Monday, July 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Calendar issue likely on agenda
SGPC meeting today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 8
A meeting of the Sikh clergy, scheduled to be held at the Akal Takht secretariat tomorrow is likely to discuss burning issues, including the controversial Nanakshahi calendar.

The Dharm Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had recently urged the Sikh high priests to take a final decision on the calendar before the publication of the SGPC annual diary. The issue has been pending for the past about two years. It may be mentioned here that the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur had got Giani Puran Singh, the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, removed as he had imposed a ban on the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar.

The three high priests and the SGPC were excommunicated from the Sikh Panth following the controversy over the calendar. Later, Akal Takht had banned a public debate on the issue.

The Nanakshahi calendar authored by Canada-based Sikh Paul Singh Purewal had virtually divided the Sant Samaj, with one section opposed to its implementation even as radical Sikhs favoured it for distinct identity of the Sikhs.

Another important issue, which is likely to be taken up tomorrow, is the alleged blasphemous acts of Baba Pyara Singh Bhaniyara, who has been excommunicated from the Panth. Akal Takht has already taken serious view of the alleged ‘anti-Panthic’ activities of Baba Bhaniyara. The latter had said that directives of Akal Takht did not apply on him as he was not a Sikh.

Akal Takht had also taken exception to the ‘controversial granth’ written to glorify Baba Bhaniyara. In this granth, the Baba was described showering blessings on a baptised Sikh who had turned away from the Sikh religion. The Baba was quoted saying that he did not care for the directives of Akal Takht.

It may be mentioned here that Akal Takht had already appealed to the ‘Sikh sangat’ not to have any ties with Baba Bhaniyara as he is no more a Sikh.

The Sikh clergy may also take up the issue regarding constituting of a sub-committee regarding the death of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. While Akal Takht had directed the SGPC to constitute the committee to end confusion on the status of Sant Bhindranwale (whether he is dead or alive), the SGPC chief, Jathedar Talwandi has stated that there is no need for such a committee as it had already declared him a ‘martyr’.

The high priests will discuss the issue regarding the inquiry against Baba Dhanwant Singh of Gurdaspur. They will also discuss the issue of Gurdwara Talwara in Hoshiarpur district.

Sources said Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, wanted to decide crucial Panthic issues before his proposed visit to Canada in the third week of July. However, sources close to Jathedar Vedanti said he did not wish to visit Vancouver where controversy over ‘langar’ was still alive. Jathedar Vedanti would visit Toronto and other parts of Canada as part of his tour.


SAD for no-war pact with Pak: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supports the idea of a “no-war pact” between India and Pakistan. Besides, it also desires the plying of a bus between Amritsar and Lahore on the Delhi-Lahore bus service pattern.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and secretary-general of the SAD, said his party favoured cordial relations between the two countries because whenever there was a war Punjab suffered the maximum.

Mr Dhindsa said the meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf was a good step of improving relations. He also favoured cultural and sports exchange on a grand scale besides increase in trade between the two countries on the plea that this would help the people in mounting pressure on both governments to solve the issues, including the Kashmir problem.

The Union Minister said India had reduced import duties in the case of Pakistan so that trade could flourish. He also expressed the hope that visa restrictions would be relaxed by the two countries in the near future to promote cultural and sports exchange programmes and trade.

Mr Dhindsa said Mr Vajpayee had convened an all-party meeting on July 9 to seek views and have a consensus on different issues which were likely to be discussed between him (Mr Vajpayee) and General Musharraf at a meeting in a few days. He said if Pakistan agreed not to support militants against India, it would be a big achievement to curb militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country.

Mr Dhindsa alleged that Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, a Khalistan protagonist, was a product of the Congress. He said even Dr Chohan had played a key role in toppling the Justice Gurnam Singh’s coalition government in Punjab.

Mr Dhindsa said the SAD had no links with Wasan Singh Zaffarwal and Dr Chohan as both opposed the ideology of the SAD. He further said in view of the ensuing Assembly elections, the Congress in Punjab was now creating a terror in the name of Zaffarwal and Chohan to use them against the SAD.

Regarding the proposed setting up of a Rs 1500 crore amonia-urea fertiliser project in the Sunam belt by a multinational company, Mr Dhindsa said it had been delayed for an indefinite period as the company was hesitating to set up the project in view of the recommendations of Expenditure Reforms Commission of the Union Government.

Mr Dhindsa said the commission had recommended to abolish all subsidies on fertilisers by 2006. This was the reason that the company had abandoned the project for the time being, he added.

Mr Dhindsa expressed the hope that the amonia-urea fertiliser project would mature in the near future. For this, the Union Fertiliser Ministry had written to the Prime Minister not to implement these recommendations on fertiliser industry.

The ministry had also urged the Prime Minister to convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers and other parties concerned to discuss the matter and take a final decision on this, he added.

Chohan discharged from hospital
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The self-styled president of the Council of Khalistan, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, was discharged from Silver Oaks Hospital in Phase IX, SAS Nagar, this afternoon. However, his whereabouts could not be known. Police sources and intelligence agencies were reportedly unaware of his whereabouts. Family sources, when contacted, maintained that he was recuperating with friends and relatives.


