Friday, September 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Tohra asks CM to step down
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
Immediately after returning from a foreign tour, Mr G.S. Tohra, president, SHSAD, has asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, to step down as Chief Minister if he wanted to forge complete panthic unity.

Mr Tohra said he agreed with Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, Panthic Morcha, that Mr Badal would have to appear before the Akal Takht and accept Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar before the panthic unity. He, however, alleged that Mr Badal was not sincere on the unity move as his no emissary approached the leadership of the morcha so far. He alleged that Mr Badal was guilty of violating the ‘hukmnama’ issued by the Akal Takht on December 31, 1998. Mr Tohra was here to attend the 57th anniversary of the All-India Sikh Students Federation.

The pro-Akal Takht Canadian Sikhs did not invite Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to address Sikh sangats in most of the gurdwaras in Canada as they still considered Bhai Ranjit Singh as ‘real Jathedar’ of the Akal Takht, Mr Tohra claimed.

Mr Tohra alleged that Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi could not replace Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan as secretary of the SGPC though he actually wished so as he (Dr Bachan) was being shielded by Mr Badal.

Mr Tohra said there was need for ordering a high-level probe into the properties amassed by Mr Badal and Mr Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, disproportionate to their known sources of income. He said if voted to power, the panthic morcha would constitute a panel of two sitting judges of the high court to evaluate the properties of these leaders. Mr Tohra alleged that Mr Badal had reached a ‘secret pact’ with the Central Government and his Haryana counterpart Mr Om Prakash Chautala for the completion of the controversial Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal in lieu of Chandigarh. The morcha won’t tolerate the free completion of the canal as the state had no spare water at the moment.

Mr Tohra alleged that the morcha won’t allow the ‘Sehajdharis’ to cast their votes as the SGPC’s general house had passed a resolution in this regard. Mr Badal was not taking up the case of ‘Sehajdharis’ with the Central Government deliberately, he alleged.

Earlier, the All-India Sikh Students Federation passed a resolution to oust the Badal Government in the forthcoming Assembly elections. In yet another resolution, it resolved to fight against the menace of drug addiction.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, Panthic Morcha, while speaking on this occasion said that Mr Badal had violated the panthic traditions by violating the edict issued from the Akal Takht. Unless Mr Badal appear before the Akal Takht, the morcha could not think of forging unity with the ruling Akali Dal, he added.

Bhai Manjit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Major Singh Uboke, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra also spoke.


Civic staff burn Badal’s effigy
Tribune Reporters & PTI

Sunam, September 13
Protesting against the government move to abolish octroi in the state a large numbers of municipal employees wearing black badges and holding black flags burnt the effigies of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Minister for Local Government, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, here today.

The employees also observed complete strike in response to a bandh call given by “Punjab Municipal Workers’ Sangharsh Committee” by not performing their duties.

Before burning the effigies of Mr Badal and Mr Tandon at the local SDM Office and Peeranwala Chowk, respectively, they held a protest march and raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

KAPURTHALA: Employees of municipal corporations, municipal councils and nagar panchayats in Punjab today observed a one-day strike and staged protest dharnas in front of the corporation or council offices in protest against the proposed abolition of octroi in response to call given by All Municipal Employees Union.

This was disclosed by Punjab Nagarpalika Karamchari Sangathan state president Sardari Lal Sharma who is also one of seven members of the Punjab Municipal Workers Sangharsh Committee while talking to mediapersons here.

He claimed that the strike was “total” in the state as neither the municipal employees attended the offices nor the safai mazdoors did the cleanliness work.

NAWANSHAHR: Employees of local municipal council, the protest against the proposed move of the Badal government to abolish octroi in the state, on Thursday held a dharna, a protest march, blocked traffic and burnt the effigy of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The employees also kept the drinking water supply suspended. The residents had to face inconvenience as the drinking water supply in a number of localities remained suspended.

ROPAR: Employees of various councils in the district on Thursday disrupted water supply in the residential areas till 12 noon in protest against the proposed abolition of the octroi by Punjab Government. The Employees also sat on dharnas and organised rallies to mark their protest.

Employee leaders of the Ropar and Nangal council also threatened to intensify their agitation if the government went ahead with its decision to abolish the octroi.

HOSHIARPUR: Civic amenities including water supply and cleanliness of the city was disrupted due to strike by employees of the local municipal council in protest against the proposed abolishing of octroi. Residents did not get a drop of water till 12 noon. Garbage was not removed. Almost all drains were choked and the sullage was flowing on roads and lanes causing in convenience to people.

PHAGWARA: An effigy of Punjab Government was burnt at Paper Chowk on the G.T. Road by local municipal employees on Thursday.

TARN TARAN: Employees of the local municipal council on Thursday staged a dharna in protest against the government move to abolish octroi system.


Patiala goes without water
Disruption by MC men protesting move to abolish octroi 
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
City residents had to go without water for half of the day today with Municipal Corporation workers disrupting water supply in the early morning to protest against the government move to abolish octroi in the state.

Water supply, which was disrupted in the morning at around 6.60 a.m., was restored at around 1.30 p.m. by the workers themselves with the Municipal Corporation failing to get the service restored earlier even though the workers had threatened disruption of services yesterday. The worst affected localities were Tripri township, Tafazalpura, walled city area, Bishen Nagar, Anand Nagar, Deshmesh Nagar, Rajpura Colony and Rattan Nagar.

The disruption of water supply was met with resentment by people who were specially perturbed at the failure of the corporation to do anything in the matter. Both corporation Commissioner K S Kang and the Joint Commissioner were not present in the office today.

The district administration, on its part, said the corporation did not inform it of the threat of the municipal workers due to which alternative measures to ensure water supply to the residents could not be taken. Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said when he came to know of the problem he had talked to the Joint Commissioner of the corporation and asked him why the administration was not informed about the threat of the employees.

Mr Bir said the employees could not be allowed to take the law in their own hands, saying the alleged proposal of the government to abolish octroi had nothing to do with cutting off water supply to city residents and that the employees had not helped their cause by resorting to such tactics. He also said the corporation authorities should have persuaded its employees more vigorously to not go ahead with its threat.

The residents of the city vented their anger at the corporation and the administration for failing to take timely measures. Mukesh Lal of Jauhrian Bhattian said the administration should have moved effectively to stop disruption of the water supply in the city by taking necessary measures, adding laws already existed under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), to take action in this regard. Gursharan Singh of Sheranwala Gate said both the corporation and the administration could not remain mute witnesses to irresponsible behaviour on the part of the municipal employees.

Meanwhile, municipal employees held a rally-cum-march in the city this morning to protest against the government decision to abolish octroi in the state. Municipal Workers Union’ president Prem Chand Sharma and its regional president Pushpinder Pathak, while speaking at a rally organised in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office on the Mall Road, threatened to intensify their agitation in case the government remained adamant on abolishing octroi.

The employees had earlier collected at the old office of the corporation in the Dharampura Bazar from where they marched to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. They handed over a memorandum to the DC claiming the government did not have any resources to recompensate the municipalities to the tune of Rs 600 crore if octroi was abolished in the state. They also burnt effigies of the Punjab Government besides raising slogans against it on the occasion. 


Octroi abolition move: civic staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 13
Members of the Punjab Municipal Workers’ Union today held a rally in the city and sat on a dharna in front of the office of the civic body to press the government not to abolish octroi in the state. The agitators were shouting slogans against the Chief Minister and the Minister for Local Bodies. They also held a rally for half an hour in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Work in the municipal council came to a standstill as the employees came on streets causing inconvenience to people. The agitating employees were demanding that octroi should not be abolished.

They said the proposed move of the government would render many employees jobless. They said the income of the municipal council would also be reduced after the abolition of the octroi. Mr Ranjit Singh, district president of the union said the government should not abolish octroi without deciding about the alternative source of income and the plight of the employees who would be rendered jobless. Mr Ashok Kumar, president of the city unit of the union said before taking any decision the government should take them into confidence.


Kewal Singh attacks Nanaksar sect
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
The Sikh clergy today came in direct confrontation with the Nanaksar, a sect of Sikhs.

Addressing a religious function at Gurdwara Guru Sar at Brar village, Ajnala, 20 km from here, today, Giani Kewal Singh, Jethedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, said it was a matter of great regret that the Sikhs were worshipping “living gurus” instead of Guru Granth Sahib. In a hard hitting speech, he said: “Many Nand Singhs were born and died but Guru Granth Sahib remained the eternal strength of Sikhs”.

The function was organised on behalf of the SGPC.

The remarks of Giani Kewal Singh may snowball into a big controversy as he has directly hit the religious deras run by serveral Sikh sects. It may be mentioned here that Baba Nand Singh, founder of the Nanaksar sect, commands great respect in a major section of the Sikhs.

Mr Kuldip Singh Sallow, a follower of the Nanaksar dera, said the comments of Giani Kewal Singh were unfounded as followers of the sect followed the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib only. He said Nanaksar had propagated the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib to mark the 400th anniversary of the holy Granth which would fall in 2004.

Giani Kewal Singh triggered yet another controversy when he condemned Baba Darshan Singh “kar sevawale” who constructed a samadhi of Baba Kharak Singh near Baba Budha gurdwara in Amritsar district. He said the setting up of a samadhi near Gurdwara Goindwal Sahib was also against the tenets of Sikhism. Giani Kewal Singh sought acceptance from the Sikh sangat amid slogans like “Bole so nihal, Sat Sri Akal”.


UK, Canadian visa offices for Jalandhar, Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Union Ministry of External Affairs has given its no-objection certificate to both the British High Commission and the Canadian High Commission for opening their visa offices in Jalandhar and Chandigarh, respectively.

According to a letter received by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, from the Union Minister of External Affairs, Mr Jaswant Singh, the Union Government has agreed to allow the Canadian High Commission to upgrade its Chandigarh trade office to a full-fledged Visa Consulate . Earlier this office was only used as a visa collection centre.

Similarly, the Union Government has also permitted the British High Commission to open a Visa Liaison Office in Jalandhar.

Chandigarh will thus become the first city outside the four metropolitan cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to have a full-fledged Consulate office of a foreign mission.

According to earlier guidelines of the Union Government, no Consulates were permitted outside the four metropolitan cities.

Indo-Canadian Members of the House of Commons of Canada had been pressing the Canadian Government to upgrade the existing trade and visa collection centre in Chandigarh to a full-fledged visa granting Consulate office.

Earlier this year an official delegation led by the Canadian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship had visited Chandigarh and held discussions with the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers. Members of this official delegation were Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi of the ruling Liberal Party at present Deputy Minister for Labour in Canada) and Mr Gurmant Grewal , a Deputy Leader of the Canadian Alliance, the main Opposition party in Canada.

The British Government had also been toying with the idea of starting a visa collection centre in Jalandhar to help a large number of Punjabi families settled in the United Kingdom.

Opening of the Consulate of Canada in Chandigarh and the British Visa Liaison Office in Jalandhar will provide major relief to people of Punjab and Chandigarh as these will save them the botheration of visiting New Delhi to get visas. Now their applications can be processed here in the new offices.

Formal dates for the starting of the Canadian Consulate and the British Liaison Office are likely to be announced shortly. 


Congress win from Adampur upheld
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Upholding the election of Indian National Congress candidate Kanwaljit Singh from the Adampur assembly constituency, Mr Justice J.S. Narang of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today advised the returning officers to be more vigilant in future.

Challenging the election, Mr Dalvir Singh Dhirowal of Shiromani Akali Dal had earlier contended that there was a difference of seven votes between the ballots retrieved from the boxes and calculated at the commencement of counting. Ordering a recount of votes, Mr Justice Narang had observed: “The total number of votes retrieved from the ballot boxes has been spelt out to be 82,937.... The number of votes counted at the time of commencement and completion of roundwise counting has been deciphered as 82,930. The difference of seven votes between the two forms has not been explained by anyone.... To resolve the mystery as to where the seven votes have vanished, it is necessary to order recount”.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Narang observed: “As per the report, the total ballot papers retrieved have been counted as 82,932. The figure does not match the figure specified in Form 20 part I. Even if the two votes are assumed to have been cast in favour of the petitioner, yet the successful candidature of the respondent would not to affected in any manner. There remains no merit in the petition and the same is dismissed”.

In his detailed order, the Judge observed: “The returning officer has not been vigilant as the votes counted, specified in the two forms, varied from each other and on recount, pursuant to the order dated August 3, the votes retrieved and counted stood increased by two. It is advised that in future the returning officers so appointed should remain more vigilant as the trust of the voters lies in their hands and that they should never ever fail in such endeavour”.

The elections were held on November 25, 1998, and the counting took place after three days. As many as 35,285 votes were cast in Mr Kanwaljit Singh’s favour, while 35,279 votes were polled in the petitioner’s favour. Over 650 votes were declared invalid.

Plea on wealth of CM, Amarinder dismissed

A public interest litigation filed by an advocate, seeking the appointment of a judicial commission or probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the allegations and counter-allegations levelled by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Amarinder Singh on acquisition of wealth disproportionate to known sources of income, was today dismissed as withdrawn by the High Court.

In his petition, Nahar Singh Ghuman of Ropar district had earlier submitted that the probe should be ordered as allegations had been made by respectable members of the society and huge sums of money were involved. The public as such had the right to know the truth. Quoting newspaper reports, his counsel had contended that huge wealth, as alleged by the two sides, could not be accumulated by lawful means.

Punjab restrained on ‘sangat’ cheque

On a petition filed by a gram panchayat, claiming that the cheques issued by the Chief Minister during “sangat darshans” were not being handed over to ones having alliance with the Congress party or were being withheld by the BDPOs, a Division Bench of the High Court today restrained the state of Punjab and other respondents from disbursing the amount or spending the same till September 24.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice N.K. Sud, also directed the respondents to file a reply within a week.

In their petition, Veeran gram panchayat had earlier sought directions to the respondents “to make a deposit of the cheque in the name of the gram panchayat and to deposit the panchayat funds in the panchayat accounts”.


Dharmi faujis seek Jathedar’s post
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 13
Even as the conflict between warring factions of Akali Dal regarding the post of Jathedar of the Akal Takht is yet to be resolved, an association of Sikh soldiers who left their jobs in protest against Operation Blue Star in 1984, have staked their claim to the post. 

The Sikh Dharmi Fauji Association (SDFA) claimed that in the light of their sacrifices for the Sikh Panth they should be given due representation in the affairs of the Panth. Mr Amrik Singh, chairman of the association, in a press note said the present conflict between various Akali Dals regarding their claim to the post would end only if one of the members of the association would be appointed to the post. 

He said the person chosen by the association would be acceptable to everyone as he would be a non-political personality. He would also work for the unity of various factions of the Akali Dal, he added.

Mr Amrik Singh said the association would contest the SGPC elections. It would forge an alliance with the like-minded religious parties for the elections, he added.

He said the members of the association had left their jobs on the request of some Akali leaders. 


Ramoowalia unfolds party’s agenda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 13
Lok Bhalai Party supremo, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, today while unfolding the agenda of his party for the coming Assembly elections alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had given exclusive rights on Punjab’s river waters share to the Central Government by not opposing to the amendment carried out in the concerned Act.

Mr Ramoowalia, who presided over the party’s conference held on the occasion of the annual Baba Sidhpur mela at Selbhra, village, 50 km from here, alleged that apart from giving exclusive rights over the river waters share, Mr Badal had sold off government properties at throwaway prices.

The economy of Punjab was in bad shape due to wrong policies of the state government. Unrest among the people of the state had been on rise due to unemployment, rampant corruption, recession in industrial growth and deteriorating law and order situation, he alleged.

Mr Ramoowalia pointed out that number of suicides committed by farmers over the past few years was a strong indication that agriculture in the state was also in bad shape and no efforts were being made to make it a profitable venture by the authorities concerned.

He alleged that it was surprising that buses owned by the state transport authorities had been making losses every year while buses owned by private transporters had been making profits. Private transporters had been given lucrative routes, he added.

He said if his party came to power an inquiry would be instituted to probe the sale of government properties and every act of omission and commission of ruling politicians and government officials.

He added that party would field its candidates in 90 assembly segments and the possibilities of an electoral alliance with like-minded party could not be ruled out. He announced that if their party came to power a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh per village would be given if 15 boys or girls of that village married without dowry.

Mr Nachhatter Singh Sidhu, national secretary, Mr Sukhchain Singh, member, central working committee, Mr Gurmeet Singh, general secretary, Mr Jaswinder Singh Dhillon, the local president of the party, and Mr J. Singh, president, Legal Cell of the party, were also present on the occasion.


Singla hails SC decision on Sonia’s citizenship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
Hailing the decision of the Supreme Court with regard to the upholding of the Indian citizenship of the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the chairman of the media committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Surinder Singla, said today that the challenging of her citizenship was a conspiracy hatched by opponents of the Congress.

He said that finally this conspiracy had been exposed. The party’s opponents wanted to defame the Congress by raising irrelevant issues.

He said the country had accepted Mrs Gandhi as the undisputed leader of the Congress. People gave an impressive mandate to the party under her leadership in the assembly elections held in various states some months ago. The party had found a dynamic leader in her. Moreover, Mr Singla said, Mrs Gandhi had presented the country’s cause better abroad than the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. NRIs were very much impressed by the speeches made by Mrs Gandhi abroad during her visit a few months ago.


Market Committee chief removed
our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 13
Pandemonium prevailed at a meeting held here yesterday in which a no-confidence motion was to be moved against Mr Harbhajan Singh, Chairman of the local Market Committee. Hot words were exchanged between Mr Kartar Singh Pahra, MLA, and Mr Pritam Singh Kounta, Chairman, Sugarfed.

Mr Pahra was adamant to remove Mr Harbhajan Singh from chairmanship while Mr Kounta mustered majority support in favour of Mr Harbhajan Singh. Both Akali leaders were not entitled to sit at the meeting of the committee. A large number of their supporters were waiting outside the meeting hall. The police intervened and forced the crowd out of the hall.

As many as 14 members of the committee, out of a total of 17 members attended the meeting. Out of these, eight were in favour of rejecting the no-trust motion.

A fax message was received during the meeting that Mr Harbhajan Singh had been suspended as sarpanch. He had become member of the Market Committee through a quota for sarpanches. Taking advantage of the message, Mr Pahra said Mr Harbhajan Singh could not continue as Chairman. As a result, Mr Bau Ram, Vice-Chairman of the committee, was appointed to hold the office of Chairman. The three-year term of Mr Harbhajan Singh expires on November 5.

Mr Harbhajan Singh said the meeting was illegal and his removal unconstitutional. He produced a stay granted to him by the Director, Panchayats, till September 12 and maintained that he could not be removed.


Cong observer locked out of room
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
A Congress observer and senior Himachal Pradesh leader, Chaudhary Daulat Ram, who has come to the city to assess Congress aspirants for the party ticket from seven Assembly seats of the Patiala Parliamentary constitutency, was locked out of his room in the PWD guest house here yesterday.

According to sources, the step was taken at the behest of local PWD Minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur following a complaint that some flowers pots had been broken during a quarrel between former minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa and former Minister Amarjit Kaur.


BJP aspirants to declare assets
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 13
Office-bearers of the Punjab unit of the BJP at a recent meeting of the party resolved that any person, including present BJP ministers and MLAs, seeking party ticket in the frothcoming Assembly election, would submit a complete list of his assets to the state office with his application.

This was stated by Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, State BJP President, while talking to mediapersons here today. The BJP would not only get its share of 23 seats in the state Assembly elections from the SAD, but also compel its partner to increase its share. Replying to a question, Mr Rinwa said the BJP would not object if various factions of the SAD, including the SHSAD, forged an alliance.

Mr Rinwa said the BJP had sympathy with the police officers who had fought against militants in the state but were now facing cases.

Referring to the agitation being launched by municipal employees in protest against the proposed abolition of the octroi in the state, he said their agitation was unnecessary. The state government had announced that no employee would be retrenched.


PNFC workers gherao minister
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 13
Estranged workers of the now closed Punjab National Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (PNFC) unit today gheraoed the local minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, in protest against the non-payment of their dues. According to sources, the workers along with their families, descended upon the BBMB rest house, Sutlej Sadan, where the minister was camping, at about 9.30 a.m. taking the police by surprise.

The workers sat on a dharna on the premises of the rest house and raised slogans against the government. The impasse was resolved only after three hours when the minister assured the workers that the Punjab Chief Minister had directed the PSIDC management to pay six months’ salary to them as an immediate compensation.

The minister produced a copy of the letter written by the Chief Minister to the PSIDC management. The Chief Minister stated in the letter that it was not a question of legality or statutory obligation. It was the issue involving the livelihood of large number of employees who have gone without salary.

Considering the resource crunch in the PSIDC, the offer of the Finance Department to permit the PSIDC to raise resources by market borrowing with state guarantee should be persued. Exercise could be done in a time-bound manner so that the disbursement of the six months’ salary was made to the PNFC employees at the earliest, the letter stated.

Besides, showing the letter to the workers, Mr Mittal also assured the workers that the proposed six month's salary would be paid to them by September 30, pending which he would himself sit on a dharna along with them.

About 500 workers of the PNFC plant, which stopped production in 1998, have not been paid salary since September 1999. The workers have also not been paid any compensation despite the fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had appointed a liquidator who sealed the plant on August 28.

The PNFC lockout has brought to the fore a lot of contentious issues. The PNFC and its adjoining plant of the Punjab Alkalis and Chemicals Ltd (PACL) were conceived jointly. There are some vital facilities as the 2 km water pipeline from the Sutlej and the railway line, which are owned jointly by both units. After the closure of the PNFC the issue of the ownership of these facilities has become a contentious issue. The water pipeline was essential for the working of the PACL plant as any disruption in the supply of water could stop the production.

The General Manager of the PACL plant said as an immediate relief the liquidator had allowed them to operate the water facility. The PACL had also approached the AIFR to buy the joint facilities from the PNFC. However, the decision regarding it was still pending. 


Disaster management system on anvil
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
If roads are the arteries leading to development, Punjab has a long way to go to keep these in a state of fitness. The existence of a wide network of 1,700 km of national highways, 7,100 km of plan roads and 22,000 km of link roads is not enough. Its proper maintenance and absence of encroachments are equally important.

Though some progress has been made to develop a sound infrastructure of roads, river and railway overbridges, financial assistance, too, has been procured for several projects. What is lacking is a comprehensive road map based on a geographical information system that will serve as a useful instrument in any latter-day disaster management system in this border state.

The Secretary, PWD (B and R), Mr Mohinder Singh, says that keeping in view the sensitivity of the border state, the Border Roads Organisation of the Ministry of Defence has agreed to take over nearly 225 km of strategic roads. Thus far, the BRO has been maintaining only 40-odd km of roads.

Similarly, the geographical location of Punjab has necessitated the creation of websites for the department for closer coordination and quick action in case of emergency. The exigency plan involves building up of a data bank, kilometre-wise, integrating data on number and condition of roads, width, base type, speed limit, structures on the sides, institutions (hospitals and schools), rainfall zones, etc. Such a website will enable plan operations during an extraordinary situation.

Moreover, Mr Mohinder Singh says a broad-based computerisation plan for the department, from the subdivision to the minister’s level, is under way costing Rs 7 crore. It is being executed by the Centre for Advanced Computing, Pune, the organisation that built India’s first super-computer, Param.

A new system of inviting online tenders is also at an advanced stage. It is being designed by the National Informatics Centre. For update on all information on the web, executive engineers will be personally responsible to feed the nodal agency. All tender-related details will be online.

Such a step is aimed at transparency to refurbish the image of the department being the premier construction wing of the government.

There is a Rural Infrastructure Development Fund in Punjab for which funds to the tune of Rs 217 crore have been procured from Nabard under different schemes; thanks to Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s efforts. Under one such scheme, it was possible to get assistance of Rs 104 crore for three river bridges: Rahon-Machhiwara and Jagraon-Nakodar on the Sutlej and Gurdaspur-Mukerian on the Beas. Despite the reluctance of Nabard, Punjab still got an additional Rs 93 crore for the improvement of link roads.

Punjab urgently needs railway overbridges at 15 crossings to ease congestion and ensure smooth traffic. The Centre has approved four at Sirhind, Rajpura, Sunam and Bathinda. Mr Badal persuaded the ministry and obtained sanction for four more, though there was no provision in the Railway budget in the current financial year. These are to come up on the Khanna-Samrala road, the Phagwara-Jandiala road, Tanda and in Patiala city.

The Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways has declared 500 km of roads as National Highways, thus effecting financial savings for Punjab. These are Chandigarh-Ludhiana-Ferozepore; Zirakpur-Patiala-Sangrur-Bathinda-Dabwali; Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur-Dharamsala; and Jalandhar-Nakodar-Moga-Barnala-Hisar. This means a saving of Rs 40 crore annually for Punjab.


Badal’s UK visit put off
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
As a fallout of the terrorist attacks in the USA on Tuesday, the visit of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to England later this month has been postponed.

Mr Badal was to participate in the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh scheduled to be held in London on September 19 and 20 .

The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Rob Young, was to accompany the Punjab Chief Minister to London for the celebrations. Some other members of the Punjab Council of Ministers and senior officials of the state administration were also to go to London.

The Indian High Commissioner to the UK was made chairman of the celebration committee.

A number of events were planned to be organised to mark the bicentenary. Sources said that all functions planned for September 19 and 20 would now be held at later dates.

Besides the Punjab Chief Minister’s entourage from Chandigarh, the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Union Minister and national vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party Madan Lal Khurana and the Vice-Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, were to join the celebrations in London.

Mr Dhindsa is also the national president of the bicentenary celebration committee. He was to lead a delegation to Toronto where the Punjabi community had planned a big function at Gurdwara Dixie Road, one of the biggest Sikh shrines in North America, to mark the bicentenary celebrations. All prominent Punjabi leaders of North America in general and Sikh leaders in particular were to join the celebrations. But this programme, too, has been postponed till next month.

Among those expected to join were the Canadian Federal Ministers, Mr Herb Dhaliwal and Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, besides Mr Gurmant Grewal, MP; members of the British Columbia Council of Ministers, including Dr Gulzar Singh Cheema and Ms Surinder Kaur; and the president of the Word Sikh Organisation, Mr Didar Singh Bains.

Keeping in view the changed security scenario following the terrorist attacks in the USA , both the British and Indian Governments were of the view that the London function should be postponed till the return of normalcy.

Fresh dates for both the Toronto and London functions will be announced later.

The third function planned overseas in connection with the bicentenary celebrations was to be held in Pakistan in October this year.

This function, too, is uncertain. While it is yet to be cleared at the level of government, the changed security scenario appears to have cast its shadow on the Lahore programme, too, which, unlike the Toronto and London functions, may be cancelled.

The last and fourth function to be held overseas has already been deferred to next year. This will be held in France where a series of seminars and exhibitions are planned to be organised.


Lawyes for CBI probe into PSEB bunglings
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 13
The Punjab Law Forum (PLF) a local organisation of lawyers, has urged the state government to hold a CBI probe into the alleged bunglings in the purchase of electric meters by officials of the PSEB, the reports about which appeared in a section of the Press a few days ago.

The forum has written letters in this regard to Punjab Chief Minister, Power Minister, Law Minister and SP (Vigilance) of the Bathinda zone.

The forum has urged the authorities to bring truth to light as the involvement of some senior officials is alleged in the matter. Mr Charan Pal Singh Brar, president of the organisation said illegal transactions worth about Rs 14 crore were involved in the scandal.


Computer course test disappoints
Padmini Jain

NIIT, the well-known computer education institute, held its 11th Bhavishya Jyoti Scholarship test at Rajpura on September 9. More than 200 candidates appeared in the test which was held at three centres in two shifts. But the scene at the centres lacked the seriousness that the occasion demanded. The candidates were asked to sit wherever they wished and the question paper also contained some wrongly framed questions. For example one question had four options for an answer, none of which was correct. The confused students started shouting and discussing the question among themselves. The NIIT staff could not control the situation. The result of this test and an interview will decide which candidate will be given a 100 per cent discount on an NIIT computer course. Some others will be given 50 per cent, 30 per cent, 25 per cent, 20 per cent, 15 per cent and 10 per cent discount, depending on their performance.

* * *

Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Punjab’s Minister for Local Bodies who represents Rajpura in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, listened to the problems of the people at Sadhraur village last week at a Sangat Darshan programme. He urged the people to strengthen the SAD-BJP Government in the forthcoming elections.

Mr Tandon gave way cheques to the sarpanchs of different villages for the development of their areas. He also announced grants of Rs 32 lakh, Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh for a tubewell, a school and roads in Sadhraur village. Free plots were announced for the Scheduled Castes.

* * *

The Telecommunications Department has started on-line service in Rajpura for the payment of telephone bills. This will ensure immediate entry of the amount paid in the account of the payee, and he need not preserve the receipt. Even if one loses the bill, the payment can be made by quoting the bill and telephone number.

* * *

Two men went to a grocery store on Kachehri Road to make some purchases. The owner had gone home for lunch and his father was in the shop. The men got some things packed and asked for some rice. On being shown the rice, they demanded better quality rice and the old man left the shop to fetch the rice from the godown. When he returned, the men had vanished, leaving the packed things behind. But all the cash in the drawer was missing.


Shun anger, greed; says Talwandi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 13
The SGPC chief, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, has said the service of humanity is the most significant and important component of life.

He made these remarks while addressing a large religious congregation at Malu Nangal village during the annual Jod Mela. The SGPC chief said people yesterday lacked desire to work for the betterment of society and said Sikh religion gave tremendous importance to the service of people

He asked people to shun ills like anger, greed and ego to live a better purposeful life.


Tribunal sets aside councillor’s election
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 13
Mr K. Siva Prashad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-presiding officer, District Election Tribunal, Jalandhar, on Wednesday set aside the election of Mr Ashok Aggarwal and declared Mr Alam Singh Walia elected municipal councillor from ward No. 6

Mr Alam Singh had filed a petition before the tribunal challenging the election of Mr Aggarwal on the charge of adopting malpractices and irregularities during the polling. He also challenged the election of Mr Aggarwal on ground that he was not eligible to contest the election as municipal councillor as he was a defaulter of the council.

As Mr Alam Singh had also levelled charges against the then Deputy Commissioner for playing a partisan role in the election who was also presiding officer of the District Election Tribunal, Kapurthala, and the petition was sent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which entrusted the same for decision to the District Election Tribunal . The elections to the local municipal council were held on January 1998.


Govt directive flouted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 13
A glaring example how officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board are flouting the directive of the Punjab Government has come to light.

As per claims made by the government, Dalits having a load of less than 1 kw have been exempted from paying for up to 100 units per month.

Raja Singh, a Dalit of the town, who has a domestic connection (number VN-46-0773) for 0.26 kw has reportedly been regularly getting power bills. He had submitted the Scheduled Caste certificate to the board.

The latest power bill of Rs 199, issued to him on August 21, 2001, shows a consumption of only 91 units for two months.

He is approaching the subdivisional officer of the board, city sub-division, in this connection.


Army recruitment rally from Oct 1
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 13
An Army recruitment rally will be held at Faridkot from October 1 to October 7. A press note issued here today said vacancies like those of Sainik (general duty), Sainik (clerk), Sainik (technical) and Nurse (assistant) would be filled during the rally. 

The rally would be open to candidates belonging to all castes. Candidates belonging to Ferozepore, Faridkot, Bathinda, Moga, Mansa and Muktsar districts would be eligible.


Jakhar condemns attacks in USA
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 13
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar today condemned the terrorist attacks on US installations but criticised Pakistan, which had been abetting terrorism in the subcontinent for more than two decades for slamming such horrendous acts in other countries as the roots of the happenings in the USA had possible links in Pakistan.

Addressing a meeting of party workers here, Mr Jakhar said the Congress had always made sacrifices in weeding out terrorism in the country but certain constituents of the NDA were supporting subversive elements. The arrests and trials of such militants and their masters was eyewash. Lambasting the NDA government, Mr Jakhar said while all those implicated in the hawala scam were asked to quit their respective organisational and official posts, persons like Mr George Fernandes who figured prominently in the Tehelka case were allowed to continue as NDA convener.


Saraswat award for Vatsayan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13
The Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sabha will confer the Varinder Saraswat Award on Prof Suresh Chander Vatsayan,a pioneer of “mantra poetry” , in Ludhiana tomorrow.

Professor Vatsayan, who retired as Principal of Government College, Talwara, is credited with authoring 27 books and 72 research papers on various aspects of literature. He is already a recipient of three national and six state awards.He has written books in Hindi, Punjabi and English..

Mr Lajpat Rai, MP, will preside over the function which is being organised as Hindi Divas at Arya College .


Police Academy to host seminar on policing
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, September 13
Senior police officers from Punjab and South Yorkshire (England) will have a series of brain storming sessions on various aspects of policing, including handling of terrorism , at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Police Academy at Phillaur on September 19 and 20 September.

The seminars-cum-conferences are being organised by the South Yorkshire Police in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office on various issues of mutual interest.

Six subjects have been chosen for this seminar-cum-conference programme. Eight officers from South Yorkshire Police are already in India in connection with these interactive programmes.

There has been regular exchange of visits between the Punjab Police and South Yorkshire Police for the past some time now. Recently, the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr Sarabjit Sing, was invited by the South Yorkshire Police to England.

Mr Sarabjit Singh would be the main speaker at this interactive programme. He would speak on "Handling terrorism in Punjab." Mr K.K. Attri, Inspector-General of Police (crime), Punjab will join him.

On second subject of "Policing in Multicultural Society" Mr Dinkar Gupta, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Intelligence, back from training abroad, would be the main speaker. Other viewpoints will be put forward by a visiting South Yorskhire Police officer.

"Child Abuse and the police response" would be another subject on which both the Punjab Police and South Yorkshire police officer would present views. On "Crime against women", Senior Superintendent of Police, Kapurthala, Ms Gurpreet Deo, would be joined by a British officer as main speakers.

The subject of "Urban Policing" has been left for the visiting police officers.

On the issue of Recruitment and Training of Police, Dr G.S. Aujla, Additional Director-General of Police (Operations) would be the main speaker. He would be joined by a British officer as the second speaker.

First time that such a seminar-cum-conference is being organised in Punjab in which police officers of two different countries will be participating and share experiences.

Course on Forensic Science : The Sector 26 Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration, Punjab, will organise a three-day course on "Forensic Science" for serving judicial, senior police officers and lawyers. Professor (Dr) P. Chandra Sekharan, Padma Bhushan, and presently Head of the National Law Univesity, Bangalore, and other noted forensic experts from various parts of the country will conduct the course.

The three-day course would discuss forensic cheiloscopy, personal identification, DNA profling and forensic chemistry documentation, and archaeology pyrotehnics.


Admn fails to evict illegal occupants
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 13
The district administration today failed to evict illegal occupants of government quarters from the official canal colony due to political interference.

The Deputy Commissioner had ordered the eviction of four families from quarters where they had been living ‘illegally’ for the past about four decades. Though the Subdivisional Magistrate, Mr Dilraj Singh Sandhewal, along with the police reached the spot to take possession of the quarters and waited for more than four hours, yet the occupants refused to vacate quarters. The situation was tense as leaders of various political parties, including the Congress, came out in support of the occupants and forced the magistrate beat a hasty retreat.



Fake recruitment agencies target rural youths
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 13
Owners of “fake” recruiting agencies here are cheating unemployed youths by promising them employment abroad. These agents have been targeting youths belonging to the rural areas.

On September 9, a case under Sections 420, 506 and 34, IPC, was registered against Baldev Singh, Kashmir Singh and Hoshiar Singh, all residents of Ferozepore district, for allegedly cheating Jarnail Singh of Bhairupa village of this district on the pretext of securing a government job for his son for Rs 85,000.

In an FIR lodged at Dialpura police station, the complainant alleged that the three had cheated several others.

He added that they had promised him that his son would be recruited as clerk in the Service Selection Board.

In the past more than a year, the police has busted several rackets whereby youths wre being cheated of lakhs of rupees for jobs.

About eight months ago, three persons were arrested who had allegedly cheated a number of youths on the pretext of getting them jobs in godowns of the FCI and collected about Rs 40 lakh from them.

A few months ago, a Delhi-based recruitment agency tried to collect money from youths of this region by promising them jobs in a cement unit.


GND varsity to set up centre at Preet Nagar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 13
Gur Nanak Dev University will open a centre for Punjabi literature in Preet Nagar on the Indo-Pakistan border.

Preet Nagar was home to Gurbax Singh Preetlari, had a cinestar Balraj Sahni, Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh. However, after partition, it was deserted and the palatial houses of great personalities were encroached upon. With the passage of time the dream of Preetlari stood shattered. However, the largely circulated magazine, “Preetlari” launched by Gurbax Singh himself was still being published from the small township.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, said yesterday that the university would endeavour to restore the old glory of the township so that literary activities could be pursued in the right earnest from there. The Vice-Chancellor made this announcement while addressing a seminar on “Meri Marphat”, a book of Punjabi poetry, authored by Parminderjit, editor, Akhar.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university would earmark at least Rs 15 lakh per annum for the promotion of Punjabi language and literature, apart from the routine budgetary allocations. He said he had already issued necessary instructions to translate the university calendar into Punjabi. Various departments had been directed to promote Punjabi language in all respects.

The university is also contemplating to set up creative centre for Punjabi literature to encourage budding Punjab writers. He said the university would also publish their works from time to time.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Halwarvi, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, who presided over the seminar said the poetry of Parminderjit was a true reflection of the most difficult period of Punjab, which had touched the heart all Punjabis. His candid description of the events, particularly the mind-set of Punjabis, formed the core of the collection of poem.


Mismatch of science students and teachers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 13
The rationalisation policy of the Punjab Government to match the number of science lecturers in rural schools with the number of students, has been done only on paper with some rural senior secondary schools in the district not even having a single student in the science stream and numerous others having only a token number of such students.

Even though the State Education Minister has continuously been harping on the need for the rationalisation of posts in schools in the state, yet rural schools in Tohra, Panjola and Roshanpur villages do not have a single student in plus one and plus two science streams. There are around three science teachers posted in all schools.

The situation is no better in various other rural schools with the Kalyan village school having only four students in plus one and six students in plus two, Dayalpur Sodhian school having seven in plus one and ten students in plus two, Manakpur village school having five in plus one and eleven students in plus two. Pabri school having eight students in plus one and five in plus two and the Nandpur Kesho village school also having eight and five students in both classes respectively.

Teachers said there was not much hope of the rationalisation policy being implemented this year with regard to science teachers. They said while plus two classes were started from April 1, plus one classes were being conducted from July 1. District Education Officer (Secondary) Kharak Singh Cheema, however, said the scheme could still be implemented in the district at this stage also.

Mr Cheema disclosed that a detailed scheme had been made for nodal schools at the tehsil and sub- tehsil levels, which would be developed as centres of excellence and would take up classes in the science and commerce streams. He said this was being done to ensure provision of adequate number of teachers where they were needed. He said the rationalisation policy with regard to teachers in various science schools was also being taken up at a higher level.

However, the teachers said the rationalisation policy was being misused to make postings under political influence and even cited cases where science and maths teachers were posted to the district from other parts of the state even though there was no demand. They said citing an example that a maths teacher was posted from Panjola village to Tohra village school even though there was no maths students in his new place of posting.

Sources said the manner in which the science stream had been introduced in some senior secondary schools was also wrong. There were some schools having science stream situated close to each other, while at some places there was no school having the science stream. They gave the example of schools at Tohra Bhadson, Banur and Dayalpura which were situated in proximity to each other and the fact that the same facility was not available in the Dakala area of the district.

Teachers said the main reason for small number of students in science streams in rural schools was that most of the students wanted to take up admission in colleges in nearby towns and cities. They said besides this, there was a fear psychosis in the minds of students to take up science subjects at the plus one level as these had never been tought to them in English language. District Science Superviser, Dr Prabhsharan said now directions had been given to science lecturers to teach class nine and class 10 students in English, which most of them had not been doing earlier as they were appointed to teach plus one and plus two students . She said efforts were also on to bring uniformity in syllabus as well as holding of regular tests to gauge progress of students.


DEO (S) shifted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 13
Mr Major Singh Sandhu, District Education Officer (Secondary), who was allegedly involved in the fake experience certificate scam was transferred to Ludhiana last evening.

There were reports that some of the schools sold the certificates to the candidates who had applied for the recently advertised vacancies of B.Ed teacher. Some of the candidates also used these “fake” certificates in interviews for the ETT and JBT held in August.

The Chief Minister had initiated a vigilance probe into the matter. Sources in the Education Department said the DEO (S) was found guilty.

While there were allegations that hundreds of such certificates had been counter-signed, Mr Sandhu had denied his involvement in any of such cases.

Meanwhile, Ms Gurvinder Kaur Dhillon, Deputy District Education Officer (S) has taken charge of the office of the DEO (S).


Kanwaljit gives 1.5 lakh grant to school
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 13
The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today inaugurated a high school in Dera Bassi. He also inaugurated other schools in 11 different rural areas. The minister gave a grant of Rs 1.5 lakh to the school authorities for its developmental activities.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh was here to attend the annual function of the Sarb-Hit Vidhya Mandir at Dera Bassi today. Speaking on the occasion, the minister stressed the need to lay more emphasis on the moral and cultural values so as to decrease the Western impact. He said that emphasis should be laid on accepting the education, science and technology of Western countries but at the same time should not even forget our own culture and tradition.

The Minister granted an amount of Rs 2 lakh to the Bharat Vikas Parishad, Dera Bassi unit , Rs 1 lakh to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Shakti Nagar, Rs 51,000 to the Bhagvan Sri Valmiki Youth Club, Rs 11,000 for the sports goods and dharamshala, Rs 11,000 for the dharamshala of Sanatan Dharam Sabha and Rs 21,000 for the Adarsh Sports Club.

The president of the Northern region of Sarb-Hit Vidhya Mandir Society, Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, said that more than 1,700 educational centres were being run by the society at present in the country from which more than 22 lakh students were acquiring training. Others present on the occasion were the Municipal Committee President, Dera Bassi, Mr Jagjit Singh Dali and the SDM, Dera Bassi, Mr Pritam Singh Johal.

The minister also expressed grief over the families who were affected during the recent armed robbery at Dera Bassi. The grieved families were assured that soon those responsible for the incident would be behind bars. The SSP, Mr P.S.Grewal and the SP (D) Mr Pritpal Singh Virk, were also present on the occasion.


Non-teaching staff to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 13
The Private Colleges Non-Teaching Employees Union (PCNTEU) has decided to intensify its stir by observing stay-in-strike on every Wednesday and holding dharnas on all college campuses all over Punjab and Chandigarh. 

Speaking to this reporter here today, Mr Raj Kumar singla, general secretary of the union, said this decision was taken at the executive meeting of the union .


Supplementary exams from Sept 29
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 13
The supplementary examinations of the Guru Nanak Dev University will commence from September 29. The spokesman for the university has stated that the roll numbers of all eligible candidates had been despatched. The Vice-Chancellor of the university has appointed Dr S.S. Bindra, Professor of political science, Dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences of the university.

Meanwhile the department of Adult and Continuing Education of the university launched a literacy campaign to educate adult illiterates to mark the International Literacy Day. Under the campaign, 60 adult illiterates were registered which included 40 girls and 14 boys ranging from 12 to 45 age group.

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