Wednesday, May 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM kicks off poll campaign
People brought in buses; Chautala also present
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, May 15
In a massive rally organised today, the first of its kind in a series, the SAD-BJP combine virtually kicked off its election campaign. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal along with his Haryana counterpart Om Prakash Chautala and several ministers of the ruling alliance, MPs, MLAs and members of the SGPC participated.

Today’s rally, which was able to attract a large crowd, braved intense heat to listen to the leaders who recounted the achievements of the government in the past four years. Nothing less than a sea of humanity thronged the venue. People from the district and adjoining areas were brought in numbers in trucks, trailers and buses arranged for the purpose.

Launching a scorching attack on the Congress, Mr Badal asserted that the Congress during its 45 years of regime had brought ruin to the nation due to its wrong policies. He said Congress men had always indulged in a divide and rule policy in order to remain in power. He exhorted the people to repose faith in the Akali-BJP combine during the forthcoming Assembly elections. The combine, he said, had ushered in an era of peace and prosperity in the state.

He said although the Agriculture Price Commission had recommended a cut of Rs 60 in the MSP for wheat, when he if along with Mr Chautala met the Prime Minister and apprised him of the scenario in the two states, the latter agreed to their request to enhance the MSP by Rs 30. This resulted in a benefit of more than Rs 1000 crore to the farmers of Punjab.

Mr Badal said NABARD had agreed to provide Rs 500 crore for safe and potable drinking water in the state. It was for the first time that the farmers with land-holding across the fence along the Indo-Pakistan border had been awarded a compensation of Rs 3000 per acre.

The Chief Minister announced that all those who belonged to Schedule Caste and Tribes would be given five marlas of land free of cost to help them build their houses. He said it was Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee alone who had stood by Punjab in its hour of crisis and announced a grant of hundreds of crores not only at the time of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa, but also during the completion of 200 years of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Prime Minister had presented a model of a chair in gold used by the Maharaja to Punjab. The original was in a museum in London.

Mr Chautala in his address said the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh had cordial relations and whenever there was any problem, they solved it together. He criticised the Congress for forcing the WTO on the people which was affecting farmers in Punjab and Haryana in a big manner. He said: “We will try to impose maximum taxes on foreign companies to save the poor farmers from tyranny.”

Mr Baldev Singh Bunder, MP, Rajya Sabha, said Mr Badal had transformed Punjab into a developed and progressive state.

Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President, BJP, Punjab, said the Akali-BJP alliance in Punjab would become stronger with the passage of time. Ms Mamata Banerjee had committed a blunder in West Bengal by severing ties with the BJP and joining hands with the Congress, the consequences of which was for everyone to see. District Akali Dal president and Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon presented a siropa and a shawl to Mr Chautala and Mr Badal on behalf of the district Akali Dal workers.

Senior BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana and Union Minister Sushma Swaraj who were supposed to attend the rally did not turn up Punjab Food and Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal, Forest Minister Surjit Kumar Jiyani, Education Minister Jathedar Tota Singh, Housing and Urban Development Minister Upinderjit Kaur, Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, MP Zora Singh Mann, Chairman of the PSTC Hari Singh Zira and hosts of leaders of the SAD and the BJP were present at the dais.

Massive arrangements were made at the rally site by the administration, which remained at the tenterhooks for the past two days in order to make the rally a success. The entire area around the venue was converted into a police cantonment which paralysed normal life.


Third front soon in Punjab: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 15
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), today said a third front comprising all Akali Dals except the one led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal would soon be formed in Punjab for getting rid of the misgovernance of SAD-BJP in the state.

Mr Tohra, who was addressing mediapersons at the residence of Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, general secretary of the district unit of the party, today said the people of Punjab wanted a change in the state because the ruling party has crossed all limits as far as collecting money through unfair means was concerned.

He said the results in the recent assembly elections held in some states had shown the BJP and its partners had lost faith in the people. He added that the same scene would be repeated in Punjab whenever the elections would be held here.

The SHSAD president said the third front would never forge any alliance with the Congress in Punjab or in any other state. He said the Panthic parties which follow the instructions of Akal Takht would come on one platform for showing the door to Mr Badal.

Mr Tohra said the third front would include the SHSAD led by him, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the Akali Dal (Panthic) led by Mr Jasbir Singh Rode and the Sant Samaj of Mr Sarbjeet Singh Bedi.

He did not mention whether the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Left parties would be asked to join the front. He said unity among various Akali Dals was necessary and later other political parties could be asked to join the front.

Criticising the red-tapism that prevailed in the state, he said non-resident Indians whom he had met during his recent foreign visit and who wanted to invest money in different projects in the state did not do so because of the mistreatment received at the hands of officials here.

Mr Tohra said many NRIs had come to Punjab for starting industries but the indifferent attitude of the government here forced them to return. He said on the one hand the government was opening the gates for the multinationals and on the other they were not making the necessary changes in the corrupt system here.

