Tuesday, September 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Today’s rally a test for Sukhbir
PM, Farooq, Dhumal to attend
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Killianwali (Muktsar), September 24
Even as a wave of enthusiasm has gripped the people of the Malwa region having different political affiliations for the “Sadbhavna rally” being organised to mark 88th birth anniversary of late Chaudhary Devi Lal tomorrow, all arrangements have been made in connection with the visit of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Thousands of police personnel, including commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG), the Punjab Police and members of the Special Protection Group (SPG), have been deployed in and around this small town bordering Haryana to make foolproof security arrangements for the Prime Minister, who would pay his maiden visit to the home constituency, Lambi, of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, tomorrow.

A huge “pandal” to accommodate lakhs of people has been erected, all roads leading to the venue of rally have been relaid and widened and arrangements for the smooth flow of traffic and food for participants have also been made.

Thousands of Akali workers led by party’s general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, have been touring various parts of the Malwa region to make the rally a “big event”. Mr Sukhbir Badal, who has been asked to manage the affairs of the rally has also been leaving nothing to chance to make it a “roaring success”.

Party sources said while the rally would be a test of organisational skills and popularity of Mr Sukhbir Badal and it could also turn into an occasion where the party could unfold its agenda for the coming Assembly elections.

Party sources added that Mr Sukhbir Badal, who had been monitoring the arrangements of the rally by camping in his native village for the past 10 days, would emerge as a crowd puller if the rally became a big success.

A tour to various villages of Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot and Muktsar districts made by TNS team revealed that people would use their tractor-trailers, jeeps and other four-wheelers to reach the site of rally. Party functionaries of various districts had also hired buses and trucks to transport the workers at the venue.

Informations gathered from various quarters revealed that tomorrow’s rally might change the political scene of Punjab when the Assembly elections had been approaching near. Mr Vajpayee, who had played a key role in boosting the industrialisation of Punjab, was likely to announce something which might queer the pitch for other political parties of state.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, while talking to TNS today, said round-the-clock work was going on to make adequate arrangements for the “sea of humanity” which would descend here tomorrow. He added that response of public to the rally would be overwhelming.

He added that the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandra Babu Naidu, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prof P.K. Dhumal, and number of union ministers would attend the rally.


‘Seizure’ of buses for rally resented
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
Hundreds of private buses were taken into possession by the respective district administrations to carry people to Killianwali village, near Mandi Dabwali where the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will address a rally tomorrow.

The deputy commissioners and district transport officers got verbal instructions from their political bosses all over the state for soliciting the services of private transporters. 


Now a compensation scam worth crores
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 24
A scam involving crores of government money meant for compensation for land acquired by the Special Land Collector (Punjab) authorities here has come to light.

The land in question was acquired in a cluster of villages in Ludhiana district in eighties for the Army. But the most interesting part of the entire acquisition exercise, which continued for a couple of years, is that in some cases, compensation of lakhs of rupees was paid more than once to even those who had nothing to do with the land acquired. In some cases the compensation was paid to individuals though the land actually belonged to village panchayats.

The scam is being investigated by the authorities amid speculations that it was nothing but an exercise to make some junior officials a scapegoat to save the skin of some bigwigs and senior bureaucrats.

The information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the scam came to the notice of the authorities when a court directed for the attachment of the salary of employees of the office of the Special Land Acquisition Collector (SLAC), Punjab, in Jalandhar on a plea by Piara Singh, a farmer of a Ludhiana village, that nothing was paid to him in lieu of the acquisition of his land. In its reply, the Central Government said it had deposited Rs 8.21 crore with the SLAC authorities just after the acquisition of the land in early eighties and the latter might have failed to disburse it among those whose land had been acquired.

This led to the initiation of an enquiry which is at a preliminary stage and which pointed the needle of suspicion towards some senior bureaucrats who allegedly have committed a number of irregularities. Fearing that they would be exposed, some officials have even started depositing the money from their own pockets or are busy persuading those people, who had been awarded compensation illegally, to return the money.

Investigations revealed that Teja Singh of a village in Ludhiana was paid compensation of Rs 8.67 lakh on March 20, 1995, even as he had received the compensation against his land in 1987.

