Saturday, May 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD groups put pressure on Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
With the issuance of the notification today to fill the Rajya Sabha seat, various groups have increased political pressure on Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, to secure nomination for the seat for candidates of their choice. The last date for filing the nomination papers is June 1.

As the SAD-BJP alliance has a comfortable majority in the state assembly, the election of its candidate to the Rajya Sabha is almost certain.

Informed sources said that there was strong pressure on Mr Badal to nominate a candidate from the backward classes in the state as these had no representation in the Rajya Sabha. The sources said that certain senior Akali leaders had proposed the name of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, secretary of the SAD, who belonged to a backward class. They had told Mr Badal that Mr Badungar had handled party work for the past four years and he should now be sent to the Rajya Sabha.

They said that Mr Badungar, who was a seasoned Akali leader, had not only streamlined the functioning of the party’s office but also played a crucial role in handling important political issues pertaining to the party efficiently. Moreover, backward classes in the state had an impressive votebank. The nomination of a candidate from the backward classes by the SAD could benefit the party in the state Assembly elections, a senior Akali leader said.

Various other Akali leaders, including certain Ministers from Gurdaspur district, have urged Mr Badal to nominate candidate from the Christian community. They have talked about non-representation to Christians from the state in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, who is a close relation of Mr Badal, has also joined the race to secure nomination. He has reportedly met Mr Badal in this connection.

On the other side, the BJP leadership is trying its best to get the seat from Mr Badal for the party. BJP leaders have not only lobbied at the party high command level but are also trying to convey to the Prime Minister that he should take up the issue with the SAD chief.

Mr Badal has called a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the party on May 29 to select the candidate for the seat.

Meanwhile, no nomination papers for the seat were filed today.


CM: decision on RS seats on May 29
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 25
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has said a decision on Rajya Sabha seats for which elections are scheduled for June 11 would be taken by the Political Affairs Committee of the Akali Dal on May 29. The Chief Minister said this after addressing a public meeting at Rurrka Kalan village this afternoon.

He claimed that the Akali-BJP government would complete its full term and would come to power again after getting absolute majority in the next election of state Assembly. Mr Badal, however, ignored the question regarding the registration of a case against former Congress Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

He criticised the Congress for its propaganda against the sangat darshan programmes.


Bid to unite anti-Badal factions
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
As all efforts for a patch-up between the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, have failed, a new beginning has been made to bring about unity among all anti-Badal Akali factions.

Various well-intentioned Akali leaders and Sikh intellectuals had made several attempts in the past months to bring Mr Badal and Mr Tohra on one platform. The two had worked together for years in the party but parted company about two years ago following the cropping up of differences on party affairs and the running of the government.

However, nothing worthwhile could be achieved as both leaders stuck to their stands. Mr Badal, whenever confronted with the question of unity by mediapersons, only made a politically shrewd and tactical statement that he was all for unity, but it was only possible if Mr Tohra and his supporters proved their commitment and sincerity in this connection.

Even after becoming the President of the SGPC, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, tried his best, though discreetly, to bring about unity between the Badal and Tohra factions. But he also failed.

Mr Tohra closed the chapter of unity altogether a few days ago by making a categorical statement that there was no question of making any compromise with Mr Badal at any level. He gave an indication that he was working hard to bring together all Akali factions which were ready to fight Mr Badal at the political and religious levels.

Informed sources said Mr Tohra had already done a lot of groundwork for such unity among the anti-Badal Panthic groups. “Though certain persons at the behest of Mr Badal are trying to sabotage the bid for unity among the Akali factions opposed to him, they will not succeed”, said a senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal.

He said the modalities for unity among the anti-Badal factions were being given final shape. Two things were clear, he said. All such factions coming together would maintain their original party identity. Elaborating this point, he said there would be no merger of such factions, but they would work unitedly as a front against Mr Badal in the ensuing Assembly elections.

Though no name had been finalised for such a front, it would probably be named the “Panthic Morcha”, he said.

Informed sources said that Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), who underwent heart surgery in Delhi recently, had assured Mr Tohra that he would fully endorse all decisions taken with regard to the forming of the front against Mr Badal. Likewise, Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, President of the Akali Dal (Panthic), had also extended his full support to the unity process initiated by Mr Tohra.

Sources said there would be a convener, most probably Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, of the front to run its political programme. Baba Sarabjot Singh, who also remained an active journalist for some years at Una, was in the news last year in connection with the formation of the Sant Samaj”, which opposed Mr Badal on several religious issues, including the removal of Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

The sources said that tomorrow an important meeting would be held of leaders of anti-Badal factions here to give final touches to the unity process.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the SHSAD has decided to hold political conferences at various places in the state to mobilise its activities. Obviously, the conferences have been announced with an eye on the Assembly elections. The first conference will be held at Rakhra in Patiala district on May 27 and the second at Dhanaula in Sangrur district on May 28. At Sahnewal in Ludhiana district such a conference will be held on May 30.


