Saturday, September 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Entry tax to trigger diesel price hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Octroi is unlikely to be abolished in Punjab, if constitutional, legal and technical pointers are any indication.

The Minister of Local Government, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, defines octroi as a “hazardous tax” and justifies its abolition, promises to adjust the staff concerned elsewhere and denies that the abolition move is a poll sop.

The abolition of octroi was an electoral commitment of the SAD-BJP government and forms part of its Common Minimum Programme. But no one knows why and on whose demand it was included in the election manifesto of 1997.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, announced at Killianwali on Tuesday that octroi would be abolished from October 1. But this will not happen — at least for the present. A Division Bench, headed by Mr Justice J.L. Gupta, yesterday stayed all operations till October 19 on a writ petition filed by Mr Mathra Das Setia, a former Municipal Councillor, and three others, Mr Tarloch Singh, Mr Jugraj Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh Sohal, all councillors of the Bathinda Municipal Council reportedly owing allegiance to the SAD and the BJP. The issue has run into rough weather.

The BJP, sources say, suspects the SAD’s hand in the writ petition. It is reportedly unhappy with the way the abolition of octroi has been delayed. What lends credence to such suspicion is an incident that took place at a meeting of the Punjab Beopar Mandal held with the Chief Minister in Chandigarh earlier this month. One of the members from Ludhiana had then remarked that an announcement on octroi abolition would be made and later writs “engineered” to stall its operation.

Even in bureaucratic circles it is whispered that writs challenging the abolition were expected only after a formal notification was issued. But the Bathinda councillors pre-empted that.

The government is proposing an ‘’entry tax’’ in lieu of octroi. Once that happens even villages will be covered. That means the price of diesel will go up, much to the chagrin of farmers and the Akalis.

As an alternative to Rs 540 crore octroi per year sought to be abolished, Punjab will commit Rs 250 crore in the Budget and trade promising to make up the remaining half.

It is estimated that about 10 lakh commercial vehicles, carrying goods worth Rs 25,000 crore, enter Punjab every year. Even an “entry tax” of just 1 per cent will fetch Rs 250 crore.

The actual beneficiaries from octroi abolition are few. Big industries or distilleries are located outside the municipal limits, thus paying no octroi. They have never demanded octroi abolition. If octroi goes, these units will pay “entry tax” on raw material. This will mean a hike in the prices of their products with consumers bearing the burden. Abolition will hugely benefit several other big units located within the municipal limits that are paying octroi. Once octroi goes, these will gain substantial benefits and yet not lower the prices of their products with consumers getting no benefits either way. They are doubly unblessed. “In real terms, abolition will result in more brickbats than bouquets for the government,” remarked a bureaucrat.


PM sanctions 1,800 cr for link roads
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 28
Mr Sucha Singh Langah, PWD (B and R) Minister, talking to newsmen here yesterday said that the Prime Minister had sanctioned Rs 1,800 crore for Punjab which would be spent to link Dalit colonies farm houses, villages, religious places, rural cremation grounds with pucca roads. The project to be completed within five years had already started. First instalment of Rs 125 crore had already been received.

Mr Langah said the Central government had floated tenders for four-laning of the GT road from Ghogpur to Dasua. The four-laning of the GT road from Jalandhar to Ghogpur at a cost of Rs 80 crore had already been started by the Central government and would be completed by the end of this year.

He said the SAD-BJP government had completed the target of paving 60-km link roads in each constituency. The government identified 29 over-bridges in the state to be built at a cost of Rs 10 crore each. The work in this process would begin soon and the part of the finances in this regard would be met by the Central government.

Mr Langah said the Punjab government had already started Rs 2,000 crore projects which included four-laning of roads, including roads from Zirakpur to Patiala, Zirakpur to Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh to Ludhiana, and Ropar to Phagwara.

Earlier, at a function held here yesterday, Mr Sarup Singh Saini, General-Secretary, SHAD, announced his decision to join the SAD (B) in the presence of Mr Langah, who happens to be the District President. Mr Langah welcomed Mr Saini and his supporters for joining the party.