Mr Tohra said most members of the SGPC did not fulfil the necessary requirements laid down for them. He said the most important requirement for the member was that he should be baptised. A number of members did not fulfil this requirement.

Commenting on the visit of SAD president and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the temples, he said he had made a blunder by doing this. He said being the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal Mr Badal should not follow any religion other than Sikhism. He said the Akali Dal was formed to look after the interests of the Sikhs and for spreading the teachings of Sikhism.

However, Mr Tohra said the rulings of Akal Takht regarding relations with religious sects that were excommunicated from the Sikh Panth did not apply to non-Sikhs. He was replying to a question about the action against a Punjab Cabinet Minister who had attended a function of the Nirankari sect. He said as the minister was a Hindu therefore no action could be taken against him by Akal Takht. He, however, said some action should be taken against the president of the party of which the minister belonged.


Front against Badal govt soon’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
Rival Akali factions and other like-minded Opposition parties, excluding the Congress, will from a political front to oust the Badal government during the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Assembly.

Talking to TNS, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, alleged that representatives of various Opposition parties were of the view that Mr Badal was resorting to ‘political black-mail’ by holding ‘sangat darshan’ where cheques were distributed on the basis of loyalty to the SAD-BJP coalition. He said during ‘sangat darshan’ Mr Badal and bureaucrats sat on sofa-sets, while the ‘sangat’ was forced to sit before them. Either Mr Badal should accord due respect to the people during such programmes, or stop using the term, ‘sangat darshan’ as this hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs, he said.

Mr Chandumajra said his party would expose the “misdeeds” of Mr Badal before the people. The Badal government had denigrated great institutions of the Sikhs like Akal Takht, he alleged.

He also alleged that the jathedars of Akal Takht were being used as ‘rubber stamps’ by Mr Badal for vested interests. Bhai Ranjit Singh, who had opposed the ‘misdeeds’ of the government had been unceremoniously removed.


Punjab to oppose Centre’s move on foodgrains
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Punjab Government is marshalling facts to oppose the Union Government’s move pertaining to the decentralisation of procurement and distribution of foodgrains.

The issue will come up at a conference of Chief Ministers on “Agriculture strategies and food management” scheduled to be held in Delhi on May 21. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will preside over the conference.

Informed sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would impress upon the Prime Minister to continue the existing system of procurement of foodgrains, the Central pool and the revision of the minimum support price( MSP) on an annual basis and its enforcement.

It is clear from the agenda circulated by the Union Government among the states that it wants to put all responsibility relating to the procurement and distribution of foodgrains on the state governments concerned. It is no longer interested in bearing the burden of solving the problems faced by foodgrain surplus states like Punjab at the time of the procurement of wheat and paddy.

Punjab and Haryana are states which heavily depend on the Central Government for the disposal of their wheat and paddy. Both produce foodgrains several times more than their requirement. If the Union Government abandons its present policy of procuring foodgrains from Punjab for the Central pool, it will not only create chaos in the state but also lead to social unrest. The state government does not have the capacity to handle such a major operation without the help of the Union Government.

Interestingly, the issue of the decentralisation of the procurement and distribution of foodgrains is being discussed at a time when the elections to the Punjab Assembly are not for away. If the proposal is cleared at the meeting, it will certainly have a major political fallout in the state and on the ruling SAD-BJP alliance. The matter has the potential of becoming a major political issue in the state.

At present, foodgrains, especially wheat and paddy, are procured by state government agencies for the Central pool on behalf of the Food Corporation of India( FCI), which also procures a certain percentage of foodgrains for the pool. The money spent by the state government agencies on procurement, etc, is reimbursed by the FCI following the transfer of foodgrains to the Central pool.

However, the Union Government wants to get rid of this system from the next kharif season. In other words, the Union Government wants that paddy should be procured by the state agencies and the FCI should have nothing to do with it.

The Department of Food of the Union Government has taken the plea that the agricultural scenario in the country has changed over the years. The Green Revolution eliminated the dependence on the import of foodgrains. In the light of this, the role of the FCI is required to be reviewed.

Open-ended procurement, coupled with depressed market conditions locally and internationally, has led to the accumulation of excess stocks in the Central pool, well above the minimum buffer stock norm fixed by experts. This has led to an escalation in carrying costs, making the FCI’s operations economically unviable. As on March 1 this year, the FCI had excess stocks of 30.7 million tonnes of wheat and rice in the country.

Suggesting the decentralisation of procurement and distribution, the Department of Food (Union Government) has proposed that procurement by the state agencies should be encouraged. In states like Bihar, Orissa, MP, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal, there is a potential to contribute to the procurement of foodgrains for their own use. An efficient procurement machinery should be created in these states, which should be allowed some operational and financial flexibility.

The Central Government will work out the subsidy payable to the state government concerned on the basis of the difference between the economic cost of the foodgrains worked out for the state government and the central issue price (CIP). If the state government procures quantities in excess of its PDS requirements, it is permitted to hand over the surplus stocks to the FCI. The Union Government has claimed that this was done on an experimental basis in states like MP, West Bengal and UP with reasonable success.

The other proposal mooted by the Department of Food is the establishment of a link-up between deficit and surplus states. For instance, Gujarat and Maharashtra can establish a linkage with Punjab and Haryana for the supply of the required quota of foodgrains. In the same way, Assam can procure foodgrains not only for meeting its own requirement but also that of the entire North-East. In these cases also, the economic cost for each state can be worked out, and the difference between the economic cost and the Central issue price passed on as subsidy to the state concerned. The RBI should be told to provide credit limits to states for this purpose.

The department has further proposed that the role of the FCI, consequent upon the procurement of foodgrains by the states concerned, should be restricted to the maintenance of buffer stocks at the strategic locations, open market intervention and export and import operations.


New Web site for CM’s office
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
A new Web site,, pertaining to an Executive Information System (EIS) for the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) is now online. Though in partial operation for the past eight months, it has been in the making for 18 months at the hands of a small team, headed by an Additional Secretary, Mr Rakesh K. Verma, in the CMO. This is the first-ever serious application of the Internet in e-governance waiting to be launched as a statewide Intranet christened the EIS.

With the CMO already “online” with a wide range of information available on the Internet, it receives daily reports from certain departments. Most of the district administrations also have 24-hour VAST-based Internet access through the National Informatics Centre. The next step of Secretariat Local Area Network (LAN) is only a click away. It will be operational within a month or so giving a boost to the EIS with the LAN providing a high-speed access to the EIS.

The second aspect of the new portal, as Mr Verma puts it, is “Citizens’ services” on the same platform. By providing a single point for accessing various services, the life of citizens can become quite easy. To start with, there are a few services for citizens but these can be expanded.

The concept of EIS was evolved following a visit by a delegation led by the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr R.I. Singh, to Hyderabad. What started as a small effort to “web-enable” certain information from the CMO to other departments and citizens, as Mr Verma explained to TNS at a demonstration today, has ended up as a “full-fledged office application on the Internet”.

Thanks to the NIC, Punjab has ‘’brochure wave’’ websites as do several state organisations. It is a different story that these are seldom “updated”. In the present case, a beginning has been made from the “top” to put pressure and expedite speedy computerisation at the middle and lower levels. The EIS, therefore, is intended as an application harnessing the power of the Internet to remove the time and distance barriers to information, demonstrating the power of connectivity.

Mr Verma defended the EIS saying: “ is not merely a ‘brochure wave’, where brochure-like static sites become the end of the Internet, but an ‘application wave’, where real transactions and interactions take place through the Internet”. Nevertheless, within the CMO there has to be a committed core staff daily updating the information and responding to citizens when they come online.

A comprehensive nine-chapter “User Guide” detailing EIS features promises “one-stop, non-stop” seamless interface to the CMO. The format designed by Mr Verma and his small band of experts has “live” modules dealing with a “Reference monitoring system, announcements by the Chief Minister, sangat darshan, constituency development agenda, meetings and messages, a project monitoring system and schemes and issues monitoring”. Each module has identified features, details, check messages and query parameters.

Mr Verma said the site had been designed in conformity with the functioning of the government and the system of files and their movement. Basically, e-governance does not mean eliminating paper work. The EIS, however, will only be able to eliminate bottlenecks that are there due to slow, cumbersome and hierarchical movement of information.

An analysis of an average case at the CMO reveals that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the file work comprises reminders. Will the EIS eliminate papers related to reminders and interlocutory correspondence?

Once the system evolves and is adapted by babus and bureaucrats, it will save time on collection, compilation and communication of information with the job of transmitting, consolidating and presenting left to the Internet.

Mr Verma referred to the “messaging system” in the EIS that has already been developed and integrated in all modules. The system is intended to be officer-friendly as also citizen-friendly. Passwords have been designed for the administrative secretaries. Soon citizens will also be able to access the site sending suggestions and knowing the fate of their complaints, representations, demands, needs and problems posted to various offices through the Internet.


Custodial death: 4 cops get life term
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 15
Four police officials — Malwinder Singh Malhi, Sub-Inspector, Gurcharan Singh and Manjeet Singh, constable, and Davinder Singh, SPO, — accused in the Hassanpur custodial death case, were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 each in a judgement passed today by the District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Maghar Khan. The fifth accused in the case, Mr Didar Singh, Inspector, was, however, acquitted.

The police officials were accused of the custodial death of Devinder Singh, alias Kala, a 21-year-old truck driver from Hassanpur village near Kharar, in September, 1999. Gurmukh Singh, father of the deceased, had alleged that his son had been tortured to death by the accused police officials.

