Wednesday, September 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Paddy: issues remain unresolved
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Having played a pivotal role in transforming India from a food deficit to a self-sufficient to a surplus nation, Punjab and Haryana are today virtually begging the Centre for a change in its policies for sustainable agriculture and the survival of the farmer.

This was evident from the petitions made by the two Chief Ministers, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala, at separate meetings with the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Distribution, Mr Shanta Kumar, in Chandigarh on Monday.

Along with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, the two had earlier represented to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, in New Delhi on August 9, seeking a Rs 50 per quintal hike in the minimum support price over and above that of last year for common and “A” grade paddy. They had demanded that procurement should commence from September 1 for kharif, 2001.

Besides, the three demanded a bold storage construction plan with a 10-year general hiring guarantee at remunerative rates by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The latter should also take greater responsibility in the procurement of paddy alongside the state agencies. An early finalisation of paddy and rice specifications in consultation with the state governments concerned was also sought.

It is close to a month and all issues remain unresolved. Shortage of storage space and the slow movement of rice outside the two states continue to haunt the two Chief Ministers. While Punjab was more specific and forthcoming in its demands, Haryana was more diplomatic and appreciative of the steps the Centre had initiated to protect the interests of the paddy growers as also the millers. If Punjab gave statistics to prove its point, Haryana talked in general terms seeking assurances.

The documents submitted by Mr Badal and Mr Chautala to the Union Minister show that if Punjab wants procurement to commence from September 10 and not later in any case after September 15, Haryana has pleaded that it should commence earlier than the usual date, September 21. Mr Shanta Kumar says the ideal date is October 1.

Punjab wants the FCI to procure at least 40 per cent of the paddy (the latter may not cross 30 per cent) as in respect of wheat purchase. Haryana is content if the FCI procured 20 per cent of the paddy. But then the quantum of paddy to be procured in the two states is widely different: in Punjab 125 lakh tonnes and in Haryana, 35 lakh tonnes (including 5 lakh tonnes of basmati).

Mr Shanta Kumar admitted “ the slow movement” of rice from the two states. Yet he assured the procurement every grain. Haryana wants movement outside the state in proportion to that of Punjab where, on an average, only 2.25 lakh tonnes per month was moved out. Punjab demanded an increase in the outflow to at least 15 lakh tonnes per month.

Both Punjab and Haryana want the Centre to introduce the support price mechanism in respect of coarse grains (say maize) as well as was being done in some other states. That would help in diversification from the wheat-paddy vicious circle. Mr Shanta Kumar disclosed that the subject would be discussed in the Union Cabinet as some other states had also raised this issue.

On paddy and rice specifications, Punjab pleaded that these should be kept the same as in kharif, 2000. These were relaxed last year in view of rain. Punjab wanted a central team to study the ground realities and then finalise the specifications.

Haryana, too, had raised this issue. It was, to quote the official Haryana press release, the Union Food Secretary, Mr R.D. Kapoor, who assured the Chief Minister that the specifications for the procurement of paddy would remain the same as last year. The Joint Commissioner, Storage and Research, Mr B.B. Pattanaic, referring to “driage” added: “Two per cent driage has already been provided while fixing the outturn ratio and 1 per cent more has been allowed”.

The Press release says issues like custom milling, the outturn ratio of rice, milling, incidental and machine stitching charges and storage. etc., were also discussed.

So did Punjab facing a storage problem with foodgrain stocks rotting. The stored grains are one to three years old.

Punjab wants Rs 1.25 per bag as stitching charges be paid to it on rice bags as was the practice earlier, as also the early finalisation of rates to calculate depreciation on once-used gunny bags and the fixing of levy rice bag rates for 75 kg size. The issue of the refixing of the rice milling charges is still pending.

Haryana wanted its share under the Rs 10,000 crore “food-for-work” programme being launched from next month. Punjab, on the other hand, says there are 8.74 lakh families ‘’below the poverty-line’’ in the state. It wants the limit of 71,700 under the Antodaya Anna Yojna to be enhanced to cover more deserving families under the scheme.


Improve crop quality: Badal
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Paragpur (Jalandhar), September 4
Making a bid to placate the farming community in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections by some populist announcements, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that farmers of the state would have no option but to improve the quality of their produce, particularly in view of the proposed export of paddy and wheat.

Referring to problems of farmers, especially that of frequent power cuts in rural areas, Mr Badal, who was here to hold his “sangat darshan” programme, said he would ensure round-the-clock supply of power within a period of three months to those villages, the panchayats of which had already deposited the security money of Rs 10,000 each.

The Chief Minister said he expected smooth sailing as far as paddy procurement was concerned. “I have already talked to the Centre for starting procurement from September 15 instead of the last year’s date of September 21 and it is likely to be affected”, Mr Badal said. Mr Badal, however, declined to comment on some important issues like the SAD’s stance on voting rights to “sehajdharis” and his offer of unity to other Akali factions. “If they want to join our party they are welcome. In case of “sehajdharis”, the Gurdwara Election Commission is there to deal with it. Moreover, we will decide about it at party level.”

Interestingly, when some reporters persisted for his comment on Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi’s conditions for unity and different stands of the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and the SAD Secretary-General, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, on the voting rights to “sehajdharis”, a visibly perturbed Mr Badal preferred to keep mum.


Tohra group refutes Badal’s claims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 4
The SHSAD led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra today refuted the claims of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that none of its leaders had been expelled from the party, but had left on their own.

The party claimed that Mr Badal was getting panicky after his poor show at Issru and reasonably impressive performances by the Panthic Morcha at Issru and Chhapar.

A close aide of Mr Tohra told The Tribune that the desperation of Mr Badal was understandable. He pointed out that Mr Tohra was unceremoniously removed from the presidentship of the SGPC and subsequently expelled from the party on May 15 along with other MLAs. Besides, the Badal group also petitioned for the disqualification of these MLAs. Narrating the sequence of events, he said several supporters of Mr Tohra had asked Mr Badal that the malicious campaign against Mr Tohra by some Badal supporters should be stopped else they would resign. Instead of asking his supporters to stop criticising Mr Tohra, the resignations of his supporters were accepted.

The Chairman of the disciplinary action committee of the party, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, issued a show-cause notice to Mr Tohra. The aide disclosed that two senior leaders “Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Mr Hira Singh Gabria” met Mr Talwandi at his Ludhiana residence and handed over the reply (to the show-cause notice) to him. He said the letter was never opened and the impression was given that Mr Tohra had not replied to the notice. On January 7, 1999, Mr Badal had called a meeting of the party at Anandpur Sahib and had reportedly urged Tohra loyalists to attend it. Everyone, including Mr Tohra, attended the meeting and a congenial atmosphere was created. However, in the evening, the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was dissolved much to the chagrin of Mr Tohra.

Again on January 27, 1999, Mr Badal reportedly told Mr Grewal at a meeting in Ludhiana to tell Mr Tohra that he would never be expelled from the party.

It was clarified by the Chief Minister that he would not be removed from the presidentship of the SGPC till April 15. But again, he reportedly reneged on his promise. Mr Badal created an atmosphere where it was difficult for Mr Tohra and his supporters to carry on. On May 15, 1999, Mr Tohra was expelled from the party, without being heard, the aide added.


CM must appear at Takht first: Tohra confidant
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 4
The Tohra group today hardened its stand on the unity offer, stating that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal should first honour the Akal Takht ‘hukamnama’ and appear before it.

“Akal Takht is the custodian of Sikh tradition and the Akali Dal as a Panthic party should protect Sikh tenets. If the Akali Dal President himself does not obey the 'hukamnama' of Akal Takht, then he will be setting a wrong precedent,” Mr Harinderpal Singh , an SGPC member and a confidant of former SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra told The Tribune.

The Political Affairs Committee of the SAD has backed Mr Badal’s unity offer with the Panthic Morcha formed by Mr Tohra and other splinter groups of the Akali Dal.

Mr Badal has rejected the demand for appearing before Akal Takht, stating that he has not committed a sin.

Mr Harinderpal Singh said the then Akal Takht Jathedar Ranjeet Singh had issued a 'hukamnama' that the two Akali faction — Badal and Tohra — would not fight. However, Mr Badal breached this ‘hukamnama’, resulting in the ouster of Mr Tohra from the party.

He said the principal stand of Mr Tohra (one man, one post) would have to be observed.

He said the ruling faction was talking about the need for unity now fearing a defeat in the ensuing elections.

Mr Harinderpal Singh said the Punjab Chief Minister must build a consensus among the Akali Dal cadre as they were drifting towards the Congress.

The confidant of Mr Tohra said the Punjab Chief Minister’s call for unity close on the heels of the assembly poll indicated the SAD was nervous about its victory.

The SGPC member alleged the Badal faction during its tenure, following the split, had tried to scuttle all development activities in Assembly segments represented by Tohra loyalists.

He said the Punjab Chief Minister has not spoken a word on saffronisation of education when all non-BJP parties in one voice had denounced the move of the Centre.


Army fails to remove 100 live bombs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Fatehpur (Mandi Gobindgarh), September 4
Residents of this village are facing the hazard of more than 100 live bombs found in a small drain on August 7. The Army authorities have still to take any action in the matter even though they have been requested to defuse the bombs by the district police chief, the Deputy Commissioner and even the State Home Department.

Over 100 live bombs were noticed lying in a drain by residents of this village situated about 4 km away from Mandi Gobindgarh. The police was informed about the bombs following which a security detail was posted at the spot. It is believed that the bombs were dumped in the drain by some miller of Mandi Gobindgarh who must have imported the consignment as iron scrap from abroad.

A visit to the site revealed that even though the bombs were lying 200 square yards away from residential quarters and were close to a small bridge which was used by the residents, nothing had been done to get them removed from the spot.

District administration officials, when contacted, said the district police chief had informed the military authorities in Chandi Mandir about it. When the military authorities insisted that the request for its removal be routed through the Deputy Commissioner, this was done. Then the Army authorities asked that the application be routed through the Home Department which was also done.

According to sources, the Army authorities are now waiting for permission from the Defence Ministry before the bombs can be removed from the site. The Army authorities have already visited the site once and taken a bomb from the spot. The district administration officials said they had no say in the matter and that they had taken up the case with the authorities and now it was up to them to defuse the bombs.

However, for the residents of this village, the inordinate delay in removal of the bombs is getting to their nerves. Satnam, a resident of the village, said it was very difficult to keep their children away from the sites. We always worry that some child may try to investigate the spot whenever there is any laxity on the part of the security personnel”. Residents also felt that the undue delay on the part of the Army authorities to remove the bombs from the drain was inwarranted.

According to police sources a police guard has been deputed at the spot to ensure no one fiddled with these. Round-the-clock vigil was being done.

The district administration has made announcements through the public address system warning people against going near the bombs besides allaying the apprehensions that they may go off in the heat conditions.


Joint operation to nab 20 militants
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 4
More than 200 security personnel of the Punjab police and the Jammu and Kashmir police are carrying out a search operation on the higher reaches of Kathua, Harot Jaimal Singh and the adjoining areas to eliminate about 20 militants active in the area. Police sources said the strategy of the joint operation to trap the Hizbul Mujahideen militants was chalked out at the recent meetings of headquarters. The SSP of Gurdaspur and Kathua districts were directed to coordinate the operation.

Though the security forces did not meet with success in the last operation, yet efforts are on to trace them. The militants who are carrying sophisticated weapons have managed to escape towards the Jammu and Kashmir side. The pickets have been strengthened along the border of both states. The CRPF platoons have also been sent to these areas.

The sources said militants intruding into Jammu and Kashmir from Samba and Hiranagar areas are using Mansar and Ramkot Khoon routes to Ramnagar and Bastigarh. They usually do not strike in these areas and use these to reach Seoj in Doda and Basantgarh forests which serve as transit camps for them. After spending some time over there, they cross over to the Kashmir valley.


Hijack accused wants to withdraw confession
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 4
Hijack accused Dalip Kumar Bhujail today filed an application in designated court under the Anti- Hijacking Act pleading for the withdrawal of the confessional statement recorded in his name.

Bhujail and two others are standing trial in the court of the designated judge for being part of the conspiracy which led to the hijacking of the Airbus IC - 814 plane from Kathmandu to Kandhahar in Afghanistan in December 1999.

Bhujail filed an application before designated judge S K Aggarwal claiming he had not made any confessional statement on his alleged role in the hijacking as was being claimed by the prosecution. He said this statement should be withdrawn from the court records.

Meanwhile, defence counsel cross-examined two Metropolitan Magistrates of Delhi — Sanjay Kumar and V K Bansal — with regard to the case. The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed for September 28 during the course of which the cross-examination will be continued.


Baba Bedi welcomes unity call
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 4
Welcoming the unity call given by the Political Affairs Committee and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Convener, Panthic Morcha, has said that he favours panthic unity but not at the cost of panthic values.

Baba Bedi said earlier unity moves too had failed as Mr Badal refused to accept the responsibility of the degeneration of panthic institutions like Akal Takht. “Mr Badal must come back in the fold of the Sikh panth by reinstating the sarb parmanit (acceptable to all) Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh. He should also present himself before the Takht to seek forgiveness for serious religious misconduct and only then talk of panthic unity,” he said.

Baba Bedi reminded Mr Badal that the panthic morcha had come into being to uphold maryada from which Mr Badal had deviated and formed a Punjabi Dal as per Moga convention.

Baba Bedi said, “I have no personal axe to grind nor do I have any political ambition. I will return to my religious duty after restoring the authority of Akal Takht and making it an autonomous body, after having made a law written on the appointment and removal of the Jathedar of the Takht and giving it checks and barriers, lest the jathedar becomes dictatorial.”

He said that unity of all Dals was the need of the hour and Mr Badal must understand why the panthic morcha came into being.

Baba Bedi described as “mischievous” the plea of Mr Badal that he had not committed any religious misconduct. “The community knows that anointing saffron ‘tilak’ on one’s forehead and in havans is a contravention of the Sikh tenets, more so if done by the head of the Akali Dal. The unceremonious removal of Bhai Ranjit Singh and appointment of “sarkari” jathedars in 1999, bypassing all norms and procedures and using brutal force to install his men who are known his ‘darbaris’ is a serious misconduct which will have to be addressed as he cannot be a defaulter and judge of his own actions.”

He said if Mr Badal was sincere in undoing the wrongs and atoning for his sins at Akal Takht, one could think of settlement.


Cop’s plea to summon MLA
Tribune News Service

Sunam, September 4
A Punjab police constable, Mr Ranjit Singh, today filed an application in the court of Mr S.K. Singla, Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate Class I, here stating that Manmohan Singh Sathiala, a SAD MLA, an accused in a criminal case, be summoned in the court before deciding the application, moved by the Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP), Sunam, on July 16 with regard to withdrawal of case, registered against Mr Sathiala on September 29 last year at Lehragaga police station.

The case was registered against Manmohan Singh Sathiala under Sections 353, 506, 189 of the IPC and 134 and 131 of the Representation of People’s Act on the polling day of the Sunam Assembly byelection on the complaint of Mr Ranjit Singh, constable, who was on poll duty at a polling booth in Daska village, that Mr Sathiala slapped and pushed him to the ground when he (Ranjit Singh) objected to the entry of Mr Sathiala in the booth.

In his application, Mr Ranjit Singh has also sought the production of documents, if any, on the ground of which the Assistant Public Prosecutor had moved the application on July 16 for withdrawal of the case against Mr Sathiala.

Mr Anil Singla, counsel for the complainant, said the accused had not been arrested so far by the police despite the presentation of challan against the accused in the court on July 14 last.

The Assistant Public Prosecutor had filed an application under Section 321 of the CrPC for the withdrawal of the case on July 16 in public interest.

The court fixed September 10 as the next date of hearing in this case.


Chohan granted bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 4
A local court today granted anticipatory bail to Khalistan ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan in a complaint alleging sedition filed by an office bearer of the Punjab pradesh legal cell. Additional Sessions Judge B.S. Mangat today granted anticipatory bail to Dr Chohan in a case filed by Mr Jagmohan Singh Saini. The judge while granting bail said he should present himself on September 12 for hearing.

Earlier, on August 31, Dr Chohan’s counsel had pleaded that the sanction of the state government should be taken before his arrest. However, this was contested by Mr Saini who said other higher-ups were part of the conspiracy which had been evolved by Dr Chohan and he did not to expect get any such sanction and that even if it was given, it might come about after undue delay.

Mr Saini said he would contest the anticipatory bail granted to Dr Chohan in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


‘Release funds for hospital’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 4
Various social organisations of the city that have come together with the aim of ‘’saving the Government Rajindra Hospital’’ here today called for immediate release of funds to the hospital collected following hike in patient care charges. These organisations also appealed to the government to help in restarting the facilities discontinued due to lack of funds.

Members of the social organisations, who addressed a press conference here today under the banner of the Coordination Committee of Social Welfare Organisations, said the hospital lacked even the basic facilities and was not able to provide medical care to the poor.

Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, convener of the committee, said, “The hospital earns crores of rupees under the scheme of giving admissions to NRIs, but this money is not utilised for improvement in the hospital.” The government had imposed hospital charges on all services in May 1998 with a hope that the money so collected would be used for improvement of services at the hospital, but this did not happen as the collected money went into the government treasury.

Describing the condition of the hospital, workers said the hospital did not have proper stock of even cotton, disposable syringes, antiseptics and soap. The posts of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff were lying vacant, dialysis and many other machines were not working and the Radio Therapy and Nephrology Department were also at a stand still, they said.

The committee has demanded a separate system in OPDs for senior citizens. They said regularity and punctuality of the staff should be supervised, cleanliness should be observed and their should be a guide or a person at the enquiry to guide the illiterate patients. The committee also demanded the opening of a chemist shop on the premises of the hospital.

The committee also alleged corruption in the hospital. The committee members further alleged that patients were generally prescribed medicines in excess of their requirement and the staff of the operation theatres used these extra medicines for their earnings. They also demanded a check on private practice by hospital doctors.

The committee members said they would wait for a response from the authorities concerned till September 15 and if nothing appreciable was done by that day, they would resort to some other measures.


PUDA’s pet clinic at Jalandhar ready
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is coming out with a unique gift for pet lovers in the state.

According to Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Chief Administrator, PUDA, his outfit has completed the construction of an ultra-modern pet clinic in the Urban Estate, Phase I at Jalandhar. This double-storey building has been completed at a cost of Rs 35 lakh.

Giving details, Mr S.L. Kaushal, Senior Architect, PUDA, said here today that the building had been planned and constructed with four segments accommodating four different functions — O.P.D., clinical wing, operation theatre and administration. These wings were, however, interconnected by cross-shaped well ventilated and lighted hall providing for waiting and crush areas.

Mr Kaushal said the OPD wing provides for surgical, gynae, general medicine units, each having doctor’s room with examination corner and a toilet. The clinical wing comprises an X-Ray room, laboratory, injection room. The operation theatre wing has preparation room, auto-clave room and changing room for doctors annexed to the theatre. The administrative wing consists of office room for Senior Medical Officer, a conference hall and a room for office staff.

Three residential units — one for Medical Officer — a two bedroom set, one for class III employee — a two roomed set and one for caretaker, have been provided on the first floor.


Separate forms for Keshdharis, Sehajdharis
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 4
Separate forms for Keshdhari and Sehajdhari Sikhs are being released for the forthcoming Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee elections. The form No 1 is for Keshdhari Sikhs and form No 2 is for Sehajdharis Sikhs. The election forms are required to be submitted till November 2 to patwaris/nagar panchayat in the rural areas and to the municipal corporations, municipal councils and also to the Deputy Commissioner within district jurisdiction in urban areas.

Preparations for Sikh voter lists was started here following instructions by the Gurdwara Election Commission.

Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner said voters should be at least 21 years of age to be eligible.

He said forms could be obtained from the District Election Office, Subdivisional Magistrate Office from tehsildars, area patwaris/corporations/municipal councils, panchayat offices as well as from notified gurdwaras free of cost.


PSEB employees hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Thousands of Punjab State Electricity Board employees owing allegiance to six unions today held a rally at Baradari, Patiala, under the aegis of the PSEB Headquarters Coordination Committee.

Their leaders Gobinder Singh Mohi, Surinderjit S Walia, Maghar Singh, Devinder Singh, Surinder Bains, Harjit Walia and others exhorted the management to concede their long-pending demands.

The demands include 15 per cent house rent allowance for Patiala staff, an increase in the fixed medical allowance, a jump in cadre from 9100 to 10350 for everybody, ban on direct recruitments and next promotion after four, nine and 14 years of service.


Seminar on one-by-six scheme
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 4
A seminar to educate the public and to create awareness about the recently introduced the “one-by-six” scheme of the Income Tax Department was organised in Sirhind and Bassi Pathana towns in the district today.

Addressing the seminar, Mr V.K. Chopra, ITO, highlighted the various provisions of the scheme and said that under this “one-by-six” scheme a person having telephone, motor car, credit card, residential house of 2,000 sq feet or had visited a foreign country is entitled to file form 2C of income tax on or before October 31, 2001. He said a penalty of Rs 5,000 would be imposed on a person who failed to file the return. He urged the public to avail the opportunity to avoid unnecessary harassment.


Bandh over killing of cows
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 4
On a call given by the Vishav Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Jan Sewa Samiti, Beopar Mandal, Ram Charit Manas Parchar Mandal, Shiv Sena (Thakre) and other religious organisations, shopkeepers of Hoshiarpur city today observed a three-hour bandh from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon in protest against the killing of 32 cows at the Carcass Utilisation Plant of the state government, being run by Standard Agro-Vet Pvt. Ltd. at Chadial village on August 31.

Activists of these organisations took out a protest march through the city. They demanded the closure of the plant.


Lovers’ families clash, 5 injured
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 4
In a clash between families of two lovers, five persons were injured near the regional campus of Guru Nanak Dev University at Basti Nau locality here today. The incident took place when Paras Ram of Basti Danishmanda, who was sitting in his Esteem car, allegedly fired shots from his 12-bore rifle at Sunil Kumar, Karan and Sandeep near the university campus. After this, members of both families, equipped with sharp-edged weapons, assembled there and entered into a clash, resulting in injuries to Paras Ram and Hardes.

Later, the injured, including Sunil Kumar, son of a Congress councillor, were admitted to private hospital.


NAAC team’s arrival activates website
Anita Tayal

Patiala, September 4
The Punjabi University has woken up to the need of updating and even switching on its Internet connection and making it available to all departments immediately on the arrival of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) team in the campus.

The connection, which was a nightmare to connect to, is now accessible easily at the press of a button. The website had not been updated for months and was not even able to give important information to the students regarding the admission process and other formalities. It had failed to give the results of important tests and it had not been able to give the latest developments on the campus or even the details of all departments on the site.

The students demand that information related to examination results, departmental information, fee schedules, seminars, cultural functions, important meetings, discussions, recruitments and other related information must be regularly provided through these sites. Unfortunately, the paucity of funds and lack of staff has led to the failure of these sites in the minds of its users. “Sites should be made interesting with latest information added to them regularly which keeps a site lively in this age of cut-throat competition failing which one cannot expect regular users”; said Parminder, a student.

Harminder, another student, complains that the site may have started functioning as the NAAC team, was there but to keep the website in working condition would be very difficult. He added, “though paucity of funds and staff members have always remained a problem with every university department, it does not mean that the authorities stop thinking about bringing any improvements in system.”

Presently, the university sites comprised of the information related with the history of university, article archaic, museum, results of a few entrance tests, names of different departments, regional centres, Punjabi Darpan-regular pullout taken out by the Journalism Department and some other irrelevant information which students claim has been done keeping in mind the arrival of the NAAC team. They add that still the information is not sufficient to guide them regarding the activities going on in the university.

Dr Chandan Singh, Centre Director, said they would be able to update the site only and if they receive the latest information from other departments or the Public Relation Department.

The centre, which basically provides a ‘Centre Facility’ to the university faculty and students, is a means to enable accessibility of computer and Internet to everyone in the university. It is from here that the departments get their Internet connections through Local Area Network (LAN) while they in turn get their connection from the radio links. This means, any default in this department would delay the functioning and working of other department.

Despite such importance, the centre is in a bad shape with the server speed being very slow due to the availability of only one connection. The students thank the NAAC team due to which some improvement has been made and hoped that the situation would improve in near future.


Brick-kiln owners to go on strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Brick-kiln owners of Chandigarh, Lalru, Dera Bassi, Patiala and Ropar have decided to go on an indefinite strike with immediate effect till their problems with the state Pollution Control Board are sorted out.

This was announced here today after a meeting of the Brick-Kiln Associations of Ropar and Patiala districts and the Union Territory of Chandigarh and the surrounding areas. The meeting was attended by Mr Sahibjit S. Sandhu, president, Chandigarh periphery, Mr Vivek Vahi, joint secretary, Punjab, Mr Kuldip Singh Makkar, president, and Mr Balbir Garg, secretary, Chandigarh periphery, Mr Inderjit S. Randhawa, vice-president, Ropar district unit, and other executive members.

Incidentally, brick-kilns owners of Ludhiana district are already on an indefinite strike.

The issues which were taken up during a meeting with the Chief Minister, Punjab on December 1, 2000, were discussed. The demands which were agreed upon last year by the Chief Minister had not been implemented so far. The government had been increasing sales tax substantially every year since 1998. The percentage hike during the year 1998 was 21. It crossed this figure during 2000, in which the hike was 47 per cent due to which brick-kiln owners had to go on strike in July 2000.

It was then that a meeting was held with the Chief Minister and other ministers on December 1, 2000. The meeting was attended by Mr Sarbjit S. Makkar, chairman, Punjab Brick-Kiln Association. Many of the demands of the brick-kiln owners were accepted and the Chief Minister promised to get the sale tax reduced from Rs 1,50,000 per year to Rs 1,25,000 per year from January, 2001, but till date no notification had been issued. The executive members had been reminding the Chief Minister from time to time to fulfil his promise but to no avail.

Similarly, a royalty of Rs 44 per 1,000 bricks moulded was levied last year which was to be abolished with immediate effect as per the promise made by Chief Minister, However, till now no notification regarding the removal of this royalty had been issued and even “brick earth” had not been denotified in the Mines and Minerals Act.

Moreover, as per the Chief Minister’s orders given to the Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman, a brick-kiln should be given clearance to operate for 15 years if its kiln and chimney had been constructed as per the design of the PCSCT without any experimentation. Here also, a few brick-kilns were given clearance operate for 15 years while a majority of them secured permission for just six months with the result that they were still facing problems with the PPCB.

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