Saturday, May 12, 2001,  Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal defends ‘sangat darshan’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 11
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, presiding over a ‘sangat darshan’ programme at Saroya village, 25 km from here, yesterday said he had no idea why opposition parties were criticising these programmes.

“Is it against law for a Chief Minister to establish a rapport with people to discuss their problems and to solve them at their doorstep”, he asked.

Mr Badal said these programmes were not politically motivated. It was not easy to assess the needs of particular areas by formulating plans in Chandigarh, he said.

He said the SAD-BJP government had formulated a comprehensive plan and arranged Rs 100 crore from Nabard for providing drinking water. A sum of Rs 20 crore would be spent in the kandi area falling in Nawanshahr.

The Chief Minister distributed cheques worth Rs 1.5 crore among 68 panchayats of the Saroya block for development works.

He also gave Rs 40 lakh to the Balachaur nagar panchayat. Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of a causeway on the Bullewal-Rattewal road.


Rift in urban unit of SAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 11
The sangat darshan proposed to be held by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on May 13, the first-ever here, may be marked by a show of strength by the two warring groups of the urban unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

While Mr Sardul Singh Sham, who was declared nominated as district president of the SAD by Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Cabinet Minister, today announced a long list of office-bearers of the local jatha, Mr Pardip Singh Walia, president of the parallel group, would announce the list tomorrow. Both Mr Sham and Mr Walia claimed that they were the “real” presidents of the urban jatha.

Factionalism in the urban jatha has virtually divided ministers and senior leaders of the party into two segments. While Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, district Akali president (rural) and senior Cabinet minister, and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Cooperation Minister, have been openly supporting Mr Sham, Mr Walia has claimed the support of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture minister and election observer of the party, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, minister and son-in-law of the Chief Minister and Mr Ajaipal Singh Mirankot, an MLA.

Both groups have planned to meet Mr Badal on May 13 to stake their respective claims. Mr Walia claimed that Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, in his capacity as the election observer, had directed him to announce the list of office-bearers.

Mr Sham said he had briefed Mr Parkash Singh Badal about the alleged anti-party activities of Mr Walia and his supporters. Now it was upto the party high command to take disciplinary action on against the rebel Akalis, he said.

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the parallel group of the SAD (Urban) held here under the chairmanship of Mr Walia. The office-bearers expressed faith in the leadership of Mr Walia. They condemned the rival faction.

The supporters of Mr Walia alleged that the antecedents of the leaders of the opposite group were doubtful.

Mr Walia alleged that the leaders of the rival group had already been expelled from the party. He alleged that the group wanted to collect money in the name of honouring senior Akali workers and leaders even though a three-member committee had already been constituted by Mr Badal himself for this purpose.

He claimed that he along with Mr Ajaipaul Singh Mirankot, MLA, had met Mr Badal, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Adesh Partap Singh Badal who had asked him to continue as president of the party.

He said Dr Upinderjit Singh had no locus standi to declare Mr Shah as president.

Both Mr Walia and Mr Sham showed the letters of the party high command addressing them as presidents of the urban jatha.


Explosives experts arrive at Mamoon
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 11
A high-level team of explosives experts from Army Headquarters, Delhi, has arrived at 2 Ammunition Sub Deport (2 ASD) at Mamoon cantonment to ascertain the cause of the ammunition depot fire which took place on April 29.

This is in addition to the court of inquiry ordered by Headquarters, Northern Command. As the loss involved is in crores, the Army authorities at all levels are much worried since it is a repetition of the Bharatpur ammunition depot fire last year.

According to sources, the cause of the fire, earlier told to be due to combustion, does not seem to be workable. However, the net results will be known after the experts give their opinion, sources said.

The guidelines issued by the UN for storage and preservation of ammunition are not being adhered to. The ammunition should be stored in covered accommodation, which was not possible because of lack of accommodation, sources said. Shortage of accommodation was there not only in this depot, but also in other depots. As a result, the ammunition had to be stacked in the open, sources said.

Immediately after the Bharatpur incident strict guidelines were issued by the higher authorities to prevent such happenings at other depots. It seemed these guidelines for revises had not been followed in letter and spirit, sources said.

According to guidelines for storage of ammunition, it should be in covered and air-conditioned accommodation. The ammunition depot should be located far away from the populated area. Inflammable articles like grass, Sarkanda, should not be allowed to grow in the depot area and electricity fittings should be periodically checked, sources said.


Tension in Dhakki Sahib
Tribune News Service

Maqsoodan (Ludhiana), May 11
Visitors to Dhakki Sahib Dera near this village are looked with suspicion. Policemen dot the area after the followers of Sant Darshan Singh clashed with the villagers and the Khanna police.

The conflict arose as the police failed to nab seven proclaimed offenders who had allegedly burnt holy books of Dhakki Sahib in 1999. The miscreants roamed in the village due to the patronage of a ruling Akali Dal Minister.

Against the claim of the Khanna police six proclaimed offenders lived in the village and the seventh Amar Kaur, the sister of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, has fled to the USA. The proclaimed offenders — Malkit Singh, Jagdev Singh, Balwant Singh, Amarjit Kaur, Balwant Kaur and Kuldip Kaur were absconding, according to the DSP Khanna, Mr Balraj Singh Sidhu. The Tribune team which visited the village today learnt that the persons had learnt only last month that they had been declared proclaimed offenders.

Tara Singh and Bhagwant Singh relatives of two proclaimed offenders claimed that they had moved court for bail for the accused who frequent the village.


MC drive against Tullu pump users
Seeks legal advice on theft of water
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 11
An embattled Municipal Corporation, which has launched an all-out campaign against the use of Tullu pumps by city residents to suck out water directly from municipal pipes, has decided to take legal advise as to whether it is possible to book violators for theft of water.

Apparently an extended campaign starting from January this year and repeated appeals by the corporation to residents not to use Tullu pumps to draw out water has not had any effect on the people of the city, which has forced the corporation to think on the lines of getting cases of theft registered against violators.

After running an extensive campaign in the inner city for the last more than one week, the corporation has now decided to target the peripheral colonies. While four teams of 10 persons each have already been checking the use of Tullu pumps, now five more teams are being constituted to check on the peripheral colonies.

In another move the corporation has decided to release Tullu pumps confiscated during the ongoing drive only after the violators present an affidavit admitting they have used the pump , will not use it again and will construct a water tank on the ground floor to store water. Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang said it was hoped that this would act as a restraint on further use of pumps by the violators as it had been revealed that the same pumps were used for the same activity after being released by the corporation.

The Commissioner said the use of pumps in the morning hours were creating havoc with the supply of water. He said even though the corporation had a surplus of water at its hands, indiscriminate use of pumps lowered the water pressure at various stages, due to which the end users were also affected. He said while the corporation needed 3.5 crore litres of water every day for 41,000 connections which worked out to an average of 165 litres per connection, it was pumping out 6 crore litres everyday. He said even if the line losses were taken into consideration, surplus water was available in the city.

Sources, however, said while the number of connections was less, the number of people availing of municipal water supply per connection was much more. They said most of the landlords in the city had not taken separate connections for their tenants and on questioning usually claimed that the tenants were part of the extended family. They said due to this reason also the calculations of the corporation regarding the ideal supply needed for the city usually went haywire.

Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang says establishment of more tubewells is not the answer to augment the water supply, saying management of the supply was more important. He said more water could not be pumped into the old water supply lines which might simply burst if this was done. He said, however, the corporation had taken steps to ensure that all its overhead tanks were in working order and that all of them were filled in the morning to cope with the demand.

Meanwhile, around 160 Tullu pumps have been confiscated by corporation teams during the special drive launched in the city. The pumps have been seized from Katcha Patiala, Krishna Gali, Raghomajra, Jhand Gali, Bishen Nagar, Khalas Mohalla, Jauharian Bhattian, Arorian Street, Puri Road, Bhindian Street and Victorial School area, besides other places. Corporation authorities said the water situation may improve further with the installation of two new pumps at Old Kotwali and Kaseranwala chowk.



Govt order on computer education irks students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 11
Students of government schools are irked over the recent government order, which has put additional financial burden on them in order to get computer education. The order provides the facility of computer education, but at an added cost for the students of government schools, who mostly come from the lower income group.

The tie-up is with NIIT, which has made it mandatory for each government school to give at least 250 to 300 students for the course. Nearly 40 schools were recently notified of the facility at a meeting held under the Joint Secretary, who called for the implementation of the scheme, according to sources in the district education office.

However, three schools, Government Senior Secondary School for Girls, Amritsar, Government School, Bhikiwind and Government School, Majitha, are being provided the facility on an experimental basis.

Accounting to the government order, Rs 80 is being charged from a general category student and Rs 40 from a reserved category student from Class VI to Class XII.

Interestingly there are many schools in the district which have the student strength much less than the mandatory number required from each school to fulfil the condition put by NIIT. One such school is Government School, Katra Karm Singh, which has its strength less than 200, according to Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA.

Criticising the government on going back on its promise of providing free education for all students in government schools, she said an extra burden had been placed on the students in the name of computer education. She also questioned the government on the fate of students, who study in government schools that do not have the required strength.


Amarinder predicts snap poll in June
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 11
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal of fanning sectarian politics. He was speaking at a press conference held at the residence of the PPCC member, Mr Harjit Singh Parmar here this evening. This could lead to revival of militancy in the state.

He predicted snap poll in June or July. He accused Mr Badal of using public funds for personal and party promotion. Public land was being sold at throwaway price and Rs 500 crore loan had been received from the Centre, he alleged.

He said seven poll manifesto committees had been set up for giving recommendations from which main manifesto would be prepared, he said. These committees included panels on Scheduled Castes and Backward Castes farmers, industrialists, traders etc, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh also addressed mediapersons at the residence of Mr Parkash Singh, PPCC member in Nawanshahr today. The state Congress would organise a rally on June 3 at Jalandhar, a rally on the issue of traders and urban development at Patiala on June 14 and a rally on panchayati raj on June 21 at Bathinda, he added.


Janata Dal’s plea to President
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 11
The Punjab unit of the Janata Dal, has in a representation to the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, urged him to use his good offices to get passed the Lok Pal Bill in Parliament.

Mr Balwant Singh Khera, a senior leader of the Punjab Janata Dal, said in the representation that the Lok Pal Bill was introduced in Parliament in 1968, 71, 77, 85, 89, 96 and 98 but was never passed. However, the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 1969 but it was pending in the Rajya Sabha when the Parliament was dissolved. He said that none of these seven Bills ever excluded the MPs from the jurisdiction of proposed Lok Pal nor did any MP during the debates on these seven Bills ever asked for, his or her exclusion from Lok Pal’s jurisdiction.

It was being argued by some MPs that since the Supreme Court held MPs to be public servants, with the prevention of Corruption Act 1988 applicable to them and there was no need for them to be brought under the jurisdiction of Lok Pal.

The Prevention of Corruption Act stipulates that no prosecution can be launched against any public servant without the prior approval of the competent authority. Lok Pal would have much wider jurisdiction and would require no such approval, he added.


SAD(A) ready to go it alone
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), though optimistic about Panthic unity and formation of a third front, is prepared to go it alone. This was stated by the party president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, while addressing a news conference after a three-hour meeting of the working committee, district presidents and office-bearers here yesterday.

The prevailing political situation, law and order, the SGPC elections, and the forthcoming Assembly elections were discussed at the meeting.

He said efforts were on for unity among that Akali Dal factions. The process was delayed due to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s visit abroad.

“Mr Badal’s recent trip to Sriganganagar in Rajasthan and Udham Singh Nagar in Uttaranchal did not evoke much response and almost the same situation exists in Punjab,” he said.


Cong all set for Dalit rally
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 11
Burying their hatchet, Congress stalwarts of Doaba region put up a show of unity at a meeting held here yesterday at the residence of PPCC member Harjit Singh Parmar. The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, addressed the meeting, which lasted for about two hours behind closed doors.

The meeting was held to mobilise workers, particularly Dalits for the state-level Dalit rally of the PPCC slated to be held in Jalandhar on June 3.

The leaders, who took part included Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, Punjab Youth Congress President, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Ch Jagjit Singh, Ch Santokh Singh — all Dalit leaders and former minister, Mr Avtar Henry, MLA, Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal, Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Jagtar Singh Multani, former ministers, Prof Charan Singh, DCC President, various other block and district office-bearers from Doaba.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh later told mediapersons that the Congress would make the issue regarding Akalis sheltering terrorists as one of its major poll planks. When Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was spotted in Chandigarh a month before his surrender, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had feigned ignorance about it, he continued. However, later Zaffarwal’s surrender was stage-managed as arrest, he quipped.

Opposing amnesty to dreaded terrorists, he asserted killers should not be allowed to go scot-free.


Cong manifesto on SCs soon
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 11
Congress stalwart and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Jagjit Singh, declared here yesterday that a manifesto on the welfare of SCs/OBCs categories would be released on June 3 at Jalandhar during a state-level rally by these categories. He was addressing a Press conference in the office of PPCC members Harjit Singh Parmar here.

Mr Jagjit Singh, who heads a 25-member sub-committee of the PPCC on SCs/OBCs said the recommendations of the sub-manifesto would be incorporated in the main manifesto of the PPCC.

SHSAD meeting postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The president of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, youth wing, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, has postponed the meeting of his organisation to May 17. The meeting was to be held at Gurdwara Akalgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, tomorrow to discuss the observation of the death anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.


Chambers issue: lawyers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 11
The district president of the BJP, Thakur Jagdish Rai, today raised slogans ‘Punjab sarkar murdabad’ and announced to observe a fast-unto-death in the lawyers’ support if they asked him to do so. Mr Rai was participating in a protest rally organised by the local District Bar Association against the non-construction of chambers for the lawyers in the newly-built District Judicial Complex here.

An altercation also took place in the rally between Comrade Chand Singh Chopra, former CPM MLA, and leaders of the BJP, including Mr Nanak Chand Kalra, chairman of the Sangrur Improvement Trust, when Comrade Chopra criticised the Punjab Government in his address. Lawyers had to intervene to soothe the frayed tempers.

In another development, Mr Ashi Goyal, former president of the district Youth Wing of the BJP and former president of the district Young Lawyers Association, announced his resignation from the membership of the Sangrur Improvement Trust to express his solidarity with the lawyers’ community and lodge protest against the non-construction of chambers for the lawyers. Another unique feature of today’s protest rally was that it was addressed by leaders of the Congress, the BJP, the CPM, the SAD (Amritsar) and the SHSAD. All leaders supported the cause of the lawyers.

The future action plan of the District Bar Association was announced by Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, president of the association. He said if the government did not approve the new site plan for the chambers until May 17, the lawyers would start construction of the chambers after laying the foundation stone on May 18 in the newly-built judicial complex.

Addressing the rally, Mr Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab Chief Minister, announced her party’s full support to the lawyers on the issue. She described the non-construction of chambers as “injustice” to the lawyers and the BJP leaders to urge the state government to construct te chambers.

Mr Rai appealed to the speakers at the rally not to turn the stage into a political platform. Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, offered to help in facilitating the construction of the chambers and asked the lawyers to get the foundation stone laid by the president of the District Bar Association. He also extended his party’s full support to the lawyers.

Mr Mahesh Kumar Meshi, president of the local municipal council, also assured the lawyers that all municipal councillors would extend their support to the lawyers for getting the chambers constructed. 


Case motivated, claims Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 11
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister, here today described the filing of a complaint against her in a Bathinda court with regard to the bungling of Rs 20 lakh allegedly by her in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as a “politically motivated” act.

She claimed it was handiwork of her opponents, including some persons in the Congress. She said the complaint had been filed to reap political benefits.

Ms Bhattal said she had respect for courts and the complainant had taken the same case (relating to the use of discretionary funds which had already been dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The former Chief Minister said the non-construction of chambers for lawyers here was an injustice. She said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had no money for the chambers but distributed crores of rupees every day at sangat darshan programmes.

She also alleged that Mr Badal was using government resources for his election campaign. She also criticised the Badal government for selling government properties at throwaway prices.


65 Chowdhurys under one roof
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 11
In the present day world where small families have become a vogue, particularly among the younger generation, Jalandhar’s Chowdhury family stands apart with all its 65 members living under one roof.

Who says that love for joint families has vanished and individualism has gained strength at the cost of love and affection? It may be the general opinion, but the Chowdhury family defies it as its members have shunned their small egos and have resolved to keep their family, perhaps the biggest in the state, united. And they have been successful for all of them have been sharing the same roof in their 2 kanal house in the local Central Town locality, which gives the impression of a huge club or a school with an army of children roaming and clamouring around.

“If there is a fight, it’s not stretched and the reconciliation is brought about over dinner or lunch. Actually, it is the women folk who sometimes indulge in argument over small matters. But, fortunately it boils down naturally, without any intervention, says Mr Rajishwar Singh Chowdhury, the eldest member of the family, who is still agile and jovial at 77. A glimpse of his attitude is shown when he says with a burst of laughter, “Oh ji, I don’t remember the names of all my seven children and scores of grandchildren.

Mr Rajishwar Chowdhury has four sons and three daughters. The home has 15 rooms, one kitchen and about six bathrooms.

To a question as to how he saw his big family, he quips, “Jo vadde parivaar vich maja hai oh kite hor nahin, khas kar udon jaddon saare ik chhatt heth rehande hon.” Underlining the recipe for toning down dissent, if any, among members of such a big family, Mr Chowdhury says,” Actually, the key to the harmony if any house lies with the elder of the house who has to make lot many sacrifices to retain his family in a united form.”

Almost all male Chowdhurys who are into different businesses like food processing and spare parts, are well educated along with other members, some have even got their education from Bishop Cotton School. And another novel feature of the family is that despite being so large, it doesn’t boast of a domestic help and the entire household jobs are taken care of by the female members.

Mr Rajishwar Singh Chowdhury’s wife Urmil (75), though never went to school but speaks English fluently.

Extending her reaction to a question about the utility of the joint family, the newly wed Shivani maintained that earlier she was reluctant to get married into such a huge family, but after marriage she started enjoying company of so many people who try their best to keep her happy and smiling. “Now I love it so much that, I don’t spend more than a day or two with my parents,” she said.

Ricky, the 18-year-old grandson of Mr Chowdhury said he felt elated when he compares himself to his friends. “It is pure enjoyment. I love to be a member of such a big joint family.

Finance Minister refuses to lay stone
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 11
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, was in town yesterday to lay the foundation stone of the office of the Shiromani Akali Dal (rural) at a vacant plot near Gurdwara Dhukhniwaran. However, when the minister learnt that the foundation stone was going to be laid at a disputed place, he refused to lay down the stone.

The Patiala unit of the SAD (rural) had organised a function to lay the foundation stone of the party’s district headquarters. When party leaders, including the President of the SAD (rural) Mr Kashmir Singh Mavi, reached the Circuit House, they found the minister in a not so benevolent mood. Somebody had informed the minister that the plot, where the much awaited foundation stone was to be laid, was disputed. Despite the persuasive powers of Mr Mavi and other senior leaders, Capt Kanwaljit Singh refused to toe their line.

The minister, in the meantime, rang up the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, to ascertain the facts. The DC in turn rang up the local SDM and patwari to know the reality. The records were called for, but they revealed nothing. Then finally, a call was placed to the Chief Engineer of the PWD and it was he who informed that the land was in possession of the government. The SAD leaders used their persuasion powers to the maximum, but to no avail, as the minister refused to oblige.

When contacted, Mr Bir said that the land did not have a proper ‘title’. On the other hand, a beleaguered Mr Mavi, when contacted at his Samana residence, said that his party had invited Capt Kanwaljit Singh specifically for the purpose of laying the foundation stone but the minister did not oblige them because the land was disputed. However, he maintained that his party was in no way responsible for the entire fiasco. But then who was?


Health Dept short of 350 doctors
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 11
Nearly 130 doctors working in the Health Department were “discharged” recently for dereliction of duty and on account of doing private, even as the Punjab Government is facing a shortage of 350 doctors in the state Health Department.

Further shortage of more than 700 doctors is likely after various hospital projects in the state become operational. This was stated by Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Minister for Health, while talking to mediapersons here today.

Expressing happiness over the Chief Minister’s attention to the urban areas after his numerous sojourns to the rural areas, Dr Chawla welcomed the proposed visit of Mr Parkash Singh Badal to Amritsar on May 13. He said the Punjab Government’s proposal of spending Rs 422 crore on 154 hospitals has borne fruit with nearly 75 hospitals completed, 30 to be readied within six months and the rest to be completed by the year.

An ultra-modern mental hospital in the city is proposed to be completed in 18 months time at a cost of Rs 40 crore, the minister said. Besides, a multipurpose and multifacility hospital, Jallianwalla Memorial Trust Hospital, will be inaugurated by early July. The hospital will be built at a cost of nearly Rs 12.5 crore. The Punjab Government had also proposed to the World Bank to finance four-super speciality ultra-modern hospitals for Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

Dr Chawla said tuberculosis had been brought under partial control in 10 out of the 17 districts of the state with help from NGOs and other voluntary organisations.

When asked about more than a hundred inquiries instituted against the Chief Medical Officer, Dr M.P. Devgan, of the Government T.B. Hospital in the past two-and-a-half years, Dr Chawla said action would be taken only after the inquiries were completed without specifying any time-bound schedule. 


BBMB benefits from heat wave
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 11
The prevailing heat wave may be a bane for the common man but is being welcomed by the authorities of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). The water level in the Bhakra reservoir has started rising as per schedule because of the heat wave. After the long dry spell the authorities here believe this would help ease the power and irrigation problems of the region in the coming months.

The water in Gobind Sagar Lake has risen for the first time since the past two months. The water level rose marginally from 1491.24 feet to 1492.07 feet yesterday. The BBMB authorities at Nangal when contacted said due to the melting of snow in the catchment areas of the Sutlej the inflows in the Bhakra reservoir started increasing since the past few day. The inflows rose from 15,667 cusecs on May 8 to 17,424 cusecs per day. As a result of the increased inflows as compared to the outflows the water level in the reserve has started increasing. Last year also the inflows in the Bhakra reservoir had started increasing on the same day.

If there is no major change in the weather the trend of increase in the water level at the Bhakra would continue till mid-September, the authorities told.

However, the situation of water level remains precarious in Pong Dam which is another major water reserve of the BBMB. The water level in Pong Dam was at 1291.17 feet yesterday against last year’s level of 1307.45 feet at the same time. To contain the further decrease in the water level at Pong Dam the BBMB authorities have decreased the outflows. The outflows from Pong Dam yesterday were 4,696 cusecs against last year’s outflows of 12,410 cusecs at the same time. The authorities here said that since Pong Dam was mainly rain-fed the water level in it depended on the monsoon. The lower water level in the dam this year was due to the poor monsoon last year, they said.

The sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said with the rise in water level at Bhakra the PSEB may demand the release of water in the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal. The canal has been lying closed since the past two months due to the low water levels in the Bhakra. The powerhouse of the PSEB at Ganguwal and Nakian that have been built on the canal and have the capacity to generate 32 lakh units per day have also been out of operation. 


Bugbear of heat assaults kids
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, mat 11
The scorching heat in the region has forced the residents to remain indoors but those who go to their offices, business establishments or schools have to bear the heat on the roads. The heavy traffic on the city roads adds to the problems and they have to stay in the sun for a long time before they manage to extricate themselves out of the traffic jam.

Schoolchildren face the maximum problems when they come to the roads in a large number at the time of closure of the schools. Three-wheelers and rickshaws carrying schoolchildren throng the city roads in the afternoon. The traffic virtually comes to a standstill at that time.

Schoolchildren have to stay on the roads for a long time before they reach their homes. Although the problem is prevalent throughout the city it is maximum near the roundabouts.

The rickshaws carrying schoolchildren generally carry more children than their capacity which further aggravates the problem. Sometimes the number of occupants in rickshaws are three times the normal capacity.

Stalls of various eatables near the schools attract students towards them after school hours. The students stand near these stalls in a crowd which sometimes proves fatal. This problem is more serious near the entrances of schools which are situated on the main roads.

Mr Sanjay Suri, a resident of the city and father of Akanksha Suri, a class V student, of a public school, said he could make arrangements at home to keep himself and his children “cool”. He said the school authorities also make efforts to keep the students safe from the scorching heat. But, he said, they become totally helpless as far as the time spent on the roads is concerned.

Traffic police personnel on duty in various parts of the city generally take care that schoolchildren should not face much difficulty and should be allowed to use the road first.

Mr Ravi Sharma, another resident of the city, whose son is a student of class IV, said some arrangements should be made to cope with the problem. He said school should make arrangements for closure at different times so that schoolchildren should not come on to the roads at the same time.

He said heavy traffic on the roads where a school is situated should be restricted for about an hour in the afternoon to facilitate the students’ reaching their home early.

Police petition in Aggarwal case dismissed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 11
The revision petition filed by the police seeking police remand of the accused, Dr O.P. Aggarwal, in a case pertaining to the alleged sale of human organs, was dismissed by the Special Judge, Mr Brinder Singh, here yesterday. Meanwhile, counsel for Dr Aggarwal filed a petition seeking regular bail and the judge fixed May 17 as the next date of hearing.

Dr Aggarwal, Associate Professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine, had been booked by the Vigilance Department on a complaint made by Mr Zora Singh of Chuharpur village. Mr Zora Singh had alleged that the doctor demanded Rs 10,000 as bribe to conduct the post-mortem of his relatives who had been killed in a clash between two groups.


Bitta: don’t issue permits to B’desh nationals
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 11
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, President, All-India Anti-Terrorists Front, has criticised Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee for his recent statement in which he had stated that the government would issue permits to Bangladeshi nationals for settling them in Assam. The Front would strongly oppose this proposal. This was stated by Mr Bitta while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

Referring to the prevailing conditions in Jammu and Kashmir Mr Bitta said Mr K.P.S. Gill, former DGP, Punjab Police, and Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister, were capable enough to tackle the situation in the valley. One of them should be made the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to set the things in order. He demanded a CBI inquiry against the activities of Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, former President of the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.


Plan to develop IT: Badal
Tribune News Service

Malout, May 11
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today said a comprehensive plan had been made so that the state became a leader in the field of science and information technology in the country.

Addressing a ‘sangat darshan’ function organised at Sikhwala village, Mr Badal said to achieve this goal, science classes, including computer education would be introduced in the senior secondary schools.

Stressing the need for quality and result-oriented education, Mr Badal pointed out that students from rural areas always lagged behind the students from cities due to lack of educational facilities.

He said the Punjab Government had decided to provide education free of cost to the Scheduled Castes who would stand first in their respective classes. This move was to ensure that they pursued higher studies, he said.

Lashing out at former SGPC chief, Gurcharan Singh Tohra for dubbing ‘sangat darshan’ as a stunt, Mr Badal said Mr Tohra had been isolated and had no mass base.

He claimed the ‘sangat darshan’, which had become a link between people, administration and the government, was proving beneficial to the people as their problems were being solved on the spot.

He alleged the Congress governments at the Centre and in Punjab had cheated people under the garb of ‘Garibi Hatao’ programme. He claimed the SAD-BJP alliance would again come into power after the next Assembly elections.

Mr Badal distributed the sanctioned letters of pension among 450 persons and honoured 70 Punjabis, who had gone to jails during various morchas launched by the SAD.


PSEB employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, may 11
Members of the Employees Federation of the Punjab State Electricity Board today held a rally at Rampura to press the government to fulfil their demands.

Mr Surinder Singh, state president of the union, while addressing the rally alleged that the PSEB management had not implemented the decisions reached between them and the management regarding the demands of the employees.

He further alleged that the management was not giving the employees their due regarding the promotion scales.

Mr Sukhwant Singh, convener of the party, said the union should not adopt the policy of blackmailing the authorities.

He advised the employees to work efficiently according to rules.

He said the government should think sympathetically about the demands of the employees.

Red Cross to give tricycles
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 11
Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said today the District Red Cross Society had decided to help the handicapped people by providing them with tricycles and callipers.

Speaking at a function organised jointly by the District Red Cross Society and the Indian Oil Corporation for the distribution of tricycles and callipers at Balianwali, village, Mr Jaspal Singh said those handicapped people who had not got this help earlier would be provided tricycles, callipers and artificial limbs soon.



Major train mishap averted

Ferozepore, May 11
Passengers on board the Ferozepur-Ludhiana train were saved of, what could have been a major disaster, by the presence of mind on part of engine driver Bhag Singh here this evening.

The train, No 4630, left the cantonment Railway station at about 4.40 p.m for its journey. However, the train took to the direction of loco shed because of wrong setting of the point.

Mr Bhag Singh, showing presence of mind, applied brakes which stopped the train short of being derailed.

Railway sources attributed the wrong point to mechanical failure.

Ferozepur Division Northern Railway senior officials reached the spot for investigations.

Trains like Jammu-Jodhpur, Ferozepur-Bathinda, Ferozepur-Fazilka were delayed because of the wrong point setting. UNI


Pharmacists’ stir on May 13
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 11
Mr Ravinder Luthra, Secretary, Ferozepore unit of the Punjab State Pharmacists’ Association, in press note disclosed that the pharmacists from all over the state would stage a dharna in front of the residence of Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Punjab Health Minister, on May 13.


2 bodies recovered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, may 11
Volunteers of the Sahara Janseva recovered two bodies from a distributary near Goniana town 13 km from here today. This was stated by Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the organisation in a press note issued here today. He said one of the bodies was that of a Sikh.


4 confess to looting petrol stations
Tribune News Service

Fazilka, May 11
Mr Ajay Maluja, DSP, today said the four persons, who were arrested recently while planning a dacoity in the area, had confessed to their involvement in two incidents of looting of petrol stations in the district.

In a press note issued here, he said the accused had looted a petrol station on February 3 and another on May 2. Cash and a scooter looted from these petrol stations had been recovered, he said.

The accused had been identified as Harjinder Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Arun Kumar and Rakesh Kumar.


Miscreants injure nagar council chief’s son
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 11
Rajinder Kumar Gabha, son of Mr K.L. Gabha, Chairman, Nagar Council Phagwara, and Balbir, an employee, were assaulted and injured seriously by certain persons who stormed into medical store of Mr Gabha last night.

Rajinder and Balbir were hospitalised here in critical condition. However, they were stated to be out of danger today. The police has registered a case under Section 452 of the IPC, according the DSP Raj Jit Singh. A hunt has been launched to nab the assailants.

The assailants, who came in a Tata Sumo, ransacked the shop, smashed panes, furniture and thrashed Rajinder and Balbir before driving away towards Ludhiana. They were armed with sharp-edged weapons, lathis and sticks.

The cause behind the attack could not be ascertained. A third person Sahil sitting in the shop, escaped unhurt. 


Shopkeeper shot dead
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 11
Some unidentified armed youths shot dead Amrik Singh (29) with a revolver near the G.T. Road last night when he was returning home after closing his shop.

The incident took place at a distance of 150 yards from the city police stadium. The assailants fled in a jeep before the police arrived. Body of the deceased has been sent for a postmortem. A case has been registered.


Bid to kidnap Cong leader’s kin
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 11
Some unidentified persons tried to kidnap a student of DAV Model Senior Secondary at Budhlada town in the district yesterday morning when he was on his way to school.

The attempt to kidnap Sumer Atwal was, however, foiled by some passerbys when they raised an alarm. Sumer is the grandson of Mr Ajit Singh Atwal, a senior Congress leader. 


School’s upgradation raises hackles
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 11
Contrary to a decision reportedly taken earlier, the Punjab Education Department authorities have upgraded the school in Chak Fathesinghwala the native village of the in-laws of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in the district to plus two-level instead of upgrading the school in the neighbouring Chak Ramsinghwala village.

To protest against the injustice done to them, the residents of Chak Ramsinghwala village have decided to launch an agitation if justice was denied to them. They have demanded that the high school in their village should be upgraded.

If any untoward incident took place in their struggle, the Punjab Government, the district administration and the department concerned would be responsible, they said.

They alleged that the high school located in their village was to be upgraded as per the decision of authorities concerned, but they were shocked to learn that the primary school of Chak Fathesinghwala village, which was upgraded to the middle-level in the recent past, was further upgraded to the plus two level.

Mr Major Singh Sandhu, District Education Officer, when contacted, said that as per the state government’s decision the school of Chak Fathesinghwala was to be upgraded to the middle-level from the primary-level while the school of Chak Ramsinghwala village was to be upgraded to the plus two-level from the high-level.

He added that the name of Chak Fathesinghwala village figured in the list of those villages where the schools had been upgraded to the plus two-level which was not done knowingly by any body.

He pointed out that a letter in this connection had been written to the Director, Education Department (Secondary), Punjab, on May 2. In the letter, the Director had been requested to make an amendment in the list of those schools which had been upgraded to the plus two-level.

Meanwhile, the villagers pointed out that a school in Chak Ramsinghwala was running since 1954. They said at a meeting held in the gurdwara of village on May 9, all residents, including members of the panchayat, had demanded that the school in Chak Ramsinghwala village should be upgraded.


Women’s college denies fiscal irregularities
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 11
The management of the local women’s college broke its silence today on the ongoing tussle between the teacher’s union and the college authorities.

While talking to The Tribune, the members of the management asserted that after conducting an inquiry into the matter, they had found that there had been no financial irregularities in the ongoing construction work as alleged by the union. The management claimed that the most of the teaching and non-teaching staff were cooperating with the college authorities, but only few disgruntled teachers were indulging in mud-slinging.

Dr Rajinder Sharma, who is member of the IMC, warned the management would take a stern action against the teachers who were causing indiscipline. The inquiry into the episode began today as both parties were called in the SDM’s office.

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