Friday, October 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab offers sops to trade, business
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Punjab Council of Ministers today decided to grant exemption in the payment of purchase tax on wheat and maize to roller flour mills with five or more installed roll bodies. The units will not pay purchase tax, 4 per cent; market development fee and rural development fee, 2 per cent each; and infrastructure cess, 1 per cent.

By another decision, as per an official press note, the lumpsum fee paid by the brick-kiln owners has been reduced. Now it will be Rs 1.60 lakh for the ‘’A’’ category, Rs 1.25 lakh for the ‘’B’’ category and Rs 1 lakh for the ‘’C’’ category. The revised rates come into force with retrospective effect from January 1, 2001.

In yet another relief to business and trade, the Council decided to make the necessary amendments to the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948, and the Punjab General Sales Tax Rules, 1949, providing that no truck carrying goods can be detained by the competent authority for more than 72 hours. The amendments also provide for the right of the trader to appeal against the orders of the authority concerned. This right was not there earlier.

The Council also decided to promulgate an ordinance under the Punjab Motor Vehicle Taxation Act, 1924, reducing the existing rate of penalty for late payment of tax from a minimum limit of Rs 1,000 to Rs 500 for vehicle owners who did not pay the tax in time.

By another decision the Council reduced the fee, from Rs 5,000 to Rs 3,000, for the allotment of vehicle numbers from 11 to 99.

For providing Web-enabled information the Council approved the creation of a society, the Excise and Taxation Technical Services Agency, under the chairmanship of the Minister, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon. The department is being computerised.

The Council decided to fill vacant Class I and II posts in the Directorate of Sainik Welfare through open advertisement by a selection committee by inviting a penal from the Kendriya Sainik Board and taking these posts out of the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission. It was also decided to create 300 posts of agriculture master in rural schools. These will be filled through department selection committees and will be outside the purview of the Subordinate Services Selection Board.


Sacrilege: CM reluctant to hold judicial probe
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
Seemingly not inclined to set up a judicial commission to inquire into incidents of sacrilege in the state, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that it would delay the ongoing process of investigation into the recent happenings.

The demand for setting up such a commission has been made by the Congress as well as the Panthic Morcha. Mr Badal’s response today contradicted to his earlier statement that he would order an inquiry if it was sought by the Morcha.

When it was suggested that the commission could be told to give the report within a specific period, Mr Badal said that the panel might later start asking for extensions. It had been seen that the real issues were often lost with the setting up of commissions, he added.

An inquiry into the acts of sacrilege was in progress under the supervision of the DIG, Ludhiana Range. The government would be in a position to reveal the findings of the police inquiry to the people within the next 10 days, Mr Badal asserted.

Softening his attitude towards various Akali factions, especially the Panthic Morcha, which has been accused of working in tandem with the Congress, Mr Badal said that incidents like those relating to sacrilege should not be used for taking political advantage.

He said that “our brothers” indicating morcha leaders should “cooperate with us” to find a way to normalise the situation in the state.

He said that whereas it was the duty of the government to maintain law and order, it was also the duty of the managements of the gurdwaras to make proper arrangements for security at the shrines.

It was not clear whether he was referring to the SGPC, whose primary job is the management of gurdwaras, or the local committees.

He said the government would not stop the “Khalsa march” being organised by the Panthic Morcha on October 17.


Baba can’t be summoned: Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
Notwithstanding the offer of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, has said that he (Baba Bhaniara) could not be summoned for atonement as he did not consider himself a Sikh. He said there was no provision in the Sikh ‘maryada’ to summon a ‘non-Sikh’.

Talking to select journalists, Jathedar Vedanti said Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara had indulged in the ‘most heinous crime’, the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, yet no Jathedar could summon him for atonement. He said a person who believed in Guru Granth Sahib, teachings of the Gurus and Sikh traditions alone could be summoned by the Sikh High Priests.

Jathedar Vedanti, however, denied that he had issued a ‘parallel hukamnama’ against Baba Bhaniara as alleged by Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar. He said after excommunication from the Panth, Baba Bhaniara had authored a ‘controversial granth’. Hence, Akal Takht had issued a directive to the Sikh ‘Sangat’ to boycott him.

Meanwhile, family members of the late Sukhjinder Singh, the then Vice-President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today met Jathedar Vedanti and sought an unconditional apology on Mr Sukhjinder Singh’s behalf for visiting the dera of Baba Bhaniara. Mr Harmeshinder Singh, brother of the late Sukhjinder Singh, said the family had decided to seek atonement.

Sant Shamsher Singh Jegera, president, International Sant Samaj, also sought atonement for visiting the dera. A senior Youth Congress leader has also reportedly approached Akal Takht for an unconditional apology.

Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, his son Kewal Singh Badal, Junior Vice-President, SGPC, Mr Bhag Singh and Mr Surjit Singh — both leaders of the SAD (Amritsar) have already submitted before Akal Takht that they are ready for any ‘tankhah’ pronounced by Akal Takht for violating the edict.

Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, has said all political leaders who visited the ‘dera’ should be excommunicated from the Panth.

Jathedar Vedanti today held meetings with legal and religious leaders to seek their opinion on the punishment to be awarded to those behind the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.


