Friday, November 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

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P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



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Fernandes for defence race with China
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 15
The Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, visited the forward airbase of Bhisiana here today. He said Pakistan should not be the central point for the country in defence matters. India should advance its defence and become on a par with China.

Much significance is being attached to his visit in view of the reportedly offensive posture adopted by Pakistan along the Line of Control by moving infantry and armoured brigades in the Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan border areas. He said China was about two-and-a-half times ahead of India in all matters, including defence and war-preparedness.

He added that this fact should be taken into consideration whenever the armed forces of the country were being evaluated and that comparison of the Indian armed forces with Pakistan’s forces war irrelevant.

Mr Fernandes was here today to inspect the functioning of Air Force station.

He said the war being fought in Afghanistan would not end soon. He added that India had hoped that some strong steps would be taken to check the spread of terrorism by all countries participating in the war.

He pointed out that it was not yet known whether the consequences of the war in Afghanistan would be reflected in the nearby countries. But one thing was very clear: after the war, Pakistan would face problems.

The Defence Minister said Pakistan’s Army was directly involved in the terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and its ISI was contributing to the same in the north-eastern states of India. However, he added, India was too strong and powerful for Pakistan.

“Our defence forces are prepared enough to meet any eventuality and the forces are vigilant and prepared to meet any situation which could develop at any point of time,” the Defence Minister said.

The defence system, capacity and preparedness of the forces should be reviewed keeping in view the September 11 incidents in the USA.

He disclosed that about three lakh houses for defence personnel would be built in the coming three years at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore.

He added that a hospital at Pattapur near the Siachen glacier would be inaugurated on November 18.

Mr Fernandes was accompanied by Air Marshal V.K. Bhatia, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, New Delhi, and Group Captain, Amul Kapoor, Station Commander, Bhisiana Air Force station.


 

George’s ‘operational’ visit to Fazilka
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 15
Mr George Fernandes, Defence Minister, visited this strategic sector today. Top Army ranks and civil administration officers tried to keep the visit a secret. Mediapersons were denied access to the Defence Minister on the grounds that it was an “operational” visit.

The visit is understood to have a connection to recent deployment of Pakistan Army along the border in Akhnoor and the Sriganganagar sector in Rajasthan.

Another reason for the visit could be the bulk recovery of sophisticated arms, ammunition and bombs along the bank of the Gang canal in this area about a fortnight ago.

According to official sources, the minister visited these areas to assess the situation and boost the morale of the Army in this sector. They said he was scheduled to have lunch with Army ranks and jawans.

The mediapersons did approach Brig S.K.S. Rana, Station Commander, to meet the Defence Minister, but they were denied access.



 

PM’s rally pandal to cost Rs 40 lakh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
Disillusioned with the “poor show” on the beginning of the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, held a series of meetings of Akali Dal functionaries and officials of the district administration with a view to ensuring a mammoth gathering at the proposed rally on November 18 to be addressed by the Prime Minister and a galaxy of leaders of the SAD and the BJP to mark the concluding functions here.

Mr Badal has asked them to mobilise the public as any laxity would send a wrong signal to the voter as the Assembly elections are round the corner.

To make the rally a grand show, the biggest-ever pandal of the country which could accommodate three lakh persons has already been erected on the Amritsar-Jalandhar road. As many as five helipads have been laid for the landing of helicopters of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and other dignitaries.

The covered area for the colourful pandal is 8 lakh sq ft. A Delhi based contractor told the Press that he would charge Rs 40 lakh for the pandal. It took two weeks for completing the job while the winding up operation would take a week.

Elaborate security arrangements would be made for the event Mr Hardip Singh Dhillon, DIG, Ferozepore division, had been made in charge of the security arrangements.

The administration has earmarked 150 acres for parking, excluding 32 acres for VVIP parking.



 

Talwandi’s utterances annoy Sikh scholars
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
Cold War between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC intensified when both read parallel ‘message’ in the name of ‘panth’ to celebrate Divali yesterday.

However, the press release issued by the publicity wing of the SGPC mentioned the name of Mr Talwandi and skipped the name of Jathedar Vedanti. While the SGPC camp insisted that it was the prerogative of Mr Talwandi to give message while the Akal Takht secretariat insisted that since the enactment of the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, Jathedar Akal Takht had been issuing the same on the occasion of Divali. With the result, both of them addressed the sangat which kicked off a fresh controversy. Interestingly, Mr Talwandi did not read from the ‘message’ distributed among the sangat. It was an impromptu speech which annoyed many Sikh scholars. Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, member, Akhand Kirtani Jatha who is considered close to Jathedar Vedanti alleged that the ‘message’ was highly objectionable. Though Mr Talwandi did not mention any persons, yet the tone and tenor of his message was that the ‘message delivered by Jathedar Vedanti’ was a bundle of lies. Jathedar Talwara said the Sikh masses should take a serious view of the utterances of Mr Talwandi.

