Sunday, October 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

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Free Akal Takht from SGPC control: Patwant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Eminent Sikh scholar, Patwant Singh, speaking at a seminar “Sikhs at the crossroads” organised by the Sikh Education Society here today, urged Sikhs to free Akal Takht from the control of the SGPC and the government.

As an alternative, he has proposed to set up of an electoral college of Sikhs having representation from all over the world to appoint the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

He said a panel of five retired Sikh judges could be constituted for framing rules to elect the electoral college.

Drawing attention of Sikhs towards the breakdown of its various important institutions, Patwant Singh said “the enemies of Sikhism and its institutions were within the community, who should be identified and isolated.

Sikhs should have their own print and visual media having worldwide reach. Giving instances, he said Jews, owned world’s most important newspapers, TV channels and publishing houses in the USA and elsewhere. Compared to Jews, Sikhs had achieved very little yet. He suggested to set up anti-defamation cell, as Jews have done, to sue TV channels and print media that deliberately defamed the Sikh institutions, Sikh way of life, and distorted Sikh faith and philosophy in any manner.

Talking about the discrimination with the Sikhs while making appointments in the government at the top level like in the Supreme Court, armed forces etc, he urged Sikh leaders to take up such issues at the national level.

Female foeticide and denial of equal rights to women in Sikh community was a matter of shame. Why had the women not adequate representation in the Punjab Assembly and the Badal government? He asked.

Sikhs leaders should pay attention towards growing moral decay in the community. Sikhs did not respect their ageold traditions. They believed in casteism violating principles of Sikhism. Greed of money and lure for power among Sikh leaders had led to moral decline. To check the moral decay and initiate reforms at the community level, “think tanks” of Sikh scholars, retired judges, retired officers, artists and others should be set up.

Justice Jaspal Singh from Delhi, who delivered the presidential remark , said that “ history of religion informs us of the importance of state patronage. For that we looked towards Punjab. We thought it would be the backbone of our community. We thought it would provide us with opportunities to grow culturally. It would respect our traditions, our religious mores. Alas, it is a dream unrealised. Those who were to lead, those who were to guide, those who were to protect and provide, are too busy filling their own coffers”.

It is time to wake up to set goals for the community and also to begin reforms based on the Sikh ideals and glorious past at the grassroots level. Former SGPC chief Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, Mr Gur Rattan Pal Singh, Mr Gurdarshan Singh Grewal, Dr Kharak Singh and Leiut-Gen K.S. Gill (retd) also spoke.


 

Akali leaders undergo ‘tankhah’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 13
Three Akali leaders, including Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, former president of the Youth Akali Dal, Mr Bagh Singh Surtapur, district president of the SAD (Mann) in Ropar, and Mr Surjit Singh, general secretary of the SAD (Mann) in the district, today underwent ‘tankhah’ (punishment for religious misconduct) pronounced by the Sikh high priests at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

The three leaders, accused of having allegiance to Baba Piara Singh despite his excommunication from the Panth through the hukamnama of the then Akal Takht Jathedar, Bhai Ranjit Singh, cleaned utensils at the langar, dusted shoes of the devotees and listened to kirtan holding placards displaying the message that they consider Guru Granth Sahib as living guru and will not accept any human being as guru. The leaders held the placards for half an hour at the main gate of the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

Talking to mediapersons they said they were relieved having undergone punishment. They had gone to the dera of Baba for votes, which was their mistake and for which they had been given the right punishment, they said.

Meanwhile, Baba Piara Singh could not be produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate, Anandpur Sahib, today due to security reasons. A march was also organised from Ropar to Anandpur Sahib to give a message to people against following humans as gurus.


 

‘Tankhah’ not as per tradition, says SHSAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
After the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has alleged that the quantum of “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) was “mild”.

Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, district president (urban) of the SHSAD and executive member of the SGPC, has alleged that procedure was not followed while pronouncing the “tankhah” on Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, his son, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, Junior Vice-President, SGPC, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, former Member of Parliament, and two leaders of the SAD (Mann).

He said the Sikh high priests should have sought explanation from the “guilty leaders”. He said as per the tradition of Akal Takht the explanation was discussed at the meeting of the high priests and then the quantum of “tankhah” was discussed. However, in this case, the leaders were “summoned directly at the behest of the Chief Minister and the ‘tankhah’ was pronounced”, he alleged.

Mr Sharifpura said he would definitely take up the “shortcut procedure” adopted by the Sikh clerics in the forthcoming meeting of the SGPC executive.