Bibi: take up shrines’ issue with Pak
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 8
A former president of the SGPC and MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur has urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to prevail upon Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf to restore the rights to maintain the historical Sikh shrines in Pakistan to the SGPC during the forthcoming summit.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, in a letter to the Prime Minister today, said though the SGPC had been maintaining the historical gurdwaras in Pakistan even after the Partition, yet the Pakistan Government constituted the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PGPC) in April, 1999, depriving the SGPC from serving its heritage. She further said the Sikh community would never accept a non-Sikh as the president of the PGPC. General Musharraf should be pressed to dissolve the PGPC and transfer the rights to maintain the historical Sikh shrines to the SGPC, she added.


Rules manipulated for job to VIP kin
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
In yet another case of nepotism, the Punjab Government has appointed the daughter-in-law of a minister as Medical Officer in the Punjab Health Services in the handicapped category. She is said to be having 49 per cent hearing impairment. Even the interview was not referred to the Punjab Public Service Commission and was conducted by the Health Department itself.

Dr Varinderpal Kaur, daughter-in-law of Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Irrigation Minister, has been appointed as a doctor in the Health Department under the handicap category. Although at the first instance she was rejected by the interview board, yet she was re-examined to establish that she was having impaired hearing.

Sources in the Health Department revealed that the appointment was made under a well-organised plan. There were nine posts lying vacant in the handicapped category in the department. However, only one post was advertised last year to favour the particular candidate. Although the appointment had already been cleared by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the interview was fixed for June 27 and only two candidates were shortlisted for the interview.

The sources said, while the interview was first scheduled to be held on July 9, it was preponed to June 27. This was allegedly done to ensure that the interview was held before the Chief Minister left for the USA. There were only two members in the interview board, which included the Secretary, Health, in the Punjab Government as the Chairman and the Director Health as the member.

The Secretary, Health, reportedly got suspicious about the hearing disabilty of Mrs Varinderpal Kaur and cancelled the interview. However, under some pressure she was given another chance to procure a certificate that she had hearing impairment. She allegedly procured the certificate from a hospital in Chandigarh.

The sources revealed that Mrs Varinderpal Kaur passed her MBBS from Karnataka in 1997 with 53 per cent marks. She had sought admission under the general category and had remained as such throughout her graduation. She had never mentioned about her “impaired hearing” earlier the sources added.

The secretary, health, was reportedly reluctant to clear her appointment as he was not convinced about her claims of “ hearing impairment” and the interview was cancelled. However, the department again held the interview within a week on July 4. By that time she had been re-examined and confirmed to be having 49 per cent hearing impairment.

Meanwhile, some of the aggrieved candidates who were not shortlisted for the interview had reportedly approached the Health Minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, who expressed his helplessness on the issue as it had already been decided at a higher level.


Resource crunch hits refinery work
Tribune News Service

Phulokhari (Bathinda), July 8
Even as Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) has started evaluating the possibility of tapping the market to partially fund its proposed nine million tonne Punjab refinery project being set up here, construction work on the 18-km long road connecting the project site with the national highway has come to a halt due to an acute shortage of funds with the Punjab Government.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the 18-km long road was to be funded by the HPCL and the state PWD on a fifty-fifty basis. The HPCL had contributed its share while the PWD failed to contribute any money.

Though the road was to be completed by June 30, it will take three more month from the day the work restarts. Due to a shortage of funds, contractors have been suffering huge losses.

A senior PWD official said on the condition of anonymity that funds by the Government would be released shortly.

He said the government was apprised of the situation about two months ago. He said he was not competent to make any comment on why the government had failed to release the funds.

For the construction of all components on the refinery promises, the HPCL had been contemplating to raise funds through debt or public issue or a combination of both to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 2,000 crore. The total cost of the project was estimated at Rs 10,000 crore.

Meanwhile, the HPCL has started work on site grading and roads. The tenders for tank pad foundation, temporary construction, drinking water supply system, area lighting and erection and fabrication of tank have been floated.

The oil refinery project, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee on November 13, 1998, with much fanfare has been witnessing repeated delays. In the past over two years, a boundary wall encircling 2,000 acres and other little works have been completed.

The refinery was to be commissioned for commercial production after 48 months from the day of the foundation stone ceremony. 


Ashk is Shehanshah-e-Ghazal
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal conferred the Shehanshah-e-Ghazal award on Parveen Kumar Ashk for his contributions to Urdu poetry and ghazal. This was the second award given to him by the Punjab Government in two months. In April this year he was honoured by the Language Department, Punjab.

The Shehanshah-e-Ghazal award was given at a function held in connection with the Sangat Darshan programme of the Chief Minister in the Sujanpur constituency. The award includes Rs 5100 in cash, a shawl, memento and an appreciation letter.

Ashk had won several prestigious awards earlier also. In recognition of his 25-year literacy service towards the promotion of ghazal, Sahitkar Sansad Bihar, a voluntary literacy organisation, honoured Ashk with the Firaque Gorkhpuri award in May, 1998. A Pakistani cultural organisation “Melody”, has invited him to Pakistan for honouring him for his “Tawazun”.

His books on Urdu poetry like “Chandani ke Khatoot” “Dar Badar” “Dua Talab” and “Ghazal Tere Shehar Mein” helped establish him in urdu poetry. He was invited to participate in Urdu seminars and symposiums in Pakistan, England, America, Canada and Gulf countries.

BBC London broadcast a live interview with Ashk through satellite under the programme “Ghazal ka Safar” in November 2000. The late Governor of Punjab, Mr Surinder Nath, also honoured Ashk at Rock Garden, Chandigarh, in 1992 on the eve of the Indo-Pak mushaira as a representative of Urdu ghazal writers.

He plays with urdu words in his own style, and has given a new meaning to many words like, Khushboo, Khuda, Samundar, Sarhad, Booda, Masjid, Baccha, Sooraj, Hawa Phool, Deewar etc. Ashk’s poetry has brought in praise from world-fame poets like Ahmed Nadeem Quasmi, Dr Wazir Agha, Saqvi Farooqi, Nida Fazli, Mohammed Alvi, Balraj Komal, Nasir Shehzad, Bashir Badar, Dr Hamidi Kashmiri and many many more.

Ashk has the ambition to get some audio cassettes recorded of his ghazals and songs to enter Bollywood. For this, he is busy composing ghazals and songs.

Son of an Urdu poet Kanwal Hoshiarpuri, Ashk got his first lesson in reciting Urdu ghazals from his father who taught him the way to write and recite Urdu poetry.

Employed as an Assistant Engineer in the Ranjit Sagar dam project Ashk has the ambition of being counted among the top Urdu poets to keep the flags of Urdu poetry on the high profiles.


Women cops for border
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 8
The Punjab Government has mooted a proposal to deploy women constables at various gates along the zero line of the Indo-Pak border to frisk women who go beyond the cobra fencing to work in their fields. According to information, there are many farmers having land holdings across the cobra fencing along the zero line of the international border.

The cobra fencing was done at a time when insurgency in Punjab was at its peak to plug cross-border infiltration. It proved effective in curbing terrorism, but the farmers suffered in the bargain as they were totally dependent on the fields across the fencing to earn their living. Later on they were allowed to go to their fields through the barbed wire gates all along the border, but they resented the strict rules and regulations of the Border Security Force they had to adhere to.

All farmers were provided identity cards so that they did not face any hardship and inconvenience while commuting to and fro in the sensitive border zone but their plight continued. The farmers disliked the idea of their women folk having to go through frisking at the hands of BSF jawans. Keeping this problem of the border residents in view who constitute a significant vote bank, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had announced way back that women volunteers would be enrolled in the border wing of the Punjab Home Guards who will assist the BSF sleuths to frisk the female members of the farmers’ families going beyond the cobra fencing to work in the fields.

Now after prolonged deliberations, the directorate of the Punjab Home Guards and Civil Defence has released a circular to give the proposal a practical shape. According to the circular, women volunteers to be deployed at the barbed wire gates along the Punjab Frontier should belong to the villages falling within a 5 km radius of that particular gate and such volunteers will be selected by the border wing company headquarters of the Punjab Home Guards. All company commanders of the different border wings of the Punjab Home Guards have been entrusted with the job of making a list of all women interested in picking up the assignment.

According to information, there are around 70 gates which fall under the jurisdiction of the 5th battalion of the Punjab Home Guards deployed here. For every gate, five women volunteers are to be selected out of which the one selected by the state headquarters will be deployed whereas the others will be kept in reserve.

Sources in the Punjab Home Guards say the selection process has begun and soon the lists will be sent to the state headquarters for the final nod. In order to evoke interest among rural women folk and to motivate them to join the force, a wide publicity exercise has been undertaken, sarpanches have been asked to cooperate, notices have been put at various places in panchayat ghars and munadi is also being done.

According to information, the shortlisted candidates approved by the state headquarters will be given 15 days’ training in tandem with BSF troops before their deployment at the gates along the border. As Punjab Home Guards officials are finding it difficult to find women candidates who fit the criterion and parameters laid by the headquarters they have requested the authorities for some relaxation in the selection criteria.

A quick survey of the villages along the border belt shows that earlier the response among women to take up these jobs was poor, but now they seem to be eager to join the force. They feel that instead of deploying one women volunteer at each gate, there should be two of them so that they feel comfortable working with the BSF jawans and in the absence of one, the other can perform the duty. There also were segments of people, who expressed an apprehension that the proposal, instead of helping the farmers, might facilitate the operations of anti-social elements and smugglers who have a strong nexus in the border areas.


Cong man wants more security for Sonia
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu, member of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today demanded that the Central Government should beef up the security of the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, as the threat to her life had increased after the return of Khalistan ideologue, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, to India.

Mr Sandhu, while talking to mediapersons here, said Dr Chohan had given a veiled threat by making a statement that the family members of late Indira Gandhi should tender an unconditional apology for the ‘violence’ otherwise the God would always remain unkind to them.

He pointed out that late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the terrorists belonging to LTTE as the then Government had diluted his security.

The present government should make arrangements to ward off all possible threats to the life of the family members of late Indira Gandhi, he added.

Mr Sandhu alleged that Dr Chohan was playing into the hands of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and was trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Punjab by raising the issue of Khalistan again.

He alleged that Mr Badal and Dr Chohan were doing so as they were frustrated over the rising popularity of the Congress at the time when the Assembly election was drawing near.


Chohan playing into Oppn hands: Mittal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 8
Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, Khalistan proponent, is playing in the hands of Opposition parties in their attempt at maligning the ruling alliance in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, said this when asked to comment on the recent statements of Dr Chohan against Mr Badal. Mr Mittal was at Nangal today to attend the cremation of the former president of the local unit of the Bhartiya Yuva Morcha, Mr Sanjay, who died of a heart attack during the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Making a scathing attack on Dr Chohan, Mr Mittal alleged that he had tried to create divisions among residents of Punjab. However, now the people had rejected him as illustrated from the fact that no one went to receive him at the Chandigarh railway station on his arrival.

Even the Opposition parties had refused to accept him into their fold. He should now learn from the past and avoid making statements which hurt the feelings of the people, he said.

He blamed the Congress for giving undue importance to Dr Chohan in the media. The Congress had not been able to find any agenda for the forthcoming Assembly elections and was trying to mislead the farmers of the state by spreading apprehensions regarding foodgrain procurement.

So now the Congress was trying to create insecurity among the people who had suffered during terrorism by giving publicity to Dr Chohan who had returned to the country on orders from court.

Asked about the BJP panel for concessions to urban voters, Mr Mittal said the penal had almost completed its work and its report would be taken up with the Chief Minister on his arrival from abroad.


Rural women relieved of chullah
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
Now housewives of the rural areas can no more sing the song “gas cylinder le de ve, dhuan ne akhan galiyan (bring me a gas cylinder as smoke has “damaged my eyes”) as gas cylinder are available on their doorsteps. They don’t have to go to the gas agency office for getting the connection as agency employees themselves come to their houses and offer their services.

Increased competition between gas companies has led to rise in production of LPG cylinders and brought efficient service to the consumers. Earlier the scene was different, in the beginning, the use of LPG cylinders was limited to the cities due to a gap in supplies and demand, cylinders were not easily available. So the people had to wait for hours in queues and also had to tolerate the rude behaviour of employees of gas agencies.

In the recent past, various oil companies have stepped into the business of production of LPG and its supply to the households. These companies have given special attention towards the rural areas which have great sale potential. Now the facility of home delivery has made it easier. Customers can get the connection even on phone.

The gas agencies has dispensed with paper work and other formalities while giving the delivery of gas cylinder. All this is being done to attract more and more customers.

In the rural areas, women used ‘chullahs’ by burning cotton sticks and cow dung cakes, which produced lot of smoke. While burning it caused irritation to eyes.

The rural women feel very happy “we had never thought that we would ever got relieved from the smoke chullah”, says most of rural women. But the unauthorised agents doing business of supplying gas cylinders at households are looting innocent villagers by overcharging them.

When asked from a gas dealer about the sudden increase in the production of LPG gas and improvement in the service condition, he said in the coming months many reputed multi-national companies would step into the business, so the local suppliers were trying their best to strengthen their market.


Historic lake begs resurrection
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 8
Even while the government claims it wants to create tourist facilities in the city, nothing is being done to restore the glory of the ‘’lake’’ which is sans water now situated behind the National Institute of Sports (NIS).

Having a radius of nearly 1.5 km, the lake is situated in a scenic spot surrounded by a natural forest. There is an island in the lake on which a wonderful colonial structure named ‘’thanda burj ‘’ has been constructed.

However, the lake built by the royalty of Patiala behind Sheesh Mahal, the main part of which has been taken over by the NIS, has been forgotten by everyone and none seems to be interested in restoring it to its former glory. The entire area is closed to the people with entry from the Sheesh Mahal side, which is under the control of the Punjab Government, closed and no entry possible from the NIS.

The lake, which comes under the control of the NIS, is ignored by the premier sports body also. A hall which used to house the boats of the Maharaja has been converted into a conditioning room for weight-lifters. The lake itself is a picture of neglect. What to take of attempts to restore it, a part of it has been converted into a dumping site for ‘’malba’’ and even marble chips. Besides, vegetation, including trees, have been allowed to take roots in the lake itself despite the fact that the entire lake had been covered with bricks at a stupendous cost even in princely times.

The situation is such that a casual observer does not understand that a lake once stood at the present site. This is because wild growth has been allowed to come up in the lake. Where once bricks alone covered the base of the lake, full-grown trees have sprung up now. Besides this grass covers most of the base with original bricks being seen only in patches.

Old timers disclosed that the lake in its glory was a pleasure to behold. They said a small railway track, which is still present, was used to push the boats in the lake and that the island was used in princely times to take in the air acquiring the name ‘’thanda burj’’. They said strangely “thanda burj” had been recently given a coat of paint but nothing was being done about the lake.

Mr Karminderjit Singh, an ex-serviceman, said the lake could easily be revived to its former glory if the NIS authorities and the district administration were keen a developing it into a tourist spot. One had to clear the channels bringing water into the lake earlier, besides clearing its premises of trees and shrubs.

The jungle around the lake could be used to a telling effect from the tourist point of view. Once the lake was restored to its former glory, it could easily be used for water sports due to its large area. Sources said another water spot which had been developed recently Rajindra Tank — could not be used for water sports due to its small size.



Airport security not adequate: minister
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi (Amritsar), July 8
“Security at Rajasansi international airport needs improvement, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Minister for Civil Aviation, said while installing a model of Durgiana Temple at the airport here today.

The minister’s statement assumes significance in view of the security lapse in the 1999 hijacking incident and the latest in the entry of hardcore terrorist Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, chief of the Khalistan Commando Force on a fake passport on January 9 this year without being detected.

However, the minister said more international and local flights would be introduced shortly in addition to the existing 14 to give the airport an international flavour besides making it comparable to other international airports in the country. Work has already commenced on the runway extension while new terminals will be starting by August-September.

The minister was also apprised of the problems being faced by passengers at the hands of the immigration and customs authorities. There were also queries regarding sanitation and upkeep of the toilets which were answered by Mr V.S. Mulekar, Director, airport, who said the repair and maintenance work of the entire building was going on. Mr Gupta, however, said complaints would be looked into.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch senior vice-president, Mr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, in a statement said the Minister for Civil Aviation had assured their deputation that the inauguration of the international airport could be possible by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee who is likely to be here on the BJP’s national conference to be held sometime in August-September.

The minister said seven other airports would be upgraded in a phased manner which included Leh, Srinagar, Jammu, Kulu, Kangra, Pathankot, Ludhiana. In addition, the minister assured the four-laning of the approach road to the airport. He said financial crisis was a gift by the previous governments in power hence the privatisation of airlines was the most appropriate and cost saving solution to the problem besides providing additional income to the government in terms of usage cost, sale stores and enhanced tourism. Mr Chaman Lal indicated that in the coming years privatisation of airports would also be possible and the most likely cosmopolitan cities for this beginning would be Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai airports.

The designer of the Durgiana Temple model, Dr Sukhpal Singh was not present on the occasion.


FM urges ex-servicemen to remain united
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh today elicited support of the ex-servicemen in the state. Addressing the gathering at a convention organised by the state chapter of the Indian Ex-Services League here today, the Finance Minister said the ex-servicemen and the Shrimoni Akali Dal (SAD) should support each other for mutual benefit.

A suggestion for establishing a political outfit comprising ex-servicemen, christened Ex-services Democratic Front, apparently aimed at enlarging SAD’s political base, was also mooted during the convention.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said Punjab had a strength of about seven lakh ex-servicemen, but they had failed to realise the potential of their combined strength. Stating that the times were such where the voice of the weak or divided went unheard, he urged them to become a unified force so that their aims could be achieved and their problems could be solved.

Stating that the training and requirements of the services do not teach them to easily come to terms with civilian lifestyle after retirement, he suggested that ex-servicemen should change their method of functioning and try to emerge as a political power or pressure group which can exert influence in the corridors of power and have a say in decision making.

He said the Punjab government as well as the SAD supported the ex-servicemen’s long standing demand of one-rank, one-pension. Stating that it is a justified demand, he added that the state government would project it before the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister seeking its implementation as well as other promises made during the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa.

While agreeing with the complaints that civilian authorities did not care for the ex-servicemen, he urged them not to deviate from the proper path to achieve their aims. Responding to a complaint made by an ex-serviceman, he said that he would issue orders immediately to all senior superintendents of police as well as officers in charge of police stations in the state to treat ex-servicemen with due respect and dignity.

The Finance Minister also brought a happy note to the convention. He said following representations that the rate of rum in CDS canteens in Punjab was high due to levy of excise, the government had decided to reduce the price by Rs 15 per bottle.

Various speakers also highlighted the problems being faced by the ex-servicemen. The speakers alleged that vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, ex-servicemen had always been discriminated against by the successive central governments in matters relating to pay and allowances, pension, medical facilities and other benefits and welfare measures.

It was pointed out that jawans who retire without completing 33 years of service get very less pension and a demand was raised that either the pension be raised to 50 per cent of the last pay drawn or they be assured of lateral employment after retirement. Another issue raised was non-filling up of quota in government jobs for ex-servicemen.


Where doctors treat patients at doorstep
K.K Goyal

Mansa, July 8
The Bhal Behlo government hospital as Phapre Bhalke village in this district has been creating awareness among villagers about how to prevent various diseases. A team of doctors led by Dr Nishan Singh, Medical Officer of the hospital, went from door to door for 25 days to conduct a survey which concluded today about various diseases.

During the survey, the team examined 1,518 men 1,419 women and 1,190 children. As many as 226 persons were found suffering from abdominal pain, 131 from asthma, 98 from ENT-related troubles, 68 from diabetes, 20 from blood pressure, 47 from cataract and 24 from drug dependence.

These patients are under observation and are being provided with treatment. The doctors visit the patients at their homes and provide treatment at their doorstep.

The doctors also invite villagers to seminars to create awareness among them and advise them to get treatment from qualified doctors and not depend on quacks. They were also advised to shun self-medication. Dr Baljit Kaur has asked women not to undergo abortion to destroy female foetus.

Major Pardaman Singh Sidhu (retd), President of the Bhal Behlo Government Rural Hospital Welfare Society, under whose supervision the building of the hospital was built announced today that he would donate an ECG machine to the hospital. Dr Nishan Singh said Puran Singh Jassi, UNICEF consultant for north India would visit Phapre Bhalka village tomorrow. He said it was likely that UNICEF would adopt this village.


Land-grabbers may become owners
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 8
Panchayat lands under private possession are likely to be transferred to lessees in possession of the land. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, said about 12,000 acres of panchayat land in the state had been encroached upon by individuals. The government was considering to transfer these lands to the encroachers on market price fixed by the Deputy Commissioner in consultation with the department concerned.

Mr Kahlon said if the encroachers did not make the payment, the government would give land recovery power to District Development and Panchayat Officers who had already been vested with the powers of the Collector.

He said the department had fixed a minimum lease price of Rs 4,000 per acre for leasing out panchayat lands. About 18,000 acre of panchayat land had been given on private lease at a price ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 per acre, depending on the quality of the land, and the revenue earned thereof was spent on the development of panchayats.

Mr Kahlon said several cases pertaining to the vacation of encroached panchayat and zila parishad lands were in court but the results were slow. Wherever a decree against such lands was passed by court, the recovery was done by the Revenue Department whose officials did not act as promptly as rural development officials. Hence, the recoveries kept on pending for several years.

He said concern over the revival of terrorism in view of the entry of Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Wassan Singh Zaffarwal into Punjab by the Congress and other opposition parties was only politically motivated. The SAD-BJP alliance would not allow separatist forces to rise again.

Sangat darshans were a medium for integrated development in Punjab, he said.


Plot for Rs 6000 to each SC family
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 8
The dream of more than 300 families belonging to Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and other poor sections of society living in slum areas of Fazilka town of this district of acquiring a house has at last, come true. Last evening the district administration initiated the process for the same.

At a ‘sangat darshan’ function at Fazilka last evening, Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, promised these families that they would be given residential plots on which the administration had already raised temporary and permanent structures.

Mr Ladhar announced that only Rs 6000 would be charged from those willing to own a plot at present occupied by them. About 332 plots would be allotted within a week.

More than 300 families living in the slum area here have been fighting for the transfer of plots in their names on which they have raised their dwellings.

Official sources said earlier the price fixing committee had finalised that Rs 6000 would be charged for each ‘marla’ from the occupant of the plot. The occupants insisted that in view of their economic conditions, the rates be slashed.

Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, Fazilka, said the allotment would be done within a week. The Municipal Council authorities would make arrangements for drinking water, roads, streetlights, sewerage and sanitation facilities in the area which had been inhabited by these people for the past 40 years.

He pointed out that all formalities for allotment would be completed today and the report for allotment of plots sent to Mr Ladhar tomorrow for approval. For the development of slum areas in the town, funds being received under the slum area development schemes would be utilised on an equitable distribution basis so that all slum-dwellers could be provided with basic amenities gradually.


Rly platform for elderly sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
Mr Sadhu Ram Kushla, General Secretary, Public Grievances Association (PGA), said in a press note issued here today that the association had demanded more facilities for railway passengers, commuting from this junction.

Mr Kushla said throughout the country, platform number 1 was approachable without using stairs but here it was the opposite. No platform at this junction was accessible without stairs. The association demanded a special platform for senior citizens.

In a letter to the Ministry of Railways, the association sought more ticket booking counters for defence personnel and computerisation of the booking process. At least one express train connecting Bathinda-Ferozepore route should be started and self-printing ticket machines should be installed at the junction here, it added.

With the efforts of the PGA, additional coaches, two each in Punjab Mail, Dainik Express and Inter City Express had been provided, he said, adding that the association had wrote to the Divisional Railway Manger, demanding a new train connecting Bathinda and Dhuri and had got a positive reply. 


SAD men sweep bank poll
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
The SAD swept the elections to the board of directors of Bathinda Cooperative Primary Agricultural Development Bank held today by winning all six seats.

The SAD candidates won the Jhumbe, Mehma Sarja and Bandi seats unopposed.

Members of the SHSAD had alleged that the nomination papers of their candidate were cancelled deliberately and on the instructions of the ruling party.

Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwal, a former Chairman of the bank and general secretary of the district unit of the SHSAD alleged that bunglings were made by the authorities concerned.

He alleged that the papers of their candidate from Goniana zone were cancelled deliberately and the covering candidate had to contest the elections.

However, Mr Nand Singh, district manager of the bank and Mr Sukhdev Singh, returning officer for the elections said there was no bungling in the elections. They said everything was according to the rules.

Mr Kulwant Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Teja Singh were the candidates of the SAD who had won unopposed from Jhumbe, Mehma Sarja and Bandi, respectively.

In today’s election Mr Kamaljeet Singh (SAD) won with a huge margin from the Bathinda zone. He got 838 votes while his opponent Mr Sukhjiwan Singh (SHSAD) got 17 votes.

The contest at Goniana was keen. The winning SAD candidate Mr Pritam Singh got 668 votes while his opponent from SHSAD Mr Iqbal Singh got 373 votes.

In the Kotshamir zone Mr Guraditta Singh of the SAD got 552 votes and Mr Hartej Singh Mehta of the SHSAD got 358 votes.


Plan to eradicate rabies by 2020
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 8
The deadly disease of rabies has assumed an alarming proportion as more than 90 per cent cases of the world are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

On the concluding day of the third international conference on rabies organised by the Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in collaboration with the Department of Community Medicine of the medical college here yesterday, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister, Medical Education and Research said the Punjab Government would chalk out an ambitious programme to eradicate rabies completely by the year 2020 as desired by the association. He said it was a matter of concern that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was not being implemented in true spirit. The human beings could not be sacrificed at the cost of animals. Mr Kalia said that the vaccines for animals were more costly than the vaccines for human beings. Dr M.L. Chugh said if the government launched the project with sincerity, rabies could be eradicated within 10 years.

Dr A.K. Datta from Paris, Dr A.S. Padda, organising secretary, Dr S.S. Deepti, Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College, Dr A.K. Goel and Dr M.K. Sudarshan were among those who addressed the conference.


56000 acres reclaimed
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 8
As much as 56000 acres waterlogged area in the Kahnuwan bet area from Pandori to Kot Mohammed Khan has been reclaimed for cultivation by the Drainage Department.

Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday said that 65 drains had been identified in the area, which join the main Kahnuwan Swamp drain. The total length of drains in the area measures 200 km.

The main drains which have been desilted include Kahnuwan Swamp drain, Kot Mohammed Khan, Bhattian, Ghukla, Noor Shan, Mann Ghoria, Chahpal, Bhurian, Sainian, Athwal and Fatehpur.

The villages whose land has been reclaimed included Bhurian Sainia, Jagowal, Kotli Sainian, Chak Yoqub, Mann Chopra, Sallopur, Dalla, Ghoria, Simbly, Chib, Bhattian, Basant Pur Laddopur, Kotli Harchanda, Bhain Pawaal, Bhaini Kian Khan, Gunnopur Beri, Khojki Chak, and Ghukla.

Mr Sidhu said that deweeding and desilting has also been done. He said Kahnuwan Swamp drain which is more than 100-year old had several kinks and curves which remained waterlogged. These kinks and curves which numbered 24 have been removed and the drain by and large has been straightened. Mr Sidhu said that several farmers in Bhurian Sainian, Kotli Sainian, and Mann Chopra cultivated wheat this year for the first time. Chammba of Dalla Choria has turned into a pasture.


Two doctors booked
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 8
The Phillaur police has registered a case under Sections 304-A, IPC, against two doctors, Dr Karnail Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh, of Apra village for negligence while treating a villager, Paramjit Singh, who later died at DMC, Ludhiana, on May 15.

The police registered the case on July 7 on a complaint by Ms Narinder Kaur, widow of the deceased. She alleged in her complaint that her husband Paramjit Singh was suffering from severe pain in the gall bladder and was admitted to the clinic of Dr Karnail Singh, who operated upon Paramjit for removing a stone, the next day. However, instead of recovering her husband remained listless due to which the doctor, asked the family to take the patient to DMC, Ludhiana, where he breathed his last on May 15.



Police action against Walia decried
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 8
An emergency meeting of the district unit of the Akali Dal (Walia group) was held here yesterday. The Civil Lines police was criticised for registering a case against its president, Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, allegedly without holding an inquiry.

The meeting alleged that it was a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Mr Walia. Mr Ajail Paul Singh an Akali Dal MLA, condemned the role of the Amritsar police. The Akali workers claimed that though the SSP had been informed about the land dispute, yet no action was taken in this regard. Instead, a case was registered against Mr Walia.


Little TV buffs can suffer from epilepsy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Excessive television viewing can cause epilepsy among children. Neurologist Ashok Uppal told this to newsmen here on his return from London after attending a world congress of neurology. Dr Uppal said children who watch TV and play video games can be affected with photosensitive epilepsy.

There were over 50 million people suffering from epilepsy in the world. Nearly 90 lakh such persons were in India alone. He said the disease had assumed a considerable proportion in Punjab due to higher intake of drugs, alcohol and the fast life-style.

Cancelled’ note in circulation again?
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
“Cancelled” currency notes have been found in circulation again. Mr Jaswinder Singh, an employee of the GNDIP showing a currency note to The Tribune, said he had got the same in his pay packet. When I found the note defective, I approached the authorities concerned of the bank but they refused to accept the note, stating that the packet had been opened.

Bank officials when contacted said it was not possible that a currency note once withdrawn could come into circulation again.


Irregular water supply: villagers seek CM’s help
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 8
Residents of a number of villages in this district in a communication to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today sought his intervention in getting them regular supply of drinking water. They alleged that they had not been getting regular supply of water for the past several months. Tubewells installed in their respective villages were lying idle as no repairs had ever been carried out. They alleged that although they had repeatedly written to the officials concerned yet nothing had been done.


BKU for action against farm input firm
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 8
Members of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union in separate communications to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, and the Director, Agriculture, Punjab, yesterday sought their intervention into a case of sale of substandard and spurious zirm (zinc), fertilizers, insecticides and agricultural medicines by Pawan Kumar, the proprietor of messers Mehar Chand Kanshiram of Moga.

They have alleged that no action had been taken against him although the samples taken from the shop were found substandard and spurious.

The communication stated that if the government failed to take necessary action against the suspect the BKU would launch a driver both against the accused and the government.

At a meeting of the union, held here recently, chaired by the general secretary of the Punjab Bhartiya Kisan Union, Mr Bhupinder Singh Maheshri, the sale of substandard zirm (zinc) by certain dealers was condemned and stern action demanded against them.


Stone of rural water supply scheme laid
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 8
The upper level of water in about 120 villages in Patiala, Ropar and Fatehgarh districts which is unsafe for drinking purposes is being made hygienic with the help of NABARD in collaboration with the Public Health Department, Punjab at an expense of Rs 21.58 crore.

This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health Minister, Punjab, while laying the foundation stone of a Rural Water Supply Scheme at Doda village in Nabha subdivision here today. The project will cost Rs 17 lakh.

A survey of various other villages has also been made to find out the availability of less and dirty water in such villages. Raja Narinder Singh said new pipe lines would be laid to ensure that villagers got clean and safe drinking water. He added that tubewells had also been set up in about 270 villages near Hoshiarpur and Ropar areas and the responsibility of these had been laid upon the panchayats.

Raja Narinder Singh advised the farmers to improve their agricultural field from mere ploughing their land to establishing factories. He said the scope of agricultural sector would reduce with time and advised the farmers to sell their fruits and vegetables in international markets in order to make more profits out of their produce.

He even advised the rural women and youths to go for self-employment schemes rather than looking for jobs. He added that the state government had also introduced many schemes for Dalits apart from the construction of a dharamshala and cremation ground. 



Private parties not to get octroi posts’
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, July 8
The Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon said yesterday that octroi posts would not be given on a contract basis to private persons this year.

Talking to mediapersons, while distributing cheques to farmers to compensate for loss suffered by them in the last paddy season, Mr Tandon said the step was being taken keeping the interest of people in mind.

Earlier, Mr Tandon distributed cheques worth Rs 54.32 lakh to about 1,400 farmers as compensation. Mr Tandon said as many as one lakh farmers had sold their paddy crop at less rates last year and the government had already distributed an amount of Rs 80 crore to offset the loss suffered by them.

Mr Tandon also disclosed that out of 18,000 cases lying in courts, about 14,500 cases had been solved and a compensatory amount of Rs 11 crore had also been distributed. A free medical check-up camp for 45,000 factory workers was also held on the occasion. He added that the state government was trying its best to provide employment opportunities to the youth and special centres had been set up at Chandigarh which would enable youths to of getting jobs abroad easily.

Mr Tandon said the Congress was trying to acquire political power by encouraging militancy in state. He said the various development works in Punjab had been made possible only during the past four years. Mr Tandon said the state was set for further improvement with the SAD-BJP set to form the future government in the state.

Mr Tandon said the government had decided to spend Rs 1 crore for development projects. He said Rs 20 lakh would be spent on school buildings in the area and added that the construction of planned over bridge to be constructed at Rajpura too would be completed in the coming three months. He added that the construction of a modern bus stand at Rajpura had also started.




Notice on meeting with VC ‘illegal’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 8
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) faction led by Prof B.S. Khaira has termed a notice circulated by Mr Manjit Singh, president of another faction of PUTA, regarding the holding of a meeting of newly appointed teachers under the career advancement scheme with the Vice-Chancellor on July 9 as illegal.

In a press note, Prof Khaira said this amounted to the recognition and encouragement to a body which had been made infructious following the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court vide a writ petition. He claimed that legally-elected PUTA had been showing restraint in order to maintain peace on the campus.

PUTA warned the Vice-Chancellor to desist from “factional activities and decisive politics’ as it would vitiate” the academic atmosphere. He said PUTA would be forced to launch criminal proceedings against the illegally” elected PUTA.

The association even appealed to Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, Chancellor, and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to restrain the Vice-Chancellor from such activities.



PMET results within 10 hrs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences achieved a rare distinction by posting on its website ( the results of the PMET within 10 hours of the completion of the examination conducted simultaneously in six districts of Punjab yesterday.

As many as 7,036 students took the examination in which Shyana Kansal of Faridkot topped the list of successful candidates by securing 736 marks out of a maximum of 800. The examination was conducted in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Faridkot and Hoshiarpur.

The examination ended around 1 p.m. and the results were uploaded at 10.30 p.m. The website of the university not only carries the results, but also gives the category to which the examinee belongs, his or her subjectwise marks, his or her overall position and position in the category in which he or she qualifies.

“It was a stupendous task,” says Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of the university, maintaining that “every effort was made to conduct the examination, evaluate the answersheets and declare the results in a fair manner, leaving no scope for manipulation”.

“There were no complaints from anywhere about the conduct of the exam,” he said. From Monday, individual result cards would be despatched to the candidates.

The University is also maintaining a complete profile of each candidate on its website as well as its data bank for future use. In the personal profile of each candidate are important details, including his or her date of birth and complete postal address .

These profiles will be handy at the time of counselling which starts soon.

The PMET will be the basis for admission to all MBBS, BDS, ayurveda, homoeopathy, physiotherapy, nursing and allied courses conducted by the university. In all, there are about 2,000 seats. 


DRDA to set up 27 computer centres
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
Rural youths in the district will no longer have to go to cities to learn computers as these will be available at their doorstemp, thanks to the new policy of the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) under which it will set up computer training institutes in villages. Under the scheme at least 27 such centres will be set up at focal points of the district. Out of these nine centres will start functioning soon.

Technical assistance for the project will be provided by Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between PTU and the DRDA recently according to the MoU the centres in the rural areas will work as subcentres of the university.

The university will be responsible for the admission of students. It will also frame other rules like tenure of the course and the fee required.

Special attention will be given so that all sections of the society benefit plan to give relaxations in fee and other expenses to those living below the poverty line is also on the anvil.

In the first phase centres are being set up at Mandikalan, Kothaguru, Harraipur, Chak Fateh Singhwala, Kal Jharani, Lehra Mohabat and Baluana. All these villages are not only focal points but also important centres in the district.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), when contacted said the centres were being set up to bring IT revolution in the district and hoped that the entire district would be covered by the scheme.


Concessions for poor students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Guru Nanak Dev University here has offered incentives to the poor students for pursuing their higher education in its affiliated colleges.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Soch, said here yesterday that all the colleges had been given five additional seats for each course. He added that college principals had been requested to take special steps to grant admission to poor students from orphnages, children of labourers, riot affected, terrorist affected and from the families owning less than 2 acres or educationally backward.

Dr Soch said colleges had been instructed to charge only Rs 1000 inclusive of fee and other funds while the university would give concession in the university examination fee etc.

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