Bandh against acts of sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 11
All business establishments observed a three-hour bandh in the town today in protest against the acts of sacrilege in different parts of the state allegedly by the followers of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

A procession was also taken out through the main streets of the town. The procession started from Gurdwara Singh Sabha and terminated at mini-secretariat, where leaders of the SAD, Congress, UCPI and various religious groups presented a memorandum to Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot. They demanded that a criminal case be registered against Baba Bhaniara for injuring sentiments of the Sikh community.

Members of the Bar Association also observed a strike to express solidarity with the protesters. Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal, state president of the UCPI, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, local MLA, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh president, local unit of the Congress and others participated in the procession.


Join ‘Khalsa march’: morcha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The Panthic Morcha has given a call to all communities in Punjab to participate in the “Khalsa march” from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh on October 17 to seek the dismissal of the Badal government for its failure to protect Guru Granth Sahib.

Addressing a press conference here today after a meeting of the 11-member apex committee of the morcha, its convener, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, said incidents of sacrilege had taken place under a big conspiracy. Reiterating the demand for setting up a judicial commission of three retired Sikh judges, he said that this conspiracy required to be exposed. The Chief Minister should not back out from his statement to hold the judicial inquiry.

Baba Bedi said that while the Congress “planted” Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, he was nurtured by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

He said Mr Badal should explain to the people what had prevented him from making public the evidence with regard to the alleged involvement of the Congress in the recent acts of sacrilege. Mr Badal and his Cabinet colleague, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, had stated that they had concrete proof about the involvement of the Congress.

He said Mr Badal was deliberately putting the ball in the court of the Centre on the issue of amending the laws pertaining to punishment for acts of sacrilege. Law and order was a state subject and the Punjab Government was competent to enhance the punishment in this regard, he added.

He said that it had come to the notice of the morcha that the police at certain places had harassed members of the Dalit community, accusing them of having links with Baba Piara Singh. This should be stopped, he added.

Baba Bedi wanted to know what action the government had taken in connection with the alleged recovery of illegal firearms and dangerous chemical substances from Baba Piara Singh’s dera. He also asked why Mr Badal did not take action against Baba Piara Singh for encroaching on land belonging to the Forest Department. The contents of the personal diary recovered by the police from Baba Piara Singh should be made public, he said.

When told that Mr Badal had sought the cooperation of rival Akali leaders to normalise the prevailing situation in the state, Baba Bedi said Mr Badal was welcome to participate in the “Khalsa march”.

Among those who attended the meeting were Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode.


Securitymen encroach upon parks
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 11
A majority of public parks and open spaces in almost all posh colonies present a picture of mini cantonments for being in illegal possession of security guards of senior police officials and VVIPs since the militancy days.

Though the condition of a majority of the parks in the city is poor for lack of proper maintenance, yet what has been causing more nuisance to residents in general and fitness freaks in particular is the presence of the security staff who have virtually usurped these parks by pitching their tents there.

As maintaining a strong posse of security guards has become more of a fashion these days, even officials who have been posted out since a long time have retained securitymen and their tents in parks and open spaces near their residences.

The worst hit is the park in the posh Baradari area where police officials have even altered the boundaries by breaking the boundary walls of the park to facilitate the pitching of their tents in the unkempt park dotted with wild growth.

A round to the park revealed that boundary walls have been removed by the security staff from two sides and the tents have eaten up most of the walking strip inside it. So much so that even open spaces have not been spared by the securitymen who have also broken a few other boundary walls in the Baradari locality.

“Where should our children go for their exercises and walks, particularly when they cannot use the park near our house,” said a government official who resides in the Baradari locality.

A number of residents alleged that it was the duty of the municipal corporation to remove any illegal structure from the parks, but the civic body authorities had failed to perform their role effectively, apparently in view of the fact that the tents belonged to the security staff of powerful police and other officials.

Similar is the condition of the Urban Estate park, the beauty of which has been spoiled by the presence of tents of the security staff of a senior police official who is not even posted in the district. “Nobody has ever done anything to restore the beauty of the park and to get these free from any such structures and encroachments,” said an Urban Estate resident on condition of anonymity.

Interestingly, some parks have been encroached upon by residents. A park in New Jawahar Colony is being utilised by a resident for dumping building material. He has gone to the extent of pitching a tent for the labour engaged by him for the construction work right under the nose of the civic body. No action has been taken against him.

Mr P.S. Gill, Landscape Officer of the municipal corporation, expressed helplessness stating that the civic body authorities had repeatedly urged the officials availing the security to get the parks vacated, but to no avail.


Will Gujral’s son join Punjab politics?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 11
The two-day visit of a former Prime Minister, Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, to his home town Jalandhar this weekend and his hectic schedule during which he met leaders of almost all political parties, leading industrialists and social leaders has generated a lot of curiosity among the public and there are speculations in political circles that Mr Gujral’s interest is growing in Punjab politics and his visit was aimed at testing waters for the possibility of introducing his son, Mr Naresh Gujral, in politics by fielding him either in the forthcoming Assembly or parliamentary elections.

Mr Gujral has a large base in Jalandhar and had won the Jalandhar parliamentary seat in 1997 by a margin of more than a lakh votes with the help of almost all political parties sans the Congress.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had even coined the term a true “spoot of Punjab” for him and had projected him as the lone Prime Ministerial candidate who had heart-felt sympathy with Punjab and who had “waived” the Rs 6,000 Central Government loan to Punjab. Interestingly though Mr Gujral met local Akali leaders, yet no senior SAD leader or minister was present to felicitate him during his much talked about two-day visit to the city.

Apart from attending a number of small functions, including the one organised by a local SAD leader, Mr Pritpal Singh Palli, son of former Punjab minister Saroop Singh, Mr Gujral visited the residences of Congress leaders Avtaar Henry, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, industrialists Sheetal Vij, Man Karan Bhandari, the “dera” of Baba Kashmira Singh, nari Niketan and the local Ambedkar Bhavan. He also paid a visit to the residence of the parents of Balbir Singh Sodhi at Passiawal village in Kapurthala district. Sodhi was shot dead by some Americans during the wave of hate crime in the USA in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. What generated curiosity among residents and political observers was the presence of Mr Naresh Gujral at almost all functions, meetings and at places visited by his father, particularly the ones like the “dera” of Baba Kashmira Singh, who has a strong base in Jalandhar and Gurdaspur districts and who is likely to support Mr Naresh Gujral.

A number of close associates of Mr Gujral, confided that though he was not keen to return to Punjab, he was not averse to the idea of his son joining Punjab politics, particularly after he was pressurised by his friends to keep his long association and ties intact with Punjab.

“He was positive towards our suggestion. But at the moment we can say that he was testing the waters and response from various quarters like the Akalis and the Communists. If he feels that the response is honourable from all sides only then he will act in this direction. If I am not wrong, he was on a reconnaissance tour,” said a close associate of Mr Gujral.


Experts: kill American bollworm manually
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 11
Dr Sarwan Singh Bains, Director of Agriculture, Punjab, visited the district to study the menace of the American bollworm. His visit was followed by Dr Gurdial Singh Khera, Joint Director Agriculture, and Dr Ranjit Singh, Deputy Director (Cotton Extension), who visited the American bollworm infested cotton fields in the district.

After inspection of the fields and discussions held with farmers, they found that the farmers started spraying their cotton crops with mixed insecticides without any advice from an officer or expert of the department in mid-June fearing the impending danger of the American bollworm.

According to experts, there was no need for spraying the crop with mixed insecticides at that time. They observed that normally the American bollworm attacked the cotton crop in mid-July and only then the spraying of crop should start. The American bollworm had become immune to insecticides. They advised the farmers to kill the American bollworm manually for its complete elimination.

Having failed to fight the American bollworm to save their cotton crops many farmers in the district overturned their standing cotton crops. The attack of the American bollworm was so severe that it began eating leaves of standing crops after damaging the cotton at the ripening stage. On the advice of the State Agriculture Department to reduce the area under paddy, farmers of the district had sown cotton crop in 88,000 hectares which is comparatively much more than the area under the crop during the past year. Most of the growers in the district accused the Punjab Government of not providing insecticides with potency to fight the American bollworm. They said the government to import insecticides to effectively save the cotton crop from the menace of the American bollworm.

The farmers have urged the state government to order special girdawri of the fields where the farmers have overturned their standing cotton crops due to attack of American bollworm and pay them adequate compensation for the loss suffered by them.

Mr Manmohan Singh Hodia, a leading grower of the area and a state award winner, said, the officials of the Agriculture Department had no rapport with the farmers. It was the duty of the department to inform the farmers in time before the attack of bollworm.


Spectacular show by aerobatics team
Our Correspondent

Bhisiana (Bathinda), October 11
Spectators held their breath as two HJT-16 (Kiran) aircraft flew in a criss-cross formation as part of an aerobatics show at the Air Force Station here today.

The breathtaking show was organised by the Indian Air Force’s formation aerobatics team, Suryakiran, as part of the concluding day function of the 69th anniversary celebrations of the IAF. A large number of residents of nearby areas, including schoolchildren, gathered at the Air Force Station to see the show.

Nine crimson and white-coloured aircraft performed spectacular feats in the air which amazed the spectators.

The aircraft grouped in the air to form various patterns. They formed the shapes of diamond, wine glass, square, delta, etc.

The spectators appreciated every formation with loud applause. The aircraft, flying at a speed of 500 kmph, changed formations in the twinkling of an eye.

The team which performed the aerobatics was headed by Wg Cdr Amit Tiwari. The other members were Sqn Ldr Vimal Bhatt, Sqn Ldr T.M. Gopal, Sqn Ldr J. T. Kurian, Sqn Ldr Anil Gulrajani, Sqn Ldr Vikram Rawat, Sqn Ldr Rajdeep Gill, Sqn Ldr Sanjeev Sethi, Sqn Ldr Manish Yadav, Sqn Ldr Sanjay Khajuria, Sqn Ldr M.K. Singh, Sqn Ldr Prabhat Kumar, Sqn Ldr P.Arya, Sqn Ldr AMK Naidu and Flight Lieutenant Vikas Wahi.

In 1982, the golden jubilee year of the IAF, nine Hunter aircraft performed various feats in the air. The pilots of these aircraft were known as “Thunderbolts.” They performed at various places in the country under the command of Wg Cdr P.S. Brar, Wg Cdr D.K. Dhige, Wg Cdr B. Mukherjee and Wg Cdr T.S. Randhawa from time to time.

