Tuesday, May 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Relax specifications of wheat: Punjab
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 28
The Punjab Government is understood to have written to the Central Government to relax the specifications of wheat procured during the current season and also take the delivery of the same on priority basis. The urgency to deliver wheat procured by the official procuring agencies has arisen following damage caused to the same by the untimely rains during March and the first week of April. The official procuring agencies in Punjab have procured more than one crore tonnes of wheat during the current rabi procurement season. The wheat arrivals have now dwindled considerably in the mandis.

Enquiries show that the untimely rain caused considerable damage to the wheat crop and the official procuring agencies were reluctant to by the same but they had to bow to the pressure of the Punjab Government. The failure of the agencies to buy wheat would have brought about political crises in the state as during the last paddy season when paddy was damaged by rain and the Central Government had refused to relax the specifications. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, came to the rescue of the state government and the agencies bought rain soaked paddy.

Now when the officials have procured wheat, the state government is pressing on the Centre to relax the specifications and move the stocks to the deficit states on priority. According to sources close to the Punjab Government, the Central Government has allowed damage to wheat grain upto 3 per cent whereas the stocks purchased by the agencies are having damage from 5 per cent to 6 per cent. Similarly slightly damaged grain percentage is 6 whereas the procured stocks are damaged from 8 per cent to 10 per cent and the shrivelled grain damage is also higher than the fixed norms. As the grain has lost lustre, it has become soft which makes it prone to the attack by insects.

Moreover, shelf life of wheat is six months to one year and the stocks will have to be consumed soon.

It is further learnt that officials from the Central Government had taken samples of wheat arriving in mandis. The samples were reportedly taken from Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Sangrur districts.

Since the quality of grain has deteriorated due to rains, the roller flour mills of Punjab have not made any purchase from the open markets this year. The rain-soaked wheat is not fit for the manufacture of maida and suji and even it cannot be used for bread and biscuit making. In view of this and the low prices prevailing in Uttar Pradesh, the roller flour mills of Punjab have purchased wheat from UP to meet their requirements. Wheat prices in the mandis of UP were quoted at Rs 510 to 520 per quintal which was Rs 100 less than the minimum support price fixed by the Government of India for procurement by the agencies. Since UP does not have an organised marketing system like Punjab and Haryana, the farmers were forced to make distressed sale of wheat in UP.

Wheat prices were even low in Bihar as compared with the UP but the roller flour mills and other traders did not go to that state because of the bad law and order situation there, according to Mr Gopal Bhushan, president, Punjab Roller Flour Mills Association. Even the taxes on the purchase of wheat are low in UP and Delhi as compared to the Punjab taxes, he said. The private traders in Punjab have not made any purchase of wheat from mandis this year. Firstly because there was no demand from other states and secondly because wheat was affected by rain and the quality was poor. Rakes of wheat from UP have been received in Ludhiana, Khanna, Kot Kapura, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Amritsar. Punjab wheat costs Rs 680 per quintal by adding the taxes and local market committee fee.

As the official agencies have procured more than one crore tonnes of wheat during the current season, a sum of Rs 7000 crore is at stake... because any delay in the movement of procured stocks can further cause loss to the stocks and ultimately financial loss to the state exchequer. The Centre will make the payment to the state agencies only when the final delivery of the stocks is made to the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The state government also has to bear a huge interest on the funds obtained from the banks through the RBI. The interest alone will run into about Rs 2000 crore.

Besides, the officials of the procuring agencies of the state government are also in panic as they fear that if there is any political change in the state government next year as the elections to the Vidhan Sabha are due to be held in February 2002, they may face penal action for buying wheat beyond the fixed norms.

The officials say that such action has been taken in the past in case of loss in the stocks of wheat or paddy while in stores.

The officials suggest that the only solution lies in the fast movement of the procured stocks and the government will have to change the policy of ‘FIFO’ (first in first out). The government should make the Centre agree to have the stocks of wheat procured during this year first. There are more than 80 lakh tonnes of wheat lying in the stores. The quality of the old stocks is still better and can be delayed.

Besides, there are about one crore tonnes of rice and paddy lying in the godowns of the state.

The railways will have to speed up the movement of foodgrains from Punjab. The railways is moving about 10 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice from the state every month and regularity is not maintained in the same.

The situation is quite worrisome and the calls for immediate speedy action on the part of the central and the state governments. The procured wheat stocks even cannot be exported. 


Stop fighting, Badal tells Talwandi, Bibi
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 28
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has taken a serious view of the infighting between Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC and Mrs Jagir Kaur, former President of the SGPC.

Talking to newsmen at Sultanpur Lodhi, 50 km from here, today Mr Badal urged Mr Talwandi and Mrs Jagir Kaur to stop criticising each other and suggested them to sit together and sort out their differences in the interest of the Akali Dal and the SGPC.

Mr Badal disclosed that Akali nominee for the Rajya Sabha seat would be announced on Tuesday at a meeting of the political affairs committee of the Akali Dal to be held at Chandigarh.

Mr Badal who visited Sultanpur Lodhi, to preside over the “sangat darshan” programme announced that Assembly elections in state would be held after the completion of the five year term of assembly.

He said the Punjab Government had overcome the financial crunch and had been observing year 2001 as development year. He said he was disbursing funds directly to presidents of municipal councils — sarpanches of gram panchayats for development work and not through District Planning and Development Boards.

He lost cool over the question of the involvement of his family in alleged corruption cases and left in a huff saying the Press had no other question to ask.

He accused that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a former president of the SGPC and Captain Amarinder Singh, president, PPCC, were hands in glove with each other.

Regarding the registration of a case against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, he said it was better to ask Mrs Bhattal as to who were behind the registration of the case. The police had registered a case on the direction of Special Judge and the government had no option but to register a case.

Mr Badal distributed cheques totalling Rs 2.60 crore among Municipal Council, Sultanpur Lodhi and 73 gram panchayats of Sultanpur Lodhi. Leaders of the BJP were however, not present at the “sangat darshan”. Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Urban Development Minister, also addressed the “sangat darshan”.


RS seat: PM may talk to Badal
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 28
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, is likely to speak to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on the telephone today on the BJP’s claim over the Rajya Sabha seat vacated by Ramohinder Singh Majitha after his election to state Assembly.

Giving this hint the Punjab pradesh BJP chief, Prof B.L. Rinwa, said today that he along with the Minister for Industries and Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, had met Mr Vajpayee on Saturday at Manali. Besides discussing other organisational matters, they had put party’s claim over the Rajya Sabha seat from Punjab in detail before him.

Talking to newspersons at his residence before leaving for Chandigarh, Professor Rinwa said the Department of Local Bodies was likely to announce the formation of a committee to consider lowering existing rates of house tax for commercially used houses, octroi rates, water and sewerage charges etc. Members of the committee would be asked to visit different cities to interact with consumers for making the revised rates rational.

The state BJP was also going to form a separate committee to review electricity charges for domestic and industrial connections as there was much hue and cry over the repeated revision of charges in the past. The committee was also expected to take up the pending case of giving gratuity and pension to teachers of government aided private colleges. The teachers had been struggling for their problems for a long time.


Minister questions MC chief’s orders
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, May 28
Even as the Commissioner of the local Municipal Corporation has withdrawn the powers of the Additional Divisional Fire Officer (ADFO) and delegated these to the Station Fire Officer (SFO), a junior officer in the Fire Brigade Department, the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, has questioned the validity of these orders on the pretext that a junior officer can not be delegated such powers as per rules.

Meanwhile, the protest dharna by members of the Fire Brigade Employees Union entered the 10th day as the MC authorities failed to persuade the agitating employees to return to work. The union today intensified its campaign against the MC authorities by resorting to fast at Fire Brigade office. It has been demanding the immediate transfer of the ADFO, Mr H.S. Bhullar, and a vigilance probe into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of fire-fighting equipment.

Earlier, the Additional Commissioner, Mr Harjeet Singh, who was head of the Fire Brigade Department, in his inquiry report submitted to the Commissioner said: “Mr H.S. Bhullar ADFO, has lost the confidence of his subordinates which will reflect on the working of municipal corporation especially the Fire Brigade Department which is meant to attend emergencies and in this branch the work can only be done, if there is team spirit among the employees and leadership quality in the in charge.”

The report further states: “Before any other irregularity is committed or tampering of paper is done the ADFO, Mr H.S. Bhullar, may allowed to work as in charge of the Fire Brigade branch but the exercise of powers of any type may please be delegated to the Fire Station Officer, Mr C.D. Sidhu, as a stop gap arrangement.”

Interestingly, without outlining the timeframe, the inquiry report suggested that Mr V.K. Kapoor, Deputy Controller (Finance and Accounts), be directed to submit a report regarding the alleged financial irregularities committed by Mr Bhullar.

As per Punjab Municipal Corpo-ration Act apart from looking after daily affairs of the establishment and purchase of fire-fighting equipment, the ADFO is empowered to issue no objection certificates to building owners and to issue fire incident certificates.

The MC Commissioner, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, acting on the inquiry report, had ordered the withdrawal of powers from the ADFO and delegated these to the Station Fire Officer on May 20.

The Punjab Local Bodies Minister Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, however, questioned the validity of these orders and termed these as against the rules.

Terming the indefinite protest dharna of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, as a serious matter, Mr Tandon said he would ask the officials concerned to get the dharna lifted.

Mr Gurdev Singh Saini, general secretary of the union, alleged that the Commissioner, Dr Sunkaria and Additional Commissioner, Mr Harjeet Singh were delaying action against the ADFO.

“We have no option left but to resort to indefinite fast, if the MC authorities fails to accept our demands within a week,” Mr Saini said.

Attempts by this correspondent to contact Dr Sunkaria at his office and residence failed to yield results as his staff said: “The Commissioner is busy so he can not attend the phone calls of mediapersons.”


India, Pak exchange prisoners
Rashmi Talwar

Wagah, May 28
Five Indian prisoners, who hoped to return to their motherland narrowly missed the opportunity as the Pakistan authorities refused to hand them over during repatriation of prisoners at the Wagah checkpost today. In all 14 prisoners were exchanged by both countries.

The Indian authorities had brought 12 prisoners for repatriation out of which only seven could make it. Those who left for their hometowns in Pakistan were Mr Munir Ahmed, Mr Mohammed Nasir, Mr Gaffar Ali, Mr Zafar Iqubal, Mr Makbool Ahmed, Mr Maksood Ahmed and Mr Mohammed Ramzan.

Those who were not so lucky despite having reached the border were Mr Mohammed Illayas, Mr Azir-ur-Rehman, Mr Shafiq Ahmed, Mr Mohammed Yunis, and Mr Nek Mohammed.

Those exchanged at the repatriation ceremony were arrested from the borders of Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of the prisoners exchanged today had served prison sentences ranging from one to seven years.

The seven prisoners who crossed over to the Indian side were welcomed by the BSF Company Commander, Mr Wadhwa Singh. They included Gikki, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Salamudin, a resident of Samba in Jammu, Mr Dil Mohammed of Sialkot, Mr Pawan Kumar from Jammu, Mr Ishaq Ahmed from Dharamkot Randhawa, Dera Baba Nanak, Mr Deva Ram of Anupgarh, Rajasthan and Mr Kuka from Jammu.

A majority of the prisoners had been imprisoned in Naruwala Sialkot and Lahore jails. Gikki and Mr Salamuddin were closely related. Most of them had inadvertently strayed into Pakistan territory while grazing cattle.

Talking to the media, they revealed that nearly 50 to 55 Indian prisoners were languishing in Pakistan jails. The Indian prisoners are packed in very small rooms, said Gikki.

The Pakistani prisoners were showered with rose petals as they were welcomed by Col Changez Wali Khan of Pakistan Rangers.


BSP not to forge alliance with SAD
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 28
The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, today ruled out the possibility of an alliance with the SAD. He was here to address a party rally to commemorate the 110th birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

The BSP chief’s statement has come close on the heels of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s remark that the SAD was willing to forge an alliance with the BSP to defeat the Congress in the coming elections. Mr Kanshi Ram projected Mr Ravi Inder Singh as the next Chief Minister of Punjab.

Mr Kanshi Ram branded the sangat darshan programme a political stunt with an eye on the coming Assembly elections in the state. Public funds were being misused and bribe was being given by distributing grants, he alleged. He declared that the BSP would field candidates on all 117 seats and claimed that it would win 60 seats, including 25 from the Doaba region.

He criticised the Union Government’s decision regarding ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. He claimed that the BSP would form the government in the Centre in 2004.

Later, Mr Kanshi Ram addressed the rally at the local grain market. Dr Mohan Singh Falianwala, a former MP and state unit president, Mr Jagdeep Singh Gogi, state vice-president, Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra, MLA Garhsankar, and Mr Avtar Singh Karempuri, a former MLA, addressed the rally.


Channi takes exception to Badal’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 28
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP from Hoshiarpur, has objected to the recent remarks of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against the Congress.

In a press note here today, he said Congress leaders had always given due respect to Punjabis. He said Mr Badal had a short memory as he had forgotten that after Independence the first Defence Minister, Mr Baldev Singh, and the first Foreign Minister Swarn Singh represented Punjab during the Congress regime. 


Meeting of Cong leaders cancelled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
A meeting of senior Punjab Congress leaders called by Mr Moti Lal Vora, Treasurer of the All-India Congress Committee and in charge of the party affairs in Punjab, on May 29 has been cancelled.

Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said that the meeting of the MLAs, MPs and AICC members from the state was called by the high command at the request of PPCC chief Amarinder Singh to discuss the strategy pertaining to the ensuing assembly elections in the state. However, due to certain engagements of Mr Vora, the meeting was called off. 


‘Induct Sukhbir in Cabinet’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
A member of the Shiromani Akali Dal working committee, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, today urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to induct Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of the Punjab Chief Minister, in the Union Council of Ministers.

“His inclusion in the Cabinet will give representation to Sikhs in the government and also restore and strengthen the shaken confidence of Sikhs in the Indian establishment,” he said in a statement issued here today.


Cong leaders being implicated: Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 28
The PPCC former President Mr Virendra Kataria and the President of the District Congress Committee Ferozepore, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, condemned the Badal government for trying to implicate the former Chief Minister, Ms. Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, in a case of misappropriation of funds.

Talking to mediapersons here today, they said it appeared that the SAD had assigned the job of defaming Congress leaders to Mr Chiranji Lal Garg even as Mr Garg was a Minister of Law and Justice. Mr Garg had also tried unsuccessfully to involve PPCC president Capt Amarinder Singh in the case, they said. 


‘Path bodh’ begins
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, May 28
Path bodh (understanding of recitation of ‘gurbani’) started here today despite an objection raised by one of the members of the SGPC regarding the permission given to Jatha Bhinderan for the same.

The objection raised by Mr Jaswinder Singh, a lawyer and an SGPC member, was that the ‘maryada’ followed by Jatha Bhinderan was different from that of the Akal Takhat and both differed on ‘mul mantar’ of Japuji Sahib and Rehras, the evening prayer of the Sikhs.

Mr Jaswinder Singh had yesterday urged Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president, SGPC, to withdraw the permission for the programme on the ground that the programme could create confusion in the minds of the devotees about the recitation of ‘gurbani’.

Although a large number of devotees participated in the ’path bodh’ here today, but confusion prevailed among them. Some of them were not sure whether the right way to recite the ‘gurbani’ was being taught to them as compared to the one they had learnt earlier when a similar ’path bodh’ was held here.

Sources said given permission to Jatha Bhinderan for holding the ‘path bodh’ programme would make other ‘taksals’ to seek permission to recite the ‘gurbani’ their own way. They said all Sikhs should follow the ‘maryada’ laid down by the Akal Takht. The sources said confusion would be maximum for the students of Sikh Missionary College and other Sikh organisations which were following the ‘maryada’ of the Akal Takhat and the SGPC.

An employee of Gurdwara Talwandi Sabo said on condition of anonymity that the students of Sikh Missionary College were made to attend the ‘path bodh’ by the organisers.

He said they would face problems in understanding the ‘gurbani’, because the lessons being given at the ‘path bodh’ programme were in total contrast to what they were taught at the college.

The other question raised by some quarters is whether the SGPC gave recognition to Jatha Bhindera as a ‘panthic’ organisation by allowing them to hold such a programme.

Giani Veer Singh Madhoke, member of the Dharam Prachar Committee of the SGPC who is one of the main organisers of the ‘path bodh’, said the main purpose of holding the programme at Talwandi Sabo was to educate the devotees about the proper recitation of the ‘gurbani’. He said there was nothing wrong in telling people about the proper of way of holding some religious ceremonies.

Giani Madhoke said the proper way to recite the ‘gurbani’ has been written down by the gurus. He said there was no need to use grammar while reciting the same.

He said the allegation of one of the SGPC members that the ‘maryada’ followed by the ‘taksal’ was not right as it was in contrast to that of the Akal Takhat was not true. He said the problem with such persons was that they feared that they would be exposed if the devotees came to know that they were being taught in a wrong way.

He said many institutions had spent a lot of money on spreading ‘gurbani’, but failed to tell devotees how to recite it. He said the ‘gurbani’ was the “sayings of God” as it was first recited by the gurus; therefore no human being could make any alterations in it.

Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, said all sects of Sikhs should reach a consensus about the recitation of ‘gurbani’. He said without following the grammar, the recitation sometimes created a problem.


Manjit Singh’s petition dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
In a significant order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today dismissed with costs a petition filed by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, MLA, and a close confidant of the former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and others , upholding the right of the SGPC to make nomination of members to various trusts in accordance with the deeds and decision of its Executive. The order was passed by Mr Justice V.K. Jhanji.

The petitioners had challenged their removal inter alia on the grounds that they had been appointed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then President of the SGPC, ostensibly on the strength of the power given to him under Resolution 37 of the General House of the SGPC of October 23,1998. The appointment was stated to be for a period of six years and therefore, the removal of the petitioners on June 5, 1999 was illegal and mala fide because of Bibi Jagir Kaur having been elected as SGPC President. In addition the action was stated to be accentuated by mala fide.

It may be mentioned that all the new trustees were appointed to Shri Guru Ram Medical Research and Charitable Hospital, Amritsar. They included Mr H.S. Mattewal, Advocate-General, Punjab, and Mr Adesh partap Singh Kairon, Excise and Taxation Minister. The trust is running a medical and a dental college in Amritsar.

Since it was the admitted position that all proceedings of the General House are video graphed, the Judge had called for the video and got the report from the local commissioner who had been appointed to see the video to establish whether Resolutions 37 and 38 had in fact ever been passed.

The report of the Commissioner categorically stated that no such resolution had ever been placed before the House.


Fear in village due to oil dumps
Our Correspondent

Phoos Mandi (Bathinda), May 28
Fear prevails among residents of this village following reports of a fire at the ammunition depot near Suratgarh.

This village has in its vicinity oil dumps of various oil companies. Residents of the villages, namely Phoos Mandi, Bhagoo and Gulabgarh said it was surprising how the Army authorities allowed the setting up a oil dumps near the ammunition depots.

The residents pointed out that in 1998, when the Army authorities disposed of a powerful bomb, in the depot area, it left a trail of destruction, as a number of window panes of the oil depots of the Bharat Petroleum and the Indian Oil Company developed cracks. Even the boundary wall of the terminal of the Kandla-Bathinda pipeline developed cracks.

Sources revealed that as per the Works of Defence Act, 1903, no construction was allowed within 2000 meters, of the ammunition dumps. The army authority had written to the district administration to create 2000 yard construction-free zone around the depot, but the work has not been completed so far.

Sources in the oil corporations revealed fire that the companies had their own fighting equipment in case of any eventuality. The two oil companies have joint water pipelines and have the capacity to work hand in hand. But, the sources admitted that in case of a fire of the ammunition depot it would not be possible to the oil companies to control the situation on their own.


Order to notify election of Ferozepore MC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 28
Allowing a writ petition, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the state of Punjab to notify Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta’s name as the President of Ferozepore Municipal Council.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill and Mr Justice V.S. Aggarwal, further directed the state to notify Mr Gupta’s name as expeditiously as possible, preferable within a month.

In his petition, Mr Gupta had earlier stated that the then Vice-President, after finding herself in minority, had adjourned the special meeting for electing the President indefinitely on “health grounds”.

He had added that 15 out of 26 members had, however, ignored the adjournment order and unanimously elected him as the MC President after holding the meeting in the presence of an observer. His counsel had added that the petition was being filed since the state had failed to notify his name in the official gazette.

The respondents, on the other hand, had contended that the meeting held by 15 members was illegal as the same had been postponed on August 20, 2000. After hearing the arguments, the Bench upheld the election of Mr Ashok Kumar as Ferozepore MC President and ruled that the state was bound to notify his name in the official gazette.

Order to admit student

Directing the state of Punjab and two other respondents to admit a student to the veterinary pharmacist training course in College of Veterinary Sciences at Ludhiana, Mr Justice R.L. Anand of the High Court on Monday further asked them to regularise his admission by creating a seat within two months of receiving the order’s copy.

In his petition before the High Court, Mr Vikas had earlier stated that he was declared unsuccessful after the interview results were declared even though candidate lower on the merit was selected for admission.

After hearing the arguments, Mr Justice Anand ruled: “The petitioner can not be penalised for the wrong criteria adopted by the selection or the interview committee”.

In his detailed order, the Judge added: “During the course of submissions, it was represented to the Court that at present no seat was vacant. The Court had the option to quash the entire selection but keeping in view the fact that 200 children were already being imparted training in the course since February 2001, it would not be desirable for the court to upset the entire selection process.... The respondent authorities are directed to create a seat in the course so that the petitioner may be adjusted”.

Proceedings on FIR stayed

Issuing notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents on a petition filed by Punjab State Human Rights Commission, a Division Bench of the High Court on Monday stayed further proceedings in a first information report registered against Rajiv Randhawa — an eyewitness in the Khalra abduction case.

In its petition taken up by Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the High Court, the Commission had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to implement its recommendation of cancelling FIR number 53 registered on July 16, 1998.

The Commission had also recommended the payment of an interim compensation of Rs 50,000 each to Rajiv Randhawa, Rachpal Singh and Sarabjit Singh for “their illegal detention in FIR number 53”.

Giving details, counsel for the Commission had stated that the FIR was registered at Police Station “D” division. According to the FIR, Rajiv Randhawa and six other alleged militants had formed a new terrorist outfit “Tigers of Sikh Land” with a motive to collect money, purchase arms and ammunition for destabilising the state.

Counsel added that the Additional Director-General of Police, attached with it, had submitted a supplementary report describing FIR number 53 as false, registered with the motive of preventing Rajiv Randhawa from appearing in the Khalra case.

He further added that the authorities failed to act on its recommendations and expressed its unhappiness on the fact that “it was kept in dark regarding the decision of the Punjab DGP directing the filing of a report under Section 173 of CrPC in FIR number 53”.

Counsel further added that the Commission had initially taken suo motu notice of a news item appearing in The Tribune regarding the abduction of Rajiv Randhawa and a complaint was subsequently registered.


Residents clamp MC pipes as taps run dry
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 28
The people of the inner walled city, who have been the subject of a vigorous drive to check the use of tullu pumps, have now virtually descended on the streets. They are taking water straight from the municipal pipes in front of their homes by putting clamps on these, which are opened and shut according to the requirement of water.

The corporation, which is unable to maintain water supply to the people of these localities, is a loser. Now unmetered water is being used by the people, who have stopped using tullu pumps due to frequent checks by the municipal staff.

“Water is our primary requirement”, says Mr Kanti Swaroop of Bugga Badhana street. He says as the corporation water supply does not reach their houses due to extreme low pressure, they have no alternative but to take water directly from the municipal pipes running at the street level. He says it has been four days now since taps in their houses have been running dry.

People gather water required for their household needs from the municipal pipes running along the streets. Most of the people have made use of longitudinal clamps, which are opened during the mornings and evenings when water runs in the pipes. Though residents are able to get their supply of water in this manner through use of buckets, in the end more water is wasted than collected. Mr Naveen Gupta of Bugga Badhana says if the corporation increases the water pressure in the area, less water will be wasted and the corporation can also earn revenue in the process as household water is metered.

People of the locality allege that the corporation employees have been selective while conducting raids in the area around a fortnight back. They allege that a former municipal commissioner living the area has been regularly using jet pumps to draw out water directly from the municipal pipes, but no action has been taken against him during the tullu pump confiscation drive. They say if the corporation is serious about stopping use of jet pumps, it should hold a systematic drive covering the entire city instead of just concentrating on segments. Mr Kanti Swaroop says while jet pumps are still being used by people in the city, they cannot use these and the corporation is also not taking responsibility to supply them water.

The Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang, says few areas are facing a critical shortage of water supply. He says the position has worsened in the past few days due to the erratic power supply. “Never had the power gone for such long spells in the 50-years history of Patiala during the peak of summer”, he says adding that the erratic supply is causing problems in uniform distribution of water.

Mr Kang says tubewells in the city cannot be run continuously due to power problems. He adds that only two tubewells are connected to a hot line and that the corporation cannot afford to connect all tubewells to secured lines. He says the corporation is trying to tackle the problem by trying to ensure all its overhead tanks are filled during the night.

Admitting that the people are taking water directly from the pipes; in some areas, he says the corporation has not stopped them as it will only result in fights and bad blood. He says people will not be allowed to use such means to get water and will be stopped from doing so as soon as the power situation stabilises and the shortage of water is tackled through better management.


Film on espionage to reveal bitter truth
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 28
Based on ‘Under the shadow of bayonets & bars’ — the biography of Mr Mohan Lal Bhaskar — an Indian spy, a feature film is being produced by Harwinder Malik, a cine star and a national awardee which will hit the silver screen next year.

This will be the first feature film to project the bitter truth about a spy. When he (the spy) returns to his country after undergoing inhuman treatment and torture, he has to face shabby treatment and humiliation from his own countrymen, including the Prime Minister. The feature film will also reveal a lot of sensational information concerning espionage, dangers faced by a spy and the condition of his family.

Talking to TNS, here today, Mr Mohan Lal Bhaskar, who had spent six-and-half years in Pakistani prisons with the late Zulafkar Ali Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister, the late Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman of Bangladesh, and Hashim Quraishi — a hijacker, said the feature film would be another ‘tehelka’. He said he had chosen the field of espionage out of patriotism. He was totally shattered when the then Prime Minister, Mr Morarji Desai, had meted out shabby treatment to him.

Mr Bhaskar (60) said he had opted for espionage at the behest of a Major for the sake of his motherland. He was reciting a poem on Shaheed Bhagat Singh on his martyrdom day when the Army Major said it was easier to read a poem than to do something concrete for the country. He said he was ready to do anything for the sake of his country. Mr Bhaskar said he was repatriated to India after the Simla Agreement in 1974.

The film, “Silla” (the debt), would also reveal the ill-treatment meted out to the Indian spy by the military intelligence which had sent him to Pakistan. Mr Bhaskar said he was facing the charge of stealing a sensitive file from the Atomic Energy Commission in Pakistan. He was awarded the death sentence for stealing the file and underwent torture. Though the summary court had awarded the death penalty, the field general court marshal converted his death penalty to a 14-year jail term. He said his eldest son was born after he was arrested in Pakistan. The family underwent untold miseries in his absence. All this will be projected in the feature film.

Mr Bhaskar said he had been to Pakistan 16 times in connection with espionage and did a lot of work for India. However, he was arrested during his 17th trip. Mr Bhaskar said he had learnt the Islamic way of life at camps, organised by the military intelligence and hence it was very easy for him to intermingle with the locals. It was a double agent who got him arrested.

Mr Bhaskar said though espionage was a challenging job, the Indian Government did not honour the spies. Foreign countries take care of families of spies and they (the spies) get a lot of honour and respect when they return after completing the assignments. He said though espionage had become almost ‘irrelevant’ in the age of information technology, yet the role of spies was still relevant.

Referring to the shabby treatment he received at the hands of officials of the military intelligence and the then Prime Minister, Mr Bhaskar said he was able to get a part of his dues through personal intervention of Mr Balram Jakhar, former Lok Sabha Speaker and Union Agriculture Minister.

Mr Bhaskar authored the first book “Main Saan Pakistan Wich Bharat Da Jasus” (I was the Indian spy in Pakistan), published in Punjabi in 1983. This book was translated into seven languages.

Interestingly, Mr Bhaskar himself had produced a feature film, “Desh Ke Dushaman” on terrorism, which was released in March this year. However, Mr Bhaskar had to suffer a financial loss.


Widow alleges land-grab by in-laws
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 28
Mrs Sukhjit Kaur, widow of Satnam Singh, has been moving from pillar to post since 1992 to get her share of landed property from her in-laws but in vain. She has been denied her due on the basis of a fake land transfer jointly prepared by her in-laws and revenue officials concerned.

Mrs Sukhjit Kaur who was here in connection with an inquiry said today that she was married to Satnam Singh, son of Mr Banta Singh, resident of Fatehgarh Churian Shukarchak in Amritsar tehsil in 1986. Her husband died in a truck accident in 1992. She has two daughters Mandeep (13) and Harpreet (11).

Mrs Sukhjit Kaur said her father in-law Banta Singh had inherited land measuring 165 kanal. The property was to be equally shared among five sons of Mr Banta Singh including her late husband. The share of her husband naturally belonged to her and her two daughters.

When Mrs Sukhjit Kaur enquired about her share of the property, Mr Banta Singh and his sons, in connivanc with revenue officials, prepared a fictitious land transfer documents on March 10, 1997 according to which 113 kanals and 17 marlas of land belonging to Mr Banta Singh in Chhina Bet in Gurdaspur District had been shown transferred in the name of Mrs Sukhjit Kaur and her daughters against her share of 33 kanals from inherited landed property of Mr Banta Singh in Fatehgarh Sukharchak village. Mr Banta Singh transferred 165 kanals at Fatehgarh Sukarchak village in the name of his four sons including Mr Gurtej Singh, Mr Hardev Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh and Mr Harpal Singh.

The land in Chhina Bet which was given to Mrs Sukhjit Kaur was shown as falling in hadbast No. 509 in Chhina Betwala and Chhina Railwala in Hadbast No 454. The mutation of the said land with No 4234 had been entered in her name on October 28 1997. Mrs Sukhjit Kaur went to these villages and met the Patwari and other revenue officials to enquire about the land but to her surprise she was told hat the land transferred in her name did not exist and the papers showing transfer of the said land were fictitious.

Mrs Sukhjeet Kaur then sent copies of her complaint alleging conspiracy by her in-laws in connivance with revenue officials concerned of Amritsar tehsil to the Director-General of Police, Punjab, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, and the Director, Vigilance, to hold an enquiry into the alleged land grab.

Meanwhile, Mrs Shyama Mann, FCR, has directed the Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner to hold enquiry and punish the guilty. The DC has deputed Mr Krishan Kumar, ADC (General) to hold the enquiry which is in progress.


Relatives of deceased ransack hospital
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 28
The death of a patient in the local Tagore Hospital this afternoon resulted in the ransacking of the hospital by relatives and friends of the deceased.

Ram Kishan, a former Sarpanch of Kotla village under Adampur subdivision, was admitted to the hospital three days ago. However, he reportedly developed complications this afternoon, forcing doctors to refer him to the local military hospital.

According to the relatives of the deceased, though the patient was immediately shifted in an ambulance, he died within two minutes in front of the hospital as the oxygen cylinder emptied leading to his death.

After Ram Kishan’s death, the agitated relatives broke window panes and doors of the hospital and raised anti-hospital management slogans. Senior police officials reached the spot and assured them that action would be taken against the erring staff of the hospital. Mr Vijay Mahajan, managing director of the hospital, however, denied the allegations and said it was a natural death, which could be established by conducting a post-mortem examination. According to the police, the matter was eventually settled between the management of the hospital and the relatives of the deceased.


Christians burn Musharraf’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Wagah, May 28
Hundreds of Christians reached the Wagah border today to lodge a strong protest against the death sentence awarded to a Christian teacher in Pakistan.

Protesting Christians set afire the effigy of General Musharraf, Chief Executive of Pakistan. Slogans were raised against the Pakistan Government’s action.

Mr Munawar Masih, leader of the Christian Front, alleged that the Pakistan Government had filed a false case against a member of the minority community who allegedly used objectionable language against Prophet Mohammed.

The Christians called upon world leaders to plead for repealing the death sentence.

They demanded that the death sentence should be revoked and work at the school where this Christian teacher taught should be resumed. The Christian organisations threatened to gherao the Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi if their demand was not met.


Cong men threaten to court arrest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 28
Activists of the human rights cell of the Congress today warned the Punjab Government that if it did not stop the alleged harassment of former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, workers would court arrest.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Manohar Lal Bansal, general secretary of the human rights department of the District Congress Committee, Bathinda, said a false case had been registered against Ms Bhattal.

He alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been distributing money to his favourites in the state through the sangat darshan programmes and had been causing economic loss to the state.

Master Mangat Rai, a freedom fighter, in a press note issued here today, also condemned the Punjab Government for allegedly registering a false case against Ms Bhattal.


1 killed, 12 hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 28
Raj Dulari, a resident of Panchkula died on the spot and as many as 12 persons were injured when a Punjab Roadways bus (PB 12-9814) overturned near Kathgarh village here today.

The bus was going to Amritsar from Chandigarh. Mr Jagjit Singh, DC and Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP reached the spot immediately. 


Man falls into trench, hurt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 28
Mr Jatinder Sharma, a resident of Nai Basti here, suffered serious injuries when he fell drown in a deep trench dug by a Punjab Government department to lay down pipes on the Bathinda-Goniana road near Sukhraj Cinema, late last night.

Mr Sharma was brought out from the trench by the volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa and immediately rushed to a hospital. He regained consciousness at about 4 pm today.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president, Sahara Jan Sewa, said no warning sign was put up at the trench. He added that no protective structure was raised around it. It was not the first such incident and many residents had not with accidents in the past due to open sewers and speed breakers with no warning signs.

The Goniana road is a well-connected road and traffic leading to various districts, including Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Amritsar passes through it. The various pits and sewers on this road have caused several accidents in the past.

From Hanuman Chowk to Tinkoni, there are about seven sewers on this road. Street lights on the road also function erratically. Various trenches, which are often left uncovered after the work has been completed, accumulate rain water. Vahicles often get stuck at such places and stray animals get drowned.

Mr Goyal demanded that warning signs should be put at places where work was in progress and the road should be repaired after that. 


PIL against PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 28
Mr Dharam Vir Walia, president, Public Grievances Association, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High court against the PSEB for charging octroi from the residents of the city for the electricity that they use.

Mr Sadhu Ram Kushla, general secretary of the organisation, in a press note issued here today, alleged that residents of the city had met the PSEB authorities several times, but they did not pay any heed to their requests, therefore they had to go to the court for getting justice.


Cheques distributed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 28
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, today distributed cheques worth Rs 96,000 at various villages of the Bathinda Assembly segment.

Mr Garg, while addressing a gathering at the Sanjay Nagar area of the city, said to uplift the Dalits of the state, various schemes had been drafted and about Rs 450 crore would be spent on these.

The state government has spent about Rs 2.05 crore in the current financial year under the shagun scheme in the district, he said. The Sub-Divisional Magistrates have been given powers to grant old-age and widow pensions.

Mr Garg also inaugurated a computer centre at Guru Nanak School of the city and announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the school.


LHRI: allegations baseless
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 28
The Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) has termed the reported allegations of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a senior Congress leader, that the organisation and the senior vice-president, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon are perusing the cases against her at the behest of some political leaders, as baseless.

In a press note, Mr A. S. Chahal, president of the organisation, said that the allegations levelled by Ms Bhattal and other Congress leaders against Mr Dhillon “is the height of level of personal allegations”. He said Mr Dhillon had taken up the corruption cases against Ms Bhattal on behalf of the LHRI.


Club charter withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Sunam, May 28
Taking a serious view of an alleged violation committed by the local Rotary Club (Golden), which was chartered on Saturday night, Mr Rajinder Taneja, district governor, Rotary International (3090) has withdrawn the charter of the local Rotary Club (Golden).

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Taneja said the local RC (Golden) had committed a gross violation by not inviting the president of the sponsored club (parental Rotary Club, Sunam), Mr Ajaib Singh Saggu. Besides, the RC (Golden) had not given proper honour and respect to Mr A.K. Bansal, Governor special representative for this function. Mr Taneja also alleged that Mr Ghanshyam Kansal, president of the RC (Golden) Club, Sunam, had fraudulently obtained the charter from him.


Stitching centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 28
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister of Science and Technology, yesterday inaugurated the Shri Guru Ravi Dass Stitching Centre at Kartar Basti here. This centre was started under the patronage of the local unit of Seva Bharti, a social organisation working for the welfare and upliftment of the poor.

Prof Y.R. Handa, president of the local Seva Bharti unit, in a press note issued here today said the units of Seva Bharti were working for the welfare and development of the poor and downtrodden.

Two stitching centres and two schools are being run by the unit here. A hospital is also being run in Amar Pura Basti here where poor people get free treatment and free medicines. As many as 100 to 125 persons daily visit this hospital.

Mr Handa said the unit had also organised a free homeopathy camp at DAV College.

Mr Garg announced a grant of Rs 25,000 for the unit.


3 ADCs within five months
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 28
The Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) has been transferred thrice during a short span of five months. After Mr Hussan Lal was transferred, Mr J.S. Dhillon took over the charge on December 15, 2000. 

Soon after, Mr Dhillon was transferred and Mr Kirshan Lal took over the charge on March 18. However, within a period of two months, Mr Krishan Lal has been transferred without any posting and Mr Gopal Krishan, Principal Staff Commissioner, Jalandhar division, has been posted as ADC (Gen.), Gurdaspur.


Fast-track courts likely to be set up
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 28
Fast-track courts, as proposed by the Central Government, are likely to be set up in Punjab, said Mr Justice N.K. Sood of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, during his three-day inspection tour at Gurdaspur. Mr Justice Sood said a proposal in this regard was under consideration. He met a deputation of lawyers of Pathankot and heard their problems.

Mr Justice Sood also heard the grievances of the litigants. He is likely to inspect the Central Jail at Gurdaspur on Wednesday, along with Mr M.R. Batra, District and Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur.


Water crisis issue dominates MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 28
A hue and cry was raised over the water crisis prevailing in the city at the municipal corporation house meeting here today.

The various issues raised by the councillors included tubewells in a state of disrepair, digging of roads allegedly by a private company, besides acute power shortage which was responsible for the supply not reaching the consumers. The councillors revealed that at places due to non-repair, the pipelines had been leaking continuously.

The Mayor, Mr Brij Mohan Kapoor, assured that water supply would be restored provisionally through special water tankers in areas that were severely, affected. In the meanwhile, the repair work would continue.


Sub-Registrar faces probe by SSP
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 28
Following orders of Mr Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) here has personally initiated a probe into the allegations levelled against the local Sub-Registrar, Joint Sub-Registrar and a Registration Clerk by Mr Inderjit Kumar, a petitioner in Inderjit Kumar versus State of Punjab and Another case.

The SSP informed mediapersons here today that after conducting the probe, he would submit his report within a week or so.

The police, he said, would act in accordance with the law.

The SSP also said that the local police had succeeded in unearthing a desi ghee adulteration racket.

He said 72 kg of desi ghee adulterated with vanaspati-refined ghee was seized from Narinder Dairy on the Dhanaula road.

He said Narinder Kumar, alias Bittu, was arrested in this connection and a case under Section 420, IPC, was registered against him.


Taxation officers unhappy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 28
Resentment prevails amongst Excise and Taxation Officers of the state against the non implementation of the report submitted by the anomalies committees.

Mr Jaskaran Singh Brar, president of the officers association said in a written statement here today that the state government had not implemented the recommendations, despite repeated assurances.

The committee had recommended a pay scale of Rs 7,880-13,500 for the Excise and Taxation officers of the state. The report of the committee had been implemented in case of other officers and the state government was giving a step-motherly treatment to their department, he alleged.

The members of the association would meet the Excise and Taxation Minister, shortly to sort out grievances and get the pay and allowances commensurate with their job and responsibilities, he added.


MC staff on strike against raid
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 28
Employees of the Ropar Municipal Council today went on an indefinite strike in protest against vigilance raid on their office. Earlier, on Friday, the local vigilance authorities, on orders from the Chief Minister’s office, had raided the council office and seized the records there. The employees, who are on strike, are alleging that they are being victimised due to a rivalry between two local ministers.

Meanwhile, sources said the technical committee of the Vigilance Department would soon visit to check the development works carried out by the council. This is being done following several allegations of corruption in development works levelled by certain councillors.


Mahant rapes minor
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 28
Mahant Sewa Dass Muni, chief of Dera Baba Inder Dass at Tapa, about 20 km from here on the Barnala-Bathinda road, allegedly raped an 8-9 years old girl.

The mahant has been booked under Section 376, IPC, at Tapa police station. The Barnala police has launched a hunt for the mahant who is absconding.

Giving information about the case here today, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, SSP, Barnala police district, said police parties had been despatched to various places to apprehend the mahant. He was pretending to seek treatment at some hospital to escape from the police, the SSP added.

Mr Kaleka said the mother of the girl, a resident of Chauhanke village, complained to the police that her family had been serving in the ‘dera’ as ‘sevadars’ for the past about nine years. Persuaded by the mahant, they shifted their family to Tapa. The mahant got a house built near the ‘dera’ for the family.

After winning the trust of the family, about six months ago the mahant offered to the family that he would bring up their daughter and bear the expenses on her education as a guardian. The girl is a student of Class III.

The family left their daughter with the mahant at the ‘dera’.

A few days ago, the mother of the girl said, her daughter confided in her that she felt restless and uneasy as the mahant used to share her bed and raped and molested her many times at night.

The SSP said medical examination of the girl was conducted at the local Civil Hospital. He said the medical examination report had confirmed molestation and rape. 


Prisoners caught smuggling drugs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 28
Gurcharan Singh, who had been undergoing 10-year rigorous imprisonment in the local central jail after being convicted in a case registered against him in connection with smuggling narcotics, was today caught red-handed, along with another jail inmate, Gurlabh Singh, while they were trying to smuggle some intoxicants tablets and capsules into the jail.

Gurcharan Singh had been booked in a criminal case for attempting to smuggle intoxicants into the central jail.

Official sources said Jaswinder Kaur, wife of Gurcharan Singh, today came to meet him. Gurcharan Singh had asked Gurlabh Singh to meet his wife.

Jaswinder Kaur, who had brought at least 1000 intoxicants wrapped in clothes handed over the same to Gurlabh Singh. After the meeting, Gurlabh Singh and Gurcharan Singh tried to smuggle the same into the jail.

Mr G.S. Mann, Deputy Superintendent Jail, said on suspicion, both the inmates were searched and the intoxicants were seized from them.

He added that Gurcharan Singh belonged to Loolbai village of the district while Gurlabh Singh belonged to Abohar. He said the police was informed immediately about the incident. He said a police party came to the jail premises and recorded the statements of concerned persons.

Over the past few years, the local central jail authorities had been finding it difficult to run its affairs smoothly as these were overcrowded.

A few days ago, the district police had managed to bring a conspiracy of jail break into light. The accused, who were facing trials in different cases and lodged in the jail here, had managed to smuggle a mobile phone inside it and had been using the same to execute their plan, the sources said.

Mr Mann said he had also recorded the statements of various jail staff members in connection with the inquiry being conducted in this case.


Stamp vendor murder case: 2 held

Moga, May 28
The police today claimed to have solved the mystery behind the murder of a stamp vendor from Nihalsinghwala in the district with the recovery of his body and the arrest of the two suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, the district police chief, Mr S.S. Chouhan, has suspended the Nihalsinghwala SHO for negligence in the case. He said the stamp vendor, Purshotam Kumar, was kidnapped by two other stamp vendors from Nihalsinghwala, identified as Ranbir Singh and Kewal Singh, while he was going to the district treasury with Rs 1.10 lakh to buy stamp papers last week.

The suspects offered to take Purshotam on their scooter and when they reached near the Langeana drain, they allegedly tried to snatch the money from him. When he resisted, the suspects allegedly killed him with a sharp-edged weapon and managed to escape with the money after throwing his body into the drain.

The police also recovered Rs 1.09 lakh of the looted money from the suspects, who are stated to be related to some policemen posted at Nihalsinghwala. Meanwhile, the Punjab Education Minister Tota Singh visited the residence of the deceased this morning to offer his condolence amid a dharna by hundreds of people who were demanding registration of a case against the suspended SHO. UNI


Opium seized

Moga, May 28
About 10 kg of opium worth about Rs 1 lakh was seized from a smuggler here, the police said today. A police party during a checking yesterday signalled the accused to stop on the GT Road here. About 9.8 kg of contraband was recovered from the bag he was carrying, Senior Superintendent of Police Shard Satya Chouhan said.

On interrogation the accused, identified as Sanjay Kumar of Patiala, confessed that he had brought about 15 kg of opium from Madhya Pradesh out of which about 5 kg had been sold to addicts, Mr Chouhan said. PTI


Polytechnics on brink of closure
Gradual withdrawal of grant-in-aid by govt
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, May 28
The tall claims of the state government regarding the spread of technical education to make the youth self-employed in the absence of government jobs, notwithstanding, all government-aided polytechnics are on the verge of closure due to the decision of the Punjab Government to gradually abolish grant-in-aid within three years.

Employees of these technical institutions, who are uncertain about their future, have been demanding that the orders should be withdrawn. Officials of Technical Education Department, however, maintain that the cut in financial aid will be compensated as these institutions have already been allowed by the department to reserve 50 per cent of their seats under the paid quota category.

Mehr Chand Polytechnic, Jalandhar, Thapar Polytechnic, Patiala, Ramgarhia Polytechnic, Phagwara, and Guru Nanak Polytechnic, Ludhiana, were established in the sixties as there was no government polytechnic at that time in undivided Punjab.

The Punjab Government, to spread technical education up to the grass-root level, had extended aid to these institutions by deciding to provide financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid. It was enhanced at different intervals of time since 1965 and gradually it was increased to 95 per cent with managements contributing 5 per cent till last year.

The Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Department had issued a new policy last year, barring financial assistance to these institutions. According to the policy, the department will impose a cut in grant by 33 per cent during 2000-2001, 67 per cent during 2001-2002 and 100 per cent from 2002-2003.

The policy further states that these polytechnics were allowed to sell 50 per cent of their seats to compensate the loss. The department had also raised the fee structure for students who were joining these four polytechnics on a par with private polytechnics. Earlier the fee charged from the students was on a par with government polytechnics.

The department had been providing grant-in-aid to the tune of Rs 15 crore per annum to these institutions.

The employees of these polytechnics had conveyed that there was no option but to close the institutions as it would be impossible to withstand an annual deficit of Rs 1 crore.

The new policy has affected the employees who have not been given salaries by some of the managements for the past three months.

“Contrary to the assurance of the Principal Secretary of the department” during a meeting with representatives of these institutions last year that the grant-in-aid system will be continued, the department issued a fresh letter on March 19 that grants will be reduced to nil in three years. This will affect the future of the employees and the students since we have no option but to close the institution for want of funds,” Mr R.K. Dhawan, Principal, Mehr Chand Polytechnic, said.

Mr R.K. Sofat, a lecturer at Guru Nanak Polytechnic, Ludhiana, said these institutions had imparted quality technical education for the past 40 years as compared to other private polytechnics, which had mushroomed in different parts of the state without any proper infrastructure or faculty.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the Government-Aided Privately Managed Polytechnics Staff Association, Punjab, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at Noormahal during a sangat darshan programme on Friday.

“Mr Badal has assured us that he will take up the matter with the Secretary, Technical Education Department, and suitable steps will be taken to safeguard the interests of the employees and the students”, Mr S.K. Sehdev, president of the association said.

The association would boycott final examinations and would organise protest dharnas throughout the state if the Government did not accept its demands, he said.


School upgraded
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 28
Punjab Education Minister Tota Singh yesterday upgraded Government Girls School at Charik village, to plus two with immediate effect.

Speaking at a function here, the minister said the government was committed to upgrading rural schools all over the state.

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 |