Saturday, October 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PM reschedules visits to Punjab
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
International commitments and other pressing engagements notwithstanding, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will visit Punjab thrice within a month — between November 2 and December 1 — to honour all his promises.

While all three programmes of the Prime Minister have been confirmed to the great relief of both the Punjab Government and the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there was some disappointment in the National Games Organising Committee as the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan has expressed his inability to travel to Ludhiana on health grounds on November 19 to inaugurate the National Games .

Official confirmation was conveyed for the Prime Minister’s visit to Amritsar on November 2 and 3 for the national executive meeting of the BJP to the State leadership last night. Initially, the Prime Minister had reportedly expressed his inability to attend the meeting on both days. However, pressure from within the party and from the Punjab unit reportedly made him change his mind.

Mr Vajpayee is scheduled to leave for Russia on a four-day state visit from November 4 followed by a visit to the USA . Keeping in view the international political scenario, it was argued that the Prime Minister should stay in the Capital before he left for Russia and the USA.

The Prime Minister’s secretariat has also confirmed his rescheduled visit to Amritsar on November 18 to address a public rally to mark the conclusion of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This rally was originally scheduled for November 13. The postponement has been necessitated because of his visit to the USA. Mr Vajpayee’s visit to Ludhiana to preside over the closing ceremony of the National Games on December 1 has also been confirmed.

The president of the Punjab Olympic Association, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who is also the Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, in consultation with the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, may decide the chief guest for the opening ceremony of the National Games.

The Vice-President, Mr Krishan Kant, cannot leave the Union Capital on November 19 when the winter session of Parliament gets underway. In all probability the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, will be invited for the opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, has confirmed his participation in the November 11 parade to be organised in Amritsar to mark the concluding ceremony of the bicentenary celebrations .

The procession, as originally planned, may be replaced with a complete defence show as the celebrations committee has proposed to the Union Government that Maharaja Ranjit Singh should be accorded the official status of the last Indian Emperor. Though the suggestion has been reportedly accepted in principle, formal confirmation is expected in a day or two.

The celebration committee has also written to the Speaker of Lok Sabha for the date and time during the coming winter session for the installation of the bronze statue of Maharaja Ranji t Singh in Parliament House . A commemorative stamp on Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be issued by the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on November 9.


Promotion to IAS: panel ‘violated’ regulations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
A number of Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers, who were not selected for promotion to the IAS by a committee headed by a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), today said that the committee violated the IAS (Appointment by Promotion) Regulations.

Urging the committee to review the selections made at a meeting held on November 16 last year, the PCS officers said the panel had erred while selecting the candidates. This should be rectified by reconvening the meeting.

While pleading their case in a representation submitted to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, the PCS officers said that statutory Regulation 5 (4) stated that “the selection committee shall classify the eligible officers as ‘outstanding”, ‘very good’, ‘good’, or ‘unfit’, as the case may be, on the overall relative assessment of their services record”.

However, the committee made the selections on the basis of seniority, violating Regulations 5 (4) and 5 (5), and gave no weightage to “outstanding” annual confidential reports (ACRs), the PCS officers claimed. To treat candidates having “outstanding” ACRs on a par with those having “very good” and “good” gradation in the ACRs was not only a violation of the statutory provisions but also against the principle of natural justice.

The selections should have been made after first considering those having “outstanding” reports and later those with “very good” and “good” reports. As promotion from the PCS to the IAS was selection based, the very best should have been identified from the consideration zone on the basis of their merit and promoted.

The selection committee at the November meeting approved the names of eight PCS officers for promotion to the IAS.

Taking another plea, the PCS officers said that the selection committee had examined the records of only five years of the PCS officers who were in the consideration zone. As service experience of eight years was required to be eligible for selection, the committee should have assessed the overall record of the candidates relating to at least the past eight years.

They said that it was surprising that the selection committee followed the “merit” criterion and not “seniority” in the case of Haryana Civil Service Officers while promoting them to the IAS in 2000. Why was the same principle not followed in the case of the Punjab officers? they asked.

They requested the state government to take up this issue once again with the UPSC authorities to prepare a fresh selection list on the basis of merit from the consideration zone. They said the UPSC should be fair to them and induct only meritorious candidates into the IAS.


40 Afghan Hindus, Sikhs arrive at Attari
Our Correspondent

Attari, October 26
The largest-ever jatha of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs reached here via the Samjhauta Express today. At least 40 persons, including 22 children, were a part of this jatha.

Reports of the precarious situation of the Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan abound as the Taliban militia is reportedly resorting to trimming of beards and moustaches to look like Indians.

Mr Tarlok Singh from Kabul who is also the president of the Khalsa Diwan Committee of the Sikhs in Afghanistan said many of the families stranded there were using mountain routes to enter Pakistan as the borders had been sealed.

Nearly 50 families in Ghazni and 1,700 other individuals were still stranded in Kabul, he said, adding that nearly 40 per cent of the Afghan Muslims, especially the Taliban, were drug addicts.