Similarly, though a 3 kanal and 1 marla land (Khasra No-452) acquired at Gill village in Ludhiana district belonged to the village panchayat but the compensation of Rs 4.54 lakh was paid to Sukhdev Singh of Rajkot.

The money was withdrawn by Sukhdev Singh from the Indora (Kangra) branch of the Punjab National Bank and same was the case with Teja Singh.

The worst was the case involving a land measuring 1 acre and 9 marlas (Khasra No-1290) in Dabba village. The compensation of lakhs of rupees was awarded on June 24, 1996 even as no such land was ever acquired.

A big piece of land belonged to the state government in Dholewal village, but when it came to awarding of compensation, it was given to Kulwant Singh of Ludhiana, who withdrew the money from the Lambra branch of PNB in Jalandhar. No land in the Khasra No 1350 in Dholewal village was acquired by the department, but the compensation of Rs 2.40 lakh was awarded twice.

Similarly, a piece of 19 kanal and 12 marla land (Khasra No 1730) at Dholewal village was not acquired at all, but the payment of Rs 1.33 lakh was allegedly made to Jagdish Chand of Beas village in Jalandhar district and another time to Jagjit Singh (Rs 66,937) of Haripur village in Jalandhar district by showing the same land to be 19 kanal and 13 marlas. For the third time, compensation was awarded against the same piece of land to Kartar Singh of Jalandhar. The cheque was also got encashed from the Indora branch of the PNB.

Same thing happened in case of 2 acre, 1 kanal and 17 marlas land (Khasra Nos 1217, 1218 and 1329) belonging to the Dholewal village panchayat. The compensation of Rs 5.68 lakh was awarded to Pal Singh instead of the village panchayat. The cheque was encashed by the recipient from the Lubh branch of the PNB in Kangra district, where Mr K.K. Sharma was the Branch Manager who was earlier posted at Indora (Kangra) branch of the PNB.

Interestingly, most of the recipients preferred to get their compensation cheques encashed from the branch where Mr Sharma was posted.

The alleged misappropriation of funds came to the notice after a Ludhiana court attached the salary of the Special Land Acquisition Collector, Punjab, Ms Babita, based at Jalandhar following pleas by the affected parties. Ms Babita at first enquired at her own level and then wrote to the Deputy Commissioner, who in turn handed over the probe to the Additional Commissioner (Grievances) with instructions that Ms Babita will assist the AC (G). As the needle of suspicion turned towards two senior Punjab Government officials during the probe, they were reportedly trying their best to hush up the case, official sources informed. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Shiva Parsad, when contacted, said the probe was on in the case.

What made the whole episode more interesting is the missing of most of official documents pertaining to the compensation of the land. During the preliminary investigation, it was found that the mandatory LA-VII forms and the CC forms, with the help of which the patwari of the area ensures that no compensation was received by a recipient earlier against his land, are missing from the records of the Special Land Acquisition Collector, which may create problem in the investigation. 


Torture case: charges framed against 7 cops
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
A local court today framed charges against seven police officials, including one Inspector, one Sub-Inspector (SI) and three Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) for allegedly abducting, illegally detaining and torturing members of a family in order to pressurise one of their relatives to withdraw a complaint filed against them.

Additional Sessions Judge B.S. Mangat today framed charges against Inspector Des Raj, SI Gurmail Singh, ASIs Teja Singh, Naib Singh and Ranjit Singh and Head Constables Karamjit Singh and Pritam Singh.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court in August, 1996, had directed the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the case following a petition filed by Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of Mal Singh and resident of Gurusar village in Muktsar district and her brothers Gurmit Singh and Gurcharan Singh.

During the course of inquiry by the CBI it was revealed that Gurmit Singh, one of the petitioners, who was posted as Special Police Officer (SPO) at Sadar police station, Muktsar, was picked up from the premises by Head Constables Karamjit Singh and Pritam Singh. He was illegally detained and tortured due to which he sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised.

According to the CBI report, despite complaints by Gurmit no action was taken against the erring policemen and when he filed a criminal complaint in the court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate his family was picked up by the police in order to pressurise him to withdraw the case or reach a compromise with the police officials. According to the CBI report, the family of the petitioners were abducted, illegally detained and tortured at various places by the other five accused. It said even the household goods of the relatives of the SPO were forcibly taken away by the police officials and were later on returned on the orders of the high court.

The report stated that the relatives of the SPO, including his brother Manjit Singh, his father Mal Singh, his mother Jagir Kaur and sister Malkiat Kaur were picked up and taken to Gidderbaha police station and illegally detained there by SI Gurmail Singh and ASI Teja Singh. Subseqently, a warrant officer of the high court raided the police station and recovered the detainees from its premises. It was also revealed during investigation that Manjit Singh and Jit Singh, both brothers of petitioner Gurmit Singh, were also abducted by SI Gurmail Singh and ASI Teja Singh and other police officials from bus stand at Lambi when they were on their way to meet the Director-General of Police, Punjab.

The CBI in its charge sheet accused the police officials of having committed offences under sections 120 (b), 342, 343, 346 and 211, IPC.


Skeleton foreign staff left in Pakistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
The working of foreign missions in Pakistan has come to a standstill as the majority of diplomatic staff have gone back to their respective countries due to heightened tension in the region. Only skeleton staff is left. However, the Indian Embassy in Pakistan is working overtime to accommodate the rush of tourists and diplomatic staff of different countries who wished to cross over to India which is being considered as “safest place” these days.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani rangers have intensified their surveillance near the Indian border. Pakistan had already imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the border belt.

Sources pointed out that the staff of the Indian mission in Pakistan have not been withdrawn as they are helpful in providing first-hand information, apart from granting transit visas to those who wanted to enter India. The Indian border has been opened round the clock to accommodate foreign nationals.

Today only four foreigners crossed over to the Indian side from the Wagha joint checkpost.

On the other hand, the number of commuters going to Pakistan through the Samjhauta Express has decreased drastically. Today only 505 passengers as compared to an average of 700 persons went to Pakistan. Most of the passengers were Pakistanis who had to cut short their visit in the wake of the probability of US attack on Afghanistan.


SGPC coldshoulders BJP
No siropa for leaders visiting Akal Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
State and national level leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, today received a cold welcome during their visit to Golden Temple and Akal Takht as neither any office-bearer of the Shiromani Akali Dal, its political ally, nor any senior functionary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee were there to receive them.

The BJP leaders who had come here to seek blessings of the Almighty before launching a formal election campaign, to mark the 50th anniversary of the BJP (BJP is an incarnation of the erstwhile Jan Sangh which was established in the year 1951). Since the non-Sikhs could not be bestowed with ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) at Akal Takht, Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal of the Sant Samaj and Sikh leaders of the kisan wing of the BJP too failed to get the same. They were not given ‘siropa’ even at the information centre of the SGPC. However, they got it from the Golden Temple, from where any devotee can receive by making a payment of Rs 100.

Interestingly, the doors of the SGPC’s information office which were closed to deny entry to Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan recently, remained open. However, they were not offered tea.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, state organising secretary of the BJP, said that the party leaders were informed by Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal that they would be bestowed with siropas at Akal Takht. He, however, said that the party leaders were happy with the receiving of ‘siropas’ at the Golden Temple. Though Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, is on a religious tour to foreign countries, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, who was at his home at that time was not informed about the visit of BJP leaders.

The BJP leaders who paid their obeisance at Golden Temple, Akal Takht, Durgiana Temple and Jallianwala Bagh included Mr Sangh Parya Gautam, national general secretary, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, state president, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, state organising secretary, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, national vice-president, Kisan Morcha (BJP), Mr Mehnga Singh Khehra, president OBC cell, Dr Anup Singh Bhalla, state president, Kisan Morcha, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, president, Yuva Morcha, Mr Jaswant Singh, and Mr Om Parkash Kalia, district president BJP.

Replying a question, Mr Rinwa said that they had come here to seek blessings before launching election campaign. However, Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, a member of the Khand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandhki Panchyan), said that anybody could visit Golden Temple and Akal Takht as a common devotee. However, it was highly objectionable that any leader or party, especially the one representing non-Sikhs, should visit the place for taking ‘political mileage’.

Mr Rinwa informed that the BJP’s Kisan Morcha would launch a state-wide ‘kisan rath yatra’ from November 15 to mobilise the farmers of the state.


Police fails to trace Baba Piara Singh
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 24
Despite frantic efforts by the police to trace Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, who is wanted for instigating his followers to burn Guru Granth Sahib, could not be traced for the second day today. The police had yesterday raided his dera after acquiring his arrest warrants from the CJM here. Though his twentysix followers from the dera had been arrested, the baba could not be found. According to information, he had gone into the forest adjoining his dera to feed the animals but when he did not return the police started the combing operations in the forest to locate him. However, till the filing of the report the police had failed to locate him.

The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, when asked to comment, said there was every likelihood of finding the baba in the forest.

Meanwhile, tension continues to prevail in Anandpur Sahib and Nurpur Bedi with the 48-hour ultimatum given by the local leaders of various political parties to the district administration coming to an end today. The leaders had threatened that if the police failed to arrest the baba within the stipulated time they would punish him on their own.

The police has sealed the dera due to the apprehension that his followers might come there after learning about the raids, which might lead to a law and order problem in the area. Sources stated that the police had also confiscated copies of the controversial granth of the baba.


Ban blasphemous book, SGPC told
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 24
Activists of the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) have urged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to ban the ‘blasphemous’ book of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara and punish those who had committed an act of sacrilege against Guru Granth Sahib.

In a memorandum submitted to the SGPC president, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, at his residence here, the SSF president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, and other functionaries of federation called for a fight by the Sikhs against those making attempts to hurt their feelings. “The increasing instances of attacks on Guru Granth Sahib are a matter of serious concern and the government, as well as Sikh religious bodies must take an immediate notice,” it said.

Mr Grewal apprehended that certain mischievous elements were out to disturb the peace in Punjab at the instance of some opposition parties. The acts of sacrilege and blasphemy might be a part of the deep-rooted conspiracy to incite the religious sentiments of the Sikh community. At his juncture, he added, it was the moral duty of all the Panthic bodies to extend their cooperation to the government so that the guilty persons could be sternly dealt with.

The federation activists, at the same time, appealed to the Sikh masses to observe restraint and face such provocative activities peacefully. 


No change in specifications, rice millers told
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
On the rice “out-turn” issue, the Punjab Government has made it clear to rice millers that a change in the specifications is not possible.

They have been told to either accept the paddy as per the specifications laid down by the Union Government or the procurement agencies will be told to stack the procured paddy at yards identified them.

Rice millers have refused to stack paddy on their premises as they want that the rice “out-turn” ratio should be kept at 64 kg and not 67 kg as has been done this year. In other words, they want to give 64 kg of rice to the government against 100 kg of paddy offered to them for custom milling.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, said that last year the “out-turn” ratio was brought down to 64 kg as all specifications pertaining to paddy had to be relaxed in view of the damage caused by bad weather.

Mr Mittal said that most of the millers had started stacking paddy on their premises. The Rice Millers Association had given a call asking rice millers not to get paddy stacked on their premises till September 25 to press the government to bring down the “out-turn” ratio to 64 kg.

Mr Mittal claimed that the procurement operations were going on smoothly. All senior officers of the department had been told to remain in the field to supervise the procurement.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, good quality paddy has fetched a price of Rs 644 per quintal in Punjab, well above the minimum support price of Rs 560 per quintal for the grade “A” variety.

Official sources said that in Patiala district, certain heaps of paddy were sold to private traders at Rs 644 per quintal . It is, perhaps, the highest price fetched in recent years. Even in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, the highest prices were Rs 587, Rs 575 and Rs 571, respectively. Last year, the highest price of paddy was Rs 580 per quintal and the lowest Rs 325. This year the lowest price recorded till date is Rs 410.


Controversy over IOC chief
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 24
Even as the Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh has appointed Mr Daljit Singh Sahota as president of the UK-based Indian Overseas Congress (IOC), Mr Mohinder Singh Jaiswal, an NRI, today claimed that he was still functioning as the president of the IOC.

At a joint press conference, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Jaiswal claimed that the latter was president of the IOC since 1997. “I, being the joint secretary of the All-India Congress Committee had presided over an Independence Day function in Brimingham in 1997 on the invitation extended by Mr Jaiswal as the president of IOC,” Mr Iqbal Singh said.

Mr Jaiswal further said though he had already written to the AICC President Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Capt Amarinder Singh regarding some wrong statements made by Mr Daljit Singh Sahota, claiming himself to be the president, but not reply has been received in this connection so far.

He criticised the local MP, Mr Balbir Singh, for setting up a Congress NRI cell without consulting them. “We were never consulted on the issue and the whole exercise, was done by Mr Balbir Singh in connivance with some of his close NRI friends,” he alleged.

He also distributed the copies of a letter written to Mrs Sonia Gandhi by the then president of the IOC, Mr Mohinder Singh Mandair, to the mediapersons.

Mr Mandair has sought the intervention of Mrs Sonia Gandhi to solve the issue. Mr Balbir Singh was not available for comments.


Moga man bags Rs 1-cr lottery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab State Lotteries, which has already created 22 multi-millionaires, today handed over a bank draft for Rs 1 crore to the 23rd winner of its first prize. The lucky winner, Mr Major Singh of Kishanpura Kalan village in Moga district, who bagged the first prize of Rs 1 crore in Punjab State Lotteries’ Rakhi Bumper 2001, was handed over the bank draft by Mr V.K. Bhalla, Director, Punjab State Lotteries, at a function held at the office of the Punjab Lotteries Directorate here today. Many other winners were also presented the bank drafts of prize money.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhalla said keeping in view the public demand, the state government had started a new bumper lottery “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan-2001”, tickets of which were available in the market. The draw of the new bumper would be held on October 2, 2001, wherein in addition to other prizes, Rs 1 crore would be given as first prize i.e. Rs 10 lakh each to 10 persons of sold tickets only.

The Director also stated that the Punjab State Lotteries was known for its transparency and its bumpers were quite popular in northern India. According to him, the Punjab State Lotteries had made 23 multi-millionaires so far, which was a record in itself.

Mr Bhalla also said during the last financial year, the department earned a net profit of Rs 35 crore and the expected profit for the current financial year was Rs 65 crore. It would be the endeavour of the department to contribute maximum to the state exchequer and for this purpose, more lotteries would be started in the near future, he said. The department was planning to introduce monthly lotteries also, whereas the process for starting on-line lottery was already underway, he added.


Lawyers seek removal of encroachments
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 24
In a representation to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, at least 25 local lawyers have prayed to intervene in the matter related to the alleged encroachment of land and erection of sheds by some lawyers on the land in front of the newly built District Judicial Complex here. They have alleged that some non-practising lawyers and other persons, including photostat owners, typist and stamp vendors have encroached the land in front of the complex. 


Her new world of sound and speech
Gurvinder Kaur

Whenever the telephone rings at 108, Power Colony, four-year-old Parul rushes to pick up the receiver. Nothing remarkable except that Parul has been hearing and speech impaired since her birth.

On April 12 this year, Parul’s life took a pleasant turn. In an operation at AIIMS, Delhi, which lasted seven hours and was the first of its kind in North India, she received an ear implant technically called “a prelingual right sided cochlear”. Now she can hear. The operation was the first on a person born with a hearing disability, though eight other operations on hearing impaired persons have been performed.

After about a month, the external part of the implant kit, a magnet connected to a speech processor, was attached and switched on. “The operation has been a complete success,” exclaims her proud mother who is a teacher in a local School. “She has started responding to various stimuli around her and with extensive speech therapy involving pictures, objects and exaggerated lip movements, Parul is slowly on her way to normalcy”, she says.

Of course it will take some time and effort for Parul to gain normal speech. Professor R C Deka, Head of the ENT Department at AIIMS, who performed the surgery, says at the age of seven, Parul will have the capacity to hear and talk like a four-year-old and slowly she will make further progress.

“Not only has she started responding and differentiating between everyday sounds like the doorbell, the telephone ring the whistle of a pressure cooker, she also has started uttering small words, and even her own name. It was worth every rupee of the eight lakh spent on the operation,” says her father, Mr Avinash Gupta.

Parul wears the speech processor happily around her shoulders and her mother takes it off only at bedtime, to recharge the batteries. The child looks forward to her daily three-hour practice sessions with her parents and indicates with an unhappy gesture when the battery runs out. The processor converts sound first into mechanical and then into electrical signals which the brain receives through the implant.

“The kit has to be worn for ever, though a major breakthrough technology is round the corner”, explains her mother. “If that happens my child need not wear this kit any more and it will be replaced by a small ear plug device which can easily be worn behind the ear.”

This successful implant has raised the hopes of many children born with hearing disability although the high cost of the treatment may still keep it out of the reach of the common man.


Unscheduled power cuts
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 24
Unscheduled power cuts and low voltage are causing great inconvenience to residents of the town and its adjoining areas.

For the past over six months, every Tuesday is reportedly observed as a maintenance or repair day by the Punjab State Electricity Board. As a result there are unscheduled power cuts.

Residents of Mission Road, Civil Court Complex, Lamini and the Shahpur Chowk area are getting erratic power supply. Shopkeepers in the town are forced to close their shops before the time.


Cosmetic cure for yellow teeth
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 24
Cosmetic dentistry is getting popularity in the Malwa region as the people suffer from flourosis (yellow teeth) disease due to higher contact of flouride in the underground water.

This was stated by Dr Sunandan Mittal, Assistant Professor, Dashmesh Dental College, Faridkot, here yesterday. 


Recruitment rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab Regimental Centre will organise a recruitment rally for Dogras, Sikhs (other than Mazhabi and Ramdasia) and other Indian sections at Chandimandir from October 3 to 10, according to a statement issued here today.

Recruitment will be done for general duty soldiers, clerks and tradesmen.


Paddy procurement at snail’s pace
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, September 24
The euphoria which had gripped farmers of the state when the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, formally inaugurated paddy procurement at Ferozepore on September 21, along with several of MLAs, ministers and officials who also inaugurated the same at various procurement centres did not last long as the procurement process has been progressing at a snail’s pace since then.

A random survey conducted by The Tribune revealed that many farmers were waiting for their turn of paddy procurement in the grain markets of this district. The state government and agriculture experts had recommended that the area under paddy cultivation should be reduced, as the water table in the state was decreasing and paddy had no takers. Special drives were launched in the cotton belt of the state so as to persuade farmers to switch over to cultivation of cotton, as cotton crop had failed in the region for a few years in succession.

With these efforts, the region saw a decline in paddy cultivation and a subsequent increase in cotton cultivation. The attack of American bollworm on cotton crop, which was aggravated due to the high moisture content, has induced many farmers to think to switch over to paddy cultivation in next season. Though the procurement of paddy has been progressing at a snail’s pace, the farmers were hopeful that the paddy would be procured till the last grain.

Mr Gurmeet Singh, a farmer of Behman Diwana village who has been waiting for his paddy to be procured since September 15 at the local grain market said he had sold about 300 quintals from his 1300 quintals of produce. He expressed confidence that all of his produce would be procured but lamented that the hike in the minimum support price of paddy was low. He said the costs of the inputs in the agriculture sector had increased significantly but the MSPs of various crops had not been increased proportionately.

Mr Kulwant Singh, also of the same village, alleged that fake and sub-standard pesticides were causing loss to the farmers and the government should take stringent steps to eradicate this menace. He said most of the farmers were hopeful of selling their paddy, as the Assembly elections of the state were due early next year.

The paddy, which has been procured by various agencies, is lying in the grain markets, as the lifting has not yet begun. Some of the farmers expressed apprehensions that various truck unions of the region had been directed to provide the trucks for the ‘sadbhavna rally’ to be held tomorrow at Killianwali village where six chief ministers and the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, were expected to come. “Although the trucks would have been busy for the rally for only one day, but the truck operators knowing well that if their vehicles were deployed for paddy lifting could remain occupied for some days due to delay in the unloading of the paddy at the godowns of the procurement agencies. Not taking risks the truck operators have not started the lifting of paddy,” some farmers alleged.

No official of district administration could be contacted for the statistics of paddy procurement, as they were reportedly busy with the arrangements for the Prime Minister’s visit. 


Develop indigenous farm methods: MLA
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 24
Farm scientists of Punjab should develop new varieties and evolve new technologies in the agricultural field keeping in mind the climatic condition of the state instead of depending on ready-made techniques exported from Western countries.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, said while inaugurating a kisan mela at the local Regional Research Centre (RRC) of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. He said it was not possible that the varieties of various crops developed in foreign countries would yield the same result in our country.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal stressed the need for developing indigenous methods of sowing crops. He said if the need arose to use foreign techniques these should be modified according to the local needs.

He also suggested that people dependent on agriculture should adopt some other occupations. He said in the USA only 1 per cent of population was engaged in agricultural profession, while in our country more than 70 per cent of the total population was in that field.

He stressed the need for involvement of women in income of household activities so that they could supplement the income of household. He said the involvement of women in farming activities should also be encouraged. Dr Gobinder Singh Nanda, Director of Research, PAU while addressing the farmers said the use of pesticides should be on the recommendation of PAU scientists. He said the farmers should not depend upon the pesticide dealers as it could create complications, like development of resistance among pests against the pesticides.

He said only certified seeds should be used and the seeds produced by private agencies should be avoided. Others who spoke on the occasion included Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director, Extension Education, PAU, Dr Surjit Singh Gill, Additional Director, Extension Education (Communication), PAU and Dr Sham Singh Dhillon, Associate Director, RRC.


Milkfed distributes 1.27 cr as bonus
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 24
The Punjab Cooperation Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, urged the Milkfed authorities to improve the quality of milk and milk products in order to compete in the international market.

He said Milkfed had already carved a niche for itself in the international market and had earned about Rs 12 crore by exporting Verka milk products last year. He said the figure would keep rising if the quality factor was given utmost priority.

Mr Brahmpura was speaking at an incentive bonus distribution function organised by Milkfed here today. A sum of Rs 1.27 crore was distributed as bonus incentive among its affiliated societies.

Mr Brahmpura said to increase the quantity of milk was the effort of the farmer, but to take care of the quality was the responsibility of the department concerned. As such refrigerating machines should be provided to all societies.

Mr Suresh Kumar, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, who presided over the function, said the number of societies affiliated to Milkfed had risen to 550 during the past two years, but wanted the figure to touch 700 in the near future.

He said there was a plan to set up a new cattlefeed plant. He said the prices of DAP fertiliser had also been reduced.

Mr Baldev Singh Chakkal, Chairman of the Milk Producers Union, Ropar, said for encouraging farmers to produce clean milk, payment had been linked with quality and special incentive, over and above the milk price, was being paid to the societies. He said eight milk bulk coolers and seven automatic milk collection stations had been installed for societies under the clean milk production programme.

Mr S.K. Sharma, General Manager of the local milk plant, said that all important operations had been computerised and it was the first plant in the country which had implemented the enterprise resource planning solutions.


Mobile testing labs sought
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 24
The Indian National Lok Dal has demanded that mobile testing labs be introduced in the cotton belt between Sangrur and Abohar to facilitate farmers to get insecticides tested instantly before spraying. Several farmers attended a public meeting in this regard at Kheowali Dhaab village near here yesterday. The cotton growers said they had lost faith in the Agriculture Department which had been taking samples from insecticide dealers as a formality. More than 60 per cent crop had been damaged due to the American Bollworm in the Abohar and Fazilka areas despite spraying.

They also demanded Rs 15,000 per acre as compensation.


CRRID to prepare report on Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Planning Commission of India has commissioned the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) to prepare a state development report on Punjab under the chairmanship of Dr K. Venkatasubramanian, Member, Planning Commission, and in collaboration with the Planning Department, Punjab.

The CRRID has involved other departments of the state, members of the farming community, trade and industry and other experts to make it an innovative and participatory report that should be relevant at least till the year 2020.

The CRRID has already held meetings with heads of departments, officials from the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of the member and experts from all over India.


Rape of 9-yr-old: suspect ends life
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 24
A sadhu allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree near the Abohar railway bridge on the banks of the canal on the outskirts of the city, here this morning.

The body of the sadhu was found hanging from a tree by a volunteer of the Sahara Jan Sewa, who rang up the police authorities. The post-mortem examination of the sadhu was conducted at the local civil hospital and the police has registered a case. Unconfirmed reports said the sadhu had allegedly raped and murdered a nine-year-old girl, Sajjo, during the wee hours of September 22. The girl was abducted from a railway platform of the city where she was sleeping with her family. The father of the deceased girl Jagdish, a migrant from Rajasthan, earns his livelihood by selling honey collected from various places and lives on the railway platforms of the city.

Sources said the finger of suspicion was on those who used to stay at the railway platforms during the night, including a large number of sadhus. A deaf and dumb eyewitness, who had earlier given hints to the police authorities about the appearance of the alleged culprit, has reportedly identified the sadhu as the culprit for the rape of Sajjo. 


Man stabbed to death
Our Correspondent

Lalru, September 24
The body of a 50-year-old man was found with multiple stab injuries in a sugarcane field along the Jolli-Bhagwasi village link road about 10 km from here on Sunday.

According to the police, the body was thrown in the fields after the man was stabbed somewhere else. Some property dispute is said to be the reason behind the murder.

The body was noticed by three persons — Pramod Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Rakesh Kumar — of Jolli village. They identified the deceased as Jagmal Singh of the same village. They found a bicycle, a diary, a piece of cloth and some other articles belonging to him lying on the roadside.

Some blood stains on the ground made them suspicious. They traced the stains to a nearby sugarcane field and found Jagmal’s body with multiple injuries there.

On the complaint of Kamla Devi, wife of the victim, a case under Sections 302 of the Indian Penal Code and 34 of the Arms Act has been registered by the police against Phool Singh of Rampura Behal village.

In her complaint Ms Kamla Devi has said that Jagmal Singh had furnished a bail bond of Rs 50,000 for Phool Singh in a Rajpura court some time ago. Phool Singh along with Karam Singh, both of Rampura Behal village, were arrested by the police for selling a piece of land on producing fake documents to a Dera Bassi resident.

Later they were sentenced to jail by a Rajpura court. Karam Singh was granted bail as some of his relatives furnished bail bonds while Phool Singh remained in custody as no one came forward to furnish his bail bonds.

It is learnt that Phool Singh stopped appearing before court for hearings following which the court ordered arrest warrants against Jagmal Singh.

Family members said that Jagmal Singh approached Phool Singh in this connection. But considering him to be a bone of contention in the court case, Phool Sigh removed him for ever, they alleged. 


Restore re-employment scheme: teachers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
Closing down of the re-employment scheme by former Vice- Chancellor Joginder Singh Puar and its partial implementation by present incumbent, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, has come into focus again with the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) demanding that the scheme be introduced again after drawing up definite criteria.

This demand was put forward to the Vice-Chancellor by PUTA body during a meeting with him. The manner in which both groups of the PUTA body which had fought elections on pro VC and anti VC planks have come together on the issue has made the demand significant. In another departure from history of PUTA, both groups have decided to put forward the demands associated with teachers in a unified manner to the management.

Sources said PUTA office-bearers met the VC led by its president D.S. Dhillon and presented the demands, including the need to reintroduce the reemployment scheme by making fixed criteria about who is qualified for employment.

The scheme has been a bone of contention in the university for years, mainly because of the manner in which it has been selectively implemented. The scheme was used by former Vice-Chancellor J.S. Puar to create material on Punjabi, with funds being given for writing books under the Punjabi Development Department. Though many teachers were able to avail themselves of the scheme, some teachers “inimical” to Dr Puar were not given projects under the scheme due to which it came in for criticism. Dr Puar, however, wound up the scheme towards the fag end of his term. It was also felt that some teachers had not done the work required of them and wanted further extensions to complete it. Financial problems were also cited as a hurdle in the continuation of the scheme.

Though the present Vice-Chancellor has not given projects under the scheme, sources said some teaches had been re-employed during his tenure, including former PUTA President Surinder Singh Khaira and Dr S.S. Joshi. While Mr Khaira was given charge of the university's centre at Dehra Dun, Dr Joshi was given a varsity project. Dr P D Mangal of the Department of Botany has been given an extension on the request of his department and has been appointed Professor in charge, Botanical Gardens.

This point has been stressed by teachers while urging the VC to restart the scheme. They said it had been pointed out to the VC that it was within his powers to restart the scheme. They have also pointed out that the retirement age of teachers should be extended from 60 to 62 and that this matter should be taken up with the government.

Sources said the VC assured the teachers that he would take up their demand for restoring the re-employment scheme at the Forum of Vice-Chancellors, following which a collective rationale would be presented to the government.

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