya, the BSP Chief said the BSP had clarified and refused to join in so-called third front and claimed that only the BSP was the third political power in the state. He strongly criticised the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for ignoring the interests of Dalits. 


Badal misusing funds: ex-MLA
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 23
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, a former MLA from Fazilka in a statement here today alleged that the Badal government was being run on borrowed finance as it had secured hefty loans of Rs 38,000 crore from various agencies by mortgaging Punjab. The money was being distributed in an extravagant manner to fulfil the political interests of the SAD-BJP coalition and all claims of development by Mr Badal were a farce, he alleged. Reacting sharply on the “largesse” distributed by Mr Badal in rural and urban areas during his recent visit of the Fazilka area, Dr Rinwa said the Chief Minister was misleading the people by creating a false impression of development with an eye on the state Assembly elections.

He accused Mr Badal of misusing the Central Government aid of Rs 16 crore meant for three border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur by distributing it in an arbitrary manner.

Dr Rinwa came down heavily on the Punjab Government for the manner in which it was dealing with dreaded terrorist Wassan Singh Zaffarwal. He demanded stern action against Zaffarwal and sought a CBI probe into the Zaffarwal arrest episode.


Community policing launched
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur (Ludhiana), April 23
Imagine a police station with “polite” policemen, well-laid gardens and proper place for sitting. Also include in your picture a system where FIR would not be registered at the drop of a hat, or where the confidence of the residents of a colony concerned with a case would be taken before initiating criminal proceedings against anyone.

This seemingly utopian picture may soon be a reality if the Punjab Police achieves success in the implementation of its much publicised “Community Policing Scheme” in six select police stations of the state.

The introduction of the scheme in these police stations was announced today by Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director Punjab Police Academy (PPA) at a Police-Public conference in the Academy premises here toady. Two police stations, each have been selected at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala. The scheme has been introduced on an experiment basis and would be introduced later in other police stations of the state.

With this move, the scheme prepared by the Academy and being debated for the last one year has finally been implemented at the ground level. The implementation of the scheme was eagerly awaited as the PPA and the senior state police officers have been claiming that the success of the scheme would usher a new era in the functioning of the police and the police-public relations in the state.

The police stations selected were Model Town and Phillaur in Jalandhar and Sadar and Sarabha Nagar in Ludhiana besides the two in Patiala. A conference of the police officers of these three districts along with representatives from the civil population was held at the PPA here today in which the modalities of the introduction of the scheme were discussed.

According to Mr A.A. Siddiqui Director PPA, the introduction of the community policing has been based on the Bhiwandi (Maharashtra) pattern. The police functioning at Bhiwandi has been taken as a role model. At that place the police works with the active co-operation of the public through the local committees formed in different colonies. Any criminal case which comes to light is first discussed by the committees and the police and if it is not sorted out, which happens rarely, only then the police registers a case.

Giving more details about the introduction of the scheme Dr Pramod Kaur, Director Institute for Development and Communication, said that the scheme introduced in these police stations involve the creation of Community Interface Cell in the area. The Functions of the Cell would be to generate awareness among the community regarding the rights and responsibilities of the citizens of the area, dispense information regarding the specific service that the police has initiated and to mobilise the community to participate in social policing in the form of addressing its own needs of crime prevention.

Dr Kumar said this is a broad view of the scheme and the final methodology would be adopted only after holding meetings and seminars at the police stations selected. The first of this series would be held at Police Lines Ludhiana on April 28.

A large number of representatives from NGO’s and social work organisations participated in the conference.


BJP to set up ‘shaheedi smarak’ in founder’s name
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The BJP will raise a “shaheedi smarak” in memory of Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, founder of the Jana Sangh, near the Ambedkar Bhavan here.

This was disclosed today by Mr Avinash Jaiswal, General Secretary of the party’s Punjab unit. He said the party President, Mr Jana Krishnamurthi, would lead the “bhumi poojan” ceremony on May 9 at the site of the memorial.

A rally would also be held in which about 10,000 party activists would be invited. Other senior leaders of the party including Mr O.P. Kohli, in charge of Punjab affairs, would also attend the function, he said.

The party also plans to honour senior BJP leaders and also the families of those leaders who “sacrificed” their lives to maintain “Punjabi unity” when terrorism was at its peak at the function. Besides, the services of those leaders who served the party selflessly would be recognised, he added. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, would be requested to attend the function.

Meanwhile, a meeting of party legislators would be held on April 27. All 18 MLAs of the party had been told to attend the meeting. The agenda of the meeting is chalk out a strategy to mobilise the party workers at the grassroot level by planning meetings at the ward level and in the rural areas.

Mr Badal has already set the ball rolling for the BJP in the urban areas by holding “sangat darshans” in the various constituencies represented by party MLAs. Mr Badal spent two days in the Pathankot area represented by the BJP Minister, Mr Mohan Lal, in the state Assembly last week. He distributed Rs 2 crore in that area. The Chief Minister was present in Ludhiana yesterday to distribute another Rs 2 crore in the constituency of the Deputy Speaker, Mr Satpal Gosain.

The BJP had insisted that Mr Badal should hold the “sangat darshan” in the urban areas on the pattern of the rural areas. For the past three years, the BJP has been nursing a grievance that Mr Badal has not given due attention to the urban areas. It had expressed views in this connection openly at various platforms. Obviously to assuage the party’s ruffled feelings because of the urban factor and also in view the election year, Mr Badal has shifted his focus on the urban areas for the time being.

