Thursday, August 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab in dilemma on octroi abolition
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The doggedness of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to abolish octroi has placed the Shiromani Akali Dal -led Punjab Government in a dilemma.

While it wants to appease the urban voter in general and the trader of the state in particular by abolishing octroi , as has been done by almost all states in the country, it has not been able to work out an alternative to bring in Rs 400 crore to meet the revenue losses on account of octroi abolition.

For a majority of the civic bodies in the state, octroi has been the major source of revenue. The money generated through octroi collection not only helps the civic bodies meet their “gigantic salary bill” but also sustain some essential or key services.

Shifting the Rs 400 crore burden to the rural sector will in no way be the acceptable to Shiromani Akali Dal, which takes pride in claiming that it is a party of peasants. The imposition of a surcharge on sales tax will annoy both urban and rural consumers besides agitating traders who, after the introduction of a uniform floor rate on sales tax , had been complaining of “slowing down of the economy”.

All but three states have abolished octroi. For example, both Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have no octroi. Most of the states have either opted for the levying of surcharge on sales tax or imposed entry fee to make up for the revenue losses on account of the abolition of octroi.

Punjab has been studying various models but has been unable to find a solid substitute to generate sufficient revenue not only to keep the civic bodies running but also give relief to the urban population.

The fund-starved state has limited options. The possibility of increasing sales tax on diesel will be counter-productive as it will alienate rural voters in general and farmers in particular.

The state electricity board is already crumbling under concessions given to the farm sector and members of the Scheduled Castes. Not only that the BJP had also been demanding the withdrawal of the hike in the power tariff for the domestic sector as well as the small-scale industrial sector.

The levying of entry tax, sources say, will again put an extra burden on the rural population which the government, in the year of elections, will not like to antagonise.

For Punjab the main sources of revenue generation have been sales tax and excise duty which bring in about Rs 3,600 crore. The only other minor source of revenue generation has been land registration which gives the state exchequer about Rs 100 crore.

Since the excise policy for the current year has been implemented, any proposal for levying a municipal cess to generate Rs 400 crore will not be feasible at this stage.

The immediate problem arising from the abolition of octroi will be the payment of salaries to the employees of the civic bodies. The state government is also not in a position to give a one-time grant of Rs 400 crore to the civic bodies to tide over the crisis for the time being.

There was a time when the state government while transferring properties, including land, to the Punjab Urban Development Authority was promised an annual revenue of Rs 250 crore.

But after contributing Rs 55 crore in the first year and Rs 71 crore in the second, little or no money has come to the state kitty this year, thus ruling out the possibility of PUDA bailing the state out of the “octroi crisis”.

Revenue generation by other departments, including the Transport, too, is expected to decline in the wake of the concessions announced for the transport sector since December last year. Bus operators, after the current package, which is being implemented since December last year, will benefit by about Rs 42 crore annually.

In such a grim economic scenario, the abolition of octroi will put the state government in a tight financial situation, making it almost impossible to carry out development activity besides inviting the wrath of the municipal employees.


Land scam: Punjab asks UT to register case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Punjab Government has requested the Chandigarh police authorities to register a criminal case against certain persons who allegedly made a well-planned move to get 1,100 acres of land allotted from the state government on the basis of bogus documents.

The Revenue and Rehabilitation Department authorities have sent a six-page letter to Mr B.S. Bassi, IG, Chandigarh police, in this connection. In the letter details of the case have been mentioned.

The letter says that on May 26, 1998, two persons, Bharpur Singh (now deceased) and Sandeep Singh, both residents of Fattanwala village in Muktsar district, filed a petition for the allotment of land in the court of Mr S.S. Khara, Additional Director, Consolidation of Holdings, and Managing Officer (Headquarters), Rehabilitation, Punjab. The petition was supported by affidavits.

It was asserted in the petition that the late Mahant Manohar Dass abandoned about 1,100 acres of land in Ram Parsad village of Montgomery district, now in Pakistan, at the time of Partition and migrated to India. He settled in Fattanwala village. They also attached a copy of the revenue records obtained from the office of the Director, Land Records, Jalandhar, where the revenue records brought from Pakistan were kept for reference purposes and to verify claims for the allotment of land.

However, during the hearing of the case, Mr Khara became suspicious of the genuineness of the claim and started a scrutiny of all documents at his own level. Following checking of the records, it came out that the Mahant had never migrated to India and had become a Muslim and got married to a Muslim woman.

He died in 1952 in Pakistan. Even the Pakistani authorities, responding to a letter sent to them by the Punjab Government way back in 1954, had reported that the Mahant was no more alive and as the land belonged to the “gaddi” (religious seat), the Deputy Commissioner concerned had appointed a custodian for the land. The letter said that the records presented before Mr Khara by the petitioners were doctored.

The letter said that both petitioners hatched a criminal conspiracy to grab land from the Punjab Government by making a fictitious claim before the authorities. The will in the name of the Mahant was also forged. Someone impersonating the Mahant got the will registered at the office of the Sub-Registrar, Muktsar. A false death certificate of Mahant was also procured.

The Chandigarh police has been asked to register the case under Sections 120-B, 417, 418,419,420 of the IPC. The letter has been written by Mr Jaswant Singh, Joint Secretary, Department of Revenue and Rehabilitation, Punjab.


AICC observers for Punjab
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
Stepping up its election drive in Punjab, the Congress has constituted a 105-member campaign committee for the state which has been given the task of holding public meetings in all 117 constituencies.

The AICC has also assigned specific areas to the Central observers it has appointed to report about the preparations of the party’s organisational set-up in various blocks and towns for the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The observers have been given 15 days in which they will assess the party’s organisational preparedness and form an idea about the prospective candidates for the party ticket.

The campaign committee is being headed by Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, while Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa has been appointed vice-chairman, Mr Bhag Singh convenor and Ms Satinder Kaur Nabha co-convenor of the committee. While there has been an effort to keep a balance of group loyalities within the state Congress, the huge size of the campaign committee may pose difficulties in its coherent functioning.

According to AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab, a meeting of the party observers, who have left for Punjab, would be held on August 20.

The observers, each of whom has been assigned a parliamentary constituency, have been drawn from states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Chattisgarh. They include Mr Jagtar Singh Kang (Amritsar rural), Mr Sankar Pannu (Bhatinda), Mr Narender Budania (Gurdaspur), Mr Suraj Khatri (Amritsar Urban), Mr Ramnarayan Meena (Jalandhar Urban), Mr Surender Kumar Bhuyar (Fategah Sahib), Mr Suraj Singh Solanki (Moga), Mr Gangaram Sharma (Ludhiana urban), Mr Subhash Sharma (Muktsar), Mr Sekh Nazimuddin (Faridkot), Dr Ajit Degwekar (Ludhiana rural), Mr Sanjay Pathak (Hoshiarpur), Mr K.S. Gujral (Delhi), Mr J. Singh Gehlot (Ferozpore), Mr Ram Lal Thakur (Mansa), Mr K.D. Sultanpuri (Kapurthala) and Mr Deepak Malhotra (Ropar). Mr Vora said the observers for Jalandhar rural, Pataila urban, Patiala rural and Sangrur would be named shortly.