DSP’s explanation sought
Police lathi charge in Khanpur 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Directing Ropar Senior Superintendent of Police and other police officers to file affidavits within three days explaining the “whole situation” in Khanpur lathi charge case, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today observed that “it would be in the interest of all concerned if status quo was maintained regarding possession as well as the user of the land in dispute”.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, Mr Justice Nijjar also directed the police officials “visible in the photograph (in The Tribune) attached with the petition to explain their behaviour by way of affidavits”, adding that since the allegations in the petition were against a sitting District and Sessions Judge, “it would be appropriate if the matter was monitored by the high court itself”.

In his detailed order, Mr Justice Nijjar observed: “In one of the statements recorded by the warrant officer appointed by the court, it is categorically stated by Jaswant Singh that respondents Harbhajan Singh Shergill, Baldev Singh Kang and District and Sessions Judge B.C. Rajput are intending to build a factory on the land in dispute. It is also alleged that these persons are wanting to take forcible possession of the disputed land....”

The Judge further observed: “In another statement, Ms Kamaljit Kaur has given a graphic description of the misbehaviour of the police. She has also stated that the newspaper photograph of the woman being beaten up after she had fallen on the ground was her. She has also stated that the SHO is seen pulling her daughter’s hair.... In order to obtain a clear picture, it is necessary to hear certain respondents”.

It may be recalled that the president of Dr Ambedkar Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Advocate Association T. C. Tanwar had alleged that certain persons were being illegally detained by SHO Jasdev Singh and two others at the instance of two respondents who were “big landlords needing the land occupied by the families of the alleged detainees for constructing a huge factory”.


PhD registration of minister cancelled
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
A short while after the deadline given to Higher Education Minister Master Mohan Lal, to explain allegations of getting his thesis ghost written or face action passed away, Punjabi University authorities have baulked under taking action against the Minister and only cancelled his PhD registration as requested by him.

However, the option to take action against the Minister has still been left with the university deciding to deal with the issue of disqualifying him from getting himself registered for a PhD in the future in the institution “on merit”

The war of words between the Higher Education Minister and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, started a few months ago when the Minister ordered the Secretary, Higher Education, to hold an inquiry against the Vice-Chancellor following the memorandum citing several alleged violations of rules and regulations was submitted to him by the Punjabi University Teachers’ Association (PUTA). The VC responded to the developments by claiming that the Minister could not order such an inquiry. Simultaneously, on receipt of a complaint by teachers’ organisation the VC asked the Minister to submit the list of books which he had read while preparing his reports of the thesis on “Trends on Modern Poetry”.

While the Vice-Chancellor demanded the first explanation from the Minister as his guide, the second explanation was sought as the Vice-Chancellor of the university. The Minister on May 9 had asked that his registration be cancelled. Following serving of the show cause notice on him, the Minister on May 17 said he had already sent a letter and that he did not want to add anything more with regards the show cause notice served on him.

According to sources, university authorities have sent a letter to the Minister yesterday confirming that his registration had been cancelled. The letter states the cancellation was however, subject to the ratification by the Research Board of Punjabi of the university.

The university authorities have, however, left the option of disqualifying the Minister from registering himself in the institution open. Dr Ahluwalia when contacted disclosed that action would be taken once the cancellation was ratified by the Research Board. He, however, gave an indication that the university may not be pressing ahead with disqualifying the Minister soon by saying that he wanted all matters to be settled amicably. He said such an approach was in the interest of the university and in tune with the standards of academic research. 


Scam in Forest Dept alleged
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 25
The Janglat Forest Workers Union, Punjab, claims to have exposed a forest scam involving misappropriation of more than Rs 4 crore in the Pathankot forest division during 2000-2001. Chief adviser Modh Singh Ghuman, former DEO of the department, said today that the Divisional Forest Officer, Pathankot, and forest range officers of Dunera Dhar Kalan, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Aliwal and Qadian forest ranges are alleged to be involved in the scam.

According to official sources, Japan Bank International Cooperation had sanctioned a loan of Rs 600 crore in 1998 (now raised to Rs 800 crore) under the overseas Cooperation Fund to develop forestry in plains and hills within seven years. The project was initiated in 1997-98 and will be finished by 2004.During last year, 900 hectares in plains and 1200 hectares in the Kandi area were undertaken for forest development in the said forest ranges. About 1000 plants per hectare were to be planted in the plains in the Kandi area and 300 plants per hectare were to be planted under the plantation scheme.

