Wednesday, May 23, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SHSAD on procurement decentralisation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today gave its conditional welcome to the Centre’s foodgrain decentralisation policy.

“The Vajpayee government should not implement the FCI decentralisation policy for foodgrains procurement without giving financial autonomy to the states,” Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a senior leader of the SHSAD said here today.

Several Chief Ministers, including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, had opposed the Centre’s move.

Mr Chandumajra said the states got only 29 per cent of the revenue from the Central pool. He said the states should have 75 per cent of the revenue collected for its own disposal.

“If the procurement is decentralised, then who will ensure uniformity and how will the minimum support price be determined,” asked the senior leader of the party which is led by former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

The FCI is reeling under a loss of over Rs 20,000 crore and can save at least Rs 2,000 crore on fuel alone if the foodgrains procurement and storage is decentralised and undertaken by the states. Moreover, the FCI has over Rs 50,000 crore worth of surplus foodgrains saddled in its godowns.

Mr Chandumajra said the Centre’s laxity and the failure of the Punjab Government to persuade the FCI to shift the surplus foodgrains stored in godowns in Punjab, is draining Rs 2000 crore towards interest and rent in the resource crunch state.

Calling for a true federal structure as envisaged by the founding fathers of the Constitution, he said, “The Centre should have control over only defence, communication, currency and foreign affairs. All other subjects should be under the purview of the states.”

Stating that the WTO agreement in its present form was detrimental to the farmers’ interests, he said the Centre and the Punjab Government should not take any step which would adversely affect the livelihood of agricultural producers.

“Only the issue of opening the country’s market to imports is being talked about as per the WTO. The Centre is not keen on implementing the interest rate of loan, which is about 6 to 9 per cent,” Mr Chandumajra said.

The Punjab Chief Minister opposing the WTO said it was a “highly discriminatory economic order,” and in its present form it “spelt doom for the economic well being of the country.”

Mr Chandumajra criticised the Centre for scrapping the notification on the entry of 300 sensitive items into the country through 11 designated ports.

The government reversed its decision after its quick estimates did not indicate any surge in the import of these sensitive items after the removal of quantitative restrictions.

Following the opposition by the states to the Centre’s move, the Prime Minister has set up a committee of Chief Ministers on food management and agriculture exports to look at enhancing the efficiency of procurement and reducing the cost of distribution of foodgrains under PDS through decentralisation and the active involvement of states.

It will also give recommendations on strategy for diversification in agriculture, risk management in agriculture, review orders on commodity movements, WTO agreement on agriculture and promotion of exports for agricultural products.


PSEB allays fears on nuclear plant
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today allayed fears of people about the proposed nuclear plant planned to be established at Patran. Even as Patiala MP Parneet Kaur said she had already met the Union Power Minister on the issue, agitation launched by a ‘sangharsh’ committee comprising town residents is likely to be intensified.

A PSEB spokesman said here on Monday that rumours were being spread that the proposed plant could explode like a bomb in case of any mishap. He said the construction of the plant would be different from the one at Chernobyl. Indian nuclear plants did not contain graphite which was inflammable and the reactor buildings had double containment, he said.

The spokesman said necessary changes in the design had been incorporated in Indian nuclear plants. A nuclear plant required smaller area as compared to other power plants of equivalent capacity. About 675 acres of land would be required for the 1440 MW plant. Moreover, it was being planned to shift only one village of Drauli while setting up the plant.

The Board said there was hardly any barren area in Punjab where the plant could be set up which was close to a water source and an electrical load centre besides falling in the category of seismic zone three. It said Drauli village had been chosen after due deliberation.

Meanwhile, Ms Parneet Kaur said she had already met the Union Power Minister and a memorandum against the establishment of the nuclear plant had been submitted to him by a delegation of the ‘sangharsh’ committee which comprised villagers of 25 panchayats in Patran. She said she would also take up the issue with the Department of Atomic Energy as she felt the department had not been briefed properly on the issue.

The MP said according to available figures power would be produced at the plant at exorbitant rates. The plant might also cause ecological imbalance which was against the interests of the people. She said a better option would be to give the money to be spent on setting up of the plant to Himachal Pradesh so that an equivalent amount of untapped hydel energy could be generated.

