Wednesday, September 12, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmers poorer by Rs 100 crore
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Punjab farmers are poorer by Rs 100 crore. This money would have accrued to them as subsidy on a variety of inputs under various agriculture-related centrally sponsored schemes in the past four years or so.

This, however, did not happen because the state government did not contribute its part of the share. While some of the schemes are fully sponsored by the Centre, some, under the macro-management work plan, are in the ratio of 90:10 and others, under the technology mission, in the ratio of 75:25. The irony is that even in respect of the schemes that are 100 per cent centrally sponsored, the state did not release the money to the Agriculture Department.

Consequently, in the absence of a utilisation certificate, the Centre refused to release more money for the schemes in the following years. What is true of the Department of Agriculture is applicable to almost all other departments deriving benefit from the central schemes. The story is the same everywhere. Punjab, thus, loses crores of rupees every year.

The lackadaisical functioning everywhere reflects on the financial situation that continues to remain serious, if not grim, despite the much-hyped turnaround due to a series of fiscal management measures often turned upside down by politically motivated populist measures.

The Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr C.L. Bains, confirmed that the Finance Department had not released huge sums received under various centrally sponsored schemes. Requests to the Finance Department went unheeded. When the attention of the Chief Minister was drawn to the unspent money, he expressed concern promising to issue suitable directions. Nothing materialised. The Finance Department continues to dither and delay, he added.

The Director of Agriculture, Dr S. S. Bains, when approached by TNS, refused to entertain any questions, confirming or denying the facts. “Ask the FCD” was all he said.

The Agriculture Department implements many farmer-oriented schemes providing subsidy on seeds, plant protection equipment, implements, demonstrations, training, farmer-scientist interaction, cotton development, fertiliser use, soil testing, pest and weed management, mechanisation, information technology, soil reclamation, oilseed and pulse production, biogas, etc.

Informed sources said under the centrally sponsored schemes the “unspent money”, as on April 1, 2001, was approximately Rs 20 crore. On request, the Government of India “revalidated” about Rs 17 crore and also made new “releases” of about Rs 7 crore. Thus, the total unspent money (2001-02) available with the state’s Finance Department under the central schemes is about Rs 24 crore.

This money, or unspent balance, can be used only if the state contributes its own share, Rs 3.5 crore. However, this has not happened. No funds have been released till date. If financial releases continue to be held up, farmers and farm-related programmes will suffer denying the former the subsidies due to them.

As per details gathered by TNS, there are eight schemes under 100 per cent central assistance, 10 on the 90:10 sharing basis and four on the 75:25 basis.

The following picture emerges of the centrally sponsored schemes for the current financial year (all figures are in lakhs) :

State’s share Rs 347.53; Centre’s, Rs 2753.39; unspent balance as on April 1, 2001, Rs 1963.37; amount revalidated/released by the Centre, Rs 1,679.87 and Rs 713.78, respectively; amount released by the Finance Department and the Centre Rs 90.

So much from a farmer-friendly Akali government for promoting agriculture when production and productivity have plateaued. The resource crunch has squeezed funds to Punjab Agricultural University where research and adoption of new technology have been put on the backburner.


Closed-door meetings web of deceit: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
The Panthic Morcha today demanded that the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, should make public the decisions which were taken during his closed-door meetings with Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani and Mr Om Parkash Chautala, Chief Minister Haryana.

The morcha wanted that before taking any decision regarding the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, Hindi speaking area to Haryana and river waters dispute, Mr Badal should take the people of the state into confidence.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a senior leader of the morcha and President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), one of the constituent of the morcha, while addressing a press conference said Mr Badal had deceived the people of the state by holding closed door meetings.

He said that although the specific agenda of the meetings could not be known but as per reports appearing in The Tribune on Tuesday it was learnt that Mr Badal would barter Sutlej Yamuna Link canal and Hindi speaking area for Chandigarh.

Mr Tohra said the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab was its right and giving any area in lieu of this was not justified. He added that Mr Badal for getting some personal gains had ignored the interests of the state.

He said the state did not have additional water and therefore, the decision regarding the completion of SYL canal was against the interest of the farmers of the state.

Mr Tohra said that Rajiv-Longowal accord did not hold much significance today. He added that only one or two clauses of the accord were in favour of the state. As per the accord nothing was to be linked with the transfer of Chandigarh, he added.

On unity with the SAD he said if Mr Badal went to Akal Takht and sought forgiveness for his misdeeds the unity move could be considered. And if Mr Badal wanted unity among warring factions of the Akali Dal he should first reinstate Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Regarding the allegations of Capt Amarinder Singh President PPCC, about the property amassed by Mr Badal he said the morcha wanted an inquiry by a senior judge of the high court. An enquiry by the Income Tax Department or by the CBI would yield nothing as Mr Badal was in a position to influence the two agencies.

Mr Tohra said that in the coming Assembly elections they join hands with any party which would help the downfall of the Badal government and would prevent the Congress from coming to power. He said so far no meeting had been held with the BSP chief Mr Kanshi Ram.

Mr Tohra said the Panthic Morcha would not project anybody as the future Chief Minister. The MLAs would choose their leader after the election.


Demolish Badal campaign on
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
With the war of letters between the Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, subsiding a bit for the time being, people are awaiting the next development on the political front in the state.

It is Mr Badal’s turn to respond to Capt Amarinder Singh’s second letter. Talking to The Tribune this morning, the PPCC chief, said: “Of course, I am waiting for the reply. I have got a lot of more information about Mr Badal’s property. In fact, information is coming like a downpour”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

When asked what his next move would be, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “My objective is to fight corruption at high places, the state government, its various administrative organs and institutions like the Punjab Public Service Commission. In the past days I have tried to do so”.

However, like other Opposition parties in the state, Capt Amarinder Singh has a very clearly defined agenda. His target is Mr Badal. Demolish Mr Badal politically. It is the only way to oust the SAD-BJP combine from power. Adopting this political strategy vis-a-vis the coming assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh has trained all his guns on Mr Badal.

By initiating the war of letters, Capt Amarinder Singh has tried to convey the message to the Congress high command as well as the senior leaders of the party in the state that he is the best person at the moment in the state to fight a well-directed political battle against Mr Badal. It has been a political requirement for Capt Amarinder Singh to prove this point to strengthen his position as head of the PPCC and to change the image that he is a “Maharaja” incapable of fighting tough political battles with rugged political leaders like Mr Badal.

Other Opposition parties are also targeting Mr Badal. They also hold the view that once they succeed in rattling Mr Badal politically, the fight against the SAD-BJP combine in the coming assembly elections will become a bit easy. Right from Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to Mr Ravi Inder Singh, from Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, all are focusing their political attack on Mr Badal. They have the impression that the SAD-BJP combine is a one-man or Badal’s show.

Mr Badal, say political observers, has pursued a “unifocal” political approach all these years. He has cared little to strengthen the party. He preferred to strengthen himself politically. He centralised all powers. Consequently, the party has been reduced to a non-entity. The party’s frontline leadership does what Mr Badal asks it to do.

Political observers say that even the SAD’s top decision-making bodies like the Political Affairs Committee have been reduced to merely passing resolutions stating “all powers have been given to the President to take the appropriate decision.” From a mass-based party, the SAD has turned into a personality-based outfit.


Morcha promises transparent govt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
The massive rally held in the city by the constituents of the Panthic Morcha has created a hope for those who are feeling fed up with the present government as leaders of the morcha promised to solve their problems if they came to power.

The rally was second of its kind in the Malwa region. The first rally was held at Ferozepore yesterday which launched the morcha’s election campaign.

Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, President, Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, (SHSAD), Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, former MP, Mr Dhayan Singh Mand, former MP, Mr Harcharan Singh, President, Akali Dal (Panthic), Mr Ravi Inder Singh, rebel SAD (B) leader, Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, MLA of the ruling party, and Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, general secretary, district unit of the SHSAD, besides number of other leaders attended the rally.

Addressing the rally, Mr Mann said neither the Central nor the state government was serious about finding a solution to the water dispute between Punjab and Haryana. He alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was never serious about getting benefits for the state.

He said the police personnel who were facing trials in various courts should not be given general amnesty as they had violated human rights in the name of dealing with the militants. he said they would approach the international agencies against any move of the government in this regard.

Mr Mann said the people of the state were fed up with the misgovernance of Mr Badal. He added that they did not want the government formed by the Congress as it had also looted them for more than four decades.

He said the Panthic Morcha was formed to save people from the misrule of Mr Badal’s government and to keep the Congress out of power. He said if they were voted to power they would give transparent government to the people.

Mr Tohra, in his address said when the water from Punjab was given to Rajasthan, the Central Government had assured the farmers of Punjab that they would be able to purchase land in that state, but this had not happened. He said the Congress had deceived the people of the state.

Attacking Mr Badal, he said he had failed to fulfill the promises made by him before coming to power. He added that Mr Badal had sacrificed the interest of the state for his personnel interests.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh alleged that Mr Badal had served as the agent of the Congress party. He said Mr Badal and his family members had crossed limits as far as collecting money by unfair means was concerned. He said Mr Badal had even collected money from the unemployed while giving them jobs.

Capt Harcharan Singh Rode, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Baldev Singh Khiala also addressed the gathering.


Pensioners move HC to seek Rs 250 cr
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
More than 40,000 pensioners in the state are up in arms against the Punjab Government’s decision not to implement the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order to pay 40 per cent of the commuted pension for 15 years against 10.46 years. The state government had filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision, which has been rejected. The open court has reportedly asked the state government to implement the decision of the high court in toto.

Number of pensioners’ bodies from Khanna, Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and other parts of the state have filed writ petitions in the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding about Rs 250 crore benefits that were due to them as under the high court decision.

The sources in the state Finance Ministry revealed that the government was considering to find a way out. For the time being, the sources said, it had been decided that payments would be made only to those pensioners who were able to bring the copy of the orders from the high court.

In fact, the Fourth Pay Commission had recommended that the government should give 40 per cent of the commuted pension for 11.5 years at the time of retirement to those who opt for it, and the amount should be deducted for the same period in future. The decision was applicable to those who had retired after January 1, 1996.

The state government, instead of implementing the recommendation, decided to pay the commuted pension for 10.46 years and the deductions were to be made for the next 15 years. Interestingly, the high court quashed that order in the Harjinder Singh Sidhu v/s State of Punjab case and the government had agreed to make the payments for 15 years with a penal interest rate of 12 per cent. However, when other pensioners demanded the same benefits, the state government filed the SLP in the Supreme Court which was subsequently rejected.

The Citizens Welfare Association, a local NGO, has filed a writ in the high court on behalf of the pensioners, demanding that the balance payment should be made to them along with 12 per cent rate of interest or the deductions should be made only for the period of 10.46 years.

Mr Hardesh Goel, president of the association, has urged the state government to consider sympathetically the genuine demand of senior citizens and not to waste time and energy in the legal battles. He pointed out that according to the Punjab Civil Services Rule Book (Vol II ), the state government was earlier giving 40 per cent of the pension for 10.46 years in advance at a rate of 4.75 per cent interest and the amount was deducted in 11.5 years. However, later the government issued a circular to deduct the amount for 15 years without making any modifications in these rules.

A delegation had recently met the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in this regard. The minister reportedly assured the delegation that a decision would be taken in the matter before the elections.


Give details on MLAs’ foreign trips: HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Reacting to Punjab Government’s plea of insufficient funds for the construction of judicial complexes in the districts, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the state to furnish details of the expenditure incurred on foreign trips made by public representatives and government officers.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also directed the state to inform the court about the expenses incurred by the government and its agencies for the construction of administrative complexes in the districts. Details of the total revenue collected from the courts in form of court fee were also sought.

In their detailed order, the Judges instructed the state to furnish the requisite information to the court for period extending from 1993-94 to 2000-01 within four weeks of receiving the order’s copy. The case will now come up for further hearing on October 22.

In their petition, Jalandhar Bar Association President Naresh Kumar Aggarwal, along with Secretary Paramjit Singh Randhawa, had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to construct new judicial complex in the city with all modern facilities.

Giving details, counsel for the petitioner had stated that the new complex should have spacious courtrooms and barroom, air conditioning facility, along with a library and chambers for advocates.

He had claimed that there were only 10 regular courtrooms in a building constructed over 30 years ago. Counsel had added that the building was in bad shape as the roofs were leaking and the plaster had peeled off, even the woodwork was in coming off.


Amarinder’s brother, too, in line for ticket
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
The PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh’s brother, Mr Malvinder Singh today threw his hat in the election fray by presenting his claim for the Samana Assembly segment to the Congress observer who has come here to meet potential candidates.

Mr Malvinder Singh and his supporters met the AICC observer and former minister, Mr Daulat Ram, today. Though aspirants for Samana ticket were supposed to meet the observer tomorrow according to the schedule, Mr Malvinder said there had been some confusion about the schedule and that he should be allowed to present his case today.

Sources said he had presented his case claiming that he was behind the success of MP Parneet Kaur from the Samana constituency in the last elections.

Mr Malvinder had never shown interest in politics earlier and his claim on the party ticket is likely to have effect on state politics. The issue whether relatives of senior leaders should be given ticket is likely to come into focus. Mr Malvinder has also not held any post in the party. He had only campaigned for his sister-in-law, Ms Parneet Kaur during the last Lok Sabha elections.

A number of heavy weight leaders are already in the ring. According to sources, senior Congress leader Birdevinder Singh also met the observer today and stressed his claim to the seat. Mr Birdevinder’s supporters said he would be the ideal choice as he had worked for the party, specially during the period of militancy in the state. They also cited social work done by him in 1993 when floods hit Patiala.

The sources said as the official date for presenting claim on the Samana seat was tomorrow, three more important leaders were expected to come. They were former MP and senior party functionary Sant Ram Singla, Pradesh Congress media committee chairman Surinder Singla and former kisan cell president Harinderpal Singh Mann.

The sources said the choice for nominee was likely to be difficult. They said while Mr Malvinder was the brother of the PPCC chief, Mr Sant Ram Singla and Mr Surinder Singla were avid supporters of the PPCC chief. Mr Sant Ram was the only candidate who had won the Samana Assembly seat. They said Mr Birdevinder had a case as he was also aligned with the PPCC chief though earlier there had been animosity between them. Mr Birdevinder had been expelled from the party.

They said the candidature of Mr Harinderpal Singh Mann would depend on the support given to his cause by senior Congress leader Jagmeet Brar. Mr Mann had held a rally as a show of strength in Samana in honour of Mr Brar some months ago against the wishes of the PPCC chief which had resulted in his expulsion from the party. The order was, however, taken back on the insistence of Mr Brar.


PPCC chief favoured for Patiala seat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
An overwhelming majority of party workers today pleaded for grant of party ticket for the Patiala Assembly seat to the Pradesh Congress President, Capt Amarinder Singh, during an exercise conducted by an All-India Congress Committee (AICC) observer here today at the PWD guest house.

The entire district Congress and senior leaders of the city pleaded with the Congress observer and senior leader, Mr Shiv Kumar Upmanyu, to allocate the Patiala Assembly seat to the PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh. The delegation was led by the DCC president, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, and included almost the entire rank and file of the DCC, including Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mr Sanjeev Garg and Mr Anil Mehta.

The party workers said Capt Amarinder Singh was the most suitable candidate for the Patiala seat due to the enormous goodwill enjoyed by his family among the residents. They also cited the massive lead taken by the PPCC president’s wife Preneet Kaur from the Patiala segment during the last Lok Sabha elections.

Another ticket aspirant and dissident leader and former minister Brahm Mohindra, who has represented the Patiala seat thrice in the Assembly, was conspicous by his absence and failed to put up his case before the observer.

While there was unanimity on the candidature of Capt Amarinder Singh, the rural seats for which Choudhary Daulat Ram has been appointed observer witnessed a keen competition among the various aspirants and thousands of people gathered at the guest house to present the case of their leaders.

The observers today listened to aspirants from Ghanaur and Rajpura Assembly seats, though two aspirants from Samana seat also met them.

The Samana seat saw immense slogan-shouting by the supporters of former minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, former Rajya Sabha member Amarijit Kaur and youth leader Hardev Singh Bhangu. There was a little quarrel between the supporters of Mr Randhawa and Ms Amarjit Kaur.

For the Rajpura seat there were a number of applicants with former ministers Prem Gupta and Raj Khurana, District Congress Committee (Rural) president Hardyal Singh Kamboj, advocate Jagmohan Singh Saini, Bhagwan Singh and Anita Chawla staking their claim to the seat.

Observer Daulat Ram, a senior Congress leader from Himachal Pradesh, disclosed that two aspirants for the Samana seat — Raja Malvinder Singh and Birdevinder Singh — also met him. He said he would be accessing the strengths and weaknesses of candidates from Ghanaur and Rajpura today, Samana and Shatrana tomorrow and Banur, Dakala and Nabha day after.

The observer said there appeared to be a positive trend in favour of the Congress party in the state. He said people felt that the Akali-BJP government had failed on all fronts. Speaking about the selection process, he said he would make his report and forward it to the high command within a week, adding that a second secret survey would also be conducted in all the constituencies to verify the claims and counter claims of all the aspirants.


PSEB ‘losing’ due to poor coal quality
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 11
The poor quality of coal being supplied in the thermal plants of the state is causing huge losses to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The coal currently being supplied in the state contains about 40 per cent powder, which besides causing financial loss to the PSEB is also posing a threat to the environment in the areas surrounding the thermal plants. To tackle this problem, the Punjab Government is taking up the matter with the Ministry of Mines, Government of India.

The Punjab Government is of the view that if certain mines are leased out to the PSEB and the officials of the board are able to monitor the quality of coal being procured, it will help solve the problem.

Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, Minister for Power, Punjab stated this while talking to The Tribune at Gurawal village, about 60 km from Ropar, today.

Mr Malooka was here to inaugurate a facility for depositing electricity bills in the village branch of Ropar Central Cooperative Bank. He was also accompanied by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister.

Regarding losses being incurred by the PSEB, Mr Malooka admitted that the board was incurring losses worth about Rs 300 crore per annum. He, however, denied that the losses resulted from free distribution of electricity to the farmers in the state. Theft of electricity and corruption in the lower ranks of the board were major causes of the losses suffered by the board. Electricity worth about Rs 600 crore was allegedly stolen in the state annually. Even if half of that was saved by the board officials, the losses of the PSEB could be curtailed, he said.

About 41,000 temporary electricity connections to be regularised in the state as announced by the Chief Minister, Mr Malooka said it would not put any financial burden on the board. The scheme would, in fact, earn Rs 100 crore for the board. The security in the case of a temporary connection was just Rs 5,000 whereas it was much more for a permanent connection and the board would get it without much extra investment, he claimed.


Free power to Dalits only on paper: union
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
Mr Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, alleged today that the scheme of the state government to provide 100 units of electricity free of cost to the farm labourers and Dalits, whose household had a power load up to 1 kw had, remained on the paper only as nobody had got the benefit of it so far.

Mr Sewewala said a survey was conducted by the union in various villages of the district and it was found that not a single family had got the benefit under the scheme although tall claims had been made by the Minister for Power.

He added that the minister had claimed that the facility had been given to 55,000 families throughout the state. Mr Sewewala said the statement of the minister was false but even if it was to be believed, the number of beneficiaries was so low that hardly one family per village had received the benefit.

Mr Sewewala said the irony of the situation was that many of the Dalit and farm labourers families had to do without power supply as the board had cut off their electricity supply as they could not pay the exorbitant bills.

He said at least nine such families were residing in Singhewala village which fell in the constituency of the Chief Minister. He said similarly 10 families in Jethuke village, four in Kilianwali, and two in Ghumiara villages had to depend on kerosene for their needs as there was no power supply to their houses.

Mr Sewewala alleged that one of the engineers of the PSEB had told the members of the union who conducted the survey that they had not received any instructions regarding giving of free power supply to Dalits having power load up to 1 kw. The officer said the only exemption was for those families whose load was below 300 watt, but very few families fell in that category, added Mr Sewewala.

He further informed that during the survey it was found that at least 97 families fell in the category of 1 kw load but none of them was getting the power free of cost. He further said there was at least 35 families whose load was below 300 watt but even they had not got the benefit.

He said most of the families who were eligible to receive the benefit under the scheme were illiterate therefore they could not get the full benefit of the scheme. He said whenever such families went to the offices of the board, they demanded bribe from them

Mr Sewewala threatened that the union would start agitation if the benefit of the scheme was not given to those who deserved it.


SGPC staff to get visa normal way
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The Union Home Ministry has said the cases of SGPC employees will not be referred to New Delhi while issuing visas instead these will be issued to them directly by Jalandhar’s regional passport office.

The restrictions were imposed on the issuance of visas to the SGPC employees in early eighties at the time of militancy.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, said the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, told him on telephone that the restrictions had been withdrawn. Earlier, the SGPC had lodged a strong protest with the Central government.

Mr Talwandi said the Union Minister and Secretary-General of the SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had told him that necessary instructions had been issued to all regional passport offices in this regard. No case would be forwarded to Patiala House in New Delhi for clarification, Mr Dhindsa assured the SGPC.

It may be mentioned here that the SGPC had to take up the case of withdrawing of restrictions when the passports of two SGPC employees who were to accompany Mr Talwandi to England were referred for clearance to the Home Ministry last month. Mr Talwandi had to cut short his tour and could not attend most of the religious programmes fixed by the Sikh sangat there.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Deputy Chairman, Minorities Commission, too took up the case with the Union Government. Mr Talwandi also appreciated the move of the Central government to initiate the process for ending the “black list” of Sikhs abroad.

According to sources, the SGPC was put in the category of “missionary” so far as the issuance of visas was concerned. The SGPC pleaded that it was a constitutional body which was formed under the Constitution of India and hence its employees should be given visas in the normal way.


CM: Cong gave away state’s water
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 11
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today alleged that it was the Congress government at the Centre which conducted Operation Bluestar in the Golden Temple and subsequently engineered the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of the country as part of a well-planned conspiracy.

Mr Badal, who held a series of sangat darshan programmes in the Lambi Assembly segment, alleged that it was the Congress which was instrumental in the division of Punjab into parts and then allowing other states to use its water.

He said an oil refinery, cement units and various other projects had the potential to create employment for thousands of people and make the state economically strong.

Mr Badal distributed cheques worth lakhs of rupees to various panchayats for carrying out development projects.


Traffic blocked, SHO’s suspension sought
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 11
Hundreds of Scheduled Caste residents of Kanyawali village sat on a dharna near the BMC chowk on the GT Road and blocked traffic for about two hours here today in protest against the alleged torture of a Dalit youth by Mr Gurvinder Singh, SHO, police division No 7.

The residents, led by Mr Shashi Sharma, president of the district unit of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, demanded that the SHO, Mr Gurwinder Singh, should be suspended and a case should be registered against the erring cops of the police division for allegedly implicating the Dalit youth Rajan of the village into a case and for subsequently torturing him during the custody.

Though Rajan was arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman of the same village three days ago and a case was registered against him under Section 307 of the IPC for an attempt to murder, the residents claimed otherwise that this was a simple case of a quarrel among the local villagers.

The district police reportedly failed to present the medical examination report of the accused before the magistrate yesterday which was otherwise mandatory and the doctor had reportedly mentioned in its report on September 8 that the accused bore eight injuries on his body.

“Despite the court’s directions to ensure medical examination of Rajan before sending him to judicial custody, he was taken directly to the local Central Jail. The jail authorities, however, refused to take, the accused without getting his medical examination conducted at around 3.30 p.m. yesterday. But Rajan was kept in an illegal police custody for more than seven hours and was presented before doctor of the local Civil Hospital at around 10 p.m.” Mr Shashi Sharma alleged.

The SHO threatened Rajan not to say anything against the alleged torture or face dire consequences, he added. The residents demanded that the “false” case against Rajan should be withdrawn immediately.

Later, a deputation of the villagers met the SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, who ordered the quashing of charges against Rajan. Meanwhile, Mr Dharam Singh Uppal, DSP, was told to conduct an inquiry into the case and to submit his report within two days.


Golden Forests' appeal dismissed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
The local Divisional Commissioner has dismissed an appeal by Golden Forests (India) and its two subsidiaries challenging the orders of the Collector, Agrarian, Dera Bassi, who had held the entire 4,000 acres of land in their possession as surplus which makes it liable for acquisition by the government.

According to a copy of the order passed on September 7, Commissioner D P Reddy dismissed the appeal of Golden Forests (India) and its subsidiary companies - Golden Project Ltd and Golden Tourists Resorts — who had claimed that the Collector, Agrarian, had illegally declared around 4,000 acres of land in their possession as surplus without giving them sufficient opportunity to be heard.

Mr Reddy, while rejecting the plea of the company that the land belonged to the investors, said the company did not file a return intentionally and that it had failed to select the permissible area in accordance with the law.


Torture charge against Samrala police
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
A daily wage earner in a Punjab Government department was allegedly illegally detained by the Samrala police for more than three days before his escape to the city here today.

Baljinder Singh, who is now admitted in the Government College and Hospital, Sector 32, has alleged that he was brutally tortured by cops for three days and asked to pay a bribe of Rs 50,000. He has alleged that the police was falsely implicating him in a case under the Excise Act. He also maintains that no FIR has been registered so far.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, the victim, an employee of the Public Health Department, Samrala, said that his elder brother, Jaswinder Singh, an architect by profession, has now been picked up by the police after his (Baljinder’s) escape.

However, the Samrala police has denied that Baljinder was illegally detained or his brother was in its captivity. The Station House Officer of the Samrala police station, Inspector Malkiat Singh, said,” Baljinder is wanted in a case of liquor smuggling. We had arrested a person, Bawa, a few days ago. He had alleged that he had received a case of liquor from Baljinder Singh. A case had then been registered against him. However, when the police went to raid his house, he escaped.”

Interestingly, the munshi of the Samrala police station, while talking to TNS had earlier said that Baljinder Singh was not wanted by them and that no case was registered against him.

Meanwhile, Baljinder Singh today said that during the three days of his captivity, he was kept in different places in and around Samrala. “ On the evening of September 6, a police party led by Inspector Malkiat Singh converged on my residence and said that it wanted to search my house. I objected but they forcibly searched my residential premises and the portion of the premises rented out , which was locked at that time. When they did not find anything, the party left the place.”

He says that on the next morning i.e. September 7, the police party again came to my residence and took me away. “All day, I was kept in the lock- up in the Samrala police station and during night, I was shifted to Mehdoodan. I was brutally tortured all through the night and asked to arrange Rs 50,000. They even said that if the money was not arranged, a case under the NDPS Act would be registered against me. One of the cops also said that since there was no opium with them, they would show the recovery of poppy husk from my possession. “

He says that he was later taken to Hedon police post and again subjected to physical torture. “Yesterday morning, I managed to escape from there. I took lift in a truck and reached Balongi village, from where I contacted a relative. He immediately rushed to my help and I was brought to Chandigarh. The wounds on my back became worse and I was having breathing trouble. So, I was admitted in the hospital today,” he said.


Agenda: distribution of wedding cards!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Little did the Additional Deputy Commissioners (Development) and Executive Engineers of the Rural Development Department realise that the agenda of the meeting for which they were summoned here today was not to review various development schemes but to distribute wedding cards of the son of the Minister. The Minister, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, was not present at the meeting.

Each Additional Deputy Commissioner and Executive Engineer was handed over a bunch of invitation cards for the wedding of a son of Mr Kahlon on September 23 with instructions to “distribute these among eminent people of their respective districts”. Some of the participants at the meeting were shocked but accepted the cards.

Efforts made to contact the Minister were unsuccessful as he was reportedly away to his constituency because of bereavement in the family of someone close to him.

The Minister, the sources said, was to preside over the meeting himself but could not come here today. For some of the participants, it would have been their first face-to-face encounter with the Minister.


For want of a public park
Shashi Pal Jain

The town of Kharar has a population of about 40,000 but there is no park for the residents, even if the town is so close to Chandigarh and SAS Nagar, known for their open spaces. There is no place where the resident could go for a walk in the morning, where old persons and women could take a whiff of fresh air and where children could play in the evening.

A number of residents are seen taking a walk along different roads in the morning, specially Landran Road, Randhawa Road and Old Morinda Road. But these roads also take a heavy traffic of vehicles and the walkers are always at risk of being hit by a careless driver. Many go to the playground of Khalsa School.

There used to be a municipal park about 20 years ago, known as Lala Lajpat Rai Park, opposite the Civil Rest House. A fountain was also installed in this park and it was the favourite of morning walkers. But a part of this park was taken over for digging a tubewell for the town’s water supply scheme, and the remaining part was sold to the Telecommunication Department where a new building of the department is now under construction.

Maharaja Ajj Sarovar remains the only hope in this direction but its development has not been possible since no funds have been sanctioned by the Punjab Government for this project. The Dushera Ground and the area of the water works near it can also be made into a park provided adequate funds are made available to the municipal committee.


3 dead, 2 hurt in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
Three persons were seriously injured in a road accident, involving a truck and a Jeep, at Narwana road here this morning.

The volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa (SJS), an NGO, took the injured to the hospital.

They were identified as Mr Jagsir Singh, Mr Jagdeep Singh and Mr Gurbaksh Singh.

Gurbaksh Singh later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

The body was handed over to the family members of the deceased after the post-mortem examination.

Bhag Singh, a resident of Ajit road here died in another accident here today.

He was returning from Kotkapura on his motor cycle when another vehicle crushed him to death.

Jagsir Singh, a city resident, fell from his motor cycle on Dabwali road and was injured in another accident.

The volunteers of SJS took him to a hospital to provide him medical help. Later, he died.


Paper mills flout board order
Our Correspondent

Chabba, (Amritsar), September 11
Even as the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had issued the order of closure of six paper mills at Chabba on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road here for not confirming to the provisions of pollution control laws, the orders are being flouted with impunity.

The defaulting units are illegally discharging untreated effluent into the Chabba drain. Notices had been issued earlier this year under Section 33-A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The industries had tried to turn the flow of effluent towards the Sangrana Sahib gurdwara but irate residents of the village dug out the pipes.


Chicago address anniversary observed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 11
Swami Chinmayananda, a staunch follower of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhans, today cautioned the young generation not to ape the Western culture mindlessly but to imbibe the rich Indian cultural traditions for leading a more purposeful life.

The Swami made these remarks on the anniversary of the Chicago address by Swami Vivekananda at Shahjanand College for Girls here. He said the great Hindu monk from India had cast his spiritual spell on the world audience.

Swami Chinmayananda said we would have to make a joint effort to rebuild our nation and revive its old glory and splendour for the whole world to appreciate its greatness.

Lt-Gen J.L. Malhotra, (retd) also addressed the gathering and made a forceful plea to the youngsters to live up to their full potential and contribute their bit to make the country more prosperous.


Blood donation camps
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 11
More than 86 volunteers donated blood at a blood donation camp organised by the Lions Club Fort in Chiranjiv Ashram here yesterday.

Atma Ram Kumar Sabha School also organised a blood donation camp to observe the 22nd death anniversary of Bir Dasondhi Ramji here. Students of classes XI and XII took active participation in the camp in which 50 units of blood were collected. The camp was inaugurated by the Director of State Languages Department, Dr M.L. Hasija.

The principal of the school, Mr Umesh Kumar Verma, said the school had been organising such camps for the past seven years.


Hepatitis-B camps held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
The Baba Braham Dass Youth Welfare Club Seman village organised a hepatitis-B vaccination camp at the government hospital, yesterday.

In a press note issued here today Mr Jasdev Singh Seman, president of the club said Mr Onkar Singh, branch manager of State Bank of Patiala, Bhucho Kalan, inaugurated the camp. He added that 75 persons were vaccinated during the camp.

The Rotary Club, Bathinda, also organised a hepatitis-B camp at Bibiwala Chowk yesterday. Mr Suresh joint secretary of the club said 148 persons were vaccinated .


Two injured by electric sparks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
Ranjit Singh, (27) an electrician, and his helper Gopal Singh (22) received burn injuries when an electric motor produced sparks yesterday at Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant at Lehra Mohabat village in the district. The injured were taken to Civil Hospital at Rampura Phul where after the first aid they were admitted to the local Civil Hospital yesterday.


Conference of ENT in October
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 11
Dr S.K. Verma, head of the ENT Department and chairman of the Association of Otolaryngologist of India, today disclosed that the silver jubilee conference of the ENT and head and neck surgeons of the north-west region of India will be held on October 27 and 28 at Government Medical College here. Dr Verma said Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister for Medical Education and Research, will inaugurate the conference. Recent advances in ENT speciality and allergy disorders would be the main topics of discussion.


All set for paddy procurement
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 11
The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the procurement of paddy which will begin from September 15 in this district. As many as 51 purchasing centres, including five grain markets — Faridkot, Kot Kapoora, Jaitu, Sadiq and Ghuglana, have been set up to procure the fixed quality of 4.09 lakh metric tonnes of paddy.

As much as 30 per cent of the total purchase will be made by the Food Corporation of India and the remaining by the state government agencies, like Markfed, Warehous-ing, District Food and Supply and Punsup, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, said here today.

He said each rural centre had been allocated to one agency for procurement whereas two to three agencies would work in each grain market for this purpose.

He said directions had been issued to the agencies to make the payments of farmers within 24 to 75 hours after the procurement of the crop. Earlier, the Deputy Commissioner held a meeting with truck unions and sought their cooperation to ensure timely lifting of the produce from the centres.


DC visits grain markets
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 11
Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, has visited various grain markets in the Ferozepore region. He instructed the representatives of all government procurement agencies to ensure round the clock presence in the grain markets allotted to them till the time procurement was over.

Mr Ladhar listened to the problems being faced by farmers, commission agents and labour unions and solved them there only.

He ordered Mandi Board officials to deposit security of Rs 1.11 lakh with the PSEB immediately in order to get uninterrupted electricity supply. At the Ladhuka mandi, Mr Ladhar gave instructions for the immediate widening of road and installation of hand pumps as demanded by farmers. While talking to mediapersons, Mr Ladhar said a control room had been established at the district headquarters to monitor the paddy procurement. He said 171 purchase centres had been established in the district.

He said the FCI would purchase 30 per cent share of the paddy, whereas the Food and Supplies Department 12 per cent, Markfed 18.5 per cent, Punsup 18.5 per cent, Warehouse 14 per cent and Punjab Agro would purchase 7 per cent of the total produce. He said this year 12 lakh metric tonne paddy was expected to come for procurement in the market.

Mr Ladhar imposed a ban under Section 144 on the cutting of paddy through combines from 7 pm to 10 am so that the paddy with more moisture contents does not enter the market.


1 held for firing in court complex
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 11
Panic prevailed at the court complex here today when people heard the sound of gunshots.

The shot were fired by Sukhjinder Singh, who came to the court along with Lakhwinder Singh and Kuldip Singh, in connection with a case with another villager Sarabjit Singh who alleged that Sukhjinder fired upon him.

The police had registered a case under Section 307 and 34 of the Arms Act against three persons — Sukhjinder, Lakhvinder and Kuldip — and arrested Sukhjinder Singh, the police also seized his .12-bore gun.


Desecration of holy book
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 11
About 10 pages of Guru Granth Sahib were found torn in a house at Pandori village today. The desecration took place last night when the inmates of the house were away. The house belongs to Parminder, Jaspal and Kulwinder, three brothers. A case has been registered under Section 295 of the IPC.


AISSF to observe ‘sankalp divas’ tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The All-India Sikh Students Federation, led by Mr Harminder Singh Gill, will celebrate September 13 as ‘sankalp divas’ to mark its 57th anniversary.

In a press release, issued here today, the AISSF said on this day, the federation leaders would take a pledge at Akal Takht to uphold the age-old values of Sikhism and maintenance of the Sikh institutions.

The press release said the ruling Akali Dal was responsible for the denigrations of the Sikh institutions, including Akal Takht. The ruling Akali Dal had promoted nepotism at the cost of the Sikh Panth. Mr Gill said the federation had constituted various subcommittees to complete the celebrations of the ‘sankalp divas’.

Mr Gill sought CBI probe into the properties amassed by Mr Badal and Mr Amarinder Singh, president Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.


Education board fails to adhere to HC orders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The slack attitude of the Punjab School Education Board in adhering to the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court about issuing roll numbers to students appearing in the matriculation and plus two examinations has ruined the academic career of several students, apart from putting their parents to a lot of inconvenience.

In October,1999, the high court had directed the board “that in future due care should be taken by the respondent board and in any case the roll number slip should be filled by the office (of the board) in its entirety as it (form) contains no column which can be filled by the school concerned or the student. This direction shall be communicated to all concerned forthwith.” This order was handed down on a writ petition preferred by Manjot Singh of Ludhiana whose examination centre was changed on the basis of the roll number issued to him. The board had cancelled the result of this student who had questioned the decision of the board.

The high court had not only asked the board to declare the result of the petitioner in accordance with the law but also directed it to fill the roll number slip itself in its entirety. What weighed with the high court was that such errors committed by the school or any person outside the board could spoil the career of the students.

Notwithstanding the specific order of the high court, the board appears to continue with the old practice, if the scores of writ petitions preferred in the court are any indication. For example, Sarabjit Kaur was allotted roll number 464802 in 2000 for taking the matriculation examination. She was shown to have passed the examination and issued the detailed marks sheet. The marks list showed that she had obtained 292 marks. Later the board issued a letter saying that her result may be treated as null and void. She was issued the detailed marks sheet meant for the student who was issued roll number 464803. The principal of the school was asked to obtain her marks sheet and send the same to the board.

The argument of her parents was that she was now studying in the plus two class. Therefore, the decision of the board shook her and her parents. No wonder the student has filed a petition in the high court. The case is still pending.

Again, Praveen Kumar, a student of the plus two class, was issued the roll number of someone else. His result was declared and he was issued the detailed marks sheet. He is a student of BA (II). Now the board has cancelled his result and asked him to return the marks sheet.

He, too, has filed a petition in the high court against the decision of the board. The argument of the student is that by cancelling his result the board has ruined his academic career. Instead of being a student of BA (Final) next year, he was relegated to the plus two class. His case is also pending in the high court.

Enquiries made from reliable sources in the high court reveal that there are scores of cases against the board for issuing wrong roll numbers.

Incidentally, there are hundreds of students living in far-flung rural areas who did not know the legal procedure to seek remedy nor are their parents so educated as to guide their children to seek a remedy in court.

The parents of certain students say that when the high court had issued this order, students had heaved a sigh of relief and hoped that the board would not commit any mistake in issuing roll numbers. They feel that the board does not seem to care for the order of the high court and they continue to suffer for no fault of theirs.

All efforts made by The Tribune to contact the Chairman to the board, Dr Kehar Singh, and the Secretary, Mr Jagjit Singh Sidhu, to seek their version proved futile as both of them were not available.


Stay-on-strike today
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 11
Teachers of private colleges will go on ‘stay-in-strike’ here tomorrow. The striking teachers will hold protest rallies in their colleges.

Stating this, the finance secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, Prof Balbir Singh, said the strike would be observed in protest against the arrest of the union leaders carried out on the last day of relay fast rally held at Ludhiana by teachers of non-government colleges.

The action of the police has aroused anger among the college teachers of Punjab which forced them to go on strike tomorrow. Prof Balbir Singh said that the arrested leaders included the president of the PCCTU, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, and the general secretary, Prof Jaspal Singh Randhawa.

Prof Balbir Singh appealed to the government to release the arrested leaders immediately, failing which the union would be forced to adopt agitational means.

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