Official sources said the cost of plantation and maintenance for three years per hectare varied from Rs 39,000 to Rs 67,000 depending upon the plantation. The cost of plantations in the Kandi area varied from Rs 35,000 to Rs 36,000. The money spent in the plains amounted to Rs 5 crore and the Kandi area to Rs 3 crore, approximately.

The official sources along with the union said neither the quality not the quantity of plants as shown in records was correct. Plantations had been shown far more than in actuality.

Moreover, they said ploughing, harrowing and fencing of plants have not been undertaken. Pits for plantations are less in number. Lot of fertilisers have been shown used, whereas the ground reality is that the scope of use of fertilisers is very limited in the Shivalik Hills.

The union sources demanded a high-level enquiry with terms of reference like measurement of area covered under the scheme, quality and quantity of plants used for plantations and actual purchases and operations shown.


Fund to mitigate lawyers’ hardships
Prabhjot Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The decision of the Punjab Government to promulgate the Punjab Advocates Welfare Fund Act, following formal approval of the Council of Ministers yesterday, concedes a long-standing demand of the lawyers of the state.

The proposed Act, with minor amendments and changes, may also be extended to the neighbouring state of Haryana.

At present, there are more than 25,000 practising lawyers in both Punjab and Haryana who are members of the joint Bar Council of the two states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Most of the lawyers, who subscribe to the fund, will benefit from the implementation of this Act.

The fund will basically act as a contingency or emergency fund to mitigate the hardships of lawyers. For example, in the case of death of a member advocate, his or her next of kin will be entitled to a financial grant of Rs 1 lakh if he or she had a standing up to five years in the profession, Rs 1.5 lakh if the standing was more than five years but less than 10 years and Rs 2 lakh if it was more than 10 years. In the absence of such a fund, there was no such facility available earlier to advocates and their families in either Punjab or Haryana.

Under the Act, the Trustees Committee, in consultation with the Bar Council, will prepare various schemes for the welfare of lawyers, including their group insurance, grant of gratuity and retirement benefits, financial assistance to deserving advocates, an incentive scheme for those providing free legal aid to the poor and needy, medical insurance to member advocates, grant of financial aid to member bar associations and grant of financial aid to lawyers who are sick and disabled and also to the legal heirs of advocates.

Under the Act, the state government will make a contribution of Rs 2 lakh for the establishment of the fund. Besides, 60 per cent of the funds collected under the Punjab and Haryana Advocate Welfare Rules by the Bar Council, which are available on the commencement of this Act, will be credited to this fund.

Besides, donations collected under Section 20, any contribution made to the Bar Council, any voluntary donation or contribution made to the fund by the Bar Council or a Bar Association, or any other institution, any advocate or any individual grant, if any, made by the Central Government, and all sums collected under Section 16 by way of application fees, membership fee or other subscriptions or interest thereon will go to the fund.

Further, those advocates who join the fund will be entitled to affix a non-judicial stamp of Rs 6 instead of Rs 5 to each application or petition filed by them on behalf of their respective clients. The money so collected will automatically go to the fund.

The trustees of the fund will be the Chairman of the Bar Council if he belongs to Punjab otherwise the Advocate-General of Punjab — at present the elected Chairman of the Bar Council, Mr H.S. Mattewal, who also happens to be the Advocate-General of Punjab; the Advocate-General of Punjab as its ex-officio member; the Principal Secretary to the Government of Punjab for the Department of Home Affairs and Justice or his nominee; the Principal Secretary to the Government, Finance; and three other members of the Bar Council nominated by the state government in consultation with the Advocate-General. 

The Secretary of the Trustees committee will be nominated by the Chairman of the committee and a practising advocate of Punjab will be co-opted as a member for a period of five years with two members to be nominated by the state government from amongst the presidents of District Bar Associations. Thus, the Trustees Committee will mainly be dominated by lawyers and their nominees.


Undertrial dies for want of medical care

Kapurthala, May 25
Gurnam Singh (35), an undertrial lodged in the district jail, died today, allegedly for want of medical treatment in the jail. All inmates of the jail went on an indefinite fast following the death.

Mediapersons, who were first refused permission to meet the inmates by jail superintendent Gamdoor Singh, were later allowed to go inside the jail.

Hakkan Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, both undertrials, told mediapersons that Gurnam Singh was sick for the past three days and early today his condition deteriorated.

The inmates of barrack No. 3, where Gurnam was lodged, woke up and knocked at the grills of the barrack and cried for medical aid. However, no attendant of the jail came for help. The Deputy Commissioner has ordered a magisterial inquiry. PTI


Badal to reconstitute women’s wing
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will reconstitute the dissolved party wings, including the women’s and the youth wings, soon.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers said the Party had given all powers to Mr Badal to reconstitute the different party wings.

Mr Dhindsa said a meeting would be organised at Chandigarh on May 29 in which Mr Badal and the representatives of the district Bar Association would take part to settle the chambers issue, for which the local lawyers had been agitating since April 9.

Mr Dhindsa said they would make efforts to set the amended site plan for the Chambers approved by the Punjab and Haryana High Court till May 28.

The Union Minister also said the SAD did not bargain with the BJP to get more representation in the Union Cabinet whereas the question of demand for more representation in the Cabinet was concerned only Mr Badal could tell. He said the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD would discuss the names of candidates for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Punjab. He said the Central leadership of the BJP had not talked to the SAD leaders staking its claim on the Rajya Sabha seat so far, despite the claim by Mr Rinwa, President of Punjab Unit of the BJP, on the seat.

Mr Dhindsa said the SAD leadership was making preparations to contest the SGPC as well as the Assembly elections in the near future. He said holding of rallies and conferences by the SAD was a part of the exercise to contest the elections. However, he said the party had not made its mind so far with regard to allotment of the tickets.

Mr Dhindsa also appreciated Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, for inviting General Musharraf for holding talks on Kashmir. He said this showed that the country wanted peace in the region.

HOSHIARPUR: The Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, alongwith senior leaders of the SAD and the BJP addressed a public meeting at Roshan ground here today.

Mr Badal justified his “sangat darshan” programmes and said the main aim was to know the problems of the people and solve them.


BJP to contest ‘more seats’
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 25
Mr O.P. Kohli, general secretary of the BJP, said here today that the SAD-BJP alliance was credited with strengthening peace and Hindi-Sikh unity. Mr Kohli was here to interact with leaders of districts units of Gurdaspur, Mukerian, Batala, Amritsar Urban and Amritsar Rural.

Mr Kohli said the SAD-BJP alliance would continue in the next coming assembly elections and will also come to power again.

He said number of seats to be contested by the BJP in the coming Assembly elections will be more this time as compared to previous Assembly elections and will be mutually decided by the BJP and the SAD (B).

Mr Kohli said the Shimla agreement was a blunder and made Kashmir a disputed issue he said expected results were not achieved by the ceasefire in the state.

Mr Brij Mohan Rinwa, president, BJP Punjab unit said committees were being set up to review octroi, water, sewer, domestic power, power to small scale industry, to domestic consumers and SSI will be withdrawn.


DCC rebels’ meeting
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 25
Senior Congressmen of Mansa district have revolted against Mr Ram Paul Dhaipi, president, Mansa District Congress Committee (DCC). They have convened a meeting of the DCC at Gaushala Bhavan in Mansa on May 29 to pass a resolution demanding the immediate removal of the Mansa DCC president. The rebels asserted that Mr Dhaipi had been living in Chandigarh and had done nothing worthwhile.


Power generation gets fillip
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
With the rise in temperature, the inflow in the reservoirs of the hydel units have started rising, resulting in more generation of power. The availability of power from the hydel stations is helping the PSEB to tide over the power supply crisis. However, PSEB officials do not rule out power cuts next month when the demand for power for tubewells will mount with the start of paddy transplantation.

Inquiries made by this correspondent show that the total demand for power during the past few days has been ranging around 800 lakh units. The inflow of water to the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra complex has risen from 13,750 cusecs to 14,402 cusecs, from 4,744 cusecs to 5,489 cusecs in Dehar and from 7,357 cusecs to 7,504 cusecs in Ranjit Sagar Dam. Dehar power house is generating about 100 lakh units of power daily against the capacity of 150 lakh units. It is being run on the river type as more water is available. The water level in Pong Dam is still disappointing as it stood at 1,289.5 ft against 1,303.59 ft last year.

As many as 17,000 cusecs are being released from the Bhakra reservoir. Out of this, 12,500 cusecs goes to the Anandpur Sahib hydel unit which is now generating 14.6 lakh units daily against the capacity of 49 lakh units.

Four units of the Ropar Thermal Plant are generating power and two of Lehra Mohabbat. All four units of the Bathinda unit as stream no. 6 unit of the Ropar Thermal Plant, which has been lying closed for the past two months, will be back in generation not before June 15. BHEL was supposed to supply some equipment by May. It has supplied rotor generator but not the turbine low pressure.

According to the PSEB officials, Central power projects are working normally and Punjab is getting its share from them. Punjab has also started getting power from the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant. It is getting 10.8 lakh units from Kota and 6.27 lakh units from the Narora plant in Uttar Pradesh.

They claim that they have a spare power of 50 lakh units as one unit of the Ropar Thermal Plant is being kept as a standby to meet the rising demand.

The PSEB sources maintain that the tubewells in the rural areas are being given three to four hours power supply in two groups. This is being done to discourage farmers from sowing paddy early. The paddy load will pick up in June.

The cotton belt is, however, getting power from five to six hours to ensure timely sowing.

Meanwhile, the claims of the government that the state will be getting additional supply of 100 lakh units of power from the eastern grid have not materialised. There is no connection between the eastern and northern grids. It is a constraint in getting power supply from the eastern grid. The power grid authority is engaged in the task, the officials say.


‘Peter rehras’ ply unchecked
Pushpesh Kumar and Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, May 25
Despite a blanket ban on the plying of the “peter rehras” by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a large number of these can be seen in the district. Earlier the “vehicles” were used only to carry goods, but now a days even schoolchildren are being carried, at the risk of their lives, on these “vehicles” right under the nose of district authorities.

The “peter rehras” were produced on a large scale, in Sardulgarh town of Mansa district. It attracted large number of customers from the state and even from Rajasthan and the far-flung areas of Uttar Pradesh. The “vehicle” can be assembled by any mechanic at an average cost of Rs 50 to 55 thousand. Being fuel efficient, requiring no registration charges and having almost zero maintenance, they were an instant hit.

But the good part of the story ended just there. The peter engine, carried no registration number, the body was fabricated by using wooden frame and had no chassis number, and was highly unstable and unsafe. The engine is not covered, making it unsafe for the driver as well as for the occupants. Being cost-effective the “peter rehras”, became popular as means of public transport were not available in the interiors of the villages and the other modes were costly.

Mr Amrit Pal, who used to assemble the “peter rehras”, lamented that the utility and economy of the vehicle was being ignored by exaggerating its minor shortcomings. Rather than promoting more research and developing the vehicles, they have been banned. “Why the ‘peter rehras’ could not match the success of the harvester combines and thrashers made and invented by rural scientists,” he asked.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act the “peter rehras” are not considered a motor vehicle, so the question of a registration number does not arise, said an employee of the Transport Department.

The safety point has been grossly overlooked in the assembling of the ‘vehicle’. The wooden frame has no safety mechanism, the roof of the vehicle has been borrowed from the tractors, nor any arrangements have been made for the covering of the ‘engine’. Even the tyres used in the vehicle have been borrowed from other vehicles and lead to an inefficient brake system making the “vehicle” accident-prone.

My Channan Ram, state president, Punjab Pradesh Peter Rehra Union, demanded that the vehicle should be improved and put into service as in the case of regular vehicles. Livelihood of thousands of operators depends on these vehicles, he said.

The residents of the city alleged that although the “peter rehras” were banned but they were plying on the roads unchecked.

A father of school-going child said the traffic authorities do not challan or impound such ‘vehicles’ keeping in mind the public interest.

In fact the “peter rehras” are cheaper than the rickshaws. They are a good option for people like us who live on outskirts of the city and cannot afford to drop the kids at the school themselves, he said.

The district transport authorities were not available for comments.


Case against Bhattal ‘motivated’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
Mr Satpal Bhateja, Chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Lok Bhalai said the case registered against former Chief Minister, Punjab, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for allegedly drawing Rs 20 lakh from the government exchequer when she was Chief Minister, was politically motivated.

Dr Bhateja in a press note issued here yesterday said the incident for which the case has been registered had occurred about four years ago.

He said if there was anything wrong in the drawing of money by Ms Bhattal, why no action was taken in the past four years.

He said the case has been registered now to weaken Ms Bhattal politically.

He said the issue should be enquired by an independent agency.

He said those who had tried to malign the image of the former Chief Minister should be punished.


14 honoured by Vigilance Bureau
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
The district unit of the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, today honoured 14 persons who had helped the bureau in nabbing those government employees who were allegedly taking bribe.

At a function organised at the local office of the bureau, Mr Khushi Mohammad, DSP (Vigilance), distributed cheques among those selected under a state government scheme.

Under the scheme, if a person helps in nabbing a corrupt gazetted officer, he or she will be given Rs 50,000, while the cash prize for getting a non-gazetted officer caught by the Vigilance Bureau for taking bribe is Rs 25,000.

The following were given cash prizes by the department: Mr Sukhdev Singh of Jassi Pauwali village, Mr Daljeet Singh of Dullewala village, Mr Sukhminder Singh of Lehra Bega, Mr Malkit Singh of Khokhar, Mr Bhola Singh of Kararwala, Mr Gurpal Singh of Mari, Mr Kaka Singh of Jida, Mr Sukhminder Singh of Dayalpura Bhaika, Mr Sukhminder Singh of Deon, Mr Jaspal Singh of Chak Atar Singhwala, Mr Jagdish Rai of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, besides Mr Prem Chand, Mr Gobind Ram and Mr Om Prakash, all city residents.

Mr Kaka Singh, Mr Om Prakash and Mr Jagdish Rai were given cheques for Rs 50,000 each, while the others were given cheques for Rs 25,000 each.

Mr Mohammad said Mr Kaka Singh had helped the bureau in nabbing Dr Yashpal Arora, veterinary officer at Animal Husbandry Hospital in Jida village. Similarly, Mr Om Prakash had helped in catching red-handed Gurupdesh Singh, who was the Principal of ITI, Bathinda.

Mr Mohammad said Mr Jagdish Rai had assisted the bureau in nabbing Mr Satpal, the then medical officer at Civil Hospital. He said the cheques of those who were not able to attend the function would be sent to their residence. He said there was a need to create awareness among the people so that they would come forward for helping to nab more government officials who took bribes.


Pools turn mirage for Patiala residents
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 25
With the mercury hovering around 40°C, the city residents are feeling an acute paucity of swimming pools since most of the pools are out of bounds for them. As a result , people are left with few options and most opt to take a dip in the adjoining Bhakra and its rivulets.

The situation would not have turned so bad had the state-of-art swimming pool of the National Institute of Sports (NIS)- built to international specifications-not been closed down for renovation purposes.

The NIS authorities say that the pool, which has the unique distinction of being associated with two Prime Ministers, is being given a face lift in the wake of the National Games.

Indira Gandhi laid its foundation stone in 1970 while Morarji Desai inaugurated the pool in 1977.The National Games are scheduled to be held at various venues of the state in September this year.

The discipline of swimming has been allotted to Patiala by the National Games Organising Committee (NGOC) keeping in view the fact that the NIS pool is the best in the state. Renovation work is going on at a war footing and the authorities are expected to re-open the pool by the end of next month. The pool is quite popular among the masses.

The pool, which could be used during the winters too, had an innovative solar heating system. The system was installed by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) but the system could not become operative due to some fault and the agency turned its back when the question of rectifying the fault arose. The NIS authorities took the matter to the court in 1998 and a decision is still awaited.

The pool in Government College for Women has been lying in a state of disuse for the past decade or so and little or no efforts are being made by the college authorities to re-open it.

The other pools are located at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Mohindera college, Yadvindra Public School (YPS), Diesel Component Works (DCW) and the medical college.

The problem with the DCW pool is that only officials have the privilege to take a dip, while pools of educational institutions like Thapar college, YPS and medical college are open only to students, leaving others in the lurch.

The Rajindera Gymkhana pool is open only to its registered members which means only the moneyed and the elite can use it. This leaves the residents with the Mohindera college pool, which is mostly shunned by girls as it is too crowded and noisy.

In fact ,this pool, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Punjab Sports Department, has opened just fifteen days back as it had been closed for repairs.

With most of pools out of bounds hordes of youngsters make a beeline towards the Bhakra canal in their endeavour to beat the heat.


Efforts on to repatriate ex-militants: DGP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 25
Mr Sarabjit Singh, DGP, said yesterday that a number of blacklisted idealogues of the Khalistan movement, presently living abroad and keen to return were likely to be allowed entry into India soon.

Talking to newspersons, he said that during the past week, in-depth discussions had been held with the Union Home Ministry on the initiative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal to finalise the modalities for the repatriation of erstwhile militants who had escaped abroad during the peak of militancy and had expressed their willingness to return to their homeland.

The DSP said although the number of such blacklisted persons was around 100, the Punjab Government had drawn up a short list which would soon be communicated to the Central Government.


Probe into charges against ASI begins
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 25
Following the directions of the Punjab Human Rights Commission, the district police has initiated an inquiry into the allegations levelled against ASI Amarbir Singh posted at the Arniwala police post in Balluana.

Mr Ram Asra Jakhu, a 75-year-old resident of Malout town, had filed a complaint to the PHRC alleging that on May 4 when he was returning to his home in a car after being examined by a heart specialist of Sri Ganganagar, ASI Amarbir Singh and others intercepted the car outside Balluana village on the Abohar-Malout road. The ASI was then in charge of the Balluana police post.

According to the complaint, the ASI allegedly misbehaved with Mr Jakhu and other occupants of the car even when the identity of the occupants of the car was clearly defined. The car was allegedly detained for more than 90 minutes for some “consideration”.

Mr Sat Pal, president of the Canter Union, had also lodged a similar complaint against the ASI.


Suspended staff denied half pay
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
Mr Sukhmandar Singh, circle president, Technical Services Union (TSU), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), alleged in a written statement issued here today that the PSEB authorities were denying maintenance allowance to PSEB employees suspended under various “false” cases. He alleged that several cases had been fabricated against employees by higher officials of the PSEB.

About 50 PSEB employees were suspended about five months back. Mr Sukhmandar Singh said the suspended employees should be paid half salary, also known as maintenance pay, as per rules of the PSEB. A deputation of the employees had met senior PSEB officials here today, but none of them gave a satisfactory reply, he alleged.

Mr Om Prakash, general secretary, district circle TSU, alleged that senior PSEB officials were denying TSU activists their due. The state committee of the TSU would organise a state-level dharna in Patiala on May 29, he said. No senior official of the PSEB was available for comments. 


Judge inspects hospital
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 25
The high court Judge, Mr Justice J.S. Narang, who conducted a surprise inspection of the Civil Hospital here was visibly perturbed at the appalling unhygienic conditions and general upkeep of the hospital.

He issued stern warning to the hospital authorities to immediately start cleanliness drive and replace the dirty bed sheets with new ones.

He was accompanied by Mr S.K. Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr M.M.S. Bedi, District and Sessions Judge Dr S.K. Rewari, Civil Surgeon also reached the hospital immediately.

Soon after, Mr Justice Narang left, a cleanliness drive was initiated. The hospital staff immediately replaced the bed sheets. The garbage which was not removed for years, was removed within no time.

This first ever visit by a high court judge, and the subsequent cleanliness drive launched was lauded by social organisations.


CBI probe sought against minister
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 25
Mr Avtar Singh Paniali and Mr Hargurvinder Singh Kahlon, president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the SAD (Amritsar) at a press conference here yesterday demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged involvement of Mr Sohan Singh Thandal and Mr Sujan Singh, SAD ministers, and SGPC member Tarlochan Singh Dopalpur in the human trafficking.

They had lowered the prestige of the Sikhs by misrepresenting “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib and arms of Guru Gobind Singh in Canada, they said appealing Akal Takht Jathedar to expel the guilty from the Sikh Panth.


Transfer order revoked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 25
The transfer order of the Deputy Chief Engineer, Mr D.S. Kambhoj, Punjab State Electricity Board has been revoked following protests by various organisations.

The order has allegedly been revoked under political pressure.

The Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Association along with couple of other associations had carried out large-scale protests against the transfer orders, which was reportedly issued by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on a complaint by Mrs Raj Sharma, Deputy Mayor, during a sangat darshan programme here. 


Crop fires: PSEB at fault in 25 pc cases only
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 25
Mr G.S. Sohal, Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), today clarified that only about 25 to 30 per cent cases reported by the board’s customers were found to be directly related to the shortcomings on the part of the PSEB.

Issuing a press note, Mr Sohal said of the 460 cases of crop burning reported in the state, only 123 cases were found to be considered fit for claims of compensation. He added that so far, 3,235 acres have been recorded under the affected area.

Mr Sohal said 86 victims of such incidents had already been granted compensation by the board, while an amount of Rs 8,49,423 had been paid to the board’s customers. He added that the remaining cases of bonafide victims were under verification, and assured that their compensation was also likely to be made shortly.

After a thorough investigation, Mr Sohal stated that in most cases the crops did not catch fire due to short circuits. He claimed that there could be other reasons of the short circuits leading to such fires.

The board has asked the farmers to report to the field officers in this connection so that the supply could be switched off to minimise incidents of fire. The board said suitable proceedings against the erring board employees found responsible for such fires had been initiated in various operation zones of the board.


New method to grow vegetables
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

The Department of Vegetables at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here is soon going to recommend the adoption of net house vegetable production technology to farmers.

The university claims the technology will increase vegetable production manifold in the state and decrease the cost of production. Besides, vegetables will be free from various types of harmful chemicals that remain in them following the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

The technology is claimed to be an alternative to the green house vegetable production method. It is the brainchild of a former Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr G.S. Kalkat.

Prof K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, says: ‘‘The technology is cheap as compared to the green house method. Net house technology is being developed keeping in view the growing demand for quality vegetables in the domestic and international markets’’.

Prof J. S. Hundal, Head of the Department of Vegetables, is enthusiastic about the project. He says, ‘‘Farmers will be able to get returns totalling about Rs 1 lakh in the very first year by investing about Rs 2 lakh per acre in net houses. Consumers will get insect-free and highly nutritious vegetables as compared those obtained through normal cultivation’’. The department is in the process of finalising the report on the experiments.

The method involves the use of a net or screen like a mosquito net to cover the field in which a particular vegetable has been grown. The net helps increase the temperature by 3-4°C in the winter and decrease it to that extent in the summer. It also protects the crop from different insects and storms. The integrated pest management method is used in this case.

Professor Hundal says experiments have shown that the vegetable yield is 50 per cent to 100 per cent higher than in the case of the usual cultivation methods. Experiments on tomato, brinjal, cauliflower and chilly have been successful. The period of ripening is 10-30 days less than normal.

Professor Aulakh feels that vegetables produced by this method can easily be exported to European and other foreign markets.


Five palledars hurt as unions clash
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
Even as five members of the Palledar Mazdoor Union (PMU) are getting treatment at the local Civil Hospital after being reportedly severely beaten up by members of the Punjab Pradesh Palledar Union (PPPU) last evening at Lehra Bega village, the clash between the two groups continued today.

Policemen were deployed in large numbers at the village Godowns to avoid any untoward incident.

The two unions have been at loggerheads over getting the right to work at the godowns.

The members of the PMU who belong to Lehra Bega said that as the godowns were situated on the land of the village, they should be allowed to undertake the task of loading, unloading and other jobs for storing wheat in the godowns.

On the other hand, the members of the PPPU wanted that they be given the right to do so because they had been working at the godowns for many years. They wanted that they could give some share in the work to the other union, but not the whole work.

The PMU had reportedly given a tender for getting work at the godowns on April 2, but it was rejected by the authorities concerned. They also filled the tenders on May 5, reducing the rates of labour marginally, but the conflict between the two unions did not end.

On May 9, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), at Bathinda invited the two parties and they reached a compromise.

But when the members of the PPPU did not allegedly implement the terms of the agreement, members of the PMU sat on a dharna in front of the godowns.

Mr Gulzar Singh, president of the PMU, alleged that last evening when they were sitting on dharna, the members of the other union came to the spot and started beating them with sticks and other weapons. They did not even spare the women who were with them.

As a result, at least 15 of their members were injured, he alleged. Five of them were seriously injured and admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The others were getting treatment at the private hospitals in Bhuchu Mandi.

The Nathana police has registered cases against 12 members of the PPPU under Sections 307, 323, 324, 148 and 149, IPC.


Rare strains of TB found
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 25
Rare strains of M. tuberculosis have been found by Dr P.K. Sehajpal, Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Guru Nanak Dev University, and his colleagues in collaboration with Dr P.K. Sarin of Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar.

Dr Sehajpal said these strains lacked the IS-6100 elements which were a part of the genome of the disease. These findings were recently presented by him at an international conference held at Orlando in the USA. “Tuberculosis primarily affects the lungs. The resurgence of the disease in developed nations and its declaration as global emergency by the WHO in 1993 triggered intensive research in the field,” said Dr Sehajpal who took five years to complete his research.


SGPC for IT exchange with foreign varsities
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
The SGPC has expressed its desire for information technology exchange with foreign universities to improve the education, especially medical education being imparted in its colleges. This was disclosed at press conference, by Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary SGPC, and Dr Grace Peterson, head Nuring Department, Wisconcin, USA.

Since Wisconcin University had special provisions for teaching religion, the SGPC would like to send its preachers for inter faith programme.

Dr Bachan said the SGPC was endeavouring to from a Sikh university and services of Wisconcin University would be sought especially in the field of Medicine. Ms Peterson said the students who go to Wisconcin University get work permit.


2 child labourers top in primary examination
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 25
Two students who got the merit positions in the primary board examinations have been offered education free of cost by Mr Kulwant Singh, Mohali Municipal Council president.

These two students are among the 17 child labourers selected by the Punjab Istri Sabha Relief Trust from amongst 38 students studying in child labour schools located at Chheharta and Mohali.

After the Punjab Government permitted the opening of such schools in 1997, some NGOs came forward to help persuade employers relieve these children for two hours daily without deduction in their wages. The efforts proved fruitful when some teachers volunteered to teach these children and contributions for the school started pouring in from various sources.

There was cause for celebration when all these selected students passed in the board examination. Functions were held in Mohali and Amritsar to honour and lavish encouragement on these students, besides providing an example to others, said Mrs Bimla Dang, Chairperson, Punjab Istri Sabha.


PUTA barred
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
A local court has restrained the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) from holding any meeting or demonstration on the university premises within a radius of 50 metres from the university. The court has also restrained PUTA from interfering or obstructing the selection process going on in the university in various faculties. A suit to restrain PUTA from holding dharnas and demonstrations on the campus was filed by the university authorities.

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