She said commission agents and others were not ready to give loans to farmers living in the area and land prices in the area had also fallen following the announcement of the proposal.


Tohra group to retain control over colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The group led by senior SHSAD leader, Gurcharan Singh Tohra will continue to exercise control over six colleges run by the Sikh Educational Society in Chandigarh and Punjab following dismissal of the complaint filed by the former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, and others claiming control over the society by the UT Sub-Divisional Magistrate (East) last evening.

The complaint was dismissed ex-parte as neither Bibi Jagir Kaur nor her counsel had appeared before the SDM in the last hearing to further their claims. The former SGPC President and others had filed a complaint against Mr Tohra and two others — Mr Gurcharan Singh Brar and Mr Bharpur Singh — for taking over possession of six colleges run by the Sikh Educational Society.

The dispute had risen following elections to the society. On May 17, 2000, Mr Tohra was elected president while Mr Gurdev Singh Brar and Mr Bharpur Singh were elected vice-president and secretary, respectively, of the Sikh Educational Society.

Bibi Jagir Kaur alleged Mr Tohra and others had illegally taken possession of the six colleges run by the society and had said she had the right to run the colleges. A case against Mr Tohra and others was registered under Section 145 of the Cr PC in the Sector 26 police station on the complaint of Bibi Jagir Kaur and others. 


Radical to perform bhog of Bhindranwale
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Radical Sikhs have reiterated that they would observe the death anniversary of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on June 6, coinciding with the seventeenth anniversary of Operation Bluestar.

The Radical Sikh organisations, including the Akal Federation, Dal Khalsa and Human Rights Organisations, sent a fax to the Akal Takht secretariat today in this regard.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Narain Singh, president, Akal Federation, and Mr Kanwarpal Singh Bittu, spokesman, Dal Khalsa, claimed that Bhindranwale was killed in the operation and hence the controversy over the issue should end. The representation faxed to the Akal Takht secretariat said it was a matter of great concern that the “antim ardas” of the sant could not be performed for the past 17 years, although he was killed in the Army operation.

The fax said despite the assurance given to the coordination committee that the bhog of Bhindranwale would be observed on June 6, the matter was not discussed at the Sikh clergy meeting held at Akal Takht on May 14.

Taking exception to the statement of Baba Thakur Singh, acting chief of Damdami Taksal, that Bhindranwale would re-emerge at an appropriate time, the radical Sikhs said it was against the Sikh “rehat maryada” of not performing the bhog of a person.


Marked rise in ST revenue: minister
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
Major reforms undertaken by the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department to streamline revenue collection during the last two years had culminated in an unprecedented collection of sales tax and excise duty amounting to Rs 4081.73 crores during this financial year ending March 31.

Disclosing this in a statement here, Excise and Taxation Minister Adesh Pratap Singh said the revenue collection, which was highest among all states, had proved to be a boon to the state government at a time when it needed liberal funds for development works.

The minister said the objective of reforms in the Excise and Taxation Department had been attained in the shortest possible time. He said the decision to set up Information Collection Centres at all entry points to the state had helped the department to estimate the flow of goods and then put a check on tax evasion.

He said the high revenue collection had also resulted in expansion of annual plan outlay for the state for the current financial year which would further rejuvenate the state’s economic health. Mr Kairon said the sales tax revenue during this fiscal year had shown a hike of 39 per cent with total collection of Rs 2757.52 crores against Rs 1982.30 crores in the previous year. He said in comparison the sales tax revenue during the years 1997 - 98 and 1998 - 99 had stood at Rs 1408.72 crore and 1492.13 crore.

He said under the excise head, revenue during the financial year of 2000 - 2001 was up by 7.6 per cent with total collection of Rs 1324.21 crore which was Rs 94 crore higher than last year and Rs 14 crores more than state government’s target of Rs 1310 crore. He said a total contribution of Rs 4081.73 crore by the department to the state exchequer during the recently concluded financial year was Rs 868.46 crores higher than the year 1999 - 2000 and Rs 1529.47 crores above the total tax collection of 1997 - 98.

