Wednesday, August 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Deadlock over raising of Harike task force
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
After spending crores of rupees to clear the Harike wetlands of hyacinth and silt, the future of the internationally acknowledged ecological system is threatened as the raising of an ecological task force for its long-term management hangs fire.

As the weeds are back in alarming quantity, negating the efforts to restore the wetlands to their past glory, differences between the Punjab Government and the Centre, reportedly over the financing of a Territorial Army (TA) ecological battalion for the state, have held up the raising of the proposed unit.

The raising of an ecological battalion by the TA was announced when the Army had taken up a project to clear the Harike Lake in Punjab of weeds and silt. Under Project Sahyog, which commenced on July 10, 2000, formations under Western Command had removed several lakh tonnes of hyacinth spread over 10 sq km.

According to sources, the Punjab Government wants the Centre to fund the unit, while the Centre is of the opinion that the state governments are responsible for funding such units as these are utilised by the states. Some financial assistance, however, may be given by the Central Government if so required, but, as per regulations, a major portion of the funds is made available by the respective state governments.

While the Army, according to sources, has already worked out the modalities to raise a TA ecological battalion and is awaiting the go-ahead, the Centre-state deadlock is holding up the project.

Sources say that the proposal to raise such a unit was mooted and agreed to by the state government and the Army at the top level in a hurry without actually working out the ground-level issues, which has led to the deadlock.

The proposed strength of the unit to be raised is equivalent to a company, implying about 120-150 men. Though the exact cost of raising and maintaining the battalion is not known, the cost of similar units based elsewhere works out to be about Rs 8 crore over a five-year period. An ecological TA battalion was raised recently for Delhi, where it is engaged in greening about 21 acres of ecologically degraded area near Bhatti Mines by planting about 2.4 lakh saplings annually.

Saplings in large numbers have also been planted at Harike. The wetlands, which came into existence in 1952 as a result of the construction of a barrage at the confluence of the Beas and the Sutlej, have been designated as one of the six Ramsar Sites, which support a variety of rare and endangered species of birds and animals.


Books for poor being sold openly
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Pakhowal (Ludhiana), July 31
The state government’s welfare scheme of supplying free books to children belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes seems to have gone haywire with the books being sold at several bookshops in villages of this district.

This came to light following a disclosure by several students of Government Senior Secondary School, Pakhowal, to The Tribune. The students speaking on the condition of anonymity alleged that the school authorities had not issued them books under the free-supply quota. When they bought the books, they were shocked to see that they carried stamps stating that they were supplied free of cost by the Punjab Government and were not for sale.

Students of Class X bought Hindi text books carrying the free supply stamp for Rs 20 each. One of the books is in the possession of The Tribune. It is meant for the 2001 academic year and according to the details over three lakh books have been printed.

The book displays a warning that anyone found selling this book would be prosecuted. The students had complained to the school authorities but no action had reportedly been taken. One of the students who had a chance meeting with The Tribune team that had gone to the village to cover some other incident, revealed the scandal.

To verify his statement, a decoy customer was sent to a shop near the school. When the customer said he wanted to buy a cheaper book, he was told to come later. The shopkeeper seemed to have become suspicious as the students had complained about him.

Village sources said he later went to the house of the students and said he had come to exchange the books (fee supply) with new ones as the previous ones had mistakes. A few of them exchanged them while the others refused. Villagers said they had received similar complaints from schools of neighbouring villages.

The school headmaster could not be contacted. District Education Officer Usha Sidhu expressed shock, saying that the books were meant for free distribution under a scheme of the Social Welfare Department, Punjab. She said she would order an inquiry into the matter.


Tributes paid to Shaheed Udham Singh
Chief Minister honours martyr’s kin
Tribune Reporters

Sunam, July 31
A state-level function to mark the martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh was presided over by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, here today.

Among those present were Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, all ministers, and Mr Parkash Chand Garg, Chairman, Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation.

Mr Badal said after the formation of the SAD-BJP government in Punjab and the BJP-led government at the Centre, a significant change had come in the relations of the Centre and the state governments. Due to this, the economy of Punjab had flourished and many major projects including the international airport at Rajasansi and the Bathinda oil refinery, had come up.

Mr Badal said performance of duties as citizens would be a befitting tribute to Shaheed Udham Singh, who was a nationalist and a patriot. Mr Badal announced an increase of Rs 50,000 in the grant to be paid to the next of kin of those drowned in the Anandpur Sahib canal on July 23. Almost all deceased belonged to Dirba village of Sangrur district.

Mr Badal presented cheques worth Rs 27 lakh to the Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, for the purpose.

Mr Badal honoured four members of Udham Singh’s family — Ms Inder Kaur, Mr Bachan Singh, Mr Inder Singh and Mr Khushi Anand. Earlier, Mr Badal paid floral tributes to the martyr.

He presented a cheque for Rs 50 lakh to the president of the Sunam Municipal Council for development works.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa paying tributes to Shaheed Udham Singh asked Mr Badal to give more representation to Hindus and Muslims in the SAD. He said Mr Badal had opened doors to all communities. This would help maintain peace in the state.

Among others who paid tributes to the martyr was Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, MLA from Sunam, Mr Parkash Chand Garg, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, member of the working committee of the SAD, Jathedar Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, district president of the SAD, Mr Prem Gugnani, district general secretary of the BJP, Mr Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA from Bhadaur, and Mr Sarmukh Singh Mokha, renowned Akali leader of the area.

Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa urged Mr Badal to release a grant from the CM’s Relief Fund for those families whose houses and shops had been recently damaged in the local Kailash Parvat locality during installation of a tubewell by the municipal council in the locality.

AMRITSAR: The Chief Minister, while paying tributes to the martyr, said a suitable memorial should be built to inspire younger generations to become more patriotic. The national spirit had disappeared over the past 53 years resulting in the present chaos, the Chief Minister said while presiding over the martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh here today.

Mr Badal said these freedom fighters had dreamt of a prosperous nation, but their dream had not been fulfilled. He said growing poverty and illiteracy showed that the country had failed in its objective to provide equal opportunities and to distribute wealth equally among all sections.

He complimented the Punjabis for their contribution in the freedom struggle. More than 80 per cent of the freedom fighters were Punjabis, he claimed. He urged the youth to take inspiration from the great martyrs and inculcate the spirit of nationalism.

Earlier, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of Shaheed Udham Singh Memorial Hall near Bhagtanwala Gate and offered a grant of Rs 10 lakh for construction of a charitable hospital, a library and rooms in the complex.

The Minister for Local Government, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, while welcoming the Chief Minister, said the corporation authorities had been directed to provide land free of cost for the memorial. He also made an offer to provide additional funds required for building the memorial.


Mahatma’s statue lying amid trash
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, July 31
While the entire nation is paying tributes to freedom fighters on the occasion of the death anniversary of Shaheed Udham Singh today what may send shockwaves among people is the fact that a desecrated headless statue of Mahatma Gandhi lying half-buried in a pile of dust and garbage in a dhobi ghat here for the past about two decades.

The man-sized statue of Mahatma Gandhi had probably been removed from a public place after it had been defiled by somebody who removed the head about 20 years back. After that it had allegedly been dumped by the local municipal corporation authorities at an open place. During this period, the statue has been attracting nothing but garbage thrown by residents.

Former Punjab minister Joginder Singh Maan and other leaders have demanded action against those responsible for such negligence and irresponsibility.

On the other hand, Mr Kharaiti Lal Guaba, president of the local municipal council, said he was aware about the existence of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the place and its condition. He said the statue would be submerged in water in accordance with tradition and established norms.


2 boxes of explosives found along zero line
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 31
Two boxes of explosives have been found dumped under the ground in Khilchi village, along the zero line here. Case under the Explosives Act was registered with the Sadar Police Station today and the explosive material has been handed over to the Army for detailed investigations. No BSF official at the station headquarters here, however, confirmed the seizure.

Sources revealed that the land where this explosive had been found belonged to Ajit Singh, son of Krishan Singh, who is undergoing imprisonment in Central Jail, Ferozepore, under the NPDS Act. The land was currently been ploughed by Nihal Singh, son of Munsha Singh, who had taken this land on a contract.

According to reports, Nihal Singh had been ploughing his fields when he found two boxes beneath the tyre of the tractor. He informed the nearest BSF checkpost where Mr Shingara Singh was on duty. The BSF sleuths then called the Army authorities, who rushed to the spot, along with an Anti-Explosive Squad, and took the boxes in their custody.

An inquiry had been constituted. Unconfirmed sources suggest that these boxes seem to be quite old and might have been buried under the ground a long-time ago when insurgency was at its peak but due to rain these had surfaced.


Beopar mandal dharna on Aug 7
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 31
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal today decided to stage a dharna at Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here on August 7 in protest against the registration of a “false case” against Mr Rakesh Dhuria and Mr Vinod Sharma, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Yuva Beopar Mandal here at the behest of government doctor under Section 170 for allegedly intervening in the functioning of the doctors during office hours three months back. The case was registered early this month at the city police station.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the mandal here which was presided by Mr Madan Lal Kapur, state president of the organisation. The meeting viewed with serious concern that the SAD-BJP government in the state had vowed to weed out corruption and provide social justice besides all basic amenities at the doorstep to the people of Punjab yet heavily paid some doctors were allegedly allowed to mint money by carrying on with private practice in gross violation of the rules and regulations notified by the government.

Later, briefing newspersons Mr Kapur said certain doctors had allegedly defamed a pious profession by asking the outdoor patients at the civil hospital to visit their clinics for operations. Ultrasound machines and X-ray equipment were not perfectly maintained so that outdoor patients could be forced to go to private clinics which had allegedly been paying commission to the doctors.

The mandal through a resolution demanded that all doctors who had worked at a particular hospital for more than three years should be transferred immediately. A high-level inquiry into movable and immovable property of the government doctors, working at private clinics should be ordered through the Vigilance Department.

Mr Kapur and Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, Chairman of the organisation, asserted the member citizens struggle committee included prominent citizens who were associated with leading social organisations. The president and the general secretary of the committee had visited the hospital simply to request the doctors to mend their ways and ensure their presence as per their duty hours.

Some leading newspapers had been carrying reports that certain doctors had been abstaining from duty on one or the other pretext, causing harassment to the patients from far-off villages. The matter had been reported to the Civil Surgeon and the Chief Minister during their visits but no improvement was visible. Contrary to this senior leaders of the Yuva Beopar Mandal and the Sangharsh Samiti were “falsely implicated” in a criminal case to suppress the voice of the people. This would not be tolerated. The government should get such cases cancelled forthwith.

Commenting on the raids recently conducted at the residences of senior excise and taxation officers at Patiala, the executive committee said such raids should be conducted all over Punjab to unearth alleged black money amassed by other officers of the department. Corrupt officers had virtually rendered the state exchequer empty and undue shelter given to them by the politicians was the cause of victimisation of traders in the state. The SAD-BJP combine had betrayed the traders by backtracking from all promises made at the time of the last assembly elections.

The Chief Minister had declared at Amritsar that octroi posts would not be put on auction but the contractors were given a free hand to loot the traders and common people of the state afterwards. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg had declared he would quit his Cabinet berth if octroi was auctioned but that proved to be another attempt, to befool the traders. Now Mr Garg had been assigned the job of dividing the traders’ community by luring a section to join the Akali Dal. This would not help the SAD in winning the next elections, Mr Kapur cautioned.

The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal executive endorsed the plan to field 25 candidates in the coming assembly elections. If approved a draft for requesting the Election Commission to recognise the organisation as a political party. The mandal was prepared to have an electoral alliance with any other political party except SAD and the BJP. All-out efforts would be made to defeat Mr Balramji Das Tandon in the next elections even if he ran away from Rajpura constituency. The BJP, the mandal said, was basically responsible for the poor fate of the traders in the state. Policies adopted at the behest of its leaders had forced traders to migrate to other states.

The mandal expressed concern over repeated incidents of wayside robberies on the National Highway 10 and 15 and urged the district authorities to launch a campaign to check such incidents. The faith of the people should not be allowed to be shaken, they emphasised.


Medical waste disposal facility on anvil
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
Centralised facilities will tackle the problem of disposal of medical waste in the state with the earlier proposal of encouraging hospitals and nursing homes to create medical waste disposal facilities on their premises failing to take off.

While a centralised facility for disposing of medical waste is on the anvil in Ludhiana, such facilities are also being earmarked for Jalandhar, Bathinda, Pathankot and SAS Nagar.

Sources said the creation of a central facility at Ludhiana was at an advanced stage. The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had already earmarked 107 acres for the purpose. Out of this, 1.5 acres would exclusively be for biomedical waste. The corporation had invited tenders for the same.

Local Pollution Control Board sources said private companies responsible for running the facility would also design it. The contract was to be awarded shortly and the facility was likely to be made operational by November. Around six tonnes of biomedical waste per day could be disposed of.

Institutions in Phagwara, Moga and nearby areas would also be able to make use of the facility.

Military hospitals in Jalandhar, Bathinda and Pathankot had facilities for processing medical waste which were presently being underused and that they would be able to take the medical waste of private hospitals and nursing homes in the adjoining areas. The Fortis institute had created a common medical waste facility at SAS Nagar which could be used by various institutions at Patiala, Ropar and Hoshiarpur.

The medical waste is likely to be brought in sealed vans after it has been segregated according to norms stipulated by the Pollution Control Board and collected in coded bags. It will then be incinerated, shredded and auto-cleaved.

The permissible levels of biomedical waste has also been scaled down by the government as has been the authorisation fee payable to the Board. Hospitals and nursing homes with less than 50 beds will have to pay Rs 500 a year, those with less than 200 beds Rs 3,000, those with less than 500 beds Rs 5,000 and those with more than 500 beds Rs 10,000. Pathological laboratories and blood banks will be exempted from taking authorisation if the number of patients or samples were less than 1,000 a month.


ILO team to visit Muktsar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
A high-level team of experts of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will visit Muktsar district for three days from August 10 to study the unemployment problem in the area and find a solution.

The team will interact with various government agencies engaged in the promotion of self-employment ventures in the rural and urban areas. It will also meet unemployed youth.

The team will be accompanied by Dr B.C.Gupta, Secretary, Labour Department, Punjab, and other senior officers of the state government. As the state is facing a critical situation on the unemployment front because of shrinking job opportunities in the region, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has approached the ILO authorities concerned to help the Government deal with the situation.

Muktsar district has been selected under the pilot project because Mr Badal belongs to that area and the experts are expected to get full cooperation from the official machinery.

Mr A.S. Oberai, Director of the South Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team of the ILO in New Delhi, told The Tribune that a number ILO experts including Mr V.Gaskov, Senior Specialist in Training and Skills Development, Mr Gopal Joshi, Senior Specialist in Enterprise Development, and Mr Rajan Mehrotra, Senior Specialist in Employment Activities, had already discussed the issue in detail with top officials of the state government to get the basic information about the problem.

Mr Oberai said that there was need for an integrated approach to deal with the problem. The experts would study the measures taken by various government agencies to promote self-employment ventures in the area; the performance level of such ventures; and whether there was scope to continue these ventures or need for change to meet the requirements of the market .

There was also need to study the attitude of unemployed youth, their areas of interest and whether or not they understood modern marketing concepts. In the modern world, there was no use starting any venture if the material produced did not find a ready market, Mr Oberai said.

But, according to Punjab-based experts, it will not be an easy task for the ILO team to find a solution to the unemployment problem. Young Punjabis are not interested in petty jobs. It will take decades to make them business-minded or put them in the self-employment mode.

Most of the Punjabi youth want to go abroad to earn dollars or get white collar jobs in the country. They do not consider dairying, fishery, poultry and other such ventures as a source of employment.

For them dairying, etc, are routine works and even after starting such ventures, they always look for government jobs. The only way to change their mindset is to make government jobs the least attractive. The government should extend all sorts of benefits and facilities like reservation in the allotment of plots or houses at a fixed price to those who opt for employment in the private sector or start their own ventures, the Punjab-based experts add.


25 pc seats for youth: Sukhbir
Our Correspondent

Bhagta (Bathinda), July 31
The SAD will come to power after the Assembly elections in Punjab next year as it will give tickets to only those candidates who will be capable of winning even if the party has to bring some new faces to achieve this.

This was stated here today by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP and general secretary of the SAD, while talking to mediapersons. He said care would be taken while choosing the candidates for the next Assembly elections so that suitable representation could be given to all sections of society.

He said about 25 per cent seats would be given to the youth to infuse young blood into the party. He emphasised the need to introduce new faces in the elections for strengthening the party. He said it was not necessary that all the sitting MLAs should again be given tickets for the Assembly elections.