Mr Sharifpura said the high priests did not reprimand Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal and Mr Kewal Singh Badal for dying their beards which was prohibited as per Sikh traditions. He said when Mr Buta Singh, former Union Home Minister, and Mr Avtar Singh Hit, president, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, had appeared before Akal Takht they were reprimanded for dying their beards by the then jathedars of Akal Takht.


 

Cong shielding Bhaniara, says Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, October 13
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary and Finance and Planning Minister, Punjab, Captain Kanwaljit Singh accused the Congress of conspiring to flame tension in the state by allegedly orchestrating bir burning incidents.

This allegation was made by Capt Kanwaljit Singh at a party rally here today.

He said after terrorism, the burning of bir was the second most un-religious and inhuman act which was the handwork of the Congress. Holding the Congress responsible for the burning of the birs, the minister said that Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara was being shielded by top Congress leaders.

The Congress followed the “divide and rule” policy which left the state undeveloped and economically backward. Despite spending money on development works and education, the leaders of the opposition party minted huge money rendering the Punjabis financially weaker, he alleged.

The minister also claimed that SAD had fulfilled all the promises made to the people of the state before the assembly elections. He said SAD had launched various schemes to uplift the downtrodden, particularly women.

After awarding Dera Bassi the status of tehsil, the ruling Badal government had created the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat by merging seven villages following which the property of over 15,000 residents was protected from being demolished by PUDA.

He announced that a rally of Mahila Akali Dal would be organised at Zirakpur on November 1. In the rally women party workers from Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru and Banur segments of the Banur Assembly constituency would participate.


 

Terms of reference of probe panel sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, today demanded that the government should set up a commission of inquiry into the factors responsible for disturbed conditions in the state pinpointing who aided and abetted terrorism. Addressing a Press conference, Capt. Amarinder Singh reminded the SAD-BJP combine of its 1997 commitment of setting up such a commission and alleged that Akalis’ had a hand and links with terrorists. Even the common minimum programme of the government promised a ‘’commission of inquiry, headed by a retired judge, to expose the Congress’ hand behind the violence in Punjab’’. Despite this, he remarked, ‘’Let the truth be known’’.

In the same breath, he asked the government to let the people know about the terms of reference of the proposed Commission of Inquiry into acts of sacrilege, involving burning of Guru Granth Sahib, and if the inquiry would be time-bound. What had appeared in the Press today was vague, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Akalis’ charge of Congress’ involvement in acts of sacrilege was a ‘’thoughtless allegation’’. The burning of the holy book was Akalis’ doing who wanted ‘’communal polarisation before the Assembly polls’’. It is a law and order issue. It shows failure of the Intelligence agencies to inform the Chief Minister (he is also the Home Minister) about activities of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. The PPCC President expressed concern over the deteriorating financial situation in Punjab recalling the Congress memorandum to the President of India seeking ‘’financial emergency’’ . He went on to say that ‘’’mismanagement’’ and ‘’cross transfer’’ of funds had eroded fiscal discipline and harmed the economy that is in a shambles.

On the state’s decision to move the Supreme Court on the WTO, Capt Amarinder Singh said it showed that the NDA the of which Akalis are a partner, was not listening. It is because of political face-off between Chandigarh and New Delhi and to score a point in elections that the decision to go to the court has been taken. 


 

Plan for stranded Afghan Hindus, Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 13
The national minorities commission in collaboration with the SGPC is working out a comprehensive plan to bring hundreds of Hindu, Sikh families from Afghanistan who are stranded in Pakistan due to US air strikes.

The vice-chairman of the minorities commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, told mediapersons here today that the commission was coordinating with the Home Ministry to arrange travel documents for over 150 families stranded in Peshawar, Panja Sahib Gurdwara and Lahore to cross over to India.

More than 160 families had applied to the ministry through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for the grant of special visas in this connection. Forty persons had been granted documents and would be entering India through Samjhauta Express during the next week. The main concern of the government was over the 1350 persons left behind in the four major cities of Afghanistan, including 300 in Kandahar, 50 in Heraat, 500 in Kabul, about 25 in Helmut and remaining in Jalalabad.

The minorities commission has urged the Red Cross to provide security and protection to the families of Indian origin stranded in Afghanistan. It has also decided to provide cash relief for them.

Meanwhile, the government through the Ministry of External Affairs has directed the Indian High Commission officials to personally visit the stranded persons in Pakistan and facilitate their entry into India.

The SGPC has urged the government to grant permission to one of their functionaries to visit Pakistan as soon as possible to help the Afghani Hindu and Sikhs in Pakistan and facilitate their crossing over to India. The secretary of the SGPC, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, said here that the committee was willing to provide monetary and financial help and pay for their rail fare and visa fees.


 

Art 25 ‘dilutes’ Sikhs’ identity
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
The National Minorities Commission has said that the clubbing of Sikhs with Hindus in Article 25 of the Constitution had diluted the independent identity of Sikhism.

The commission is of the view that members of the Constituent Assembly were not well conversant with the history of Sikhism, its tenets and traditions. The clubbing gives wrong impression and proved detrimental to the interests of Sikhs thus had put question mark on its independent status as a separate religion.

In a key note address at the symposium held under the aegis of the commission on the working of Constitution in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and Laws of Guru Nanak Dev University here today, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the commission pointed out that the two Sikh members representing the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Constituent Assembly — Mr Hukam Singh and Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann — has refused to sign the final draft as mark of protest.

The Vice-Chairman said in spite of pious declarations and incorporations in the Constitution minorities still lack a sense of confidence and security. “They do not have the freedom to enjoy and develop their belief, culture and language”. He said the minorities should be understood as in relations to the population of the country and not the states they live in. He said protection to minority institutions which was granted under Article 30 was not absolute. The commission pleaded before the Chairman of the Review Commission that some obligatory provisions may be incorporated in Article 30 so as to remove confusion.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the minorities should be given representations in state legislative councils. He said the Centre had already made a provision to nominate two Anglo-Indians in the Rajya Sabha. He added that such provisions be made in the list of nomination by the various state governments in their respective legislative councils.

Earlier, setting in motion the tone of symposium, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, said the Constitution was not a holy document but it is organic and must be interpreted with the changing socio-political and economic environment in the country.


 

Backlog in payments Rs 100 crore
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 13
The backlog in payments to farmers for the paddy purchased have accumulated to more than Rs 100 crore in the district, which represents more than half of the paddy procured till date.

A quick survey of various grain markets in the district revealed that in some instances farmers had not received payment for paddy purchased since September 30. However, in some cases payments till October 6 had been received.

Sources said what was alarming was that payments could be further delayed as the season was at its peak and the maximum amount of paddy was being received in all mandis. They said various procurement agencies were in the process of deciding whether or not they should go in for part payment to farmers as lack of funds would not make full payments possible right now.

The sources said a payment of Rs 116.69 crore had been made to farmers till now. This amounted to payment for around 52 per cent of the paddy procured till date. They said a backlog of more than Rs 100 crore had accumulated on this account.

Giving details, the sources said Markfed had made purchases of Rs 42 crore. Similarly, Punsup had made purchases worth Rs 56 crore. The State Warehouse Corporation had made purchases of Rs 43 crore and made payment of Rs 21.5 crore, Punjab Agro had made purchases of Rs 21.5 crore and payment of Rs 14.77 crore, the FCI had made purchases of Rs 25 crore and payment of Rs 23 crore and the Food and Civil Supplies had made purchases of Rs 37 crore and payments of Rs 11 crore.

The sources said paddy arrival had been recorded at 50,000 metric tonnes on Wednesday. If the present trend continued and the weather remained normal, 80 per cent of procurement would be completed in the next 10 days.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said a total of 4.16 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had reached various mandis in the state out of which procurement agencies and private traders had purchased 4.15 lakh metric tonnes.

He said only 2.31 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had been purchased during the same period last year. Giving details, he said the Food Supplies Department had purchased 62,900 metric tonnes, Markfed had purchased 70,050 metric tonnes, Punsup 94,296 metric tonnes, the State Warehousing Corporation 72,639 metric tonnes, Punjab Agro 35,895 metric tonnes the FCI 41,657 metric tonnes and private traders 24,147 metric tonnes of paddy.



 

Report on Constitution review in 8 weeks: Venkatachaliah
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 13
The chairman of the national commission to review the working of the Constitution and the former chief justice of India, Mr M.N. Venkatachaliah, said the commission would submit its final report to the government of India within eight weeks.

Talking to this correspondent after presiding over a symposium on the review of the Constitution organised by the Department of Political Science and Laws of the Guru Nanak Dev University here, the former chief justice said that very comprehensive and in-depth study had been done to review the working of the constitution by eminent jurists leading social activists, academicians and others. He said he was primarily here to get the first-hand feed back by interacting with people from various sections of society with various perceptions on the Constitution.

The disparities between the developing and poor countries was startling and inequitable distribution of wealth had created an unbalance in the world. The society had been divided among the rich and the poor while the former was enjoying the maximum benefits, the poor had been left to fend for themselves. This trend had to be reversed so that the benefits, of the accumulated wealth of the developing countries could be shared with their poor brethren, he added.

Mr Venkatachaliah felt the need for strengthening the Parliamentary committee like public accounts committee and the office of the controller and auditor general of India which should monitor each and every penny spent by the government.

He said in spite of fast technological developments the Indian political system had got bogged down by its sheer weight of incompetence and inefficiency. He said 40 per cent of the world’s TB patients lived in this country and the impending dangers of hepatitis and the AIDS were looming large on India.

Reposing tremendous faith on the people of this country, the chief justice said although the political leadership had failed the masses, the ordinary man was still simple, innocent without any ill will.

Mr Venkatachaliah said the role of the constitution review committee was limited to make suggestions and it was not in a position to recommend various opinions, which the commission had received from its panels.


 
POLITICS
 

Political realignments in Badal village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), October 13
Even as the next Assembly elections, which are due in February, 2002, are approaching, new political alignments have started emerging in this native village of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

In the recent past, the first significant political development took place when Mr Lalli Badal, a close relative of Mr Badal who unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections in 1995 against Mr Manpreet Singh Badal from the Gidderbaha seat, threw his weight behind the Chief Minister.

Mr Lalli Badal, who was an aspirant for the Congress ticket for the coming Assembly elections, was nominated as member of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) by the Governor, Punjab, recently.

By securing the support of Mr Lalli Badal, the Chief Minister also managed to bring relatives, who were unhappy with him, to his fold again. Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon, who was elected Sarpanch of this village after defeating a Chief Minister supported candidate, Mr Joginder Singh Gaggi, in the last panchayat poll, has also buried differences with Mr Badal and his family members.

Mr Lalli Badal and Mr Dhillon played a key role in the last Lok Sabha elections. They were among those who succeeded in getting the support of the late Teja Singh Badal, who initiated Mr Badal into politics four decades ago and was instrumental in making him the Chief Minister twice, for Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. The open support of the late Teja Singh Badal tilted the scale in favour of Mr Brar who defeated a former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, by a few thousand votes.

Though efforts were also made to bring Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, son of the late Teja Singh Badal, into the Shiromani Akali Dal fold, yet the exercise of the Akali leadership did not bring any positive result. Sources close to the SAD said Mr Sukhbir Badal had been playing a key role in minimising the opposition to the party in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt. Mr Sukhbir Badal was among those who had caused a setback to the Congress by bringing Mr Lalli Badal and his relatives into the SAD fold.

Mr Sukhbir Badal has also been able to keep youth workers in high spirits by raising the issue of 25 per cent party tickets for them in the coming Assembly elections. After the successful “saddbhavana rally” at Killianwali on September 25, which was addressed by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, his status in the party had increased manifold, the sources added.

Yesterday, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, while addressing his supporters in his house, announced that he would always oppose Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He added that he never thought of joining the SAD.

A section of the Punjab Congress leadership has been making efforts to field Mr Mahesh Inder Singh as a Congress candidate for the coming Assembly elections as it feels he can give a tough fight to Mr Badal and confine him to his constituency.

However, no decision has been taken in this connection by the Punjab Congress leadership as Mr Gurnam Singh, who unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly elections against Mr Badal from Lambi segment, is also a strong claimant for the party ticket.

Information gathered by TNS reveals that Mr Sukhbir Badal has been making efforts to rope in all these into the SAD who enjoy a considerable influence in the Malwa region and can help the party in the coming Assembly elections.


 

Cong workers rally behind Sandhewalia
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 13
Congress workers, mostly women, today gathered here in support of Ms Jasmine Sandhewalia to stake a claim to the Congress ticket for her from the Kapurthala assembly seat in the coming elections. Lawyers, educationists, doctors and hundreds of Congress workers participated.

Ms Usha Meena, former MP and vice-president of the All-India Women Congress Committee, presided over the meeting.

Ms Meena said she was touring the state to increase the chances of victory of the women candidate.

She claimed that the Congress had given due representation to women in politics. During the regime of Rajiv Gandhi, 33 per cent representation had been given to women in the panchayati raj system. Ms Reenu Nagar, national general secretary of All-India Women Congress, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, president, Punjab State Women Congress and Mr Umrao Singh, former MP and Ms Sandhewalia addressed the gathering.


 
COMMUNITY

Rs 75 cr given under shagun scheme: CM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, today said Rs 75.41 crore had been distributed among Dalits under the shagun scheme during the past four years in the state.

Mr Badal, while addressing sangat darshan programmes in various villages of Muktsar district, said it was for the first time that the government of a state had given monetary benefit to the girls of Dalit families at the time of their marriage. He said the amount of Rs 5100 given to each girl was sufficient for buying necessary items needed at time of marriage.

Mr Badal addressed public meetings at Lambi, Panjawa, Sikhwala, Kakhanwali, Rorawali, Fatoohiwala and Kutianwali villages. Mr Gurdas Singh Badal, former MP, Mr Hardeep Singh Dhillon, DIG, Police range Ferozepore, Mr Kawanljeet Singh Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, and Mr Kultar Singh SSP, Muktsar, were among those present on the occasion.

Mr Badal said the government would give Rs 27 crore under the scheme to the Dalit girls in the current financial year. He said it would not be discontinued under any circumstances.

He said there were more schemes to benefit the weaker sections. He said in the current financial year Rs 543 crore were being spent on such schemes.

Under the scheme to give residential plots to the weaker section, the government had decided to develop special colonies in the rural areas.

He said plots in such colonies would be given to beneficiaries after the arrangements for lighting, potable water, sanitation and drainage were made.


 

HIGH COURT
Notice to PPSC on screening test
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court here has issued notice of motion for November 20 on a petition challenging the action of Punjab Public Service Commission and other respondents in prescribing a screening test for appointment of lecturers in the college cadre.

In their petition, Mr Kulwant Singh and Ms Tajinder Kaur of Hoshiarpur, along with Dr Kulbushan of Bathinda, had stated that the screening test was prescribed as a large number of applications were received for 546 posts of regular lecturers in the college cadre, even though the passing of the National Eligibility Test (NET) was mandatory for them.

Seeking directions for quashing the action of the respondents in prescribing the screening test, the petitioners had stated that screening had already taken place at national level through NET. They had added that candidates with NET qualifications could not be eliminated from being considered for selection.

Plea against PO’s order dismissed

The High Court has ruled that “whether a claim is to be entertained or not by the Labour Court was a matter of discretion to be exercised by it”.

The orders were pronounced by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the High Court while taking up a writ petition filed by the state of Punjab seeking the quashing of orders passed by the Presiding Officer of Jalandhar’s Labour Court whereby the petitioner was directed to commute the arrears of increments and other incidental benefits, and to pay the amount due to an employee, Sadhu Singh. Counsel had submitted that the application of the respondent ought to have been dismissed on the ground of delay.

In a ruling, Mr Justice Nijjar held: “Whether or not a claim is to be entertained by the Labour Court is a matter of discretion to be exercised by it. In the present case, a perusal of the award shows that the plea with regard to the delay and latches was not even raised before the Labour Court. The writ petition is without merit and is consequently dismissed.


 

Govt staff oppose CRC decision
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 13
More than 200 government employees of general category from various departments held a scooter rally which passed through main streets of the town here today in protest against the decision of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) to recommend changes in the Constitution for giving Fundamental Rights in the reservation category at all levels to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the country.

They wore black badges and raised anti-government slogans. Later, addressing the protesters many leaders demanded that the reservation should be made on the economic condition instead of caste basis. They warned the Central Government that if it implemented the recommendation the general category employees would be compelled to take to the streets.


 

Kuldip Singh not to review decision
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 13
Justice Kuldip Singh (retd) is unlikely to reconsider his decision to resign as Chairman of the World Sikh Council.

During his informal chat with mediapersons at the Guru Nanak Dev University guest house here today, Justice Kuldip Singh said had the WSC been allowed to function properly the Sikhs would not have been mistaken as Arabs after attacks on World Trade Center in America. The WSC was “crushed” in the beginning and hence it could not work for the propagation of Sikhism in the world.

Justice Kuldip Singh had resigned as chairman of the WSC due to differences with the rival group.

Coming down heavily on clergies, Justice Kuldip Singh (retd) alleged that they had created more problems rather than suggesting solutions.

Justice Kuldip Singh said the Central Government had been announcing reservation for backward classes for vested political interests as it won’t help the members of these castes except for providing a few jobs. He said when he was justice in the Supreme Court he had given a dissenting note on the Mandal Commission.


 

IMA seeks judicial probe
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 13
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Punjab unit today urged the Punjab government to order a judicial probe into the alleged kidney-removal rackets in the state especially in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Amritsar and Jalandhar.

Dr Surinder Singla, senior vice-president-cum-chairman, Public Relations Wing of the association, said exposure of kidney racket in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital at Ludhiana recently was a blot on medical profession and an eye-opener for the public and the state government including the Department of Health.

Dr Singla said it was a matter of concern for the medical profession because recent incident of kidney-removal at Ludhiana was not the first of its kind as the Press had already exposed such kidney-removal cases from Amritsar, Bathinda and Jalandhar in the past.

The association also suggested to the government to constitute a permanent medical commission with judicial powers to deal with cases of removal and transplant of human organs. He said such a commission would be useful in saving innocent and poor people from exploitation at the hands of traders of the human organs. 


 

11 gallantry awardees identified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Under its welfare scheme the Punjab Government has identified 11 gallantry awardees or their next of kin in the state for grant of financial assistance for 2001-02. The scheme is applicable to those in distress.

The scheme launched last year stipulates a grant of Rs 2 lakh each. A 10-member state level committee chaired by the Finance Minister has been formed to select the beneficiaries. Every year 11 gallantry awardees or their next of kin will be selected for the assistance, irrespective of their rank.

A function is scheduled to be held in Patiala which will be presided over by the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and also attended by Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Minister for Defence Services Welfare.

The next of kin identified include Gurdial Kaur, widow of Honorary Capt Karam Singh (Param Vir Chakra), Jito Devi, widow of Nk Chain Singh (Maha Vir Chakra), Mohinder Kaur, widow of Hav Malkiat Singh (Vir Chakra), Paramjit Kaur, widow of Nk Surjit Singh (Sena Medal), Harbans Kaur widow of Sep Sawaran Singh (Vir Chakra) and Shammi, daughter of Sep Jagir Singh. The gallantry awardees include L Hav Dev Raj (Vir Chakra), Nk Chuhar Singh (Kirti Chakra), Sub Maj Malkiat Singh (Vir Chakra), Sep Boota Singh (Vir Chakra), and Sep Bahadur Singh (Shaurya Chakra).


 

Computerised railway booking sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
The National Consumer Awareness Group, Muktsar, has urged the Railway Minister to computerise ticket booking at the Muktsar railway station.

The association has also urged the minister to reschedule the arrival time of some trains, for the convenience of local passengers.

Mr Sham Lal Goyal, president of the Muktsar unit of the group, said in a press note issued here today that passengers were facing difficulties due to the lack of computerised reservation at the Muktsar railway station.

He said being a city of historical and religious importance, Muktsar received a large number of passengers daily.

He said they had to face hardships due to the lack of facilities at the railway station.

He said if the time of the train running on the Fazilka-Kotkapura-Bathinda section was rescheduled, passengers would be benefitted in a big way.

He said passengers who wanted to board the Delhi-bound train from Bathinda which left the station at 5.45 a.m. faced difficulty because the earliest train from Muktsar reached Bathinda at 6.10 a.m.

He said the level crossing numbers 29 and 30 which virtually divided the city into two parts should be widened to facilitate smooth flow of traffic.

He said the association had urged the authorities concerned that the movement of trains should be timed so as not to coincide with opening and closing timings of schools.

He said schoolchildren had to face difficulties when the level crossing remained closed for hours together.

He said some children, in order to reach school in time, tried to cross the railway track, thus endangering their lives.


 

Meeting with CM denied, say medical practitioners
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Members of the Unregistered Medical Practitioners Union have alleged that the police did not allow them to meet the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today during the sangat darshan programmes organised at various villages in Muktsar.

Mr Manjinder Singh, an office-bearer of the union, said in a press note issued here today that they wanted to apprise Mr Badal of their problems.

He alleged that the Lambi office of the union was surrounded by the police.

Some of the office-bearers of the union were present in office, he said.

He alleged that a senior police official had threatened them of dire consequences if they tried to meet the Chief Minister.

The police authorities, however, said they had not stopped anybody from meeting Mr Badal.

They said the allegations of the members were baseless.

They also denied that the office of the union was surrounded by the police.


 

IAS Officers’ assn office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The following were unanimously elected office-bearers of the Punjab IAS Officers’ Association for a term of one year, at the general body meeting here on Friday:

President — Mr B.R. Bajaj; Vice-President — Mr J.S. Kesar; General Secretary — Mr J.R. Kundal and Treasurer — Mr N.S. Kalsi.

The executive members are: Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, Ms Daljit Jaijee, Mr R.P.S. Pawar, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Ms Vini Mahajan, Mr Subodh Aggarwal, Mr P.S. Aujla, Mr B.K. Srivastava, Mr Krishan Kumar, Mr Rakesh Singh, Ms Ravneet Kaur, Mr A.K. Goel, Mr H.I.S. Grewal, Mr Ashok Gupta, Mr R.L. Kalsia, Mr Sanjay Kumar and Mr Karan S. Singh (Special Invitee), according to official spokesperson, Sarvesh Kaushal. 


 

Anaesthetists’ meet opens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 13
The second North Zone Indian Society Anaesthetists’ Conference was inaugurated by Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister of Medical Education and Research today.

Dr O.P. Mahajan, conference patron and Principal, government medical college, highlighted the importance of anaesthesia in surgical operations. Dr M.S. Khanna, addressing more than 500 anaesthetists from different parts of the country said pain management had led to the improvement in the health care.

Dr Mahajan in his welcome speech laid emphasis on the importance of regular exercise and morning walk.


