Friday, August 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Waters: ‘secret pact’ between Badal, Chautala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Panthic Morcha, a front of Akali factions opposed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today charged Mr Badal with having entered into a secret pact with his Haryana counterpart, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, on the issue of the sharing of river waters.

Addressing a press conference at his residence, the morcha leader, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, said that as a part of the deal Mr Badal was prepared to give up the state’s claim over river waters in lieu of the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, who was accompanied by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and several rebel Akali MLAs, said the Badal government had not put Punjab’s case regarding the river waters forcefully before the Supreme Court as part of the deal.

He said the public stance Mr Badal was adopting on this issue was only a “drama” for the consumption of the Press and the innocent peasantry of the state. Refusal to have a debate in the Punjab assembly was a clear indication of Mr Badal’s real intentions and the Congress party’s indifference to a debate in the House reflected its guilty past. He alleged that Mr Badal had once again betrayed Punjab for his personal gain.

Mr Chandumajra said Mr Badal was not only abdicating the state’s claim over river waters but also allowed the Centre to encroach upon the state’s rights recognised the world over under the riparian laws approved at the Helsinki conference decades ago. The Centre had cleverly amended the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act to gain the upper hand while deciding the sharing of river waters. The amendments passed by the Lok Sabha would hit states like Punjab in a big way, he added. Interestingly, Members of the Lok Sabha belonging to Mr Badal’s party did not oppose these amendments, he added.

Mr Chandumajra said the morcha had contacted certain regional parties like TDP and the AGP to oppose these amendments in the Rajya Sabha. He said the morcha was in the process of contacting more regional parties. By carrying out amendments in the Lok Sabha, the Union Government was not only attempting to control river waters but also trying to set up a unitary system by demolishing the federal structure in the country.

If the Congress was sincere to Punjab’s cause on the river waters, it should oppose the amendments in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Chandumajra added.

Mr Chandumajra said the morcha would move the Supreme Court against the amendments and also take this issue to the court of the people” in the state. The mode to be adopted to take the case to the “people’s court” would be decided at the morcha’s meeting on August 25, he said. He also criticised the Badal government for its silence on the basmati issue.


Serious issues, non-serious members

P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The 12th session of the 11th Punjab Vidhan Sabha held here on Wednesday was the last sitting of the present House that stands adjourned sine die. What impression (there may not be an impact) has the last day of the session left?

What happened inside the “pavittar sadan’’ yesterday, is history today. Yet another chapter was added to its history when in the last Budget session the entire Opposition was ‘’suspended’’ for the entire length of the session. While the Treasury Benches may have had smooth sailing, the House lost its relevance. The Opposition, because of its own political miscalculations and obstinacy, missed out on an opportunity to articulate the people’s aspirations. Not that the Speaker would have permitted it to do so.

The general impression among members, on either side of the “well’’, is that the Speaker was more “loyal than the king’’. His defence of the Treasury Benches at all sittings and sessions of the Vidhan Sabha was indiscreet. The manner in which key issues and important subjects were disallowed on the floor of the House was rather obvious. Such discussions would have resulted in too much egg on the face of the SAD-BJP government.

The list of issues (perceived to be controversial and politically embarrassing for the ruling combine) is long and well known. This needs no repetition. As an illustration, one can recall the Anandgarh project in the last session and the river waters issue that drowned the proceedings on Wednesday. Was seeking withdrawal of the resolution on Ms Sonia Gandhi passed in the last session all that important to be made a condition by the Congress for orderly conduct of the House if the waters issue discussion was to be held, as the government had agreed?

The 11th Vidhan Sabha will be long remembered more for its non-performance, non-seriousness and antics aimed at media attention rather than the redress of public grievances. If the Treasury Benches were found wanting in doing the necessary homework, the Opposition, barring the CPI’s Hardev Arshi, was invariably unprepared for any meaningful or worthwhile debate or discussion. Rather than being cogent and concise on public interest issues, the Opposition failed to needle the government. It lacked floor coordination and the government focus.

The casual manner in which the government treated serious legislative business, passed budgets and bills or ministers replied to questions, often giving either incomplete or wrong information, was fairly discernible. Yet, the Chair let that pass. Whenever the Speaker did “pull up’’ a minister or two, the next time more time was sought to reply. More often than not, the replies never came.

The oft-repeated assurances of early “compliance or completion’’ in the case of inquiries and development works remained mere promises. The visible dismissive attitude of the government and half-hearted attempts of the Opposition to politicise all issues and level allegations and accusations led the House nowhere during any session.

The plethora of information extracted from the government by way of questions submitted by members provides an “insight’’ into the functioning of the government and also mirrors the social, economic and law and order situation prevailing in the state. Unfortunately, there has never been a serious follow-up at any level on that mine of information providing useful leads for further perusal.

The government’s “sab chalta hai’’ approach to hapless members inside the House and utter disregard of their sentiments outside it in the districts, is another story. Several members have been vociferous both inside and outside in castigating the government for its “indifferent, step-motherly and casual attitude’’ even towards the elected representatives not to speak of the people, their constituents.

It is, perhaps, unparliamentary for the members to openly criticise the Speaker inside the House or raise slogans against him accusing him of “bias’’ and “discriminatory’’ attitude towards the members who were not treated as “equals’’. But such occasions did arise in the Vidhan Sabha. “For the lackadaisical functioning of the House and absence of seriousness even on serious issues, the blame must be apportioned among all sections, the Chair, the Treasury Benches and the Opposition,’’ was the candid remark by several MLAs in response to TNS questions. They were asked to sum up the “performance’’ of the 11th Vidhan Sabha.

In fact, barring two or three Ministers the others remained mute witnesses to the proceedings. Punjab has an army of 42 ministers, including a Chief Parliamentary Secretary. There is nothing to write home about the performance of those ministers who did not open their account even once since February, 1997. So pathetic was the performance of some of the Ministers, who wilted under Opposition questioning, that time and again Mr Parkash Singh Badal had to intervene to assuage the ruffled sentiments of the members. Yes, the Akalis succeeded in completing the full term and Capt Kanwaljit Singh set a record by presenting five consecutive Budgets.

The level of all debates and discussions remained mediocre. Members who had the art of presenting their viewpoints, were prepared with facts and figures and often embarrassed the Treasury Benches, were often cut short by the Chair. No doubt, the House remained a witness to verbal duels between the Chair and aggrieved members complaining they were not being allowed to speak.

A member told TNS that the House had the minimum number of sittings during its entire life. Each time the session was curtailed and adjourned sine die. Private members’ bills and resolutions were deliberately ‘’talked out’’. “Had there been no Constitutional obligation, this government may not have convened the House ever,” commented an MLA. Even this time, the three-day session (August 21 to 23) was curtailed to just one day with the first day devoted to obituary references.

It was quite often that a former Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, pointed out the infirmities in the rulings given by the Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, suggesting that some decorum should be maintained and old traditions and conventions respected.

Not a single sitting of the House was without its quota of walkouts, sit-ins in the well, slogan shouting, verbal skirmishes between the Treasury and Opposition Benches and cross-talk by members despite the Speaker asking the members to maintain discipline.


Cong to launch election campaign from Payal
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The sixth death anniversary of former Chief Minister Beant Singh to be organised at Payal, his native village, on August 31 is likely to be a grand show. The Congress plans to launch its election campaign on that day. Hectic activity has already started among party workers and leaders to mobilise people on the occasion. Senior leaders of the All-India Congress Committee, including Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Moti Lal Vora, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ms Ambika Soni and PCC leaders Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Jagmeet Brar will attend the function.

Sources in the PCC said the party had decided to coincide the election campaign with the death anniversary of Beant Singh who was killed in a bomb blast six years ago. The PCC leadership is understood to have decided to use the occasion to remind the people of the sacrifices made by the Congress in its fight against terrorism.

The sources said the PCC leader may announce the candidature of one of the family members of Beant Singh from the Payal constituency.

The PCC president has constituted a 64-member committee headed by former minister Lal Singh to finalise arrangements for a rally on the occasion. Buoyed by some successful rallies, the PCC President is reportedly keen to use this occasion to demonstrate his party strength in the state. That is why he had invited a number of national leaders and announced the launch of his election campaign the same day.

All party leaders and workers have been directed to mobilise the maximum number of people to ensure that the rally is a success. This has already sparked hectic activity among local leaders, more so among those who are aspiring for the Congress ticket.

According to Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, a senior youth Congress leader, who is also member of the organising committee, at least one lakh people are expected to participate in the rally. “People’s participation would be much as it will mark the launching of the election campaign for the party”, he pointed out.


Plants go out of generation, power supply hit in region
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 23
Power supply was affected in the northern region as the super thermal power station of the national thermal plant at Rihand of 500 MW capacity went out of generation yesterday. Besides, the Dadri gas- based power station and one unit of the Rajasthan atomic plant of 220 MW also went out of generation.

The power supply in Punjab was further disrupted as one unit of the Ropar thermal plant went out of generation yesterday following a snag in the boiler. The overall deficit of power supply in Punjab was more than one 100 lakh units as the two hydro power plants of Mukerian and Anandpur Sahib also did not work to full capacity due to low supply of water. The National Thermal Corporation has two super thermal plants at Rihand of 500 MW capacity each and one unit has been out of generation and will remain so for some more days.

The PSEB had to impose a severe power cut yesterday as the power supply was also disrupted from the Ranjit Sagar Dam following tripping of all three 220 kv lines at Sarna grid near Pathankot.

However, normal power generation started at the Ranjit Sagar Dam today. The three units are running to full capacity of 150 MW each. The water level in the Ranjit Sagar reservoir has reached optimum level of 518 meters and was reported at 518.24 meters today. The fourth unit of the dam is yet to go on stream.

Although a power cut was imposed today again but the authorities are hoping that the situation will improve with the full generation at the Ranjit Sagar Dam and the number three unit of the Ropar plant.

Meanwhile, the coal supplies to the Ropar plant are being rushed to ensure its functioning.

According to information, the plant has coal stocks of 1.07 lakh tonnes.


125 lakh tonnes of paddy to be procured
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting with Deputy Commissioners and procurement officials in Chandigarh on Thursday. 
— A Tribune photo

Chandigarh, August 23
Punjab is to procure 125 lakh tonnes of paddy in kharif 2001-2002.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today reviewed the procurement arrangements with the state agencies, the FCI and the Deputy Commissioners, making them responsible for smooth procurement operations. There will be 1,598 purchase centres and mandis.

The Chief Minister said the issue of the minimum support price (MSP) had been taken up with the Centre, requesting the procurement date as September 1 and also early finalisation of paddy and rice specifications. The Centre had agreed in principle to extend the milling date of old stocks of paddy beyond August 31.

A sum of Rs 83 crore out of Rs 100 crore released by the Centre to compensate the farmer whose paddy was sold below the MSP from September 21, 2000 to October 14, 2000, had been disbursed.

He asked the Deputy Commissioners to put up display boards giving an account of the development works completed and the status of ongoing projects in villages along with the cost of the projects.

The Deputy Commissioners should also send the utilisation certificates in respect of funds released by the government under different schemes.

He reviewed the progress of the allotment of 5 marla plots to houseless Scheduled Castes, Rai Sikhs and Christian families and directed the Chief Secretary to broad-base the scheme, bringing eligible members of all weaker sections under it. Wherever panchayat land was not available in villages, land should be purchased for giving such plots to the needy. The benefit of this scheme must reach all eligible persons within one month. He also ordered the immediate release of Rs 10 crore for this purpose.

Taking serious note of the delay by some departments in giving employment on compassionate grounds to the wards of terrorist victims, the riot affected and deceased government employees, the Chief Minister directed the creation of a cell under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary to ensure jobs for the eligible persons within one month.

He also reviewed the implementation of the old-age and other pension schemes. A sum of about Rs 20 crore will be provided under this head, every month.


Paddy procurement now from Sept 21
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
The Punjab Government is contemplating to advance the paddy procurement season to September 21 to cope with early arrivals in some parts of the state.

Talking to newspersons here today, State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Sohan Singh Thandal said though paddy was to be procured from October 1 according to the directives of the Central government, the state government wanted to ensure that farmers of Ferozepore and Amritsar did not suffer due to an early harvest. He said the matter would be taken up with the Centre.

Meanwhile, the minister said the Chief Minister had called a meeting of all Deputy Commissioners and senior officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department to give final touches to a contingency plan in case millers did not store paddy on their premises as was being threatened by them. He said according to the plan, arrangements would be made in all districts by the creation of plinths.

Mr Thandal said around 180 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrain, a large portion of which was wheat, was still lying stored in the state. He said the movement of foodgrain out of the state was not up to the desired level. He said the state government would await any new policy made by the Central government to dispose of with excess stocks of foodgrain.

He said distribution of wheat had started among families living below the poverty line under the Antyoda scheme. He said 70,000 families would be given 25 kg of wheat per month at the rate of Rs 2 per kg under the scheme. These beneficiaries constituted 15 per cent of such families identified in the state and that another batch of beneficiaries would be identified soon.

The minister said other steps proposed to be taken during the procurement season included procurement of paddy twice in a day instead of once a day earlier. He said besides this the lifting of paddy was proposed to be streamlined with a change in the lifting contract with only those who had the requisite vehicles getting the contracts.

District Food and Supplies Controller H.S. Mokha said 1,645 purchase centres were being set up in the district as compared to 1,585 centres last year. He said each arhtiya would also have to supply the “J form” to the farmers this year.


IMA: withdraw case against doctor
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 23
The Indian Medical Association, Punjab has condemned the assault on a doctor and hospital staff of Miglani Hospital, Adampur, by the relatives of a patient.

Dr Kuldip Singh, Secretary, Action Committee-Cum-Legal Cell, IMA, Punjab, said in a press note here today that it was unfortunate that every hospital death was projected as a case of medical negligence by the people as well as the press. The police succumbs to the public pressure and registers a case under Section 304, IPC, forgetting that Section 304 was not applicable to the hospital deaths.

As per rules, whenever a case of criminal negligence was to be registered against a private doctor, the investigating Deputy Supdt of Police had to refer the case to a panel consisting of the Supdt of Police and the District Medical Officer and take further action in the light of the decision taken by the panel.

The IMA was taking up the matter with the Director General of Police Punjab, urging him to issue necessary instructions.

He said after an inquiry, the IMA had found that in the present case, the doctor was not at fault. The child was operated upon for undescended testis and sent to a ward in a fit condition where he remained normal of four hours. At 6 pm he was having a liquid which accidentally went into his respiratory tract. The doctor immediately attended to the child but could not save him.

The parents were satisfied with the treatment and hence took the body home. Some vested interests in the village instigated and took them to the police station in the morning. The police succumbed to the pressure of the mob and registered a case under Section 304 of the IPC without a preliminary inquiry, he said.

The IMA demanded strong action against the miscreants and withdrawal of the case against the doctor.


Petrol station sealed after it fails tests
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
Adulteration of petrol by various petrol station owners has become a major issue in the district with the Indian Oil Corporation sealing one petrol pump after a random check of various petrol stations in the city.

During the past fortnight the district police has registered a case against a petrol station owner of Passiana, near here, after one truck of chemical solvent containing 8,000 litres of solvent material was seized from his station. Following this a case has been registered against one person. Kerosene has also been seized from the premises of certain filling station owners in the district.

According to Indian Oil sources, a team conducted checks on filling stations namely National Filling Station, Kaintal Filling Station, City Heart Filling Station, Highway Filling Station and Hemkund Filling Station on August 18. The surprise checks were conducted by a mobile laboratory of the corporation during the course of which the samples of Hemkund Filling Station, which is situated on the Sirhind road, failed to pass muster.

The sources said following failure of the sample of station, the corporation team ordered closure of the pump. However, according to the sources the pump continued to sell petrol and even got more fuel from the corporation depot after its samples failed to pass the adulteration test. They said the pump was finally sealed on August 21.

According to a local representative of the company, there seemed to be some confusion on the issue. He said he was informed about the matter after a period of three days following which the pump was sealed. He said according to the present system the team after conducted a raid informed the state coordinator about the raid following which the case was referred to the Marketing Disciplines Guidelines Committee.

However, when an Indian Oil official was asked why the directions of the raiding party were not implemented immediately, he took off on a different track claiming that sale of petrol was only stopped from the tank which had failed the test.


Telecom Dept fined Rs 15,000
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 23
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed the telecom authorities to pay a compensation of Rs 15,000 to Messrs Tara Chand Malhotra and Sons for deficiency in service.

The complainants had alleged that a telephone No 38231 was installed at their branch office at Gara Maura. It was attached with the Kiratpur Sahib telephone exchange. However, in May, 1999, the connection was shifted to the Massewal exchange. Since then the telephone had stopped working properly, despite the fact that numerous complaints were made to the authorities concerned.

The complainants further alleged that instead of rectifying the fault in the telephone, the Kiratpur Sahib exchange sent a person with an unnumbered, undated and unaddressed bill of Rs 11,125 to be paid within 48 hours.

The complainants sent the bill to the telecom revenue authorities for clarification but the telephone was disconnected.

The complainants alleged that they had to undergo immense mental agony due to loss to their business. For this they demanded a compensation of Rs 2 lakh from the telecom authorities.

The telecom authorities through their council, however, asserted that the complaints by the complainant were attended to on time and the telephone set in question was in working order. They also claimed that the bill in dispute was sent to the complainants on February 1, 2000. Since it was not paid on time, the telephone was disconnected as per the rules.

Even then the complainants were sent reminders to deposit the pending bill and the restoration fee to get the telephone connection reinstalled.

After examining the evidence presented by both parties in the case, the forum comprising its president J.P. Gupta and S.K. Bhatia, maintained that there was deficiency in service on the part of the Telecom Department.

They directed the department to pay the costs of the case quantified at Rs 2,500, besides the compensation, within 30 days following which the amount would carry an interest of 18 per cent per annum.

They also directed the authorities concerned to hold an inquiry into the allegations of excess billing and restore the connection without changing any rent from the date of disconnection or reconnection fee.


A town with unbridled pollution
Ashok Grover

This border town is dusty. Thick dust can be easily seen in the air while moving around. The air is perhaps most polluted as compared to other towns.

The number of asthma patients is much more than in the adjoining areas. Some asthma patients prefer to reside at nearby Fazilka that relatively suits their health. But at the time of harvesting all asthma patients who suffer from dust allergy are advised to shift from the town to some safer places. The most evident reason for this seems to be the absence of a green belt near the town.

Unchecked cutting of trees has added to its woes. Now one can count the numbers of total surviving trees in this town. Thick population has replaced the trees with haphazard concrete buildings. The cultivation of only wheat and paddy crop in the adjoining rural areas has affected the surrounding green belt.

At the time of crop arrival in the grain market, one can watch clouds of dust moving in the sky. Even sometimes it is not easy to move properly near the centrally located market yard. A few years back the town’s rice milling industry was considered the main source of air pollution. But due to the initiative taken by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the industry has installed air pollution control devices, which has considerably checked air pollution. The spurt in diesel generator sets in the town streets has also severely polluted the air. The smoke developed by the burning of diesel adds to the noise as well as air pollution.

The question is who will check the other sources of pollution caused by sources other than industry? The department seems to be silent on the subject. The PPCB has neither issued any notice to the local market committee nor has any effort been made to check any other source of pollution except industrial. A senior officer of the board considers that the absence of specific guidelines is the main reason for the ignorance towards other forms of pollution. Dr Sohan Lal Kumar, a social activist, points out that the PPCB should also check others sources of pollution besides industrial. He accused the board of not taking interest in preventing pollution other than industrial pollution. He also pointed out that unaccounted polluted water in municipal drains polluted the water courses in the town. But no efforts have been taken to check this serious form of pollution whereas the smallest non-polluting industrial units have to face the wrath of officials.


Sangrur DTO gets interim bail
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 23
Mr R.P. Nagrath, Special Judge, Sangrur, today issued a notice to the State of Punjab for September 1 on the anticipatory bail application moved by Mr Deepak Raj Garg, District Transport Officer, Sangrur, against whom the Vigilance Bureau had registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act here yesterday.

The Judge ordered that in the meantime, the petitioner, Mr Garg, be admitted to an interim bail by the investigating officer (IO) in the event of his arrest. The petitioner would join the investigation as and when required, the Judge directed.

Meanwhile, Mr Varinder Aggarwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sangrur, today remanded Baldev Singh, driver of the DTO, and another person, Ajay Pal Goyal, alias Happy in judicial custody till September 6. Both the accused were caught red-handed by the Vigilance Bureau from the office of the DTO here yesterday while they were allegedly receiving an illegal gratification of Rs 10,000 from Mr Balwinder Singh Nagi, a member of the local Tempo Union.


Indian textiles fascinate her 
Navpreet Sohal

Patiala, August 23
“A moment will come when it will be difficult to differentiate between the youth from different countries. Everything will be global and so will be the fashion. I personally believe that every country should have its individuality and originality,” says Ms Magda Prats.

A leading fashion illustrator and designer in textile and fashion, Magda has come all the way from Spain to India to study Indian textiles. Interacting with students at the National Institute of Fashion Designing (NIFD), here, she said India has great potential and is rich in textiles, embroideries and colours. She was fascinated by the phulkari and Punjabi juttis.

After visiting so many places in India, particularly Punjab, she feels that India is a fountain of inspiration, she said the institutes like NIFD were providing a platform to the designers to express their creativity, imagination and talent through their designs. India has all the basic elements like cheap labour, good textile material and talented designers for contributing to the world fashion industry.

According to Magda, Indian fashion is not appreciated much in Europe because of the traditional differences. The wearouts here are not workable there, but the textiles, especially silk, chiffon and cotton, are favourites with European designers. She strongly believes in collaboration between European and Asian countries for the exchange of the art. She was here to show her designs and to explain European tastes. India should export the textile and start some project with Spain, France and other European countries.

Magda appreciated the clothing sense of Indians and the colour combinations used by them. The cultural exchanges can be quite innovative. Talking about her future designs, she said there will be a strong impact of Indian textile in her work. She said she had talked to some factory people and would be importing textiles from India. She also plans to send designs to Indian artisans to get her work done.


Noisy solution to power cuts
Padmini Jain

In times of power cut, heat and darkness are not the only problems the residents of Rajpura have to contend with. Along with the power cut, comes the deafening noise of numerous power generators which the affluent have installed outside their houses. Since the power cuts come mostly in summer, the noise adds to the discomfort of the common people.

These monsters roar in the colonies to rob the residents of their peace for long hours. The owners of these generators switch them on in total disregard for the inconvenience these cause to others. These noisy monsters are not kept indoors. These are placed outside the house, to spread their irritating noise in the neighbourhood. People who generally come out of their houses in times of power cuts have to plug their ears to keep the noise away. Some of them have tried to plead with the owners, others have gone to the authorities concerned but all in vain.

These roaring monsters are run on kerosene and create a good amount of air pollutions besides the noise. These are generally kept outside the house with a fence around them, thus narrowing the street. But the owners do not have any fear of the law since the owners of these contraptions include police and administrative officers as well as municipal councillors.

There are silent options like invertors available but those who have got these crude devices installed, do not care to make a further investment. Says one such generator-owner: “I am not the only one using this. Everybody is using them and nobody stops you from having one. And why ask me, go to the law and see if you can get it stopped.”

Retorts a housewife and a troubled neighbour: “Some people seem to have forgotten that they do not live in a jungle but in a society which demands certain adjustments and human behaviour.”

“My head aches with the smell and noise. I even have a breathing problem. It is an ordeal with the lights off for three-fourths of the day and this noise dinning into your ears,” she says.

Says another troubled neighbour: “After complaining and requesting for peace so many times, I thought that I should move to another locality. But where do I go? Every street has these monsters.”

A student was in tears when she said: When it is hot and dark inside, I try to study is the courtyard or in the verandah but the generator in the adjoining house is so noisy that I cannot concentrate on my studies. My little brother is not able to sleep. He weeps restlessly, all through the ordeal.”

People are waiting for the authorities to wake up to the situation and save them from the defeaning noise that accompanies every power cut.


32 hurt as bus, truck collide

Moga, August 23
At least 32 passengers, including 19 women and two children, were injured, four of them seriously, when a minibus collided head on with a truck near Mehna, 12 km from here, on the Moga Ludhiana road today.

All injured were taken to Civil Hospital, Moga, police sources said here. The minibus was going from Moga to Chuhar Chak when a truck loaded with ‘gur’ coming from the Ludhiana side collided with the minibus. PTI


Traders plead for amnesty
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 23
Four organisations of traders have urged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to make immediate and adequate arrangements for securing general amnesty for police officials of Punjab who have been facing trial and languishing in jail for violation of human rights while fighting militancy.

The organisations, including the Bathinda Auto Traders Association, the Punjab Chemists Association, the Beopar Mandal and the Retail Chemist Association, questioned the logic of persecuting those officials who had only risked their lives to save innocent persons from terrorists’ bullets.

Mr Sukhpal Mittal, president, Bathinda Auto Traders Association Mr R.D. Gupta, president, Punjab Chemists Association, Mr Rajinder Kumar, general secretary, Beopar Mandal, and Mr Megh Nath Sharma, president, Retail Chemists Association, in separate statements pointed out that members of a particular community had been living under fear after the return and subsequent “hero’s welcome” of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan to Punjab.

They said thousands of families in Punjab had been destroyed by the militants and during those black days no human rights organisation or commission had spoken against the unjustified violence.

They asked whether the human rights organisations which were opposing general amnesty for police officials could bring back the kin of bereaved families. They pointed out that even judicial officers had fallen to the bullets of militants.

When dreaded militants could be released for freeing Rabiya Sayeed, daughter of the then Union Home Minister, where was the need for prosecuting those police officials who had fought for the unity and integrity of the country, they asked.


MC employees fear they may not get wages
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 23
Fear stalks municipal corporation employees here who apprehend that they may not get their salaries in view of the move to abolish octroi. They are sceptical that their wages could even be “curtailed”.

The Mayor, Mr Brij Mohan Kapoor, said if octroi was abolished, in the absence of any alternative sources of finances the civic body would not be able to pay its employees. He said apprehensions regarding payment to employees had been conveyed to a three-member MLAs committee headed by Mr Arunesh Kumar a month back. The committee was likely to submit its report at Chandigarh. Commissioners of all four corporations had been invited to Chandigarh for thrashing out the octroi issue.


Missing SGPC file found
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 23
An important file pertaining to the purchase of 16 SGPC buses at a cost of Rs 1 crore has been traced in a bathroom today. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President of the SGPC, had ordered a high-level inquiry in this regard. Mr Talwandi had stated that the “culprit” had been identified and the file would be found within a week.

Interestingly, exactly after a week of his statement the file has been found from a bathroom near Teja Singh Samundari Hall by a sevadar, Mr Mukhtiar Singh. The sevadar immediately handed over the file to Mr Harbhajan Singh, superintendent.

Sources said the file was “deliberately” picked up by some persons who wanted to discredit some senior functionaries of the committee.

It may be mentioned here that eyebrows were raised over the payment made for purchasing the bodies of the vehicles despite objections raised by an additional secretary.


Notice to Khalsa Trust Society
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 23
A legal notice was served on the Khalsa Trust Society by an employee, Mr Santokh Singh Tapasavi, whose services as Editor, Khalsa Advocate, were allegedly terminated without citing any reason. The notice held the termination as a violation of the service rules.


Jail inmate out of danger
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
The condition of Prem Chand, an inmate of the local Central Jail, who was admitted to the local Civil Hospital after he got injured in an alleged attack by another inmate last night, was stated to be out of danger.

Though Prem Chand, who was arrested by the district police under Sections 420 and 120B, IPC, two weeks back, alleged that he was attacked with a “lathi” by another inmate, whom he failed to identify due to darkness after power failure last night, the Superintendent of the Jail refuted the allegations.

When contacted, Mr S.K. Kaushal, Superintendent, said Prem Chand was a known drug addict. “In fact, he fell down unconscious resulting in injuries”, he said.


Scientists look up to nature for good yield
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
Dr S.S. Bains, Director, Agriculture, Punjab has said if the weather remains favourable the target of providing 17 lakh bales will be achieved.

Mr Bains who was here in connection with an inspection of the cotton belt of the state, talking to mediapersons said if the dry weather prevailed and the wind flowing from the west continue to heat the region cotton crop would not be effected by American bollworm. The attack was severe in the first forthnight of May but has declined since then. Field staff of the Agriculture Department would however, watch the situation till September 30, Mr Bains said.

Answering a question, Mr Bains said due to scarcity of the canal water in the cotton belt during the April-May the sowing was delayed and later more than normal rain set ideal conditions for the growth of the bollworm. Generally the heat wave of May-June kills the larvaes of the bollworm, but due to frequent rain the moisture content in the air went up and the eggs of the worm hatched. This resulted in a large-scale infection, he said.

Mr Ranjit Singh Rana, Deputy Director, Cotton, Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda and many other agriculture scientists accompanied the director.

The experts said the problem could have been avoided if the farmers had sowed the late maturing varieties but hoping for a higher produce they went for the early maturing varieties. Now the Department of Agriculture had deployed an Agriculture Development Officer, a sub inspector and helpers and had allotted one villager each to them for proper surveillance, they said.

Replying to a question the experts said everything depended on nature and if it rained for two or three days in the next few days, the target of producing 17 lakh cotton bales would be hard to achieve.

Dr Bains said farmers should follow the recommendations of the experts and should not experiment with the pesticides, which could prove harmful in the long run.


Punjab to set up development board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Punjab Government has decided to set up the Punjab Urban Development Board on statutory basis by bringing about a suitable legislation. Revealing this here today, the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, stated that the draft of the proposed Punjab Urban Development Act, 2001, had been approved by the Chief Minister, Punjab and necessary steps were being taken to give it the force of law.

Mr Balian said the board would be headed by the Chief Minister and would include the Finance Minister, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Local Government Minister, apart from the Chief Secretary and the Administrative Secretaries of these departments. The basic objective to set up this apex state-level institution was to secure a better coordination between the various agencies involved in urban development and civic affairs such as municipal corporations, municipal councils, improvement trusts, nagar panchayats and the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

Giving details, Mr K.B.S Sidhu, Chief Administrator, PUDA, who shall be ex officio secretary of the board, revealed that the board should be competent to receive grant and advances from the state government. However, a provision had been made in the proposed legislation to assign 4 per cent of the total consideration of any immoveable property sold or leased or otherwise alienated by any urban local body, including PUDA and improvement trusts, to the fund of the board. One of the provisions envisaged that the sale proceeds of any urban government transferred to the occupants on the basis of possession should also be credited to the fund of the board.

The proposed legislation provides that municipal bodies shall be responsible for carrying out the execution of various projects, although in exceptional cases the work could be assigned by the board to any other government agency, after consulting the municipal body concerned.

In order to ensure better accountability and transparency it has been provided that the accounts of the board shall be got audited not only from the qualified Chartered Accountant but also concurrently by the Accountant General, Punjab.


4 carrying poppy husk arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
Fifteen cases have been registered against 19 persons for their alleged involvement in various criminal activities in the district and 10 kg of poppy husk, 15 litre of illicit liquor, four pistols, 16 cartridges and Rs 1,276 seized from their possession.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said 10 kg of poppy husk had been seized from Mohan Singh, Azaib Singh, Darshan Singh and Manjeet Singh, all residents of Giana village in the district and they had been arrested. The police had also impounded the jeep in which they were travelling. A case has been registered against them under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

In another incident, Nahar Singh, a resident of Amarpura Basti here, has been arrested for allegedly firing at another city resident, Teza Singh on August 20 and a .12 bore pistol seized from him. Two cases under Sections 307, 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act have been registered against him at the Kotwali police station.

Gursewak Singh of Malkana village, Gurjant Singh of the local Sanjay Nagar, Randhir Singh of Natt village and Bohar Singh of Ruldu Singhwala have been arrested and cases under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act registered against them. The police has seized .12 bore pistol and two cartridges from Gursewak Singh, .315 bore pistol and 7 cartridges from Gurjant Singh, .12 bore pistol and two cartridges from Randhir Singh and a sharp-edged weapon from Bohar Singh.

Under the Excise Act, three persons, Gurjant Singh of Batth village, Umedh Singh of Desu Jodha village and Gurtej Singh of Mandi Kalan village, have been arrested. About 15 litre of illicit liquor has been seized from them.

Six cases under the satta transactions Act have been registered against six persons. The persons have been identified as Jagsir Singh, Makhan Singh, residents of Lolowala village, Gursewak Singh, resident of Bagha, Buta Ram, Sukhdev Singh and Sonu, residents of Rama Mandi.


NRI booked for seeking dowry
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
The district police has booked a Canada-based NRI for allegedly demanding dowry from his wife, failing which he threatened not to take her abroad.

Ms Kulwinder Kaur in a complaint alleged that she married Onkar Singh Bhatia in 1998. She stayed with her husband for 10 days. Later, he left for Canada, leaving her behind with his mother in Ludhiana.

Meanwhile, her mother-in-law also left for Canada after two months. Though she kept waiting, her husband allegedly demanded Rs 5 lakh and a car as dowry as a precondition to take her to Canada.

Her relatives and family members tried to resolve the matter amicably, but Onkar Singh refused to accept her without the money, she alleged.

She and her father Balbir Singh Sandhu approached the NRI Sabha, Punjab, which forwarded her case to the district police authorities for registration of a case.

A case has been registered under Sections 498-A and 406, IPC.


VCs of PTU, Punjabi University meet on Sept 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA from Amritsar, said today that the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, had called a meeting of the Vice-Chancellors of Punjab Technical University and Punjabi University, Patiala, on September 4 to discuss the issue of “ non-recognised” technical courses.

Mrs Chawla said the meeting had been called after she met the Chief Minister at his residence this morning in this connection. She said the Chief Minister was told by her that a big fraud was being played on students as well as their parents. The matter should be probed and action taken against those involved.

Mrs Chawla said institutions authorised by the PTU in various cities to run technical courses did not have a trained faculty or other infrastructure.


Dismiss VC of PTU, demands Chawla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a senior leader of the BJP and MLA from Amritsar, here today met the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, to seek the removal of the Vice Chancellor (VC) of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar.

Addressing a press conference at the MLA Hostel after meeting Mr Badal and Mr Arora, Mrs Chawla said that she had told them that the VC was facing a serious allegation of sexual harassment levelled against him by a group of women employees, many of whom had been since removed from service by the university. He should be removed immediately.

She said the matter was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister in September last year, well before the grant of service extension to the VC. The Chief Minister had told the then Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, to inquire into the matter. Mr Mann had submitted the report to the Chief Minister. Mr Mann was told to take up the issue with the VC by the Chief Minister, Mrs Chawla claimed.

However, unfortunately, instead of taking any action against the VC, the Punjab Government had granted an extension of one year to him.

When contacted in this connection, the VC said that it was “below his dignity to comment on such an issue as the allegations were baseless and without any substance”. He said Mrs Chawla had not met him even once in connection with this issue.

Mrs Chawla said that following the decision of the Supreme Court, the states were told to set up committees headed by women in all government departments to deal with cases of sexual harassment. Punjab had not set up such committees. There was only one committee at the state level headed by the Secretary, Social Welfare, Mrs Romila Dubey. The names of the other members of the committee were not known.

The VC is the second Vice-Chancellor to face such allegations. Earlier a senior Cabinet Minister had brought allegations of a similar nature against another VC to the notice of the Chief Minister. The Minister had requested the Chief Minister to take action against that VC. However, nothing happened.


Paying more for same course
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
Guru Kashi Regional Centre of Punjabi University, Patiala, has allegedly overcharged LLB-III students by Rs 1,865 in the form of admission and tuition fee.

While students of LLB-III at Punjabi University paid Rs 3,445 as fee, students of the regional centre had to pay Rs 5,310.

The authorities concerned said they had charged the fee according to the prospectus issued by the university. A student said on condition of anonymity that last year, too, the authorities had charged some extra money than the fee prescribed by the university authorities. He said although he was assured that the amount would be adjusted in the next instalment of the fee, it had not been returned or adjusted.

Another student who did not wish to be quoted said, last year the authorities had told students that the excess amount would be adjusted and as they had one more year to go, they did not mind. But now they fear that when they pass out of the centre, nobody would refund it to them. A group of students said they also had apprehensions regarding the validity of the degree as some of those who had passed out of the centre some years ago had to face difficulties as the Bar Council of India did not approve their degrees. No senior official of the centre was willing to talk as they said they were not authorised to talk to the Press.

One of them, however, said the authorities of Punjabi University had not intimated them about the revised fee structure.

He said they would make efforts to adjust or refund the money, adding that the matter had been taken up with the university.


Withdraw fee hike, say ITI students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
Students of the local ITI today held a march and a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here to press for acceptance of their demands. The students boycotted their classes and held a rally at the institute. Later, they marched through the city and reached the office of the Deputy Commissioner. There they again held a rally.

The students demanded that the fee hike should be withdrawn. They said the fees and other expenses of the ITI students were already very high and with the latest increase, studying in these institutes had become out of the reach of the poor.

The students complained that concessional bus passes issued by the PRTC were not honoured by owners of the private minibus operators. They said although an agreement had been reached between the students and the representatives of the bus operators few months ago but the latter had started harassing them again.

According to the new rules laid down by the government, Saturday and Sunday had also been considered as working days, the students said. But conductors of the government transport asked them to buy tickets on these days, they alleged. 


School vans keep off road
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 23
The privately operating school vans today remained off the road putting parents and their wards to great inconvenience. This was done to protest against the alleged harassment of operators. It may be mentioned here that seven vans were challaned yesterday after the death of a schoolboy, Tushar Prashar, in a road accident on Monday.

Meanwhile, an inter-faith prayer meeting was held at ST Joseph’s Convent School for the peace of the departed soul of Tushar, a student of this school. The school was closed after the meeting.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |