Monday, April 30, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Roads: Chief Minister calls for records
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has summoned the entire records relating to the expenditure incurred on the maintenance of certain roads in Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana districts.

The Secretary, PWD (B&R), has been asked to personally produce the records on Monday.

The Tribune had highlighted the poor upkeep of certain roads in its report on the “surprise visit” of the Chief Minister to a school, a hospital and a grain market on April 27.

Mr Mohinder Singh, Secretary, PWD (B&R), confirmed that work in most cases had already been allotted for completion in time. Strict quality control would be maintained in the case of all road work in the state, he added.

The Chief Minister had called a meeting of PWD (B&R) officials on April 28 to express his anguish over the pitiable condition of roads, especially from Sohana to Chunni Khurd and from Samrala to Khanna, besides a few others.

The Chief Minister wanted that the entire records relating to these roads, their last repairs, the fresh carpeting schedule and the total expenditure incurred in recent years, must be produced before him for scrutiny.

A visit to Chunni Khurd today revealed that fresh carpeting of the Sohana-Chunni Khurd road had started in Majat village. Some patchwork had also been undertaken at Jhanjheri village on the same road. The entire area fell in Ropar district.

The Chief Minister had held a meeting with the Deputy Commissioners of the districts visited by him during his surprise visit at Sahnewal airport and issued clear directions that all promises made by him should be immediately honoured.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman of the Punjab Government said today that a special grant of Rs 4 lakh for Government High School, Kotla Bajwara, had been sent. The government had also released a special grant of Rs 10,000 to the most outstanding boy of the school.

The Chief Minister also presided over a meeting of farm and horticulture experts yesterday to discuss various problems of the farming community. The need for massive diversification was discussed at the meeting which was attended, among others, by the Financial Commissioner (Development), the heads of Agriculture and related departments and progressive farmers. Issues raised by farmers during his surprise visit to the Khanna Grain Market were also discussed.

The Chief Minister wanted that a comprehensive project for boosting floriculture and fruit plants should be prepared to suggest the setting up of processing units for these crops to ensure better remuneration to the growers.

A team under the Financial Commissioner (Development), Mr C.L. Bains, has been set up to undertake an extensive survey of the state to identify pockets where floriculture and the growing of herbs and medicinal plants could be encouraged.

The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has been requested to associate various experts with the committee. The committee will visit various projects engaged in the processing of crops like roses, tube rose, geranium, jasmine and amla.


Wheat procurement ‘picking up’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 29
Wheat procurement in various mandis of the state is picking up. Till yesterday, 44,87,370 metric tonnes of wheat was procured in various mandis across the state. The wheat arrivals yesterday reached their peak at 6,43,364 metric tonnes. This was stated by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, while talking to this correspondent at Nangal today.

Mr Mittal said wheat procurement in the state was expected to cross the 50 lakh metric tonne target by the end of this month. Of the total wheat procured till yesterday in various mandis, the FCI procured the maximum at 10,81,782 metric tonnes, Markfed 9,69,790 metric tonnes, Punsup 8,52,010 metric tonnes, PSWC 5,56,799 metric tonnes, Agro 5,30,965 metric tonnes, the Food and Civil Supplies Department 4,88,979 metric tonnes and private traders procured 7,045 metric tonnes, he said.

Mr Mittal said though wheat arrivals this year were lesser than the arrivals during the same time last year, but the overall target of the wheat to be procured this year was expected to be higher. The reason for it was that the farmers this year had lesser tendency to store wheat on their own, he said.

When asked about the procurement of the wheat damaged due to unexpected rain, Mr Mittal said the rain had not affected the food value of the produce, but just resulted in the loss of lustre in the crop. So, the agencies had been directed to procure the produce that had lost the lustre due to rain.

The minister said the state had created an additional storage capacity of 60 lakh metric tonnes. However, he admitted that the problem of the slow movement of foodgrains from the store in the state was still there. He suggested that the Union Government should create additional storage space in the food consuming states rather than the food surplus states.

On the challenge posed to the farmers of the state in the open market scenario, Mr Mittal said despite the price commission’s recommendations to reduce the MSP on wheat, the Prime Minister had intervened to get it increased by Rs 30. Mr Mittal also inaugurated a Mahila Mandal room at Dobeta village and presided over a sangat darshan programme held on the occasion.