Bhakra power generation up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has enhanced the power generation on the right bank of the Bhakra plant from 660 MW to 785 MW at a cost of Rs 92 crore. The 125MW has been added through indigenous renovation, modernisation and “uprating”, according to informed sources.

The five generating units on the right bank were installed in 1966-1968. These had outlived their utility. The “uprating” has added another 25-30 years to their life. The BBMB proposes to continue such a programme on the other projects, like the left bank Bhakra powerhouse and the Pong, Ganguwal and Kotla powerhouses. The work is already on. The installed machinery was supplied by the USSR and Japan.

The work is to be completed as per the guidelines of the Centre, stipulating a short gestation period and low cost.

Sources revealed that the BBMB doubled up as a “consultancy” company as well having gained experience and expertise in the integrated management of multipurpose hydro-electrical projects in conformity with social and environmental obligations. In the “Vision 2000-2012” paper prepared by the BBMB it is stated that it will endeavour to exploit the available knowledge and infrastructure for the development of power, information technology, telecommunications, tourism and biotechnology and synergise the utilisation of resources to earn revenue for the partner states, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

Both Bhakra and Beas, on an average, generate and distribute 12, 000 million units of power and 28 million acre feet of water for irrigation to the northern states, annually. As outlined by the Ministry of Power, the thrust area identified for these projects is “renovation, modernisation and uprating”.

The board proposes to enhance the power generation capacity of its projects by 113 MW in the next 11 years. The breakdown is as follows: Ganguwal and Kotla 5 MW, the left bank Bhakra powerhouse 90 MW and the Pong powerhouse 18 MW.

The board has decided to add 40 MW through the construction of the Baggi power project situated at the exit of the Pandoh-Baggi tunnel of the Beas-Sutlej Link and another 63.6 MW through the Neilla power plant proposed to be constructed on the Sutlej, 5 km downstream of Bhakra.

Proposals for the optimum use of river water have also been made to achieve through the maximisation of power generation, irrigation, avoidance of floods and conservation of water to hedge against a poor or delayed monsoon. For this, a telemetry system in the Sutlej and Beas basins will be installed.

As a consultancy company, the BBMB has drawn up a course of action ranging from river basin studies to investigation and topographic surveys and training. The modernisation of the Nangal workshop is on the anvil. It handles and shapes 4,000 tonnes of steel per annum.

India’s first fully computerised system load despatch centre is being executed as a unified scheme of the Power Grid Corporation of India. It is likely to be commissioned in the near future. It will enable the optimum utilisation of the power potential of the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas projects.

At present, Mr S.K. Duggal, Member, Irrigation from Haryana, is the officiating Chairman, following the retirement of Major-Gen R.R. Oberoi on July 31. The other permanent board Member (Power) from Punjab is Mr Amrik Singh. A search is on in the Ministry of Power for a permanent Chairman.


JBT teachers’ selection gets murkier
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 8
Apprehensions of political and bureaucratic interference in the ongoing selection process of JBT teachers have increased among the aspirants and their parents with the sudden replacement of one of the two experts on the selection committee by Guru Nanak Dev University authorities and quitting by another expert from the committee.

The district level selection committees had been constituted by the state Education Department following directions by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had also directed the department to include two senior university experts in each of the committees. But what have hampered the ongoing selection process, much to the inconvenience of thousands of aspirants, are sharp differences among members of these committees over interpretation of the court directions.

The university experts have been asserting that the court had empowered the committees to make the final selections, while representatives of the Education Department say that there was no point in displaying the detailed merit lists outside the interview venues and that the final selection was to be made by the higher officials of the department at Chandigarh.

Dr Daljit Singh, Head of the Law Department of Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr Baljit Kaur, both experts on the Joint Selection Committee for Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts had been repeatedly refusing to put their signatures on the merit lists on the grounds that the lists should not be sent to Chandigarh and the selection should be finalised at the committee level as per the directions of the court. Their stand had irked officials of the Education Department who were adamant about sending the merit list to their bosses at Chandigarh for final selection. It was learnt that these officials had been directed to do so by the higher authorities at Chandigarh. The situation was similar in some other committees in the state.

But what has fuelled apprehensions about political and bureaucratic interference is sudden replacement of Dr Daljit Singh by Dr Swaran Singh, Principal of Evening College here, by the varsity authorities today. This was followed by Dr Baljit Kaur’s letter to the varsity authorities that she could not perform her duties under the prevailing circumstances and hence was dissociating herself from the committee on “personal grounds”.

Meanwhile, hundreds of candidates who had converged at Government School for Girls in Model Town here, the interview venue since the onset of selection process on July 16, had to return disappointed as the selection process was suddenly postponed by the Education Department authorities today. Candidates complained that they were not even allowed to enter the school premises by the watchman to let them make enquiries. They had faced a similar situation on July 30.


Cheating by Asia Resorts alleged; HC orders probe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 8
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, has ordered the Ludhiana SSP, Mr H.S. Sidhu, to investigate and take action necessary per law against the Chairman, Managing Director and Director of Asia Resorts, a company running Timber Trail operations and restaurants on time share basis at Parwanoo and Manali in Himachal Pradesh on a complaint alleging fraud and cheating. A copy of the order was served to the SSP here today.

The Citizens’ Welfare Association, Ludhiana, an NGO had made a plea to the High Court on the behalf of Mr Ravinder Pal Singh, a businessman alleging that the company had failed to fulfil its promise of providing free accommodation for a week in a year after charging Rs 1,08,000 from him in 1998 under the time share scheme. The company management had rather asked for Rs 3000 as maintenance charges and Rs 550 as utility charges from him.

It was alleged that the Asia Resorts had collected more than Rs 20 crore from about 2000 members under the Time Share Holiday Scheme promising them that they would provide one week’s accommodation free of cost at Manali and Parwanoo resorts for the next 49 years. They would be charged just Rs 50 as utility charges.

However, within one year of the scheme, the company started making one or other excuse for not providing accommodation free of charge to the members. They were when asked to pay Rs 1000-3000 as maintenance charges of accommodation by the company at the time of booking of rooms.

Mr Hardesh Goel, president of the association disclosed that the company was asking for about Rs 1 lakh on an average from the members for the maintenance of a single room for a year. Though under the contract of the scheme, there was no provision for maintenance charges or increase in utility charges. More than 500 industrialists and businessmen from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other towns of the state had become members of the scheme. They feel cheated by the company.

The Citizens’ Welfare Association filed a criminal case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on July 23 against Mr R.K. Garg, Chairman, Asia Resorts, Mr Akash Garg, Managing Director and Ms Naini Girdhar, Director Marketing in the local branch office of the company. Mr Justice V.M. Jain, on this plea has ordered the SSP, Ludhiana to take action appropriate and necessary in accordance with the law.


CBI imposter nabbed
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
A Punjab Police constable has been nabbed by officials of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) on charges of demanding graft by impersonating as a CBI officer.

According to information available from well placed sources in the CBI, Constable Harjit Singh was arrested by the CBI from Faridkot district on August 6. It was later discovered that the accused was a cop, posted in the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab at Muktsar.

It is learnt that the accused, Harjit Singh had contacted a Senior Assistant in the Arms branch of Faridkot’s Deputy Commissioner’s office and introduced himself as a CBI officer in the third week of July. Harjit Singh reportedly told the senior Assistant, Mr. Puran Chand, that he had been sent there by his seniors to investigate a complaint they had received against the latter.

The imposter told the officer in the DC’s office that there were allegations against him that he was living beyond his known sources of income and that he had amassed a lot of wealth by unfair means. The cop demanded a bribe of Rs. 10,000 from Mr. Chand in order to give a report in the latter’s favour.

A deal was struck between the two sides , but Mr. Chand pleaded with him that he would pay the bribe after he had received the next month’s salary. Harjit Singh relented and it was decided that the payment would be made during the first week of August.

Meanwhile, the CBI office here got wind of this and sounded the Deputy Commissioner , Faridkot, Mr. A. Venu Prasad in order to ensure that the imposter was caught. Subsequently, a trap was laid by Mr. Prasad and Harjit Singh was arrested.

CBI officials here say a number of such cases have been reported from different parts of Punjab , where people impersonating as CBI officials are extorting money from both public servants and private persons.

However, no one has ever been nabbed before for posing as CBI officers. A senior official in the CBI said the fear psychosis in the public with regards to the CBI was a prime factor that people were willing to pay to imposters, without verifying their antecedents. He also said that it was only when the deal with these” CBI officials” was sealed that these incidents came to light.

He alleged that a few of these imposters had reportedly also presented fake identity cards before their unsuspecting victims.


Of chained men, locked women
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
Throwing all norms to the wind, a local ashram for the mentally challenged is keeping women permanently locked in a dark dingy room besides chaining men in the open for years at a stretch.

The arrangement, going by the name of the All-India Pingla Ashram built near Sanaur about 4 km from here has women who rarely ever see light of the day with workers cleaning them during morning ablutions and feeding them in the room itself. The men have only stars for company and severely mentally challenged remain in the open in the night also. A rain spell is also not enough to take them indoors.

The ashram presents a picture of neglect. The patients are left here by their relatives on God’s will disclosed a ‘sewadar’. Pointing to Kala, one of the chained men, he said the man had been in the ashram for nearly five years, other, had been there for periods ranging from one to two years.

There are nine men who are chained in the open in the ashram. A similar number of women are kept in a 10 feet by 12 feet room which is opened only for morning ablution and for feeding. In winters men are chained to their iron beds which have permanent hooks to hold the chains. A visit to the ashram revealed the men were living in sub-human conditions. Three men were chained close to each other. One of them was seen prancing about completely naked waddling in mud. A sevadar of the ashram, Darshan Singh, said they had no choice but to chain some men as they created problems for the others if this was not done.

Surprisingly the ashram is recognised by the government and even the State Finance Minister had paid a visit to it. Darshan Singh disclosed that the Finance Minister had laid the foundation stone of an emergency wing and a dispensary on the premises of the ashram for which he had announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh which was still to be received. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the ashram during the “sangat darshan” programme held by him in Sanaur recently.

The dispensary and the emergency wing are yet to come up, the mentally challenged are left to the will of God with the authorities giving them sedatives to calm them down whenever they create a nuisance. A sevadar said the sedatives were brought from chemist shops without any prescription from any doctor.

State Human Right Commission Chairman V.K. Khanna said the matter would be investigated.


Police dumps lost boy in mental asylum
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
His parents named him Jugnu hoping he would spread light even in the dark like the proverbial fire fly. However, they might not have chosen him to live among the mentally challenged persons in an ashram in spite of being mentally healthy for over a year.

In a bizarre case an eight-year-old boy, who only tells that he used to reside in Delhi and was often beaten up by his father which could have been the reason for his leaving home, has been put up in the ashram for the mentally challenged for more than one year after he was recovered from the district by the police.

According to the authorities of the All-India Pingla Ashram situated near Sanaur, about 4 km from here, Jugnu was handed over to them by the local police when he was seen wandering without any purpose. They said since then Jugnu had become an “inmate” of the ashram.

Jugnu has only the mentally challenged for company. Some of the inmates even have developed a fondness for him. For instance when The Tribune team visited the ashram, an “inmate” claimed to be the father of the body. Others also have not harmed Jugnu since the last year even though some of them get violent at times. “We do not allow the boy to get close to the problematic inmates,” a sewadar said.

The ashram authorities seem to be blissfully aware that attempts should have been made to contact the relatives of the boy. “You write about him. It may be of some help in finding the relatives of the boy,” a sewadar said. However, he did not have any answer as to why the boy had been kept among the mentally challenged for so long and no attempt was made to find out about the family of the boy.

Jugnu may not have been affected physically but mental changes have already come in his personality. The body talks very less and when he does he is not very coherant. Though a sewadar said he was like this from the beginning, others said he used to talk a lot more earlier but personality changes had come about after he started mimicking some of the inmates.

Jugnu has had the mentally challenged for company, including nearly 10 men, who have to be chained to trees permanently and women, some of whom have been locked up for long periods in a room. Though Jugnu behaves differently with the inmates, he did try to tell something about himself to The Tribune team but was not very coherant. When all else failed he pulled up his sleeve to show the word ‘Jugnoo’ tattooed on his arm in Hindi. The tattoo is Jugnu’s only ticket which can help him get back his home and be with his family.


Impose President’s rule in J&K, says Cong leader
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
Mr Gulchain Singh Charak, president of Dogra Saddar Sabha and senior Congress leader, has demanded the imposition of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir following the failure of the National Conference government in checking the activities of militants.

Mr Charak told newspersons here yesterday that it was surprising that both the BJP and the National Conference were doing nothing when Pakistan was bent upon kicking up communal trouble in the state by directing militants to attack soft targets. He demanded that police posts in all sensitive areas be strengthened and local youths be given training for fighting militants.

Mr Charak criticised National Conference and BJP leaders for shutting their eyes to the ground realities. He said it was time to deploy additional security forces in sensitive areas for smashing the hideouts of militants.


Cheaper petrol, diesel available in city!
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
High rates of petrol and diesel seem to have stopped pinching a particular section of consumers as both fuel are available at cheaper rates in the city, thanks to drivers and cleaners of oil tankers.

Ever since oil dumps of various oil companies came into existence on the outskirts of the city, a particular section of consumers has been getting petrol and diesel at astonishingly cheaper rates than the prevailing market rates on the one hand while on the other some people, including farmers, have made it a full-time occupation.

The modus operandi adopted by drivers, cleaners and other persons involved in the racket is that some people living in nearby areas of the oil dumps buy petrol and diesel from them at very cheap rates. Subsequently, sell the same to their targeted buyers at cheaper rates by taking some premium.

Official sources said over the years this practice in city had become so prominent that now petrol and diesel were available at the doorstep at cheaper rates. For getting petrol and diesel at cheaper rate, one had to develop contacts with those who were in this profession, they added.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said two farmers of Phoos Mandi village in this district were arrested yesterday for selling petrol at Rs 25 per litre after purchasing the same from oil tanker drivers and cleaners at Rs 20 per litre.

The suspects Joginder Singh and Mithu Singh — had been operating their business from a tubewell installed near the oil dumps. Three containers having 30 litres petrol each were recovered from their possession.

Information gathered by TNS reveals that oil tanker drivers and cleaners sell petrol and diesel to villagers while they transport it from the oil dumps to various destinations.Earlier, the district police authorities and the administration had exposed such rackets and had caught red-handed a number of persons indulging in the racket.

Dr Jain said a case under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act had been registered in the cantonment police station.


Shortage of potable water
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, August 8
City residents are facing a shortage of potable water. They say that though they have been facing the shortage for many years, yet the problem has become grave now because of the increase in population.

The residents have showed their resentment time and again, but during the past more than four decades, the authorities concerned have been able to supply drinking water only to about half of the city’s population.

The problem is grave in the outskirts of the city. The situation has forced the residents to use underground water which has been declared unfit for consumption as it is brackish and has a high flouride content.

The supply of potable water to Poojanwala Mohalla, trans-railway colonies, Guru Gobind Singh Nagar, Amarpura Basti, Telianwala Mohalla, Guru Arjun Dev Nagar, Zujhar Singh Nagar, Dihbe Colony, Suraj Basti, Aggarwal Colony, Ajit Road, Birla Mill Colony is inadequate. Some localities even face water shortage during the winter when demand is minimum.

In the so-called high altitude areas of the city, the pressure of water is low and even after hours the residents are able to fetch only a few buckets of potable water.

The residents have to wake up early in the morning for water. The water supply begins at about 3 a.m. and lasts for about an hour and a half.

A resident of Moulvian Mohalla said residents of areas near water sources had built water tanks, having storage capacity of up to 2,000 litres, which had created an “artificial shortage” even when water was available in plenty.

Besides, the supply is not uniform in the city as in some areas water is supplied twice a day while in others taps go dry for days.

Some mineral water companies are cashing in on the water shortage. These companies have started delivering water at the doorstep.

A 20 litre can with “Pure Water” label costs Rs 15. The sale of one litre mineral water bottles is also catching up in the city.

For well off families it is not difficult to buy this water on a daily basis but the poor ones suffer and have become prone to water-borne diseases due to consumption of untreated underground water.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President of the municipal council, admitted that there was an acute shortage of potable water in the city. He said efforts were being made to improve the water supply.


Missing bracelet exposes corruption
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
In an interesting incident, the search for a missing bracelet of an employee of the local municipal council allegedly exposed corruption in it as it came to light that a kin of a peon, Charanjit Singh, had been collecting funds from “rehriwalas” on the pretext of collecting “tehbazari” tax.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a few days ago, a bracelet of an employee was misplaced and after search it was found that it has been stolen by Pooran Singh alias Reetha, kin of Charanjit Singh, peon in the municipal council.

When the matter was raised in the House by Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, Councillor and group leader of the BJP in the council, it came to light that Reetha used to move around in the city with other employees of the council in its official vehicle and had been collecting money from roadside vendors and rehriwalas.

Mr Garg, while talking to TNS yesterday, alleged that Reetha had openly said in front of senior officials and councillors that he had been sharing the money collected from roadside vendors and rehriwalas.

Mr Garg said he had brought the matter to the notice of the President of the council Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, and urged him to take strict action against employees involved in the racket.

Mr Garg pointed out that it was a shame on the council authorities as almost all roads criss-crossing the city were in bad shape. He added that now patch work was being done on potholes only on those roads from where the cavalcade of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would pass on August 9 when he would hold the first-ever sangat darshan in the city.

Mr Bhuller said Charanjit Singh had been placed under suspension while an application had been sent to the police authorities for taking necessary action against Reetha.

He denied that there was corruption in the council and claimed that development works in the city were being carried out on large scale. He added that Rs 1 crore was being spent on the repair of roads in the city while Rs 12 crore which was expected from the Punjab Government shortly, would be spent on development projects.


BSP to work for release of bonded labourers
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 8
Mr Kanshi Ram, President, Bahujan Samaj Party, talking to mediapersons at Lakhuka village, 14 km from here, recently said in the event of his party securing power in Punjab, bonded labourers would be got freed. He said at present there were about five lakh bonded labourers in Punjab. He said the Congress government on July 27, 1995, had formulated a law imposing ban on round-the-clock labour.

In reply to a question on the prospects of a poll pact in the ensuing Assembly polls of Punjab, the BSP supremo ruled out alliance with any political party. He said 15 per cent of upper caste needed benefits for reservation.

He said Punjab had been divided on the pattern of Lok Sabha constituencies and each part comprising nine Assembly segments. Tickets would be given on recommendations of party secretaries.

In reply to yet another question on the induction of Mr Kamal Chaudhury and Mr Ravi Inder Singh in the BSP, Mr Kanshi Ram said that he had no objection to such a proposal and would support them if they contested election with the BSP supporter on the party ticket.

He said present trend showed that Sikh can don the mantle of the Chief Minister in Punjab and in the existing circumstances Mr Rav Inder Singh was the best bet, for he can take all sections, including Dalits and the oppressed along.


Lawyers to build own chambers
Tribune News Service

The lawyers of Patiala are in no mood to wait for the government to select a site for their chambers after they vacate the premises occupied by them in the District Courts complex.

A provision of 120 chambers has been made in the plan of the judicial complex which is coming up behind the Deputy Commissioner’s office. But the lawyers want chambers at a better place in front of the complex instead of a high floor in the complex. They also demand 400 chambers so that all the practising lawyers are accommodated.

The lawyers have now started collecting funds from among themselves for the construction of their chambers. The drive has been necessitated, they maintain, because the present sheds occupied by them will have to be vacated to make room for the judicial complex, and that no “suitable” place has been earmarked for their chambers.

The president of the District Bar Association, Mr Balbir Singh Billing, says that the Bar has started collecting money from its members for the construction of 300 chambers. The association demands land for the chambers in front of the judicial complex. According to Mr Billing, the lawyers are being asked to make a minimum contribution of Rs 10,000. The cost of each chamber, which will accommodate two lawyers, will be about Rs 50,000.

However, the lawyers are not getting the desired response from the administration, which Mr Billing says intends to sell the land identified by them through the Punjab Urban Development Authority after the Deputy Commissioner’s office is shifted from there. Though the administration has promised them suitable accommodation, no action has been taken in this regard, he says.