Letter to Brigadier ‘contained’ anthrax
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 26
Various microbiological tests conducted at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, has confirmed that a letter received by Brig P.S. Sanghera from Singapore a few days ago contained anthrax. The tests were conducted under the supervision of Dr P.K. Jain, microbiologist, GGSMC, Faridkot.

The letter was sent for chemical tests to GGSMC by the Civil Hospital authorities when it was handed over to them by the police.

Dr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, when contacted said that he had not received any report regarding the presence of anthrax spores in the letter. A senior official of GGSMC, said the report would be sent to the Civil Surgeon tomorrow.

However, Dr Jain could not be contacted. The letter would be sent to some other labs for further tests so that a final decision could be taken.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said no report from GGSMC College had been received so far. A control room had been set up and a team headed by the District Health Officer (DHO) had been constituted to deal with the situation.


Anthrax scare turns out to be hoax
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 26
The suspected “anthrax” packet which was delivered to an official of a Hoshiarpur-based factory, the Doaba region was finally tested negative yesterday by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

The institute, according to Punjab Veterinary Department sources, had sent a fax message to the department’s Jalandhar-based laboratory yesterday evening stating that the packet did not contain anthrax but simple white powder.

The mysterious packet was mailed from Singapore and was delivered to Mr S.K. Maheshwari, Chief Executive, Appolo Fibre Limited, at Chohal village in Hoshiarpur district, on October 18 and had created a widespread scare in the factory as well as in the Doaba region. Names of personalities like George W. Bush and Nelson Mandela were also reportedly mentioned on the packet, which was sent by the Hoshiarpur district administration to the Jalandhar-based laboratory of the Veterinary Department, which in turn had forwarded it to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases on Monday for testing.

The institute after undergoing exhaustive testing procedures ruled out that the packet did not contain anthrax but simple powder which led the authorities to believe that the packet might have been mailed by some anti-social element to create a scare among people in general and employees of the factory in particular.


‘Leaders have failed Sikh institutions’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
Even as many other issues remain unresolved, the role of Sikh institutions has come centre-stage. Though many Sikh scholars feel concerned about this, not many Sikh politicians feel the same way nor do the Sikh clergy or sants and sects.

The issue of “institutional failure in Punjab with respect to Sikhism” is the central theme of the annual seminar of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, on November 3 and 4. Tagged to this topic is “Missing Sikh prisoners”.

Despite having celebrated the tercentenary in 1999, the Sikhs have still not answered the questions, Who is a Sikh? Or defined the relationship between a “Sehajdhari” Sikh and a “Keshadhari” Sikh. There are still more unanswered questions relating to the role of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC); the system appointment/removal of Jathedars; their role and practice of issuing hukamnamas (religious edicts) and ex-communicating Sikhs; the manner of serving langar; the Nanakshahi calendar; the controversy over the Dasmgranth or Rehat-maryada, etc.

The role of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — the political arm of the SGPC — and its repeated splitting and uniting, emerging distortions in the Sikh religion and the growth of faith-followers of various deras have added to the “woes” of the Sikhs, who themselves are to be blamed for this and the diminishing role of their institutions.

Deras owe their existence to the exploitation of religious sentiments or the wrong interpretation or misinterpretation of the scriptures, resulting in distortions and frayed tempers. The real issues are ignored, Sikhs consistently pour scorn on the established leadership, religious and political, resulting in further isolation and alienation of their institutions.

The Sikh scholars TNS interacted with say the institutions are not to blame. These have contributed to the progress of the Sikhs. These have not failed. These have failed due to manmade distortions, corruption and the erosion of ethos and ethics. Those running these used them for the self-aggrandisement, not service and self-sacrifice. These institutions today stand politicised/ exploited by leadership with vested interests for short-term gains.

Dr Kharak Singh identifies two types of Sikh institutions — the “basic” and the ones that evolved with “time and need”. The former include the Guru, the gurdwara, the sangat (congregation), the pangat (queue), the langar (community kitchen), daan (sharing) etc. The latter the Gurmata (collective decision of the congregation), the Panj Piare (the Five Beloved Ones), the SGPC, the SAD, the Chief Khalsa Dewan, the Damdami Taksal, etc.

He is one of the three members of the “commission” appointed by the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, to inquire into the recent acts of sacrilege, following the episode of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

His view is that condemning the Sikh institutions is not a solution. These must be made functional to articulate the heightened expectations and aspirations of the Sikhs. These should not be wound up or discarded. This is not a way out. The way out is their reorientation, assimilation (elimination where needed) and consolidation. These will continue to weather the gathering crises that could create uncontrollable situations at any provocation.

Dr Kharak Singh sees a way out of the present impasse, going beyond the present running feud between Mr Talwandi and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on the one hand, and Mr Talwandi and the Jathedars, on the other hand, or between Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Badal or coming closer of Mr Talwandi and Mr Tohra.