Denying that there was any factionalism in the party, he said the workers and leaders of the SAD had full faith in Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s leadership, who, he added, would once again be the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said if anybody worked against the interests of the party, stern action would be taken against him. However, he evaded a direct reply to a question whether the expulsion of Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, senior SAD Youth Wing leader, for six years from the party by the district president for his alleged anti-party activities was justified.

Replying to another question, he said the expulsion of a person from the party did not in any way affect its strength. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal further said that the main issue in the Assembly elections would be the development of the state. He claimed that the state had seen much development under the present regime and a few disgruntled elements did not have any significance. They would not make much difference, he added.

Replying to a question about his entry into the state politics, he said these decisions were taken by the Political Affairs Committee of the party, adding that at present it would be premature to comment on it.

Attacking the Congress, he said the party did not have any agenda and, therefore, made allegations against the SAD to attract the people’s attention.

He said the SAD had always stood for more financial powers to the states, adding that if the states were economically independent, they could take effective decisions about the development of the state.

He said the people should not fear the WTO, as their interests would be taken care of. The impact of the WTO could be balanced by imposing duties on goods imported from foreign countries.

He said although the SAD had always favoured the coming of the multinational companies in the country, it would oppose any out-flow of the wealth of the country to foreign countries.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal also addressed a meeting of party workers here.


Withdraw resignation offer, PM urged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, today appealed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to reconsider and withdraw his offer of resignation in the interest of the people, who are immensely benefiting from his seasoned, mature, principled leadership and great qualities of the head and the heart.

Mr Badal, in a statement, said Mr Vajpayee had remarkable attributes of statesmanship and futuristic vision. His grasp of the realities came from his long association with social, economic, cultural and political life at the grassroots.

Mr Vajpayee had always whole-heartedly supported Punjab in its march towards progress. He had still to go a very long way in his service to the nation, the statement added.


Cong wants longer Vidhan Sabha session
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 31
The over centralisation of powers in form of ‘sangat darshan’ programmes of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the collapse of law and order in the state, murder of democracy, discrimination against the opposition, lathi-charge on farmers, Akalis hobnobbing with militants manifested in return of Wasan Singh Zaffarwal and Jagjit Singh Chohan, and excesses on Dalits will be among the issues to be raised by the Congress during the monsoon session of Vidhan Sabha starting on August 21.

This was disclosed here today at a press conference by Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Jagjit Singh, PPCC General Secretary, Gurbinder Singh Atwal, former Punjab Minister Joginder Singh Mann, PPCC member Harjit Singh Parmar, senior Congress leaders Balbir Raja Sodhi and Satbir Singh Sabhi were also present.

The Congress leaders demanded extension in the duration of the otherwise three-day session which they felt was too short for raising these vital issues.

Mr Jagjit Singh said as a run-up to the assembly elections the Congress will hold a 50,000 strong Doaba-level rally in Phagwara on August 5 with national and state-level leaders joining.


Dhami quits SAD (A), revives Akal Sena
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Mr Kanwarpal Singh Dhami today announced the revival of the Akal Sena after resigning from the vice-presidentship of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), here. Talking to newsmen, Mr Dhami, said the decision to revive the Akal Sena was to “safeguard the ‘maryada’ of Akal Takht which has been under attack from politicians.”

Assailing the frequent changes of jathedars of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, he said that this was done under the influence of politics.

“We will not allow anybody, not even the Jathedar of Akal Takht, to harm its ‘maryada’,” he said maintaining that “the Akal Sena would work for restoring the traditions and principles of Sikhs and the Takht.”

He also appealed to all political parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, to support his trust which has been working for the rehabilitation of children and widows of militants killed by the security agencies during turbulence in the state. He said the Akal Sena, would also work for the implementation of various “hukamnamas” issued from Akal Takht.


Mann’s son to contest from Sardulgarh
Our Correspondent

Sardulgarh (Mansa), July 31
Mr Iman Singh Mann, son of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (Amritsar), will contest elections from the Sardulgarh Assembly constituency to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha as nominee of the SAD (A). This was unanimously decided by the district unit of the party.

In the elections held in 1997 in this constituency, the lone candidate of the party, Mr Ajitinder Singh Mofar, who had been elected from this constituency as nominee of the SAD (A), had joined the Congress a few months back.

There is great resentment among the party workers against the defection of Mr Mofar. Mr Gursewak Singh Jawaharke, district president, Mr Barjinder Singh Mansahia, senior leader of the party, Mr Gurpreet Singh Makha, member working committee, Mr Harcharan Singh Buraj Harike, member of the working committee of the Punjab youth wing of the party, in a joint statement issued here today said the party had already stepped up its activities in the area.

The Sardulgarh Assembly constituency is the home constituency of the general secretary of SAD (B) and Rajya Sabha member, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, who is very close to be the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Malaria, jaundice hit five villages
Our Correspondent

Joga (Mansa), July 31
Five villages adjoining Chauke village have been hit with malaria and jaundice. Most of the victims are poor and cannot afford treatment in good hospitals.

The cause of the outbreak of the disease is the insanitary condition of the village. Although quite a large number of people have been suffering from the diseases, yet the district health authorities have not woken up.

The worst affected villages are Rarh, Aklia, Anupgarh and Burj Jhabber.

Inquiries showed that earlier more than 12 persons had died of hepatitis-B at Chauke village. A visit to Aklia village revealed that a person in every second house was suffering from malaria.

Villagers disclosed that the government health centre was being run by a single doctor and the post of senior doctor was lying vacant. Moreover, medicines were not available at the centre and the people had to get treatment from quacks.

Ms Didar Kaur (65) of Aklia village said the government used to sprinkle BHC and DDT but this year nobody turned up. She said the drinking water at the village was contaminated. Mr Simarjit Bubby of Malwa Youth Club said there was a single doctor at the health centre and no medicines were available and the patients had to visit Mansa or Barwala for treatment.

Mr Darshan Singh, social worker at Joga village, said there was no proper drainage in the Harijan colonies. He said heaps of rubbish could be seen lying around in these colonies.

Inquiries further reveal that there were more than 150 persons suffering from malaria at Joga village alone, but in the government records not a single person was suffering from the disease.

Despite the health centre being there but not a single tablet of quinine had been distributed among the villagers.

The health authorities, when asked to comment, expressed their ignorance about the spread of diseases and kept silent regarding the sprinkling of DDT and BHC in the affected areas.


Market panel chief meets political leaders
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), July 31
Mr Harbant Singh ‘Harta’, Chairman of the local Market Committee, today held a meeting with representatives of all political parties to discuss the problems of the town and the area for taking up the same with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, during his scheduled ‘sangat darshan’ programme in the town.

Mr Megh Raj Goyal, a Congress leader, spoke about the lack of adequate sewerage in the town and the adjoining Budhlada village as result of which flood-like situation was created during rains.

Mr Goyal said that the Chief Minister should order restarting of the Budhlada Co-operative Sugar Mill. Mr Chiman Lal, a BJP leader and former municipal chief, said a proposal for setting up a government college here be put before the Chief Minister. Mr Suresh Kumar of the Shiv Shakti Seva Mandal said they could set up an ultra-modern hospital at a cost of Rs 2 crore if land was provided for it by the government or people.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, a Congress leader, demanded the setting up of a mini court complex in the town. The leaders demanded the stoppage of the Delhi-Sirsa, Dainik Express at Budhlada. Mr Dharminderjit of the Shere Punjab Dal demanded the construction of a sports academy and a maternity centre in the town. It was also demanded of the meeting that only female teachers should be posted at the local Government Girls Senior Secondary School.

Principal Jagjit Singh, member SGPC, and Mr Harta assured the leaders that the points raised by them would be incorporated in the memorandum to be presented to the Chief Minister.


PPCC seeks CBI probe into arms licence scandal
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 31
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, former MLA, Fazilka, and secretary, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, in a statement here yesterday alleged that following the involvement of politicians in the arms licence scandal along with certain senior officers, efforts were being made to cover it up.

Dr Rinwa demanded a CBI probe into the scandal. He said about 32,000 arms licences had been granted in Ferozepore district against fake addresses. The name of the local MLA and Forest Minister, Punjab, Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, allegedly figures in the scandal, besides four ruling party MLAs and a chairman of a market committee. 


Seminar on untouchability
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
A seminar on discrimination on the basis of caste and untouchability was conducted here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Ratnam said the Constitution of the country had provided equal status to all. The state government had also provided special incentives to the Dalits for their upliftment such as free books up to class X and scholarships for Dalit girls up to class V.

Mr Balkar Singh, Professor, Panjab University, Regional Centre, Muktsar, read a paper on Dalit chetna. A number of other scholars from different institutes also spoke on the occasion.

Mr Ratnam said the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, had abolished untouchability 300 years ago when he baptised panj piare on Baisakhi.

He said the state government had formulated many policies for the Dalits which included Rs 5100 shagun scheme for Dalit girls at the time of their marriage, 33 per cent reservation in seats for the Dalits in the panchayats and widow and old-age pension, he said.


Involve public to improve police functioning: SSP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
Newly appointed district police chief Paramjit Singh Grewal today said the views of the public would be taken to improve the working of the police administration in the district.

Speaking at a public meeting organised at the Kotwali here, Mr Grewal said he would participate in meetings with representatives of the public at all subdivisions in the district to know about the problems of the people. He said he hoped the meetings would also result in better cooperation on the part of the public with the police force.

Mr Grewal said the police functioning would be made people-friendly to ensure people did not fear approaching the police in case of any difficulty. He said all officers would also hold regular interactions with the public.

Speaking on the occasion, political leaders Bhupesh Aggarwal and Balwant Rai, while welcoming the new SSP, said stress should be laid on better traffic management. Mr Rai urged that respect of public representatives should be restored and that they should be accorded due treatment whenever they visited the police stations.

Social worker Gurbhajan Singh Sanyasi said the people were ready to cooperate with the police in any social campaign and that mohalla-level committees could be constituted for the purpose Beopar Mandal leader Nirmal Das Malhotra also spoke.


Cops ‘raid’ houses of BKU(E) leaders
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) alleged in a statement issued here today that the police raided their houses yesterday so as to prevent them from attending a state-level rally of the union to be held on August 1 at Maur Mandi.

Mr Shingara Singh, district general secretary of the union, alleged that the police did not want the rally to be successful which was being organised in protest against the alleged beating of farmers at Maiser Khana village a few days ago and the suicide by Mithu Singh, a farmer of Sandoha village.

The leaders alleged that more than 100 policemen yesterday raided the houses of union leaders at Kotra Kaura village but could not arrest them as villagers resisted the police action. The villagers and the union activists staged dharnas at various places in the village to lodge their protest.

When the policemen failed to arrest the leaders they allegedly entered the house of Mr Motha Singh forcibly and broke household items, Mr Shingara Singh said. The activists have started mobilising farmers for the rally, he claimed.

The leaders alleged that the injured farmers, who had been sent to the Central Jail, were not being given proper medical care and the condition of some of them had worsened. The police also raided Khokhar village and arrested Mr Roshan Singh, president of the village unit of the union, the leaders said.


Lathi charge: action sought against cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, today released the party’s fact-finding committee’s report on the police lathi charge on farmers at Maiser Khana in Bathinda on July 24.

The report, inter alia, traced the history of the agitation following “suicide” by a farmer, Mithu Singh, due to alleged harassment at the hands of a commission agent and the management of a cooperative bank, and demanded a CBI inquiry.

It has sought action, including suspension, against the guilty police officials, registration of a case against the commission agent and the bank manager and release of the arrested members of the Kisan Union.

The party, Mr Chandumjara said, had decided to extend free legal aid to the affected persons and also approach the Punjab Human Rights Commission to seek justice. It had appealed to the Kisan Union, arhtiyas and the cooperative bank management to adopt a positive attitude towards farmers.


Lathi charge: morcha finds police guilty
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
The Lok Morcha, Punjab, an NGO, has held the police authorities guilty of the lathi charge on Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) activists on July 24 at Maiser Khana village. The police had denied the lathi charge or violence on the activists.

The district unit of the morcha had carried out an independent probe into the incident through its 15-member team formed for the purpose. A report given to media persons by the morcha today said the police used force and tear gas to lift the dharna by the activists.

The report said the claim of the police that the action was meant only to make way for traffic on the Bathinda-Maur route was incorrect as the traffic was never disrupted by the activists. It said the police action was more of a revenge than an action in the interest of the public. Villagers were supplying langar to the activists and when after repeated threats the police failed to persuade the villagers from doing so it resorted to a lathi charge. It also entered houses of villagers, misbehaved with them, beat them up and broke household items, besides molesting women. The report also said police personnel were drunk.

The morcha report said no lady police official was present when the police wielded lathis. Most of the villagers had sustained serious injuries, the report said.

Ms Pushplata, district president and Mr Jagmail Singh, district secretary, of the morcha said in their 10-page report that the action of the police was not justified and demanded action against those guilty.


No fresh relief, claim transporters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 31
Private bus operators here have contested the claim of the Punjab Government regarding fresh tax relief being provided to them. Mr Fateh Singh Libra, Managing Director, Libra group of bus services said in a press note here today that the relief decision by the Punjab Cabinet had been implemented in November, 2000, and now the Cabinet had only ratified the decision.

Mr Libra contested reports published in some newspapers yesterday that the government had given annual concessions worth Rs 55 crore to the transporters. He said, “The government had already declared these concessions in November, 2000, and issued a notification with effect from December 1, 2000. Due to some unknown reasons, the Cabinet has ratified these concessions now.”

He said it was due to these concessions that the transport sector had survived during the past eight months. However, diesel, spare parts and chassis rates had substantially increased during the period. The bus operators had to deposit heavy amounts of special road tax (SRT) at a rate of Rs 2.99 per km despite the fact the number of illegal trucks, tempos and Tata Sumos were ferrying the passengers in connivance with some officials of the Transport Department.

Mr Libra said the bus operators were spending Rs 4.73 per km as average diesel cost which amounted to a total cost of Rs 16.39 per km against the average return of Rs 13.30 per km. The rate of bus chassis had increased from Rs 5,10,000 to Rs 6,74,000 during the past three years. It had resulted in heavy losses to the public sector and the private transport units. But they had no alternative but to continue running the buses.

He said thousands of illegal taxis, trucks and tempos were running in the state, and causing heavy losses to the state exchequer. These operators did not pay taxes and posed danger to the lives of passengers. The falling of a truck near Kiratpur Sahib was the latest example, he added.

Mr Libra urged the Chief Minister to decrease the SRT to Rs 1 per km to provide relief to the transport sector and instruct the officials to take strict action against the illegal operators. It would help the Punjab Roadways and the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation also, were incurring heavy losses. 


Holes in drinking water scheme
Ramesh Gupta

Faridkot, July 31
Residents of Tehna village in the district have been meeting their drinking water needs from the canal in the outskirt of the village, says Mr Buta Singh, former sarpanch and Hari Singh, social worker. Balmiki Colony has still to get the water supply connection.

The poor of Jalaleana village have not been given piped water, says sarpanch Akthiar Singh. Janak Singh Basti of Bir Chaha village has also been deprived of the facility, adds Mr Sadhu Singh Virk, former president Block Congress Committee.

The situation is no better in Maan Singh Wala and Bhag Singh Wala, says Mr Gurcharan Singh, former sarpanch of Veerawala. Mr Avtar Singh, former sarpanch and member Vidhayak Sabha of Marar village in the Jand Sahib area, says that a large number of the villagers meet their water needs from the Gang canal and other sources due to the improper functioning of the water works.

Mr Avtar Singh Brar, the local MLA, says that an estimate committee from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha led by Mr Gurdip Singh Bhullar along with senior district officials visited various villages, including Veerawala, Jalaleana, Duareana, Wara Draka, Wander Jatana, Dheema Wali, Machaki, Sadiq, Kuduwala and Sahib and Pindi Balochan to access the problems of residents for three days from June 6 last.

Refuting problems in the water supply, Mr A. Veny Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, says that only some new bastis have not been getting piped water. He says that the district administration has drawn up a plan of Rs 3.44 crore to augment the entire water supply system in the area. Under the plan two villages will be connected with one water works besides laying inlet channels and additional pipelines and the digging of more tubewells. He expressed the hope to receive a grant from the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Stone laid for water scheme
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 31
Raja Narinder Singh, Minister for Public Health and Civil Aviation, said today at Ranger Nangal village 40 km from here, that Rs 21 crore had been sanctioned for 123 villages of this district under the rural water supply scheme. Under this scheme Rs 126 crore would be spent to provide pure drinking water in rural Punjab.

The minister earlier laid foundation stone of the scheme in the village. The implementation of the scheme will cost Rs 37.72 lakh and provide water to Ranger Nangal and neighbouring Nawan Ranger Nangal and Nanak Nangal villages.

He also laid foundation stones of water supply scheme at Sada Rang and Chowdhary Wall in Batala subdivision. The schemes will cost Rs 33.62 lakh and Rs 38 lakh, respectively.

The minister was accompanied by Mr Natha Singh Dalem, Minister for Public Relations, who announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for repair of streets and drains and Rs 50,000 for building a dharmshala at Ranger Nangal.


Fall in watertable alarming
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 31
The watertable in this district, famous for producing bumper crops of wheat and paddy, at present is about 150 feet to 160 feet below the ground level. This has affected the supply of drinking water.

Experts have blamed this on paddy cultivation in the area. They fear if the farmers do not go in for crop diversification there will be an acute shortage of drinking water in the area.


Eight injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 31
Eight persons, including three women, were seriously injured in a clash over land dispute between two groups at Quila Rehmatgarh here today.

Four persons, Najir Shah, Bundoo Shah, Pir Ali and Iliaquat Ali, reportedly started constructing a house on the disputed land measuring four bighas allegedly with the intention of taking its possession.

When Mohammed Rafiq, manager of the Quila Rehmatgarh, Educational Welfare Society, tried to stop them from constructing the house, Najir Shah and others allegedly attacked Rafiq with a spade. On hearing the shouts of Rafiq, a large number of residents assembled there and attacked the opposite party and injured them.


1-yr-term for rash driving
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 31
The Judicial Magistrate, Pathankot, on Tuesday sentenced Sukhdev Raj of Dinanagar to one-and-half year imprisonment and imposed fine Rs 500 on him.

According to the prosecution, Yudhvir Singh had lodged a report with the police alleging that on June 16, 1996, Sukhdev Raj was driving a truck in a rash and negligent manner which dashed into an autorickshaw near Islampur village resulting in the death of Ajit Singh, Mohinder Singh and Mohindero Devi.


Remit farmers’ loans: BKU(L)
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), July 31
“The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) will support the political party which will demand remission of loans outstanding against farmers in the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha”, said Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the union.

He said in case Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, wanted to become the messiah of the peasantry, he should bring a package of Rs 10,000 crore from the Central Government to remit the loans of farmers.

While addressing the farmers before the office of the SDM, Budhlada, Mr Lakhowal said the farmers of Punjab are under a heavy debt of Rs 7,000 crore to cooperative and commercial banks, due to which they were committing suicides. He accused arthiyas and moneylenders of taking undue advantage of the hardships being faced by the farmers. The arthiyas and moneylenders obtain the signatures or thumb impressions of farmers on blank stamp papers to grab their properties, he said. He demanded a probe in such cases.

He said the BKU (L) had called a meeting at Ludhiana on August 1 to step up the agitation for liberation of farmers from debt. He demanded that the farmers should be provided loans at the interest rate of 4 per cent per annum on the pattern of other states.

Mr Manjit Singh Kadia, general secretary of the BKU (L), condemned the brutal lathi charge by the police on peacefully agitating farmers at Maisarkhana village in Bathinda district. 


Punjab Govt to install solar tubewells
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 31
The Punjab Government has decided to install tubewells that can be operated on solar energy to provide better facilities to farmers. The facility will be available at places where the water level is only 30 feet deep and will involve an expenditure of Rs 4.56 lakh out of which the farmers will have to contribute Rs 35,000.

 This was stated by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, State Minister for Science and Technology, while announcing upgradation of a primary school to the middle level at Tarkhan Majra village under Samana subdivision here today. He said about 500 tubewells had already been installed and approval for installation of 1,500 more tubewells had been received from the Central Government. 

Mr Garg said a grant of Rs 1 lakh had already been given by the Punjab Government for the middle school of the village, adding that Rs 50,000 more would be given by the government from its discretionary fund. Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, Officer on Special Duty to the Punjab Chief Minister said about 1,800 schools of Punjab had been upgraded this year.


Master plan for 24-hr power supply
Our Correspondent and PTI

Moga, July 31
The Punjab Government has prepared a plan to provide 24-hour uninterrupted power supply by the end of the current financial year. At present this facility is available to 2354 villages. Under the new scheme, new transmission lines are being laid and 25,000 tubewell connections will also be given.

This was announced by Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while inaugurating a Rs 2.50 crore 66 kv substation at Ratta Tiba village in Malout subdivision of Muktsar district yesterday. With the inauguration of the 66 kv substation at Ratta Tiba, power supply in a dozen adjoining villages will be improved and new domestic as well as industrial connections for small industries will be made available to entrepreneurs. The Chief Minister claimed that the biggest achievement of the SAD-BJP government regime in the power sector was commissioning and completion of Ranjit Sagar Dam at a cost of Rs 1000 crore.

He said a Rs 450-crore UBDC project had been got approved from the Union Government to provide improved facilities to irrigate land in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. Meanwhile, in the past six months power supply to almost all over the state has deteriorated. With low voltage, tripping has become frequent.

Consumers especially agriculturists, industrialists and business community are much perturbed over the situation.


Report on octroi exemption soon
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 31
The Punjab Government will soon decide over the octroi exemption issue after getting the report of the three-members octroi review committee headed by Mr Arunesh Shaker of Mukerian, which is expected within two or three days. This was stated by the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, while talking to the correspondent here today. He said an alternative source of income was being reviewed. Mr Tandon said the state government would have to set up its own website after forming a state-level overseas employment cell in Chandigarh.

Replying to a question Mr Tandon said the New Municipal Act would be enforced after getting clearance from the Union Home Ministry, which was expected within a month. He said the state government had issued an ordinance to extend the tenure of all chairpersons of improvement trusts from the present two years to four years, and it would be presented in the next assembly session begining from August 21.


Admn fails to curb corrupt practices
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 31
The district administration has failed to keep a check on the corrupt practices carried out by erring government official. A number of doctors working in government hospitals carry out private practice despite the fact they are getting allowances for not practicing at their residence. Likewise, a number of government officials, including some district-level officers, commute daily to their house situated at far-off places without fear of administrative action.

A government employee cannot leave the station of posting even for a night without getting station leave. It burdens the state exchequer. These officials also draw house rent allowance from the treasury for residing at headquarters.

The tehsildars and naib tehsildars have created cells through which they allegedly collect money for registering documents under the Registration Act 1908. This work is also done by their subordinates and in some cases directly by them. They also charge a huge amount of money at the time of sanctioning mutations (intiqals). 


Vinod Khanna is FCI panel chief
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 31
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Department of Food and Public Distribution, has constituted a state consultative committee of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for Punjab under the chairmanship of Mr Vinod Khanna, MP from Gurdaspur.

The other members of the Committee are; Mr Balbir Chand Kapila (Ludhiana), Mr Mahendra Bhagat (Jalandhar), Mr Sukhwant Singh (Sangrur), Mr Shakti Sharma (Ludhiana), Mr Narottam Dev Ratti (Kapurthala), Mr Lakshman Dass Sewak (Patiala), Mr Radha Lal (Mansa), Mr Inderjeet Singh (Ferozepur), Mr Balkrishan Mittal (Gurdaspur), Mr Joginder Singh (Patiala), Mrs Gurcharan Kaur (Faridkot), Mr Anil Vasudeva (Pathankot) and Mr Kanwar Kamal Singh (Ropar)


Upgraded schools sans teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
The Education Department has been facing a rather difficult situation as it is not able to provide principals, lecturers and other facilities in the schools upgraded this year from high to the senior secondary level, despite the fact that admissions for the plus one and plus two classes have already been done in the schools.

The ministers and MLAs of the ruling party had boasted about the achievements of the present government in the field of education at the functions held in connection with the upgradations of these schools. The functions were held with much fanfare and raised the hopes of rural people that they would be able to impart education to their wards.

The euphoria did not lost as the students who got admission in the senior secondary classes found that there were no teachers to take the classes. In none of these newly upgraded schools, the post of principal was sanctioned.

According to official sources, 25 schools were upgraded this year from high to the senior secondary level in the district. Sources said in most of these schools, the posts of lecturers are lying vacant even as the education authorities had sent lecturers in a few schools.

The sources said for admissions in the senior secondary classes in these schools, the education authorities gave authority to the headmasters of these high schools. They said the lecturers who had been sent for admissions had gone back to their parent schools as the admissions had been completed.

The Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, had criticised the Congress for upgrading schools without giving a thought to the staff needed to run these schools. He had also promised that the ruling Akali Dal would upgrade the schools and appoint the teachers and principals within no time. All these claims have proved false after 1,000 schools in the state have been upgraded.

Even in Dyalpura, the ancestral village of the minister only two lecturers have been appointed in the upgraded schools. All schools in villages between Bhairupa and Kotha Guru have been upgraded to the senior secondary level without the appointment of any staff or principal there.

The District Education Officer was unavailable for comments.


UPTF wins 7 posts of teachers association
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
The United Progressive Teachers Front (UPTF), the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) and Radical Teachers Front (RTF) alliance shared the seats of the teachers association of Guru Nanak Dev University, the elections to which were held here today.

The UPTF won seven offices while the DTF/RTF alliance won four seats. Following are the results: president — Dr Devinder Singh; vice-president — Dr Tarlok Singh Bainipal; secretary Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu; joint secretary — Dr Sukhpreet Singh; and treasurer — Dr Lakhwant Singh.

Six members who have been elected to the executive body are Dr Kulwant Singh, Dr Sukhdev Singh, Dr Jagroop Singh, Dr Vikram Chadda, Dr Renu Bala and Dr Joginder Singh.


Non-medical lecturers seek promotions
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 31
Resentment prevails among the non-medical lecturers of biochemistry, biophysics and physical education working in the three state government medical colleges at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala against the adamant attitude of the Punjab Government to accede to their long-pending demands which include revision of pay scales and promotions.

According to information, there are 17 lecturers working in medical colleges for the past more than 15 years who felt that they had no promotional avenues or other benefits despite having qualification on a par with medical lecturers.

The Punjab Government had last year agreed in principal, to place non-medical lecturers at par with medical lecturers of three government medical colleges to remove all disparities. These include same pay scales and benefits of next higher pay scales except NPA after 4,9 and 14 years of service. However, no official notification has been issued in this regard.

Mr Rajeev Dhawan, president of the Non-Medical Lecturers Association, in a memorandum written to the Minister and Principal Secretary of Research and Medical Association, Punjab on June 26 this year urged them to the necessary action to sort out the matter amicably.


Counselling not transparent, say students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
Even as the counselling for admission to the B.Ed course in various colleges of the state is to start from August 3, students have started expressing apprehensions the admissions to be done by Punjabi University, Patiala. A group of students while talking to this correspondent here today alleged that the university had earned notoriety for its bunglings. The system of counselling for admission to various colleges was not transparent, they said.

The students said Panjab University had advertised for the counselling for the same course in a detailed manner and had called students according to the respective subject combinations. But Punjabi University had called all students of all subject combinations at the same time on the basis of a combined merit. This would create problems for the students as the total number of seats had not been advertised, they alleged.

The university authorities had also not disclosed the number of seats for each subject combination, thereby keeping the students in the dark. Neither the parents were allowed inside the counselling hall nor the students allowed to talk to them at the time of counselling, the students alleged.

The students said there was no procedure to know the names, ranks and marks of the students admitted.

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