Subsequently, the Hunters were phased out and replaced for the purpose with the indigenous Kiran MK-IIs. In 1996, the aerobatics team was christoned “Suryakiran.”

The “Suryakiran” team is based at Air Force Station, Bidar, in Karnataka. The Bidar station looks after the technical, administrative and logistic aspects of the aircraft.


Police action was justified: report
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 11
The magisterial inquiry into the alleged police action against residents of Khanpur village on May 21 this year has justified the use of force. The villagers had blocked traffic on the Morinda-Kharar road.

The findings of the inquiry, which was conducted by the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, are based on the statements of the villagers, eyewitnesses, administrative and police officers present on the occasion and the photographs of the incident.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, talking to this correspondent said, according to facts collected during the inquiry, it had been concluded that the police was compelled to use force. The police resorted to use force only after all persuasive methods to convince the villagers to lift the blockade failed.

In the report it has been stated that the villagers in their statement to the inquiry officer had alleged that when some of their women went to fields early morning that day, some workers of the land owners allegedly misbehaved with them. They complained to the police officers posted on the disputed land but no action was taken against the culprits. This led to an altercation between the villagers and the workers of the land owners. Additional police force was called and the policemen vented their ire on the villagers beating women and other protesters rather than taking action against the guilty workers.

On the other hand eyewitnesses, police and administrative officers have given an entirely different account of the happening to the inquiry officer. They have alleged that a group of about 200 residents of Khanpur village, comprising mostly women, blocked traffic on the Morinda-Kharar road at about 7 am. The district officials, including the SDM, DSP, and the SHO, tried to persuade the villagers to lift the blockade. Warning was also issued on loudspeaker. When the police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesting villagers, they started pelting stones on the officials injuring the SDM and the SHO. This provoked the police officers and the protesters were lathi-charged.

The SDM after examining the statements and the evidence concluded that a land dispute between the villagers and the land owners was going on for a long time. The district administration had formed a 17-member committee of the local residents, which managed to strike a compromise between the warring parties. However, some villagers were not pleased with the compromise. They tried to block traffic in protest on May 19, but their attempt was thwarted by the district administration. On May 21 they blocked traffic and pelted the police and other government officials with stones when latter tried to get the blockade lifted. The SDM and few other officials were injured and the police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse protesters.

The SDM, however, blamed the police officials of failing to take steps to prevent the villagers from blocking traffic. He also blamed the police for not deputing adequate member of women cops on the occasion.


Plan to cut area under wheat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
Punjab proposes to reduce the area under wheat by over one lakh hectares in rabi 2001-02 and expects a production of 155.65 lakh tonnes, an increase of 14,000 tonnes over that of last year. Wheat will occupy 33 lakh hectares.

Experts at Punjab Agricultural University and the Department of Agriculture have worked out the details of the inputs — quality seed, fertilisers, plant protection chemicals etc. — required for rabi crops (barley, sarson and sunflower).

The operational aspects for rabi are in tune with the ‘’Second Push to Agriculture’’ document that aims at breaking the wheat-paddy cycle that has caused ecological and environmental imbalances, affected soil fertility, lowered sub-soil water and created marketing problems.

The Director of Agriculture, Dr S.S. Bains, says the overall rabi production is expected to be 157.72 lakh tonnes—1.01 lakh tonnes more than that in rabi 2000-01. Area and production targets for various rabi crops have also been worked out and a modest increase in both is expected.

The extension wing of the Department of Agriculture will organise 1,515 training camps for farmers. Good quality seed has been arranged for sale. Based on soil samples from 6,000 villages, “fertility maps’’ have been prepared to guide farmers of different regions on the application of inputs. Subsidy is also available on seed kits and farm machinery.

PAU’s Director of Research and Wheat Breeder G.S. Nanda says the timely sowing of wheat is the key to better yield. Just one week’s delay beyond the recommended optimum time of sowing means a loss of 1.5 quintals per acre. Sowing is usually spread over seven to eight weeks beginning in the fourth week of October. The schedule varies for different varieties.

A number of varieties are recommended for cultivation under timely sown (irrigated) conditions. While six varieties, PBW-343, WH-542 and PBW-154 (bread wheat) and PDW-274, PDW-233 and PBW-34 (durum) are recommended for late sown, irrigated conditions, PBW-396, PBW-299 and PBW-175 are for timely sown, rainfed conditions.

Dr Nanda says that while future research is focused on evolving wheat varieties that are genetically resistant to insects and disease, equally important for farmers to know are cultural practices and the correct dozes of herbicides/weedicides. Timely sowing as much helps contain competing weeds, like phalaris minor, as does bi-directional sowing in reducing weeds per unit area.

Dr Bains cautioned farmers on the use of wheat seed stored by them out of the rabi 2000-01 harvest. The untimely rain in April-May last year had damaged wheat. The farmers will have to be careful as moisture may have adversely affected the fertility of their stored seed. Moreover, farmers will also have to learn to reduce the cost of cultivation and yet obtain high, quality yields.


Harike wetland faces hyacinth threat again
Our Correspondent

Harike, (Tarn Taran), October 11
Harike wetland located at the confluence of the Beas and the Sutlej in north India once again is going to face an acute water hyacinath problem which was cleared only last year with the help of the Army under the project ‘Sahyog’ at a cost of Rs 75 lakh. Migratory birds visit the area in huge members.

Dr Aneesh Dua and Mr Chander Parkash, junior research fellow scientists from the Department of Zoology, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, who have been visiting the wetland since four years for carrying out a study on ecology, water quality and socio-economic structure of the wetland, while talking to this correspondent yesterday said the increasing water hyacinth at the wetland was going to be an acute problem once again.

The scientists noted that a large area was being covered by this weed. They attributed it to the release of less water during the past few days from the lane reservoirs of Bhakhra, Rajit Sagar Dam on account of less rain in the catchment area. Owing to this water level in the Harike lake came down, but the pollutants’ quantity remained the same. As a result of this, the water became more entrophic stimulating the growth of water hyacinth.

This year the number of visiting migratory fowls can surpass the last year’s number due to the removal of water hyacinth and banning fishing in the wetland. Fish and deep-water vegetation is abundantly available for the migrated birds provided water hyacinth covers limited, they added.

Migratory birds come here not only from Asia and Europe arctic circle but also from central Europe, western and central Asia and neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and China.


BSP seeks DC’s suspension
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 11
Hundreds of BSP workers led by Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra, the local MLA, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, Mr Bhagwan Dass Chohan and Mr Mohinder Pal, all state leaders of the BSP, staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner and did not allow the district administration to hold the monthly meeting of the district officers here today in protest against the alleged indifferent attitude of the Deputy Commissioner towards BSP leaders.

Mr Sahungra told mediapersons that on October 1 Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, organised a ‘sangat darshan’ programme at Jaijon town in this constituency. He alleged that when people of the area urged the Deputy Commissioner to direct officials concerned for the repair of a road, he remarked that they had been wrong in electing their representative in the last elections due to which they were suffering now.

He alleged that all development works were being carried out at the instance of a few SAD(B) and BJP leaders of the area. Grants for various development works in the constituency were being distributed through these leaders and he was completely ignored by the Deputy Commissioner in this regard despite the announcement of the Chief Minister, Punjab, that all works would be done on the recommendations of the local MLAs in state.

Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, a senior leader of Punjab BSP, said they would write to the Chief Election Commissioner of India against the callous attitude of the Deputy Commissioner towards BSP leaders and would demand his immediate suspension. He said the BSP would not allow the Deputy Commissioner to hold ‘sangat darshan’ programmes in the area.

The Deputy Commissioner when contacted, denied all charges levelled by Mr Sahungra against him. He said he was strictly carrying out all development works and was issuing grants to the panchayats on the recommendations of SDMs and BDOs in the district. The proposed meeting of the district officers was held as usual in afternoon today, he added.


Boycott CM, Sikh ‘sangat’ urged
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, has urged the Sikh ‘sangat’ to boycott Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, his son Kewal Singh Badal, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, a former Member of Parliament and other Sikh leaders for visiting the ‘dera’ of excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The former Jathedar also urged the Sikh “sangat” to ignore any decision taken by the Sikh High Priests tomorrow as it was an “attempt to bail out the Akali minister, his son and others.” Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that the meeting had been called at the “behest of the Chief Minister”. He alleged that Mr Badal and other Sikh leaders who had violated the ‘hukamnama’ were deserters of Akal Takht and, hence, the sangat should socially boycott them.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said they had visited the ‘dera’ to strengthen their votebank.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former member of Parliament, has organised a series of ‘akhand path’ at his native village, Kairon, and other places following the acts of sacrilege.

Giani Joginder Singh Talwara, member, Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandhki Panchayan), today urged the state government to amend the Constitution so that capital punishment could be awarded to those who indulged in the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said if proper punishment was not given to Baba Bhaniara and his followers, there would be unrest among the Sikhs. He, however, expressed concern that the Sikh High Priests had adopted ‘double standards’ while pronouncing “tankhah” on ‘guilty persons’.


Performance of thermal units improves
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 11
The performance of thermal power stations of the PSEB has registered a subsequent increase this year with all three thermal plants at Bathinda, Ropar and Lehra Mohobbat being selected for the Meritorious Productivity Award by the Ministry of Power.

An official note here said the load factor of the Bathinda plant was more than 72.48 per cent which was higher than the average load-factor of about 32 per cent for such types of plants.

The note said during the year 2000-2001, the Bathinda plant had achieved a load factor of 72.48 per cent, the Ropar plant had achieved a target of 76.71 per cent and the Lehra Mohobbat plant a load factor of 87.71 per cent. It said not only this, the Lehra Mohobbat plant had achieved a load factor of 99.07 per cent for July 2001, which was the highest so far exceeding the previous record of 98.76 per cent for March, 2001.

It said besides this, the Bathinda plant generated 273 million units during August, 2001 which was the highest during a month since December, 1987. It said the Ropar plant generated 872 million units during July, 2001, achieving a load factor of 93 per cent. It said similarly the Lehra Mohobbat plant generated 311 million units during August, 2001, at a load factor of 99.70 per cent which was the highest-ever since its commissioning.