The lawyers are in an angry mood. They are under pressure to vacate the present sheds which they are using as make-shift offices so that work on the judicial complex can be speeded up. However, they are not ready to give up the present site unless a new site is identified.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, says there is provision for the construction of 120 chambers in the plan approved by the High Court. But now there is a demand for 400 chambers. Mr Bir said the issue was discussed with the Bar Association and it was felt that about 200 chambers could be constructed, besides halls for junior lawyers. But this could be done only under the guidance of the High Court.

The delay in the construction of the judicial complex is also being criticised by the lawyers. They say funds for the construction were to be released in June but it has not been done so far, on account of which work on the complex has come to a halt. The lawyers say two storeys of the complex are still to be constructed and the delay is hampering judicial work in the district. Mr Billing said construction of the judicial complex was already behind schedule and that immediate steps needed to the taken to complete the project.


Team assesses loss to houses due to seepage
Our Correspondent

Sunam, August 8
A two-member team comprising Mr Praneet Bhardwaj, SDM, Sunam and Mr G.C. Mithu, XEN (B&R) Provincial Division, Sangrur today visited the damaged houses and shops in the local Kailash Parbat locality for an on the spot survey to assess losses to the affected buildings.

The committee was formed by Mr Sarvjeet Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur following orders of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on July 31 last, to survey the buildings which had developed big cracks three weeks ago after seepage of water into the plinths of the buildings during the sinking of a tubewell by the Municipal Council. The loss to the buildings is estimated at Rs one crore. Mr Bhardwaj and Mr Mithu accompanied by a team of revenue officials and technical experts conducted door-to-door survey of every damaged building. The team in its first phase has noted the nature, structure, quality of material used and have drawn the drawings of the damaged buildings. The team in its second phase would assess the loss to these buildings.

Mr Bhardwaj said the committee had bifurcated every damaged building into two portions, one portion of the building which was repairable and other portion of the building which was irreparable and unfit for human being to stay there and needed immediate demolition and reconstruction.

Mr Bhardwaj further said that the expenses on the repairable portion and on the portion of re-construction of each building could be calculated on the basis of nature, structure, quality of material used by the owner of the building, the Department of PWD would calculate the cost of expenses as per norms, he added.

Mr Bhardwaj said that the team would submit its report to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur tomorrow. The affected residents are crying for early disbursement of relief to get houses and shops repaired soon.


Fellowship given to Hans Raj Hans
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 8
In recognition of the sustained efforts aimed at popularising Punjabi culture and folk songs at the national and international levels, Punjabi University has conferred the highest honour of Lifetime Fellowship on the popular Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans.

Conferring the fellowship at a function held at Guru Teg Bahadur Hall of the university here yesterday, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, said the fellowship had been given for perpetuating and upholding the glorious tradition of Punjab. By singing songs and legends of Punjab, Hans had brought honour to the state, he said.

Dr Ahluwalia also announced a sum of Rs 15 lakh for arranging national tours each year for students during vacations. He announced Rs 25 lakh grant for financing foreign tours of university teachers each year.

This scheme has been named as Inter-Disciplinary Faculty Development Programme. The chief objectives are to enable the teachers to update their knowledge not only of their respective subjects but also of related theories.

Under the scheme, 50 university teachers would be selected at different levels and sent on tours during summer vacations. Their both way air expenses would be borne by the university. Some pocket allowance for studies abroad in tie-up arrangements with foreign universities would also be paid.

The teachers will be selected by a committee headed by the Vice-Chancellor and comprising Dean, Academic Affairs, Dean, Research, subject expert and a representative of the Syndicate. The selected teachers would have to submit monographs of about 50 to 100 pages each.


PHSC to hire doctors
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) has decided to hire services of doctors and paramedical staff to overcome the shortage of trained personnel in the corporation-run hospitals.

The corporation had decided to hire the services of doctors and para-medical staff keeping in view the staff shortage at hospitals in the backward areas of the state. The staff would be hired on a contractual basis and the department had already invited applications for it.

Corporation sources said the PHSC had asked the district health authorities in June to give details of the staff shortage. Only a few districts had sent their demands while some of the districts facing greater shortage had not reported to the PHSC, the sources added.

The PHSC had asked the Deputy Medical Commissioners of Bathinda, Moga, Mansa, Ferozepore and Ropar districts to forward lists of vacancies and the applications of the candidates who had applied for it. The lists of vacancies should be submitted even if the required staff could not be hired from the private sector, the sources said. The sources said several hospitals were not able to function properly due to the shortage of staff .


Meeting reviews wetland conservation
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 8
The meagre forest and wildlife wealth of the state can be increased by developing vast bio-diverse riverine systems and species-rich wetlands.

Thus, the areas of the Beas and the Sutlej with Harike and its satellite wetlands can add to the eco-tourism potential of Punjab.

These views were expressed by Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Science and Technology, while presiding over a review meeting at Harike.

The meeting was attended by Mr M.P. Rai, Chief Widlife Warden, Punjab, Mr R.K. Loona, Conservator of Forests and Director, Zoos, Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Col Naveen Sodhi, Col H.S. Brar, CO, 3 Mahar Regiment, besides host of senior civil and Army officers and representatives of various departments like the irrigation, tourism, wildlife, fisheries and forests.

At the meeting, progress regarding conservation and management of the Harike wetland, process of removal of water hyacinth, progress of work done from April last, the present weed growth scenario in the lake, erection of boundary pillars and enforcement of the anti-encroachment Act were discussed.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Kashyap said the wildlife, environment, fisheries, irrigation and soil conservation departments in coordination with the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology, which would act as nodal agency, would monitor all aspects of conservation and development of tourism at Harike.

Mr Kashyap lauded the Army authorities for restoration of the wetland. The Golden Army Division of the Army had been entrusted with the job of clearing the wetland from hyacinth.

It removed around 1,50,000 tonnes of the weed within six months with the result that the number of birds arriving at Harike this year has increased manifold.


Dharna over inaction by police
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 8
Several hundred persons, including a large number of women, assembled at Jandwala-Hanwanta village in this subdivision on Monday. They took out a protest march using different kinds of vehicles passing through the market of Khuyiansarwer village and staged a dharna braving heavy downpour there. There was a wordy duel over the selection of the site for the dharna between the police and the protesters but it was sorted out after a few minutes.

Those who joined the dharna and demonstration at the police station in Khuyiansarwer included Mr Parkash Chand Malethia and Mr Sohan Lal Dangarkhera, Chairman of the Market Committee at Abohar and Fazilka, respectively, Mr Ram Kumar, Sarpanch, Jandwala, Mr Kashmira Singh Chauhan, state president, New Khet Mazdoor Union, Mr Jaimal Ram, president, Field and Workshop Workers Union, and Mr Krishan Kumar, convener of the sangharsh samiti, and a large number of senior leaders from other organisations.

The demonstrators expressed anguish over the failure of the Khuyiansarwer police in arresting the farmer who had allegedly strangled Ranjit Ram, a small farmer of Jandwala Hanwanta village, in the middle of June. The body had been found hanging from a tree in the fields where the victim used to sleep to protect vegetables grown by him.

He had been allegedly receiving threats that his fields would be damaged. Those who conveyed threats had reportedly been suspecting that the crop in their fields had been damaged due to excessive spray of insecticides by the victim. Mrs Birma Devi, wife of the deceased, also participated in the dharna. She said even after 54 years of Independence the poor had no say and were denied justice. She had been fighting from pillar to post despite heavy financial odds but no efforts were allegedly made to nab the alleged culprits. The SHO reportedly assured the needful would be done by August.


A town once known for its orchards
Lalit Mohan

Morinda was a town known for its orchards. The common name by which is was known was Morinda Baghanwala. Old timers recall the days when this small town was surrounded by mango orchards on all sides. Even in the sixties of the last decade, one came across mango orchards if one just moved out of the town.

However, unplanned urbanisation and the use of more land for agriculture has taken a toll of the orcahrds of Morinda. Now the town has hardly any orchards left in its vicinity. Though the elders still refer to Morinda as Baghanwala, the younger generation finds little logic in it. For them Morinda is like any other town of the state with unplanned construction all over it and very little green cover. What pains the elders is that along with the orchards, the town has lost its identity.

* * * *

The entry of heavy vehicles in the lanes of Morinda has become a constant problem for the residents. They allege that these vehicles block the traffic in the lanes, besides posing a threat to children. On a protest from the residents, the Municipal Council of Morinda decided last month to ban the entry of heavy vehicles in the inner areas of the town. The residents, however, complain that the ban has remained only on paper and has not been implemented. An influential group of traders who operate from the inner areas of the town, have scuttled the implementation of the decision, they allege.

* * * *

The Morinda police claims that it has checked satta operation in the town. The SHO, Mr Pritam Singh, says that in a drive against satta operators, 19 cases were registered in the past two months.

* * * *

The Lions Club of Morinda organised a hepatitis-B vaccination camp on July 31. The Senior Vice-President of the club said that about 300 persons were immunised against hepatitis-B at the camp.


10 injured as two buses collide
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 8
Ten persons, including four women, were injured, three of them seriously, when the private bus in which they were travelling collided with a PRTC bus near the SDM’s residence on The Mall Road here this evening. According to information, a bus belonging to Deol Bus Service was going from Malerkotla to Barnala when it collided head-on with a PRTC bus, coming from Sangrur to Malerkotla.

The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital when the condition of three, Baljeet Kaur, Mewa Singh and Ranjit Kaur, was stated to be serious. The police said the victims were residents of Khedi Chahalan village and were going to Barnala. The accident took place as the PRTC bus was trying to overtake a truck.

In another incident, an unidentified person, committed suicide by jumping in front of a passenger train near Raikot railway crossing here this morning. A case has been registered


Citizens remove film posters
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
Members of the citizen forum removed vulgar cinema posters from the boundary walls of Sant Singh Sukha Singh School and Alexandra Girls School here today.

They were led by Mr Brij Bedi, president of the forum.

Though the pasting of posters is banned under Section 144 by the district administration, Mr Bedi alleged that police was turning a blind eye to the menace.

The police was not taking adequate action against these offenders, he added.


AIPS offers to adopt Jagtar Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society (AIPS) said yesterday that AIPS was willing to accept Mr Jagtar Singh (35), a mentally challenged man of Talwandi Malian (Moga) who had been chained with a tree for the past more than seven years allegedly by members of his family.

Members of Mr Jagtar Singh’s family claimed that he was insane and a threat to them and other villagers. He was being kept at home with a heavy chain tied to his foot. Dr Inderjit Kaur said AIPS would arrange for his medical treatment if he was put under the care of the society.


Lance Naik cremated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
Lance Naik Iqbal Singh, who was killed in an encounter with Kashmiri militants on August 4 at Kiran sector in Jammu, was cremated at his native village Biring (Muktsar) with full military and state honours.

Born on August 25, 1972, at Biring, Iqbal Singh had joined the Army in 1990. Col M.N. Purshotham, Commanding Officer, 23, Field Regiment, paid tributes on behalf of the Army. He is survived by his father, mother, wife and a son.


Sangat darshan’ on Aug 12
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
The sangat darshan by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, slated for tomorrow in the city, has been postponed and will be held on August 12.

The Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg told TNS on phone that Mr Badal had a meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, tomorrow in connection with paddy procurement.

Mr Garg assured the local residents that each ward would be given adequate funds for development. He added that some vested interests were trying to play politics on the sangat darshan, issue. 


Saplings planted 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
A tree plantation camp was organised yesterday by State Bank of Patiala at Punjab Public School, Nabha. As many as 200 saplings of different varieties of fruit, ornamental plants were planted under vanmahotsava. Students of PPS participated.

On the occasion, Mr S.P. Negi, DGM, RBI, urged the need for plantation of trees to keep the environment free from pollution. Mr S.K. Sreen, DGM, SBP, Mr M.S. Bedi, Headmaster, PPS and Mr S.K. Ghai, AGM, SBP, also planted rare saplings in the cacti garden of the school.


BJP leader bereaved
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
Shanti Devi, mother of Mr Narinder Mittal, president, BJP mandal unit, Bathinda, died here on Monday. She was 72. She is survived by two sons and three daughters. Shanti Devi was undergoing treatment from a local private hospital.


Farmers urged to grow diverse crops
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 8
Experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) called upon farmers to cultivate fruits, vegetables, and sugarcane and adopt enterprises like bee-keeping and mushroom-growing to promote diversification at a training camp organised by Kherri Krishi Vigyan Kendra and the Farmer Advisory Service Centre (PAU) at Kherri village, about 7 km from here yesterday.

The camp was inaugurated by Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner. It was attended by a large number of farmers and members of the Punjab Naujwan Kisan Sanstha and new trainees of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra. Dr D.S. Khurana, Dr J.S. Dhiman and Dr R.C. Batra, all scientists from PAU, told about the latest agriculture technology regarding cultivation of fruits and vegetables. Other experts discussed various techniques related to sugarcane, plant diseases, mushroom-growing, hybrid seed production, bee-keeping, bio-gas plants, farm management, strip till drill for sowing of wheat and rota-vator for puddling in paddy.

The Deputy Commissioner exhorted the departments concerned to work in coordination to promote diversification in the present pattern of crop production. He also highlighted the role of the Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), operating under the World Bank scheme.

Dr Swarn Singh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Sangrur, Dr Jagpal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Director (Training), Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kherri, Dr Kuldip Singh Joshan, Deputy Director, Horticulture, Sangrur, and Dr Avtar Singh, Senior Agronomist, Kherri, delivered lectures on diversification.

An exhibition on home science, agriculture machinery, mushroom-growing, bee-keeping and its products, live plant samples, and PAU literature, was also organised. The scientists diagnosed diseased samples of cotton, chilli, guara and sugarcane.


Insincere officials to be punished: DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said yesterday that stern action would be taken against those officials of the district administration who would not work sincerely for the implementation of development schemes launched by the state government.