Fire destroys 20 acres of wheat
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 29
Nearly 20 acres of standing wheat crop was burnt at Rataul village yesterday.

The crop belonged to Dilbag Singh ( 8 acres) and Jaswant Singh (12 acres). Sparks from power transformer burnt the crop. The police has registered a report in this regard.

According to another information 9 acres of standing wheat crop belonging to a widow Charan Kaur, residents of Jhamke village, was forcibly harvested by Kashmir Singh, Hardip Singh, Amrik Singh and Beera Singh, sons of Nazar Singh residents of the same village Jhamke.

The Jhabhal police has registered a case in this regard. One more report from Sarhali police station said that the locks of the Central Co-operative Bank branch Naushehra Pannuan were found broken and the record of the bank scattered.

A case under Sections 457, 379 of the IPC has been registered.

HOSHIARPUR: Standing wheat crop on 90 acres of land was reduced to ashes when fire broke out in fields at Miani, about 40 km from here, yesterday.

Sparking in high-voltage wires passing over the fields was stated to be the cause of fire. Fire tenders from Hoshiarpur and Talwara reached there and controlled the fire.

MOGA: Farmers of various villages in the district have suffered losses to the tune of lakhs of rupees following devastating fire incidents during harvesting operations.

The farmers, in a memorandum submitted to the authorities, have demanded full compensation for the losses they have suffered due to short circuits. The farmers belong to Jaimalswala, Mangewala, Chuckiti Korewala Doda and other villages.


Wheat not procured despite claim
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 29
Due to the non-payment of procured wheat and the same not being lifted by the government agencies, there is resentment among farmers and commission agents in the Fazilka grain market. Mr Gurnaib Singh Brar, secretary of the market committee here said so far 6,65,000 quintals of wheat arrival has been recorded in the grain market here, of which 6,43,000 quintals have been procured by the government agencies. Of the procured wheat Markfed has purchased 1,92,000 quintals, Punsup 1,90,000 quintals, FCI 1,64,000 quintals, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation 93,000 quintals and Punjab State Warehousing Corporation 3,775 quintals.

Besides these, traders have purchased about 100 quintals. Surprisingly, despite claim of Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, Punjab, that elaborate arrangements for wheat procurement had been made, even after 15 days a large quantity of wheat still remains to be lifted. As a result there is a glut of wheat here and wheat lies scattered on all approach roads.

Mr Brar further stated that it was mandatory for the procuring agencies to lift the procured wheat within 72 hours of its purchase, failing which they had to bear demurrage charges of 25 paise per bag per day. Hence these agencies had been served with a notice to pay the demurrage of Rs 5,26,761.

The procuring agencies are reportedly not lifting the procured wheat on the pretext of shortage of storage space. On the other hand the payment of the procured wheat has also not been released.


No public protest against ‘teaching shops’
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Like any other city and township, coaching centres are thriving in the Doaba region. Gullible parents are forced to shell out hefty amounts to enable their wards to clear their exams and competitive tests.

Investigation by TNS revealed that encouraged by the response from students and their parents, teaching shops have mushroomed in all major cities of this region such as Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Phagwara. Interestingly, after spending huge sums what the students get in return is not always success.

What is more surprising is that though parents air their resentment in conversations against the over-dependence of students on tuitions and the unreasonably high rates charged by these shops, none of them has ever raised their voice on a common platform, with the result that the number of these shops and those running them have multiplied.

Despite this being the common problem, there has been no visible effort at the level of the government to discourage the “malpractice” either, which in turn has encouraged government teachers to earn extra bucks by devoting more time to these shops instead of concentrating their energy to make students of their institutions shine.

A number of teachers of such institutions confided that even in the widespread slump, education is the only area that has remained untouched by adverse effects, thanks to the parents. However, a fear lurks in their minds that their wards might not be getting full attention and lack of interest among them in studies at their schools and colleges.

Feeling that education is one of the few lucrative businesses, not only teachers but professionals like bank managers have also started jumping into the fray with the same objective — to earn more and more money.

What is in vogue in the “teaching business” these days is the “capsule” course which is considered to solve every problem. If you can buy a capsule course for Class V to Class XII, the same formula applies if you want to prepare for JET or CET. The only difference is the charge, which depends on the reputation and name of the individual running the tuition centre.

