Saturday, August 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



HC pulls up Punjab for letting off scam guilty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Coming down heavily on the state of Punjab for its failure to grant sanction for the prosecution of officials prima facie found guilty during investigations in the multi-crore fertiliser scam, Mr Justice V. K. Jhanji of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed it to accord sanction after receiving a request from the Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Jhanji directed: “Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau S. K. Verma shall apply to the government for necessary sanction to prosecute officials, who have been prima facie found guilty in investigations by Superintendent of Vigilance B. K. Uppal, and have been named in the FIR. On receiving such a request, the state government shall accord the sanction”.

Mr Justice Jhanji also directed the state government against relieving Mr Uppal till the investigation against two firms was complete. The Judge further directed that Mr Verma “shall not be relieved” from the present assignment till the final reports against the two firms were submitted by Mr Uppal.

The Judge also asked the Chief Director to place before Mr Uppal the final reports and complete record of the investigations conducted against the two firms, Varindera Agro-Chemicals Limited and Moonak Chemicals Limited. “In case he is satisfied that the investigations conducted in the matter have been conducted in a fair manner and the recommendation for dropping the charges against them are borne out from the record, he may make a similar recommendation. In case he finds that the investigations in these two cases have not been conducted in a proper manner, he may make further investigations”, he added.

In his detailed order, the Judge observed: “As regards the grievance of the petitioners that the government is not according sanction for the prosecution of the officials involved in the fertiliser scam, I find that the same is not without any basis.... The action of the government in declining sanction is against the statement of Punjab Advocate General before a Division Bench on December 8, 1999 that the government has decided to accord sanction for the prosecution of persons who have been found prima facie guilty in the investigation conducted by Vigilance SP”.

Earlier during the proceedings, the petitioner — Kisan wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal through its president Satnam Singh Behru — had stated that challan had been submitted by Mr Uppal against 46 accused. Mr Uppal, they had added, had also sought sanction for the prosecution of five senior officers — Mr Mewa Singh Soner, Sarvan Singh Bains, Daljit Singh Randhawa, Sardul Singh and Sukhdev Singh. They had added that instead of granting sanction, the government had appointed Soner as Director of Agriculture.


Paddy procurement problems persist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The minimum support price for paddy (2001-02) is still awaited. So are the official date of procurement and the specifications for paddy and rice.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at a review meeting with the deputy commissioners and the procurement agencies here on Thursday had warned that for lapses, if any, the bureaucrats concerned would be personally accountable.

Punjab wants the procurement operations to commence from September 1.

But a perusal of the state government’s own decisions, based on detailed studies of the problems that beset paddy operations — procurement to milling, storage and transportation — shows how political exigencies reverse such decisions.

Let’s recount, briefly, some such decisions. What happened to the recommendations of the Cabinet subcommittee on ‘’breaking the nexus between procurement agencies and market committee officials and commission agents (ahrtiyas) so that farmers are not fleeced’’? Or that the ‘’procurement season will commence only from October 1 every year,” and under no circumstances be advanced’’? Or that ‘’to avoid a glut farm-level cleaning be encouraged and a bulk-handling system be introduced’’? Or that the ‘’allocation of mandis to agencies and their procurement share be determined in a permanent manner in consultation with the FCI’’?

Besides these recommendations, the state has also conveniently forgotten the recommendations of an officers’ committee as well. It was headed, first by a former Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr R.N. Gupta, and later by the present Financial Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Mr Y.S. Ratra (who had taken over from Mr Gupta). In sum, the committee recommended: rice mills should be allotted to agencies on alphabetic roaster basis and in a transparent manner; no purchase centre be opened after September 15 (now the state wants procurement from September 1); to control moisture, manual harvesting be promoted and moisture meters provided to mandis; no auction be done where purchase is totally by the agencies; and set up dispute settlement committees in the districts, etc.

Seldom cognisance is taken of such matters. There is, yet, another aspect of paddy-related problems recently brought to the notice of the Prime Minister and others concerned.

The FCI Quality Control Staff Welfare Association adviser, Mr A.S. Kohli, in a detailed letter, backed up by data and provisions of the FCI Manual as well as the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, PFA, has listed steps needed to streamline the paddy procurement operations and decrease losses.

What the association says makes sense. The main thrust is on the on-and-off amendments made to the specifications for paddy and rice and the consequent revenue losses incurred by the agencies concerned. It is true that the arrival of paddy is much higher in the mandis today (about 40 per cent) than, say, two decades ago. Then harvesting was, by and large, manual. There was no glut. Space was available for drying. Milling yielded quality rice, despite the fact that then the ‘’rejection limit’’ in matter of damaged grains for the superfine and common varieties was allowed at 4 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

Now harvester combines have replaced the sickle. With harvesting now becoming quicker, the peak procurement period lasts around 45 days resulting in farmers bringing paddy with a high moisture content and immature grains. Also, due to blight disease, soil and seed borne, the look of the paddy is “very bad’’ due to “black spots’’. This disease is affecting paddy due to the excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers and stagnation of water in the fields.

Experience shows that in kharif 2000-01, the paddy stocks in mandis “exceeded” the specifications prescribed by the FCI in respect of damaged grain. In view of the difficulties faced by paddy growers and the procurement agencies in the last season, a Rs 350 crore “relief’’ package was announced, in addition to the relaxation in damaged, discoloured grain from 3 per cent to 8 per cent and the out-turn ratio from 67 per cent to 64 per cent. That worked out to Rs 250 crore. That relief is still being disbursed among farmers who had sold their paddy below the prescribed minimum support price. Of Rs 100 crore received, Rs 83 crore has been disturbed.

Punjab procured 110 lakh tonnes in the last kharif season. The FCI did not meet its procurement target and the state agencies bore the brunt. The milling of that paddy is still continuing, thanks to the rejection limit for damaged grain being reduced to half. Given the continuing rain, similar problems may resurface. Being election year, the Akalis can ill-afford any mishap.

Mr Kohli’s analysis, based on comparative data on specifications (between 1978 and 2000-01), showed that then the condition of paddy was far better than now. Rather than allowing the same or increasing the percentage for the acceptance of rice, there was a reduction last year. The ‘’refraction’’ of damaged grain in rice included slightly damaged grains also. As per the definition of PFA, 1954, the damaged grain is as follows:

“Damaged grain means grain damaged by fungus, moisture, heat and wherein, the damage is not superficial but the grain is affected internally. It shall not exceed 5 per cent by weight’’.

For the categorisation of damaged foodgrains, slightly damaged grains are included in sound grain, as per the FCI Manual. “Slightly damaged or touched kernels or pieces of kernels that are damaged or discoloured superficially so as not to affect the quality of the material’’, reads the description.

The association’s conclusion is that unless the “refraction” of damaged grain is split into damaged grain, and slightly damaged grain as was applicable in the case of wheat, the milling of paddy will remain unattended for years to come and the government agencies will have to bear a loss of hundreds of crores by downgrading paddy and rice stocks. The procurement officials are bound to follow the prescribed specifications and declare the stocks substandard. It is estimated that as a result of 20 per cent paddy remaining unmilled in 1999-2000 and 40 per cent in 2000-01, now in godowns, there were financial losses.

The loss was Rs 500 crore in 1999-2000. It was Rs 1,500 crore the following year. Add to this the “relief’’ money of Rs 350 crore and an additional relief of Rs 250 crore to the millers on account of changing the out-turn ratio from 67 per cent to 64 per cent. The total loss is Rs 2,600 crore, says the association.

The association has suggested that the specifications in respect of paddy “refraction” be amended as follows: Foreign matter 2 per cent; moisture 18 per cent; admixture of lower varieties 8 per cent; others 9 per cent; and a total rejection limit of 39 per cent against 36 per cent as applicable in the last kharif season and 55 per cent as in 1978. Similarly, in respect of rice refraction (superfine, common varieties and par-boiled) specifications have been suggested covering various aspects: broken, foreign matter, damaged, discoloured, chalky, raw, admixture, etc.

These minor amendments to the paddy and rice specifications will not necessitate relaxations in future. These are based on the vagaries of the weather and other factors and will result in better quality milling as well.


Octroi to go by August-end: BJP
No retrenchment of MC staff
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 24
Mr Sahib Singh Verma, former Delhi Chief Minister and national vice-president of the BJP and Prof Brij Pal Rinwa, president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said here today that octroi in Punjab would be abolished at every cost by the end of August.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Verma said all modalities had been finalised to abolish the octroi in the state. The decision to abolish the octroi was the outcome of an understanding between the SAD and the BJP.

Prof Rinwa said delay in the abolition of the octroi should be attributed to the measures which had been taken by the SAD-BJP government to absorb the employees of the Municipal Councils in other departments to avoid retrenchment of the employees. No employee would be retrenched after the abolition of the octroi. The employees would get their salaries and other benefits regularly, he added.

Both the leaders were here to address a rally of the BJP organised by the district unit of the party at the new grain market.

Mr Verma also said if Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Chief of the SHSAD, and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD (A), joined the SAD (Badal) as part of any type of unity move, the BJP would not interfere in the party affairs of the SAD as it was an internal matter of the SAD. Despite this the BJP’s alliance with the SAD would remain intact and both parties would run the government smoothly like now even in the future, he added.

The BJP would seek more seats from the SAD in the ensuing Assembly elections as the party had strengthened its base in rural as well as urban areas in Punjab. However, there was no dispute with the SAD over the number of seats to be allotted to the BJP. He said the BJP would stake its claim on all those seats on which its candidates would be able to win easily, Mr Verma added.

Regarding general amnesty to the Punjab police officials, involved in human rights violation cases and other such cases during the militancy era in Punjab, Mr Verma said only cases of those officials would be taken up who were found in a position to get the benefit of the doubt. Those cases would also be taken up with the Human Rights Commission which were being considered as “false”, he added.

Mr Verma lashed out at the Congress by holding it responsible for terrorism in Punjab. He said it was the Congress which created a gap between the Hindus and the Sikhs in the past.

He also called upon the people to strengthen the SAD-BJP alliance to form its government in the ensuing Assembly elections and make Mr Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister again.

Prof Rinwa criticised the Congress for propagating that terrorism would revive in the state with the arrival of Wassan Singh Jaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan. He said the SAD-BJP government would not allow the revival of terrorism in the state at any cost.


Cases against cops: Badal clarifies
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today made it clear that cases of human rights violations registered against Punjab police officials would not be reviewed on case-to-case basis.

Addressing mediapersons during a visit to the house of Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Takht Keshgarh Sahib, whose father died recently the CM said nothing was decided in this regard during his meeting with the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, clarifying the stand of the state government on the issue, Mr Badal said “We are the view of that everyone is equal before the law of the land and each should be given it’s due share of justice.

He said the present government had not played any role in process of registering cases of human rights violation against Punjab police officials. Most of the cases were registered on the directions of different courts and in other cases charge sheets were filed by the CBI. He added that there were a few cases which had been initiated by the state government but all of these were still pending.

Answering a question regarding the river water dispute with Haryana, Mr Badal said it was the Congress which was responsible for the mess.


Top Punjab ultras regrouping
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Intelligence agencies have noticed fast regrouping of various top Punjab militants lodged in jails across the country and renewed anti-India propaganda by Pakistan — post-Agra summit.

Highly placed sources in the Intelligence Department say that with the acquittal of various top militants, they are now regrouping under the garb of “investigating the human rights violation by the police during the hey day of militancy.” The Intelligence Department officials, however, anticipate that this regrouping is being done to serve other ulterior motives.

According to information available, various courts across the country have granted acquittal to terrorists in as many as 50 cases so far this year. This is giving credence to the fears of these terrorists renewing their activities in the state.

It is learnt that one of the top Punjab militants, Daljit Singh Bittu , involved in around 14 cases of terrorism in the state , has been acquitted in at least four cases. He has now formed the “Human Rights Review Committee with four other members. One of the members is Jaspal Dhillon, a resident of SAS Nagar, who was involved in the infamous Burail jailbreak case.

Though the intelligence agencies draw solace from the fact that the return of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan fizzled out, the return of mainstream militants could spell disaster for peace in the state.

The renewed anti-India propaganda through various media like radio, magazines published abroad, websites, etc has also been increased after the failure of the Indo-Pak talks. It is learnt that the programme “Punjabi Durbar” being aired by Radio Pakistan for the past five years, has gained momentum and turned more provocative.

Various magazines published from the United Kingdom and British Columbia in Canada, like Awaaz-e-Kaum, Des Pardes, Chaddi Kalan, Punjabi Times International, have a wide circulation in the state as well. The sources inform that a few of these magazines have vehemently renewed the propaganda “of oppression of Sikhs by the Indian Government.”

Intelligence officials say that from last month onwards after the failure of the Indo-Pak talks, the programme “Punjabi Durbar” has turned more provocative. This programme is believed to be sponsored by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and militants now staying in Pakistan, regularly participate in this programme.

However, since early this year they have now been concentrating on the issue of oppression of minorities — mainly Muslims in the Kashmir valley and other parts of the country. Websites like and the one being run by Amnesty International are hailing” true Punjabis to save the Punjabiyat from Hindu government in India.” They also call for the Sikhs to rise in support of minorities like the Kashmiri Muslims. Thus, they are projecting the Sikhs and the Muslims as one cause, say sources.

The sources say top terrorists of Punjab, have been provided houses in Pakistan by the ISI. At presente at least five top militants — Wadhwa Singh, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International, Mehal Singh, another “top gun” of the BKI, Paramjit Singh Panjwar of the KCF (Panjwar), Lakhbir Singh Rode, convener of the International Sikh Youth Federation, and Ranjit alias Nita of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) — have been put up in houses across Pakistan.


SGPC poll process from Sept 3
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Gurdwara Election Commission has started the election process.

As per a press note issued today by the commission secretary, Mr Gurdev Singh, the work of registration of voters, Sehajdhari Sikhs and Keshadhari Sikhs, will commence from September 3. There are two sets of forms available to be filled to become eligible as a voter in the gurdwara elections.

Forma1 is for Keshadhari Sikhs. Form 1-A is for Sehajdhari Sikhs. These will be available from the village patwari in the rural areas and the secretaries of local authorities or person(s) appointed by the Deputy Commissioners in urban areas.

The only condition to be eligible to become a voter is that a person should be above 21 years. The SGPC wants the age to be lowered to 18 years. Like the issue relating to the voting right of Sehajdhari Sikhs, the issue of the lowering of the voting age is also unresolved.

Persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes will be required to fill an additional form, as a declaration. The filled forms are to be returned to the persons issuing there. In case someone refuses to accept the forms, these can be submitted to the Deputy Commissioners direct.

Organisations and individuals interested in getting prospective voters enrolled can have the forms printed, cyclostyled or typed. Even handwritten forms will be acceptable. Sample copies are available in the commission office in Chandigarh, says the press release.

The process of enrolment will last 61 days, till November 2. All individuals and organisations of Sikhs, political, social and religious, have been asked to extend cooperation in the task of enrolment.


Aiyer for sustained Indo-Pak dialogue
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 24
Taking a clear stand on Indo-Pak relations, Congress MP and a former Indian Foreign Service diplomat, Mr Mani Shanker Aiyer, has said the only way to improve relations with our neighbour is to have sustained dialogue. Mr Aiyar who returned from Lahore here today, while talking to The Tribune, said there was no need for a summit at the highest level, but there should be a continuous dialogue with a structured agenda.

Citing the example of Washington-Hanoi talks while the two countries were at war during 1968 to 1973, Mr Aiyer said the US envoy, Mr Henry Kissinger and his Vietnamese counterpart Won Thou had prolonged talks in Paris for more than five years. Mr Aiyar said both envoys used to meet every Thursday even though American war planes were continuously bombing Vietnam. Ultimately, a breakthrough was achieved which resulted in cessation of hostilities.

The general secretary of the AICC, Mr Aiyer said the dialogue with Pakistan should include all issues, including Kashmir, trade and economic ties, Siachen, cultural exchanges and other bilateral problems.

He said there could not be any fixed time frame for such talks as both countries had been hostile to each for the past more than 50 years. Such a dialogue required understanding each other’s perception and concerns, he added. This would result in creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquility without a threat of war.

He said since both countries had become nuclear powers, it was imperative that they should find a way to achieve lasting peace among themselves.

Mr Aiyer, who had been Counsel-General at Karachi for three years in the early eighties, said the people on both sides of the fence were longing for peace between the two countries. Lashing out at the present government’s “total failure” during the recent summit with Pakistan, he said the summit was handled in a ham-fisted fashion, the results of which were witnessed by all. He described the foreign policy of the NDA government as “naive” and “immature”.

Commenting on the nuclear explosions conducted by the NDA government in May, 1998, Mr Aiyer said what followed was a chain reaction from Pakistan. This led to the two threshold nuclear powers becoming pronounced nuclear powers and brought the focus back to Jammu and Kashmir which was declared a “nuclear flashpoint” and helped to internationalise the Kashmir problem which was earlier a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Talking about the Simla Agreement, Mr Aiyer said the agreement clearly by pronounced the Kashmir problem as a bilateral one. It was unfortunate that during the next 25 years after the Simla Agreement, India could not engage Pakistan in a meaningful dialogue to resolve various issues.

Mr Aiyer had a word of praise for former Prime Minister I.K. Gujaral who, he said, took the initiative to start a process of meaningful talks with Mr Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, in 1996. But after setting up various working groups, the talks got bogged down due to the ticklish Kashmir issue, he added.


Vital crane floated in RSD reservoir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Derrick crane, vital for monitoring of dam reservoirs, weighing 480 tonnes and having a 30 metre length and 20-metre width has successfully been floated in the reservoir of the Ranjit Sagar Dam built on the Ravi in Gurdaspur district.

This was done when the reservoir level touched 518.12 elevation metres, two days ago, a spokesperson of the RSD said today. The equipment has been anchored to a jetty specially constructed for this purpose.

Once the Derrick crane got floated it was a day long struggle for the staff of RSD-project to toe the equipment from its fabrication sites and successfully anchored it with the jetty constructed for this purpose.

The Derrick crane equipment comprises a 60-tonne capacity crane and a non-propelled barge of 120-tonne capacity.

Two ‘‘tugs ’’ to toe the barge have been procured from Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai, at a cost of Rs 21.00 crore. The floating Derrick crane and non-propelled barge have been fabricated at the dam site by the firm with the help of Ranjit Sagar Dam engineers.

These tugs are to be used for reservoir inspection as well as silt observation in the reservoir. The 120-tonne capacity non-propelled barge was floated on August 15 this year after the reservoir level touched 516.70 elevation metres.

The Derrick crane could not be floated last year as the mandatory level of 518 elevations metres could not be achieved due to less rainfall in the catchment area of the reservoir. The reservoir level attained last year was 508 EM only.

This floating equipment is required for completion of the closure works of the irrigation tunnels of Ranjit Sagar Dam Project, which are planned to be undertaken after commissioning of power house and the reservoir level is below 497 elevation metres.

The Derrick crane equipment will handle heavy bulkheads lying on the intake shafts in the water and will be used for concreting of third stage of Irrigation Tunnel T-1 which is a highly technical, un-conventional method and has to be completed in a very short period.

The crane will also be used for regular inspection of penstocks. during maintenance stage.

A final testing and trial is required for its various components before its final commissioning by Engineers of Mazagon Dock Limited with the help of German Engineers in the month of September 2001. After all its mandatory testings, the crane shall be certified by Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) for its operational worthiness.


PPCC political conference at Malout
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 24
The next political conference of the PPCC will now be held at New Grain Market, Malout, 30 km from here, on September 11.

Stating this Mr Gurdas Girdhar a member of the PPCC said here today that Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, and in charge of the rally would be addressing workers’ meetings on August 25 at Moga and Panjgrain, on August 26 at Baghapurana and Kotkapura, on August 27 at Muktsar, Malout and at Lambi, the home constituency of the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Brar will visit Ferozepore and Bathinda on August 29 and address meetings at Faridkot and Gidderbaha on August 30 to motivate workers and well wishers.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, President, DCC, will mobilise workers in Ferozepore district to participate in the rally at Malout. There was a move to invite Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi for the Malout rally but much would depend on the clearance by the security agencies for deciding her programme.

Other eminent leaders invited to address the rally are: Mr Moti Lal Vohra, Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Madhav Rao Scindia, Mrs Ambika Soni and Mr Bal Ram Jakhar.

The PPCC President Capt Amarinder Singh had been requested to preside.

Former Chief Minister Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal; and all former PPCC Presidents were also expected to grace the dais, Mr Girdhar said. Malout rally would be more successful in terms of attendance than the 75th anniversary rally held by the SAD at Moga before last Assembly elections.

Mr Girdhar said the September 11 rally was expected to give a new dimension to state politics.


Advani ‘meddling’ in Sikh affairs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 24
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has alleged that a ‘secret correspondence’ has been on between the Union Home Ministry and the Punjab Government with regard to the Sehjdhari issue.

Addressing a joint press conference here yesterday, Mr Jagmohan Singh, Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, both General Secretaries, and Mr B.S. Sodhi, district president, alleged that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal wanted to postpone the SGPC elections which were due in October this year. They also alleged that Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, had been “interfering” in internal affairs of the Sikhs.

Sounding a note of warning, the SAD (Amritsar) leaders said the Sikh masses would not tolerate interference by the BJP leadership in the affairs of the Sikh Panth.

Mr Jagmohan Singh claimed that there was no precedent in the 76 years history of the SGPC when any amendment passed by the committee’s general house was rejected by the Centre.

The leader claimed that the Under Secretary, Home Ministry, Mr Arun K. Jain had written to the state government that, “it has been decided at the level of the Home Minister that the Gurdwara Election Commission may proceed with the process of making the electoral rolls as per the existing provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

In a letter to the Union Home Minister, the SAD (Amritsar) has said that this response by your ministry, after a delay of seven months, clearly demonstrates that it is not the considered opinion of the Home Ministry, but a “political decision taken by you in collusion with your political ally in Punjab (the ruling SAD)”.


BJP saffronising education: CPM
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 24
CPM national secretary Harkrishan Singh Surjeet has accused the BJP of saffronising the education system and spreading communalism in the country.

Addressing a conference at Zandiala village in this subdivision here this evening, Mr Surjeet said the BJP was working to spread Hindutva in the country which could create disharmony. He alleged that the Prime Minister’s office itself had become a centre of corruption adding that the popularity graph of the BJP was falling rapidly.

Condemning the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s announcement to start construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhiya within six months. Mr Surjeet described the announcement as a political stunt, but cautioned that the announcement could trigger communal tension or riots in Uttar Pradesh.

Claiming that third front at the national level would be able to dislodge the NDA government within a year, Mr Surjeet said the charter of the front was being prepared by experts. He claimed full support of Mr Mulayan Singh Yadav, and two former Ministers, Mr Deve Gowda and Mr V.P. Singh. Commenting on the failure of the previous third front he said it was formed in a hurry.


Jagmeet for all-party meeting on waters issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Building up further pressure on the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Punjab Congress today urged him to immediately call all-party meeting to discuss the river-waters issue and to take a united stand to defend the state’s riparian rights and claims.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, a senior leader of the Congress, said today that if the meeting was not called by Mr Badal within a week, then his party would take the initiative to do so.

Unfortunately, Mr Badal, had not called a single meeting of members of Lok Sabha from Punjab in the past three years. Mr Brar said it would have been better, if Mr Badal had called meetings Punjab MPs from time to time to guard the interest of the state in the Parliament.

Mr Brar said once again the state was sinking in a deep crisis on the river waters issue and it was right a time to take a united stand by all political parties on the issue and not to resort to the game of apportioning blame against each other. The state would get nothing out of the accusations by politicians of both principle parties against each other on the waters issue.

He said that the state unit of the Congress had opposed the decisions of the erstwhile Congress governments in the Centre pertaining to distribution of river waters between Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan etc. He said he had himself opposed the Centre Government’s decisions in this connection in Parliament.

Mr Brar said Akali MPs did not oppose the amendments to the Inter-State River Water Dispute Act in the Lok Sabha. In Rajya Sabha, there were only Akali MPs from Punjab and none from the Congress. They should oppose the amendments when these were put before the Upper house, he said. “I have met the Akali MPs including Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and others, to request them to oppose the amendments in the Rajya Sabha”, Mr Brar said.

He said no party or leader should give such a statement which could vitiate the prevailing peaceful atmosphere in the state. Mr Badal was trying to blame the Congress repeatedly on the waters issue while it was on record that his (Badal) government issued the notification for acquiring the land for the SYL canal in Punjab in 1978 after accepting Rs 2 crore from the then Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Devi Lal, for this purpose.

He said Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal was also blaming the Congress. Mr Sukhbir Badal had never spoken in Parliament to defend the Punjab’s case on any issue so far. In fact, Mr Brar said, he would quit the membership of the Lok Sabha if it was proved that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who himself remained a Union Minister, or any other member of the Badal family had spoken in Parliament on any issue pertaining to the state. The fact was that they did not made a single speech in Parliament, he asserted.

Welcoming the step to install the statue of Mr Devi Lal at Killianwali village on the Punjab and Haryana border, Mr Brar said Mr Devi Lal was a champion of the cause of farmers. However, he said the statue of late Sir Chottu Ram, a great hero of farming community from Haryana should also be put up at Killianwali along with the statue of Mr Devi Lal.

Mr Brar said it was true that he had ideological differences with the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, on certain issues like the WTO and general amnesty for the police officers involved in excesses. But he had accepted Capt Amarinder Singh as a leader of the PPCC and there was no second thought on this issue as far as he was concerned.

Opposing the blanket amnesty for police officers involved in the killings of innocent persons in the state, Mr Brar said the government authorities should work for the rehabilitation of all those families, they may be of policemen or civilians, who have suffered during terrorism in any manner. Those policemen who killed innocent persons just to mint money should face the law of the land, he added

Talking about the WTO, Mr Brar said his stand had been vindicated as the Union Government had admitted that it failed to properly present India’s case in the WTO. He said he was of the view that the developing countries would suffer a lot because of the WTO. Punjab was already facing the heat of the WTO agreement as its agricultural and industrial economy had started collapsing, Mr Brar added.


66 level crossings to be manned: DRM
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 24
The 700-odd unmanned level crossings in this region have become death traps with hundreds of persons dying due to accidents, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ferozepore Division, Mr J.S. Marwaha, said while talking to this correspondent here today.

He expressed grief over the killing of 11 persons near Gurdaspur when a tempo was overrun by the Ravi Express on the Amritsar-Pathankot section yesterday.

Mr Marwaha said out of the 700 unmanned level crossings, 66 on the Jammu-Pathankot segments would be manned as the railway board had given its approval and work would commence on a priority basis. The project would be completed within two years.

Although the railway authorities were alarmed at the accident rate at the unmanned crossings, it was the prohibitive cost of construction — estimated at about Rs 11 lakh each with an annual recurring cost of Rs 14 lakh — which was proving to be a hurdle in the construction of manned level crossings, he said.

Mr Marwaha said in his division alone, as per a survey, 1,400 level crossings were required. For this, infrastructure like modern telecommunication network was also required.


Dalit employee transferred 5 times
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 24
Is the Department of Social Security for Women and Child Development, Punjab, rendering the same service for which it has been set up? Going by the plight of a Dalit woman employee of this department who has been transferred five times, one would reply the question in negative. Ms Raj Surinder, Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), was transferred to Talwandi Sabo from Abohar on May 16, 2000. She was given the charge of Programme Officer, Bathinda, on the temporary basis on February 23, 2001. On April 16, 2001, he charge was withdrawn and she was transferred to Sangrur against a vacant post.

After two months and two days, she was again transferred to Naushera Punnuan against a vacant post on June 18, 2001. A few months later she was again transferred to Guru Har Sahai against a vacant post on August 6, 2001.

No grounds were stated in three transfer orders. Only the transfer from Abohar to Talwandi Sabo was done on administrative grounds. The transfer from Naushera Punnuan to Guru Har Sahai was done in public interest following some complaints against her.

In a letter written to the department, Ms Raj Surinder has alleged that when she joined at Naushera Punnuan her government vehicle was taken away from her. She added that her junior was made her officer.

The fact that she would be separated from her spouse was not considered and she was transferred to Sangrur from Talwandi Sabo.

Mr Surjeet Singh, the husband of Ms Raj Surinder and Mr Mangal Singh, General Secretary, All-India National Fertiliser Limited SC/ST/BC and the Minority Employees Welfare Association, Bathinda, have sent a number of letters to Mr Badal and the Governor of Punjab, but failed to get any positive response. In the letters, they have alleged that Ms Raj Surinder had been facing harassment at the hands of her superiors. Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Minister, Social Security of Women and Child Development, when contacted on the phone, said he was not aware of the case.


India, Pak must reunite: Kewal Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 24
Even as leaders of both countries have accepted the harsh geographical and historical reality of the Partition, the open letter written by Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, to Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the reunion of India and Pakistan, may have serious ramifications.

This is for the first time that any jathedar of a Takht has ever written to the President of Pakistan. The letter of the Sikh High Priest said the seeds of hatred were sown by the British and the Partition was not accepted by people of both countries.

Expressing serious concern over the failure of the Agra summit, Giani Kewal Singh urged both Presidents Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee to adopt a one-point agenda to break all border barriers so that the two countries could be reunited.

The High Priest said the “unfortunate border” had turned friends into foes. He said the animosity led to the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971. While people of both countries were poor, huge amount was being spent on defence. He said the solution to the problems was that both countries should do away with all barriers. By doing so, it would become one of the most powerful countries, he said.

The letter said joint Punjab and Bengal which were divided following the Partition were still bleeding. Those responsible for such geographical divisions were part and parcel of the government of respective countries.

He said the discontentment which prevailed among the people of India and Pakistan was unfortunate. People of both countries had a common culture and heritage and hence could not be separated. However, under religious and political compulsions, weapons were being targeted at each other.

The efforts made by the people of India and Pakistan to strengthen people-to-people contact was appreciable. The Samjhauta Express and the Laohre bus diplomacy showed that both countries wanted better relations. Giani Kewal Singh said though his views had no takers, India and Pakistan would be reunited one day. He said the efforts must go on for the reunification and the people could be ambassadors of peace.


Shifting of market hangs fire

The authorities decided in 1978 to shift the sprawling tractor market and the adjoining ‘Kabari Bazar’ on Bahera Road to another site. Shopkeepers were asked to deposit Rs 1,000 each and were assured that they would be provided with plots elsewhere.

Then there was a long lull, during which politics played its role to ensure that the market was not moved from its present site. But lately there has been some movement in this direction and in the past two years auctions were planned twice but had to be cancelled each time because of acrimony over the number of shops in the present market and the concessions to be given to the shopkeepers for shifting to the new site.

About two years ago, an auction did take place in which some of the junk dealers participated and purchased plots in Transport Nagar on the outskirts of the city. Some of them have even built shops in Transport Nagar but no one has so far shifted his business.

There is bitterness among the junk dealers some of whom claim that an unfair competition had been created by the Improvement Trust by auctioning plots at a high price. Since there already is a slump in the market and they are not able to purchase plots and also construct shops on them. They demand that they should be provided with shops at “reasonable” rates.

Even the Improvement Trust and the administration are sleeping over the question of shifting the market which is not considered a wise move in view of the impending Assembly elections. Meanwhile, the people of the city continue to suffer. If the junk shops are shifted, the much needed parking space can be created in the heart of the city. Besides, traffic congestion will also be eased as at present tractors block the road on one side of the drain.


The manner in which the mentally challenged are treated was in focus this week. The plight of some of the mentally challenged persons who were kept chained in the open at a private ashram evoked sympathy from the people of the city. The administration also chipped in after reports appeared in the media about the plight of the inmates. It deputed a team to study the conditions in which the inmates were kept. Doctors were also deputed to examine them and it turned out that some of the inmates needed medical attention which the administration has now offered to give free of cost at Rajindra Hospital. It is, however, felt that the mentally challenged deserve a better deal, whether in a private or government institution.


CM attends Lamba’s bhog ceremony
Our Correspondent

Samana. August 24
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today attended the bhog ceremony of Balwinder Singh Lamba, brother-in-law of Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath, an executive member of the SGPC, at the Aggarwal dharmshala here. Mr Badal said Balwinder Singh was a dedicated worker.

He said the projects announced on April 30 at a sangat darshan would be completed at the earliest, including the upgradation of the 220 KV grid.

The bhog ceremony was attended by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, PWD Minister, Dr L.D. Sewak, BJP Secretary, Punjab and Mr Pawan Shastri, president of the Samana Nagar Council, among others.

Earlier, a senior police official misbehaved with mediapersons.

Following a complaint to the Chief Minister, the SSP, Patiala, assured them no such incident would happen again.


Directory of NRIs to be released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 24
A directory containing the details of NRIs residing in all the districts of the division falling under the authority of the Deputy Commissioner is being prepared. The data will be collected following a survey carried out with the help of the field staff.

This was stated by Mr D. P. Reddy, Commissioner, Patiala division, and divisional chairman of the non-resident Indians Sabha, while presiding over a meeting of Indians Sabha here today.

The Commissioner said efforts would be made for the development of ancestral places of these NRIs and added that any financial help from the government, if needed would also be given to ensure that the development process was undertaken properly.

Mr Reddy added that thereafter, the meeting of the sabha would be held on the first Wednesday of every month so that the problems of the NRIs could be properly discussed and a possible solution to those could be chalked out. The Commissioner directed the authorities concerned of all districts to ensure that the problems related to NRIs be resolved.


Punjab SLP on Anandgarh admitted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Supreme Court today admitted a special leave petition (SLP) of the Punjab state against the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order to strike down the acquisition of land for the controversial Anandgarh project but rejected stay.

The petition today came up for hearing before Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Mr Justice Brajesh Kumar in the Supreme Court.

The court, however, allowed the Punjab state to file an application for an early hearing of the case.

The counsel for the Punjab state, Ms Jaishree Anand, told The Tribune here on phone from Delhi that she would soon file a fresh application for a stay on the high court order.

She said an application for an early hearing would also be filed soon in the Supreme Court as per the permission of the court.

The Anandgarh project in the neighbourhood of the city had become politically volatile with the opposition parties siding with the residents of those villages whose land was to be acquired to stall Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s ambitious project.


Play depicts woes of poor
Anita Tayal

The problems of corruption, unemployment, dowry and war are highlighted in the Nukad Natak staged by theatre students on the campus of Punjabi University.

The play, “Fire of peace”, depicts the problems faced by the rural population of the country.

Manjit Singh is a youth who excels in every field but is unable to get a job primarily because he does not possess any influential backing. He carries with him the burden of his family and the tension of getting his sister married in a respectable family. His parents are old and unable to satisfy the greed of dowry-seekers. Wherever he goes for a job, the interviewer either asks for a bribe or a reference from an influential person.

This disheartened boy receives a letter of appointment in the Army. This is unbearable to the mother who is not prepared to send his only son to the border. However, Manjit having no other means of income, joins the Army.

One day, a messenger reaches Manjit’s village and tells his family that he has died fighting in Kashmir. The family sobs and wails, a scene beautifully portrayed by the artistes that makes the audience sympathise with the deceased and his parents.

The play has been written and directed by Surjit Jugnu who felt for the past few years that emotions had been rising him and that he wanted to depict them on stage. The performance of Gurcharan, who played Manjit Singh was appreciated. Arvinder Pawail played the role of his father, Simran played his mother and Sarabjot his sister. Bunti and Mahipal provided the background music.


‘Ban’ Bhawsagar granth
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 24
Residents of the Kahnuwan block of Gurdaspur district, accompanied by Dal Khalsa and Human Rights Democracy Forum leaders, in a memorandum submitted to the Governor and the Chief Minister, Punjab, sought ban on “bhawsagar sammunder”, a granth, and immediate arrest of its author Baba Pyara Singh Bhanyara, who has already been excommunicated from the Sikh panth.

The memorandum alleged that the author of the controversial book used derogatory language against Sikhs and Sikh gurus. 


Technocrats stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
On a call given by the Punjab Technocrats Action Committee, agricultural technocrats of Ropar and Chandigarh units today staged a dharna at the Matka Chowk in Sector 17 here. The technocrats have been protesting since August 20.

A press note issued by the committee said the technocrats had been seeking implementation of the assurance given to them by the Chief Minister on November 28, 2000 for withdrawing the lowering of status of agricultural technocrats They are seeking pay parity and other benefits being given to other technocrats.

Mr Satwant Singh Dhillon, president of the Action Committee, said certain anti-agriculture forces working in the government were blocking the decision taken by the Chief Minister.

Dr Tehal Singh Brar, vice-president of the Action Committee,Dr Jagmohan Singh Kahlon, Dr Balbir Singh and Dr Satinder Singh, president of the Himachal Pradesh technocrats also addressed the technocrats.


Challenge demotions in SC: Gosain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Satpal Gosain, yesterday urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to question in the Supreme Court the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court delivered on August 20 ordering demotion of thousands of state police personnel.

A letter that Mr Gosain shot off to Mr Badal said after hearing the viewpoints of many police personnel, he realised that these officers had endangered their lives and the lives of their family members for fighting terrorism and to bring peace and prosperity to the trouble-torn Punjab. Now these officers were at the receiving end after the judgement.

Mr Gosain stated that “immediate measures may be taken by going in appeal against the judgement to maintain the falling morale of the police force”. He also suggested “the State Government should resort to legislative measures to protect the interests of the police force, which has toiled hard with its blood and sweat to bring peace and prosperity in Punjab.”

Mr Gosain told the Chief Minister that if these measures were not taken now, no police officer would ever dare to fight against the vested powers which want to disturb the peace in Punjab.


Bitta advocates amnesty for cops
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 24
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, Chairman, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, while advocating the need for a national government at the Centre, urged the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to make arrangements for granting general amnesty to Punjab Police officers who have been facing trials in various courts for the violation of human rights during the days of terrorism in Punjab.

Mr Bitta, while talking to mediapersons here today, said the Punjab Police officers had fought terrorism and whatever they had done was in the larger interest of the people. He said there was no ulterior motive in the action of the cops and if they had not fought the terrorists, peace might not have returned in the state.

Replying to a question, he said the decision to “demote” the cops, who were promoted during the terrorism, was very unfortunate. “Though Punjab will hopefully never face turbulence again but if militancy returns in the state, the cops will find it hard to fight militancy with the same spirit again,” Mr Bitta said.

Mr Bitta, while elaborating on the “national government”, said people like Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr K.P.S. Gill, Mr N. Vittal, judges of high courts and the Supreme Court should comprise the government and the same should be in place for about two years.


Army recruitment rally from Sept 4
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 24
The Army will organise a recruitment rally for soldier (general duty), soldier (technical) and soldier (nursing assistant) belonging to all castes from September 4 to September 7 at Dera Baba Nanak, including wards of ex-servicemen exclusively from Gurdaspur district. The candidates are required to report at Krishi/Anaj Mandi, Dera Baba Nanak. Token will be issued to all candidates.

The candidates should have passed matriculation examination. The age limit for general duty candidates is 16-21 years and for nursing assistant and technical is between 16-23 years on January 30, 2002.


INTUC: scrap labour contract system
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 24
Members of the district unit of the INTUC today sat on a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner to press the authorities concerned to fulfil their demands.

The activists demanded that contract system for getting labour should be abolished. Contractors harassed labourers and did not pay full wages to them, they alleged.

They further demanded that a building should be built in Chandigarh for the labourers of Punjab who could stay there during their visits to the state capital. A ‘labour ghar’ should be constructed on the pattern of the Kisan Bhavan, they added.


Indigenous way to tackle bollworm
Our Correspondent

As efforts of agriculture experts and farmers have failed to control the attack of the American Bollworm on the cotton crop, the farmers of the region have devised an economical way to tackle the problem.

Most of the farmers have devised traps to kill the bollworm which were not killed even by the repeated sprays of various pesticides. The experts of Punjab Agriculture University have stated that the pesticides become ineffective when the mixture content in the air rises in the month of July and August.

During the past several years, repeated failure of the cotton crop has resulted in the closure of many mills in the cotton belt of Punjab and now the efforts of the state government to increase the area under the cotton cultivation has resulted in the decline of the area under paddy cultivation. But, the area under the cotton cultivation has increased to 4.25 lakh acres from the 3.675 lakh acres last year.

The Chief Agriculture Officer of the district said due to the rains in the first week of August the bollworm attack had increased. The high moisture content also resulted in increase attacks of suckers and white fly on the cotton crop, he added.

As the electricity supply to the farms is free the farmers use temporary poles to install the bulbs. These bulbs are left glowing for the night which attract the bollworms. The worms are trapped in the water placed under the bulb and are killed due to drowning. The farmers pointed out that the worms which were not killed by expensive pesticides were killed by this inexpensive method.

One of the experts in the Department of Agriculture said the insects were always attracted towards the light at the heat produced by the bulbs resembled the pheromones produced by the insects. If the method was successful the farmers should be encouraged to use this method.


Remit farmers’ loans: BKU (L)
Our Correspondents

Mansa, August 24
“The only solution to save farmers from the economic crises being faced by them is to remit loans outstanding against them.”

This was stated by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), while talking to mediapersons here today. He said farmers of Punjab were under a debt of Rs 10,000 crore. Finding themselves unable to repay the loans, they were committing suicides. The economic conditions of the farmers could not improve till the prices of foodgrains were not linked with price index. Since 1966-67, the price index had gone up by 13 times, whereas the foodgrain prices had increased by eight times only, he added.

Mr Lakhowal criticised the government for not announcing the prices of kharif crop. He demanded Rs 758 as the minimum support price for paddy, Rs 3,250 for cotton and Rs 143 for sugarcane. He said the government had already patented neem and turmeric and now it was going to patent basmati.

The BKU (L) had launched an international farmers movement to oppose the meetings of the WTO in any part of the world, he added. He demanded that 5 abattories should be set up in the state as these would not only improve the economic condition of the state, but also save it from the menace of stray cattle.

Faridkot: Later, talking to mediapersons here, on Friday, Mr Lakhowal said the union would launch a statewide stir from September 4 if the Punjab Government failed to start the procurement of paddy from September 1 in the state.

Under the programme district-level rallies and dharnas would be staged by he farmers and the first agitation in this connection would be launched at Moga.


‘Disinterest’ of farmers led to scheme failure
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 24
Dr S.S. Bains, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, said the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Scheme has failed due to the lack of cooperation from farmers. In an interview with this correspondent yesterday, Dr Bains said the IPM failed due to the fact that the farmers were not ready to compromise on the quantity of the produce.

He said the IPM had been successful in many states in the country where they had brought down the number of sprays from 22 to less than 10. Giving examples, he said Indonesia had banned all pesticides and insecticides for two years in 1985 and the produce declined significantly but later the farmers realised the excessive use of pesticides was harmful.

He admitted that the department was not able to provide certificate seeds to all farmers of the state due to lack of funds. The Punjab State Seeds Corporation (PUNSEED) would be revived. The corporation would repay its bank loans. An agreement in this regard had been reached, he said.

Dr Bains said to increase cotton output and experiment should be carried out. A single variety should be sown and given one time spray of pesticides in 100 villages. The farmers should be prepared to bear with decreasing produce in the initial year, asserted Dr Bains. By keeping fields free of pesticides for a few years the crop-friendly insects would return to fields, Dr Bains said.

The Chief Minister has allotted Rs 5 crore from the Rural Development Fund to purchase wheat seeds for the next rabi season as the wheat of the state was stated to be below quality as it has got moistened due to rains. The department had tied up with the National Seeds Corporation and the State Farms Seeds Corporation of India for the same, he said. Mr Bains said of the 1625 samples taken this year, only 55 had failed the quality tests. He also denied that the department took abnormally long time to check the samples.


Farmers’ march on Sept 15
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 24
The Agricultural and Farmer Development Front of the state has decided to hold a series of ‘kisan chetna rallies’ which will include the villages from the districts of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib.

Giving this information, regional in charge of the front, Mr Gurdarshan Singh Kaidupur, said such rallies were held at Chailala, Balpur, Sarana, Dhataunda, Dandrala Khrod, Ditupur, Jattan, Dakonda and Charnarthal Kalan on August 18 and 19.

He said the rallies were a step ahead for the preparation of a state- wide march to be held on September 15 from Talwandi Sabo to Chandigarh. Addressing these rallies, Mr Kaidupur said the agricultural crisis was posing a serious threat and that neither the state nor the Centre was adopting any strategies to control the menace.

The leaders demanded introduction of a Bill for co-operative farms and urged the small firms to come forth so as to form a bigger co-operative farming unit so that the disintegration of land holdings could be contained, apart from bringing down the agricultural cost.

They further demanded agro-based industrialisation for diversification purposes and the implementation of acre-based crop insurance scheme. They said state agriculture should be declared sick and the debt on farmers should be waived.


Special task force to check highway robberies
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 24
A special task force has been set up under the DSP (D) to investigate cases of highway robberies and killings on the Fazilka-Jalalabad road. Five SHOs have been directed to assist the DSP (D) to nab the culprits. The killing of a trader from Amritsar at Jalalabad was a matter of serious concern for the law enforcing agency.

SSP Harchand Singh Sidhu told newspersons during sangat darshan at the police complex here today that preliminary investigation indicated that same gang was responsible for all the incidents and the modus operandi was the same. All SHOs had been asked to intensify night patrolling to check the recurrence of such incidents, he said.


Surprise visit by Health Minister
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 24
Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister, after a surprise visit to the Civil Hospital here today directed Medical Officers to ensure that no sex determination test was done in their respective jurisdiction. He advised them to create awareness in this regard so that male and female ratio was maintained.

Dr Chawla asked the Civil Surgeon to constitute teams of doctors to ensure regular inspection of ultra sound and CT scan centres in the district. He also warned the medical officers against private practice.


MC comes under fire
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 24
The failure of the civic authorities to provide potable water, figured at a meeting called by Mr Sumer Singh Gurjar after he took over as the SDM here today. Representatives of various sections of society criticised the functioning of the local municipal council. They said the entire town had been converted into a dustbin. Heaps of garbage could be seen in every locality, besides major roads. Garbage dumps had been set up outside the Civil Hospital, main post office and stadium.

The sanitation fortnight undertaken by the council under the directions of the district authorities was a farce, they said. They complained that half of the streetlights were not operating and potable water was not being supplied for the past several months.


XEN, clerk die in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 24
Gurmeet Singh Bedi, Executive Engineer, Drainage Department and Madan Lal, Subdivisional clerk of the department died on the spot when the Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck near Jappowal Dhariwal, 5 km from here, today at 2.30 p.m The deceased were returning from Amritsar after dropping their SE.

The truck has been impounded and its driver has been arrested.


JE crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 24
Atma Ram, who was recently promoted as junior engineer by the PSEB was allegedly crushed to death by a military vehicle near an ice factory late last evening.

Sources said the JE was returning to his village of Jandwala Hanwanta after finishing duty at Khuyiansarwer subcentre of the PSEB on his motor cycle when a military truck allegedly hit the two wheeler. The JE died on the spot. The police has booked Gopal of the Army under Sections 304, 279 of the IPC.


450 gm of heroin seized, 1 held
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 24
The police has seized 450 grams of heroin worth about Rs 45 lakh and arrested one person in this connection.

According to Mr H.S. Sidhu, SSP the police on a tip-off laid a barrier near a bridge in Jhangar village.

On seeing the police Kala Singh, who was on a numberless motorcycle tried to escape, but was overpowered by constables led by ASI Kewal Krishan.

During interrogation, the alleged accused confessed that the consignment was brought from Pakistan.


UTF criticises PUTA faction
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 24
The United Teachers Federation (UTF) has refrained from being a party to the ongoing slanging match between a faction of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) and the university leadership.

In a pamphlet distributed during the campaign for the PUTA elections slated to be held on August 28, UTF said under the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS), 80 per cent of the cases were cleared by the university management while the rest of the cases would be decided by September 30. The UTF leadership criticised the PUTA faction led by Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira by saying the faction which could not even save some of its own leaders had no right to give false statements. The UTF leaders claimed that the Dr Khaira led faction was unduly criticising the CAS scheme.

They claimed that the Khaira faction was flaying the process, which was proving to be detrimental to the smooth working of university. They alleged that the Dr Khaira led PUTA leadership had reportedly collected Rs 40,000 from teachers to file a case in the High Court, but till now nothing concrete had emerged from it.


‘Pvt agencies can’t monitor academic standards’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 24
Mr Hari Gautam,Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC), in a letter to leaders of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) claimed that private establishments being declared as university study centres were responsible for the enrolment of students, teachers and conduct of examinations.

Mr Gautam said the faculty and infrastructure belonging to these private agencies and the university concerned besides providing syllabus and teaching material had no provision to monitor and maintain the academic standards of teaching being imparted at these centres.

He added that these private institutions which claimed to provide opportunities for the award of university degrees through various franchise programmes was a compromise in the standard of education that had led to wide spread criticism.

Mr Gautam said the universities could conduct courses through its own departments, its constituent colleges or through affiliated institutions. However, he added that no provision was provided for leaving it to private institutions for conducting courses. As per the recent UGC guidelines, he added that universities were permitted to impart education and award degrees through their own campuses located elsewhere in the country or even at their own off shore campuses with the approval of the UGC.

Looking at the widespread menace of franchising university education through the private institutions, the UGC had decided that any university which proposed to enter into collaboration with any private institution would be required to take prior approval of the UGC. The commission had also decided that no university should be permitted to go off-campuses private educational franchise leading to the award of its degrees.

Mr Gautam added that in order to safeguard the interests of the students, it had been decided to approve award of degrees under currently practised franchise programmes and for those alone who had already been enrolled. He added no further enrolment would be permitted.


School board extends date
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 24
The Punjab School Education Board authorities today extended the last date for depositing the fee for the special chance given to the candidates who had failed to clear their compartments. The candidates who appeared in matric and senior secondary class examination in 1998 and thereafter would be able to deposit their form for the special chance till August 31 with a fee of Rs 1500. Earlier the last date was August 14 with a fee of Rs 1000. 


Meeting of college Principals put off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 24
The Punjab Government has postponed the meeting of Principals of colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) scheduled to be held on August 28 on the university campus here due to some administrative reasons.

Mr Gulzar Singh, DPI (Colleges), Punjab, informed that this meeting was to be chaired by the Higher Education Minister Master Mohan Lal. He said the new date for this meeting would be notified later on.


AISSF men clash with students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 24
On the issue of electing new president activists of the All India Sikh Student Federation, Mehta Chawla group, clashed with students of Khalsa College on college campus today.

Giving details of the clash, Mr Dhillon, Principal Khalsa College said both groups had assembled in college gurdwara for electing their president, after the disapproval on electing particular personality as president, some hooligans started pelting stones at each other.

Mr Dhillon said he was not aware if any student was injured in the clash.

Principal suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 24
The SGPC today placed under suspension Principal, Bibi Jasbir Kaur of Guru Nanak Girls Senior Secondary School, of town hall here for dereliction of duty and indiscipline. 


Punjab Lotteries may yield  Rs 55 cr profit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The Punjab state lotteries were expected to yield a profit of Rs 55 crore in the current year.

This was stated here today by Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, at a prize distribution function of the Department of Lotteries, in respect of Punjab State Baisakhi Bumper, 2001 draw for which was held on April 13, 2001 at Ludhiana.

The minister said that the Lotteries Department earned a net profit of Rs 18.27 crore while the figure for the year 2000-2001 was Rs 35 crore. The government would ensure that the Lotteries Department made the maximum contribution to the exchequer. For this more lotteries would be started in near future. Monthly lotteries would also be introduced shortly.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh also gave away bank draft for the first prize of Rs one crore to Mr Dev Raj Gill, Avtar Nagar Mohalla, Jalandhar. Several others prize winners were also given the drafts for prizes.

The minister said that in view of the public demand, the State Government had started a new Bumper with the name “Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan-2001”, tickets for which were available in the market. The draw for this new bumper would be held on October 2, 2001, wherein in addition to other prizes, Rs one crore would be given as first prizes ie Rs 10 lakh each to 10 persons out of sold tickets.

The Minister also stated that the Punjab State Lottery was known for transparency and its bumpers were popular in northern India as these had first prize of Rs one crore and the same was guaranteed to be given in public only as it was drawn out of sold tickets only. According to him, the Punjab State Lotteries had made 22 multi-millionaires so far, a record in itself. Mr Vinod Kumar Bhalla, Director, State Lotteries, gave an open invitation to the public to rotate the draw machine for the ongoing Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan Bumper 2001 to be held on October 2, 2001 at Nehru Siddhant Kendra, Ludhiana.


Auction of 21 shops fetches Rs 2.58 cr
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 24
Auction of 21 shops in the Nehru Shopping Complex on the main Lawrence Road today fetched more than Rs 2.58 crore.

The Chairman of the Amritsar Improvement Trust in a press note issued here today said there was no overwhelming response to the auction for the shops of the ground, first and second floor of the complex. The trust had also proposed to rent out offices on the second floor and received good response for which last date had been fixed for August 30, he added.

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 |