Earlier, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, who do not see eye to eye with Jathedar Vedanti said it was the prerogative of the SGPC chief to deliver message on the occasion of Divali. He did not mention the name of Jathedar Akal Takht who once had rescinded the edicts issued by Giani Puran Singh when he was Jathedar, Akal Takht.

The Akal Takht secretariat is studying the audio cassette which included the speech of Mr Talwandi so that action could be initiated against him. Mr Talwara alleged that Mr Talwandi had also touched upon “objectionable” points as he had stated that Jathedar, Akal Takht, was competent to issue edict on his own, though Mr Talwandi did not elaborate the issue, yet Mr Talwara alleged that he (Mr Talwandi) wanted to justify the ‘hukamnamas’ (edicts) issued by Giani Puran Singh in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht. It may be mentioned here that through his controversial edicts, Giani Puran Singh had excommunicated Bibi Jagir Kaur, the then SGPC chief and three Sikh High Priests from the Sikh Panth. However, immediately after his installation as Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had revoked all controversial edicts issued by Giani Puran Singh.

Mr Talwara alleged the cold war between Mr Talwandi and the Sikh clergy had been going on for the past so many months. However, Jathedar Vedanti and other jathedars avoided confrontation. He alleged that not even a single directive taken by the High Priests was implemented by the SGPC since Mr Talwandi took over.

On the other hand, Jathedar Vedanti, in his message emphasised the need of complete Panthic unity. The message also read that the Panth should adopt uniform “maryada”, established by Akal Takht. He also emphasised the need for the release of Sikh youths languishing in various jails.

SGPC chief and Jathedar Vedanti have been at loggerheads since the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi.


 

3 armed robberies in one night
Eight injured; residents block traffic
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
Eight persons were injured in three incidents of armed robbery on the outskirts of the city last night. This follows a bid by armed dacoits to rob a farmhouse in Dera Bassi subdivision two days back.

Four persons were injured when dacoits attacked them at their house in Ranjit Nagar area in the city last night while they were sleeping and went off with Rs 40,000 and gold ornaments. In the other incident, two persons were injured when armed assailants attacked them at Rasulpur Jora village near here. In the third incident, two persons received injuries when armed robbers broke into their house at Daulatpur village near here. All three incidents appeared to be the handiwork of the same gang.

In the first incident, according to the victims — Vinay and Sandhya Dhand and Pradeep and Anu Dhand — admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital here, the assailants gained easy access into their house as the door frames were still to be installed. They said the assailants attacked them with sharp-edged weapons, while Vinay was made to fall unconscious with a quilt. Pradeep, who had been tied by the assailants, raised the alarm after managing to free himself a short while after they had left. The colony had come up recently and only a few houses had been constructed.

The victims said the assailants, who were speaking in Hindi and appeared to be outsiders, snatched the gold jewellery being worn by the women. They also took away Rs 40,000, which had been kept at home to pay for the wood-work being done in the house.

The inability of the police to arrive at the spot till this forenoon forced residents of the colony to resort to a ‘chakka jam’ on the Sirhind road. The residents complained that though the police had been informed about the incident at 1 am, it did not come to the spot till this forenoon. District police chief Paramjit Singh Grewal said the police had mistaken the colony for another situated on the Bhadson road, due to which it got late in arriving at the spot.

Residents of Rasulpur Jora village, Hardeep Singh and his wife Gurjit Kaur, were admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital. Household goods and Rs 15,000 in cash were stolen from their house. In the third incident, robbers looted a few thousand rupees.

City residents were gripped by a fear psychosis following the robberies. The city had been hit by a spate of robberies around two years back, in which it was later claimed that members of the Boria tribe of Madhya Pradesh had been involved. The city police decided to start ‘thikri pahras’ in peripheral colonies.



 

BJP draws up poll strategy
Prabhjot Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Concentrating on 23 assembly constituencies from where it contested the last elections in 1997, the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to adopt a double-pronged strategy for the rallies and public meetings to be held on National Unity Day against terrorism on November 25.

Besides creating public opinion in favour of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), the state leadership of the party also wants to use the November 25 rallies in all 23 constituencies as part of its electioneering for the coming assembly poll.

It has also decided to mobilise the maximum crowd for the November 18 rally to be addressed by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in Amritsar to mark the concluding ceremony of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

These decisions were taken at a meeting of the party leadership held under the chairmanship of Prof Brij Lal Rinwa where, besides all BJP Ministers, MLAs, and office-bearers of the state unit were present.