Harpreet Singh, a plus two student, who takes tuitions from a bank manager near Patel Chowk, said his parents had bought him a capsule course after spending Rs 4,500 with which he has been added to the “army” of hundreds of students who are taking tuitions in groups, each consisting of 10 students.

Coaching centres running at Udham Singh Nagar, Krishan Nagar and Shakti Nagar offer capsules to plus two students in different subjects with varying rates. If your kid wants to take tuition for maths, he will have to pay Rs 5000, Rs 10,000 for chemistry, Rs 4,500 for physics and if he intends to prepare for the CET entrance test, he will have to shell amounts ranging between Rs 12,000 and Rs 18,000. The one-month JET course could cost between Rs 1,100 and 1,800 and the student would be part of one of groups of 20 to 22 students.

Mr Hardev Singh of Johal village, who had come to drop his child to a tuition centre, said though he could not afford it, he was paying through his nose in the hope that his son will be able to get a good job after a competitive test and course. Though, the teachers working with reputed academies were post-graduates, there were those running such “shops” at their homes who were just graduates and the Education Department was turning a blind eye to it.

(To be continued)


PFUTA flays VC’s attitude towards PUTA
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 29
Even as war of words continues between the two PUTA factions, the Punjab Federation of University Teachers Association (PFUTA) held a meeting at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana today.

The association, in a unanimous resolution, condemned in unequivocal terms the unprecedented dictatorial act of the Punjabi University, Vice- Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, of the denotification of the duly elected representatives of PUTA in a gross violation of the constitution of the Punjabi University Teachers Association which is a part of the University Statue.

It took a serious note of installing a fraudulent team of his ‘henchmen’ in place of the democratically-elected representatives of teachers. The PFUTA described the act as a serious violation of the fundamental rights of the teachers. They added that the VC had also initiated the process of persecution of elected representatives by constituting a Syndicate committee for this purpose.

The PFUTA leaders strongly condemned the VC for starting the process of victimisation of the elected representatives of the Punjabi University Teachers Association. They added that the VC was trying to undermine the academic and moral fibre of the premier institution by promoting factionalism among teachers, employees and students by inducing them to fight among themselves and with each other.

The PFUTA appreciated the Governor, Punjab, Lt. Gen. (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, the Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Minister for Higher Education, Master Mohan Lal, for taking cognizance of the serious situation prevailing on the Punjabi University campus. It urged them to expedite the inquiry instituted against the Punjabi University VC and restore the original amicable atmosphere.

In a separate resolution the PFUTA urged the Punjab Government to release the arrears of revised pay scales of the teachers from July, 1997, to December, 1998, the date of implementation of new pay scales, to remove pay anomalies and provide representation to the elected representatives on the Senate, Syndicate and on other bodies on the pattern of Panjab University, Chandigarh.


Zoo animals go without beef
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chhat Bir (Patiala), April 29
More than 130 animals of the famous zoo here went without beef for two and half days as the Saharanpur-based supplier’s contract was terminated by the zoo authorities.

Jackals hyenas and cats became restless due to hunger. About 40 kg of goat meat was purchased from the local market and fed to the animals. However, the lions, tigers and panthers tolerated hunger.

Sources in the zoo said that the contract was rejected on April 26 following a complaint to the Chief Conservator of Forest cum Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab Mr H.S. Gujral about the poor quality of beef being fed to the animals after Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden ( Zoos), Punjab left for Libya.

Taking a serious view of the complaint the Zoo Director visited the zoo on April 25 and inspected the meat and terminated the contract. The supply of meat was stopped from the very next day, sources confirmed.

On Saturday, the zoo deputy director, Mr Gurpal Singh, along with Mr R.D. Kaushal, Zoo Superintendent and Mr Sukhdev Singh, Inspector rushed to Saharanpur and purchased the required quantity of beef at the rate of Rs 23 per kg.

The supply of beef has been requisitioned for 20 days.

Mr Singh confirmed the cancellation of the contract for 819 kg beef per day at the rate of Rs 25 per kg with Muhammad Asif, a Saharanpur-based supplier.

He, however, expressed his ignorance about the reason for the contract cancellation.