He added that a joint strategy by the SAD and the BJP leaders in the district was being chalked out and would be announced soon. He predicted that the SAD-BJP alliance which had strengthened Hindu-Sikh unity would win all 11 Assembly constituencies in the district.


Octroi: writ on BJP leaders’ “directive”
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 28
The ongoing controversy over the filing of a writ petition in connection with securing a stay against the Punjab Government’s move to abolish octroi by a senior member of the BJP and three local municipal councillors belonging to SAD today took a new turn when the main petitioner, Mr Mathra Dass, alleged that he had approached the high court under the directions of BJP leaders, including Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, and former president, BJP, district unit.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mathra Dass a senior BJP, leader, alleged that BJP leaders, including Mr Garg, had been threatening him that he along with his family would be implicated in a false criminal case if he failed to withdraw the writ petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The court had stayed the Punjab Government’s move to abolish octroi on a writ petition filed by Mr Dass and three other SAD municipal councillors.

After finding itself in an embarrassing position, the state government started damage control measures and managed to persuade three SAD municipal councillors to move an applications in the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the withdrawal of the writ petition.

Mr Dass alleged that Mr Garg took him to Chandigarh yesterday for his meeting with the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon. He added that when they reached the official residence of Mr Tandon, he was not allowed to meet Mr Tandon as Mr Garg went alone inside. He said later he came to know that Mr Garg had told Mr Tandon that he (Mr Dass) was not a member of the BJP.

Mr Dass made it clear that he was an active member of the BJP and had contested municipal council elections on its ticket. He added that the election rallies during the municipal council election in the past were addressed by Mr Tandon.

He further said he had urged the Punjab Government to make arrangements for the security and safety of his and his family.

He urged the Punjab Government institute a high-level probe to unveil all irregularities which had been taking place in the Improvement Trust, Bathinda, ever since Mr Garg had become its chairman.

Mr Garg, when contacted, said all allegations levelled against him were baseless and motivated. He alleged that Mr Dass was playing into the hands of a section of Akali leaders.

He claimed that he was not aware of the fact that a writ had been filed in connection with the stay on octroi abolition by Mr Dass and three others. He added that after the court had granted the stay on octroi abolition he had not met Mr Dass.

He stated that Mr Dass went to Chandigarh yesterday along with Akali leaders and not with him. He added that neither Mr Dass was promised any meeting with Mr Tandon nor any meeting took place.

He said a move had been launched by his opponents to tarnish his image.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president, Municipal Council, Bathinda, while talking to TNS said three SAD municipal councillors, who were party to the filing of the writ petition with Mr Dass, had filed an application in the high court to withdraw the writ.

He made it clear that the municipal councillors of SAD were in favour of abolition of octroi and welcome the decision of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


New selection mode for teachers on anvil
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 28
In a significant statement, Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Punjab, today said the government was planning to hold recruitment tests for various vacancies of teachers in government schools of the state on an yearly basis to give a fair chance to the candidates, who pass out from the various colleges of the state.

Stating this Mr Tota Singh at a press conference said that a proposal regarding this would be presented to the state Cabinet. The recruitment test would be held every year and the merit of B.Ed. and graduation would account for 50 per cent (25 per centre each) and the remaining 50 per cent marks would be counted from the test. The merit of the candidates would be prepared every year and they would be placed on a seniority list and appointed as soon as a vacancy was arose.

Selected candidates would be issued appointment letters a month before any teacher retired and asked to join in his or her place. This would remove any political pressure at the appointment and transfers of teachers, he claimed. The same pattern was being followed by the Banking Service Recruitment Board (BSRB), he said.

Mr Tota Singh said there was a proposal to do away the interviews in the process of recruitment. The marks of the interview led to corruption and delay, he added. A proposal regarding this would be passed by the Cabinet soon. All recruitments of teachers would be done on the basis of academic merit of the candidates, Mr Tota Singh said.

Every candidate would be given a fair chance to compete every year instead of the present system where in thousands of them compete for a few vacancies announced after irregular gaps. Some of the trained teachers have been denied their right as they had become overage due to non-announcement of vacancies by the previous governments.

Replying to a question Mr Tota Singh said as the “Sikhia Karmi” scheme launched by the government had been stayed a new scheme has been formulated. Now the teachers would be appointed on contractual basis by the village panchayats and the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the schools. He announced a grant of Rs 12 lakh for this scheme in the district.

He said the process of the selection of the ETT/JBT teachers had been stayed and results would be announced as per the directions of the High Court, he said.

He said the interview process for the selection of teachers or lecturer and master cadre would start from October 4 and 6, respectively. Legal opinion was being sought on the removal of 1288 teachers who were appointed without merit and the subsequent appointment of the eligible candidates who were denied their right, he added.


Punjab heading for herbal revolution
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Punjab is headed towards another revolution and this time it could be the ‘‘herbal revolution’’ which could give a thrust and boost to the economy.

Realising the immense potential and market value of medicinal herbs the Punjab Government is in the final stages of setting up a medicinal plant board which will oversee all operations besides informing farmers about the high market value of medicinal herbs instead of going in for the routine wheat -paddy cycle.

Already a Rs 5 crore package has been sanctioned by the Government of India. The thrust area is to augment supply of quality raw drugs which is essential for production of efficacious drug. Development of herbal gardens and vanaspati van is also on the cards. A herbal garden will come up at Dyalpura Sodhian village in Patiala district. The site for the vanaspati van is located at Dhar Kalan subdivision in Gurdaspur district.

The vanaspati van will cover an area upto 10,000 acres and will house large variety of plants. Already a committee to set up medicinal plant board is in place. This board will ensure harnessing of economic potential in the herbal sector.

Citing a 1996 World Bank report which puts the economic value of medicinal plant related trade in India at Rs 1,000 crore, the Director, Ayurveda, Punjab, Mr Sanjay Popli, claims: ‘‘This will usher in a new revolution like the green and white revolutions.’’ Punjab has the potential and climate, he said while adding that farmers will be told and trained in these new crops which are a high earner on the international market.

Though the global demand for medicinal plants has reached a new high, yet, India, despite its rich bio-diversity shares a very small percentage of this market. Certain drugs could yield an income ranging between Rs 7150 to Rs 55,000 per hectare, said Mr Popli.

The board will also address the issue of standardisation of drugs. Recently good manufacturing procedures have been notified to ensure quality of products and enhance credibility of Indian herbs and drugs in the international market.

To start with the farmers will not only have to be educated and supplied with superior quality plants but their products will have to be procured at reasonable rates, says an interim report of the Ayurveda department. Targetting the important area of cosmetics industry and aromatic herbs, the report suggests that Indian medicinal plants have high value in added extracts and essential oils.

At present the Indian medicinal plants industry is affected by a number of factors. The herbal products industry will be brought under one body to maintain standards. The board will also keep inventory, identify plants, promote cultivation and conserve medicinal plants. Information flow of scientific technological research will also be undertaken by the board. This all will help farmers, Mr Popli concluded.


SIMI’s Punjab unit lying dormant
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The lone unit of the banned radical Muslim outfit — Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) — in Punjab has been lying dormant, sources in the security forces said today.

Without disclosing whether any action would be taken against the office-bearers of the Punjab unit of SIMI, police sources said vigil was being maintained on the known activists of the organisation.

The only operational or functional unit of SIMI in this part of the country is based at Malerkotla, the activities of which have seldom warranted any police action in the past.

There are about 20 to 25 activists of the Punjab unit of SIMI. Though Qadian in Gurdaspur has substantial Muslim population, yet there is no unit of SIMI there.

While unconfirmed reports indicated that there might be swoop on the activists of SIMI at Malerkotla tonight, sources in the police department denied any such move.

A two-year ban on SIMI was notified by the Union Home Ministry under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, yesterday. As such no separate notification from the state government was required for initiating any action against its state unit in Punjab.


7 illegal travellers detained
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
Seven more Punjabis who had been taking shelter in Gurdwara Dera Sahib (Lahore) today entered India. Since the youths were not possessing valid passports, they were rounded up at Attari railway station by intelligence agencies.

It may be mentioned here that earlier many youths who had taken shelter in Sikh shrines in Pakistan were brought to India by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president Bhai Mardana International Society.

Officials of the intelligence agencies have taken them in custody for investigation.


Congress leaders ‘frustrated’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Senior SAD leaders have taken exception to the “irresponsible utterances and politically motivated outbursts “of Congress leaders about the “ massive and successful” sadbhavna rally” held at Killianwali.

Mr Tota Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar said in a statement today that after seeing a “flood of humanity” at the rally, Congress leaders were feeling frustrated and isolated from the mainstream of Punjabis. They were, therefore, resorting to mudslinging.

Holding the Congress responsible for “launching an attack on the Golden Temple and its extremely dubious role in inciting the 1984 riots leading to the massacre of innocent Sikhs”, the SAD leaders said the Congress leaders were now shedding crocodile tears to win the sympathy of the Sikh community for gaining political mileage.


Hate campaign on Internet
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, September 28
Hate campaign on Internet chats between Indians and Pakistanis has intensified even as the live coverage of Pakistan Television (PTV) on national solidarity day speaks volume of the bias of the Pakistan media.

Many Pakistanis started their chat with “Kashmir hamara hai” while some of their identities went like Kill H..., I hate H...; Hate Amer... and In... .

However, with no one to check the verbal duel, it went on for long hours yesterday.

Meanwhile, most of the foreign channels are going a begging to the government controlled PTV for news after the Pakistan Government imposed a blanket ban on other media especially electronic in all states. Consequently meetings and coverage of foreign dignitaries have become the sole prerogative of PTV.

The recent coverage of PTV on solidarity day, however, presses all the three P's into top gear — propel, prophesies, propaganda even involving sermons to endorse the government's stand to support the USA against terrorism.

The stress was amply maintained by bringing in computer expert like Iyesha Tarik, activist, Fakram Tehri, writers, poets etc., while Pakistani men from diverse field balanced the act. So PTV had Prof Khwaja Masood, Brig Noor Ahmed Hussain (retd), Prof Nasrullah Malik who exhorted the public to trust and not to question. “Suspicions harboured disunity” he said such global ties are not clear to the public and we know who can take away the peace from us and we will deal with them at a later stage (obviously referring to India).

The solidarity day of Pakistan was sombre compared to previous celebrations. This time, however, panellists upon panellists were seen taking on the government line to support the USA while news clippings showed government staged rallies from Islamabad at the Liaquat Chowk and Karachi even as the Pakistan had imposed a ban on rallies earlier after a granade throwing incident.


War threat hits tourism
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
Clouds of war, hovering over Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, have started casting their shadow on Punjab as there has been a drastic cut in the flow of foreign tourists.

A majority of foreigners who were planning to visit India and some of its northern states have preferred to put it on hold till the return of normalcy in South-East Asia.

Most of them have cancelled advance bookings in 150 major hotels of the state and with travel agents coinciding with World Tourism Day being celebrated today. The fear psychosis has been aggravated largely due to the misconception that Pakistan and Punjab are too close to Afghanistan border and they could be attacked in retaliation to US action in Afghanistan.

“The apprehensions of retaliation is so strong among foreign tourists that nearly 70 per cent of bookings with hotels in Punjab have been cancelled within the past week. This is a big shock for the hotel and travel industry,” Mr Paramjit Singh Budhiraja, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab, said.

Inquiries revealed that the average daily flow of foreign tourists had trickled down from 1500 to 400-500 and even NRIs were cancelling their scheduled visits.

“We are going to take up the case with the Government of India so that foreign tourists could be told that Punjab was peaceful. We are requesting travel agents to inform them about the real situation in the state,” Mr Bhupinder Singh, patron of the restaurant association, said.

To arrest the cut in the tourist inflow, all major hotels have planned to celebrate World Tourism Day by offering a 20 per cent discount for a week.

Travel agency, 90 per cent of which is centered in the Doaba region, has also been hit. “There is almost no inflow of foreign tourists in the state these days. In case of NRIs, only those are coming to Punjab who have no option but to visit their homeland for one reason or the other” Mr Dharam Pal Sondhi, president of the Punjab chapter of the Travel Agents Association of India, said.


Pressure on to hold probe against doc
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 28
The pressure to hold an enquiry against Dr Romesh Rani Thukral, who has allegedly removed the kidney of a patient, who was operated upon for the removal of a tumour from her spleen, mounted today as various unions of the local thermal plant held a dharna in front of her clinic while some social organisations urged the authorities to conduct an enquiry.

Activists of the Ad Hoc Committee Ministerial Staff along with other unions of the employees participated in the dharna and demanded that the doctor should be punished. They alleged that Ms Harjinder Kaur, who was a Class IV employee at the local thermal plant, had to suffer due to the “mistake” of the doctor. Residents of Jassi Pauwali village, native village of Harjinder Kaur, also participated in the dharna.

The union members also met the officials of the district administration and the police authorities and urged them to start a high-level enquiry into the incident. They alleged that the same doctor had made similar ‘mistakes’ in the past also.

The speakers on the occasion alleged that the doctor had removed the kidney without taking the consent of the patient. A panel of doctors was also not consulted. They alleged that the test report conducted before the operation revealed that there was no problem in the kidney.

The leaders also showed some reports of the patient to the mediapersons in this regard.

Meanwhile, the mother-in-law of Harjinder Kaur, Mrs Surjeet Kaur, has alleged in an affidavit that the family was not informed about the need to remove the kidney of the patient. She further alleged that the family came to know about the removal of kidney only after eight days of the operation when the condition of the patient deteriorated. She said the doctor had not taken the consent of the family before the operation. She added that they shifted the patient to the PGI, Chandigarh, on the advice of Dr Thukral. She further said the doctor had not given the necessary documents to them regarding the treatment and tests, etc. of the patient.

Dr Thukral was not available for her comments. An attendant in her office said she was not feeling well and could not meet the mediapersons.

However, the husband of Dr Thukral, Dr Sham Lal Thukral said there was no fault on her part. He said before conducting the operation the consent of the patient was taken. He added that the kidney of the patient was being kept at a private pathological laboratory at Patiala.

He said if the family of the patient wanted a DNA test of the kidney could be conducted to ascertain that it belonged to her. He added that the allegations of the family that the kidney had been sold were baseless.


Telephone exchange upgraded
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 28
Conceding a long pending demand of the residents of Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib; the Telecommunication Department has upgraded the short distance charge area (SDCA) of the Sirhind Telephone Exchange and has also created a new post of Divisional Engineer Telephones (DET), Fatehgarh Sahib, with an office at Sirhind Telephone Exchange. Earlier the residents of these areas had to go to Patiala or Mandi Gobindgarh even for petty matters, which caused a lot of inconvenience.

Mr Mohan Muni, who joined as new DET at Sirhind, said with the creation of the post of DET here the development works would be speeded up and the grievances of the public would be redressed here only. He said that the capacity of the telephone exchange at Sirhind had been increased from 4,000 lines to 6,000 lines and now the work on the underground-laying of cable had been initiated and the new telephone connections would be given to clear the pending demand of telephones and the waiting list would be cleared. He said that the department had planned to set up a new telephone exchange of 3,000 lines independently for the Hamayunpur area of Sirhind, which fall across the railway line. He said with the commissioning of this exchange the telephones in that area would be available on demand. He said the capacity of Fetehgarh Sahib exchange was being increased from 1,400 to 2,000 lines and of Bassi Pathana town from 3,000 to 4,000 lines. He said that the capacity of other rural exchanges falling under the SDCA would also be increased.

He said that besides this four new telephone exchanges in Dadiana, Baher, Badwala and Dhunda villages were being set up and the work was under process. He said that the special cases under various categories to provide new telephones would also be cleared from his office, where as earlier it was cleared by the head office.

He said that to provide a better, efficient and prompt service to the subscribers computers were being installed in the offices.


Poor ‘denied ration card facility’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 28
Former sarpanch Bachan Singh and other residents of Mardaheri village said people living below the poverty line in the village had been deprived of the ration card facility. The complainants said instead those people who were economically comfortable had been given this facility.

This case was discussed during the sangat darshan programme held at Red Cross Hall here yesterday. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, asked the Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs) concerned to enquire about the matter as early as possible.

Gurdev Kaur, a widower and resident of Dutal village, alleged that village patwari Pawan Kumar was not returning her amount of Rs 10,000. The District Treasury Officer has been asked to look into the case.

In yet another case, Santi Devi, a resident of Dhiru Ki Majri, complained that her son Bhola Ram hindered their peaceful living by disturbing them now and then. The DSP (City) has been asked to look into the matter and submit the report at the earliest.

Mr Bir also gave financial help for the treatment of 12-year-old boy Sumit Kumar suffering from a heart problem. As per information available, Rs 1.25 lakh would be spent on his treatment that would be held at GB Pant Hospital, Delhi. Mr Bir appealed to various social organisations to come forward and join hands for the noble cause.

During the sangat darshan, of the 73 cases heard, 27 were related with the Police Department which were dealt with by the SP (Headquarters), Mr Gurkirpal Singh.


New Special Secy (Home)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The following postings and transfers have been ordered with immediate effect in Punjab.

Mr V.K. Janjua is Special Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, vice Mr Kirpa Shankar Saroj, who becomes Special Secretary, Power, in addition to Director-cum-Special Secretary, Relief and Resettlement.

Mr C.S. Talwar is Additional Secretary, Cooperation, and Mr Kirpal Singh is Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Amritsar, according to an official release. Meanwhile, Mr Parveen Kumar, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar, will also look after the work of the Director, Pushpa Gujral Science City Society, Kapurthala.


First call centre of Punjab
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 28
Mr Prithipal Singh, Director (Operations), Department of Telecommunication, inaugurated the first call centre of Punjab here today. Stating this, Mr Prithipal Singh said about 150 terminals were connected to this call centre which will be looking after Patiala district.

He said that with the opening of such a centre and application of universal terminals, the consumers will be at ease where most of their problems related to this department can be sorted out within no time. He said the consumers can assess their bills and forms from any part of the country through these call centres easily.

Mr Prithipal Singh said that at present they have a total of 16 lakh general connections in Punjab and four lakh may be added by the end of next year. He said another one lakh may be the number of consumers opting for their mobile services.

He said not many such call centres are opened in the country with a few at Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He added that with another toll free number 1500, the customers will be able to have access to any information. Mr Prithipal Singh said a complete data of latest information had been made by the department through which the customers can know the phone number of another person merely by telling the address of that person.


Book banned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The Punjab Government today promulgated an order banning the publication, sale and possession of a Punjabi book, “Bhav Sagar Samunder Amar Bani Granth” written by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawale. The ban includes its translation into any language.

The reprints are to be forfeited to the government in the territory of Punjab as the book contains objectionable material which will outrage the religious sentiments of certain classes and is defamatory to the Sikh religion, says a press release.


Minister visits Khanna mandi
Our Correspondent

Khanna, September 28
Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, Food and Supply Minister, Punjab, visited Khanna mandi here today to oversee the arrangements made for the procurement of paddy. He also listened to the problems of farmers. Talking to mediapersons, he said 15.98 lakh mt of paddy had arrived in different grain markets of the state. Giving details, he said 2.13 lakh mt of paddy had arrived in Amritsar mandi, besides 8.06 lakh mt in Bathinda, 1.53 lakh mt in Faridkot, 18,340 mt in Fatehgarh Sahib, 43,713 mt in Ferozepore, 83,301 mt in Gurdaspur, 4,511 mt in Hoshiarpur, 66,805 mt in Jalandhar, 1.18 lakh mt in Kapurthala, 90,340 mt in Ludhiana, 5,534 mt in Mansa, 1.70 lakh mt in Moga, 16,865 mt in Patiala, 2,520 mt in Ropar, 92,648 mt in Muktsar, 3,793 mt in Nawanshahr, and 68,582 mt in Sangrur Mandi.

Mr Thandal said the quality of paddy in the Ludhiana district was not as good as the paddy of other districts, especially Rampura. He said the Punjab government was not facing any problem regarding procurement of paddy as there was no shortage of godowns for this purpose. He claimed farmers had already been paid Rs 105 crore as compensation for the last year’s distress sale of paddy. He said the government agencies could purchase paddy, damaged only up to eight per cent, as per specifications.

The minister said the government had a stock of 185 lakh mt of wheat and 71 lakh tonnes of rice and it had a target to purchase 125 lakh mt of paddy this year. While the food and supply department had procured 1.68 lakh mt of paddy till date, Markfed had procured 2.74 lakh mt, Punsup 2.24 lakh mt, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation 2.12 lakh mt, Punjab Agro 91,307 mt, and FCI 3 lakh mt. The private purchasers had purchased 3.26 lakh mt of paddy till date, he said. He added that Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Food and Supply Minister, had assured the Punjab Government that Centre would try to procure maximum paddy from Punjab.

Mr Thandal appealed to the farmers against using harvesting combines at night as it damaged the paddy. He said that Sarbati variety of paddy was selling at a rate of Rs 603 to 630 per quintal in the state. He was accompanied by Mr Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal, SDM, and Mr Pardeep Kumar Vij, DFC, and some traders.

Meanwhile, Mr Netar Singh Nagra, a BKU leader, alleged that the minister was not taking care of the farmers’ interest. He threatened if he did not change his ‘anti-farmer’ attitude, the BKU would resort to agitation.


Slack lifting of paddy annoys farmers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 28
Inadequate lifting arrangements for paddy in 25 purchasing centres including three grain markets, has been causing inconvenience to farmers in this block. These include Faridkot, Sadiq and Ghugiana grain markets and Ratti Rori, Sukhanwala, Machaki Kalan, Mehmuana, Deep Singhwala, Jand Sahib, Mumara, Buttar, Hari Nau, Maur, Wara Draka, Khara, Dheemawali, Machaki Mal Singh, Pakhi Kalan, Pehluwala, Kabulwala, Golewala, Sadhawala, Arayianwala Kalan, Pakka and Chandbaja centres.

Lakhs of gunny bags purchased during the past eight days have been lying unattended. Nearly five lakh bags have been piled up in the three grain markets. This was stated by Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Congress MLA, while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Brar who had toured the entire area during the past two days also alleged that lighting arrangements were poor in many centres. Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, however, said the problem of lifting was only in a few centres.


Process to legalise encroachments on
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 28
The Punjab Government has started the process to legalise encroachments on government lands. District-level committees headed by Deputy Commissioners have been constituted and encroachments made before 1996 would be legalised.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said as per the policy the encroachments, to be legalised, must have been made before January 1, 1996. The structure on the encroached land should be a permanent one with permanent water and electricity connections.

The encroachers would have to pay 20 per cent of the market costs if the land encroached upon was up to five marlas. The price of encroached land to be paid for 5-10 marlas would be 30 per cent and 10 marla to 1 kanal plots 40 per cent of the market price of the land. Encroached areas more than 1 kanal would be legalised at the market rates, he said.

The members of the committee include, senior officials of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), officials of the town planning, the Public Works Departments, while the subdivisional magistrate have been made the convenors and the revenue officials have been made the joint secretaries.

After the price of the land was determined, the encroachers would be made to pay 25 per cent of the price of land in one month. The balance payment could be made in equal instalments, (six monthly), spread over five years. The rate of simple interest payable has been fixed at 12 per cent. If the payment was to be made as a single instalment the encroachers would be given a discount of 5 per cent on the agreed amount. Forms for legalising encroachments are available with the tehsildars. The last date to submit the applications has been fixed at October 23.

Mr Ratnam said no encroachments on the roads and the parks would be legalised. Only the heads of the families would be allowed to purchase the property and no person would be allowed to buy more than one property.


Jewellery shop looted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 28
Three persons, including a woman, decamped with gold ornaments worth Rs 6 lakh after rendering the owner of a jewellery shop unconscious here today.