The Punjab BJP is keen that it should involve all opinion-makers or leaders, including doctors, teachers, engineers and lawyers, in the 23 constituencies for the National Unity Day rallies. Special invitations will be sent to these leaders and efforts made to ensure their participation in the rallies.

“Terrorism,” the state leadership feels, “will be a major election issue and the party’s firm stand on rooting it from the country could get it on the right side of the urban vote in general and the Hindu vote in particular.”

The party leadership today took stock of the situation in the state. Various critical issues, including relations between the party Ministers and MLAs and workers, were discussed threadbare. Other organisational matters , too, came up for discussion and progress reports were given by various office-bearers, especially about the “one booth and 11 youth” programme, a call for which was given by Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary (organisation) of the unit.

There was a general consensus that two visits of the Prime Minister to Amritsar within a fortnight should give a boost to the morale of the party workers at the grassroots level. They should feel enthused and make sure that the November 18 rally was a greater success than the September 25 “Sadbhavna rally” at Killianwalli.

While the BJP leadership is silent on the issue of any package being announced by the Prime Minister on November 18, the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership is confident that Mr Vajpayee will not come empty-handed as he did at Killianwalli.

Though the Prime Minister will come to Punjab again on December 1 to preside over the concluding ceremony of the National Games, the chances of his addressing a public meeting then look remote.


 

Punishment under Essential Commodities Act to go
By Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 15
In a final bid to please traders, who are considered to be a traditional vote bank of the ruling alliance partner BJP, the Punjab Government will abolish the Essential Commodities Act in the state.

The government will bring legislation in the next session of the Assembly, to abolish the use of Section 7 of the said Act, in the stae. As section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act defines punishment that could be given to traders found guilty under the Act provisions, the abolition of the use this section means to trader of the state can be punished under the Act in future.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, gave this information while talking to newsmen here today. Justifying the abolition of the Act, he said the Act had lost its utility. It was enacted when there used to be shortage of food items in the country. However, food items were now available in plenty especially in Punjab. So, the provisions of the Act were used to harass traders due to which the government had decided to do away with the punishment clause of the Act in the state.

The Essential Commodities Act was enacted by the Government of India in 1955 for controlling production, supply and distribution of essential commodities at fair prices to people. Anybody flouting the Act could be punished with imprisonment ranging between three months and seven years and fine depending upon the offense. At present 32 items are listed under the Essential Commodities Act, however, the list is reviewed from time to time in the light of the liberalised economic policies.

However, the abolishing of the punishment under the Act may also lead to the operation of trader gilts in the state. Though there is no shortage of food items in the state, but how will the activities of the gilts be checked.

Moreover, besides the food items, the Act also has other items under its purview as bricks etc. Last year the brick kiln owners in the state went on a strike against the increase in tax against them. The owners suspended the production of the bricks for selling the existing stocks. This led to the unprecedented rise in the price of the bricks in the state. The prices of bricks shot up from the government reserve price of Rs 1300 per 1,000 brick to about Rs 2000 per 1000 bricks. However, if punishment under the said Act is abolished, it remains to be seen how will the government check unfair trade practices in case of such items.

Mr Mittal, said the government was also considering the proposal of increasing license tenure for arhrtiyas and brick-kiln owners in the state to 10 years. At present these traders have get their licenses reviewed every year, causing unnecessary harassment to them, he said.


 

Senior Congress leaders join SAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal today got a shot in the arm as the one time general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and currently its member Dr Dalbir Singh (a former MLA) today joined the ruling party along with his supporters in presence of the Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The president of the Block Congress Committee (mehla wing), Bibi Joginder Kaur, Mr Kulwant Singh, secretary Amritsar District Congress Committee, Mr Swarn Singh, secretary of the same committee, five executive members of the District Congress Committee, Mr Surjit Singh Kotla, Mr Darshan Singh Khojala, Mr Karmjit Singh Yodhanagri, Mr Santokh Singh Saidolehal, Mr Prabdyal Singh, general secretary, District Youth Congress Committee (Rural), Mr Surjit Singh Minta, a former president of the Youth Congress Committee, Verka, Dr Harjit Singh Dhillon, a former president District Congress Committee, Mr Ravi Mohan, ex-vice president, Congress Committee (Verka) and many panches and panches also joined the ruling party.

At the time of their joining the Shiromani Akali Dal, the former Congress leaders alleged that they were totally disillusioned with the alleged autocratic style of functioning of the PPCC chief, Mr Amarinder Singh, According to them Mr Amarinder Singh was treating the party as his ‘personal fiefdom’. They alleged that the PPCC chief was surrounded by crowd of ‘sycophants’ who knew nothing about the problems of common party workers.