The BJP sources said Mr Badal had fixed a target of Rs 100 crore for distribution in the urban areas by May 15. Another Rs 100 crore would be distributed in June-July. For this purpose an urban development fund had been created by Mr Badal. Besides, BJP leaders at their own level are also trying to get funds from the Union Government for carrying out important development works in the urban areas.


Memorial to Devi Lal on border
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), April 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said a memorial would be built in the memory of Devi Lal, who was a great son of the soil, at the border of Punjab and Haryana.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend a sangat darshan, said the Punjab Government had sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore for this project. He added that a sadbhavna gate would also be built near the memorial which would be a symbol of friendship for the people of Haryana and Punjab.

He disclosed that the memorial would be built before the birthday of Devi Lal which fell in September. He also held a meeting with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in this connection.

Later, Mr Badal while addressing the gathering virtually launched the campaign for the assembly elections which are round the corner said that the Congress governments in the Centre and the Punjab in the past always betrayed the interests of Punjab.

He added that it was the Congress government in Punjab which gave its water to other states and conceded Chandigarh which was to be the capital of Punjab as a union territory. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi and other parts of the country in 1984.

He alleged the Congress government looted every section of society under the garb of its “garibi hatao” programme on the one hand and on the other hand it discriminated against the Punjabis in every field.

He pointed out that in Punjab Congressmen were fighting each other for occupying the chair of the Chief Minister. He added that people had become wiser and would never allow the Congress party to come into power again in the state.

He claimed that ever since the SAD-BJP alliance came into power in Punjab an era of development had started in the state. On the one hand, peace was maintained and on the other hand the aspirations of every section of society were fulfilled.

He announced the sewerage in this town was being laid at the cost of Rs 1 crore while Rs 15 lakh would be spent on laying the sewerage in the surrounding villages of this town. He added that funds would be given for proper drainage system.

Mr Badal, earlier, laid the foundation stone of government model primary school at Killianwali village.


Union Secy visits border belt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
The Union Secretary for Rural Development, Mr Arun Bhatnagar, on a visit to Punjab, visited the border village of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts and acquainted himself with the problems and requirements of the people living along the Indo-Pakistan border.

Accompanied by the Punjab Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, and the Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr J. S. Kesar, the Union Secretary visited Attari and its neighbouring villages in Amritsar district and Dharamkot Pattan in Gurdaspur district and also visited the focal point at Dera Baba Nanak.

Mr Bhatnagar said the government’s priority was to develop rural infrastructure and to achieve this, sanitation and housing for the poor were the thrust areas.

He asked the state governments to have a constant liaison with one another to settle pending cases and to expedite the centrally-sponsored development projects.

Villagers apprised Mr Bhatnagar of the various problems being faced by them and about their demands.

Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, also had a detailed meeting with Mr Bhatnagar and apprised him of the problems of the villagers in the border belt and demanded certain concessions for the farmers living in the border area as a special case.


Employees resent downsizing of FCI
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
In an unprecedented move, the labour and employees unions of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) have decided to come on a single platform to fight against the curtailment of the FCI’s activities.

The FCI Workers Union and the FCI Executive Staff Union have decided to take on the FCI management for downsizing the establishment and curtailing its activities. To achieve this thousands of activists of these two unions will hold a demonstration in front of the head office of the FCI in New Delhi today.

After the demonstration, the activists will take out a rally from the head office of the FCI to the Prime Minister’s office to press the Central Government to stop the FCI management from working against the interests of the establishment.

According to Mr Megh Raj, president of the FCI Executive Staff Union, Punjab and Mr Ajit Baba, state secretary of the union, the main demands of both unions included no curtailment in FCI’s activities, stopping closure of FCI godowns and its establishments, no handing over of FCI godowns to any other agency, no victimization of the staff and the workers in the field for natural losses beyond their control, abolition of contract system and departmentalisation of the Direct Payment System (DPS) workers.

Sources said there was resentment among the workers and other staff members over some reports regarding closure of the FCI which appeared in various dailies in the recent past.

Apart from it, the employees falling in class three and four who number about 55,000 had been suffering economically on account of non-revision of their pay-scales, due since January, 1997, by the FCI management.

Sources added that employees had also been agitating over the fact that in certain pockets, the FCI management had issued charge sheets to thousands of employees indiscriminately for natural losses which were beyond their control.

The staff members had also been demanding for long that dependants of those who died during service should be given suitable jobs by the FCI management. 


DD Punjabi channel scores over others
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 23
Contrary to the common perception, a majority of cable TV viewers of Chandigarh and Gurdaspur prefer news and current affairs programmes to entertainment and other programmes aired on different channels.

Prasar Bharati’s regional satellite channel “DD Punjabi”, which was launched in September last year, has scored over other Punjabi channels as it has the “maximum” viewership.

A survey conducted by Prasar Bharati and research wing of Doordarshan in two cities of Chandigarh and Gurdaspur has revealed that most residents view news bulletins and current affairs programmes. Based on 400 residents of these cities, the survey pointed out that the highest viewership (56 per cent) was of news, followed by brain game shows (50 per cent), movies (30 per cent) and serials (47 per cent). However, on DD Punjabi, viewership of “shabad kirtan” was 37 per cent, serial/play — 27 per cent, Punjabi news — 27 per cent and current affairs programme “khas khabar, ik nazar” — 23 per cent, while the recently launched first Punjabi breakfast programme “roze savere” recorded 20 per cent viewership.

Mr Ashok Jelkhani, Director, Jalandhar Doordarshan Kendra, claimed that DD Punjabi has been able to emerge as a front runner as it has cornered 49 per cent viewership compared to other Punjabi channels. “As many as 57 per cent viewers were of the opinion that DD Punjabi provided healthy entertainment, and 42 per cent said the programmes were informative,” said Mr Jelkhani. Talking about the grey areas where the DD authorities were facing problems, Mr Jelkhani maintained that 51 per cent of the viewers could not see the programmes owing to weak signal at the end of cable operators for outdated equipment and repetition of programmes by the channel.

What was more interesting was the revelation by the survey that as many as 87 per cent viewers, in both plush and developing localities, owned colour televisions, which was perhaps highest density in the northern region except Delhi and that Star Plus figured as No 1 channel as far as viewership was concerned followed by DD Punjabi. Popularity of cartoon programme was seemingly coming down as just 11 per cent of viewers admitted viewing cartoon animations.

Prasar Bharati sources said encouraged by the response of viewers, particularly in the North, the DD authorities had decided to launch its Chandigarh production centre from April 28.


Pensioners sore over pending demands
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 23
More than 1.5 lakh pensioners of the Punjab Government are unhappy with the Badal government for its failure to meet their demands which are pending since long and have demanded a fair deal.

Enquiries made by The Tribune show that more than three years have passed since the Fourth Pay Commission for the pensioners submitted its report to the state government. The commission has made 10 major recommendations for the pensioners out of which only one recommendation pertaining to the revision of pensions has been implemented so far.

The remaining recommendations include old-age allowance at the rate of 5 per cent and 10 per cent on attaining the age of 65 and 75, respectively; 97 per cent DA admissible on July 1, 1993, to be counted for gratuity, benefit in pension for service rendered beyond 33 years; restoration of the committed pension after 11-and-a-half year; at least 50 per cent pension to the retiree of the minimum of the revised grade of the post held at the time of retirement; increase in the expenses on dentures, spectacles and hearing aids; and reservation of plots and flats in PUDA colonies.

The pensioners are also resentful regarding the recent notification of the government pertaining to the reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by them for the treatment of chronic diseases.

They are sore over the reduction in the number of chronic diseases against which they were availing reimbursement. Pensioners also demand that the conditions of no reimbursement up to Rs 5,000 on the treatment of chronic diseases should be withdrawn.


Cell to facilitate jobs abroad
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 23
The Punjab Labour Department recently opened a foreign cell at Chandigarh to help provide job opportunities to youths in various countries. Registration of more than 500 youths had already been done by this cell and cases of 20 to 25 job-seekers abroad been finalised so far.

This was disclosed by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Government and Labour Employment, Punjab to mediapersons here yesterday. He said that complete particulars obtained from the job-seekers in abroad were being fed into the Internet website for making them available to the employers of other countries. The employer after studying the particulars of candidates can contact direct with this cell to make use of the services of a person of his choice according to his need.

This has given good results and would save innocent persons from the so-called travel agents who loot them in the name of arranging employment abroad.


Completed projects await VIP
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
The people of the district are waiting eagerly for the inauguration of development projects completed in the district, which could not be made operational as no VIP was available to inaugurate it.

Since the district’s inception in 1992, various development projects had been taken up on a war-footing, keeping in mind the historical importance of this place. Even a development board was constituted to speed up work on these projects. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, sanctioned Rs 5.62 crore recently for various development projects and many of these have been completed.

One of the four projects which have been completed is a multipurpose sports stadium built at a cost of Rs 3 crore on 16 acres of land. The foundation stone of the stadium was laid on August 9, 1997, by the Chief Minister. Besides there is a multipurpose gymnasium having facilities for playing badminton, table tennis, gymnastics, judo, wrestling and basketball. The indoor stadium has been named Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan Stadium in memory of the then Nawab of Malerkotla, who revolted against the decision of the Sirhind Governor to brick alive the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh for not embracing Islam. Land for this stadium was provided by the SGPC and the stadium has been constructed by Markfed.

Similarly a bal bhavan has been completed at Sirhind and it is also awaits a VIP to inaugurate it.

Some offices have been shifted to Ambedkar Bhavan, built at a cost of Rs 82 lakh, but it has been not been inaugurated yet. Work on two record rooms at Fatehgarh Sahib and Bassi Pathanan has been completed at the cost of Rs 16 lakh each and these are ready but also await inauguration.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, stated that all these projects have been completed recently and would be inaugurated soon.


Open TB hospital, says front
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
The Para-medical and Health Employees Front has demanded the opening of the Ghabdan TB Hospital and restoration of the earlier rate of interest on General Provident Fund (GPF) of the employees.

These demands were made through resolutions passed in a convention of the district unit of the Para-Medical and Health Employees Front held here at Guru Nanak Sarai yesterday.

Addressing the convention, Mr Nardev Singh, secretary, All-India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF), Punjab unit, said the policies of the Union Government were not only affecting the health services, especially for the poor, but also the interests of the employees in this sector. This would promote `contract system’. The Punjab Health System Corporation has already appointed drivers and computer operators on contract.

The leaders also stressed on the launching of a mass movement against the privatisation and commercialisation of health services.

Among others who addressed the convention included Mr Swarnjit Singh, state secretary, Mr Sukhdarshan Natt, general secretary respectively of the Democratic Employees Front, Punjab; Mr Gurtej Singh, Mr Om Parkash Sharma of the Pharmacists Association, Punjab; Mr Kesho Ram, president of Para-Medical Association of the Bathinda district; and Mr Suraj Parkash, District president of Para- Medical and Health Employees Front, Sangrur.


Resolution on liquor shop
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
The panchayat of Jangirana village of the district said it did not have any objection to the presence of a liquor shop near the school and the bus stand in the village.

The panchayat passed a resolution on March 28 which said the earlier resolution passed on March 21 was about requesting the government not to auction the liquor shop in the village. It further said shop had been auctioned as the panchayat had to provide some place for it.

The resolution further said although the panchayat wanted there should not be any liquor shop in the village their request had not been accepted.

The panchayat had written an application to the ETO stating that it did not have any objection to the running of the liquor shop its present place.

It further said the panchayat could not provide any other place to the wine contractors for doing their business.

The panchayat further said the application which the panchayat had written to the authorities should be considered cancelled and no action should be taken on the same.


Pak decision on visas hailed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The World Punjabiat Foundation has hailed the reported decision by the Pakistani Government to grant visas to all those Indians who were born in Pakistan before Partition in 1947.

In a statement issued here today, Mr H. S. Bhatty, Chief Executive Organiser of the foundation, said the decision would help promote interchange of people from both sides and create a feeling of amity. He noted that the decision had come on the heels of the recent World Punjabi Conference at Lahore.


BJSK marries off six girls
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
The Bharat Jan Sewa Kendra (BJSK) of the city organised group marriage of five poor girls here yesterday. Mr Gopal Bakshi, president of the BJSK, said newly wed were given household items including bedding, utensils, appliances etc by the Kendra.


SHO, guard die in mishap

Khanna, April 23
Two officials of the Punjab Police, including a Station House Officer (SHO), died on the spot in a collision between their car and a truck, on the Khanna-Ludhiana road here today, the police said.

The deceased, identified as SHO Ram Singh and his gunman Kartar Singh, were returning from Ludhiana in their car, the police said.

The car and the truck collided head-on resulting in the death of the two on the spot. PTI


One dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 23
A young man said to be only son of Puran Singh resident of Didarwala village under the Baghapurana police station in this district was killed on the spot yesterday when the car he was travelling by collided head on with a truck coming from the opposite side near that village according to reports received here. 


Claims on procurement ‘hollow’
Wheat piles up in mandis
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
Although official date for the procurement of wheat was fixed April 1 but even after three weeks the farmers have to stay in mandis for day together to get their produce procured by the agencies.

Rain in the past few days has forced the farmers to speed up harvesting of the crop and arrival of wheat in grain markets has increased several times.

But procurement agencies are not that efficient. Farmers have to wait for many days in the mandi for getting produce auctioned. Claims of the government that the farmers would not have to stay for more than a day in the mandis are proving to be false.

A survey of the local grain market showed that procurement was very slow. Heaps of wheat could be seen in the market. Stocks of gunny bags filled with procured wheat were waiting to be lifted.

Farmers told The Tribune that they were facing hardships because of the slow procurement of produce. They were not happy as they had to stay in mandis for many days.

Some of them alleged that even if their produce was auctioned they were not able to get the payments for it. They also said that it was very difficult for them to wait for the procurement because they have to prepare land for next crop.

Mr Gurdial Singh of Jassi Paiwali said that he brought his produce three days ago but no state agency has come to buy it. He added that it was very difficult for him to stay in the mandi as he did not has any other male member in his family who could look after the family in his absence.

Situation at other places of the district is no different. Farmers at Nathana mandi said that the procurement of the crop was in contrast to the claims of the government. Mr Harpal Sandhu, a farmer of Ganga village who was waiting at the mandi for two days said that first the rain played a joke with them and now the agencies were doing so. He added that delay in procurement was costing dear to them. He said that they had to keep vigil so that the cattle should not spoil the produce.

Farmers whose produce is moist are facing more difficulties. When asked why did they harvest the crop when it was not dry. They said that the fear of rain forced them to do it in a hurry. But some of them also alleged that they were being “harassed” because they had not “fulfilled” the ‘wishes’ of the procurement officials.

Mr Buta Singh of Bir Behman village said that he had to borrow money from the arhtia to pay to the owner of the harvester combine. He added that for running his house he had to sell two acres of land.

Mr Pritam Singh of Behman Diwana village said that due to the moisture grains had started getting black. This could create problems for the procurement of wheat.

He said that the same quality of wheat could get the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 610 if the officials were happy with the farmers and if they are not it could be below standard.

The space in most of the mandi has been occupied and the situation could worsen in the coming days when more wheat would be brought in the mandis.


Govt agencies fail to buy wheat
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 23
Farmers are a harassed lot as the government procurement agencies have failed to purchase wheat from the market. About 20,000 bags of wheat are arriving at 55 purchasing centers opened by the government in this district.

According to official sources, FCI, Punsup, Markfed, Warehousing Corporation and Punjab Food and Supplies Department have not so far entered the market. Punjab Agro entered the market about two weeks ago and made marginal purchase.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr B. Vikram said all government procurement agencies would shortly enter the market. The support price of wheat fixed by the government would be ensured to the farmers. A number of teams under respective Sub-Divisional Magistrates had been constituted to make spot inspections of mandis to ensure smooth procurement of wheat.

Mr Vikram said there was enough space, both open and constructed, for storage of wheat, gunny bags to store wheat were also available in plenty.

The Deputy Commissioner said a team of officers had been directed to visit markets daily and redress the grievances of the farmers on the spot.


Arhtiyas protest, stop wheat auction
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
Tension prevailed in the local grain market for about one and half hours today when the arhatias reportedly stopped officials of the procurement agencies from auctioning the wheat till their pending payments, against the already procured wheat, were made. Besides the clearance of pending payments, they were also demanding that heaps of wheat lying in the grain market for the past several days should also be procured immediately to save the farmers and their crops.

Due to the indifferent attitude of the procurement agencies towards the farmers’ crop on the pretext of moisture, the farmers also expressed anger in this regard. Mr Gujjar Singh, a farmer from Gurdaspura village near here, said 100 quintals of his wheat had not been procured by the agencies so far even after 10 days of arrival of the wheat in the grain market.

Tension in the grain market was defused after a meeting held between the arhatias and the representatives of various procurement agencies including Mrs Gurmeet Kaur, DFSC, Sangrur.

Mr Sham Lal, patron of the Sangrur Arhatias Association, said DFSC at the meeting assured them that their payments would be made soon as the state government released Rs 11 crore for the Sangrur district to make the payments against the procured wheat. He also said the DFSC also assured that the pending heaps of wheat would also be procured.

He also said on the assurance of the DFSC, the auction of the wheat started. But the procurement agencies had procured the wheat at snail’s pace today which could not satisfy the farmers and the arhatias, he added.

Meanwhile, licences of five arhatias in this district had been suspended on account of various irregularities in the district. Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, who toured the grain markets, yesterday, said licences of two arhatias each of Ratta Kherra and Mandi Ahmadgarh and one arhatia of Dirba had been suspended.

As many as 3,82,053 metric tonnes of wheat was procured by the different procurement agencies in the district till last evening as compared to 6,73,657 metric tonnes during the corresponding period of the last year.


Grain storage a herculean task
K. S. Chawla

Although the Punjab Government claims to have made the necessary arrangements to handle wheat arrivals in the mandis, the scene on the foodgrain storage front is grim. Huge stocks of wheat and rice have already accumulated and will build up with the purchase of wheat by the official procurement agencies. By the end of June, godowns in Punjab will have stocks of three hundred lakh tonnes of wheat and rice.

Enquiries reveal that 92 lakh tonnes of wheat is lying in the godowns in the state at present. These stocks were purchased during the past three years (1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001).

The Punjab Agriculture Department has estimated that the state will have a record production of wheat (145 lakh tonnes) this year and there will be a marketable surplus of 120 lakh tonnes. Earlier estimates indicated that the state would have a production of 125 lakh tonnes and the official procurement agencies would buy 110 lakh tonnes. With the revised estimates, the official agencies will have to raise the procurement target.

Owing to untimely rain during the last week of March and the first week of April, wheat arrivals have been delayed. However, in some mandis, the arrivals have begun.

Officials of the Punjab Food and Supplies Department and other agencies involved in the procurement of wheat expect that the purchases will be over by June 30, and with the addition of nearly 120 lakh tonnes to 125 lakh tonnes of fresh stocks, the total wheat pile-up will touch 210 lakh tonnes. The godowns of the agencies and the rice millers also have stocks of rice (80 lakh tonnes) and thus the total stocks of wheat and rice in the state will be 300 lakh tonnes. The stocks will involve an investment of nearly Rs 10,000 crore.

The piling up of wheat and rice stocks is going to pose a serious problem to the state government and the official agencies as the proper storage of such huge stocks is a difficult task.

Enquiries also show that even if there is a monthly movement of wheat and rice from Punjab round the year, not more than 100 lakh tonnes will be moved out. This will all depend on the demand from other states and the availability of railway wagons.

The officials feel that even if 100 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice is moved out of Punjab, the state will be left with stocks of 200 lakh tonnes.

The wheat stocks of 1998-99 have already been damaged and experts have declared that these are unfit for human as well as animal consumption. The experts say the shelf life of wheat grain is two years of stocked in the open and three years in the case of covered space.

There is not much export of wheat from Punjab. Only Markfed has secured some export orders, which are small compared to the stock position.

The two schemes of the government — Annapurna and Antodya — have failed to provide any help in exhausting the wheat stocks.

The Central and state governments will have to put their heads together to deal with this grim situation.

The Punjab Government has to pay interest on the credit which it gets from banks at a market rate of 12.5 per cent, although this is finally borne by the Central Government when it makes payments for the procured stocks after taking delivery. But the interest amount is quite high, between Rs 1,200 crore and Rs 1,500 crore, on the purchase of wheat and paddy each season.

Highly placed sources say that the Reserve Bank of India has sanctioned a cash credit limit of Rs 6,000 crore to the Punjab Government for the purchase of wheat this season. This limit is given on an assurance by the Union Government.

A senior state government official said since the movement of wheat and paddy was very slow last year, there was a backlog of Rs 1,272 crore which the Punjab Government had to receive from the Centre.

The state government has proposed to the RBI that interest should be charged only when the grains are moved out of the state and delivered to the Central pool. The Government of India does not make the payment unless the foodgrains are delivered.


Weather delays cotton sowing
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
Even as the production of cotton in the past two years has shown upward trend in the north zone comprising Punjab, Haryana and Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh circles of Rajasthan, the unpredictable weather conditions prevailing in this region have been causing delay in the sowing of the crop this season.

Though the agriculture experts of these three states have declared that best sowing period for cotton crop is from April 15 to May 15 the farmers have failed to start sowing in most of the pockets due to unsuitable weather conditions.

Official sources said so far the area covered under the cotton crop was negligible. The growers had also been facing acute shortage of certified seeds. The farmers have been purchasing hybrid seeds from the market on their own.

The main factor which has been hampering the sowing of cotton is absence of canal water. Most of the canals and their branches criss-crossing the cotton belt of the north zone have been witnessing frequent closures, forcing the farmers to delay sowing ‘white gold’.

The Agriculture Department officials feared that delay in sowing would also delay the flowering and boll formation stages and chances of attack by bollworm would also increase.

Mr Ashok Kapur, Director, Export Panel, Northern India Cotton Association, said a better yield of cotton crop could be expected only if its sowing came to an end by the end of May. He added that if the sowing continued after May there were strong chances that the yield could decrease considerably.

He pointed out that the area under cotton crop was expected to increase by 10 per cent as compared to the area under the same crop last year.

He added that the area under cotton in Punjab was 4.74 lakh hectares. In Haryana it was 5.72 lakh hectares and in Rajasthan it was 4.82 lakh hectares. In Punjab it could cross 5.5 lakh hectare while there would also be a marginal increase in the areas under cotton cultivation in Haryana and Rajasthan.

The farmers would shift to other crops from cotton in those pockets of Haryana and Rajasthan where there was acute shortage of water or where there was no adequate canal system for irrigation.

Official sources said the Punjab Agriculture Department had fixed the target of 17 lakh bales of cotton in the season which had started from April 15. For this task, the Agriculture Department authorities had been making efforts to reduce the area under paddy by two lakh hectares.

However, the cotton production in the season which ended on March 31, 2001, had reduced as compared to the cotton that was produced in 1999-2000. The total cotton which was produced in 2000-2001 was 26.75 lakh bales while the production of cotton in 1999-2000 was 27.05 lakh bales.

Mr Kapur said that crop size reduced in the just ended season was due to the fact the yield was very good during the first picking but it came down drastically during the second picking. He added that in trade circles the total production was expected at 35 lakh bales but it could not cross even 28 lakh bales.

He pointed out that if the area under cotton was increased in Punjab the production would go up very much and it would bring relief to the ginning mill owners who were now running their units at half their capacity.


Fire adds to farmers’ woes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
As the harvesting of wheat is gaining momentum the incidents of fire in standing crops have also increased in the region in the past few days.

The fire which generally starts due to the short circuit shatters the hope of farmers of getting much-needed money after selling their crop. The farmers who are already facing problems like untimely rain, the increased rates by the combine harvest owners and the shortage of labour engaged in the harvesting of the crop, will now have to bear losses due to fire.

Mr Banta Singh of Giddar village of the district seemed helpless when his six acre of wheat was destroyed in the fire that started due to short circuit. The crop could have yielded about 85 quintals of wheat if the loose connections had not played a spoil sport. The poor farmer would now have to depend on the moneylender for his survival till he gets the next crop.

Mr Banta Singh is not the only person who has to face the problem of wheat burning. There are a number of examples where the fire broke out in the wheat fields due to loose electricity wires or the negligence of the workers.

The family of Jagjot Singh while harvesting wheat in their fields at Ganga village heard a bang over their heads. They found out that a bird had come in contact with live electricity wires running through the fields. It resulted in a short circuit which created a spark that blazed the standing wheat in a few seconds.

The fire not only destroyed the crop of Jagjot Singh but also spread to the adjacent field of Mr Surjit Singh whose 2.5 acres were reduced to ash, that resulted in a loss of about Rs 30,000 to the farmers.

Similarly Karnail Singh of Kotaha-mir village lost Rs 2 acre worth crop to fire, while Pritam Singh of Gilpatti village bore the loss of about 24 quintals as two acres of crop belonging to him was destroyed in the fire.

Mr Baldev Singh of Kotra Koreawali village in the Rampura Phul region was unable to do anything when two acres of crop was destroyed by the fire.

Mr Harnek Singh, Vice-President of the BKU (Ekta), said the main cause of the fire that broke out at various places of the district was the negligence of the Punjab State Electricity Board employees. He said the wires supplying power to the tubewells were so loose that a slight gust of wind or bird hit could tangle the wire causing a short circuit.

He said the authorities should stop power supply in these lines during the harvesting season as was done last year. He added that the employees should keep regular vigil on the supply line to check any fault that could lead to fire.


Fire destroys wheat crop
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 23
Harvested wheat crop in the fields of Jaimalwala village under the Baghapurana police station in this district belonging to Mohinder Singh was reportedly destroyed in fire yesterday. Although the cause of fire is not known but power short-circuits have also been received from other villages in this district including, Duneke Chupkiti. Sandhwanwala and certain others where farmers suffered loss of lakhs of rupees in fire. The report added that farmers in this district have urged the officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board to take steps so that farmers should not suffer due to short-circuiting.


Incentives for fisheries
By Lalit Mohan

Ropar, April 23
The Green Revolution in Punjab has made the soil deficient in nutrients. This has rendered the yield unfit for export to the West.

Fish farming is a viable alternative, says Mr ML Kaushal, Director and Warden of Fisheries, Punjab.

Fish farming provides better returns. The return from any other crop is not more than Rs 45,000 per hectare whereas from the fish farming one can earn around Rs 70,000 per hectare in a year. To promote fish farming the state government has established 14 fish farms, besides encouraging private entrepreneurs who have taken up the production of fish seed. In the existing facility 3 crore fish seed is produced at the government farms. It is sold to fish farmers at Rs 100 per 1000, he says.

The activity has so far been financed by the state government, but now the financial assistance from the Central Government in the form of grant-in-aid worth Rs 1 crore is also being sought. With the availability of this grant the seed production in the seed is expected to be pushed up to 10 crore per annum. The department also provides the extension services for the transfer of technology to the grassroot level. Camps are also arranged to provide training to fish farmers at district head-quarters.

Giving details about credit schemes being offered to fish farmers in the state, Mr Kaushal says the loans for the purpose are provided by the commercial banks particularly by Punjab Agriculture Development Bank. The rate of interest for loans up to Rs 2 lakh was 14 per cent and above this amount it was 16 per cent per annum. The government provides subsidy on these loans. The subsidy on loans for digging of ponds is Rs 40000, for renovation of old ponds Rs 12000, purchase of aerator Rs 12500, on inputs Rs 6000, on fish seed production up to Rs 80000 and on integrated farming Rs 16000. The government has the provisions for providing subsidised loans worth Rs 5 to 6 crore per annum for promoting fish farming in the state.

At present there are 4500 fish farms in the state covering an area of 5500 hectares. Out of this 2000 panchayat ponds covering an area of 3000 hectares functioning . The Panchayat Act has been suitably amended to enable panchayats to lease out their ponds for a period of 10 years at their own level. Different panchayats in the state are earning about Rs 60 lakh annually by leasing out their water resources for fish farming. However, still there is a lot of scope for promoting fish farming in the state. Punjab has natural resources for fish farming in the form of rivers, canals their tributaries cover an area of 15725 km. If even half of the potential area is exploited it would help in strengthening the rural economy of the state.

Mr Kaushal further says that there was a growing demand of cat fish in the local markets. However, the efforts to culture this fish in our country have not succeeded. So, to overcome this difficulty the Punjab Government has decided to take the help of French experts in culturing cat fish. The projects worth Rs 10 crore has been made for the purpose.

Besides this to improve the marketing of fish in the state two fish markets at Ludhiana and Patiala have been developed with the assistance of the Central Government. A proposal to create marketing infrastructure at other important places is also being sent to the Government of India, he adds. 


Aviation clubs hit by rift
From Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 23
Political differences have led to the complete neglect of aviation clubs throughout Punjab. Four aviation clubs were set-up in Punjab at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. All the four clubs are in a state of neglect with most being unsafe. Hence the admission of students to these clubs has dropped to a trickle.

Raja Narinder Singh Minister for Civil Aviation admitted to the neglect suffered by aviation clubs due to withholding of Rs 1 crore sanctioned for the upgradation of these clubs by the Finance Ministry leading to the rot that had set in at the aviation clubs.

Meanwhile the district administration will be shortly issuing a notification seeking to restrict the construction of high-rise buildings, industries having chimneys and other structure within a radius of 20 km of the aerodrome for the safety of aircraft operations.

This was disclosed here by Raja Narinder, Minister at a high-level meeting held at Rajasansi airport yesterday. The meeting was convened to discuss the progress of Rs 155-crore renovation and upgradation plan of Amritsar airport.

The meeting was attended by the senior officers of Punjab Government, including Mr RC Nayyar, Secretary, Mr V. S. Mulekar, Director, Mr S.S. Gill, Director, Civil Aviation, Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Mr S. G. Goswami, Regional Executive Director, (North), Airport Authority of India, Mr R. C. Gupta, Executive, Land Records, Mr B. R. Banga, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, and senior official of the PSEB from Punjab Public Works Department (B&R), Irrigation, Punjab Tourism, PUDA etc.

The minister said the Centre had released Rs 79.26 crore for the project’s first phase besides widening the existing road from the airport to the city, was scheduled to start soon.

The Centre had sanctioned Rs 10 crore for this and half of the amount had already been released.

The municipal corporation had drafted a plan for the street lightening of the road from city to airport with a total project cost of Rs 96 lakh.

The minister further disclosed that the strengthening of main runaway for the operation of 747 class of aircraft, extension of runaway from 9150 feet to 10,800 feet and the construction of new link taxi way connecting apron with the main runway had been approved and work would start in June.

The PSEB would soon shift power substation and electric poles and a high-powered substation would be constructed exclusive for the airport.

Regarding the construction of terminal building, the short listing of tenders had been done and the work would start in September.

There is also a proposal for the provision of parking of state VIP aircraft with separate VIP enclosure at Amritsar Civil Aviation Club at the cost of Rs 30 lakh in addition to the renovation of the club.

This has been necessitated as frequent visits of VIP’s through passenger terminal cause inconvenience to the passengers. 


Selection rules flouted, allege coop directors
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 23
Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh Mr Dhanwant Singh and Mr Kulyash Sharma, all directors of the Gurdaspur Co-Operative Labour and Construction Union, in a press note today have accused the Deputy Registrar, Co-Operatives, here for flouting all rules for the recruitment of five persons in the union. They have demanded a probe in the matter.

Mr Inderjit Singh said according to rules, only 20 per cent of the total income of the union could be spent on establishment and no employee could be recruited without the prior permission of the Registrar. The Deputy Registrar has ignored both these conditions, he alleged.

The Deputy Registrar recruited five persons on an ad hoc basis in the union on April 7 to which the said directors gave their dissent and were suspended by the Deputy Registrar on April 10. But they were reinstated on 19th April, they said.

A meeting of the directors was held on April 20, in which the directors were not invited. The resolution regularising the services of five ad hoc employees was passed, they alleged.


Highway traffic cell inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
The district police added one more feather in its cap with the inauguration of a Highway Integrated Traffic Enforcement Cell (HITEC) the first of its kind in the state by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a Rajya Samba member, here today.

The HITEC post has been set up to provide immediate assistance to victims of road accidents and to check drunken driving and violation of traffic rules. This is the first of a total of five HITEC centres to be opened in the district at various key points. The project has been sponsored by Paramveer Gas, a private company of the city.

Mr Badal, who turned up about three hours late than the scheduled time, while speaking on the occasion said that the efforts of the district police to control the increasing number of road accidents were laudable. With the increasing number of vehicles on the road and the carelessness of the people road accidents have seen a sharp increase and HITEC was an effort to reduce the number of casualties.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, pointed out that the HITEC was equipped with facilities, including an ambulance, first aid, police assistance, public pay phone, drinking water and eatables, toilets etc. The HITEC was manned by trained police personnel, who have received training in first aid.

Dr Jain said that the official in charge of HITEC, Mr Majoj Kumar, SI, had passed Diploma in Pharmacy and would look over the entire operation of HITEC.

Mr Manoj Kumar said that even before its inauguration HITEC had saved as many as six lives, in three different accidents, which took place on April 8, 9 and 22. The centre would operate 24 hours and was equipped with oxygen cylinders, a motor cycle and an emergency phone number (102).


3 booked for migrant’s death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 23
A case under Sections 302 and 34 has been registered against three persons at Khuyian Sarwasr police station following the death of Kanha Ram, a migrant from Jodhpur district of Rajasthan.

Police sources said Kanha Ram had come here with Madan Lal, Doongar Ram and Kaslla Ram. They were engaged by farmers of Haripur village near here for harvesting of wheat. A dispute arose between them over the distribution of work and money on April 16. They came to blows and used bricks and lathies. Kanha Ram was injured and admitted to civil hospital here. His condition became serious and while he was being shifted to Jodhpur he died on the way.


Held for wife’s death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 23
Pawan Kumar has been arrested by the police in connection with the death of his wife Manju, she reportedly consumed poison on April 10. Her father Roop Ram had alleged that Manju was poisoned to death as she was not able to meet the demands of her in-laws relating to dowry. The police has booked Pawan Kumar, his brother Manoj Kumar and mother Saraswati Devi in this connection. Only the husband could be arrested.


Abductor arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 23
The city police has arrested Suraj Kumar, son of Ram Chand, and Kartik, son of Ram Khilawan, residents of Pahari Katra, Hoshiarpur and rescued Reena a teenaged girl from them. Both the accused abducted Reena from her house on March 18. A case has been registered against both of them on the complaint of the mother of the girl, Ram Kali.


‘Out of syllabus’ paper worries students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
In keeping with its past traditions, Punjabi University, Patiala, again gave a rude shock to students of B.Com (final) when it failed to set the question paper of management accounting and business finance, which was held today, according to its guidelines and syllabus.

A group of aggrieved students who approached The Tribune after appearing in the exam this evening, said Section ‘D’ of the question paper had only one question, numbering 7 and the question number 8 which was printed in the question paper was actually part of the question number 7 itself.

The students pointed out that not only this paper but those of English and cost accounting also had glaring mistakes. Thousands of students from Bathinda, Faridkot, Mansa, Sangrur, Patiala and Ropar appeared in the exam today.

One of the students, lamented that all the hard work put in by students had been reduced to zero due to carelessness of the university authorities. It had become a tradition with Punjabi University to cheat the students, they alleged.

Another student alleged that the university authorities do not distinguish between students and animals kept for experiments in the laboratories.

Besides this, the paper of botany-A of B.Sc-I had to be cancelled a few days ago due to mistakes in the paper. The management of the DAV and the Government Rajindra Colleges have expressed concern over the increasing frequency of mistakes in the university question papers.


Faulty paper, say students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 23
Students of the local Khalsa College and others today complained that there was ambiguity in the setting of two questions in section D of the management accounting and business finance paper of B.Com final year.

The students said while it was listed in the rules that there would be a choice in section D of the paper and that there would be one compulsory theory paper in the section, they were surprised to know that both questions in the section were practical based but did not ask anything. They said both questions did not list as to how the students should attempt them.

The students said due to such “faulty” questions, students could not attempt the 15-mark section. They said all students should be given 15 grace marks so that justice was done in the case. The students have also submitted a complaint to the Punjabi University authorities.


Test for commerce stream on June 19
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 23
Guru Nank Dev University will conduct an entrance test for admission to BCA, BIT, BIS, B.Com, B.E. commerce courses in its affilitated colleges on June 19, 2001.

Stating this Dr S.P. Singh, Dean, College Development Council, and co-ordinator of the entrance test said the admission forms would be submitted by May 30, 2001 by post and could also be submitted by hand by June 12, 2001.

Dr Singh said the prospectus for the test can be had on the payment of Rs 400 and Rs 450 by post from DAV College, Amritsar, DAV College for Woman, Amritsar, Hindu College, Amritsar, Trai-Shatabadi Guru Gobind Singh College, Amritsar, Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College, Sarhali (Amritsar) and from the cashier, Guru Nanak Dev University Campus, Amritsar, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, DAV College, Jalandhar, Doaba College, Jalandhar, KMV College, Jalandhar, HMV, Jalandhar, APJ College of Fine Arts, Jalandahr, and GND University College, Basti Nau, Jalandhar, AB College, Pathankot, Hindu Kanya College, Kapurthala, Guru Nanak College, Sukhchainana Sahib, Phagwara and SD Colllege for Women, Sultanpur Lodhi.

Colleges oppose affiliation move
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 23
Managements and staff members of all colleges in the district have protested against the proposal of the state government to affiliate their colleges with Punjabi University, Patiala, instead of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Members of managing committees and also staff members of almost all colleges in the district today sought the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this matter and urged him to withdraw the proposal.


Take up computer education: Jacob
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 23
The Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), last evening called on the youth to involve themselves in technical and computer education training to meet the challenge of foreign countries who, he said, were well accomplished in this sphere.

He stated this while addressing traines of Guru Tegh Bahadur Technical College at Rode village in this district.

He also visited the laboratory and computer centre of the college. The Governor announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the college gymnasium. He also gave a sympathetic hearing to the problems of the college students and assured them he would help them in solving their problems.

The Governor directed the Deputy Commissioner, Moga, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, to look after all complaints of the farmers and said there should be no cause of complaint from farmers with regard to the procurement of wheat. 

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