Thursday, October 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sacrilege: Badal ready for judicial probe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 10
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said he was ready for a judicial probe into the sacrilege even as he alleged that the controversial Baba was a creation of former Union Minister Buta Singh and was mainly linked with the Congress.

The Chief Minister, however, indicated that he was not bowing down to pressure from the Congress which has demanded a judicial probe into the incidents by saying that he would go in for a judicial probe if all political parties of the state made this demand.

He said the Baba had set up his base when former Union Minister Buta Singh was active in the state politics. He also alleged that the Congress was trying to crete tension between the two communities in the state through its irresponsible statements.

While claiming that the state government had done its best to tackle the situation following the sacrilege incidents, Mr Badal said his government had also written to the Centre to make amendments in the law so that those responsible for such sacrileges could be dealt with more severely. He said the state government on its part had already arrested the culprits responsible for the acts of sacrilege and was also arresting those who had co authored the writing of Bhavsagar Granth.

The Chief Minister indicated that the state government was determined to take stern action against the Baba for illegally setting up his dera on land belonging to the panchayats and the Forest Department. He said due procedure would be initiated to get the land vacated. He said a case would also be registered against the Baba for committing bigamy.

The Chief Minister alleged that the Panthic Morcha was trying to exploit the situation. He said taking such a stand would only disturb the atmosphere in the state adding that the people, however, had understood their motives. When asked about the Akali leaders who had visited the Baba at his dera, he said Akali Minister Gurdev Singh Badal was already scheduled to appear before the Akal Takht to explain his position.

The Chief Minister said the “sangat darshan” programmes were proving useful in tackling the problem of the people and ensuring that development grants reached them quickly. He laid the foundation stone of a Rs 8.35-crore overbridge over railway crossing number 22.

He also announced grants of Rs 3.50 crore for 62 villages and 22 wards of the Samana assembly constituency. Others who were present on the occasion were Ministers Kanwaljit Singh and Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur besides senior leaders Kirpal Singh Badungar, Charanjit Singh Walia, Balwant Singh Shahpur, Kasmir Singh Mavi, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu besides BJP district unit President Raj Kumar Goyal.


Extend term of panel on sacrilege: Bhaur
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 10
Taking with a pinch of salt the decisions of emergency meeting of the SGPC executive, five Sikh head priests and the dharam parchar committee at Anandpur Sahib two days ago Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, senior Panthic Morcha leader and former Acting President, SGPC, at a press conference here today alleged that these decisions were attempt to hush up the sacrilege incidents.

Jathedar Bhaur was referring to the decision to constitute commission of eminent Sikh scholars and intellectuals, including retired high court judges, for probing the sacrilege issue. The decision had been announced by SGPC chief Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi.

Asserting that commission and committees had always whitewashed the issues and denied justice to Sikhs, Jathedar Bhaur demanded that in case Jathedar Talwandi was really serious over the matter, he should extend the terms of reference of the committee. The commission should also probe as to why Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal did not visit any site of the desecrations for three weeks even though he was very much in Punjab doing “sangat darshans”. He demanded to know that why Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti had not spoken a single word till date against the sacrilege issue. “Why the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister had kept a studied silence over the issue even though the Akalis were a partner in the BJP-led NDA govt at the Centre,” he asked why the SP (D) and the Sessions Judge of Ropar who were shown sitting at feet of the sant of the dera were not transferred and why action was not taken against an Akali Minister and a junior-vice president of the SGPC for having links with the dera chief , he asked.

Jathedar Bhaur demanded an amendment in Section 295 A, IPC, through a notification for making provision of awarding at least life imprisonment to anybody who desecrated recognised holy granths, including the Guru Granth Sahib, the Ramayana, the Gita, the Bible and the Kuran.

Jathedar Bhaur said the Panthic Morcha would start a march from Fatehgarh Sahib on October 17 and go to the Punjab Governor for seeking the sack of the Chief Minister for having failed to check sacrilege incidents and preserve peace.

Mr Rajwant Singh Jhikha, Mr Harbel Singh Pahwa, Mr Avtar Singh Bhungrani, senior SHSAD leaders were also present at the press conference.


Baba ‘acquired’ 100 acres in 7 years
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 10
Baba Piara Singh, who was a class four employee in the Sericulture Department, before setting up his dera at Dhamana village in Nurpurbedi, acquired over 100 acre during the past 5-7 years.

This information was given by Mr G.S. Grewal, Deputy Commission-er, Ropar, and Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, at a joint press conference held here today.

The conference was held to brief newspersons about the progress made in various cases registered against Baba Piara Singh.

The Deputy Commissioner said an inquiry into the revenue records of the property possessed by Piara Singh was conducted by the SDM, Anandpur Sahib. The inquiry revealed that Piara Singh had 282 kanals and one marla land in his name, 64 kanals and 18 marlas in the name of his three wives — Surjit Kaur, Bhupinder Kaur and Kusum Devi and 70 kanals and four marlas in the name of his three sons.

Besides, he had also encroached upon 47 kanals and 12 marlas of the Central Government land and 102 kanals and 14 marlas of the Punjab Government land. He had set up his dera on 194 kanals and of which 34 kanals and eight marlas he got transferred in his name illegally. He was also occupying 147 kanals illegally. Most of the land on which he had set up his dera belonged to the panchayat of Dhamana village.

Mr Grewal said the inquiry had also revealed that certain revenue officials had helped Piara Singh in getting some of the encroached land transferred in his name. These officials were being identified and action would be taken against them. Most of the illegal land was transferred in his name during 1994-95, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner further said applications had been received from original owners of the land encroached by Piara Singh and the proceedings for his eviction would be started soon. Besides, legal opinion was also being sought on the status of the land deeds in which his three wives had claimed him to be their husband. The case in this regard would be registered against him after obtaining the legal opinion, he added. Piara Singh was also reportedly operating a brick-kiln on the encroached land and the case had been referred to the Food and Civil Supplies Department for suitable action, Mr Grewal said.

Mr Bhullar said the police had arrested two prime suspects wanted in connection with the acts of sacrilege at Rasoolpur village of Morinda and Gharuan village near Kharar. Both suspects Jaswinder Singh, alias Sony of Ratangarh village and Ashok Kumar of Tiba Taprian village in Nurpurbedi were staunch followers of Piara Singh and had allegedly committed the crimes at his behest, he added.


Fire case an accident, not sacrilege: police
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 10
An attempt was made to desecrate a place of worship in Gharuan village on the Kharar-Morinda road this morning. Tension mounted in the village after the incident which occurred at 7 a.m. Villagers alleged it was an act of sacrilege where as the police suspected it to be due to power short circuit.

Reporters from Kharar visited the village in the morning. This is the same village where desecration took place in a place of worship on October 4 and traffic at that time remained suspended for many hours.

The priest who was present in the room in the place of worship where this incident occurred told reporters that he left the room at 6.30 p.m. and his wife came to know about the fire at 7 a.m. She doused the fire by hands and received burns on hands.

Villagers held a meeting in the place of worship and described it a well-planned conspiracy to disturb peace in the state. This was not an act of short circuit, the meeting said.

Mr Mokha Singh (Member SGPC), Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala (vice-president Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal), Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu (Congress), Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha (General Secretary PPCC), Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang (Vice-President Youth Akali Dal Punjab), Mr Harnek Singh Gharuan (ex-minister) were among those who addressed the gathering.

Mr G.S. Bhullar, SSP Ropar, addressing the gathering said that we did not have sufficient police force to depute everywhere at all times.

He said that the chauki in charge of the village visited the place of worship at 4.30 a.m. today and even then this had happened.

He appealed to people not to place electric photograph near the scriptures. He appealed to the people to exercise caution.

Mr Bhullar talking to The Tribune in the evening from Ropar on phone said that a three-member forensic experts team had investigated on the spot and has given preliminary report that the cause of the fire was short-circuit of electricity.

They have taken the samples and they would submit their final report within two three days.

He said that the Deputy Commissioner Ropar had appointed a five-member committee comprising SDM Kharar, DSP Kharar, Sarpanch of the village and two others who would inquire into the cause of fire and submit report soon.

The SSP said that the police had arrested two persons Jaswinder alias Soni of Kalhedi village and other Ashok Kumar of Tibba Taprian village in connection with these fire incidents.

He said that Jaswinder was a gang leader and it was found that he too had some role in the fire incident in this village on October 4.


Rally against sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 10
Hundreds of residents of the city and nearby areas today held a rally in the city and sat on a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner to show their resentment against the sacrilege of “Birs” by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara and demanded the registration of a case under Section 302 of the IPC against him.

Activists of various political parties, including the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), the Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) and the SAD (B) participated in the agitation. Members of the Sukhmani Sahib Sewa Society and students of local schools and of Guru Kashi College, Talwandi Sabo, were also among the agitators.

The agitators raised slogans against the Baba and demanded that a criminal case should be registered against him. They also raised slogans against the authorities concerned and the state government who have allegedly delayed action against him.

Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, after starting the procession of agitators from a local gurdwara where he recited “ardas” remained conspicuous by his absence.

Leaders of various parties and organisations, who participated in the rally and the dharna, condemned the actions of the Baba. They also criticised political and social leaders who visited the dera of the Baba to seek his blessings.

The absence of Giani Kewal Singh at the time of the dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner annoyed some agitators. Mr Gurjant Singh, a preacher at Gurdwara Bunga Mastuana, Talwandi Sabo, alleged that Giani Kewal Singh had absented himself under some plan.

However, a confidant of Giani Kewal Singh termed the allegation as baseless.

Among those present on the occasion were Mr Toga Singh and Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, state and district general secretaries, respectively, of the SHSAD, Mr Satpal Singh Fauji and Mr Varinder Singh of the SAD (A), Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, state president of the SJP and Mr Harcharan Singh Gill, member SGPC.

Later, they presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner to be handed over to the state government.


Puri gurdwara to be handed over to trust
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 10
In a significant development, the management of Jagannath Puri Temple, Orissa, has agreed to hand over the possession of a historic gurdwara built in memory of Guru Nanak Dev to Bhai Himmat Singh Religious and Charitable Trust (Orissa).

A letter of the temple management addressed to the trust reads, “Considering your application for the purchase of land, measuring half acre, belonging to Lord Jagannath Bije, Puri, situated at Mauza-Nalia Sahi, Khata number 65, the management of the temple has decided to sell the above land in favour of the trust against a payment of Rs 1.25 crore”.

Mr Jagjit Singh, president of the trust, said it was unanimously decided to purchase land and building of the historic gurdwara at all cost. Mr Jagjit Singh, who came here to meet Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, today said despite the historical significance, the gurdwara had been in a state of neglect for centuries. Guru Nanak Dev had recited ‘aarti’ at this place during his ‘udassi’ (religious journey) at Jagannath Puri. The place assumed further significance with the visit of Baba Sri Chand, son of Guru Nanak Dev, and Bhai Gurditta Ji. He said the gurdwara had remained under the control of ‘mahants’ for centuries and hence the affairs of the shrine were not being carried out as per ‘rehat maryada’ (Sikh traditions).

Jathedar Vedanti, who has accepted the invitation of the trust, said he might visit Jagannath Puri next month.

Jathedar Vedanti said he would urge the SGPC to cooperate with the trust so that the management of the gurdwara could be run as per Sikh traditions

It may be mentioned here that the trust had been named after Bhai Himmat Singh, one of the five beloved of Guru Gobind Singh, who belonged to Puri. However, at present no Sikh family was living at Puri. The trust had been endeavouring to invite Sikhs from all over the world to settle there so that the gurdwara management could be carried out as per Sikh traditions.


Air of discontent on transfers
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, October 10
There is simmering resentment in the Punjab bureaucracy over frequent and postings and transfers which are termed as “motivated and irrational”.

The arguments given for such transfers include incompatibility of politicians with bureaucrats leading to frequent shuffling of ‘’inconvenient’’ officers who go by the book while opposing “ministerial moves”.

The reshuffle of October 8 has ruffled many feathers, including the mid-stream shifting of the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K R Lakhanpal. Though most of the bureaucrats tended to dismiss the 14 changes made this week as ‘’prerogative’’ of the government, yet some opined, “Frankly, there never is a rationale when it comes to postings and transfers’’.

The common refrain in respect of Mr Lakhanpal was his ‘’confidential’’ missive to the Chief Minister on the use of Rural Development Fund for disbursement at ‘’Sangat Darshan’’. Even the High Court has taken cognisance as to how loans taken by the Mandi Board were transferred to the Fund when it is borrowing against market fee to be collected in future.

Instances of administrative secretaries disagreeing with their ministers or repeatedly cautioning their political bosses against taking certain policy decisions and refusing to toe their line is common knowledge. The change in the finance department has been effected (new incumbent, Mr P. K. Verma is yet to join) at a time when the government is ‘’fire-fighting’’ in managing the finances.

There is hardly any administrative secretary who has not had three to four postings in as many years. Reports of even cabinet ministers and ministers of state working at cross-purposes or the latter not being taken into confidence are well known.

There are many examples when secretaries have been changed at the insistence of ministers. Even an important organisation like the Punjab State Electricity Board has suffered. It has had at least five chairmen since 1997. All present postings/transfers are being linked to the coming Assembly elections.

It is pertinent to recall the minutes of the meeting of the Administrative Secretaries held on October 26, 1998, wherein, the then Chief Secretary had lamented, ‘’What is alarming is that the Administration’s image is being tarnished in the eyes of the public, the Press and the Judiciary for corruption and finger is being pointed towards the bureaucracy for not only permitting large-scale corruption but also indulging in it’’.

At that time, Mr R.N. Gupta, Mr B. R. Bajaj, Mr K. R. Lakhanpal had submitted theme papers on what was required to be done to improve the image, bring efficiency and transparency. ‘’Postings/transfers’’ was one of the key issues. These were seen as a source of ‘’corruption’’. The suggestions — ‘’tenure posting, transfers only during specific months, April-May, and constituting establishment boards of secretaries to effect transfers’’ — remain on paper till date.

One does not question the right of the government on policy-making or postings/transfers. But certain postings do add gist to the gossip mills raising obvious questions. The SAD-BJP Common Minimum Programme had promised a government that ‘’cares’’ committing itself to a ‘’clean, responsive and people-friendly administration’’. With several more postings/transfers in the offing at Chandigarh and in the districts, is it aimed to have ‘’compatible’’ and ‘’convenient’’ bureaucrats at the senior and cutting-edge of the administration with an eye on the Vidhan Sabha polls?


Sops likely at Punjab ministers’ meeting
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The Punjab Council of Ministers will meet here tomorrow.

Besides conceding some of the long-standing demands of the employees, the council may announce concessions for various sectors, including the transport sector.

The last meeting of the council was reduced to a mere formality after the Punjab and Haryana High Court restrained the state government from taking any decision on the abolition of octroi.

The Council of Ministers, besides going for the new incremental promotion policy for its employees, is also likely to give its approval for releasing next instalment of dearness allowance (DA) and bonus for Class IV employees.

The council is going up to take several items of the Transport Department, including a proposal for introducing one-time road tax for transport vehicles. At present, the public carriers, i.e. trucks, have to pay road tax on a quarterly basis.

This demand has been pending with the state government for a long time. The truckers want that the state should charge them a lumpsum amount for the prescribed age of the vehicle at the time of its registration to save them the botheration of visiting the STA every quarter to pay the tax. An other issue to be decided is the quantum of one-time tax.

The council may also ratify the new penalty regime for the overloading of trucks beyond the limits prescribed under the Motor Vehicles Act and as amended in some other states, including Haryana.

Another important issue will be the reduction of rates for the allotment of special motor vehicle registration numbers. Though some single-digit numbers are sold quickly, other specific numbers, which carry a price tag, have no takers. The initial proposal to reduce the rates was shot down by the Finance Department. Now the Transport Department has decided to take it to the Council of Ministers.


Honouring the elders
Jangveer Singh

The Patiala unit of the trust formed by Sudhanshu Maharaj, honoured some senior citizens for their contribution to society in different fields. Among those honoured was a veteran social worker, Mr Amar Singh Kamboj. The head of the local unit of the trust, Mr Kuldeep Bhattal, disclosed that the day was observed as ‘Reverence Day’ to seek forgiveness of the elders for the faults of the members.

Mr Bhattal said this gesture was aimed at promoting peace and happiness in the lives of the participants.

* * *

The alumni of Modern School, one of the oldest schools in Patiala, got together to form an Old Boys Association.

The meeting was presided over by Mrs Reena Sofat, Executive Director of the school, and attended by a number of old students including Dr Ravinder Singh, Principal, Patiala Medical College, and Mr Ishtpal Singh, who is also a member of the school’s managing committee.

The president of the association, Dr Naveen Saronwala, said the association would arrange scholarships, stipends and awards for students to promote academic, sports and cultural activity in the school. The secretary, Mr Ramesh Kad, said though a number of students of this school had reached high positions in different fields, a coordinated effort had not been made to bring them on a common platform.

* * *

Parking a vehicle on the inner road of Rajindra tank near the district courts now costs a fee. A number of persons have complained that they are forced by a contractor to pay Rs 5 as parking fee even if the vehicle is parked on the road. They say that demanding a parking fee for a vehicle on the road is wrong and should be stopped. Visitors to the sessions court say that there is not enough parking space in the complex and something should be done to provide the people with a proper parking facility.

The problem of parking fee is not limited to the district courts. People face this problems also at Rajindra Hospital. The hospital authorities have lowered the rates but the new structure is ignored by the contractor. Those who insist of paying less, according to the new rates, are harassed.


9-year-old looks for help
Gurvinder Kaur

Nine-year-old Renu sits and watches children play around her. She dare not join them. She dare not even walk around much because she has a hole in her heart and unless she is operated upon soon, her future is bleak.

When she was three and a half months old, Renu developed a fever and would turn blue at intervals. Her alarmed parents took her to the PGI at Chandigarh where she was declared a case of congenital cyanotic heart disease.

Her two siblings, an 11-year-old sister and a four-year-old brother, lead normal lives while Renu has been forced to drop out of school. Her class mates could not come to terms with her frequent spells of breathlessness and fits of unconsciousness. The school authorities advised her father, Mr Harbans Lal, to take her out of the school.

For eight years, Renu’s parents have been taking her regularly to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences at Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh. But soon it became clear that her condition would not improve without a surgery. In May this year, the Institute referred Renu’s case to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.

Doctors at the Cardiothoracic and Neuroscience Centre here have recommended heart surgery and have set October 31 as the date for the operation. Her father has to deposit Rs 54,000 before the operation.

Renu’s father makes a living by selling tea and biscuits etc. in the compound of the Mini Truck Operators Union near Dukhnivaran Gurudwara. “I earn about Rs 200 ea day and find it very difficult to run my family. I can barely manage to buy medicines for my daughter which cost Rs 400 a month. How am I to manage this huge amount?” asks Harbans Lal with tears in his eyes.

Apart from the cost of the operation, medicines and post-operation expenditure will be an added strain. The family is running from pillar to post, requesting people to donate money for the operation.

As her father desperately tries to collect money, little Renu sits quietly on a cot in their one-room tenement in Sirhindi Bazaar, wondering whether she will ever be able to return to school.


‘Sangat darshan programmes a fraud’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 10
Senior Congress leader Bir Devinder Singh today said the sangat darshan programmes of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal were nothing but a ‘high profile fraud’ being committed against the innocent people at the government expenses with the active connivance of the corrupt bureaucracy of the state.

In a statement issued here today, he said a ‘drama absurd was being enacted in the full view of the public and the Punjab CM was playing the role of ‘a hero’. He said a news item appearing in the leading English daily reveals the facts and exposed the hollowness and illegality of the expenditure being incurred on sangat darshan programmes.

The Principal Secretary (Finance), Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, has sent a confidential note to the CM vehemently opposing and recording his dissent for not approving the expenditure of Rs 945 crore doled out by Mr Badal in his sangat darshan programmes. Mr Lakhanpal also questioned about the validity of the resolution passed by the Punjab Rural Development Board (PRDB) delegating its financial and administrative powers to the chairman of the board, violating the basic statues of the board.

He said officers of the Punjab Government should not resort to any illegality for which they were accountable and they might have to pay heavy price for the lapses of the Badal government. He urged Mr Badal to stop befooling the public under the pretext of sangat darshan ‘tamasha’ as he has not resurfaced from a prolonged exile.


Akalis vitiating atmosphere, says Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Birdevinder Singh, today said that it was unfortunate that the Akalis had not learnt any lesson from the past and were trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the state by resorting to cheap politics on sensitive issues like acts of sacrilege.

He said the mad race for power among various factions of the Akalis and inner conflicts among them were the root causes for the recent happenings in the state. He said the Congress was a secular party and had never used the religious platform for political gains.

Lashing out at the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the Congress leader said Akali leaders should not blame others, especially the Congress, for their own blunders.


Medical officers for Director’s removal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
A joint deputation of the Punjab Homoeopathic Medical Officers Association and the Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Services Association, in a memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, has sought the removal of the Director of the Ayurveda and Homoeopathy Departments.

The associations said the present incumbent was not technically qualified to hold the office of Director of both Departments.

He is a PCS officer whereas the post of Director in both the departments should be filled from medical cadre, the memorandum said.

The associations have sought a high-level probe into the functioning of the departments and into the purchase of medicines.


Don’t act as tool of Cong, Dhindsa asks morcha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
Senior Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today urged leaders of the Panthic Morcha not to go against Sikh sentiments by acting as a tool of the Congress in the latter’s efforts to disturb the hard-earned peace in Punjab.

In a statement released by Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, secretary of the SAD, Mr Dhindsa said that there was overwhelming evidence to prove that the promotion of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara was a part of the conspiracy hatched by the Congress to bring back the old days of pain and darkness in the state.

Mr Dhindsa said the Congress had always claimed that if the Akalis came to power, terrorism would return to the state. Now, seeing its propaganda going to pieces, the Congress was trying to foment trouble with an eye on forthcoming assembly poll.


PR Dept to be revamped
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has directed authorities concerned to revamp the Public Relations Department. He is utterly disappointed with the performance of the department and wants drastic changes in its functioning, according to informed sources.

A committee of three senior Ministers — Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Mr Natha Singh Dalam— has been constituted to carry out the revamping exercise, it is learnt. The Committee has been told to prepare a report about what is required to be done.


Breach in Shah Nehar hits project
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 10
A breach in the Shah Nehar in Talwara township has hit power generation and the Mukerian hydel project since last night.

According to reports reaching here, the breach in the canal was first sighted by residents of the area and reported to the authorities last evening. Since then canal water had been flowing down into the Beas and as a result all four power units of the Mukerian hydel project had been affected.

Officials concerned were not available for comments. Loss was heavy on account of canal water meant for irrigation going waste.


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 10
Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Special Judge has issued notice to the State of Punjab, the ADGP (Vigilance) and the SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, in connection with a corruption case registered against a former Chief Minister, Mr Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, instead of Mr Surjeet Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, as published in columns of The Tribune yesterday.

Mr Rajput, while taking cognisance of an application moved by Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, on whose complaint the corruption case was registered against Mrs Bhattal to expedite the investigations, issued notice to the State of Punjab, the ADGP (Vigilance), Punjab, and the SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, for October 30. These persons were not asked to appear in person.


PSEB staff on fast
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 10
Members of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Federation today observed fast for the third day here today.

The president of the federation, Mr Satnam Singh, said the fast was in protest against the non-implementation of their demands. He said if the management did not fulfill their demands at the earliest, they would continue with the fast.


Panthic Morcha meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
An important meeting of senior office-bearers of the Panthic Morcha will be held here tomorrow, according to Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra. It will discuss the latest political developments and the preparations for the “Khalsa march” which will be organised from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh by the Morcha on October 17.


Paddy procurement smooth: Mittal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, said today that paddy procurement was going on smoothly as farmers were fully cooperating with the agencies concerned. The government had faced no problem in any grain market with regard to the procurement. “ This year has been the best as far as paddy procurement is concerned”, he asserted.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that about 60 lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured till last evening. Out of this, 9.53 lakh tonnes had been procured by private traders and the rest by government agencies. The FCI was leading in the operations, procuring over 12.83 lakh tonnes till last evening. About 50 per cent of the total of 120 lakh tonnes expected to arrive in the markets had been procured. The arrival of paddy would be at its peak in the next 10 days and would start coming down after that.

Though the government used to make elaborate arrangements earlier also for paddy procurement, it faced a lot of problems. However, the situation was different this time. “ We learnt a lot from our experiences. Farmers were educated to transplant paddy during a fortnight recommended by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. Most of the farmers followed the PAU schedule”, Mr Mittal said.

There was no glut of paddy in the markets at any stage as farmers harvested fully ripened crops and avoided harvesting at night. It made the task of the procurement agencies easier as the moisture content was within the specified limits. Moreover, most farmers either brought cleaned paddy for sale or had it cleaned after reaching the market. The quality, by and large, was good. The weather conditions, two, were favourable.

He said payment was being made to farmers as per schedule. Action had been taken against officials who were found wanting in performing their duty. Defaulter rice millers had not been given paddy.


Ahluwalia is Director, PR
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
Mr S K Ahluwalia assumed the office of Director, Information & Public Relations, Punjab, here today after relinquishing the charge as Additional Commissioner (Appeals), Patiala Division. He was given a warm welcome by the officers and the officials of the department. Speaking on the occasion Mr Ahluwalia said as Director, Information and Public Relations, his interactive approach with the people throughout the state would be among his top priorities.


PWD staff threaten to step up stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 10
Members of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union today said they would intensify their agitation if their demands were not fulfilled.

Mr Bharat Bhushan Maur, general secretary of the district unit of the union, said the main demands were to regularise the services of the daily wage workers, implementation of pension scheme in the sewerage board, to give scales considering their services to be technical, to give uniform allowance in cash, increase in the medical allowance, to give arrears of the past four years as bonus and to promote the junior technicians as junior engineers.

He said they had been agitating for the past many months but their demands had not been accepted.


Home Guards’ daily wages to be hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The Punjab Government today decided to enhance the daily wages of Home Guard volunteers from Rs 70 to Rs 90 from April 1, 2001.

Stating this here today, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, said this would put an extra burden on the state exchequer of Rs 9.76 crore annually.

The government also decided to release Rs 4 crore on account of the arrears of additional dearness allowance due to the employees of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation.


DAG resigns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
Expressing inability to function as Deputy Advocate-General due to “unavoidable personal circumstances”, Mr Gurminder Singh has submitted his resignation to Punjab’s Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal.

According to sources, the AG, expressing satisfaction over the work done by the DAG during his tenure, has reportedly recommended the acceptance of his resignation.


Drugs worth 30 lakh seized, four held
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 10
Police’s special drive against drugs and intoxicants got a shot in the arm when Special Cell of anti-intoxication and drug addiction seized intoxicants and drugs worth Rs 30 lakh. Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, SSP, Barnala Police District said here today (Wednesday) that at a naka of the Special Cell of Anti-Intoxication, a jeep driver was signalled to stop and the vehicle was checked.

Haridal Gupta, Ajit Kumar, Gurdarshan Pal and Rupinder Kumar all of Ferozepore cantonment travelling in the jeep were carrying 17.20 lakh intoxicant pills worth Rs 30 lakh.

Mr Sandhu added the vehicle was impounded and pills and Rs 55250 in cash seized from the alleged culprits.

A case under Sections 22/61/85 of the NDPS Act had been registered against Hardial, Ajit, Gurdarshan and Rupinder and they had been arrested.

Five persons Chhota Singh, Mrs Guddi, Sinder Pal Kaur, Baldev Singh and Randhir Singh had also been arrested under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act and Sections 15/61/85 of the NDPS Act. 160 kg of lahan, 36 country made liquor bottles, 12 bottles of illicit liquor and 32 kg of poppy husk were seized from them.


7 held for smuggling narcotics
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 10
The district police has arrested seven persons for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of narcotics and has recovered 221 kg of poppy husk, 47 litres of illicit liquor and 160 kg of lahan from their possession.

This was stated in a press note issued here today by Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP.

He said Nachhatar Singh, a resident of Kothaguru village, was arrested near Gandsar village when he was trying to smuggle 60 kg of poppy husk.

He said a case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act had been registered against him at Dayalpura police station.

Bhura Singh of the same village was arrested near Neur village for carrying 161 kg of poppy husk. A case has been registered.

The police has arrested five persons under Excise Act and cases have been registered against them. It has also recovered 160 kg of lahan, 47 litres of illicit liquor and unearthed an illegal distillery. Suspects are Surjeet Singh of Multania, Nirmal Singh of Selbrah, Lachhaman Singh of Korianwali, Nikka Singh of Chauke and Buta Singh of Jangirana.


Man held for selling drugs illegally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 10
The police today arrested Balbir Singh of Sivian village for allegedly selling drugs illegally and posing as a doctor.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, in a press note here said today that the accused was misleading people by posing as a doctor and selling intoxicants to villagers. Besides recovering injection drugs and intoxicating pills were recovered from the accused. Jaspal Singh who had been lured to drugs by the quack has been sent to the local civil hospital for treatment. A case under Sections 420 of the IPC, 15 of the Indian Medical Act and 26 of the Drugs Act had been registered against the accused, Dr Jain said.


Pension for staff of aided colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 10
The Punjab Government today decided to grant pension and other pensionary benefits to the staff of privately managed government-aided colleges.

The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said that the state government was always ready to redress the grievances of employees.

The issue of the grant of pensionary benefits to the staff of the privately managed government-aided colleges had been under consideration of the government for quite a long time. The relevant amendment had also been made to the Act by the present government in April, 1999.

This decision will benefit more than 6,000 employees in about 140 colleges.


Teachers to go on mass leave
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 10
Teachers from colleges affiliated to Punjabi University and those in other districts such as Patiala, Ropar, Sangrur, Bathinda, Mansa and Fatehgarh Sahib will take mass casual leave and gather at Modi College here on October 12.

Giving this information, the Secretary of Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), Mr Aminder Pal Singh, said the traffic would also be blocked on the Patiala-Bathinda road while the march will start from Modi College and move towards the Government Medical College.

The union members will take mass leave to press for the implementation of their demands, including the creation of new posts in old colleges, payment of arrears after implementation of new grades and extension of pay revision notification in the non-aided colleges.


Youth festival from November 22
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 10
Punjabi University has decided to organise the zonal youth festival from November 22 to 24 at DAV College, Bathinda, in which 20 institutions would be participating. Giving this information, Mr Daljit Singh, Director, Youth Welfare, said Government College, Ropar, will host for Ropar zone from November 27 to 29 in which students from 17 colleges will take part. Government Ripudman College, Nabha, will organise zonal youth festival of Sangrur zone in which 18 institutions will participate and the Government Bikram College of Commerce will be the venue for Patiala zone in which 19 colleges will take part. Mr Daljit Singh said in all, about 3,500 students would be actively participating in 26 items of the festival.


Industrialists meet CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 10
Representatives of the Focal Point Industries Association put forth their grievances, including the enhancement dues and subsidy dues, pending to the factory owners since a long time, to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during the sangat darshan programme held at Maharaja Palace here today.

Giving this information, the association press secretary, Mr Vijay Tayal, said that Mr Badal took immediate notice of the problems raised by the association members and called upon the Managing Director of the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) in this regard.

Mr Badal assured the delegate that their problems would be solved at the earliest. Others present on the occasion were the association president, Mr Murari Lal Goyal and the general secretary, Mr Bharat Teja.

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