He had alleged that his son was taken into custody along with his brother, Sapinder Singh, and two others — Karnail Singh and Inderjit Singh — of the same village by the police officials. The arrested were accused of having illegal arms. A police party conducted a search in the fields to find the assault rifle that was alleged to be in the possession of the accused, but could not find anything there.

Despite the fact that the police did not find anything in the possession of the arrested, they were allegedly taken to the CIA office in Ropar and interrogated. On the same day one of the arrested, Bhola, died in police custody. He was declared brought dead at Ropar Civil Hospital the next day.

The post-mortem report revealed that there were no signs of any external injury on the body. However, according to the chemical examination of the viscera, the death of Kala was caused likely due to asphyxiation caused by strangulation.

The death of the youth evoked protests from residents and leaders of the area, following which the police officers were booked under Section 302 of the IPC.

The defence counsel of the police officials accused in the case stated in the court that Mr Didar Singh, who was posted as Inspector at Anandpur Sahib at the time of the incident, was part of the police party, which picked up the youth but he had left after that. He was told to be present on police duty elsewhere at the alleged time of the torture of the Kala. Besides, the two main witnesses of the prosecution — Karnail Singh and Inderjit Singh — also turned hostile. However, the brother of the deceased, Sapinder Singh, struck to his allegations.

On the basis of the evidence presented by the defence, Mr Didar Singh was acquitted of the murder charge. The other accused police officials were, however, found guilty of causing the death of the youth. The plea of the accused for a lenient view in the sentence on mercy grounds was also rejected by the court. Gurmukh Singh, who was present in the court today, expressed satisfaction that the four accused had been brought to book. However, he claimed that Mr Didar Singh was the main accused in the case. Police officials had manipulated the records to save him, he alleged. He said he would move the higher court against Mr Didar Singh.


Decision after meeting kin of Bhindranwale: Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
The controversy over the death of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale took a fresh turn today when the Damdami Taksal claimed that he (Bhindranwale was till in “high spirit" even as Giani Joginder Singh Vedani, Jathedar Akal Takhat, said he would meet the family members of the sant, the taksal, and all concerned before pronouncing his decision on this “sensitive” issue.

A three-page handwritten press note issued on behalf of Baba Thakur Singh, acting chief of the taksal, strongly condemned those organisations which wanted to observe the “death anniversary” of Sant Bhindranwale. Interestingly, Baba Thakur Singh is currently on a religious tour to Canada and other countries. The hard-hitting press note said the Damdami Taksal would observed the “martydom day” of Bhai Amrik Singh and Shabeg Singh, who were killed during the infamous Operation Bluestar” and “chardi kala divas” for Sant Bhindranwale.

Though the family members of Sant Bhindranwale have announced that the Sikh high priests and the Damdami Taksal had the right to take a decision regarding Sant Bhindranwale, yet Jathedar Vedanti has said that he cannot take any hasty decision. He, however, said any Sikh organisation had the right to observe “Ghallughara Divas” to coincide with Operation Bluestar. However, Akal Takht would ensure that the “Sikh maryada” was maintained.


Land transfer to PUDA leads to bickerings
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, May 15
Nearly 72 acres near the Upper Doab canal have become the cause of much bickering between various government departments of the municipal corporation, the Improvement Trust and the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) with the former two indulging in fault-finding after the land was transferred to PUDA by a committee headed by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on February 28 at a meeting held in Chandigarh. The trust alleges PUDA is encroaching on the green belt near the canal by chopping down trees to facilitate carving of residential plots. The corporation had proposed to develop a part of the area as a picnic spot.

However, after the Irrigation Department favoured transfer of the land under the optimum utilisation of vacant government land (OUVGL) scheme to PUDA, newly named Swarn Vihar, the other two departments felt slighted. The trust authorities’ insecurity emanates from the fact that the trust is developing the new Amritsar scheme right opposite PUDA’s Swarn Vihar.

The residential plots by the trust have been fixed at a higher reserved price than the PUDA plots numbering 500, Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administration, PUDA, said. However, Mr Bakshi Ram, Chairman of the Improvement Trust, refuted the claim and said the trust’s new Amritsar scheme provides better infrastructure than PUDA’s Swarn Vihar.

Clarifying the allegations of tree felling, Mr Nanda admitted to that but sought to clear that “only the commercial variety of nature trees like eucalyptus, poplar and kikar were being felled while protected species such as mango, tali etc were being spared”.

While the trust alleges the Chief Minister’s reported meeting last month in Chandigarh attended by the Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, among others, had reportedly approved the area in question as a picnic spot with walkways and landscaping PUDA authorities say approximately four acres comprising an abandoned power station and the surrounding green belt had been left untouched till a decision was reached by the committees.

Meanwhile, the corporation has alleged the area for residence was too close to the canal. Mr Nanda, however, says PUDA proposes to widen an existing road running alongside the canal from 20 feet to 45 feet in addition to leaving 100 feet beyond, which will leave the plots at least 150 feet away from the canal.

A greater part of the proceeds from the sale of this land will be utilised to finance two minor canals further down the Upper Bari Doab canal. Forest officers report could not be obtained as they were unavailable for comments.


Tehelka: Henry starts signature campaign
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 15
Mr Avtar Henry, PPCC vice-president, launched a signature campaign here today to demand ouster of the Vajpayee government in view of the Tehelka expose. More than 300 prominent workers from all over the district took part in a meeting held here today in this connection.

Mr Chander Pal Singh, DCC president, presided. Other speakers included Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, PPCC general secretary, Mr Lakhbir Singh Randhawa, AICC member, Mr Ajay Verma and Mr Sekhri both PPCC members, Mr Gurbachan Singh Banehali, former Chairman of the zila parishad, and Mr Neeraj Salhotra, former Chairman of the Improvement Trust here.

Mr Henry said the results of the mini general election in four states and one union territory were a clear indication of the impending political change at the Centre as well as the states. Mr Badal and his coterie of corrupt ministers would find no place in the new political set-up in Punjab after the assembly elections, he said. He predicted 30 assembly seats for the SAD-BJP combine.

Mr Henry said due to blowing of the winds of change election to the Punjab Assembly would be held on schedule contrary to the mid-term elections as was being predicted by the PPCC chief. The Tehleka expose had initiated expression of wrath among people against the corrupt practices of politicians.

Mr Puri said Mr Badal had ignored development of the state. Mr Badal discriminated against constituencies of opposition MLAs. Wherever grants had been given in constituencies of opposition MLAs it was done at the behest of SAD-BJP defeated candidates. He warned Mr Badal that sangat darshans would do not good to the alliance in the coming assembly elections. People had understood that sangat darshans were aimed at getting votes. Mr Chander Pal Singh appealed to workers to participate in large number in the state-level BC/SC Congress rally being held at Jalandhar on June 3.

The meeting unanimously passed a resolution congratulating Mrs Sonia Gandhi on the Congress victory in Kerala, Assam, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. It hoped the party would repeat its performance in other states in the coming assembly elections.


Kargil war ‘staged by BJP’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 15
Capt Ajay S. Yadav (retd), the observer appointed by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) for eight districts of Punjab said yesterday that the Kargil war was a drama staged by the BJP led NDA-government for getting political mileage.

Mr Yadav, addressing a press conference here yesterday, said the Central Government was aware of the infiltration by Pakistanis in Indian territory. He alleged that the BJP-led government was using the martyrs’ name for political gains.

Mr Yadav, who is on a tour of eight districts of Punjab in connection with the signature campaign launched by the Congress, said the party would give a memorandum to the President after getting the signatures of about 7 lakh persons on it.

The campaign has been launched by the Congress in the wake of the revelations. The memorandum, labelled by the party as the “charge sheet by the people” against the Central Government, will be handed over to the President on May 23.

Mr Yadav said his party had no faith in the CBI as the latter had become a puppet in the hands of the ruling party. He said the CBI, which should be an independent agency, had started following the instructions of the NDA government.

He alleged that the Vajpayee government was working on the instructions of the USA. He said the observance of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir was as per the wishes of the USA.

Mr Yadav said the revelations made by about defence deals had lowered the morale of Army personnel.

He said the Prime Minister had lost the moral right to hold office after his colleagues were “found” taking bribes in relation to the defence deals.

He said the government had not ordered a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter, thus creating doubts in the minds of the people regarding its seriousness about the issue.

The AICC observer alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was “wasting” money on ‘sangat darshan’ programmes. He said Mr Badal was trying to woo voters by making false promises.

Mr Yadav said the allegations made by the ruling party that the Congress government was responsible for signing the WTO were not true.

He said that although the Congress had given consent to the agreement, it had decided to give only 49 per cent share to foreign companies. He alleged that the present government was giving 51 per cent share to these companies.


Garbage heaps bring misery
J.S. Malhotra

Heaps of garbage can often be seen in almost all localities here thanks to the indifference of the Municipal Corporation authorities to the problem of insanitation.

Residents are virtually forced to live in miserable conditions.On certain roads like the Model Town road, the Ladowal road and the GT Road passing through the old city garbage is often not removed for days together. According to residents of the Dhobi Mohalla, old Subzi Mandi, Pacca Bagh, Central Town and Bagh Barian areas the civic body has not been removing garbage on a regular basis.”Though corporation employees lift garbage regularly at short intervals from posh localities, it usually takes a week or so for them to do this in the old localities”, complains Mr Sohan Lal, a resident of Dhobi Mohalla.

The situation deteriorates during rain in areas like Boota Mandi, Abadpura, Kartar Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Bagh Barian and Guru Nanak Pura (West). In the inner parts of the old city, garbage is not cleared daily.

Ms Neelam Salwan, a housewife and resident of Guru Nanak Pura (West), said more than 10,000 residents of the colony had been compelled to dump their garbage in vacant plots for the past six years as the municipal authorities had failed to provide large garbage bins in the area.”The non-removal of garbage has resulted in the spread of disease among children. Three children were hospitalised in April due to a fungus infection attributed to garbage which had accumulated at various points in the locality,” she alleged.

Mr Ram Parkash Sharma, president of the Model House Development Society, said residents had met the then Commissioner, Mr B.C. Thakur, several times in connection with the problem of insanitation but no action was taken.

Though the civic body had engaged 50 safai sevaks on a contract basis to clean the streets in different localities, they seldom do their job.

The Municipal Corporation, which has a strength of around 780 regular safai sevaks, had authorised welfare societies of various colonies to engage such sevaks on contract. A monthly salary of Rs 1,200 is being paid to every safai sevak under this scheme, but this, too, has proved to be a futile exercise in the absence of a proper check on their work.

A vigilance team, after receiving a complaint about an alleged fraud in the enrolment of safai sevaks on a contract basis by certain non-existent welfare societies, had raided the corporation office in April . Records pertaining to employment and payments made to more than 1,200 contractual safai sevaks were sealed.

Mr Ved Vyas, Assistant Commissioner, admitted that there was a problem in removing garbage due to faults in some lifting machines.


Holy Granth’s pages damaged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 15
The Mehal Kalan police has registered a case under Section 295 of the IPC for causing damage to seven to eight pages of Guru Granth Sahib in the gurdwara of Chowhanke Kalan village in Barnala police district.

Talking to TNS this evening over phone, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleke, SSP, Barnala, said the case had been registered as a precautionary measure though the village gurdwara prabhandak committee had given in writing to the police that it did not want to initiate proceedings against anyone in this case.

Mr Kaleke further said the ‘beer’ of Guru Granth Sahib seemed to be an old one. He said the committee believed the damaged to the pages could be caused either due to wind or at the time of turning the pages by someone.

The SSP said the committee also did not see any foul play in the damage caused to the pages of Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Kaleke further said there was no tension in the village over this issue.


Water scarcity in Sukhanand village
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 15
Residents of Sukhanand village under Baghapurana police station in the district said yesterday that the water works installed in their village about 14 years ago had been lying idle.

Mr Gurbachan Singh Brar, former president of the Field Staff of the Public Relations Department, said here yesterday that all complaints regarding the non-availability of the drinking water to the villagers had fallen on deaf ears.

Residents of some other villages said water works installed in their villages were also not functioning. Even canals passing through their villages had been lying dry and there was no other source to irrigate their fields.


Sukhbir to take up power cuts issue with CM
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and SAD General Secretary, today said he would take up the matter relating to power cuts with the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Badal, who was here today to attend a private function, while meeting citizens assured them he would try to arrange uninterrupted power supply for Bathinda town.

Mr Badal said he would also talk to the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in this connection. He added he would ask the PSEB authorities to stop imposing power cuts during night.

Bathinda district, which is in the process of emerging the “energy district” of Punjab, has been witnessing frequent power cuts, causing inconvenience to the public on the one hand and trade and industry on the other hand.

The citizens also urged Mr Badal to make arrangements for construction of a railway overbridge over the Bathinda-Patiala level crossing located on the Bathinda-Mansa road as frequent traffic jams occurred there due to heavy vehicular movement.


Simranjit Mann operated upon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, a Lok Sabha MP from Punjab, who had been suffering from a heart ailment for the past two years, underwent a heart surgery at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here today.

According to his family, Mr Mann had been successfully operated upon for the removal of a blocade in an artery and replacement of a deteriorated heart valve. 


Docs’ conveyance allowance hiked
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 15
The Punjab Government has enhanced the conveyance allowance of PCMS doctors. The Finance Department has sent its approval in this regard and has asked the Health Department to issue a notification of giving conveyance allowance at the rate of Rs 900 per month for car and Rs 360 for scooter to PCMS doctors.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, Dr M.S. Randhawa, Dr D.S. Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary, respectively, of the PCMS Association, Punjab, have sought the implementation of the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission regarding various allowances.

The Health Department, acting on the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission, had recommended to the Finance Minister to grant conveyance allowance at the rate of Rs 1,800 per month in lieu of 75 litres of petrol for car, higher qualification allowance, academic allowance and redesignation of the post of Administrative Senior Medical Officer as Deputy Civil Surgeon.

The association has urged the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister to release the long-pending allowances without delay.

The association has also urged the government to appoint a regular DRME to end resentment in the medical fraternity on the issue of giving charge of Director, Research and Medical Education to a bureaucrat which is against all norms and principles since the DRME is also the president of the Punjab Medical Council, a governing body of medical professionals.


Encroachments removed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 15
The local municipal corporation authorities yesterday removed encroachments in various parts of the city.

A team led by Mr Munish Behal, Assistant Town Planner, razed a PCO near Massand Chowk in Model Town locality, which was built in a local bus-stop.

They also demolished the structure of Harminder Marble Company on the road near Nakodar Chowk.


SPOs’ daily wages hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Punjab Government has increased the daily wages of the special police officers (SPOs) from Rs 70 to Rs 90, according to Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister. He said the increase would put an additional burden of Rs 7.33 crore on the state exchequer annually.


LPG pilferage racket busted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 15
The district police has succeeded in busting a major racket in pilferage and sale of LPG cylinders with the arrest of two persons and seized 91 cylinders.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP said here on receiving information yesterday that some persons were indulging in pilferage of LPG and could be nabbed a raid was conducted at a gas service godown near the local Football Chowk.

A police party conducted a raid along with officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department at the said godown. It was found that two persons, namely Ashok Kumar and Bittu, both employees of the LPG dealer, were indulging in illegal pilferage of LPG from filled cylinders. The police seized 91 cylinders.

Mr Yadav further said the arrested persons revealed that the racket had been going on in connivance with the management of the LPG dealer.

The arrested persons were being produced in the court of the Magistrate.


3 killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 15
Three persons were killed when a Jeep and a truck collided near Bhawanigarh on the Bhawanigarh-Sunam road last night. The deceased have been identified as Surjit Singh, Ranjit Singh and Gurjinder Singh, the police said today.

The deceased were occupants of the Jeep and were on their way to Namol village in Sunam from Bibri village. The truck was coming from the Sunam side. The police has registered a case.


Two arrested on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 15
The district police has arrested two persons on the charge of murder of two residents of the local Basti Sheikh locality on Friday last.

According to the police, a naka was laid at Gilla Gakhlan village, near here, today and two scooter-borne persons, who were coming to the city, were asked to stop at the naka. They have been identified as Arvinder Singh of Mochlan mohalla and Vishal of Basti Danishmanda allegedly involved in the murder of Bobby and Goldy, both residents of the Basti Sheikh locality.

They were immediately arrested. Mr Rakesh Kaushal, DSP, said the duo had confessed to their involvement in the murder case.


Arhtiya robbed of Rs 10 lakh

Batala, May 15
In a daring daylight robbery in the town, two scooter-borne youths looted Rs 10 lakh from Kuldip Singh, an arhtiya, in the old grain market locality here yesterday.

District police chief Sukhdev Singh Brar said the incident took place when Kuldip Singh was returning to the shop of a fellow arhtiya after withdrawing the amount from the bank branch located in the grain market. Kuldip was accompanied by another arhtiya Kishan Chand, who had withdrawn Rs 6 lakh from the same branch, he added.

The police official said the two youths, one of whom was armed with a pistol, approached Kuldip and at gun point took away the bag containing the cash. Kishan Chand, who was following Kuldip, immediately threw his bag containing the money underneath a car. He recovered it after the two robbers had fled on the scooter, Mr Brar said. While fleeing, the youths fired two shots in the air. UNI


Shortage of teachers in 50 schools
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 15
Students of 50 schools in the remote areas of the district are facing uncertain future in the current session due to the shortage of teachers. The teaching in these schools is likely to remain suspended as about 25 per cent of the posts of teacher in the district have been lying vacant.

According to the data available here, there are 863 primary schools in the district. Of 1848 sanctioned posts of teacher 467 have been lying vacant.

In the last session, the shortage of teachers was eased by recruiting Sikhya Karmis against these posts. They were paid Rs 2000 per month against the pay of about Rs 7000 per month being paid to a regular primary teacher.

However, even these part-time teachers were relieved from services after the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court, in February this year, granted a stay on the working of the Sikhya Karmis on the plea filed by the ETT candidates.

The Punjab Government made an effort to fill 7200 vacant posts of the primary teacher in the state last year. Since there were 3500 ETT qualified candidates, which is the basic qualification for recruiting a primary teacher, it was decided that the B.Ed candidates would be recruited against the rest of the vacant posts.

However, the ETT students across the state, who feared that their future prospects might be seized if the B.Ed candidates were recruited against the posts, moved court against the government’s decision. The court while granting stay on the recruitment of the teachers also banned the recruitment of the Sikhya Karmis.

This decision would affect the teaching in the primary schools in the current session. The sources in the Education Department, on the condition of anonymity, told this reporter that even if the Punjab Government tried to make fresh recruitment now, process would take at least six to eight months.

Meanwhile, the local education department authorities are busy working out the solution to continue teaching in the 50 schools of the rural areas that don’t have any teacher.

It is being planned that the teachers from other schools will be sent on deputation to the affected schools for short-time period.

However, the critics feel that the teachers who will be posted for just one or two months in a school, cannot justify the teaching there.

They say that even if the government cannot fill the vacant posts of the teacher immediately, it should rationalise the postings in rural and the urban areas.

In most of the primary schools in the urban areas there is no shortage of the teaching staff. So, in order to continue teaching in the schools which don’t have even a single teacher, the strength of the teachers posted in the urban and rural areas should be justified.


Course issue: lecturers allege harassment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The refusal of the Punjab Education Department to recognise the refresher course in environmental studies as a valid subject in lieu of the subject specific course of college lecturers has led to confusion among those who have done this course. These teachers have been asked to provide a certificate from the staff colleges stating that the course is relevant, which these teachers claim is leading to undue harassment.

Many of these teachers had earlier been told that since the department had received no intimation that the refresher course in environmental studies should be considered in place of the relevant subjects, the course will not be recognised at all. And since most of these teachers had been given their senior and selection grades in anticipation of having done the courses, the process of withdrawing these grades had also been started by the department.

A representation led by Dr R.P.S. Josh, fellow, Panjab University, was given to the DPI (Colleges) Punjab and the UGC Chairman, Dr Hari Gautam in this connection. The department allowed all those teachers who had a certificate from the staff colleges where they had attended these courses stating that the said course was a valid course relevant to the subject of the lecturer.

But since almost all those teachers who had done this course and serving in the Haryana and UT colleges have been granted their senior and selection grades, the Punjab teachers are of the opinion that they are being harassed without any reason. “The Education Department should clarify the matter with the UGC at their level and not ask teachers for certificates etc. In fact, the advertisement of these courses clearly states that these are interdisciplinary courses and can be done in lieu of any subject,” says Dr Josh.

All those college lecturers who joined service before 1996 had to do one orientation and one refresher course in their subject any time between five to eight years of service in order to get their senior scale grade. This was to be followed by another two refresher courses in order to get the selection grade. In accordance with the 1996 revision notified in 1998, those with a Ph.D were exempted from an orientation course.

The UGC had started two interdisciplinary courses in environmental studies and women/gender studies four years ago and all those lecturers who did these courses were considered to have complied with the conditions for selection and senior grades.

Since many lecturers had not been able to complete their courses due to a variety of reasons the last date for completing these courses was extended till December 31, 2000. The lecturers were granted their due scales in anticipation of their having done the courses after these lecturers gave an affidavit to this effect. 


Trainee nurses send memo to Badal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 15
Resentment prevails among students of the local GGS Nursing School attached to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here against the decision of the Punjab Government for shifting this institution to Lambi village in Muktsar district, home district of the Punjab Chief Minister, shortly.

In a memorandum sent to the Chief Minister the trainees regretted such an action of the government in the middle of the training would cause a great harm to their studies and future. They said if the Chief Minister was interested in such institutions he should take the initiative to open another school of nursing in the village. They made it clear that if Mr Badal failed to change his attitude the students would be compelled to take action to get their demand acceded. The students also expressed concern as they had not been given stipend which comes to almost Rs 14 lakh for the past four years although the trainees at Amritsar and Patiala had already availed of this opportunity.

Meanwhile, several political leaders, including Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal, president of the state UCPI, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, local Congress MLA, Mr S.K. Gupta and Mr Satish Baghi, president and press secretary of the DCC, respectively, Faridkot have criticised the Chief Minister for his indifferent attitude towards this town. 


Engg students wait for results
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 15
Students of the local Shaheed Bhagat Singh College of Engineering and Technology are waiting for the result of the semester examinations held in December 2000. The next semester examination are starting today.

The college authorities have issued a notice asking the students to apply for reappear if they apprehend that they will not be able to clear some of the papers of the previous semester. They have been asked to deposit a non-refundable fee of rs 500 per subject to reappear. Whenever the result of the previous semester is declared they are to inform the office in writing about the result, suggests the notice.

Some of the students and parents attribute this delay to laxity of the Punjab Technical University authorities whereas others blame the faculty members for not sending their sessionals and the viva voce marks due to which the result could not be compiled in time. It may be recalled that the Engineering College Teachers Association had gone on strike last year due to which the viva voce could not be held on time.

Moreover, after the retirement of Dr R.C. Behl in October last year, the college is without a regular Principal. According to sources, the post has been advertised a couple of times, but the management could not decide on any particular candidate. Dr Narinder Singh, Principal of Giani Zail Singh Engineering College, Bathinda, has the additional charge of the principal.

When contacted, Dr Narinder Singh attributed the delay to non-cooperation by the faculty members during the last semester examinations.

He said the viva voice marks of some subjects had been received only last week. He said he had taken up the matter with the PTU also and hoped that the result would be declared in a couple of days.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |