Sunday, May 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tohra calls for general amnesty
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 5
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC President, has urged the government to announce general amnesty for all those who had been blacklisted for their role in the militant struggle that rocked the country during the eighties. Terming this as the need of the hour, Mr Tohra, in his first interaction with the media after his return from USA, Canada and UK, said hundreds of Sikhs, who had fled the country were willing to return to the national mainstream.

“Those involved in the Khalistan movement are not the only ones wishing to return, but there are people who had fled the country out of fear of the police or some other reasons. Now that the separatist movement has died down, the Indian Government should initiate a move to heal the wounds,” he said.

Mr Tohra said, “The Sikh community abroad feels that when people like Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, who masterminded the militant struggle can be brought back, than why should several others languishing in jails be allowed to rot or for that matter those living abroad not be allowed to return?” In reply to a question, he said he was conveying the sentiments of the Sikhs living abroad and at the same time making a demand to the same effect.

Acting as a spokesman for the Indians living abroad, Mr Tohra said the government should act immediately to fulfil their demand of granting dual citizenship to people of Indian origin. He said several NRIs expressed their desire to invest in India, but were unwilling to do so until the government removed various bottlenecks like delays in getting visas, corruption, etc. He said the overseas Indians felt that under the prevailing WTO scenario, it would be very difficult for the Indian industry to compete with imports.

Reacting to questions about the proposed unity between various Akali factions, Mr Tohra said, “Unity efforts are on, which will surely succeed, just give us some time.” He clarified that presently there was no move to patch up with SAD, but added that a patch-up with the Badal faction was only possible if two of his demands were met. These included an apology from Mr Badal for violating the hukamnama from Akal Takhat and reinstalling of Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Mr Tohra admitted that during his visit to California, he met Mr Didar Singh Bains and discussed some issues pertaining to Akali unity. But he denied that Mr Bains had agreed to act as a mediator between him and Mr Badal for bringing unity.

Earlier in the day, Mr Tohra met SGPC President Jagdev Singh Talwandi at the latter’s residence. This was the first visit by Mr Tohra to Mr Talwandi’s house after he became SGPC President. Though intelligence agencies are assessing the meeting to be the beginning of a patch-up bid, but Mr Tohra denied it, saying that “I had gone there to congratulate Mr Talwandi on the release of his son Ranjit Singh Talwandi from jail after being acquitted of murder charges by the court.”

The move by Mr Tohra assumes significance in view of the reports regarding the straining of the relationship between Mr Badal and Mr Talwandi over certain issues pertaining to the functioning of the SGPC. Despite Mr Talwandi’s claims of a cordial relationship between him and Mr Badal, some of the incidents, which can be cited to prove otherwise are Mr Talwandi’s absence from the official function to celebrate the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation in New Delhi and also at the bhog ceremony of Mr Devi Lal, whom Mr Badal treated like a family member.

Again, relations between both were further strained when Mr Talwandi got the SGPC executive to pass a resolution appointing Mr Harbeant Singh as the SGPC Secretary, much against the wishes of Mr Badal. Pressure from the Badal camp restrained Mr Harbeant Singh from taking over. The Chief Minister also reportedly foiled the move of Mr Talwandi to remove the Akal Takht Jathedar leading to differences in the two camps.


Zaffarwal sent to Nabha jail
Our Correspondent and UNI

Gurdaspur, May 5
Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, who was arrested from Amritsar bus stand recently, was produced in the court of Mr Jasbir Singh, Judicial Magistrate, yesterday. The court remanded him in judicial custody till May 16.

Interestingly when Zaffarwal was taken to the central jail here last evening the jail staff refused to accept him on the plea that the jail authorities did not have enough security staff.

Meanwhile, the police authorities contacted IG, Border Range, at Amritsar seeking directions in this regard. The official authorities instructed the local police to lodge Zaffarwal in the high security central jail, Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Zaffarwal was sent to the Nabha jail yesterday under tight security.


Doctor accused of selling organs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau today accused Dr O P Aggarwal, Associate Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, who was allegedly caught red-handed while accepting a bribe for conducting a post-mortem, of selling human organs and limbs.

Filing a revision petition in the court of the Sessions Judge here today, the Vigilance Department urged that the accused be remanded to police custody for investigating his role in selling human organs and limbs of corpses brought to Rajindra Hospital for post-mortem.

The department claimed that the police remand was also essential to ascertain the particulars of those persons from whom he had taken bribes as well as to know how he had spent and concealed the money earned from bribes and by selling human organs and limbs.

It demanded that the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate should be set aside or he be directed to grant police remand of the accused for further investigation.

It pleaded that after the vigilance raid, the police got busy in preparing necessary documents and recording statements of witnesses. This gave an opportunity to the accused to get himself admitted to Rajindra Hospital from where he was discharged the following day and then remanded to judicial custody.

The petition pleaded that the department could not get enough time to question the accused with regard to properties purchased by him. The petition said the accused had disclosed during questioning that he was incurring a huge expenditure on the education of his sons.


SGPC’s decision flayed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
The recent decision of the SGPC executive to scrutinise the complaints of the Sikh congregation before they are taken up at Akal Takht is aimed at clipping the wings of the high priests.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Akali MLA, and Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, Akal Takht, have alleged that such a decision would erode the authority of Akal Takht. They alleged that the scrutiny by the Sikh Advisory Board, Dharam Parchar Committee, and the SGPC executive would benefit SAD as complaints against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, state minister, Urban Development, and other ministers and leaders were still pending with Akal Takht.

SGPC member Puran Singh Josh also lodged a complaint recently against Mr Badal for visiting a temple.

Mr Tohra said he sought full autonomy for Akal Takht and its Jathedar, while the recent decision would curtail the powers of supreme temporal authority of Sikhs. He said his faction had been demanding the appointment of jathedars on merit so that they could assert their authority in a befitting manner. Bhai Ranjit Singh described the recent decisions of executive as “anti-Panthic” and “unprecedented”.

The Panthic leaders said the courts could take suo moto action on the basis of the newspaper reports as to why Akal Takht could not accept complaints pertaining to the Panth directly. 


PSEB to give relief for crop damage
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today announced that farmers whose standing crops suffered a loss of more than 75 per cent would be given Rs 2,000 per acre as relief.

An official spokesman said here that where the damage to standing or harvested crop exceeded 50 per cent, but was less than 75 per cent, the relief would be Rs 1,000 per acre and where the damage exceeded 25 per cent, but was less than 50 per cent, the relief would be Rs 700 per acre.

Besides this the spokesman said where the crop was completely destroyed at the early stage but the area could be recultivated in the same season, the farmer would be allowed relief for seeds and fertilisers at the rate of Rs 700 per acre.

Where crop was completely destroyed at the early stage but the area could not be recultivated, the relief would be allowed at the rate Rs 1,000 per acre.

The spokesman said all incidents of damage to the crops due to fire pitches or some electrical fault would be thoroughly investigated by the senior Executive Engineer immediately by making on the spot verifications to establish the cause of fire.

The board has also decided that the extent of damage to the crops and areas affected may also be accessed after verification on the spot by the Subdivisional Officer or Executive Engineer concerned. The cases will be decided keeping in view the report of the revenue authorities and subject to a maximum of 10 acre per khatauni or the actual area affected, whichever is less.

The board has also decided that in order to avoid fake claims, site verification will be made by the Executive Engineer concerned to ascertain the actual cause of fire and to fix responsibility of delinquent officials. Besides initiating suitable disciplinary proceedings against the board officials, notional recoveries would also be made from erring employees of the board found responsible for such lapses . It has also decided that all genuine cases of compensation would be decided within a weeks time from the date of receipt of the claims.


52nd session of PCCTU today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The 52nd session of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will be held at G.G.N. College, Ludhiana, tomorrow. Nearly 400 elected delegates, state executive committee members and union activists will take part in the proceedings of the general house of the PCCTU.

The PCCTU general secretary, Prof Charanjit Chawla, said that the general secretary’s report for the session 2000-2001 would be presented for discussion and the finance secretary’s report would be presented by Prof. N.P. Manocha.

The delegates will discuss the union and state governments’ role with regard to education as the present government had changed its work culture allegedly under the influence of market economy that the user must pay higher cost.

The government policy of opening new courses e under the self-financing category in private and government sector has virtually closed higher education to those sections who cannot afford to pay this higher cost.

The general House will also debate flouting of UGC norms by the state government, UT administration and state universities regarding payment of salary to teachers who have cleared the UGC/NET test. Most of the teachers are being paid Rs 3500 to Rs 7700 per month for only around six months in a full academic year and their number is more than 1500.

Other issues which will be debated include the role of state universities with regard to reservation of seats of NRI/NRI sponsored/industry seats with higher fee structure at the cost of merit, the impact of globalisation on education, health, economy, culture and farmers, to revitalise the union, academic responsibility of the teachers and the role of the print media.

After discussion, the last phase of PCCTU elections for the session for 2000-2001 will be held by secret voting for 11 seats of State Executive Committee of the PCCTU. The result of the office-bearers of the PCCTU will be declared on the floor of the House as only seven nominations have been received. These include Prof K.B.S Sodhi as president, Prof. J.S. Randhawa as general secretary, Prof. Gurnam Singh Kahlon as vice-president, Prof Balbir Singh as finance secretary, Prof Prakash Singh as secretary of GNDU colleges, Prof S.S. Sanghera as secretary of PU colleges and Prof Amrinderpal Singh as secretary of Punjabi University colleges.

In the second phase of the PCCTU elections which were held on April 22, as many as 17 district presidents were elected to the state executive committee of the PCCTU and in the first phase, the elections of the office-bearers of 172 colleges along with delegates were held on March 31, 2001. 


Bathinda SP’s file of probe sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab to produce the file pertaining to the investigation done by Bathinda’s Superintendent of Police (Detective) on the basis of which prime accused in a case under the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was declared innocent.

Pronouncing the directions, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar observed, “Counsel for the petitioner submits that the main culprit abused the complainant in a very objectionable manner and has been declared innocent by the police. Yet the petitioner against whom the only allegation is that he participated in beating up the complainant is being proceeded against on the basis of the FIR.”

The Judge added, “In view of the matter, the state government is directed to produce the file of investigation done by Bathinda SP (Detective) on the basis of which the accused has been declared innocent.”

Escape from cops: notice issued

On a petition seeking independent probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the escape of two accused from a police station in Kharar after removing bricks from the cell wall, Mr Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab, the Director-General of Police, Ropar’s Senior Superintendent of Police and other respondents for May 21.

Describing the police story regarding the escape of Joginder Singh Pariyar and Anil Kumar as incredible, the World Human Rights Protection Council, in its petition, stated that making a hole in a 13-inch thick wall with bare hands was impossible.

Going into the background, counsel for the petitioner stated that the duo were arrested in a theft case registered under Sections 379 and 411 of the Indian Penal Code on April 17.

Notification of Registrar stayed

Our Legal Correspondent adds:
Issuing notice of motion for May 10, Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill and Mr Justice V.S. Aggarwal of the high court have stayed the operation of the notification issued by the Punjabi University Registrar derecognising Mr Bhupinder Singh Khera and seven other petitioners as the office-bearers of the Punjabi University Teachers’ Association.

Seeking the quashing of the notification issued on April 20, the petitioners had stated that the Registrar, vide the notification, had also conferred recognition on Dr Jamshed Ali Khan and four other respondents.

The action, counsel for the petitioners had added, was in violation of the constitution of PUTA. Giving details, he had stated that the elections could be held only during the annual meeting with the Registrar as the returning officer. 


Areas of Oppn MLAs being neglected: Cong
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, MLA and general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today alleged that the state government was neglecting the areas of Opposition MLAs while giving grants for development work.

In a press note issued here he said the government was giving step-motherly treatment to the constituencies of Opposition MLAs. He alleged the funds given for the development of the Talwandi Sabo region were diverted to other places.

He said the Rs 5-crore grant which was issued by the Central Government for levelling sand dunes in the Talwandi Sabo region was spent in the neighbouring constituency. He said people of his segment had made a demand that they be given their due or they would launch an agitation.

Mr Jassi said the Opposition MLAs were not taken into confidence at the time of issuing grants for the construction of roads in various Assembly segments.

He said the state-level board which was established to look into the matter of development of Talwandi Sabo was done away with by the government. Therefore, no development work had taken place for the past four years. The construction of water works had also not been completed so far, he said.

The Congress leader said in the past few months, various Assembly segments in the state were given Rs 65 lakh each for development but Talwandi Sabo was deprived of funds.

He said the upgradation of schools was being done on a discriminatory basis.


Chemists burn effigy of Bihar CM
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, May 5
Members of the Punjab Chemist Association (PCA) today observed a strike against the alleged atrocities of the Bihar Government on their counterparts in the state. They burnt an effigy of the Bihar Chief Minister, Mrs Rabri Devi.

The call for the strike was given by the All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists. The PCA has alleged that the Bihar Government levied taxes on the medicines due to which these have become expensive.

He added that their union had earlier demanded uniformity in the maximum retail price of the medicines throughout the country. He said increasing of the taxes in one state was not justified, and added that the rates were already very high and there was no need to increase them further.

The residents of the city faced lot of problems due to the strike of the chemists. They were running from one place to another for getting medicines.

The PCA has urged the Bihar Government to dismiss those officials who were involved in the lathi-charge.

They have also urged that the false cases registered against the union members should be withdrawn. They have also demanded that the police officials who had broke open the chemists shops should be suspended. The association has also demanded compensation for the Bihar chemists.


Dalits may get plots soon
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 5
Dalits will be provided plots from shamlat land in villages and wherever the same was not available, they will be provided plots by the Punjab Government after buying land for his purpose.

This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health and Civil Aviation Minister, while addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of a stadium in Kathuri village in Nabha sub-division of this district today. He also inaugurated a civil dispensary on the occasion.

He added that the state government was striving hard to develop rural areas. He informed that 40 km of link roads had been laid in each assembly segment and 20 km of like roads would be laid in this financial year in every assembly segment. He also said that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had distributed Rs 70 lakh for the development of Nabha township and another Rs 3.5 crore for the development of 67 villages of the sub-division during the sangat darshan held at Nabha recently. The Chief Minister had earlier released Rs 1.60 crore for laying of the circular road. He exhorted the youth to take up sports for which kits would be given to village sports and youth clubs. He distributed shagun scheme cheques to 150 Dalits on the occasion.


Rejoining of Panth by Teja family ‘irrelevant’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 5
The hukmnama (edict) by Akal Takht to allow the rejoining of the Panth by the family of Teja Singh Bhasauria and Niranjan Kaur who were excommunicated from the Sikh Panth 73 years ago has raised many eyebrows.

Sikh scholars said Teja Singh, a Sikh historian, was excommunicated for distorting Sikh History and for blasphemous acts. The couple died without atonement. Those who were excommunicated and died could not be atoned after death.

The Scholars, however, justified the atonement of Gurmukh Singh after 100 years of his excommunication. Moreover, the family of Teja Singh and Niranjan Kaur were never excommunicated from the Panth and hence their rejoining it had no relevance.


AC Market turns too hot
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
Visitors to the AC Market complex, situated in the heart of the shopping district of the city adjoining Adalat Bazar, are in for a rude shock nowadays. No longer can they shop in style in a cool environment and escape the heat outside.

The AC market has become a boiling pit as its air-conditioning plant has been closed down to facilitate installation of a new one. It has earned the sobriquet of ‘‘Cooler market’’, with many shopkeepers having installed coolers to reduce the heat conditions.

‘‘It is wrong to go in for a change of the air-conditioning plant just before the onset of the summer’’, said Ranjana Sood, a shopper. Ranjana and others are upset that the Market Association, which has recently taken over the charge of running the plant from the developer of the market, has taken so long to install the new plant.

Air coolers are apparently ineffective in the complex, which houses around 160 shops in three storeys. The atmosphere inside is so hot that the coolers are also giving out warm air, said a shopkeeper. He, however, said he had no option but to go in for an air cooler to ensure some relief from the heat wave.

‘‘The present chaos is due to bad planning,’’ says Rajinder Kumar, a regular shopper. He said preparations for installing a new plant should have been started much in advance.

It is not only the shoppers who are disappointed by the delay in the installation of the new air-conditioning unit in the complex. The romeo's of the city, who treat the market as their favourite ‘hunting’ ground, are also livid at the Market Association for delay in the start of the new air-conditioning unit. Dara, a youngster, said he liked to come to the market to cool off as well as survey the ‘scene’, but was disappointed as youngsters were not frequenting the market to window shop and have light snacks due to the changed conditions. Meanwhile, sales have apparently come down during the afternoon period as people find the market too suffocating.

The air-conditioning unit has been non-functional for nearly two months by now and it will take some more time before it could be started again. Market Association president Satish Kumar, said the work was going on a war footing and that the new system would be given a test run after two days. Following this, the unit could be started after another couple of days, he said.

However sources said it may not be easy to start the unit so quickly. The fact that even shopkeepers don’t believe that the air-conditioning will start soon, can be gauged from the fact that new air coolers were being installed even today.


Woman killed in bus mishap

Moga, May 5
An unidentified woman died on the spot and six others were injured, one of them critically, when a Punjab Roadways bus today collided with a private bus at Singhawala village, near here.

All six injured were rushed to Moga Civil Hospital where five of them were declared out of danger, the police here said.

The state transport bus was destined to Bhagta Bhai Ka in Amritsar district.

The ticket available from the deceased showed that she boarded the bus for Bhagta Bhai Ka and a message in this regard has been rushed to Bhagta Bhai Ka depot, according to the Punjab Roadways Moga depot General Manager. UNI


Marriage palace owners’ plea to PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
The Marriage Palace Owners Association, here, yesterday demanded that the practice of billing the marriage palaces as per the minimum load sanctioned should be done away with.

In a letter to the Punjab State Electricity Board authorities the association had demanded that the present practice of billing the marriage palaces was a step-motherly treatment keeping in view the increasing cost of labour and other overheads. Mr Iqbal Metro, president of the association, said the marriage palaces remained closed for almost nine months in a year and the total working days a year were not more than 100.

Mr Metro said as of now the owners of palaces were of the opinion that they would have to pay for the minimum load of electricity so they do not try to save electricity. “The PSEB would save good amount of electricity if the palaces were not billed on a minimum basis but on actual consumption basis. It would save valuable power for the state,” added Mr Metro.


Lawyers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
Members of the Rampura Phul Bar Association today observed a strike in support of their demands.

The lawyers were demanding that the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge should be set up at the subdivisional level. They said it would become easier for the people to go to the ADJ’s court if its set up at the tehsil headquarters.

They also urged the authorities concerned to set up a consumer redressal forum at the subdivisional level. They added that the consumers were not able to get the benefit from these courts as they are only at the district headquarters.

Mr Ajitpal Singh Mander, secretary of the union, said the decision to hold the strike was taken on a call given by the Bar Association, Samrala in Ludhiana district. He added that the people were facing problem due to non-availability of such courts.


No reservation on 4 trains
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 5
The Railways have allowed its passengers to travel without reservation in four important trains running between Amritsar, Jammu Tawi and New Delhi with immediate effect.

Stating this Railway sources told this correspondent here today that, now passengers can travel in unreserved coaches (S6 to S9) in 2926 Dn Deluxe Express, five unreserved coaches of 4648 Dn Flying Mail, S6 to S9 in 9368 Dn Malwa Express, and in S1 and S2 Amritsar-Barauni Express. But, the sources said passengers would have to purchase valid sleeper tickets.


Samjhauta Express meeting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 5
Indian and Pakistan railway officers are likely to meet on May 8 at the Wagah check-post.

An agreement for the Samjhauta Express running between Attari and Lahore twice a week is likely to be made.


Afforestation drive launched
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
A massive afforestation drive was launched in the district on the occasion of vanamahotsva during which 11 lakh saplings will be planted till July.

This was announced by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, while inaugurating a 10-day-long function to commemorate the memory of noted social worker and philanthropist Bir Dasondhi Ram, whose 101st birth anniversary falls today. Mr Bir said during the next one week the district administration had decided to plant saplings at 101 places in the district. He added that Bir Dasondhi Ram had worked dedicatedly for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. Mr Bir added that the teachings propounded by Bir Dasondhi Ram should be followed in right earnest by the youth and urged the present day generation to work with dedication.

During the next week contests in cricket, painting and debates will be held at various schools in his memory and prizes will be distributed on May 11.


Bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 5
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Additional District and Sessions Judge, here today rejected the bail application filed under Section 439 and Cr PC of Mr Naginder Singh Harika, Managing Director, Khalsa Rural Dental College and Hospital, Nangal Kalan village, in the district, who was in the judicial custody at Bathinda jail since May 1.


Reduce area under wheat, rice: Bains
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 5
A high-powered committee on agriculture, constituted by the Chief Minister to study and recommend diversification of crops in Punjab to get optimum production and profit, met at Pathankot yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr C.L. Bains, Financial Commissioner Development. A large number of farmers also participated in the meeting. The committee members included Director, Horticulture, Dr Jagtar Singh, Chief Conservator Soil, Dr Ramji Lal, Director, Kandi Area, Mr A.S. Dogra and Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Mr A.S. Aulakh.

Mr Bains said Gurdaspur district had been chosen as pilot district by the Central Government to produce basmati. He said the area under basmati cultivation had been increased from 1.04 lakh hectares last year to 1.25 lakh hectares. As many as 386 high yielding varieties of basmati had been recommended for cultivation and most of the production would be exported, he said.

He said to start with, the area under cultivation of wheat and paddy would be reduced to 110 lakh hectares during the current year. The area under cultivation of cotton was being increased from 4.75 lakh hectares to 6 lakh hectares of maize from 1.64 lakh hectares to 2 lakh hectares and of sugarcane from 1.2 lakh hectares to 1.7 lakh hectares.

Mr Bains said climactically Gurdaspur was ideally suited for cultivation of mushrooms. Punjab, at present, was producing 32 per cent of the total production of mushrooms in the country. He said the Director, agriculture, had been directed to exploit potential for increasing mushroom cultivation in the district.

He said Pathankot area had 1200 hectares under cultivation of litchi and 1000 hectares under mango cultivation. 


Truck operators threaten not to lift wheat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
Truck operators in the city have threatened not to lift the procured wheat from the mandis of the district, for which tenders were invited by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), because of the alleged irregularities in the giving of contracts for lifting the same from the Jiwansinghwala mandi.

The truck operators have alleged that favouritism was shown while giving the contract for the mandi of Jiwansinghwala by the officials of the procurement agency. The members said they were not informed about the tenders, which the agency had invited before giving the same.

They have further alleged that the procurement agency had sent them a telegramme on April 20 which said it was inviting the tenders for giving the contract for lifting of the produce from Jiwansinghwala mandi. They said they had received the telegram on the same day in the evening when the tender had already been opened.

The truck operators said they had met the officials concerned and told him that the tender should not be given to any other union as the village fell in their area, but they alleged that the officer did not listen to their pleas.

The union has written a letter to the Deputy Commissioner in order to inform him about the situation and sought his intervention in the matter. They said they would not lift wheat from the mandis until the FCI asked for fresh tenders.

The officials concerned of the FCI could not be contacted.


Secy asked to visit mandis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, has directed the Secretary, Food and Supplies, and senior officers of other government agencies to visit various grain markets to ensure the smooth procurement of wheat. Because of a heavy arrival of wheat in the past few days, the lifting of wheat from grain markets had slowed down. As trucks were not available in adequate numbers, the authorities concerned had been directed to press tractor-trailers into service.

The Centre has allowed the use of gunny bags of 95 kg and 75 kg capacity to stock the wheat as bags of 50 kg capacity are not immediately available to certain procurement agencies.

Of the total amount of Rs 3876.45 crore, Rs 2,620 crore has already been distributed among farmers whose wheat had been procured. Over 77.45 lakh tonnes of wheat had arrived in the state markets till last evening and out of this, 77.37 lakh tonnes had been procured by the government agencies.


Admn bans burning of wheat straw
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
To control the pollution and the loss of essential nutrients of the soil the district administration has banned the burning of wheat straw.

Mr Jaspal Singh, District Magistrate, yesterday banned the burning of wheat straw and appealed to the villagers and the youth clubs of the district to convert the wheat straw into wheat husk and store it. The burning of straw not only pollutes the environment but also deprives the land of the essential nutrients. The careless burning of wheat straw sometimes leads to the burning of the standing wheat crop in the nearby fields, he added.

Sources in the pollution control board said burning of wheat straw leads to emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and fly ash.


Punjab rice millers ask for more trains
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 5
The Punjab Rice Millers Association has decided to urge the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to facilitate the movement of more trains to ensure the speedier movement of rice outside the state.

In a press release, Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the Punjab Rice Millers Association, said that he had appealed to the Senior Regional Manager of the FCI to provide more trains as the millers of Patiala district had a capacity of milling 140 tonnes of rice. But a tense situation prevailed among the millers due to the slow movement of rice. He added that the millers of Patiala district were 15 per cent behind millers of other districts because during the last two months just eight URS special trains moved out of Patiala although 25 such trains were sanctioned for Patiala district.

Earlier, differences between two warring factions of rice millers of the district were sorted out amicably.


PSEB to buy coal from MP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have decided to purchase coal from Madhya Pardesh instead of Bihar, to save money spent on freight charges.

Official sources said the PSEB authorities had been paying Rs 1280 as freight charges per tonne to Bihar while the actual cost of coal per tonne was Rs 680 only. The freight charges per tonne would come down to Rs 1,000 in case purchase was made from Madhya Pradesh.

In this way, the PSEB authorities which had been continuously in loss would be able to save crores of rupees every year, the sources said.

The PSEB authorities had also decided to check power theft by installing electronic meters. It would enable the PSEB authorities to check 90 per cent of power thefts.

The sources said the PSEB authorities had also decided to buy power from various sources to meet the demand in the coming paddy season. At present, the PSEB had been purchasing 300 MW of power from various states.

In paddy season, power requirement would be around 5500 MW and if all natural factors remained favourable, the state would be able to produce 5000 MW of power.

The PSEB had got all sanctions for setting two more units at Lehra Mohabbat at the cost of Rs 3,800 crore, the sources added. 


Constant revocation of orders hits Local Bodies Dept’s image
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, May 5
The recent decisions of the Local Bodies Department are being viewed with suspicion. Some of its decisions smack of a “partisan” attitude and “financial considerations” are learnt to play a vital role to clinch orders in favour of particular persons.

Several orders of the department were first notified and then withdrawn. Their implementation was stopped giving little or no reason for the withdrawal.

As per a recent decision, it was decided to promote Head Draftsman in the town planning wing, Mr Bankay Bihari, to the post of Assistant Town Planner (ATP) by orders dated February 27 by the Director of the Local Bodies Department Mr J.B. Goyal. These were, however, withdrawn two months later.

The promotion orders stated his position as temporary and subject to change in view of a more eligible candidate. The promotee was fifth on the seniority list and superseded four senior candidates. His educational qualification was also questioned. Hence in an order dated April 29, Mr Rajesh Chabbra, Secretary, Local Bodies Department, withdrew the promotion.

A similar withdrawal of an order revoked a decision on the pay scales of bill, distributors and cash messengers that elevated their financial status above that of a clerk who is senior in rank. The orders dated February 5 would have meant a loss of lakhs of rupees to the government as nearly 500 persons from all four corporations — Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ludhiana — could draw their salary as per the new pay scales. The orders were abruptly revoked a month later on March 15 after a hue and cry was raised and a probe ordered.

In another case, orders were issued in December withdrawing all vehicles of the corporation except for those at the disposal of the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner. Four months later, the orders were revoked and all vehicles were re-allotted to the officers concerned, including XENs, SEs, MTPs Assistant and Joint Commissioners. The earlier orders had cited economic concerns as the prime reason to reduce expenditure. In lieu of this fuel charges up to Rs 5,000, in addition to the facility of funding of a personal vehicle, if so desired, were offered. The auction of vehicles was notified for 15 days after the orders, but four months later all 16 vehicles were given back.

In a significant decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of December 14, the Punjab Government had to hold fresh selections to 337 posts in about 25 categories in municipal corporations that were made in 1998. The court found irregularities in the selection process.


Gang of thieves busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 5
The district police has busted an 18-member inter-district gang involved in stealing wood with the arrest of five of its members and recovered 125 quintals of wood from them.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, stated here today that they had received information yesterday that some persons were involved in illegal felling of trees belonging to the Forest Department in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and adjoining areas.

Subsequently, a police team down nakas at different points in the city. A tractor-trailer coming from the Amritsar side intercepted at Bidhipur naka and five of the occupants were questioned about the loaded wood in the trailer. They admitted that of eucalyptus trees were illegally cut from nearby villages.

All of them were arrested and were identified as Satnam Singh, Ranjit Singh, Karnail Singh, Satnam Singh, and Gurnam Singh, all residents of Subhanpur village in Kapurthala district.

Mr Yadav further said during interrogation the accused revealed that had been into this for the past one year. The stolen wood was sold at Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Kartarpur and Jalandhar.

The other gang members were identified as Charan Singh, Amba, Muttar Billa, Sharma, Jarnail Singh, Kala, Balkar Singh, Pummi, Dalbira, Nandi, Balwinder, all residents of Subhanpur in Kapurthala district.

A case has been registered.


Four booked for beating up ASI
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 5
Varan Kapoor, his father Chander Mohan Kapoor, brother Arun Kapoor and his mother were booked by the police for allegedly beating Gurmeet Singh, ASI, while he was on official duty, on May 3.

According to the FIR lodged with the police by the ASI, he was manhandled by them when he had gone to their house in connection with some complaint lodged against Varan Kapoor.

The ASI said in his complaint that he had sent some police personnel to the business establishment of the Kapoors namely Kapoor Gun House located on the Court road of the city, for obtaining the date of birth certificate of Varan Kapoor on Thursday.

He said Varan had told them that he did not have the required certificate with him and asked the cop to come to his house in the evening for getting the same.

Gurmeet Singh said he went to the house of the Kapoors in the evening on the same day along with Paramjeet Singh, constable, to get the required documents. He said he asked Varan Kapoor to give him the certificate who in turn said that he would bring the same which was kept in the other room of the house. He said later he denied to do so after consulting his kins.

The ASI said he had told them that if Varan Kapoor did not want to produce the certificate he should give a written statement to him. He added that Varan did so when his family members asked him to follow the instructions of the official. But the ASI said the accused declined to give his signatures on the written statement.

Gurmeet Singh said when he insisted them to either give certificate or sign the written statement, the family members started misbehaving with him.

He said Varan Kapoor held him by the shoulder while his brother and mother started pulling his uniform and his father caught hold of him by the throat.

The ASI said that he suffered injuries in the scuffle.


Woman held at airport
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 5
The airport security reportedly apprehended a 38-year-old woman of Amritsar with a live cartridge of an automatic gun here today. According to information available, Seema Kapoor was apprehended during the security check before she could board an Indian Airlines flight to Amritsar.

She was later handed over to the local police. According to police sources, no case has been registered as investigations are being carried out.

They said her husband, a businessman, had been called for inquiries.


Explosive found on train
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 5
The local railway police yesterday found an explosive device in a compartment of a superfast train which arrived here from Delhi. A GRP spokesman said while inspecting the train after all passengers had alighted, the policemen found a wrapped packet kept underneath a seat at the rear of the compartment. Experts found that it contained explosive with small pallets.


Couple shot dead

Batala, May 5
A couple was shot dead by four persons at Attepur village in the police district today, the police said.

An ex-serviceman, Amarjit Singh, and his wife Jagir were killed while they were coming to Batala on a scooter to attend a court case here, the police added. PTI


Traders for reopening of Hussainiwala border
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, May 5
Residents of this city are wondering if Hussainiwala border will ever be opened again. The border was virtually sealed about 30 years ago when Pakistan forces entered India through this sector.

Every year a “shahidi conference” is organised here on March 23, the martydom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

The Hussainiwala border was a vital trade link between India and Pakistan and a lifeline of traders engaged in the export and import of dry fruits, vegetables and other commodities. After its closure following the Indo-Pak war in 1971, the trade was affected and the economy suffered.

There is no big industry here. Also employment-generating institutions are non-existent. Several memoranda have been submitted to the authorities concerned, but nothing has been done in this regard. Although, the government has offered a number of concessions and facilities to facilitate industrial development, they have failed to improve the infrastructure of the city.

A segment of the public feels the powerful lobby of traders of Amritsar will never want this trade route to open else it will affect their business. A number of traders have already migrated from here but businesses of those who are still here have come to a standstill.

Mr S. Zora Singh Mann, MP, said the days were no far away when this vital border would flourish with trade. He said in the wake of the implementation of GATT and the WTO pact, there would be no alternative but to open the border.

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