Let the SGPC invite “devoted” Sikhs and “dedicated” Sikh institutions to a conclave. Thereafter, an “apex” body should be formed to “re-invent” all existing institutions without undermining their authority, each being assigned specific “goals” and defining its role and jurisdiction, as several existing institutions have deviated from their charted course.


Grants allocated by Badal not released
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 26
Ms Gorinder Pal Kaur Mangat, senior vice-president of the BJP of this district and municipal councillor, has been trying hard to get grants allocated for her ward by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during a sangat darshan programme in August released.

Ms Mangat, who alleged discrimination against her ward in connection with development works, in a letter written to the Deputy Commissioner, Executive Officer of the municipal council and the Additional Deputy Commissioner urged them to release the grant immediately.

She said Rs 2 lakh was given by Mr Badal for the Sarv Hitkari Vidya Mandir, a cheque amounting to Rs 6 lakh for the construction of a bridge over a canal, another cheque totalling Rs 1 lakh for the construction of rooms of Government Middle School at Kothe Amarpura and yet another cheque worth Rs 6 lakh for laying sewers in Ward No. 1.

She said till date no payment had been released by the authorities concerned.

She said if there was further delay in the release of payments, the grants concerning those works would lapse.

She said she would meet Mr Badal during his visit to the city on October 30 in this regard.


MP expresses shock over PM’s statement
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 26
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, the local MP, today expressed shock over the recent utterances by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, made at a function organised to celebrate the 50 years of the BJP’s formation.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Channi said after being in politics for 45 years and holding the post of the Leader of Opposition, such statements from Mr Vajpayee were a mockery with the Indian people. The Parliament was disrupted by the Opposition led by Mr Vajpayee on the issue of corruption charges against Mr Sukh Ram but the BJP compromised with the same person to form the Government in Himachal Pradesh, he alleged.

While criticising the re-induction of Mr George Fernandes and Mr Bangaru Laxman as Defence Minister and chairman of a House committee, respectively, without any final decision by Justice Venkatswami Commission probing the Tehelka episode, he termed it as unjustified and unfortunate. He said the PM should explain to the people of the country why these politicians had been re-inducted and the Army personnel had been thrown out of the job. This will send a wrong signal among the serving Armymen, he added.

Mr Channi stated that during two years of his being the Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee had expanded his Cabinet seven times which was an indication of instability in the government. Commenting on the economic policies of the Central Government, he said by reducing the interest rate from 13 per cent to 9 per cent the government had harmed the interests of the middle class.

Mr Channi asked Mr Badal to apologise from the people of Punjab for his poor governance as the government policies had ruined the business and industry in the state. The policies of the Badal government had only benefited big landlords whereas the life of the common man had become miserable. He said Rs 600 crore taken as loan against the income to be incurred during next 3 years by the Mandi Board was being distributed by Mr Badal among his favourites at the “sangat darshan” programmes.

He said many schools had been upgraded but there were neither any rooms nor benches and teachers. He condemned the burning of “Bir” of Guru Granth Sahib at Sakrala and urged the government to take a strict action against those responsible for the sacrilege.

Elaborating on the developmental activities undertaken during his 2 years as MP, he said he had distributed Rs 5.83 crore for 1550 developmental works . A sum of Rs 38.6 lakh has been distributed for 42 developmental schemes in Hoshiarpur city, he added.


Mann seeks ban on VHP, Bajrang Dal

Phagwara, October 26
The Akali Dal (Amritsar), President and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today called the apartheid act against minorities, especially Sikhs and Muslims, promulgation of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTA) and the passport ordinance as communal and declared that his party and the Panthic Morcha would oppose them in Parliament.

Talking to newspersons here after his return from the border areas of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, Mr Mann sought clarification from Mr Parkash Singh Badal as to whether he would issue a whip to SAD MPs to oppose these anti-Sikh and anti-Muslim ordinances in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Alleging that the ban on 23 so-called terrorist organisations, including the virtually defunct Sikh militant bodies, was aimed at targeting minorities of the country, Mr Mann asked as to why Hindu terrorist organisations like the Bajrang Dal, VHP, RSS and Shiv Sena, were not banned.

VHP activists had thrown to wind the Supreme Court orders by storming into the disputed Ayodhya site on October 17 and Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee had simply called it as a slack in security, he continued. “What action has been taken for such a serious issue?” he asked Mr Vajpayee.

He criticised Section 3(8) of POTA, which made disclosure of information mandatory even for journalists. It is an undemocratic, unconstitutional and evil attempt to gag press, and attack freedom of media and added that all democratic and secular parties should oppose these ordinances in Parliament.

Commenting on Mr Badal’s visit to a dera of Bhuriwale Sant Brahamanand at Rakwa village near Mullanpur Dhaka on October 14, Mr Mann demanded excommunication of Mr Badal from the Panth. By bowing before “Garib Das Bani” — a granth placed at the dera — and Sant Brahamanand, head of the dera, Mr Badal had violated the Sikh maryada, in the same way as those who had done so earlier by visiting the dera of Piara Singh Bhaniara. He should be summoned at Akal Takht and excommunicated and in case the Akal Takht Jathedar soft-pedalled over the grave matter or bailed out Mr Badal, then the Panthic Morcha would take it to the Sikh masses and bodies in the same manner as it had taken the Bhaniara episode, warned Mr Mann.


SAD workers oppose Datewas’ nomination
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), October 26
More than 1,000 workers of the SAD led by senior Akali leaders gathered at Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha here to oppose the nomination of Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, circle in-charge of the party in the forthcoming elections, to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The workers urged the party high command to put up a candidate who could defeat the Congress-CPI candidate in the local Assembly constituency.

Mr Jaswant Singh, senior Akali leader and former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while addressing the workers said the SAD believed in a democratic way of functioning but at present some elements in the party were acting in an autocratic manner which was causing harm to the image of the SAD and strengthening the opposition.

Without naming Mr Datewas, Mr Jaswant Singh said previously the CPI had only 6,000 voters in the constituency which have now swelled to 50,000 due to “inefficient” leadership of the area. He said despite a majority of Akali municipal councillors in the local and Bareta civic bodies, the Congress was in power as the Akali leaders of the area were ignoring the Akalis to help the Congress and CPI.

He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, distributed grants worth crores of rupees during a sangat darshan programme here improving the image of the party, but whatever gains were made had been lost in one week.

He said the party leadership helped the nominees of the opposition in the recently held elections of presidents of the Truck Operators Unions at Boha, Budhlada and Bareta. Besides false cases had been registered against a large number of Akali workers. He urged the party high command to give recognition to the Akali workers who were the backbone of the party.

Principal Jagjit Singh, member, SGPC, while addressing the meeting said in the past, dissenting voices were raised on several occasions but these were hashed up. He said the party president would be apprised about the sentiments of the workers.

Mr Balam Singh, Sarpanch of Kalipur village who is an active worker of the party, said the Akali high command ignored the faithful and staunch party workers. While nominating the members for the local and Bareta market committees. The organisers of the meeting claimed that the meeting was attended by 24 sitting sarpanches, 47 former sarpanches and 200 members of the gram panchayats. 


AISSF (U) seeks ticket for 25 workers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 26
The All-India Sikh Students’ Federation (United) has demanded that the SAD (Badal) leadership should allocate 25 party ticket to the federation in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

At a meeting held here yesterday, leaders of the AISSF (U) unanimously passed a resolution demanding 25 ticket for workers, who had been serving the party for the past three decades.

Taking a tough stand against reported moves of the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, to replace the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, the senior leaders, including Mr Avtar Singh Boparai and Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, threatened to launch a state-wide agitation in case the former failed to shun the confrontational path.

The meeting also condemned the attitude of various political leaders, who were trying to gain political mileage out of the recent incidents of sacrilege in different parts of the state. The AISSF (U) was of the opinion that the SGPC should employ unemployed Sikh youths in its task force and depute them to guard all Sikh religious places throughout the state.


Maharaja coronation function postponed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The celebrations relating to the bicentenary of coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been postponed here for two days. The celebration now will commence on November 13 on the birthday of the Maharaja, instead of November 11 was already scheduled..

The celebration was postponed due to the foreign tours of Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. This was disclosed by Chief Minister and president Shiromani Akali Dal, Parkash Singh Badal, at a meeting at Bhai Gurdas Hall to discuss programme of bicentenary celebration with the district Akali Jatha, district jathedars of Patti, Akali workers and senior leaders of the BJP.

The function on November 13 will start with “ardas” at Akal Takht Sahib followed by a religious and martial procession. It will culminate at Ram Bagh near Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue, where Defence Minister George Fernandes will pay homage to the Maharaja followed by a series of programmes.

The political Affairs Committee of the SAD however, will give final touches to the programme at a meeting to be held at Chandigarh tomorrow. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and a number of chief ministers of states and Cabinet Ministers will participate in the concluding function on November 18. 


Dasehra celebrated

Barnala October 26
Dasehra signifying the victory of good over evil was celebrated here on Friday. To mark the occasion, the local Bharatiya Sanatan Dharam Mahavir Dal and the Ganesh Dramatic Club took out a ‘shobha yatra’ which began from local Krishna Panchayati Mandir and ended at the Improvement Trust Office.

HOSHIARPUR: Dasehra was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Friday. With setting on fire the effigies of Ravana and Kumbkarana, the 10-days-long festival being held at Bhangi Choe bed (Ram Lila Ground) concluded. A large number of people witnessed the fire works specially arranged on the occasion.

Reports of Dasehra celebrations from Mukerian, Dasuya, Tanda, Garhdiwala, Haryana, Mahilpur and Garhshanker towns of the district have also been received.

JALANDHAR: Dasehra was celebrated in and around Jalandhar with usual gaiety and religious fervour on Friday evening.

The city and Cantonment areas wore a festive look. Thousands of devotees thronged the local Doaba College grounds where the Devi Talab Mandir Management Committee celebrated the festival by erecting the effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Megnada.

Residents of Rainak and Meena Bazars, Model Town, Model House, Basti Sheikh, Defence Colony, New Jawahar Nagar thronged different temples for worship. Dasehra was also celebrated by residents at Adampur, Goraya, Nakodar, Kartarpur, Phillaur and Phagwara.

SANGRUR: Effigies of Ravna, Kumbhkarna and Meghnath were burnt to celebrate Dasehra at War Heroes Stadium here on Friday. Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, Mr Neelkanth, SDM, and Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, SP (D), attended the celebrations. Mr Sarvjit Singh announced a grant of Rs 21,000 for the Baghikhana Ram Lila Committee on the occasion.

KAPURTHALA: Dasehra was celebrated on Friday with religious fervor. The main function was organised at Devi Talab where Tikka Shatrajit Singh, a scion of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, founder of this princely state, Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Gulzar Singh, former Congress minister, participated.

AMRITSAR: The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, struck the first arrow to set afire the effigy of Ravana on the occasion of Dasehra at the Durgiana Dasehra ground here on Friday. Elsewhere in the district, Dasehra was celebrated with much gaiety.


Festival season in full swing
Shashi Pal Jain

As the festival season gets going, the residents of this town have been witnessing jagrans, jhankis and Ramlila. The shops are well stocked and the traders are looking forward to brisk sales.

Kharar is one of the few towns of Punjab where dramatic clubs stage mobile tableaux. Tractor-trailers are used as makeshift stages. Every evening a number of tractor-trailers parade the streets with various scenes from the Ramayana. As these tableaux pass through the streets, business comes almost to a halt and everyone is engrossed in watching the tableaux. In residential areas, people climb to rooftops to have a glimpse of the tableaux. Coins are offered to them as a mark of devotion.

These ‘jhankis’ are an example of grassroot unity as people of all communities offer service in the form of tractors, men and money.

Ram Lila in Kharar has a special importance since it is managed by noted citizens of the town some of whom also participate in the performance and have become famous for the roles they play.

Another event that is associated with this festival is the chain of jagrans organised by the local youth. A number of jagaran clubs have been formed. Magnificent stages are set and Jagran parties are invited from different places.

Women are more interested in kirtans and prabhat pheris. The local Mahila Mandal has assigned kirtan duties to different households and prabhat pheris are held.

Shops have been decorated and many have put up extra counters. However, there is not much sale of crackers. Mr Ganesh Kumar, who deals in crackers, says with the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court, the retailers are reluctant to buy stock. Moreover, there is the anti-cracker campaign in schools. On the other hand, garment dealers are happy and so are the dry fruit sellers.

Security in sensitive areas has been made tight. A number of policemen are also seen in the main market keeping a vigilant eye on mischievous elements. Some traffic restrictions have also been imposed.


Culture of boneless fish comes to Nangal
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 26
The Punjab Government has decided to culture boneless fish in the Nangal Dam lake. It is for the first time that the plan to culture boneless fish has been drafted in the state. Earlier, the Fisheries Department had been promoting the farming of catla, rohu, mrigul, grass carp, common carp and silver carp.

Boneless fish varieties have wide acceptance in he local markets. These will now be cultured in the lake with assistance from the French Government which will give soft loans worth Rs 10 crore to the Fisheries Department, Punjab.

The project has been sanctioned by the Government of India and is awaiting formal clearance by the French Government.

Mr S.M.D. Dogra, Chief Executive Officer, Fisheries, gave this information while talking to this correspondent here on Tuesday. He was here to attend a seminar on conservation and management of Ropar Wetlands.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, who was also present at the seminar said the lake should be declared as a wetland area as it had distinct ecological features. He also asked the town Planning Department to make a report for getting the lake area notified as wetland.

The Deputy Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, Mr Gurmeet Singh, said several species of birds and animals were on the verge of extinction due to the reduction of their natural habitat. The population of vultures was declining rapidly in the state. As many as 200 vultures were spotted in Jandiala about three years ago. However, this year only 17 were spotted.

Though directions had been given to forest officials to give information if the vultures were spotted anywhere in the state, hardly any report was coming.

The Government of India had notified 76 species of birds as endangered. If any wetland had the habitat of any of these birds, it could acquire the status of an important bird area (IBA). Under this, the area would get special aid.

Environmentalists who spoke at the seminar expressed concern over the reduction of area of the Ropar wetland due to silting and water hyacinth. They also alleged that the acidity in the Ropar wetland was increasing gradually due to discharge of toxic effluents into by Nangal and Balachaur-based industrial units.

Students of Government Senior Secondary School here also presented a data regarding the Ropar wetland.


‘Private docs in govt hospitals? No way’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The in-service wing of the Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has opposed the move of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) to allow private practitioners to set up diagnostic facilities and service centres in government hospitals and health centres of the state run by the corporation.

A spokesman of the unit, Dr D.S. Bhullar, said here that the state unit of the IMA was against this move and any decision on this sensitive issue would be taken only during the state council meeting of the Punjab unit of the IMA.

In a joint statement, Dr Bhullar, who is also the Chairman of the state unit of the IMA, and Dr Baljeet Singh Dhillon of Amritsar, General Secretary of the unit, said the move was anti-people and part of a conspiracy to commercialise state-run health services.

Meanwhile, the Punjab PCMS Association also condemned the decision of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) to establish private diagnostic services in government hospitals. It urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to intervene in the matter in the interest of poor persons who need medical treatment in government hospitals.

In a statement here, a senior leader of the association, Dr D.C. Sharma, and Senior Vice-President of the body, Dr R.S. Sethi, urged the PCMS doctors and paramedical personnel to oppose the decision. They said the corporation was trying to make government hospitals of the state a “private limited company”.

They said there was no dearth of competent doctors and paramedical staff in the Public Health Department to run these diagnostic services. They also said hospitals of the state should not be exploited for such commercial purposes.

They urged the Punjab CM to abolish the heavy service charges on poor patients in state-run hospitals because the facilities have not improved much. The PCMS leaders also demanded a high-level judicial probe into the functioning of the PHSC and removal of its Managing Director. They want to see one of the Directors of Health Services in his place. The leaders alleged that the PHSC, that had been established with a Rs 422 crore World Bank loan to improve the secondary healthcare in the state, had failed to achieve its goal due to overspending in the past five years.


Sushma should apologise: Jaskaran
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 26
Mr Jaskaran Singh, General Secretary Akali Dal (Amritsar), which is a constituent of the Panthic Morcha, today demanded that the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, should apologise in Parliament in its session commencing on November 19 for not telecasting the Junior World Cup Hockey Championship match which India had won for the first time at Hobart (Australia) on October 21. While cricket was being promoted crazily, hockey was being given a left-hand treatment by the electronic media, Mr Jaskaran Singh regretted here.

He also demanded the setting up of a high-grade sports institute in Ferozepore on the pattern of the Sports Authoritiy of India in recognition of the stellar role played by Capt Gagan Ajit Singh, who belonged to Ferozepore in fashioning the maiden victory in the Junior Championship. This would also boost the development of the border and historic district of Ferozepore which had always been ignored both by Punjab and Central Governments, alleged Mr Jaskaran Singh.

Alleging that the hockey stars had not been adequately encouraged and awarded, Mr Jaskaran Singh demanded Rs 10 lakh cash awards to each of the players both by the Punjab and Union Governments. The Rs 1 lakh cash award announced by the Punjab Government was too paltry a sum, he said. Besides, the parents of these players should be awarded pension as they had made a lot of sacrifices in shaping these “glory boys”, continued Mr Jaskaran Singh. The Punjab Government should construct houses on plots at Mohali for these players and employ them as DSPs, he further demanded.

All this amount to be spent on a noble cause would be far less than the crores of rupees spent on a worthless project like the Killainwali rally for late Devi Lal, including the Rs 85 lakh spent by the Punjab Government on the statue of the anti-Punjab Haryanvi leader, quipped Mr Jaskaran Singh.

In case the Punjab Government did not accept the aforesaid demands, then the Panthic Morcha would fulfil the pledge on coming to power, he declared. The morcha would also honour Gagan Ajit Singh with a gold medal at a function to be held soon at his hometown Ferozepore, Mr Jaskaran Singh added.


No place for auto-rickshaws 
Gurvinder Kaur

Shuttled back and forth between various locations in the city for lack of a permanent auto stand, three-wheeler drivers of Patiala are a harassed lot.

Nearly 150 three-wheelers ply in the city, mainly on the bus stand-hospital route. They get their customers from among the large number of people who land at the bus stand in the morning to visit Rajindra Hospital for treatment.

In the absence of a permanent stand, these three-wheelers are chased away by policemen, particularly in the rush hours of the morning as they wait for customers near the bus stand.

“They abuse us and at times even beat us up when they see our autos parked in the vicinity of the bus stand,” laments a three-wheeler driver. “Where should we go and wait for customers if not at the source?” he asks.

There is not much business for three-wheelers in the city and chasing them away from the bus stand affects their livelihood.

The auto union has for long been demanding a permanent stand for three-wheelers. Besides submitting written petitions to the Deputy Commissioner and others, the operators have been running from one office to another to meet and petition various ministers and officers. “We only want an area earmarked for us. It may be located anywhere around the bus stand or under the overbridge in front of the railway station,” says an auto driver.

The area around the bus stand is a traffic bottleneck and the narrow road leading to the rear gates of the bus stand is crammed with rehris of fruit sellers on one side and shops on the other.

About two years ago, permission was given to park three-wheelers under the overbridge, but later they were chased away from there. A delegation of auto drivers met Mr Manmohan Singh Bajaj, Chairman of the Improvement Trust, who allotted them space temporarily in front of Capital Theatre. Some time back, they were again told to shift from there.

Auto-drivers allege that some of them are occasionally beaten up by the police. “Let any VIP come, we are the ones to be chased away by the police. Whenever a VIP visits the city, we are forced to pay Rs 5/- as daily parking charges to an orphanage near the bus stand where we park our vehicles during the visit,” complained a driver. Others alleged that policemen often demanded money from them. Lately, they were asked to pay Rs 1000 to clear the bill of a telephone used by policemen.

The taxi Operators Union was allotted a permanent stand about two years ago, but the auto-drivers were left high and dry. Another grievance which they harbour is that they are singled out as the cause of congestion. “Private buses which ply on the hospital route keep standing in the middle of the chowk next to the bus stand. Then buses and taxis remain parked in front of a hotel on that road. But we alone are seen as a traffic hazard”, complain the drivers.

With the chaotic traffic near the bus stand, finding a permanent stand for the auto-rickshaws has become a necessity.


Crowd turns violent as singer fails to turn up
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 26
Nearly 500 migrant labourers turned violent, pelted stones and threw bottles for about an hour in front of a marriage palace here yesterday night when their favourite singer from Bihar allegedly failed to turn up for his show.

A waiter working at the palace and a helper of the organisers were injured in the incident.

The trouble arose when Guddu Rangila, a singer from Bihar, failed to turn up at the venue where his musical programme was scheduled to start at around 8.30 p.m. After waiting for him, hundreds of migrant labourers started shouting slogans against the organisers. Later, they pelted stones on the employees and the organisers. Goldy, a waiter and Sanjiv, an aide of Raj Kumar, the main organiser, sustained injuries. However, Raj Kumar managed to flee.

The agitated labourers alleged that they had paid between Rs 50 and Rs 100 for a ticket. What had irked them was a rumour that the singer was staying at a local hotel and was waiting for more crowds to turn up at the venue. The stone pelting continued till 11 p.m.


SGPC election: few register as voters
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 26
Mr Gurdev Singh, Secretary, Gurdwara Election Commission, in a press note issued here yesterday, has said that according to the information received by the commission, a negligible number of persons have so far submitted forms for getting themselves registered as voters though a period of more than one month has already expired since September 2, 2001.

Mr Gurdev Singh has requested the prospective voters to get themselves registered as early as possible because a period of 61 days specified for the purpose will expire on November 2.

He has appealed to all individuals and organisations — whether political, social or religious — who are interested in the forthcoming SGPC elections to extend their full co-operation and active assistance by motivating the voters to get themselves registered within the stipulated period.


Punjabi films ‘lack’ professionalism
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 26
Bhagwant Mann, a comedian hailing from Punjab, while narrating his experience, said acting in Punjabi films was not a good experience as there was lack of professionalism and the standards of scripts was far below that of Hindi films.

He said this at a press conference organised here yesterday in connection with the release of his album, ‘Non Stop’.

He regretted that Punjabi films, barring some, did not do well at the box office because there was very little use of art and various art-related devices.

Stressing on the need for professionalism and employing art devices, Bhagwant Mann said only then could Punjabi films be able to cater to the taste of viewers all over the country and become popular.

He said he was in favour of selection of scripts and a professional approach.

He said he would like to remake films on some work of dramatists like William Shakespeare and Chekov.

He said he along with some like-minded artistes like Gurdas Mann, Harbhajan Mann and Babu Singh Mann would be producing a Punjabi film of “standard”.


3-phase power supply to tubewells increased
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to increase the three-phase power supply to tubewells to ensure six-hour supply per day.

In a statement here today, PSEB officials said the increase in supply has been enforced with effect from October 25. They said the night group- A will get three-phase supply from 10 pm to 4 pm (next day) while the night group-B will get three-phase supply from 11 pm to 5 pm (next day).

Officials added that the timings for Day-A is 7 am to 1 pm and Day-B is 11.30 am to 5.30 pm. Group A comprises tubewell consumers in Patiala, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Sangrur, Ludhiana city and sub-urban, Amritsar city and sub-urban, Tarn Taran and Ferozepore operation circles.

Group B comprises tubewell consumers in Mohali, Ropar, Khanna, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur circles. The day and night groups of feeders will be interchanged after every four days.


Electricity boards to benefit from ABT
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The State Electricity Boards (SEBs) under ‘Availability Based Tariff’ (ABT) will have the option to achieve benefits worth crores of rupees per day by responding to the grid frequency and drawing cheaper power from the grid at high frequency and also by under drawing power of at low frequency and in the process earning a revenue of Rs 4.2 per unit.

This was stated by the Director (Operation), Powergrid Corporation of India (PCI), Mr Bhanu Bhushan, while giving a detailed presentation on ABT to senior executives of the PSEB here. He said the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) had made ABT applicable in northern grid from August 1, 2001, on Central Sector Generating Stations of NTPC.

Mr Bhushan said the concept of ABT was an improvement over the existing practice of fixing tariff based on the annual plant load factor (PLF). He said the payment to the central sector stations would be made in three parts, comprising “capacity charge” (determined by declared mw availability), “energy charge” (depending upon the energy scheduled to be drawn) and finally the “unscheduled interchange charge” which would depend on the deviation from the schedule.

He said with the introduction of ABT, the major problem of the grid indiscipline, including overdrawal during the low frequency period, would attract a penal rate of Rs 4.2 per unit thereby solving the problem of low frequency operation of the grid. He explained that by maintaining a better frequency regime, the damage to steam and gas turbines and nuclear power stations caused by low or high frequency operations would be avoided, thereby minimising the maintenance and consequently increasing the life of the power house turbines.

Further, the availability of 80 per cent for the day would ensure that for lower availability, the capacity charges are proportionately reduced, thereby ensuring the State Electricity Boards to pay less for the reduced capacity. Others who participated in the discussion were Mr S. K. Gupta, member (generation), Mr A.K. Kundra, member (transmission), Mr Kirpal Singh, member (operation) and Mr Anirudh Tewari, member (F&A).


PSEB launches Web site
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday launched its Web site ‘’ during a ceremony here. Giving this information. PSEB Chairman Mr Sudhir Mittal said all information relating to the board would be easily accessible on the website.

He said people could have information related to organisational structure, details of various thermal and hydro power projects and transmission and distribution system network with special reference to telephone numbers of various officers for early redressal of complaints.


40 more PSEB engineers transferred
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today transferred 40 more Assistant Engineers (AEs) and Assistant Executive Engineers along with two Senior Executive Engineers and one Additional Senior Engineer.

According to a press note, Mr P.S. Bains, Senior Executive Engineer, has been posted from Udyog Sahayak, Chandigarh, to the Opposite Special Division, SAS Nagar, while Mr Balbir Singh of this division has been posted to the enforcement wing at SAS Nagar. Mr Harpal Singh Bains, Additional Senior Engineer (Enforcement), SAS Nagar, has been posted as Additional Senior Engineer in Udyog Sahayak, Chandigarh.


35 employees found absent from work
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 26
As many as 35 government employees working in various offices here were found absent during simultaneous checks by teams constituted by the Deputy Commissioner yesterday. They were warned to be regular in the future else action would be taken against them.

As many as 23 government offices were checked. The teams were headed by the Deputy Commissioner, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) and the District Transport Officer. Heads of various departments have been asked to ensure the presence of employees on time and to redress grievances of people on a priority basis. Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner has placed under suspension Sukhwinder Singh, a patwari, who allegedly caught while accepting gratification of Rs 1,600. A case under Section 7-13(2), IPC has been registered.


Badal lays stone of Press Club
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today laid the foundation stone of a Press Club in the E-block of the Ranjit Avenue.

Addressing the newsmen Mr Badal lauded the role of the Press and said his government was committed to maintaining its freedom.

Mr Badal also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the construction of a press complex while the Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the club.

The general secretary of the club, Mr Shammi Sareen, thanked the Chief Minister for allotting the land for the club. Among those present included Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister and Mr Brij Mohan Kapoor.


Zail Singh’s kin proclaimed offender
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
Grandnephew of Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, Dr Arshdeep Singh, was declared “proclaimed offender” (PO) in the court of Mr Kishore Kumar, Chief Judicial Magistrate, here.

Dr Arshdeep was booked in a dowry case under Sections 498-A, 406, 323 and 506, IPC, following a complaint by Dr Dilraj Kaur, wife of the accused.

The court observed that the accused had failed to appear within 30 days from the date of publication of the proclamation effected on July 10. Hence, the court declared him proclaimed offender.

The court said intimation in this regard should be sent to the SHO of the Civil Lines police station for entering the accused’s name in the register of POs. The list of property of the accused to be called from the investigating officer under Section 83, Cr PC for November 3 had also been ordered.


Teachers oppose contract recruitment
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 26
Mr Darshan Singh Maur, District General Secretary, Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), in a press note issued here yesterday said the contract recruitment of teachers by the state government was not good for the development and upliftment of educational standards.

Mr Maur said in a blind race for privatisation, the state government was bent upon privatising even education. The state government was also not filling up the various vacancies of teachers and lecturers in state-run schools.

To press their demands, activists of the DTF held a dharna and rally in front of the office of the District Education Officer. The activists demanded that the teachers should not be deployed for non-education works as the education of the students suffered.

The activists submitted a memorandum to the state government through the District Education Officer listing their demands.


Women’s youth fest from today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The Zone ‘B’ women’s youth festival of Guru Nanak Dev University will be held from tomorrow to October 30 on the university campus. More than 900 students from Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr will participate.

While Ms Swadesh Chopra of the Hindsamachar Group of Newspapers at Nawanshahr will inaugurate it. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Minister for Panchayat Development, will preside over the concluding function on October 30. Ms Jagjit Kaur, wife of the Vice-Chancellor will be the chief guest at the inaugural function.

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