German Dy Secy pays homage at Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
Mr Auswatiges Amt, Deputy Secretary, Germany, paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here today.

He said though no formal request had been made to this country for joining the war against terrorism, yet it was ready to support the US alliance in every manner. He said his country was ready to give liberal funds for refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

To a question, Mr Amt said General Musharraf had taken a wise decision by siding with the USA. He said he had suggested to him to endeavour normalising ties with India. To yet another question, he said bilateral talks between India and Pakistan was the only solution to the Jammu and Kashmir problem.

On the formation of government in Afghanistan by replacing the Taliban, Mr Amt said the people of the country must come on a single platform.


Global recession to ‘hit world’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 11
A noted economist and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) adviser, Dr Omkar Goswami, today said global recession was likely to hit the world in the next two years.

Speaking at the 15th convocation of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology here, he said most economists believed that the USA would be achieving a negative growth during this period.

Dr Goswami said top economists felt that 2002 would be a washout and they did not visualise even a growth rate of around 3.5 per cent in the middle of 2003. He said if the buyers of goods and services slipped into a recession mode then its effects were bound to influence the economies of Europe and Asia.

He said this would also lead to a recession and pressure on corporate margins throughout the European Union, and several countries in Latin America, South-East Asia and South Korea were likely to be affected by it. He believed that price pressure and a negative to low growth would continue throughout 2002 and probably three to six months into 2003.

Institute Director M.P. Kapoor who presided over the function, read out the annual report of the institute and highlighted the various achievements made both in research and provision of top class infrastructure at the institute.

A total of 429 students were awarded degrees and medals at the convocation. Degrees were awarded to 288 students of BE (engineering), 31 students of MCA, nine students of MSC (biotechnology), one student of material science, 21 students of ME (TIET), 53 students of ME (TTTI) and four students of doctor of philosophy. The President’s Medal was awarded to Lalit Kumar Ahluwalia, while the Ranbir Singh memorial medal was bagged by Guninder Kaur Bajwa.


Mixed reactions over railway overbridge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 11
Local residents have expressed joy at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the overbridge project at railway crossing No. 22 by the Chief Minister yesterday. The project was, however, inaugurated without much fanfare. The district administration kept the ceremony a low-key affair with officials and local politicians being the main participants.

According to sources, the administration feared that traders of the city particularly those running business near the project site, might protest against the move. Due to this the ceremony was not publicised and was held early in the morning before the Chief Minister presided over a sangat darshan programme in the city.

Kartar Singh of Model Town said the construction of an overbridge at the railway crossing was in public interest. He said it would remove traffic congestion in the area. Residents had to wait for long periods due to frequent closing of the railway crossing. As traffic is very heavy in the area it often lead to traffic jams. Another resident, Gurpreet Singh said the overbridge would facilitate movement of traffic to the new district complex being built on the Jail Road and that it was a good step. The project reportedly had been under review for long. Around four to five years back, it was planned to build an underbridge on the site, keeping in view the sentiments of the shopkeepers who felt that the construction of an overbridge would harm their business. A project was reportedly okayed but then proposal to build an overbridge gained force.

Dr S. Vishvanathan, a renowned consultant, was asked to make recommendations on the matter. The consultant recommended that an overbridge should be constructed on the site. He said as the area was a low-lying one, underbridge constructed on the spot would often flooded.

The traders, however, feel that the administration has taken this step in haste. Traders having shops near the railway crossing expressed dismay at the laying of the foundation stone. They said the administration could improve the traffic management to ease the problem of traffic congestion. They said an underbridge would have been less harmful to their business interests.

It has virtually killed all business in the area by taking this decision. Most of our business is of daily use items and nobody would come to them during construction of the overbridge to make purchases from our shops due to dust etc.” they said.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir when contacted said the decision had been arrived at after much consideration and after building consensus on the issue. He said experts had given their view advocating construction of an overbridge saying foundations of shops would be affected if an underbridge was built on the site.

He said the overbridge would come up in nine months and would be build by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board at a cost of Rs 8.35 crore. He said a part of the cost would be borne by the Railways.


Police launches migrant labour registration drive
Anita Tayal

Patiala, October 11
In a significant decision, the Patiala police has decided to get migrant labourers registered on the railway platforms itself, which will enable the police to verify the antecedents of labourers arriving in the city.

Disclosing this, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, said this drive was the first of its kind to have been launched in the city. He said the drive was launched today after taking serious note of the rapid rise of crime in the city.

Mr Grewal added that one such drive had been launched some time back, which included the registration of migrant labourers along with domestic servants. This drive was a failure and keeping this in mind, a different drive with a similar motive had been launched by the police, he stated .

He said the increasing number of migrant labourers could be the reason behind the spurt in crime in the city. Sources said the drive had been launched only at the local railway station, adding that if it proved a success , it would be introduced at the local bus stand too.

Mr Grewal added that apart from photographs of migrant labourers, other details would be added in a form having 12 columns. He further added that such information, once received, could be transmitted to the police station from where the migrant labourers had come from.

Giving further details of the campaign, Mr Grewal said employers of domestic servants should also hand over details of these servants to the nearest police stations. He added that if any employer failed to deliver vital information, the employers concerned would be challaned.


Resentment over felling of trees
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 10
Resentment prevails among residents, especially officers, of the Irrigation Department of the local Dholbaha Dam Canal Colony in against felling of ornamental as well as medicinal trees by PSEB employees in the colony on Tuesday. They reportedly carried out felling without the permission of the authorities concerned.

While showing the trees felled to this correspondent yesterday Mr T.L. Bangay, Superintending Engineer, Dholbaha Dam Construction Circle, said the felling was done on a plea of pruning branches which get entangled with electric wires. He said the PSEB employees also felled trees on the premises of his residence. They also damaged railings on the boundary wall of his residence.

They reportedly cut 22 ornamental as well as medicinal trees in the colony. Mr Bangay said he had taken up the matter with PSEB authorities.


Rally against reservation
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 11
A rally was organised at Hadiabad by activists of the General Category Federation last evening. The activists demanded constitution of a national commission for the general category, end to caste-based reservation, implementation of rulings of the Supreme Court given for March, 1996 and September 11, 1999 regarding Ajit Singh Janjua (I and II) cases, reservation on the basis of economic conditions, dropping the idea of amending the Constitution for restoring pre-1996 situation, admission in educational institutions purely on merit basis and end to harassment of people belonging to the general category through Prevention of Atrocities on SC Act, a press note today said.

Addressing the rally, Mr Shyam Lal Sharma and Mr Nirmal Singh, president and general secretary, respectively, of the federation, warned that people belonging to the general category would no longer tolerate excesses and injustices being done to them for the past 54 years under the garb of reservation.

Mr Narinder Sharma and Sarwan Singh, other federation leaders, warned that in case the government pandered to SCs’ wishes with further amendment to the Constitution for garnering SC votes, then the BJP would have to pay the price for this petty politics.

The rally was preceded by a scooter rally in Phagwara and a memorandum to the local authorities. The rally was supported by the newly floated General Samaj Party headed by local councillor, Ms Kusam Sharma.


Anaesthesiologists meet tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 11
A two-day annual north zone conference of the Indian Society of Anaesthesiologists (NZ-ISACON) will be held here from October 13.

Dr M.S. Khanna, Head of Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, local Government Medical College, said about 20 renowned anaesthesiologists from All-India Institute of Medical Sciences would present their original research papers in about 15 symposiums on pain management, palliative care, recent techniques in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, management of cancer pain, anaesthetic care in high risk cardiothoracic patients and various other types of surgery.

More than 500 delegates would participate in the conference.


81 power substations commissioned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 11
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has commissioned 81 substations and installed additional transformers to strengthen its transmission and distribution system to provide 24-hour power supply to the villages in Punjab.

Nearly 2000 MVA capacity was added to the PSEB system from April, 2000 till September, 2001 under its policy to lay special emphasis on strengthening its distribution system. This will help provide power to additional agricultural tubewells, besides improving the quality of power supply in the state.

To improve the power factor, nearly 496.000 MVAR capacity of shunt capacitors has been added to the system taking the total capacity to 4543.000 MVAR installed in the PSEB. Besides this, 104 power transformers have been covered under the capital maintenance work.


BKU (E) activists released on bail
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 11
Some activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) were released from the local Central Jail today on bail. They had been lodged here for about two months after the Maiser Khana village incidents in July this year.

Meanwhile, activists of the union alleged that the jail authorities were delaying the release of other union leaders even though they had been granted bail. They also staged a dharna near the entrance of the jail today to press the authorities to release the union members.

Some activists, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Mandikalan, convener of the union, alleged that the police authorities were registering false cases against the activists who had been bailed out from the jail.


40 Afghan Sikhs get Indian visas
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 11
On the initiative of the Minority Commission, the Indian Embassy in Islamabad has issued visas to 40 Afghan Sikhs who have been stranded in Pakistan due to heightened tension in the region.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the Minority Commission, said the Afghan Sikhs, who were granted visas, could enter India through the Samjhauta Express any time.

Mr Jaswant Singh, Defence Minister, has already assured the Minority Commission that the Indian Government would make all-out efforts to save the minorities in the troubled country.


Boy injured in blast
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 11
A 12-year-old boy, Kuldeep Raj, was seriously injured in a bomb blast near Kuther village about 8 km from here, yesterday evening.

According to sources, the victim used to collect waste material from the nearby Defence Road area. The victim found the bomb and took it for a piece of junk when he tried to remove its brass it blasted.


Andhra team studies procurement
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 11
A team from Andhra Pradesh led by Mr Jonardhan Reddy, Minister for Food and Civil Supply and Mr Venkteshwar Rao, Minister for Irrigation along with other top officials yesterday visited various mandis of the state to study the paddy procurement process during their visit to the Sirhind grain market. They were surprised to see that the farmers brought their produce to the mandis on their own in the morning and return to their villages in the evening after selling it, in spite of going through various operations like unloading, cleaning, weighing, stitching and finally getting the bill from the commission agents.

They also interacted with farmers, officials of the various purchase agencies, commission agents and labour.


Kisan mela inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 11
To make agriculture profitable, farmers should avoid traditional crops and instead cultivate flowers, fruits and oilseed crops.

This was stated by Mr R Venakat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, while inaugurating a kisan mela here today. He said to reduce expenses on agriculture, the farmers should use seeds, pesticides and fertilisers as per the instructions of farm scientists.

Mr Ratnam said the Agriculture Department had made all arrangements for the coming rabi season. He said there was no shortage of fertilisers and other necessary items.

Mr Gurdial Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, said for the supply of certified seeds to the farmers, the department was in touch with Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, the State Farm Corporation of India, the Punjab Seed Corporation and some private companies.


Traffic mobile van flagged off
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 11
To create awareness among students about traffic rules, the police today unveiled Punjab’s first traffic mobile van at the local Red Cross Bhavan here yesterday.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Siva Prasad, flagged off the van here, for which Inspector rank official had been deputed as its in charge along with 10 constables.

Earlier speaking at a traffic awareness seminar, Mr Prasad urged students of schools and colleges, who were participating in the seminar, to follow the traffic guidelines since a small mistake on the road could prove fatal. “In fact, we have released a special grant of Rs 1.8 lakh for the upgradation of existing infrastructure of the traffic wing of the police enabling them to purchase the necessary traffic equipments, including traffic lane separation cones, florescent jackets, oxygen masks, water bottles for constables,” he added.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, in his address said the idea behind the launch of the mobile van was to impart the knowledge of the All-India Motor Vehicle Act among students.

“The van which is equipped with a colour TV, a VCR, audio equipments, traffic related booklets and literature would go to all schools, where films would be screened to inclucate the spirit to follow traffic guidelines among students.

Besides traffic cops would organise seminars in all government and private schools throughout the year,” Mr Yadav said.


Law panel’s term extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
The term of the Punjab State Law Commission was today extended by two years by the government.

The commission was constituted on December 21, 1998, and its present term was to end on December 20 this year.


Students made to vacate hostels
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 11
The Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET) authorities have got the hostels vacated from about 240 students of various disciplines of the first year who have been protesting for the past three days to press the authorities concerned to bring them under the same academic rules applicable to the second, third and fourth year students.

Officials sources said the college authorities took this step when the students kept on holding demonstrations in their respective classes and did not respond to the offer of their teachers not to vitiate the atmosphere of the college.

Dr Narinder Singh, Principal, GZSCET, said about 150 students of the total 240, including girls, were still carrying out their agitation on the college premises. He added that they had been asked to leave the hostels through written orders and their parents had also been informed about the situation through letters by the college authorities.

The students, while talking to TNS on condition of anonymity, said their problem was not with the local college authorities and added that they were agitating because Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, had been discriminating against them.

They pointed out that the PTU authorities had framed separate rules for the second, third and fourth year students which were not applicable to them. They added that the second, third and fourth year students were at liberty to pass the degree within six years of the date of joining the course while they were required to get 24 credit points in the first year to get admission to the second year.

Dr Narinder Singh said last year seven students were “detained” as per the guidelines laid down by the PTU authorities. He added that the college authorities could not violate the norms.

He said agitating girl students were today advised to go back to their respective hostel accommodation, but they refused to do so and gave in writing that they would join the agitation launched by the boy students.

The students said they would approach the PTU authorities in Jalandhar shortly. They added that students of various other engineering colleges falling under the jurisdiction of the PTU were also observing a strike.


Staff not paid salary for four months
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 11
Members of the District Institute of Elementary Training (DIET) Staff Association have alleged that they have not been given salary for the past four months.

In a press note issued have today, Mr Labh Singh, convener of the union, said the union had held four meetings with the Director, State Council of Education, Research and Training, in the past few months in this regard but no action had been taken so far.

He said the delay in the paying of salaries was because the state government had not issued the grant of Rs 30 lakh for the purpose. He said that after the release of the grant by the state government, the Central Government would give Rs 6 crore in this regard.

He alleged that the state government was adopting delaying tactics. He said the authorities concerned were not paying heed to their problems. Mr Labh Singh said that for Centrally-sponsored schemes, the state government should put aside the matching grant so that no delay should be made in paying salaries.

He said members of the union would meet the Punjab Chief Minister.


Inter-college declamation contest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 11
As many as 12 teams of the region participated in an inter-college contest on female foeticide organised by Government Mohindra College in collaboration with the Aruna Asif Ali Memorial Trust today. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Director, Public Relations was the chief guest, while a former Chief Secretary, Mr P.H. Vaishnav, who is also president of the trust, presided over the function and gave away the awards.

The Government College of Girls, Patiala won the trophy, while the LBS Arya Mahila College, Barnala was adjudged second. Avneet Sharma of the GCG, Patiala, Anuradha of the LBS Arya Mahila College, Barnala, and Vidhi Dixit of Government Mohindra College, Patiala, won individual prizes of Rs 2,000, Rs 1,500 and Rs 1,000, respectively.

Three consolation prizes worth Rs 500 each were awarded to Amrinder Arora of the College of Management and Technology, Neeru of Government Mohindra College and Puneet Inder Walia of Thapar Engineering Institute.

Mr Ahluwalia lauded the effort of the youngsters in focusing attention of society towards the burning topic of female foeticide. However, he pointed out that such contests should be held in women colleges because they were more responsible for this practice.

In his presidential address, Mr Vaishnav inspired the participants to emulate the example of selfless service to society rendered by Aruna Asif Ali in the pre-Independence era.

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