The robbers, posing as customers, came to the shop at around 4 pm and asked for some gold earrings. Just as the owner of the shop was showing them the ornaments, one of the robbers placed a handkerchief on the owner's nose rendering him unconscious.

They decamped with gold ornaments worth more than Rs 6 lakh. Son of the victim said when he reached the shop, his father was lying unconscious. The police is yet to register a case in this regard.


Five robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 28
The police has nabbed five members of a 10-member gang, which took away gold ornaments and cash from a farmhouse at Jandoke Sarhali village last night. The police has registered a case under various sections of the IPC.

The SSP told newspersons yesterday that the gang members entered the farmhouse of Mr Balbir Singh and as they were escaping one of them was nabbed and handed over to the police.


Bias in admissions alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 28
Nearly 60 rejected candidates who applied for MBBS and BDS seats in the rural category in the entrance test conducted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for the Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research are an agitated lot over the alleged partisan attitude of the authorities.

They allege that the SGPC has rejected them on the grounds that their parents are in government service and hence they cannot be considered in the rural category.

The Tehsildar, Mr Amarjit Singh, said certificates countersigned by patwaris or nambardars verified that these candidates belonged to rural areas. Parents of rejected candidates say that nowhere in the prospectus is an applicant deemed ineligible on account of his parents being in government service.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, and member of the institute’s administration, when contacted in Chandigarh, said the SGPC-run institute aimed at targeting only those rural folks whose parents’ income was from villages and not from the state treasury.

Dr Ujjargar Singh Dhaliwal, Director and Principal of the institute, said the candidates were rejected on various grounds.

Parents see a different game plan of the SGPC-run institute to adjust “favourites”. Some of them say that since Rs 2.16 lakh are required to be deposited at the time of admission small and medium farmers cannot afford it. Hence, this leaves only rich landlords to apply in the rural category. In a press note parents have alleged that the category-wise list of the candidates was not displayed.


Demands of private schools accepted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 28
Punjab Education Minister Tota Singh has instructed Punjab School Education Board to implement all decisions taken by the government on December 12 last year regarding demands of Punjab Private Schools Organisation.

These instructions were issued by the minister during a meeting with high-level team of the organisation led by Mr Ujagar Singh Wadali, MLA, chief adviser of the panel P.L. Kheti, and president Manjit Singh Kauli at Chandigarh on Wednesday.

Mr Kheti said here today that the demands that had been accepted included recognition of private schools and setting up of examination centres within 3 to 5 km radius of schools. Now students of classes V, VIII, and X could appear as candidates of recognised schools.

Mr Kheti urged the state government to exempt the schools from various taxes. He demanded the withdrawal of house tax imposed on urban private schools.


Syndicate to seek legal advice
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
The Guru Nanak Dev University Syndicate has sought legal opinion on all appointments approved by its meeting held under the presidentship of the then Vice-Chancellor.

The appointments and extensions were given to some teachers before their retirement. The Punjab Governor and Chancellor has sought point-wise report from the state Education Department. Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP MLA and member of the Syndicate, was the first to raise the issue. She had sought a discussion on the decisions of the previous meeting which was held at Chandigarh two days before the completion of the term of the then Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, the varsity has decided to award fellowship to distinguished Punjabi scholars and the former Director of Punjab State University Textbook Board, Dr Joginder Singh Kairon, and eminent Hindi scholar and poet Suresh Seth for a period of two years. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor who presided over the first meeting of Syndicate after taking over the new assignment said that the varsity had coopted three syndics, including Mr Prem Singh Advocate, Mr Pannal Lal Mahajan, a former president, municipal committee and Mr Inderjit Singh of Guru Nanak College, Phagwara.

The university has acquired land for the regional centre at Jalandhar. Two blocks for information technology and journalism and mass communication will be constructed. The Law Department, presently running at the university college would also be developed on the pattern of Law Institute Bangalore.

The Syndicate also decided to change duration of BCA/BIT/B.Cam/B.e.commerce courses from four years to three years as per UGC guidelines whereas the name of BIT course has been changed to B.Sc (information technology) from academic session 2001-2002.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |