Sunday, July 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



DSP’s post in Punjab for Rs 70 lakh: Jagmeet Brar
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi
Tribune News Service

Rayya (Amritsar), July 21
The Punjab Congress displayed strength and unity at a massive rally in the rural belt of the border region. The first ever meeting attended by AICC treasurer Moti Lal Vora, general secretary Mrs Ambika Soni along with other high command leaders today gave call to the people of the Majha region to oust the corrupt Punjab government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and bring the Congress back to power.

The general secretary of the AICC, Mrs Ambika Soni addressing the rally dropped a bombshell when she alleged that the Punjab CM had requisitioned the services of intelligence personnel from Haryana to prepare a survey report on his popularity in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The general secretary conveying the message of Mrs Sonia Gandhi said that the Congress would not make any promise to the voters till they were fully convinced of its fulfillment and implementation.

She added that Mr Badal has been spending crores of rupees now to buy votes but people would see through his ulterior design and defeat his party.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in her forthright address to the Congress workers expressed her deep dismay over the humiliation the country had to suffer by inviting the architect of Kargil War General Pervez Musharraf by the NDA government.

Lashing out at the government led by Mr Badal, the former Chief Minister voiced her concern over the increasing poverty, unemployment and lack of development which were causing misery to all sections of the society.

The former Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr R.L. Bhatia, the main architect of today’s rally in the Majha belt said that the Congress today was totally united behind their leader Captain Amarinder Singh.

The Congress MP from Faridkot, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar said that corruption in the Badal government had reached astronomical heights as for every posting, transfer and new appointment the rates had been fixed. Citing the example of the recruitment of DSPs, Mr Brar alleged that Rs 70 lakh were being collected for the each post while different rates were fixed for similar posts in the state. Mr Brar affirmed his faith in the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh and asserted that the PPCC Chief was the undisputed leader of the party in the state.

The PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh, who was last to speak, said that the Punjab government was totally bankrupt as it was selling its assets, including land and buildings to collect funds to pay salaries and dole out grants during the sangat darshans.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the Akali Party was responsible for more than 73 custodial deaths as there was growing human rights violation in the state. It seems the government has lost courage to rein in the police, which was adopting extra Constitutional methods to eliminate innocent people.

The rally was attended among others by senior Congress leaders, including members of Parliament, MLAs, members of the PPCC, prospective candidates for MLA and thousands of workers.


Punjab signs MoU with Israeli company
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, at a luncheon meeting with Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Haryana Chief Minister, at New Delhi on Saturday. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, is also seen in the picture.

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who received a tumultuous welcome from his Cabinet colleagues, party workers and others at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport on his return from the USA last night, had finalised signing of an MoU with an Israeli company and also finalisation of programmes related to the holding of anniversaries of both Ch. Devi Lal and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal as the first major items on his hectic agenda today.

According to sources in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, which is temporarily functioning from Punjab Bhavan in New Delhi, Mr Parkash Singh Badal also held a meeting with the Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, in the afternoon. The Punjab Chief Minister also had a long meeting and lunch with his Haryana counterpart, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, where details about celebrating the birth anniversary of Ch. Devi Lal at Killianwalli on September 25 were discussed.

Unveiling of the bronze statue of Ch. Devi Lal and holding of a massive Punjab and Haryana sadbhavna rally would be the main highlights of the September 25 function at Killianwalli where besides leaders from the two states, some top central leaders are also expected to join.

Mr Badal also held a meeting with the Union Fertilisers and Chemicals Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, to discuss details and modalities of observing the “martyrdom day” of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal on August 20, thus indicating that the emphasis in coming days would be on major massive rallies at different places in the state with an eye on the ensuing assembly elections. Last night, when Mr Badal arrived from the USA, the VIP lounge of the Indira Gandhi International Airport was virtually bursting at seams. Almost all members of the Punjab Council of Ministers, several legislators, senior leaders of both the Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janta Party, were present. They were joined by some central ministers, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and Vice-Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, and some local Akali leaders, including Mr Onkar Singh Thapar.

In the morning, Mr Badal had separate sessions with the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, and other senior administrative-cum-principal secretaries, starting at 7. All senior officers were told to be present in Delhi on the night of July 20 or early morning of July 21. Since yesterday, the sources said Punjab Bhavan had been the beehive of activity.

The Chief Minister also approved a project for green house cultivation of vegetables in Punjab as a joint venture between Markfed and the Sayag group of Israel. This Rs 80 crore project would come up at Ludhiana’s Biotechnology Centre proposed at Laddowal. The vegetables produced at the centre would be sold abroad.

The Punjab Chief Minister has also a number of important functions lined up for him in the coming days, including the formal inauguration of upgraded facilities at Raja Sansi International Airport on July 27 by the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Sharad Yadav.


Visa centre sought
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today urged the Union Home Minister to clear a proposal for opening a Canadian visa centre in Chandigarh to facilitate a large number of people.


PTU course not recognised: UGC
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman, Dr Hari Gautam, in an interview with TNS stated here today that the UGC had not recognised any distance education course of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar.

Answering a question whether PTU is running its distance education programme in accordance with the UGC guidelines in this regard, as is claimed by the university, he said the UGC had not issued any guidelines in regard to distance education and had, in fact, decided to stop every university involved in imparting distance education from franchising its courses to private companies.

“In fact, we will be issuing a notification in this regard to all universities which are giving out franchises to private companies to run their distance education courses,” he said. “The courses being offered by PTU have been recognised as regular courses not as distance education courses which have their own set of rules and regulations to conform too.

Meanwhile, PTU in an advertisement issued today has claimed that since the university is recognised by the UGC, its various diplomas and degrees are recognised as such. This also seems to be not true. According to a Panjab University senator, “Dating does not mean marriage. After the university has got its initial recognition from the UGC each and every course being offered by the university has to be recognised individually by the UGC, AICTE or the DEC whichever is applicable.”

In another clarification, PTU has, however, claimed that they have approached the Distance Education Council for accreditation of its distance education courses. But if the DEC authorities are to be believed, till day before yesterday, PTU had never contacted them for any approval.

A large number of questions are also being raised about the amount of fee being charged by the university for these distance education course. “The Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application (PGDCA) which costs Rs 7,500 per semester to the students is the same course content and curricula wise as the first year of M.SC in IT which costs Rs 9,500 per semester. So, we are encouraging students to take up PGDCA as they will save Rs 4,000 in the first year. For the rest of the M.SC in IT they will, however, be paying Rs 9,500 per semester,” informed an owner of such a PTU-approved study centre at Chandigarh.

It was reported day before yesterday that PTU’s distance education programme which offers a two-year degree in M.Sc (IT) along with three other postgraduate diplomas and two undergraduate degrees has not got any of these courses approved by the Distance Education Council, the central regulatory authority, which is responsible for maintenance of standards in distance education.


Another 15-foot breach in Ghaggar 
Fields flooded in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 21
A 15-foot breach today occurred in the Ghaggar between Makror and Mandvi villages in the Khanauri area, leading to the spread of more water in the fields of these villages and some other nearby villages.

This time Ghaggar has inundated more than 9000 acres of land in the Khanauri and Moonak areas so far. The water has entered the fields in more than 7500 acres of several villages of Khanauri sub-tehsil and about 1500 acres of land in the Moonak area. The water has entered the fields in Mandvi, Makror, Therri, Chandu, Baopur, Banarsi, Hotipur, Jogewala and Andana. However, no populated area has been affected.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said today the water in the Ghaggar has started receding today. He said the Ghaggar was touching the guage at 752.4 feet mark at 6.00 p.m. at the RD-460 at Khanauri as compared to 752.5 feet mark the previous day.

PATIALA: Fields in Patiala and Sangrur districts are still inundated even as the Markanda river is flowing four feet above the danger mark.

Fields at Naiwala, Shatrana and Gullad villages in Patiala and Mandvi, Chandu and Banarasi villages in Sangrur district have been submerged. Sources said the problem had been created by the heading up of water at Khanauri as siphons set up to take Ghaggar water from beneath the Bhakra Main Line canal to the other side could not cope up with the excess water.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said the Markanda river was flowing more than four feet above the danger mark. Water level in the Tangri river remained constant and flowed near the danger mark. In the Ghaggar river, water level was still high with around 60,000 cusecs of water at Bhankarpur and Chhat Bir and around 55,000 cusecs at Sarala.

Mr Bir said the situation at Khanauri was being monitored and there the water level was recorded at 752.4 feet (above sea level) whereas the danger mark was at 748 feet. He said the district administration had taken of steps to ensure that people affected by breaches and flooding in Samana, Ghanaur and Patiala subdivisions got medical facilities, particularly veterinary services.

Meanwhile, the Marxist Communist Party of India on Saturday urged that a permanent solution be found to floods caused by the Ghaggar river. The Central committee member of the party, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, and the state committee member, Mr Devinder Singh Diwana, suggested construction of a dam near Panchkula and turning the river into a canal so that its water could be used for irrigation purposes.

The leaders demanded that all siphons of Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal should be cleaned and the job could be assigned to the Drainage Department. Special girdawaris should be ordered to assess damage to crops and other property and compensation be paid immediately, they added.


Steps to check Sutlej threat
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 21
The district administration is gearing up to face any situation as the Sutlej water level has started assuming alarming proportions.

All vulnerable points along the Dhussi bandh have been strengthened and replenished with stone boulders covered by iron wire mesh. An amount of Rs 1 crore has already been spent on the flood protection works undertaken by the department. A quick survey of the forward area around the Dhussi bandh reveals that four studs and one spur has been constructed to safeguard the bandh, life and property of the residents of village along the Dhussi bandh.

While talking to newsmen at the site, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar said boats and steamers had been arranged and security pickets had been installed at delicate points for round-the-clock vigil. He said 41 camps had been set up to accommodate flood victims. Besides this, the food and supplies department in tandem with Punsup have been asked to keep a stock of consumer and edible goods in case of emergency. He said 30 mobile medical teams had been constituted to meet any eventuality.

A flood control room has already started functioning, where round the clock information will be available. Mr Ladhar said he had instructed the Forest Department to plant trees along the Dhussi bandh as a flood protection measure.

The S.E (Drainage), Mr Vinod Chowdhary, said drains had also been cleaned of wild grass at an expenditure of Rs 24.50 lakh. He reiterated that the department was fully geared to meet any eventuality.


Cong candidates’ papers cancelled
Dharna held in front of BDPO’s office
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 21
Hundreds of Congress activists led by Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, MLA and president of the District Congress Committee (DCC), today staged a dharna in front of the office of the local Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) in protest against the cancellation of the nomination papers of Ms Neeraj Rani and Ms Sunita Rani for the election of the Sarpanch of Gill Patti village.

The activists were shouting slogans against the Punjab Government and the Punjab Power Minister whom they held responsible for the cancellation of the nomination papers of the Congress candidates. They alleged the papers were cancelled under a conspiracy.

The election for the Sarpanch of Gill Patti village is to be held on July 29. The seat fell vacant due to the death of Ms Ajmer Kaur, former Sarpanch.

In all, six candidates have filed their nomination papers for the election. Out of these, two were from the Congress, three from the Shiromani Akali Dal and one was an Independent. The nomination papers of both the Congress candidates were cancelled while one of the SAD candidates was not able to contest the elections as her papers were also cancelled.

Out of the two Congress candidates one had filed nominations as covering candidate who had to later withdraw her name. With the cancellation of the papers of the Congress candidates the possibility of a win of the SAD candidate has increased as the Independent candidate does not have much following in the village.

After the scrutiny of the papers three candidates are in the fray, namely Ms Paramjeet Kaur and Ms Hamir Kaur, both from SAD, and Sukhpal Kaur, Independent. The Congress activists alleged the nomination papers of their candidates were cancelled as the BDPO was the daughter-in-law of the Power Minister, Punjab. They alleged SAD was not in a position to win a contest so they adopted the other way.

They alleged the ruling party was adopting all wrong means to win the elections. They alleged the officials had become puppets in the hands of the ruling politicians. They alleged there was nobody to check the misgovernance of SAD.

Ms Parampal Kaur, Education Programme Officer (EPO), who has been holding the additional charge of the BDPO, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.

Mr Gurdarshan Singh Romana, BDPO, was also not available neither at his residence or in his office.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, was not in the city as told by the phone attendant when a telephone call was made to him to know his version.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said he was not aware of the facts as he had not received the report in this regard.


Man ‘thrashed’ by minister’s son
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 21
A person was allegedly thrashed by a son of a senior Cabinet minister of Punjab and his security guards in front of the office of the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, here.

According to a complaint lodged by Manjit Singh, son of Bikramjit Singh, who is a science teacher in Government Middle School, Amargarh, Gurpreet Singh, who was nursing a grievance against him for quite sometime, attacked him along with his friends and security guards while he was waiting for his turn to meet the Secretary, RTA.

Subsequently, Manjit Singh, who received an injury on the nose, fell on the ground. Some transporters standing nearby tried to intervene.

The matter was reported to the Secretary, RTA, who advised him to lodge a report with the police. The police registered a DDR in cantonment police station under Section 323, IPC, terming it as a non-cognizable offence. As per the MLR, Manjit Singh was advised to consult a surgeon and get an X-ray done.

In a letter to the Governor, the DGP and the Chairman of the PSHRC, Manjit Singh has alleged that he was living under constant threat from the family of the minister. All attempts to contact Mr Gurpreet Singh proved futile.


ISI used Zaffarwal, Chohan: IGP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 21
The Punjab Government has approached the Centre for bringing back former terrorists who escaped to foreign countries to avoid arrest during the days of terrorism in the state. This was stated by Mr J.P. Virdi, IGP (Jalandhar zone), while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. He said about 10 such former terrorists were presently residing in the USA, the UK and Canada.

Referring to the recent arrest of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and the return of Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan to India, he said both no longer had a following. They were used by the ISI and when it found them to be useless, they were thrown out of Pakistan, he said.

Later, Mr Virdi inaugurated the traffic cell office at the Sadar police station here. Addressing the gathering, he said it had been found that many agencies were making fake driving licences. He said recovery vans would soon be available in big cities to help mishap victims. To solve the traffic problem, traffic posts had been set up after every 20 km on highways in the state, he added.


Badal calls Amarinder a ‘rank opportunist’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, to be “rank opportunist who has no background of serving either Punjab or the country”.

Reacting to the news item that the PPCC would set up an inquiry commission against him, Mr Badal said that more than 50 years of his political career had been dedicated to the struggle and sacrifices for safeguarding the interests of Punjab and Punjabis.

The strong reaction of the Chief Minister, his first political statement on return from the USA is significant as the state is heading for Assembly elections later this year. The Chief Minister made no secret of his feelings while condemning the PPCC chief in a chat with The Tribune this evening.

“I do not need any certificate from the PPCC chief. It is the people of Punjab who have been giving me their love, affection and certificate of acceptance. Capt Amarinder Singh should work more in the field than work his vocal chords only. Instead of working for the welfare of people, he has been in wholetime pursuit of mudslinging.

“I am not scarred of such hoaxes or stunts. I am always answerable to people of Punjab,” Mr Badal said, maintaining that he does not want to resort to the level of the Captain in mud-slinging .

“He has no background in either serving the state or the country. Rather , he has been an opportunist — first in the Congress, then in the Shiromani Akali Dal and again in the Congress. I cannot bring myself down to enter into any argument with him. Let Congress produce a leader of my stature before inviting me for a debate. What has Capt Amarinder Singh done to invite me for a debate. It is not my style to indulge in such cheap gimmicks,” Mr Badal said. When asked about his treatment, he said he was feeling much better now.

Mr Badal said that he met with the Union Home Minister and the Union Water Resources Minister today and would camp in Delhi for a few more days before attending to files, including those pertaining to a decision about the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University and the appointment of pro-Vice-Chancellors of other universities in the State.


Akali workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 21
Hundreds of Akali workers and residents of Naushehra Pannuan village on Friday staged a dharna in front of the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) in protest against the shifting of the returning officer for the election of Sarpanch of the gram panchayat of Naushehra Pannuan. The workers on dharna disrupted traffic for more than five hours on the GT Road. The workers were also addressed by Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Minister for Cooperation, Punjab.

The election for the post of Sarpanch of the gram panchayat of Naushehra Pannuan is going to be held on July 29. Mr Navamarbir Singh, son of late Mr Balbir Singh Pannu, senior vice-president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), who died in a road accident about five months back in UP, and three others had filed their nomination papers.

The Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, in a sudden move shifted the returning officer, Mr R.D. Sharma, Assistant Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Patti and appointed Mr Mohinder Singh, District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) Amritsar, in his place.

On Thursday when news of shifting the returning officer reached the village hundreds of SAD workers and residents of Naushehra Pannuan village gathered at the BDPO’s office in Naushehra Pannuan. They gheraoed the office and prohibited the new returning officer, Mr Mohinder Singh, from entering the BDPO’s office.


Docs on ways to kill female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
The Punjab PCMS Association has demanded a ban on all second-trimester abortions except those that are approved by a board of three doctors. The body says that the ban will put a check on female foeticide that continues due to loopholes in certain provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

In a statement issued here today, the association patron, Dr M.S. Randhawa; the President of the body, Dr D.S. Gill; and its General Secretary, Dr Manjit Singh, said female foeticide in Punjab had increased alarmingly. The female-male child ratio (757:1,000) in the state was the lowest in the country.

They said an expert group of the association had studied the issue and found that ultrasonography was conducted from 14th to 16th weeks of the pregnancy and provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act were misused to abort the female foetus. This was done in the name of “congenital abnormalities” or “intrauterine deaths”, in case of normal pregnancies. They said there was no way of detecting this misuse if the gynaecologist and the reporting ultrasonologist were in league with each other.

The association said the medical termination of pregnancy in the second trimester should be approved by a board of three doctors of approved centres to check female foeticide. The doctors said similar measures had already been taken by the state government to prevent the misuse of medico legal powers. Earlier, declarations of “grievous injuries to the foetus” were made by individual doctors who could easily be influenced.

The association said medical termination of pregnancy in the second trimester was not an emergency measure, but an elective procedure. This makes it convenient for any attending doctor to obtain the board’s approval to conduct such an abortion if need be. The doctors said ultrasonography film should have the patient’s name, besides the date and time of the test on it.

Dr Randhawa said such a ban would help in bringing down the number of criminal and septic abortions by unqualified medical practitioners. Second-trimester abortion case are usually referred to qualified practitioners because of the high risk involved in these.


Dy Adviser threatens to stop grant
Chander Parkash and Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, July 21
Mr R.N. Deshpandey, Deputy Adviser, Union Government, Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water and Sanitation Mission, today threatened to stop the grant of the district under this scheme when he was told that the name of the scheme had been changed by the authorities by Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, MLA and President, District Congress Committee.

Mr Jassi in a verbal complaint to Mr Deshpandey in the local circuit house, alleged that authorities had changed the name of the Rajiv Gandhi Water and Sanitation Mission to the Chief Minister water and sanitation mission. He also presented a copy of the publicity material on which the photo of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, had been published along with the changed name.

Mr Deshpandey was here today along with other officials to review the implementation of the scheme in this district.

These officials also held a meeting with the district officials in which the Additional Deputy Commissioner, the DDPO, the BDPOs and Public Health officials participated.

Mr Jassi also pointed out the photo of Mr Badal had been painted on the boards which had been installed in the villages where this scheme was being implemented.

Mr Deshpandey said he would take up the matter with the state authorities and if the allegations made by Mr Jassi were found true, the further grant to the district would be stopped. He added that the Centre could also ask the state government to return the money.

He added that so far Rs 2.10 crore out of total Rs 6.76 crore for the first stage of the scheme had been given to the district to improve the rural water schemes with the participation of the residents of the area. He added that if the allegations were found true, the account of money spent so far on this scheme would be taken from the implementing agencies.

He said there was no scheme in the name of Chief Minister water and sanitation mission. He said it was very wrong to publish the photograph of the Chief Minister. He said that logo of the scheme had also been changed.

He directed the officials of the Public Health Department to change the name of scheme to the Rajiv Gandhi Water and Sanitiation Mission on the publicity material.

A section of public health officials denied that publicity material was not published by their department.

However, Mr Jassi alleged that earlier, the authorities had also changed the name of the Integrated Wasteland Development Project (IWDP) project to the Chief Minister integrated wasteland development project.

He added that he would take up the matter with the Secretary, Rajiv Gandhi Water and Sanitation Mission, who was likely to visit here on July 28 to review the progress of the scheme.


Govt owes Rs 250 cr to pensioners
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, July 21
The Punjab Government may have to pay an extra amount of Rs 250 crore to about 50,000 former employees, who retired on or after January 1, 1996, on account of less payments made while calculating their commuted pension.

In a writ petition filed by a retired teacher, Mr Nihal Chand, and 105 other petitioners have demanded the difference of payment, which according to them was not made in accordance with the Punjab Government notification dated 21.7.1998. In CWO 7895 under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution, petitioners have stated that they have been paid the commuted pension at the rate of 40 per cent for 12 years, whereas the notification entitled them to payment for 15 years. Thus they have been deprived of 20 per cent of their pension amount.

Pensioners have mentioned about CWP 16531/1998 filed by Mr Haridner Paul Singh Sidhu, a retired Punjab government director. This petition was decided in a lok adalat on February 17, 2000, and government was directed to pay the difference with 12 per cent interest. Government in his case moved to the high court against the lok adalat decision. Here the petition was dismissed after the Advocate General agreed to honour the decision. Pleader of the Punjab Government put up a review petition in the Supreme Court, but the court dismissed the same because Advocate General had already accepted the decision of the lok adalat in the high court.

Now when the court has already fixed January 14, 2002, for hearing, hundreds of retired Punjab Government employees are approaching the petitioners to allow them join as petitioners.


Pension for Punjabi Suba activists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that the state government had decided to give pension to those who participated in the Punjabi Suba morcha, Sisganj morcha, Emergency morcha and Dharam Yudh morcha and went to jail in this connection.

He said that the committees had been set up under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners in the state. Besides, two members on of the BJP and other of the SAD had been taken on committees as members. He said that those aspirants for pension could directly submit their claim for the pension to the committees.


Civil airport plan drawn up
Ravi Bhushan Puri

This town, situated in the extreme north of Punjab, figures prominently on the tourist map of India. Set amidst the scenic beauty of nature, Pathankot has its importance to the travellers being the gateway to the state of Jammu & Kashmir and to a number of hill stations like Dalhousie and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. Pathankot is also famous for Shahpur Kandi Fort — a relic of history amidst the picturesque setting on the banks of the Ravi.

This town has an airfield belonging to the Indian Air Force. A blueprint has been drawn up for a civil airport. For a civil airport, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have together earmarked 80 acres of land free of cost and free from encumbrances.

The Airport Authority of India has plans to complete the project within 24 months from the commencement of the work.

A centrally air-conditioned building spread over 3850 sq ft and equipped with modern passenger facilities will cater to the peak-hour capacity of 300 passengers with the operation of bigger aircraft.

The project includes a terminal building with all modern facilities, construction of a civil apron, augmentation of electricity and water supply, strengthening of operational area and provision of staff quarters.

Establishment of a passenger terminal here will help boost tourism as many tourists from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh pass through the town.

The introduction of civil flights (with bigger aircraft) would benefit not only tourists but also time-conscious entrepreneurs. Small airports at Kulu, Shimla and Kangra are already serving Himachal Pradesh. Tourists bound for Chamba, Dalhousie and pilgrimage centres like Manimahesh would stand to benefit.


Company told to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 21
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Patiala, has directed Xerox Modicorp Limited to pay Rs 5000 as compensation and Rs 1500 as costs to complainant, Mr Alok Kumar, owner of an STD/PCO here.

Mr Alok Kumar, in his complaint said he had purchased one xerox Modicorp model XK35C (coloured) with accessories like printer, scanner and photocopier from Leela Bhawan, Patiala branch of Modicorp. A payment of Rs 38,000 was made against the order dated July 10, 2000.

In the same order, there was a mention of supplying a photocopier and fax machine (model 7241), but the fax machine was not supplied though a payment of Rs 16,000 was made to the company. Later, the amount was refunded along with the interest.

The photocopier was installed on July 17, 2000. However, the copier started giving trouble and poor output in its guarantee period. Mr Alok Kumar then approached the dealer but his repeated requests fell on deaf ears following which he approached the Consumer Forum, Patiala.

The Forum ordered opposite parties to remove the defects in the machine at the work place of the complainant, failing which they would be held liable to replace the machine. The opposite parties were further ordered to pay Rs 5000 as compensation and Rs 1500 as costs to the complainant.


Takht Harmandar Sahib president
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
A member of the executive committee of the SGPC and close confidant of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, was today elected president of Takht Sri Harmandar Sahib at Patna Sahib this evening. This was stated by the SGPC in a press note issued here today.


Election for sarpanch postponed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 21
The Election Commission, Punjab, has postponed the election for the Sarpanch of Naushehra Pannua village for which on Friday, on the last day of filing nomination papers, an unruly mob misbehaved with the newly appointed Returning Officer, Mr Mohinder Singh, District Development and Panchayat Officer.

According to one more report, the Darhali police has registered a case under Sections 353, 186 and 427 of the IPC against 40-50 persons belonging to the faction of Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Minister for Cooperation, Punjab, who stopped Mr Mohinder Singh from taking over the charge of his new assignment.

According to the FIR, workers of Brahampura faction misbehaved with Mr Mohinder Singh and broke the windowpanes of his Gypsy.

The police is investigating the matter.


PSEB engineers threaten strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 21
Members of the PSEB Engineers Association have threatened to go on strike from July 27 if bribe cases registered against Mr Hardidar Singh, SDO (cantonment) and Mr Labh Singh, JE, were not withdrawn.

At a meeting here on Friday, It was decided that the authorities should take necessary steps for the cancellation of FIR lodged against the two employees by the Vigilance Bureau.

The association has written to the Chief Engineer (western) and Secretary, PSEB, Patiala, in which they have explained the situation that led to the registration of the case.

They alleged that those who had complained against the SDO and the JE had tried to interfere in the working of the PSEB employees and tried to damage the equipment of the department.

The engineers urged that not only the FIR against the officials should be withdrawn but also arrangements should be made that in future if there was any complaint against any official of the PSEB with the Vigilance Bureau a proper inquiry should be undertaken before the registration of the case.


Officials’ absence irks minister
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 21
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venkatratnam, has been directed by the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, to lodge a complaint against those telecom officials who were absent from the meeting of the District Grievances Committee, today afternoon.

Mr Tota Singh, who chaired the meeting of the committee here yesterday took strong notice of the absence of the telecom officials from the meeting as the complaints against the Telecom Department could not be entertained.

The minister directed the Deputy Commissioner to lodge a complaint with Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Telecom Minister and persue the case.

Mr Tota Singh commenting on the complaint regarding the use of sub-standard material by the Municipal Council, Rampura Phul, ordered a joint inquiry by the Engineering College, Bathinda, and the SDM, Rampura Phul. The inquiry report should be submitted before the next meeting, the minister said.

The minister said all officials of the Civic Departments have been directed to file the utilisation certificates in time so as to facilitate the release of next instalment of the funds.

The minister directed that police cases should be registered against those who dig up the municipal roads without prior permission of the civic authorities.

The target to repair the roads of the district was fixed at 319 km and about 314 km of the roads had been repaired against the target, the minister said.

He said contractors could not be done away from the public works as otherwise the departments would have to engage a large number of employees.

As many as 24 villages of the district would be covered under the water supply scheme and 10 per cent of the total finances would be arranged by the villages and the 90 per cent would be given by the Union Government, the minister said.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Commissioner, Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura.


9-yr-old kidnapped by father recovered
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 21
A nine-year-old Jatinder Singh, alias Jyoti, who was kidnapped by his father Bikar Singh from outside school of Thakarki village on July 19, was recovered yesterday from Churpur village and Bikar Singh and his accomplice Sukhbir Lal were arrested under Sections 363/34 of the IPC.

Bikar Singh is a dismissed constable. He had differences with his wife Sita Devi who is these days living with her parents at Bhanoki village.

Mr Piare Lal, maternal grandfather of Jyoti, had dropped the boy at the gate of the school. He sighted the scooter on which the boy was being abducting and recognised Bikar and reported the matter to the police.


3 cars stolen from Patiala region
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
Three cars and a stereo and a spare tyre of another car were stolen last night here. As per information available, one car (DNZ-3701) was stolen from the Bagichi Het Ram area.

The complainant, Mr Parminder Singh, lodged a complaint with the Kotwali police station.

Another car (DL-8CB-779) was stolen from Shera Wala Gate.

Yet another car (PB 10P 6920) is reported to have been stolen from the Desi Mehmandari area and the complainant has lodged a complaint with the division number four police station.

According to another information, Mr Harcharan Singh, a resident of Charan Bagh, said that stereo, a spare tyre and other things were stolen from his car.

The complainant has lodged a complaint with the Civil Lines police station. Cases have been registered.


2 killed, 2 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
Two persons were killed and two were seriously injured when a truck collided with a three-wheeler at Ganda Kheri village near here today.

One of the deceased was identified as Jinda of Sanaur. The injured Kala and Chhota have been admitted to the Government Rajindra hospital in a serious condition.

A case has been registered with Sadar police station.


Fewer Punjabi teachers in schools, colleges
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 21
A large number of posts of teachers and lecturers in Punjabi in government schools are lying vacant despite Punjabi being a state language and a compulsory subject at all levels upto BA III. Out of the nine senior secondary schools of the subdivision, those at Ladhuka, Chimnewala, Kheowali Dhab and Karnikhera do not have lecturers in Punjabi for the past about five years. At senior secondary school for girls in the town, there is only one lecturer for 750 students of plus one and plus two and for 400 students studying Punjabi as optional subject. According to rules of the Education Department, at least five more lecturers are required for such a large number of students.

Similarly, in the local boys’ school, for 550 students of plus one and plus two and for 250 students having Punjabi as optional subject, a single post of lecturer of Punjabi has been sanctioned and that too has been lying vacant since March 1996. Likewise, in 16 high schools of the subdivision, only one post of Punjabi teacher has been sanctioned for each school for teaching hundreds of students. At least two teachers of Punjabi are required in each of the high schools. Besides, the Punjab Government has upgraded 18 primary, middle and high schools in the subdivision but no teacher or lecturer of Punjabi has been posted at these schools.

At Government M.R. College, there are as many as 1600 students where as only two posts of lecturers have been sanctioned. Ironically, the posts are lying vacant for the past five years. At least six lecturers in the subject are required in proportion to the strength. However, two lecturers are deployed on the part-time basis for a period of six months.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Secondary Teachers’ Union, Punjab, here today urged Master Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, and Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, to fill all vacancies of teachers and lecturers of Punjabi at schools and colleges of Fazilka subdivision and to sanction more posts to teach the subject.


Govt polytechnic interviews
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 21
Hundreds of students from all over Punjab are appearing in interviews for admission to various diploma courses passed on Joint Entrance Test-2001 to the affiliated institutions of Punjab and Chandigarh at Government polytechnic, Khuni Majra about 2 km from here on Kharar-Landran Road. The interviews, which started from July 17, will continue till August, 2.

Mr J.K. Sharma, Principal and Mr Balwinder Singh, workshop superintendent of the college, said that the interviews were being held under the chairmanship of Mr Virsa Singh, Additional Director, Technical Education department, Punjab, for about 6,000 seats in Punjab and Chandigarh. They said that a total of about 300 to 400 students were being called daily and about 300 seats were being filled daily. They said till yesterday about 537 seats has already been filled for three colleges of Chandigarh. They said that from July 19 till today seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes tribes candidates were being filled.

They said that the admission process was on for 37 colleges of Punjab here in this institution. They added that for the convenience of the students and their parents coming for interviews two buses had been deployed for bringing them from the Kharar Bus Stand and back, free of cost.

They said that this year the students were opting courses in electronics, computers, and information technology which has been introduced for the first time this year. They said that this subject had been introduced in five colleges in Punjab at Lehra Gaga, Bathinda, Mukerain Badni and Talwandi Sabo.


ETT teachers burn Tota Singh’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 21
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union today threatened they would gherao Punjab ministers at their respective residences if their demands were not fulfilled in a few days.

The agitating unemployed teachers today also burnt the effigy of Mr Tota Singh, Punjab Minister for Education, near the local bus stand to show their resentment against the statement of the minister in which he had said the agitation was not justified.

The agitating unemployed teachers said if the demand for getting employment was not unjustified the indifferent behaviour of the minister was wrong. They said they were right even from the legal point of view.

They said according to a ruling of the Supreme Court those candidates who had done B.Ed course were not eligible for the post of elementary teacher. They said they had been fighting for getting their genuine demands fulfilled.

Some other organisations like the Lok Bhalai Party the Lok Morcha Punjab, the Students Coordinating Committee, DIETS Staff Association said the government was not paying any heed to the teachers who had been on the path of agitation for many months.

Mr Sukhminder Singh Sukhi, president of the Malwa zone of the union, while addressing the agitators said the Education Minister was creating differences between the community. He said on one hand the ETT teachers were not given jobs and on the other B.Ed students were appointed to the posts meant for them.

He said the decision of the government in this regard was not in any way justified. He added the government had become indifferent to the agitation of the unemployed teachers. He said it seemed the ministers of the ruling party were not bothered that unemployed teachers had adopted the path of agitation.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Balahar, district president of the union, said if their demand was not fulfilled they would take stringent measures to get these fulfilled. He said they would wait for quite some time to see the behaviour of government.

He added the ruling party was making false promises that nobody would remain unemployed in the state but was not giving employment to the eligible candidates.

Mr Rajwinder Jalal, member of the state executive committee of the union, said the government was playing a cruel joke on unemployed teachers.

He added they had been struggling for about two years to get their genuine demands fulfilled but the dharna, agitations, rallies did not make any difference. He added that all their pleas had fallen on deaf ears so far.


Minister inaugurates upgraded school
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 21
Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Punjab, inaugurated the upgraded school of Behman Jassa Singh village today. The school was upgraded from primary to middle level by the minister who also announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the school.

The minister said the state government was spending about Rs 2,100 crore per annum on the salaries and perks of the government teachers. Efforts were being made to provide more education facilities and about 44 lakh students were on the rolls in the state-run schools, the minister claimed.

The decision of the government to hold examination for primary classes had yielded results. The vacancies of teachers in the schools would be filled shortly, the minister said.


Punjab traders resentful
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The heartburn in the industry and trade in Punjab continues because of various reasons. But the most significant is the promises made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The CM had been given a long list of demands of the industry and trade and the problems faced by both these sectors by the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial undertakings headed by a Ludhiana based industrialist, Mr Inderjit Singh on May 15.

The Chief Minister, who held a lengthy discussion with the representatives of the chamber and passed relevant orders on the spot by taking demands and problems one by one, had directed the authorities concerned to do the needful within 15 days. However, those 15 days have been stretched to over two months. But most of the demands have not been implemented yet. Of course, there are demands, which have been implemented by issuing orders at the appropriate level.

The demands had three segments. First pertaining to the PSEB, second to the Excise and Taxation Department and third to the Local Bodies Department and other government organisations.

Industrialists wanted that there should be no clubbing of connections. If two or three parties are running units or trade in one premises, there power connections should be treated separately. Giving instance, they had pleaded that often at certain stage joint families divide their assets and start separate units on the same premises. It happens in the case of trade when brothers divide the shop in two parts by resorting to temporary or permanent partition to run their trade separately.

Though the PSEB has issued a circular in this connection, but the industry and trade is not satisfied with it. Mr Inderjit Singh said that the circular had laid some conditions, which were not acceptable. Other issue was regarding the surrender of existing load. The PSEB had accepted this demand but no circular has been issued in this connection, says Mr Inderjit Singh.

However, the PSEB has implemented the demand pertaining to the inclusion of representatives of industry and trade in dispute settlement committees of the PSEB, peak load restrictions only for connected load above 100 KV, 25 per cent ad hoc increase in contract demand and sectioned load for green category industries, replacement of faulty meters within two days and to allow the installation of generators unto 150 per cent of the connected load of the industrial unit.

The industrialists had sought a reduction of the Central Sales Tax on yarn to 2 per cent in Punjab following the pattern of certain other states. The needful has not been done so far in this connection. Other was the levying of the Sales Tax on the first stage. The authorities concerned had agreed to examine this demand but there was not progress on it. The trade has also demanded that they should be allowed to file their returns every three months instead of the existing system of filing returns every month. This demand is also pending with the authorities concerned according to Mr Ramesh Mago, Vice-President of the chamber. Though it was agreed to give exemption to halwai and bakery goods from the Sales Tax, the issue of bakery goods continues to hang fire. A memorandum was to be put up before the Council of Ministers to grant exemption to bakery goods but it has not been done so far, says Mr Mango.

There is a great resentment among industrialists over the charging of extension fee from industrialists at an industrial focal point developed by the Punjab State Industrial Export Corporation. Industrialists say that there was no reason to charge the extension fee when the basic infrastructure has not been provided by the PSIEC. They say that lakhs of rupees have been charged as extension fee from certain industrialists. The Chief Minister had promised to stop the practice and get the money refunded but nothing has changed in this connection.

The Labour Department has met almost all demands. There were other demands pertaining to the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana. Some of these have been implemented while others are awaiting action in this regard.

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