The Deputy Commissioner, addressing the gathering at a sangat darshan programme at Sangat Mandi town of the district, said that sometimes officials did not implement the development schemes properly, thus depriving the people of their benefits.

He said sangat darshan programmes in various villages and towns of the district were being organised as per the instructions of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said the grievances of the people were heard at these meetings and most of these were redressed on the spot.

During the sangat darshan, the panchayats of 18 villages stated their problems to the Deputy Commissioner. Most of the panchayats of the area complained that there was no drinking water in villages.

Mr Venkat Ratnam said he was not satisfied with the performance of officials of the Public Health Department. He instructed them to visit the villages of the area to ascertain the effectiveness of drinking water schemes.

Regarding the complaint of villagers about vacant posts of doctor in rural dispensaries, he admitted that out of 17 posts of doctor in the Sangat block, 12 were lying vacant. He assured the villagers that he would write to the higher authorities to get these filled soon.

Regarding the filling of vacant posts of teacher in rural schools, he said the interview of teachers was going on.

Mr Venkat Ratnam said Rs 8 crore would be spent on the schemes for drinking water in the villages of the area. He said various other schemes for the welfare of rural people were in the pipeline.


Rs 50 crore for Punjab civic bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Punjab Government has sanctioned Rs 50 crore out of the Urban Infrastructure Development Fund for development works in various civic bodies in the state.

The Deputy Commissioners have been empowered to release the funds in their respective district to the executing agencies concerned. The Deputy Commissioners have been asked to get the funds utilised for providing water supply, sewerage, roads within municipal areas and other related urban infrastructure development under the appropriate municipal laws.

The major share of the amount has been given to the Ludhiana civic body which gets Rs 8.75 crore. Amritsar and Jalandhar districts have been given 7.50 crore and Rs 7.20 crore, respectively. In case of Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ferozepore districts, the amount released is Rs 1.15 crore, Rs 80 lakh and Rs 2.25 crore. For Faridkot, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts, the amount is Rs 1.15 crore, Rs 2.95 crore and Rs 2.25 crore. The civic bodies in Kapurthala, Muktsar and, Mansa districts have been given Rs 1.30 crore, Rs 1.20 crore and 95 lakh, respectively. For Moga, Nawanshahr and Patiala districts, the amount is Rs 85 lakh, Rs 60 lakh and Rs 4.75 crore.

Ropar and Sangrur districts have been allocated Rs 1.60 crore and Rs 4.45 crore.

The Deputy Commissioners have been asked to get the development works executed to the satisfaction of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).


8 held for various crimes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
Eight persons have been arrested for various crimes in the district.

The district police has arrested two persons for allegedly cheating a resident of the district, Mr Jugraj Singh, and unearthed a gang allegedly involved in cheating innocent people by promising them lucrative jobs in foreign countries.

Police sources said Jeon Singh and his daughter-in-law Harpal Kaur, who were running a travel agency, had promised Mr Jugraj Singh that he would be provided a job and had assured him that the pay package would be more than Rs 15,000 per month. They promised that he would be given a visa for Bahrain for at least three years.

The sources said the suspects sent Mr Jugraj Singh to Bahrain on a visa of four weeks. The suspects allegedly engaged him as a worker at Bahrain for seven months illegally and did not pay him any money. Mr Jugraj Singh then returned to India.

He demanded money for his work when he returned to his native village, but the suspects refused to oblige and threatened him. They were then arrested by the police and a case under Sections 420 and 120 of the IPC registered against them.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said in another case four persons, including two women, had been arrested. Giving details, he said Kamaljit Kaur, who was married to Gurjant Singh of Dodipura village, was not given her due share of land by her in-laws.

The husband of Kamaljit Kaur had died in 1998 and she was living with her parents at their ancestral home.

When Rai Singh, father-in-law of Kamaljit Kaur, died, the share of land and other property was to be transferred to her as her husband had also died. But the alleged culprits cheated her by producing another woman in her place.

The culprits Jaspal Kaur and Gur Sewak, residents of Dodipura village, and Chindder Pal Kaur and Paramjit Kaur, residents of Lopon village, had been arrested under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC, the SSP said.

Two others — Ramesh Kumar and Bhola Singh — had been arrested under the Prevention of Gambling Act (Section 13-G) and the Excise Act, respectively, the SSP said.


Education Dept clerk caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 8
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested an employee of the Education Department for demanding and accepting Rs 600 as bribe for preparation of bills for the final payment of the GPF to retired teacher.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SP, Jalandhar Zone, said Sardar Singh, a retired teacher and resident of Shaheed Babu Labh Singh Nagar here, in his complaint alleged that Balwinder Kumar Sood, Steno-cum-Clerk at the office of the District Education Officer (Secondary), demanded Rs 600 for preparing bills for the final payment worth Rs 60,000, of the GPF.

A vigilance party laid a trap and caught the clerk red-handed. A case has been registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Remanded in custody for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 8
Ashok Kumar, a resident of Rajiv Nagar here, who had been arrested by the police for killing his wife, has been remanded in police custody till August 10 by the local court.

Police sources said Ashok had eloped with a girl from Janisar village in Jalalabad West subdivision. He married the girl in the court about four months ago. Since then they had been living here in a rented room. Residents of Rajiv Nagar said Ashok suspected his wife of infidelity and used to beat her. She was found dead when her parents visited her on Sunday. She was reportedly strangled to death.

In a similar incident, Lakhwinder Singh Lakha, a resident of Pattisadiq village allegedly killed his wife. Lakha tried to strangle her when she was sleeping. He was arrested and produced in the local court. The judicial magistrate remanded Lakha in judicial custody, police sources said yesterday. 


Undertrials beat up ASI
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 8
Commotion prevailed on the premises of the district courts today when undertrials and policemen clashed near Bakshikhana where undertrials were lodged while being taken to courts for appearance.

A policeman on guard allegedly slapped a relative of an undertrial while he was talking to the undertrial. On the other hand, the policemen alleged that some relatives of the undertrials wanted a meeting with them without the permission of the court. When an ASI on duty tried to stop them, they attacked the policemen and beat them up. The relatives managed to escape after the incident.

The police has registered a case under Section 353, 186 and 323 of the IPC against undertrials Sukhbir Singh, Sapandeep Singh, Ravinder Singh, Pardeep Paul Singh, and their relatives from Sangojla village.

The ASI Wassan Singh, who was beaten up by the undertrials said he refused them meeting as there was not any provision for such meeting. He alleged that the relatives were trying to hand over some objectionable articles to them.

The police officials brought the incident to the notice of District and Sessions Judge Gurdev Singh.

On the other hand, the undertrials brought the incident to the notice of Mr Lakhbir Singh, and other members of the district Bar Association, who moved an application for the medical examination of the trials.

Mr Tulsi Ram S.P. (Detective) told mediapersons that the four undertrials were brought to courts for trial in a case for beating up a head constable two months ago.


Man shot dead over land dispute
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 8
Santokh Singh was shot dead and three persons were seriously injured when Amarjit Singh, along with his accomplices, allegedly attacked them over a land dispute at Miranpur village, near here, last night.

According to the police, Amarjit had been threatening his cousin Santokh with dire consequences for the past year if he failed to vacate the leased land. Baldev Singh, brother of the deceased, alleged in a report to the police that Amarjit, along with more than 15 persons, came to their house last night and started firing from his revolver.

Santokh and Baldev were seriously injured in the firing. Amarjit’s accomplices allegedly assaulted other family members with sharp-edged weapons, resulting in injuries to Surinder Kaur, Harnek Singh and Amrik Singh. All were admitted to the local Civil Hospital, where Santokh succumbed to his injuries late last night.

As soon as the news of Santokh’s death was given by doctors, his relatives and friends attacked Amarjit, who was also admitted to Civil Hospital.

A case has been registered under Section 302 and 307 of the IPC against eight persons and two persons have been arrested in this regard.


Two arrested for assaulting scribe
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 8
Two persons Balbir Singh, alias Biru and Harbhagwan Singh, alias Bhana accused of assault on Dharam Pal Singla, a Shehna-based journalist have been arrested.

Dharam Pal Singla’s arm and leg had been fractured by the assailants. Three more alleged accused persons in this assault case are still at large.


Technical courses for refinery soon
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Phulokhari (Bathinda), August 8
Several technical courses connected with the implementation, commissioning and running of the oil refinery project will be started in different institutions in the state by the Punjab Government for producing technicians required for the Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery project being set up here by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).

Apart from it, a school affiliated with the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) will also be set up at nearby town Rama Mandi for the education of wards of the employees of oil refinery.

The technical hands in sufficient number and the setting up of schools and various other items concerned with the implementation of oil refinery here were discussed at a meeting convened here today by the Director, Industries, Punjab, Mr Darbara Singh Guru.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, project officer of oil refinery, Mr Tankiwala, Mr Banta Singh, General Manager, District Industry Centre (DIC), senior officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and PWD participated in the meeting.

Information gathered from those participated in the meeting The Tribune reveals that a high-level meeting of senior functionaries of various departments associated with the implementation of the oil refinery project would be held shortly to speed up work at the site.

Information revealed that Mr Guru had urged those connected with the implementation of oil refinery to bring the project on stream within two years. He had also urged the department concerned officials to carry out the task within stipulated time.

The Guru Gobind Singh Oil Refinery, foundation stone of which was laid by Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee on November 13, 1998, was to be commissioned after 48 months. Due to several factors, the implementation of the mega project went on being delayed and the authorities concerned fixed 2005 as the new deadline for its commissioning.

Information revealed that at today’s meeting arrangements were made for adequate funds for the construction of 18 km road connecting the site with the Bathinda-Dabwali main road. The work of this road came to a halt in the past due to paucity of funds.

In the initial two years, the authorities concerned could construct only boundary wall around 2000 acres of land acquired from four villages for the setting up Rs 10,000 crore refinery.

Presently, work on site grading and roads within the premises of oil refinery was going on. Tenders for tank pad foundation, area lighting, drinking water supply system and raising and fabrication of tank had been floated, official sources added.

Sources added that HPCL also had started evaluating the possibility of tapping the market to fund partially the nine million-tonne refinery.


Interview for ETT teachers tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 8
The Chairman of the departmental committee for the selection of ETT teachers in Ropar, Mr Dev Singh, in a press note issued here yesterday, asked the candidates whose names were on the merit list but who could not appear in the interview due to unavoidable circumstances to appear in it on August 10.

He said any candidate of the general category having 45 marks, Scheduled Castes 41.35 marks, backward classes 38.15 marks, sportspersons 39.42 marks and freedom fighters’ wards 45.28 marks, should appear in the interview on that day.

The female candidates falling under the above categories should get their certificates verified tomorrow before appearing in the interview next day, while the certificates of male candidates would be verified on the same day, he said in the press note.

Meanwhile, some candidates appearing in the interview have demanded that the merit standing of candidates should be printed on the list displayed outside the interview centre. While the merit standing was being displayed in other districts, the practice was not being followed in Ropar, they alleged.


Three nominated to Syndicate
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 8
The Punjab Governor and Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University has nominated Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minorities Commission, New Delhi, Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, MLA from Amritsar, and Prof Jagir Singh Bhullar, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, as members of the Syndicate of the university for one year. A notification to this effect has been received from the Punjab Raj Bhavan by the university, a spokesman for the university said here yesterday.

Dr Harish Sharma, reader in history, has been appointed as Head of the History Department of the university till July 22, 2003, by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh.

Meanwhile, the university has extended the date for receipt of admission forms for M.Tech (urban planning) till August 17.

Stating this, the university spokesman said candidates having a bachelor’s degree in planning or B.Arch or BE (civil engineering) or a master’s degree in city and regional planning or its equivalent with at least 50 per cent marks in aggregate were eligible for this course. Inservice candidates (sponsored) having at least three years’ working experience in any of the above fields could apply for admission by this date, he added.


Teachers’ unions stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
The Government Teachers Union (GTU) and the Government School Teachers Union (GSTU) today held a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here to protest against the alleged autocratic behaviour of the District Education Officer (DEO) (Secondary).

Mr Dalbir Singh, general secretary of the GTU and Mr Avtar Singh, a senior leader of the GSTU, alleged that both DEOs had vitiated the environment in the Education Department.

They demand that the GPF slips should be issued in time and teachers’ salaries regularised.

The unions demanded the cancellation of the temporary adjustment of teachers.

They also sought withdrawal of false murder charges against certain teachers of Government Senior Secondary School, Korali.


Student alleges bungling in results
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 8
A student, Pawan Kumar, failed to get his plus two result corrected despite two visits to the Punjab School Education Board. He is now working at the fields of a farmer from whom he borrowed Rs 1,500 for the visits.

Pawan Kumar in a representation to the Chief Minister and the Education Minister, today alleged that the Board had declared another student passed in his place by inter-changing their roll numbers. His result was held up whereas the other student, though booked for unfair means, was declared passed.

Mr Harbans Singh Chahal, Principal, Govt Senior Secondary School for Boys, Abohar, had informed the Controller of Exams of the Board that Pawan Kumar had appeared in plus two exam in March under roll number 341910. Another student with roll number 341911 was booked for unfair means in the exam.

However, roll numbers of the two students were interchanged in the gazette and Pawan Kumar’s result held up wrongly.

Pawan Kumar also appeared in his Sanskrit paper on April 5 after- wards under the same roll number. All relevant documents had been sent to the Board by post as well as by hand, Mr Chahal said.


GND varsity’s gesture
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
Guru Nanak Dev University has invited applications from Kashmiri migrants for admission to under-graduate and post-graduate courses available on the university campus , a spokesman for the university stated in a press note today.

Interested candidates are required to fill up admission forms and enclose the attested copies of the proof of being Kashmiri migrant, and other testimonials. These should reach the Dean Academic Affairs of the university latest by August 14.

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