The minister said the monopoly of liquor cartels was broken in major cities. Despite many deliberate attempts to sabotage the liquor auctions by certain quarters, a record revenue was collected.

Besides this 32 commodities used by the poor and the middle class had been exempted from sales tax. He said these steps had been taken at a time when the market was facing a slump and economy was sluggish. He said his department had created an opportunity for the industrialisation of the state through the department by proposing to set up six distilleries. He said all distilleries would be set up in the border and kandi areas which were considered low employment zones.

Mr Kairon said the initiative of his department to set up check posts outside railway stations had proved beneficial since a lot of unaccounted items were being sent through the Railways. He said this had generated an extra revenue of Rs 20 crore. He said also for the first time open tenders for molasses had been given and very low rates were quoted by bidders . He said approximately Rs 16 crore had been saved by the government by not giving subsidy on molasses.


SAD conference on May 25
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 22
District-level Shiromani Akali Dal (B) conference will be held at Roshan Ground, Hoshiarpur on May 25, 2001 where Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister Punjab, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals and many other State Ministers and leaders of the SAD will participate.

This was disclosed by Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, President, District Unit of the SAD, Hoshiarpur at a press conference here yesterday. He said that the main aim of this conference was to make people aware on the achievements of the SAD-BJP government so far.

He said that the SAD unit would demand from the Chief Minister to raise the production capacity of Bhogpur Sugar Mill to benefit the farmers of the area.

Besides this, it would demand of a Forest and Horticulture Research Centre in 800 acres surplus land of the government near Garhdiwala, open Technical Education Degree College at Hoshiarpur and provide funds for the completion of fourth phase of Ring Road around Hoshiarpur city, he said.

Mr Badal would lay the foundation stones of General Bus Stand, District Administrative Complex, Patiari Dam and extension work of link road from Dhobi Choe to Una road.

Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, demanded an inquiry into the allegations and counter allegations against Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, State Minister for Food and Supply, Punjab to end the controversy for taking four persons of State with him to Canada on the occasion of Baisakhi celebrations there. These persons disappeared from Vancouver soon after the celebration, of them one had applied for refugee status from the Canadian government to stay there.


Feedback reports have unnerved CM: Cong
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 22
Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, General Secretary of the PPCC, talking to mediapersons here on Monday, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was in search of a political strategy to win the Assembly elections.

He said Mr Badal initially exposed corrupt officials at public meetings, but when the public started exposing “corruption” by the Badal family and his Cabinet colleagues, he gave up the practice of inviting people for submitting affidavits against “erring” officials. Those being condemned at these functions were petty Class III officials alone , he alleged.

Mr Badal, he said, had now resorted to ‘sangat darshan’ functions when he squandered public money to win people’s sympathy. Intelligence inputs had shown that these had been counter-productive and Mr Badal now was confused.

He said the “arrest” of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, KCF chief had hurt the sentiments of those whose kith and kin were killed during terrorism. Terrorism in Punjab had been eliminated by the late Beant Singh. He said the SAD-BJP government had no achievement to boast. Unemployment in the state was on the rise and small-scale units were facing closure. Merely blaming the Congress for the ills would not serve any purpose.


CM’s favourites getting ‘shagun’ money: PPCC
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 22
The general secretary, PPCC and former Minister of State for Health, Dr Malti Thaper and president, PPCC farmers’ wing, Mr Satnam Singh Sandeshi, said here today that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was distributing government money recklessly under the ‘Shagun’ scheme. Even those persons belonging to Backward Classes were availing the benefit whose daughters were married in 1999 and 2000, they said.

They alleged the money was being distributed among his favourites for winning their votes in the forthcoming Assembly elections. They urged the government to direct Mr Badal to give account of money that he had received from the Centre as package for farmers who had suffered losses due to distress sale of paddy. They also alleged the amount received for the development of Anandpur Sahib had been misappropriated pointing out that Mr Badal had received Rs 650 crore for the project.