Fund to develop Punjabi sought
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
“The governments of Punjab have failed to do anything for the uplift of the Punjabi language. Even the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which had launched an agitation against the then Central Government to carve out a Punjabi Suba on language basis, has failed to promote the cause of Punjabi. The state government should constitute a “Punjabi Development Fund” to help Punjabi writers, publishers, intellectuals”. This was stated by the vice-chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, during the silver jubilee function of “Waryam”, a Punjabi magazine, here today.

He said that Punjabi writers, intellectuals and journalists virtually became a depressed lot since very few people preferred to purchase Punjabi books and literature. The Punjabi cinema was also not in a good health.

“The state government should constitute a Punjabi Development Fund and sanction an annual grant of Rs 5 crore to it. A committee of Punjabi intellectuals and journalists should be constituted which will utilise the money to help the poor writers and others contributing for the cause of the language”, he added.

Noted, Punjabi writer Waryam Singh Sandhu said, “The Punjabi community has not fully utilised the electronic media and computer technology to impart information among countrymen about the sacrifices made by its brave warriors, its history and rich culture.

This was evident from the fact that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had admitted during the function to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s, coronation that he did not know that the Maharaja was such a great warrior, a kind ruler and had special love for downtrodden people”.

Jagdish Singh Waryam, Editor of “Waryam”, in his address said that Punjabi could not be developed without the involvement of its followers at the grassroot levels. “The Punjabi people all over the world should come forward and join hands in the development of the language”, he said.

Others who read paper include Dr Lakhwinder Singh Johal, Mr Sawaran Singh Virk, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Dr Joginder Singh Puar and freedom fighter Baba Bhagat Singh.


4 striking NFL staffers suspended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 29
The National Fertilizers Ltd management has suspended four employees of the Nangal unit.

The employees here had observed a two-day strike against the proposed disinvestment of the company, on the call of the coordination committee of all unions of the NFL.

The DGM (HR) of the Nangal unit, Mr Nagpal, said the striking employees were suspended for indiscipline and violating the conduct rules of the factory.

Gurjinder Singh, shunt-cum-seal man and Karnail Singh, dozer operator, were suspended, allegedly for altering the railway track which changed the route of the coal racks destined for NFL towards the adjoining closed unit of Punjab National Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (PNFC). Komal Dev, general secretary of the recognised union of the Nangal unit, and Balbir Singh Saini were suspended for entering the factory premises during the strike and trying to intimidate the casual labourers.

Mr Nagpal said the suspended employees would be issued the charge sheets and an inquiry would be initiated against them.

The president of the recognised union of the NFL, Mr GL Khera, however, termed the action of the management as a ploy to weaken the ongoing agitation of the employees. The workers would not be deterred by such actions of the management, he added.


Home Guards display skills
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 29
A function to create awareness among public and to demonstrate the efficiency of the civil defence was organised by the Civil Defence Warden Service at Government Girls Senior Secondary School here today.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technologies, was the chief guest. Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, and Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, and many other prominent residents of the city attended the function.

Mr Garg, while addressing the gathering, said, “The training in civil defence is a must for the residents as it helps to save valuable lives in crisis and natural disasters.” He announced a grant of Rs 30,000 for the organisation.

The skills demonstrated by the volunteers of the Punjab Home Guards and the Civil Defence included fire fighting services, first-aid services, evacuation of people from troubled areas and knowledge about the signals and symbols of the air raids, etc. A short skit was also presented by the volunteers depicting the ignorance of people about civil defence.

Dr Jain said the district had one of the most efficient Civil Defence units in the state and the Punjab Home Guards were also rendering invaluable services.

Mr Anil Bhola, Deputy Divisional Warden, Civil Defence, said the district had been divided into 12 civil defence zones, and in emergency various departments of the district administration would coordinate as per the plans. The plans and rolls of the volunteers were reviewed every year, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner of a district is the ex-official chairman of the Civil Defence Warden Service. The employees, school children, college students above the age of 18 years and physically fit could enroll for the 21-day civil defence training, he added.

Mr Garg later released a souvenir on civil defence after the function. The volunteers and officials of the Civil Defence were honoured at the function by the minister.


Bank staff slow, allege taxpayers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 29
The sales taxpayers who went to a local branch of Punjab National Bank to pay returns yesterday complained to the management of the bank that the staff at the sales tax counter harassed them and worked too casually to care for customers.

Mr Navin Singla (name changed) who had gone to the bank to pay his sales tax alleged that the cashier on the counter worked very slowly and received cash out of turn from customers. Not more than 10 customers were dealt with by the cashier in two hours, he alleged. “April 30 is the last date to file the returns without any penalty, if the working system in the bank was not improved by the branch, the taxpayers would have to pay the penalty in addition to doing tedious paper work,” he said.

A senior official of the bank when contacted said the management had been running the counter for the taxpayers beyond the regular banking hours but the taxpayers were not cooperating with the staff.

The cashier was dealing with the taxpayers and other customers operating their current accounts, simultaneously, and so some of them might have felt that he was slow, the official said. Cash was accepted from customers in queue. Only the bank was not responsible for delay on part of the taxpayers. They should not have waited for last dates for filing returns, he said.


CM gives 4 cr to hometown
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, April 29
Even as the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, doled out crores of rupees for the development of his hometown in the series of ‘Sangat Darshan’ held for the first time today ever since the SAD-BJP alliance came into power. Mr Ashok Dhir, former Chairman, Punjab State Seed Corporation (unseed) and a close confidant of Mr Badal and Akali president of local municipal council, Mr Subash Jain Lily stayed away from all the functions.

Mr Badal, who started his political career from this assembly segment about four decades ago, gave Rs 4 crore for such projects as the railway underbridge, drinking water supply, senior secondary school for girls and canal water supply for irrigation of fields located in the downtown area.

Mr Dhir and Mr Lily when contacted on phone by TNS said that they were not invited by anybody to attend the Sangat Darshan held by Mr Badal.

Mr Lily disclosed that differences between Mr Dhir and himself on one side and Badal’s family on other side started when a case under Section 306 was registered against Mr Dhir. They felt further isolated when the candidate in the truck union elections, supported by them, was defeated by their own leaders.

He said that Mr Badal did not hold Sangat Darshan in Ward Number 3 which was represented by him.

Mr Badal announced that Rs 1 crore would be given for constructing the railway overbridge to connect 20 villages with this town directly. Another Rs 1 crore would be spent on laying the pipes to bring water from the Sirhind feeder canal to the waterworks located in the town to augment drinking water supply.

He gave Rs 10 lakh each for opening a senior secondary school for girls and installing lift pumps to transport canal water to the fields of the downtown area.

Accompanied by the local MLA Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, the Chief Minister alleged that previous Congress governments at the Centre and in Punjab had played havoc with the interests of states. They had deprived Punjab of its fair share of river waters.


Star blood donor in making
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 29
The district has set a record in blood donation. On January 30, 1993 a blood donation camp was held at SSD Girls College when about 1,568 units of blood were collected. This was the second largest blood donation camp held in the country.

The Blood Donors Council (BDC) founded on October 1, 1978 at Rampura Phul has created a niche for itself by organising blood donation camps and saving lives of more than 5,000 persons during the past 23 years. The council was established with the efforts of Mr H.L. Bansal and Mr Anil Saraf. Now, Mr Bansal’s nephew an active member of the BDC, has beaten all records in blood donation.

Mr Vinod Bansal (36), has donated blood 68 times, which is a record in Punjab. He has been honoured by various NGOs, voluntary organisations, departments and even the state government. He celebrated his birthday by donating blood every year. He says he was inspired by his uncle.

He is the founder president of the Emergency Blood Donation Service and the emergency director of the United Welfare Society, Bathinda. His blood group B-negative is one of the rare groups and so his services are always sought in emergency. He was honoured for the first time by Government Medical College, Patiala, on July 26, 1983 for his services.

He has been honoured with various awards, including college colour and roll of honour by Government Rajindra College, University Medal by Punjabi University, Patiala and the state Health Department. His family has more than 200 blood donations to their credit. He donates blood not only when emergency arises but at voluntary camps also.


Erratic power cuts hit trade
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 29
Residents of the district have been facing unannounced and unscheduled power cuts for longer durations.

Even as the temperature has been rising, the number and duration of power cuts has also be increasing in the region.

Over the past many days, the situation in the region due to power cuts has become worse and has started affecting trade and industry on one hand and on the other it has become a major headache for the students who have appear for their annual examinations.

Though Bathinda boasts of two thermal power stations — 440 mw Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here and 420 mw Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, of Lehra Mohabbat, 23 km from here, the previous governments failed to get it declared as power-cut free city.

The PSEB authorities have claimed that it would buy power from the central pool to meet the electricity demand in the state, but so far the authorities have failed to do anything concrete. Even during the winters there were power cuts.

For the past one week, the position of electricity supply in the city has gone from bad to worse as there are power cuts seven to eight times a day.

Mr Dharni, a bank employee, pointed out that the PSEB authorities should inform the people about the timings and duration of power cuts.

The residents alleged that the PSEB authorities had been deliberately imposing unscheduled power cuts to promote the sale of generator sets and invertor manufacturers. They pointed out that to cash in on the situation some shopkeepers had even started selling generator sets and invertors on easy instalments.

They questioned that when the thermal plants had been doing record generation of electricity than why the area had been facing frequent power cuts.

Even one of the senior officials of the PSEB admitted that the distribution system of the PSEB had not been strengthened leading frequent trippings during peak hours. He added that power cuts should be rationalised.

Moreover, the use of generator sets has started creating noise and air pollution, which has led to health problems.

Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, president, Samajwadi Janata Party, Punjab, alleged that the authorities concerned had been facilitating the theft of electricity by big industrialists on one hand and on the other power cuts were being imposed on civilian areas. He demanded a thorough probe.


Show-cause notice to MC chief
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, April 29
Even as the local Municipal Council has suffered a loss of more than Rs 72 lakh on account of reduction of house tax charges by a two-member sub-committee of Municipal Councillors constituted allegedly by violating the rules, the Punjab Government has issued a show-cause notice to the council president, Mr Kala Ram, and two other Municipal Councillors, Mr Ravi Raj Deora and Mr Udham Singh, for removing them from their respective posts.

In the notice issued by Mr Rajesh Chabbra, Principal Secretary, Department of Local Bodies, Punjab, on April 23, the president and members have been accused of causing financial loss to the council by reducing the house tax charges of various commercial and residential dwellings by misusing their powers.

According to a copy of the notice, Mr Kala Ram has also been accused of not constituting a house tax sub-committee as per the rules and regulations, despite the directions given by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr A. Verm Parsad, for doing the same.

Official sources said Mr Kala Ram allegedly constituted a two-member house tax sub-committee of two Municipal Councillors, Mr Ravi Raj Deora and Mr Udham Singh, without including the Executive Officer of the council as its member, which was mandatory under the Punjab Municipal Rules.

The sub-committee reduced the house tax of various commercial and residential dwellings, allegedly in the violation of norms.

The Punjab Government has also reconstituted the sub-committee of house tax. Mr Gurbachan Singh and Mr Mohan Singh, both Municipal Councillors, alongwith the Executive Officer of the council, have been included in the sub-committee, sources added.

Sources said Mr Kala Ram and the two Municipal Councillors have been asked to file their replies against the show-cause notice within 21 days.


Sangrur lawyers give ultimatum
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 29
The Sangrur District Bar Association has resolved that if its demand of the construction of lawyers’ chambers in the Judicial Complex here is not accepted by May 3 by the government, the members will start constructing chambers from May 4 on the land, lying vacant in the new Judicial Complex.

In a resolution issued here, the secretary of the association, Mr Sat Pal Sharma, stated that all social and political organisations and sister Bar Associations had been invited on the occasion of laying of foundation stone of the chambers for the lawyers by the president of the District Bar Association on May 4. He said copies of the resolution had been sent to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Chief Minister, judicial and executive officers at Sangrur, and other authorities and organisations concerned.

-level Lok Adalat held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 29
A state-level Lok Adalat was held at the premises of the district court complex, here yesterday. On the occasion, seven adalats were organised, which were headed by Mr S.S. Gupta and Mr A.S. Kathuria, Aditional District Judges, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Ms Baljinder Kaur, Assistant Civil Judge (Senior Divison) Ms Gurmeet Kaur, Mr Ranjeet Kumar Jain and Mr Raj Kumar Garg, Civil Judges (Junior Division).

A total of 408 cases were taken up at the Lok Adalat. The majority of the cases were found to be related to the non-performing accounts of various banks.


Pepsu Roadways employees end fast

Kapurthala, April 29
Employees of the Pepsu Roadways Corporation today called off the six-day old agitation following assurance by Punjab Transport Minister Raghbir Singh about the transfer of depot General Manager H.S. Dhillon by tomorrow.

The decision to transfer Mr Dhillon was taken at a meeting with the union leaders led by Mr Dal Singh Sandhu state president, Punjab Raj Mulazam Dal, with Transport Minister at latter’s residence this morning.

The minister reportedly asked the three union leaders, who were on indefinite fast, to end it as a condition for giving directions regarding transfer.

The three union leaders namely Malkiat Singh, Rashem Singh and Rakesh Kumar had resorted to fast unto death to protest against the alleged corruption in the depot and demanded the suspension of the General Manager. PTI


Grant for families of 2 BSF men
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, today announced financial help for next of kin of two BSF personnel who were killed by the Bangladesh Rifles a few days ago.

In a statement, a spokesman of the government said next of kin of Mr Sukhjinder Singh of Kothe Majithia village and Mr Gurbax Singh of Nainokot village would get a grant of Rs 10 lakh each.


Writers’ pension increased
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Government has announced to enhance the pension of eligible writers from Rs 800 to Rs 2,000 keeping in view their contribution to literature.

The announcement was made when a deputation of the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Malerkotla, led by Prof Pritam Singh and Dr S. Tarsem, called on the Chief Minister. He also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the sabha. He gave an assurance that the government would ensure the use of Punjabi in government offices by providing more teeth to the Raj Bhasha Act.

Mr Badal said he would take up the issue of the use of the Punjabi language in the Union Territory of Chandigarh with the Union Home Ministry.


Truck rams into train, driver dead
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 29
Truck driver Kuldip Singh was killed on the spot, while truck cleaner Jagjit Singh sustained serious injuries when their truck rammed into a Lohian-bound diesel multiple unit train near Beerpind village at an unmanned level crossing last evening.

The truck was smashed in the accident and some windowpanes of the DMU were broken. A few passengers of the train sustained minor injuries.

The injured truck cleaner was sent to a Ludhiana hospital.

The railway police has registered a case and sent the body to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, three unidentified armed miscreants injured Tata Sumo driver Gurcharan Singh near Silkiana village on Phillaur-Nawanshahr road late last night and sped away with vehicle.

According to a report lodged by the driver with the Phillaur police station, the three had hired the Sumo from a taxi stand of Ludhiana to go to Nawanshahr.

Khayami honoured
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 29
To honour poet Sagar Khayami, the Adaab Nawaz Foundation organised, Ek Shaam Sagar Khayami Ke Naam, programme at a local hotel last night.

Eminent Urdu poets and scholars participated in the programme marked by satire, wit and humour.

Dr Mohammed Rami said: “Shaam Dhale Apne Man Ko Yun Behlaya Karte The, Raat Ke Kore Kagaz Par Chaand Banaya Karte The...”, and “Voh Phul Se Chehre Khizan Ho Gaye Kab Ke, Naam Purane Abhi Tak Hare Hain.”

Then it was the turn of Nasir Naqvi to say: “Maine Maana Tere Paaon Mein Janzeeren Hain, Tere Har Baat Pe Rahtee Hai Duniya Ki Nazar..”.

Sagar Khayami arrived on the stage sent the audience in peels of laughter. Taking a broadside on the performance of cricketers he said: “Aa Jaaye Match Mein Kahin Koi Rishtedaar, Biwi Kahe Kiya Kar Rahe Ho Kar Do Inhe Boundary Ke Paar...”



Lantana destroys vegetation
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, April 29
Shivalik hills and the Kandi area falling in Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Ropar districts may soon become bereft of several species of grass and bushes as the fast-spreading lantana weed has engulfed hundreds of acres of agricultural land in the foothills for want of adequate control measures during the past several decades.

The weed is said to have been imported by some Indian from Africa as an ornamental plant about two decades back, who fell in love with its pink flowers.

Investigations by The Tribune reveal that besides harming the vegetation, the weed has been stirring the process of soil erosion in the forests of the area as its root system converts normal soil into a porous one. The weed also destroys the wild grass whose root system has a binding effect on the soil.

Lantana has also started spreading its claws into cultivable lands, causing a huge financial loss to the farmers. They have almost given up hope of its removal from their fields since it multiplies during every rainy season.

Underlining his problems, Mr Hazara Singh of Kukaner village in Hoshiarpur district said no forest area had been spared by the weed in the hills. “The main problem for us that it don’t allow the grass to grow due. As a result, we cannot graze our cattle in the forest areas,” he rued.

The weed was found in abundance even in the Mangrowal, Garshankar and other reserve forest areas. It has become a major source of headache for farmers and residents of hundreds of villages in the Shivalik foothills.

Mr Kashmira Singh, who recently set up flower oil extraction plant at Maili village near Mahilpur, said the government had done nothing to check its proliferation.

Dr Lal Singh Brar, Senior Agronomist at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, said, “The solution to the problem is the initiation of a mass campaign to deweed it as had been seen at some places in cases of congress grass or in the “Bet” area of Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts where it had started damaging farmlands,” he added.

Dr Brar said repeated sprays of glyphosate could help destroy the weed but it is a costly affair.


Five caught with narcotics
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 29
The Amritsar police recovered a large quantity of narcotics in raids conducted at hideouts of suspected drug peddlars today.

The CIA staff under DSP(D), Mr Lakha Singh, also apprehended three persons with smack, one carrying opium and yet another with injectible drugs.

Those arrested are Tejpal, son of Bhagwant Singh of Islamabad, Kashmir Singh, alias Commando, son of Bela Singh resident of Nirankari Colony and Sukhwinder Singh resident of Nirankari Colony, and Sukhwinder Singh, alias Bagga, son of Muktar Singh, resident of Partap Avenue.

The three were booked under Sections 22 and 61/85 of the NDPS Act.

Sardul Singh, son of Amar Singh of Billowala P.S. Lopoke, was apprehended with 80 gm opium from the Sultanwind area. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against him.

Tirlochan Singh, a chemist and son of Gurdeep Singh of Pratap Nagar was caught during a naka at Chamrang Road, under the same Act for having illegal injectible drugs.


Craze to settle abroad landed him in jail
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
To stake his claim for political asylum in Switzerland, Balwinder Singh of Mehatpur, who had forged documents showing him to be a terrorist wanted by the Jalandhar police, finally landed in jail yesterday.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that the district police had received information that Balwinder Singh had forged documents showing for seeking political asylum in Switzerland.

The accused was arrested from Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi yesterday.

He revealed that his aspiration of settling abroad had virtually forced him to go to the extent of forging documents.

Balwinder Singh, who was in the Punjab police as a constable in Ludhiana in 1989, left the job after his brother was killed in an accident. Later, he managed to visit Italy and finally reached Switzerland.

In order to get an unemployment allowance of 280 Swiss franks from the Switzerland Government, he applied for grant of political asylum through a solicitor on the ground of prosecution at the hands of Punjab police due to his involvement in terrorism.

The forged documents showed that Balwinder was wanted in India for terrorist crimes and had submitted the forged documents to the immigration authorities in Switzerland. However, his claim for political asylum was rejected in April, 2001.


Hawala racket busted, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
The district police has busted a hawala racket with the arrest of four of the five racketeers and recovered Rs 12 lakh from them.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that they received information on Friday that certain persons who were involved in hawala transactions in the district could be intercepted as they were moving around in the area in a Maruti car (PB 37A 3173) to distribute hawala money.

Subsequently, the car carrying four persons was intercepted at the Kot Kalan chowk naka. A search was conducted and Rs 2 lakh and a mobile phone seized. All of them were arrested and were identified as Balihar Chand of Bachhowal village in Phillaur, Balwinder Kumar of Prempura in Phagwara, Avtar Singh of Patti Natha village in Goraya and Mohan Lal of Indira Colony in Phillaur.

Mr Yadav further said the preliminary interrogation of the arrested persons led to recovery of more hawala money worth Rs 9.8 lakh from the residence of Balihar Chand. It was further stated that Ashok Kumar of Pacca Bagh locality was the kingpin and had been running the racket with the help of Vijay Kumar in Sharjah.

He said the modus operandi was that after a “customer” handed over the money in foreign currency to the connection abroad, Ashok Kumar would hand over the exact conversion in Indian currency of the foreign currency received by him to a relative of the “customer in India”. A case has been registered. 

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