Tuesday, November 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt owes Rs 1,000 cr for procured paddy
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 12
After smooth procurement of paddy in the state this season, the delay in the payment has brought discredit to the state agencies.

The RBI sanctioned a cash credit limit (CCL) of Rs 6,300 crore to the state agencies for the purchase of paddy. The first instalment of Rs 4,200 crore was released by the RBI on October 1 and the payments were made accordingly to the farmers through arhtiyas. But after October 15, there has been a delay in the payment as the remaining money has not been received from the RBI. The RBI is squaring up with the state government over the payment of invest on the CCL.

Enquiries revealed that at present the arrears of payment against the procured paddy were over Rs 1,000 crore and the delay had been of more than three weeks. The state government had promised to make payment to the farmers within 72 hours of the procurement of paddy. Out of this, Rs 250 crore were to be made by the state Food Supplies Department.

The arhtiyas in different mandis of Punjab have been agitating against the delay in the payment and have gone on strikes to express their resentment. The total procurement of paddy during the current season has been estimated at 109 lakh tonnes so far by various agencies.

The position with regard to payments and procurement was reviewed at Chandigarh yesterday by the state government at a meeting of the District Food Controllers of the state.

The rice millers in the state have alleged that the government has utilised the money received from the Centre for payment of levy rice somewhere else due to which they have not got the payment so far. The levy rice payments are estimated at Rs 100 crore.

Meanwhile, the rice mills have started the milling of paddy procured during the season. The rice mills are working round the clock to meet the milling requirements. At the same time, old stocks of about 5 lakh tonnes of paddy are lying in the godowns for milling. The Central Government had allowed the milling of old stocks only till the date of start of procurement of paddy this season, which was September 22. Now the millers will have to get permission from the Centre for milling the same.

Some stocks of paddy are allegedly missing in Muktsar district and no action has been taken in this regard so far because of political pressure.


SAD-BJP draw up poll strategy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
The Presidents of the SAD and the BJP in Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, respectively, at a meeting in New Delhi last week reportedly drew up a strategy to launch a joint political offensive in the state in the run-up to the coming Assembly elections.

Though the discussion on the sharing of seats between the two parties remained inconclusive, both agreed to put up “winnable” candidates with the BJP assuring it would not stand on any false prestige. However, in the same breath, it made it known that “populist measures” should not be confined to the rural areas alone. For a level playing field some concessions ought be extended to the urban areas.

The BJP, sources told TNS, suggested doing away with realising ‘’user charges’’ on water and sewerage in the cities as was in the case of the “free” supply of power to tubewells. The Chief Minister was urged to find means to circumvent the high court judgement on the promised abolition of octroi. The issue of giving “gratuity” along with other pensionary benefits to the employees of the government-aided colleges, as demanded by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, was also raised at the meeting. Some announcements on these issues are expected in a fortnight or so.

The two Presidents, it is learnt, were accompanied by their close aides — Mr Badal by the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and Mr Rinwa by the party’s general secretary, Organisation, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, and some ministers. In the weeks ahead, as decided at the New Delhi meeting, visibility of the SAD-BJP leadership will be more.

But Mr Rinwa, while refusing to comment on the meeting in New Delhi, told TNS in an interview today that in view of the Assembly elections, a joint programme was being worked out to create a new “chetna” (awakening) among the people apprising them of the government’s achievements and blunting the perceived anti-incumbency factor being raised by the Opposition. To a question, he said vested interests sought to create divisions between urban and rural constituents by drawing artificial lines. “Punjab has to be viewed as only one constituency of the SAD-BJP. The working together of the two parties has sent the right signals to the outside world on communal amity. Even the message about how a healthy political relationship makes a positive impact on development is clear”.

If the holding of the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the BJP in Amritsar on November 2-3 galvanised the party apparatus, giving it a new impetus, it has also sent the right message across the international border, 18 km away, to Islamabad that India knows how to fight terrorism. And the New Delhi meeting of the SAD-BJP thereafter has enabled the two parties to go in for political stocktaking.

With the Prime Minister again scheduled to visit Amritsar on November 18 for the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation, Mr Rinwa has convened a meeting of the BJP office-bearers and ministers in Chandigarh on November 15 to make preparations for a public meeting there.

Besides politics, Mr Rinwa is equally worried about Punjab’s “socio-economic inequalities, corruption, the poor state of primary education, growing unemployment, incidents of lawlessness and the police becoming a law into itself, absence of moral values, patriotism, character building and lack of responsibility and accountability in the politico-administrative system”. The poor state of industry, particularly the small-scale sector, and agriculture, which is no more “profitable”, are some of his other concerns.

He believes that while democracy has “matured”, political parties have not. People still lacked faith in them. Their wavering mind was reflected in the election results when people swung from one to another political party.

Regarding regional parties, Mr Rinwa said these had come to stay as important constituents in coalition politics. Their leadership vested in “one man” who spent a lot of time in keeping his political flock together, often leading to factions and friction.

Mr Rinwa is not averse to the drawing up of a common “Punjab agenda” by involving all major political parties which will be adopted and implemented, irrespective of the political party voted to power.


Nirankaris kept out of celebrations
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The state government has excluded the Nirankari sect from the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who established an egalitarian and secular regime 200 years ago across undivided Punjab.

The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who is the chairman of the mobilisation committee of the coronation ceremony, said here today that all religious, political, social and cultural organisations had been invited to the weeklong celebrations which begin tomorrow.

Asked specifically about the Nirankaris, who constitute a considerable segment of the population in Punjab, Mr Dhindsa said they had not been invited. Mr Kartar Singh Badungar, who is also a member of the mobilisation committee, seconded Mr Dhindsa, saying, the Nirankaris stood excluded from the Sikh Panth. So they have not been invited.

Other religious organisations invited included various sects of Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims and Christians. Besides, MLAs, MPs, panches and sarpanches of all political parties, including the Panthic Morcha, had been invited to the weeklong celebrations.

Mr Dhindsa said the celebrations would be inaugurated by the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, along with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. After paying obeisance at Harmandir Sahib, they would go to Akal Takht from where they would lead a procession which would conclude at Ram Bagh.

The concluding day celebrations would be presided over by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Chief Ministers of various states would attend it. While about one lakh people would participate in tomorrow’s function, 10 lakh people were expected to attend the concluding day celebrations.

The Union Minister disputed the claim of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra that Maharja Ranjit Singh was not coronated. He pointed out that Baba Sahab Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak, had applied the “Raj Tilak” on Ranjit Singh and declared him “Maharaja”.

Today’s meeting was attended by Mr K S Badungar, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and Mr Charanjit Atwal. Two other members of the committee, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, did not attend the meeting. They were said to be busy at Amritsar regarding tomorrow’s function.


Coronation: gold, silver coins minted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation has minted gold and silver coins in commemoration of 200 years of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The coins, made of 24K gold and of 99.9 per cent pure silver imported from Switzerland, which are accompanied with a certificate of purity, will be formally released by the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, at a function to be held in Amritsar tomorrow.

These coins are replicas of those issued by Maharaja Ranjit Singh 200 years ago. The coins are of very fine and artistic quality. The Maharaja’s self-effacement and humility can be gauged from the fact that nowhere in the coins so struck does his name appear. It is only Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh who are mentioned and to whom he has ascribed all his victories.

On the obverse is inscribed the message: SIKKA ZAD BAR HER DOÁLAM SHAH NANAK WAHAB AST (Coins struck for both the worlds under the guarantee of Shah Nanak. Victory of Guru Gobind Singh was with the grace of Sacha Sahib.)

The reverse bears the following words: Zarb Sri Amritsar 1861 Samvat: The auspicious and prosperous region of Akal Takht.

According to Mr Kulbir Singh, Managing Director, PSIEC, these replicas in gold and silver will be available at the branches of Phulkari, Punjab Government emporia, and select branches of the Punjab and Sind Bank, the Bank of Punjab and the HDFC Bank in Chandigarh and Punjab. These will be available on a first-come-first-served basis for which booking begins on November 13 and closes on November 25.


Brar meets Sonia, gives clarification to Vora
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
Senior Punjab Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar today met Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the clarification the party had sought from him over his public references to certain sensitive and controversial subjects.

Sources said while Mr Brar justified the issues he had raised, he urged the high command to take notice of the “intemperate language” being used against him by some Congress leaders.

He also suggested ways in which the party could be strengthened for the coming Assembly elections.

Mr Brar also met the AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab, and submitted his clarification. Maintaining that he was for total unity in the party, Mr Brar told the high command that he was not striving for any office.

The Central leaders said nothing should be done which could damage the party’s prospects in the coming Assembly polls. They said the party leaders in Punjab had been told not to air their grievances in public.


Pak national held, revolver seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 12
Mohammed Kamran, a resident of Sialkot in Pakistan, was arrested by the police from the area falling under Dera Baba Nanak police station early today. The police seized a .38-bore revolver, five rounds of ammunition and 390 gm of opium from him. The accused did not have the visa.

A case was registered against him under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act, Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act, Sections 3, 34 and 20 of the Indian Passport Act and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.

Ripermanjeet Singh (22), Amritbeer Singh (20) of Hodhian and Taranjit Singh of Batala were killed in an accident when a tractor-trailer turned turtle near Singhpura village at Majitha late last night.

Meanwhile, the police has booked Asse Masih of Kahlawan for allegedly slaughtering a cow. A case was registered against him on the statement of Mohinder Singh. However, the accused managed to escape from the spot.

In another incident, Paramjit Singh of Bhagwanpura and Kulwinder Singh of Balochak, were arrested at a naka in Kajanpur village here today. The police seized a rifle, .12-bore pistol and four cartridges from them. A case was registered under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act against them.


Cricket betting up in Patiala
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, November 12
With the festival of lights, Divali, is just a couple of days away, cricket betting has reached a new high with lakhs of rupees exchanging hands almost everyday, particularly in areas falling within the precincts of the walled city.

Police sources admitted that betting was on in a big way and that they were keeping a close watch on some of the bookies. A top police officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, admitted: “The big time match-fixing scandal may have been buried deep into the sands of time. However, small and medium scale bets are still being laid and we hope to rope in the big fish before the Divali festival.” The main areas where this menace is widespread are Arya Samaj, Jorian Bhatian, Sheranwala Gate, main bus stand, shops dotting the busy Dharampura Bazaar and Tripuri township.

Betting was particularly intense this afternoon when the first Test between Australia and New Zealand was being telecast live from Brisbane. As the Test was drawing to an interesting climax, bookies could be hurriedly seen placing bets on a probable New Zealand victory, which in the morning seemed to be a distance dream. Bookies, particularly those having bases in the Arya Samaj, Tripuri, and the Jorian Bhatian localities, were accepting bets in the same open manner in which they operated before the match-fixing scandal broke out. Most of the bets placed this morning and during the first Test between India and South Africa were on mobile phones.

The most vibrant form of betting going on during a match is ‘spread betting’ where one person selects a set of four or five batsmen of a particular team while the other person selects another set of an equal number of batsmen of the other team. When the match ends, the totals of both the sets of batsmen is added up to and the difference is multiplied by the stakes involved. For example, if the stakes are Rs 100 per run, which is very common these days, the difference in the number of runs is multiplied by Rs 100. Say, if the difference of runs turns out to be 60, the winner will be pocketing Rs 6,000.

‘Spread betting’ is just one of the forms of betting prevalent these days. Bets, running into thousands of rupees, are placed on the outcome of the toss and the match. So frenzied is the betting business that bets are also placed on a number of runs a bowler will give away in a particular over or on the number of runs a batsman will make in an innings or even in a particular over.


Former MLA quits Congress
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 12
Dr Dalbir Singh former MLA from Verka and senior leader of the Congress, has announced his resignation from the party due to its alleged anti-people, anti-Punjab and anti-worker policies.

Though Dr Dalbir Singh refused to disclose his future plans yet sources said he might join the ruling SAD.

In a statement issued here today, he said the Congress leadership had completely deviated from the path and traditions established by its founding father. The party has become a group of “rootless leaders” with no mass base, he added.

He said the present Congress leadership was ignoring the senior hard-working and committed members and the junior undeserving persons, who had no base among the people, were being awarded and inducted in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

He criticised Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, for his “arbitrary, discriminatory and indifferent attitude towards senior leaders like him. He also held Mr Bhatia responsible for the disillusionment prevailing among the Congress workers.


Amarinder ‘not fit’ to lead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
A member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, a close associate of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, today urged the party high command to take over control of the party till the Assembly elections in Punjab as the president of the state unit, Capt Amarinder Singh, was not capable of leading the party in the poll.

Mr Sandhu said Capt Amarinder Singh could not ensure discipline in the party nor provide impartial leadership to Congressmen. He was playing a partisan role while conducting party affairs. He was also not dynamic enough to fight an electoral battle with the ruling SAD-BJP combine. The party had faced a humiliating defeat in byelections under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, he added.

The party high command should immediately intervene to set the house in order and lead the party to victory in the elections.

Mr Sandhu’s observations regarding Capt Amarinder Singh are expected to further intensify the ongoing internal tussle in the party.

Mr Sandhu said that show-cause notices had been served only on Mr Brar’s supporters in Faridkot and Muktsar, but no one from the Amarinder Singh camp had been given such notices.

He said the PPCC president’s action against Mr Manjit Singh Jhalbhutti, secretary of the PPCC, who was also Mr Brar’s supporter, was vindictive.


Dhindsa clarifies stand on POTO
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, today clarified that his party was not blindly opposed to the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). He also denied reports that SAD was not consulted on the issue.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Dhindsa said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had assured him that he would not only talk to his own allies on the issue but would also take the Opposition into confidence.

Mr Dhindsa argued enacting stringent laws against terrorism. He said the ordinance was not aimed against any particular community. He clarified, that the party could also move an amendment to the ordinance in case the need was felt.

The Union Minister refused to join the issue with the leaders like Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who have described POTO as anti- Muslim. He said that this was a false and baseless propaganda of the Opposition parties.


Children of a lesser god
Jaswinder Paul Singh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
Seven-year-old Sivjit does not know that November 14 is celebrated as Children’s Day. He washes utensils at a tea-stall for 13 hours everyday.

He is among two crore children working at hazardous industries, brickkilns and dhabas who are not even aware that a day in the year is dedicated to them.

Seminars held on the day remain restricted to meeting halls and for these children, they are of no significance. With the passage of time programmes on Children’s Day have been reduced to a farce.

As per a report, about 16 lakh children are working in hazardous industries, despite the tall claims of the government and ‘efforts’ of the social service organisation on the eradication of the menace.

The Central Government framed a scheme in 1995 under which it was to make arrangements for the settlement of about 20 lakh child labourers till 2000. But so far only 20 per cent of the target has been met.

Kalu 11 who works at a dhaba, was only seven when he had started earning a living. He said, he got Rs 30 as his first salary, half of which he spent on purchasing footwear as it was difficult for him to go to work barefeet in biting cold. “The rest of the money I gave to my mother, who felt happy that her son had started earning,” he said with pride.

A survey conducted on child labour shows that children underpaid, work for more hours, are given proper food and have little time for sleep.

A child labourer said the time spent in school could be instead ‘utilised’ for working longer hours and earning more. Rakesh (10), who pulls a rikshaw, said he went to school everyday, but only to drop children there in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.

A large number of children said that they had to work more than 12 hours a day and they were not paid accordingly. A few of them said they were aware that there were some laws to curb child labour, “But who will implement such laws. I am working in the house of a senior officer who is well-educated and is aware about such laws. But my condition is no better than others,” said Raju, a 15-year-old hailing from Nepal.


Revision of electoral rolls begins
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 12
On the directions of the Election Commission of India, the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer has initiated the special revision of electoral rolls for the 78-Amloh and 79-Sirhind Assembly constituencies of the district.

As per a press release, the period for filing claims and objections will be up to November 29. Special campaign dates will be November 10,11,24 and 25. The Deputy Commissioner said the final publication of rolls would be done on January 7. He said the primary objective of the revision is to update the rolls with qualifying date of 1.1.2002.

The goal is to make the electoral rolls as clean and correct as possible. He said that after proper scrutiny of the forms applicants would be called for photography session. The session for the Amloh constituency will start on November 18 and for the Sirhind constituency on December 1.

The Deputy Commissioner urged people to take benefit of this special revision of electoral rolls so that they may participate in the election process and strengthen democracy.


Creative ideas gather dust in PSEB
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 12
The PSEB has been facing financial crises, however, creative ideas submitted by some of its officers which could generate extra finances have been gathering dust. Three such ideas were given by officers posted here. These could have helped the board in generating 16 MW to 33 MW of extra hydel power at a relatively meagere investment.

It was suggested that if the SYL canal was started from Kiratpur Sahib to Sirsa Nangal village, a 16 MW power-house could be established near the Sirsa river. Water from the powerhouse could be released in the Sutlej through the Sirsa river. The project would cost about Rs 20 - Rs 25 crore against the estimated establishment cost of about Rs 6 crore required for generating 1 MW of hydel power.

At present, the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal which was supposed to be a feeder to the SYL canal is functional. A power house each at Ganguwal and Nakian have been established on this canal. The water flowing in this canal is released in the Lohand rivulet at Kiratpur Sahib which further flows into the Sutlej. If the Anandpur Sahib canal is joined with the SYL canal the idea could become a reality.

Another proposal was that the SYL canal should be made functional up to Ropar. The building of a 32 MW powerhouse on the canal had been constructed and sources said machinery worth crores had been purchased for installation in the powerhouse. However, due to the indefinite postponement of construction, the power house project was also abandoned.

Certain officers of the PSEB have proposed that if the canal is made functional till Ropar, the 32 MW power project near it could be revived. For implementing this idea, the PSEB would have to complete an aqueduct over the Sirsa river and join the SYL canal with the Bhakra canal near Ropar.

The cost of this project was also estimated at about Rs 30 crore which could be recovered within a year of the start of generation at the powerhouse.


Ban on bursting firecrackers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 12
As per the directions of the Supreme Court regarding discouraging the use of noise-producing crackers and restricting the cracker bursting timing, Mr Vikas Paratap, District Magistrate, has imposed ban on the bursting of firecrackers from 10PM to 6AM in the district with immediate effect.

In a press release issued here today, the District Magistrate also banned the bursting of crackers in the silence zone, the area comprising not less than 100 m around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other area, which is declared as such by the competent authority. He has warned that the violator would be punished under the provision of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.

The District Magistrate has also fixed the sites for the sale of crackers in all towns of the district and only those vendors would be allowed to sell the crackers, who had the licence to sell it, which is being issued by the District Administration. Earlier the crackers were being sold by all shopkeepers in the main bazars.


Baba Bhaniara’s dera razed to ground
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 12
The dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara in Dhamana village on the Nurpur Bedi-Ropar road was razed to the ground by district administration officials last evening.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, said the Baba had encroached upon 194 kanals belonging to the village panchayat, 47.12 kanals of Central Government land, 102.14 kanals of state government land and 34.8 kanals owned by individuals.

The DDPO, Ropar, had ordered proceedings against him, according to which eviction orders were issued recently.

The Baba, he said, still owned 100 acres of land in various parts of the district.


Toy shop gutted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar November 12
A toy shop was gutted in a devastating fire which broke out in busy Attari Bazaar here this morning.

Though goods worth thousands of rupees were destroyed in the shop, no one injured in the incident. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. The fire, according to eyewitnesses, broke out around 9.30. As many as eight fire engines were pressed into service to put out the fire.


Protest by senior citizens
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 12
More than 100 old-aged men and women of Bath village, under the banner of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), held a demonstration today in front of the office of the local Child Development and Project Officer (CDPO) against the alleged irregularities being committed by the office staff and the alleged misbehaviour meted out to the pension seekers by some staff members.

A deputation of the DYFI later met the CDPO, Ms Balwinder Kaur, who assured them of the redressal of their grievances. The CDPO, however, denied their allegations.


Divali bonanza for FCI staff
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 12
The festival of lights, Divali, has turned out to be an occasion to rejoice for the Class III and IV employees of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) as the management has decided to give them Rs 10,000 each as wage revision advance after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this connection was signed between the FCI Executive Staff Union and the management.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gian Chand Bansal, press secretary of the Punjab unit of the union said the wage revision was due since January, 1997.


Man run over by train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva today found a man in serious condition lying in a compartment of a train coming from Jodhpur. He has been admitted to a local hospital.

In another incident, a person died after being crushed under a train near Goniana Mandi of this district.

The deceased has been identified as Major Singh, son of Kapur Singh Bishnandi village.


Jakhar supports cotton growers’ demand
Our Correspondents

Abohar, November 12
The PPCC will hold a political conference at Ferozepore city on November 25. Stating this, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, president of the District Congress Committee, told newspersons today that a decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the campaign committee of the PPCC. The DCC held a meeting yesterday at the district headquarters in this regard.

As suggested by the AICC member, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, the conference would be held at the grain market in Ferozepore. Senior party leaders, including Mr Moti Lal Vora, general secretary, AICC, Mr Bal Ram Jakhar, former Union Agriculture minister, all former Chief Ministers belonging to the Congress and former PPCC presidents, would be invited.

Mr Jakhar criticised the state government for not taking notice of the agitation by cotton growers of the region since October 3. He supported their demand for compensation.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the existing rates of Narma cotton and said the government had given a call to the farmers to grow more cotton this year.


Cane underweighed, says BKU (Rajewal)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Earlier reports had come regarding large-scale “corruption” in the procurement of paddy. Now it is the turn of sugarcane, the crushing of which has started in at least seven cooperative and five private sugarmills out of a total of 21.

The Bharti Kisan Union ( Rajewal group) has alleged that sugarmill owners are resorting to fraud in the weighing of cane and also in the issuance of receipts about delivery on the premises of various mills. Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the BKU, said there were allegations of underweighing of upto 20 quintals per trailerload.

He said certain private mills were issuing unsigned receipts without mentioning the name of the mill on them. Some private mills were accepting sugarcane from other states and ignoring growers from Punjab. The BKU has asked the farmers concerned to submit complaints, duly supported by affidavits, pertaining to cheating in the weighing of cane to the union for appropriate action.

The BKU has been impleaded as a respondent by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case pertaining to “corruption” in the procurement of paddy.

The union has already started collecting affidavits from farmers with regard to the “cut” in the payment made to them for paddy. Mr Rajewal said the union had got information that Rs 10 to Rs 30 per quintal had been charged from farmers as “bribe” for officials of the procurement agencies at certain places. He said the union had set up an office at Samrala Mandi to receive complaints from farmers in this connection.

When asked about the underweighing of the sugarcane, a senior official from the office of the Cane Commissioner said that centres had been set up in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and several other places to receive complaints. He said if farmers had any complaint, they could contact the centre or the Cane Commissioner at the state headquarters for taking the necessary action.

Though the Union Government has revised the price of cane from Rs 59.50 to Rs 62, Punjab has not done so though the crushing of cane in the state started last week.

Informed sources said that a meeting of the Punjab Sugarcane Board would be held on November 21 to take up the price issue. At present the price of cane is Rs 100 per quintal in Punjab and Rs 110 in Haryana. Most of the sugarmills in the state are in the red. Millers will oppose a hike in the price. But as this is election year and the SAD-BJP government would not like to annoy farmers, a price hike is certain.


Development plan for city
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
The municipal authorities announced yet another development plan for the city today.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said the Bathinda-Kot Kapura highway would be four-laned from the Bathinda canal to the gate of the NFL township at a cost of Rs 60 lakh.

The Improvement Trust would contribute Rs 25 lakh and the municipal council would shell out Rs 35 lakh for the same. The officials concerned had been directed to deposit the money within three days, he said.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President, Municipal Council, said the council had prepared plans amounting to Rs 1.5 crore to provide drinking water and give a facelift to the city. Giving out the details of various plans, he said the Amarpura Basti region would be provided potable water and pipes costing Rs 48 lakh were being laid down. He said the road from Liberty Chowk to the railway flyover via Lal Singh Basti would be widened to 24 feet at a cost of Rs 15 lakh. The council had written to the authorities concerned for the four-laning of the Bathinda-Barnala road for widening the bridge.

Replying to a question on the water logging in the city, Mr Bhullar said the Bathinda-Goniana road from Hanuman Chowk to Tinkoni would be recarpeted and appropriate measures taken to slow the problem of water logging during the rainy season. 


Committee meeting against illegal
constructions held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
The Punjab Government has decided to deal firmly with the problem of illegal construction on the roadsides in the state. A comprehensive plan has been formed and committees at the state and district level have been constituted for the purpose.

Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, Additional Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today said the Chief Secretary would preside the state-level committee and the Deputy Commissioner would be the president of the district-level committee.

He said Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the first meeting of the district-level committee held here today, said strict guidelines had been issued to the agencies issuing ‘no objection certificate’ for the constructions to strictly abide by all laws and norms.

Even the Punjab State Electricity Board and the state Water Supply Board had been ordered not to provide connections for power and water supply, respectively, to the persons having done the construction in the announced ‘non-construction areas’.

Mr Ratnam further said that area of 5 metres on main roads in Class I Municipal Council area of 10 metres periphery of roads in Class II and III. Municipal Council, area of 100 metres at outskirts of cities and 30 metres area lying out of the boundary of the council linked with the main roads had been announced ‘non-construction area’.

Mr Ratnam said any person who would violate these guidelines would have to face the action and a criminal case could also be registered against him.


Man posing as doctor held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
The police has arrested 20 persons for different offences and seized 10 kg of poppy husk, 502 capsules of narcotic drugs, 23 litres of illicit liquor a mobile phone and cash.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said Rakesh Kumar was arrested for posing as a doctor and selling medicines at high rates. He was running a medicine shop on the Naruana road on the basis of some other person’s licence.

The police arrested Gurlal Singh from Bajak village for possessing 10 kg of poppy husk. Eleven persons were arrested under the prevention of gambling Act and Rs 20,000 was seized from them.


In-laws booked for woman’s death
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 12
Jasbir Kaur (19), who got married eight months back in Chola Sahib village, was allegedly poisoned to death by her in-laws last night.

The police today registered a case under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC against three persons of the in-laws family.

Mr Gian Singh, grandfather of the deceased, had lodged an FIR with the police alleging that his granddaughter was married to Gurinder Singh of Chola Sahib village and he along with other members of his family used to harass her. In another incident, Balwinder Singh, a constable posted at the local Civil Lines, died last night.


Students oppose admission norms
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 12
Students seeking admission to B.Sc (Nursing) and physiotherapy in colleges of nursing affiliated to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences; Faridkot, face an uncertain future.

While, earlier, the students were admitted to these courses on the basis of the marks scored in the plus two or JET examinations as per new norms a students needs to score at least 30 per cent marks in the PMET.

Students told this correspondent and that though they had scored high in the plus two examination, yet, they had not been able to get admission in the B.Sc (Nursing) course due to the new eligibility condition. What was irksome was the fact that 240 seats were still lying vacant.

Meanwhile, some students have enrolled in the diploma courses in nursing while others are waiting for relaxation in the norms. The students have urged the authorities concerned to fill the vacant seats as per the merit list of the plus two examination.


Techfair 2001 concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 12
A two-day national-level technical competition for students Techfair-2001 organised by the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College concluded here today. More than 500 students from various engineering colleges from all over the country participated in the fair. Dr H.S.Gurm, Vice-Chancellor Punjab Technical University, presided over the valedictory function and gave away prizes to the winners in different categories. He also inaugurated the ISTE Student’s Chapter of the college.

Addressing the gathering, he urged the students to take part in the technical and non-technical activities, besides their studies, more enthusiastically as these activities played an important role in their professional careers. He also apprised the participants of the rapid developments taking place in the field of technology. Talking about the phenomenal progress made by the college in the recent past, he appreciated the efforts of the Principal in setting up high standards of education and moral values. He assured of full co-operation to the college. He also welcomed the students who had come from other states to participate in the competition.

Dr D.S. Heera, Principal of the college, said there always remained a gap between the university syllabi and the needs of the industry. He demanded that the syllabi should be changed according to the prevailing requirements. He said such competitions and seminars helped the students in filling this void.

In the Techfair-2001, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology bagged the overall trophy for the best performance in every field. The running trophy was bagged by Bhopal Engineering College, Bhopal, and the local BBSB Engineering College got the third position.


College defies admn to hold show
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, November 12
A fund-raising show was held at DAV College here yesterday, despite the fact that the district administration had rejected the request of the college to hold it. Noted Punjabi singer Harbhajan Maan and comedian Bhagwant Maan enthralled the audience.

Former Agriculture Minister Hans Raj Josan, who was present, criticised the district administration for refusing permission to the college for the show. He alleged the Deputy Commissioner had rejected the request of the college because the principal happened to be his cousin.

He criticised Forest Minister Surjeet Kumar Jayanti for not honouring his commitment to be the chief guest on the occasion. He said the college had planned the show to raise funds for the completion of the college stadium. Whereas the request for permission was solicited several days ago, the denial was conveyed only today.

Mr B.C. Josan, Principal, said all arrangements had been made and artistes, who were to perform, had arrived. So, the college authorities had decided to hold the function. The college authorities, he said, was fully authorised to hold any cultural show on its premises and collect donations for the college as it was exempted under Section 80-G of the Income Tax Act.

Noted Punjabi lyricist Gill Surjeet and junior hockey international Deepak Thakur were honoured.


Students hold Divali function
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 12
The students of the Bathinda Institute of Management and Technology organised a function to celebrate Divali here today.

The chief guest Dr Jagroop Singh, Director, Guru Kanshi Regional Centre, urged the students to obtain technical and computer education.

The winners of various competitions, including a fashion show, were given prizes.


GND varsity declares holiday today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 12
Guru Nanak Dev University, in a notification issued here today by the Dean of College Development Council, has declared November 13 as holiday in all of its affiliated colleges on account of bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Majaraja Ranjit Singh.


Verka to wear new look
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 12
Punjab Milkfed has decided to change the design of its milk pouches from November 14.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr S.K. Gupta, Managing Director of the milk plant at Jalandhar, said a large number of companies were selling milk in packets resembling those sold under the Verka brand.

“It has been decided to change the design and market milk in four different pouches bearing the logo of Operation Flood,” Mr Gupta said.

The new 1-litre packets will be marketed from November 14. “The full-cream milk in green packet, will cost Rs17, standard milk Rs 15 and double-toned milk Rs 10”, he said.

Meanwhile, investigations conducted by scientists of the milk plant have revealed that raw milk purchased from dairies or supplied by milkmen contained high bacterial count as compared to pasteurised milk.

“Samples from different dairies of Jalandhar presented a dismal picture as we found that the quality of milk from these dairies was poor. If pasteurised milk’s bacterial count was within permissible limits at about 15,000 per ml, the average bacterial count of dairies was around 10 lakh, which meant it was just like sewage from health point of view,” Mr Uttam Kumar Sharma, Manager (Quality Control) of the plant, said, adding that such milk could cause serious health problems if not boiled properly.

“Another harmful factor pertaining to raw dairy milk is that it has high content of oxytocin, a hormone used by dairy owners to increase milk production. However, some bacteria is heat resistant and may get transferred to humans”, he said.

“We have observed that green fodder increases milk yield tremendously. If our average yield per animal is 20 litres, in Australia it is up to 70-80 litres,” Mr Gupta said.

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