Explanation sought from SMO
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
Dr Baba Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, Civil Hospital, here today sought an explanation from Dr Jugraj Singh Sandhu, Senior Medical Officer, in connection with the delay in shifting Mrs Daleep Kaur, mother of Akali MLA, Mr Makhan Singh, from here to the PGI, Chandigarh. Dr Gupta has asked Dr Sandhu to send his remarks on the issue through the Deputy Medical Commissioner, Dr Gurjan Singh Sekhon, Dr Sekhon had been asked to send his comment.

Mrs Daleep Kaur, who has been suffering from chest tuberculosis, had been getting treatment in the local civil hospital. Mr Makhan Singh, who visited the hospital yesterday, asked doctors to shift his mother to the PGI by ambulance.

The civil hospital authorities failed to shift Mrs Daleep Kaur to the PGI immediately as a driver for the ambulance could not be arranged. The driver was arranged after more than two hours when father of Mr Makhan Singh approached Dr Gupta.

Sources said the driver, who was on duty, was outside the hospital for a considerable time in connection with some work of another doctor.

Dr Gupta said he had also asked the hospital official why he had not made arrangements for adequate number of blood collecting bags in the civil hospital.


Minimum wages raised to Rs 2000
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 22
Following Punjab government orders, minimum wages in the district have been increased to a minimum of Rs 2000. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr GS Grewal, said list of increase in wages of various labour categories had been sent to all concerned.

The minimum wage for unskilled labour as server, gardeners, sweepers, painters, helpers and cook etc would now be Rs 2000 per month or Rs 76.95 per day. In skilled labour categories the minimum wages have been fixed at, Foreman diploma holder Rs 2295 per month, Foremen ITI Rs 2184 per month, Carpenter Rs 3098 per month or Rs 188.95 per day, Driver heavy and light vehicles Rs 2734 per month or Rs 105.25 per day, conductor Rs 2315 per month and clerk Rs 2315 per month or Rs 89 per day, accountant Rs 2636 per month or Rs 93.70 per day and clerk Rs 2315 per month or Rs 89 per day and stenographer Rs 2734 per month or Rs 105.15 per day. 


‘Minimise delay in pension disbursement’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has directed the Social Security Department to examine the pros and cons relating to the payment of old age pension to beneficiaries at their doorsteps and evolve a suitable system for the convenience of the senior citizens. He also asked the heads of various banks operating in the state to issue strict instructions to their branches to facilitate the opening of bank accounts by old persons without any harassment.

Presiding over a meeting of Ministers, bank officials and senior officers of the state government here today, he said that during his ‘sangat darshan’ programme, people talked about problems in opening bank accounts.

He directed the Social Security Department to take all steps to minimise the delay in the disbursement of pensions. He asked the Chief Secretary, Mr.N.K. Arora, to arrange the necessary additional staff for the speedy disbursement of pensions.

While reviewing the shagun scheme, the Chief Minister directed the officers to deliver the cheques to the eligible beneficiaries before or at the time of the marriage. He said a regular revolving fund should be placed at the disposal of the Deputy Commissioners to meet urgent needs.

The Chief Minister also directed the senior officers of the department to examine all genuine cases, after verification from the Tehsildar concerned, who could not avail themselves of this scheme due to different reasons. He said such applications should be considered by June 30.

Under this scheme, a week’s notice was fixed for sending applications after the date of marriage. This period has now been extended to one month.


Punjab Medical Council to oppose Bill on clinics
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 22
The meeting of Indian Medical Council, Punjab unit has resolved to oppose “The Punjab Regulation of Clinical Establishment Bill” to be tabled in coming Assembly session and threatened statewide agitation if move was not dropped. The meeting with Dr O.P.S. Kande in the chair, opined that the practitioners of modern, medicine (allopathy) be regularised by the Punjab Medical Council setup under the existing Punjab Medical Registration Act 1916 and a new Act, was not needed, disclosed Dr Raman Aggarwal, a spokesman of the Punjab IMA here yesterday evening.

The meeting urged the Punjab government to debar the doctors from practising modern medicine, whose names did not figure in Punjab Medical register and/or Indian medical register, added Dr Aggarwal.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association, Punjab has urged the Drug Controller Punjab to withdraw its circular, directing all nursing homes/hospitals to get drug licence for storing/selling/dispensing medicines. According to Dr Raman Aggarwal, chairman, college of General Practitioners, IMA, Punjab, here Dr O.P.S. Kande, president, Punjab IMA, met Punjab Health Minister Dr Baldev Raj Chawla to apprise him of the situation claimed Dr Aggarwal.

The minister had directed the drug controller to withdraw the circular and issue appropriate instructions to all civil surgeons not to issue any notice to doctors in this regard, claimed Aggarwal. However, the circular had not been withdrawn, regretted Dr Aggarwal.

The IMA said that all doctors registered with the Punjab Medical Council, the Indian Medical Council were entitled to store/sell/dispense medicines under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and the rules framed thereunder, added Dr Aggarwal.


Block headquarters to have “Internet dhabas”
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 22
BSNL has decided to set up “Internet dhabas” ( Internet PCOs) at block headquarters in the Pathankot Telecom district, at Bamial, Batala, Dera Baba Nanak, Dhar, Dhariwal, Dinanagar, Fatehgarh Churian, Gurdaspur, Kahnuwan, Narot Jaimal Singh, Pathankot, Qadian, Sri Hargobindpur.

This was announced by Mr Gail Chand, General Manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

According to the state government, Internet access will be permitted, free of cost, at Internet PCOs in the rural block headquarters, while 1500 hours of free access will be permitted annually at Internet dhabas at the urban block headquarters.

According to sources, an existing PCO franchisee can apply for the upgradation of its PCO booth as Internet PCO. 


PHRO Dy chief threatened by SSP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) in a letter to Union Home Minister Mr L.K. Advani stated that he feared a threat to his life from the SSP, Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, after the SSP had instituted false cases against him.

He claimed that recently another false case was registered against him at Sadar police station under Section 452, 506. Mr Randhawa has appealed to the Home Minister to hand over the inquiry of the case to the CBI or to a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, failing which Mr Randhawa threatened a fast outside official residence of the minister.


Army naik cremated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
The Punjab Government has initiated numerous welfare schemes for the welfare of kith and kin of Army personnel who lay down their lives for the country.

This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Civil Aviation and Public Health Minister, while addressing a gathering at the bhog ceremony of Naik Balwant Singh at Puniwal village, in Nabha subdivision, near here, today. He said that the financial help given to the relatives of the deceased had been increased and at present Rs 5 lakh was being given to the relatives of the deceased Army personnel. This was apart from a job given to one member of the family of the deceased. Till now, he informed, 13 Army personnel from Patiala district had laid down their lives in different parts of the country.

Raja Narinder Singh said that the primary school of the village would be upgraded to the middle school level and the government dispensary would be properly staffed. He said that the new road being laid in the village would be named after Naik Balwant Singh.

Naik Balwant Singh was in the 15 Sikh Light Infantry and was killed fighting insurgency in Assam on May 6.


Writer in custody for sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
Advocate and writer, Satnam Singh was sent to judicial custody today following arrest under Sections 295, 298, 501, 502 and 120-B at Chhehrta yesterday. Satnam Singh had allegedly used derogatory language against Christ in his book on Guru Nanak Dev's life.

Christian organisations took exception to the writing. They resorted to protest march and blocked traffic demanding arrest of the writer. The All-India Christian Dalit Front, All-India Christian Peace Council, Punjab United Church for Human Rights and Church of Holy Spirits have welcomed his arrest.


Two killed in car mishap
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 22
Two persons were killed on the spot when a car on which they were travelling collided with another vehicle near Nawanpind Bahian last night. According to police sources, Baljit Singh of Gurdaspur and Karnail Singh of Mokhet, near here, were coming back in a Maruti car last night after meeting the daughter of Karnail Singh at Tibber, 7 km from here, when the accident occurred.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304A and 427 of the IPC and sent the bodies for post-mortem examination.


Farmers help plug distributary breach
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 22
Even as the breach in the Behman distributary which occurred about two weeks ago and was later plugged is yet to be strengthened, another breach has taken place near Chuge Khurd village.

The breach occurred due to branches of trees alongside the bank of the distributary falling due to the storm that hit the region late last night. Water started collecting near the fallen branches, making the distributary overflow, which resulted in the breach.

The breach, approximately 70 feet wide, could have been bigger if residents of Sardargarh village had not reached the spot and blocked the flow of water a few metres away from the breach. The flow of water had also been stopped by the Irrigation Department.

Farmers in the region have had to face problems because of the non-availability of water. When the same distributary had breached earlier, the flow of water remained cut off for many days. The farmers who have to sow cotton in their fields would face the maximum difficulty because of the non-availability of water. The sowing season for cotton started on April 15. If it was not sown now, farmers would suffer a loss.

The breach also creates problems for those in whose fields the water spread after the breach. Excess water is bad for the germination of seeds.

Mr Gian Singh, husband of the Sarpanch of Sardargarh said that the villagers had been helping the Irrigation Department employees since morning so that the breach could be plugged in the shortest possible time. He said that they always help the department whenever any such a thing occurred.

Mr Shamsher Singh Pandher, Assistant Engineer, Headquarter wing of Irrigation Department, who was inspecting the work for the plugging of the breach, said the water would start flowing in the distributary by tomorrow.


Sow paddy after June 10: experts
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 22
More than 5,000 farmers participated in a training camp organised by Atma at Dera Baba Nanak today to impress upon farmers to go for crop diversification. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, was the chief guest.

Agriculture experts exhorted farmers to sow paddy after June 10, when the temperature would be suitable to get optimum produce. They favoured timely watering, the use of hybrid certified seed and the balanced use of fertilisers.

Mr Kahlon said the Punjab Government was planning a strategy to fight the “adverse” effects of the WTO. He impressed upon the farmers to diversify to get maximum output from the available land. In this regard, he suggested cultivation of mushrooms, besides poultry and pig farming.

Dr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Chief Agriculture Officer, said the area under cultivation of basmati was being increased to 62,000 hectares from 30,000 hectares, to 25,000 hectares from 12,000 hectares in the case of maize, to 25,000 hectares from 18,000 hectares in the case of sugarcane and to 5,000 hectares from 2,000 hectares in the case of pulses.


Rs 1 crore for desilting drains
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 22
Farmers in the district whose land hardly produces anything due to waterlogging are critical of the SAD-BJP government for not preparing a plan to fight the menace of waterlogging.

According in official sources, the district has several drainage systems, including the Kasoor, Sakki Nullah, Kahnuwan and Qadian drainage systems. Official sources said most of the drains fell in the Bet area of the Beas and had been desilted from time to time to end the menace of waterlogging. However, piecemeal desilting provided only temporary relief.

The sources said 62 drains with about 1,000 km length had been identified and the problem of waterlogging could be solved if 200 km length of drains was desilted every year by rotation. This would mean an annual expenditure of Rs 3 crore. The sources added that besides solving the problem of waterlogging, rotational desilting would make 50,000 acres fit for cultivation.

Meanwhile, Mr B. Vikram, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday said the Drainage Department had now undertaken the task of desilting drains in the bet area of the Beas in the Kahnuwan. Qadian and Sri Hargobindpur Assembly segments. The exercise would cost about Rs 1 crore which had been released to the district from the Calamity Fund. Machines had been pressed into service to achieve the target before the rains.

Mr Vikram said to tackle the problem of land erosion near Rampur Talwara on the Beas, Gajju Jagir on the Ravi, Kajle on the Ujh and Chhani Beli and the Chakki, 1.35 lakh had been released from the Calamity Fund to the district to construct studs and spurs.


Govt has given benefits to farmers: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 22
The SAD-BJP government has provided additional benefits of Rs 1,746 crore to farmers in the state in wheat procurement. Traders involved in the procurement of wheat have also given additional benefits of Rs 33.41 crore, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, said while talking to this correspondent on Saturday.


Probe ordered against DEO
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 22
Ms Jasbir Kaur, Circle Education Officer, Patiala division, has been ordered to hold an inquiry against, Ms Bhupinder Kaur, District Education Office (Secondary), Mansa, on the representation of Mr K. K. Jindal, a retired senior assistant of the Education Department regarding the non-payment of his dues, including his retirement benefits.

Earlier, Ms Poonam Ratti, Civil Judge, Bathinda, had issued warrant to attach government vehicle and furniture of the DEO office on the execution of application of Mr Jindal. Besides, a case under Section 3 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, had also been registered against Ms Bhupinder Kaur, her Administrative Officer, Mr Gurparshad Bansal, and others on the complaint of Mr Darbara Singh Jatana.


Sandhu Special Secy, Technical Education
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The Punjab Government today ordered the following postings and transfers:

Mr Surinderjit Singh Sandhu, available for posting, will be the new Special Secretary, Technical Education. Mr Samir Kumar has been appointed Additional Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr Kulwant Singh, Secretary, Backfinco, will be the new Additional Secretary, Social Security, Women and Child Development.

Mr Ashok Kumar Singla, Additional Deputy Commissioner , Fatehgarh Sahib, has been appointed Principal Staff Officer to Commissioner, Faridkot division.

Mr Prabhjot Singh Mand, Director, Lotteries and ex-officio Joint Secretary to Government, will be the new Director, Treasury and Accounts, and ex-officio Joint Secretary to the government in place of Ms Ravneet Kaur. Mr Vinod Kumar Bhalla, Director, Small Savings, will be the new Director, Lotteries. Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, Subdivisional Magistrate, Dera Bassi, has been appointed Director, Small Savings.

Mr P.S. Gill will be the new Secretary, Backfinco.


PWD employees hold rally
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
The PWD Workers Sangharsh Committee and the PWD Field and Workshop Wokers Union staged a rally in front of the PWD head office here today to protest against the non-regularisation of daily-waged workers by the Punjab Government.

Trade union leaders, while addressing the rally, lamented the fact that while the government had decided to regularise all daily-waged workers in a decision taken on January 23 this year, no results were forthcoming. They alleged that the government was deliberately trying to stop the process of regularisation to meet its own political ends. The services of just 1,200 workers had so far been regularised.

The other demands include regularisation of employees working in PUDA, the housing board and the Water Supply and Sewarage Board and the promotion of class IV employees to the class III category.


Two arrested for robbery
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 22
The district police has arrested Ranjit Singh, an accomplice of Dharma Dhilwan a terrorist, and Avtar Singh after they had robbed Swaran Singh and employee of a cooperative society of Rs 1.69 lakh at gunpoint yesterday.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Mr Swaran Singh, secretary, Cooperative Society, Gurusar, was going to deposit Rs 1,69,700 in the Cooperative Bank, Jalal. Ranjit Singh and Avtar Singh came on a scooter and stopped Swaran Singh at gunpoint.

They then threw red chilli powder into his eyes and snatched the bag containing the money and fled.

Dr Jain said after receiving information the entire district was sealed and within 24 hours the accused were arrested. A case has been registered. 


4000 bottles of liquor seized, one held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 22
The police claims to have foiled a major attempt to smuggle liquor from Rajasthan on Sunday evening.

DSP Gurmeet Singh Randhawa said on Monday that police parties on the Hanumangarh-Abohar road had been alerted following a tip-off. A truck with Rajasthan registration number was noticed entering Punjab territory from Sadulshehar road near Rajpura village close to interstate border. The police signalled it to stop and carried a search. As many as 348 cases carrying more than 4000 bottles of country-made foreign liquor of different brands was seized. Ilam Singh son of Kishan Singh of Chuniali Rohat village of Uttarkashi was arrested. He was produced before the judicial magistrate here. The court remanded him in police custody till Tuesday.

SSP Harchand Singh Sidhu had at a meeting of police officers here emphasized that smuggling of narcotics and other banned items from Rajasthan should be checked. A day before the police had arrested Krishan Kumar son of Milakh Raj of Khubban village in this subdivision alleging that he was carrying one kg of opium in his bag. The police intercepted him near Dutaranwali drain.

Sources said some wine contractors of Punjab had business interests in vends allotted in Rajasthan also. All brands of country liquor and whisky were much cheaper in Rajasthan. This had been leading smuggling of liquor in small quantity by individuals but it was perhaps for the first time that a truck was used to smuggle liquor. Poppy husk had generally been smuggled besides opium hiding the bags under some other goods in the four-wheelers in the past. 

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