 

2 dead, 3 hurt in road accident
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Two persons were killed on the spot and three kids injured when a car collided with a stationary truck near Balluana village this evening.

Police sources said, Lovejeet Singh, his mother, Rajinder Kaur, and three kids, Veerpal Kaur, Harmanjot Singh and Avondeep Kaur were coming to the town from Malout.

Lovejeet reportedly lost control of the car and banged into the truck. The kids had been admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The truck driver has been arrested under Section 304-A.


 

ADC’s appeal on voter I-cards
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) cum Election Officer, Nathana said that collection of photographs for the purpose of voter identity cards has started from October 13 for the Nathana Assembly constituency.

In a press note issued here on Friday he said that only those with identity cards would be allowed to cast votes who had their identity card.


 
AGRICULTURE

Farmers asked to sow wheat from Oct 25
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 13
The Punjab Government has fixed a target of 155.51 lakh MT of wheat production during the forthcoming Rabi season in the state. An area of 33 lakh hectares will be brought under cultivation in this connection. To make this programme a success, 85,000 quintals of certified seed of PBW 343 variety will be provided to the farmers at a concession of Rs 11 per a 40 kg bag, said Mr Sarwan Singh Bains, Director, Agriculture, while inaugurating a district-level farmers training camp here today.

Similarly, a subsidy of Rs 5,000 on the purchase of a thresher and Rs 25,000 on the purchase of a sprinkler will be given to the growers. Mr Bains said 4.30 lakh MT of DAP and 11 lakh MT of area had already been procured by the government to be given to the agriculturists on concessional rates.

More than 700 demonstrations will also be organised in different areas to make the farmers aware of the use of latest techniques in the sowing of wheat. He suggested that the farmers should start sowing wheat from October 25 and complete the process by November 25 for a good yield. He appealed to the farmers to diversify into new crops like sarson, grams, pulses and poplar trees. Mr Bains announced that the state government would also give concessions on various items for sowing these crops.

He appealed to the producers to get the soil tested from soil-testing laboratories located in their areas to improve production. Mr S.K. Singh, Dr Kuldip Singh Khosa, Dr M.S. Gill, Dr J.S. Sekhon, Dr Jagdev Singh Brar, experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, also addressed the farmers.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, presided over the function. Earlier, talking to mediapersons he admitted that the state had suffered a loss of 1 lakh bales of cotton due to American bollworm attack during the current season. However, it will be covered with the enhancement of area under cultivation from 4.74 lakh hectare to 5.9 lakh hectares this year. He said this had happened due to untimely rains in May and June. He said there was no proposal to given any compensation to the farmers in this regard. More than 1,000 farmers attended the camp.



 

Youths to be trained in dairy farming
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 13
Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said here that to train matriculate youths in dairy farming, a one-month training camp of ‘Dairy Training Course’ will be held at Sardulgarh from October 30.

The DC was presiding over a meeting here yesterday of officials of the Dairy Department. He added that it would provide options of work and employment to the youth from rural areas. 


 
ADMINISTRATION
 

Punjab preparing debt profile
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Punjab is working out a debt profile on repayment of loans from various financial institutions.

With waiver on loans seen as a moratorium, Punjab has to clear a debt of Rs 27,000 crore. The more it borrows, the deeper it plunges into debt. Informed sources told TNS that the state had given guarantees worth Rs 7,800 crore on borrowings by various boards and corporations. (Almost the same amount is for the PSEB alone). A sum of Rs 11,000 crore is locked with various public sector undertakings. The cost-free funds are used by public sector undertakings. There is no return to the exchequer. Unless that happens further funding will be affected. This calls for tackling the core issues.

The annual salary bill is around Rs 5,000 crore and non-plan expenditure Rs 2,000 crore. The interest repayment takes away Rs 2,500 crore every year. To pull Punjab out of the financial guagmire and sustain economy, any government will have to work to generate an additional Rs 1,100 crore, per year.

The X and XI Finance Commissions are of little help when it comes to rescheduling repayments or giving relief. Therefore, the next four to five years are difficult despite several positive fiscal achievements. Borrowings cannot go a long distance to fund development. These only lead to imbalances. Returns to government from its investments in social and service sectors, as revealed by the budget papers, 2001-02, are meagre—less than 2 per cent for social services and less than 10 per cent for economic services.

The positive signs include on time payment of salaries, pensions, debt servicing. There is no more diversion of funds available under 55-odd centrally sponsored schemes or from institutions.

In the past over two years, major investment has been on irrigation, infrastructure, potable water and schools. Continuing slipping down of financial health has stopped. Stabilising and sustaining it in terms of maintaining upward trends in revenue receipts will require administrative skills, grit and imagination.

This is possible when revenue deficit has narrowed to Rs 2,000 crore (2001-02) from Rs 3,104 crore (1999-2000). It is imperative to maintain (or increase) tax and non-tax revenue returns from the present 16 per cent. If percentage share of revenue consumed by pay, salaries, pensions, repayments, grants to educational institutions etc. was 140 in 1998-99, it is down to 93 per cent at present. Debt servicing percentage of revenue receipts is down from 36-37 to 20 largely due to increase in revenue not compression of expenditure. But several steps have helped lower expenditure. What worries the state is how to sustain upward trends in tax, non-tax revenue because already marginal growth is indicated. The returns are lower that what accrued in the first five months last year. 


 

FCI Inspector suspended
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 13
Even as the state and central procurement agencies have been leaving no stone unturned to procure paddy of only required specifications, bungling in the purchase of the same has been found in the district.

After finding the involvement of its quality inspector, Mr Rakesh Kumar, in the bungling, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) authorities placed him under suspension.

Official sources said the bungling in the procurement of paddy came to light when a flying squad, led by the Deputy Manager (Vigilance), FCI, New Delhi, visited various purchase centres in Bathinda and this district in the recent past.

During the inspection, the flying squad took samples of the paddy procured by the FCI field staff and compared it with the required specifications. Explanations were sought from members of the field staff whose procurement was not found up to the mark.

Mr Sandeep Deora, District Manager, FCI, Mansa and Bathinda districts, when contacted on the phone today, said Mr Rakesh Kumar was placed under suspension when it was found that he had procured “beyond rejection limit” paddy.

He added that during the inspection it was found that he had packed the paddy in gunny bags which was found to be below rejection limit.

The sources added that the flying squad checked the procurement at Dhapali, Burj Jhabbar, Bhopal, Hodal Kalan, Ralla and Mehma Serja villages in Bathinda and Mansa districts. The alleged bungling by Mr Rakesh Kumar was detected at the Ralla purchase centre.

Mr V.K. Singh, Senior Regional Manager, FCI Punjab, said action against the field staff was being taken according to their fault.

He added that where the specifications were not violated heavily, only explanations were being sought from the employees and where the violation was severe, action, including suspension, was being taken against them.


 
CRIME
 

Cops booked for harassment
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 13
The police has booked a police party of the Panipat police for allegedly harassing and illegally detaining Harbans Singh of Dadwan under the Dhariwal police station in the district.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, SSP, while talking to mediapersons here today said a case under Sections 395, 365, 506, 148 and 149, IPC had been registered.

The SSP said he was directed by the Additional Director-General, Vigilance, on May 23, 2001, to inquire into a complaint filed by Harbans. According to the complaint, Harbans, accompanied by his friend Jasbir Singh, went to Samalkha in Panipat district with Rs 7.33 lakh to strike a deal for a piece of land on November 19, 1999. The deal was struck for Rs 9.33 lakh and Harbans had to come back to his village to manage the remaining Rs 2 lakh leaving Rs 7.33 lakh with his friend at Panipat.

When Harbans was going back with the remaining amount to Panipat he was picked up by the police party and taken to Panipat where they had detained his friend, Jasbir and seized the amount with them.

The complaint said the Panipat police showed to have taken Rs 4.5 lakh from Harbans and Jasbir on the plea that the currency notes of the said amount were fake.

Meanwhile, the police sent the currency notes for the verification to the Reserve Bank of India, Delhi, which confirmed that the notes were real.

The SSP deputed Mr Jaswant Singh Cheema, then DSP (Rural), to hold an inquiry into the complaint who found the police party of Panipat guilty.

Meanwhile, Harbans had filed a petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court which have summoned Inspector Rajinder Singh, head of the police party which picked up Harbans, to appear in the court on January 17, 2002.


 
EDUCATION
 

Students protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 13
All campus students of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) boycotted classes here today in protest against the sacrilege of the holy Guru Granth Sahib.

They presented a memorandum to the Vice-Chancellor regarding the issue who asked the students to endeavour to preserve their cultural, religious and social values.


 

PCCTU stand on pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) general secretary, Mr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, today said the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, has created confusion over grant of pension and other benefits to the employees of non-government aided colleges.

His contention of not including gratuity in the pension scheme announced on Friday is contradictory to the ‘’objects and reasons’’ mentioned in the Bill introduced by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in the Vidhan Sabha. Any deviation from that will be strongly opposed by the union.

In a statement, Mr Randhawa said the on going programme of courting arrests and dharnas would continue as per schedule. The next action was proposed at Banur on October 19, followed by one at Chandigarh on October 30 and Lambi on November 7.


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