 

Keep off SAD affairs, Mann tells BJP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 15
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A) and senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, today said Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the Punjab BJP, was interfering in the affairs of the SAD by enticing Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD and senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, to join the SAD. He said this type of interference would not be tolerated by the Akali groups.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone, Mr Mann also asked the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, not to interfere in the affairs of the SAD during his visit to Amritsar on November 18. He alleged neither Mr Rinwa nor Mr Vajpayee could save Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s sinking ship.

Mr Mann also described the function organised on November 13 in Amritsar to mark bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja’s coronation as a “flop show”. He further said Mr Badal had “failed” to unite Akalis on the occasion as he (Badal) had not even taken him (Mann) into confidence for the organisation of the celebrations.

Mr Mann said the function projected only lightweight Akalis like Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, and Mr B.S. Bhunder, MP, while Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president of the SGPC, had been relegated to the background. He alleged that Mr Badal had “adopted” the Congress culture. He said Mr Badal wanted to make his son Sukhbir Badal Chief Minister on the pattern of the Congress.


 

Panthic Morcha constitutes council
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal Panthic Morcha convener, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, today announced the constitution of a 74-member Panthic Council. A morcha press release said there would be 10 permanent invitees. All MLAs (or their representatives) of all factions associated with the morcha would be members of the council. Among the special invitees would be 60-odd SGPC members or their representatives.

The first meeting of the council would be held in Ludhiana on November 19.



 

SAD to discuss SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Political Affairs Committee of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal will meet at the Chief Minister’s residence here on November 25, according to a party release issued by the secretary, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar.

The main agenda will be the coming annual SGPC presidential and office-bearers’ elections. This will be followed by a meeting of the SGPC members owing allegiance to the ruling SAD at Teja Singh Sammundari Hall in Amritsar on November 26.

Both meetings will be presided over by the party President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.



 

Cong to organise rally on Nov 18
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 15
The meeting of a newly constituted executive committee of district unit of the Congress was organised here today at Punjab Mata Vidhyawati, Bhavan, with a view to motivate Congress workers for the forthcoming Assembly elections and for making the district-level Congress rally, to be held at Old Grain market here on November 18, a success.

The rally would be addressed by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, the AICC Secretary Mrs Santosh Chaudhary and a former minister, Mr Santokh Singh. This was stated by Mr Kartar Singh Sekhon and Mr Iqbal Singh, President and in-charge, Election Campaign Committee of the Congress, respectively.

Meanwhile, the district unit of Ex-Servicemen Cell” (PPCC) would also organise a rally at Punjab Mata Vidhyawati Bhavan here on November 18. This was stated by Col Jarnail Singh (retd), district president, in a press note here today.



 

Sitting Cong MLAs to get ticket
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 15
The Congress has decided to give ticket to its sitting MLAs in the forthcoming Assembly election in Punjab. Their names are likely to be announced in the next week.

This was stated by Mr Avtar Singh Brar, general secretary, Congress Legislature Party and local MLA, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He disclosed that the list of other party aspirants are also expected to be decided by the end of December to give them enough time to for canvassing.

Mr Brar informed that the party has convened a meeting of its state coordination committee at Chandigarh on November 20 to finalise its poll strategy.



 

Congress cell’s convener
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Mr Harkirat Singh Mangat has been appointed convener of the legal cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee by the PPCC president, Capt Amarinder Singh, according to a press note issued today.


 

Doctors to take mass leave on Dec 1
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 15
Doctors of medical and dental colleges in the state are set to paralyse work in all major hospitals on December 1 by going on mass casual leave to protest against the failure of the government to fulfil their demands.

Doctors are peeved at the government’s indifference towards the demand to appoint a doctor as the Director, Research and Medical Education, as has been the practice. They are resentful of the delay in the appointment of the Director even as seniority norms point towards Dr Ravinder Singh, Principal, Government Medical College, Patiala as right choice.

Talking to media persons the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association chairperson Kiranjeet Kaur and secretary B.S. Sohal said the other demands of the association included filling vacant posts in medical colleges and redesignation of posts.

The association has also demanded that the medical colleges be allowed to use the money raised by them by giving admissions to NRIs. It said when the medical colleges gave admission to NRI students, they were clearly told that the money so collected would be kept for improving the infrastructure of colleges and hospitals.

Dr Kiranjit Kaur said reports from Amritsar and other medical colleges indicated that doctors were already wearing black badges. She said this would continue till November 15 following which protest rallies would be held at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot medical colleges on November 17.



 

Educational institutes to have FM radios
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 15
Ms Sushma Swaraj, union minister for Information and Broadcasting today announced that FM radios would be installed at each educational institute of the country. The first phase of this ambitious scheme would start from universities and IITs right down to the school level.

Talking to this correspondent after inaugurating a high-power transmitter of DD Jalandhar at Basarke Gillan village, she said, radio was still the most revolutionary medium in India which had the power of influencing a large section of the population with a minimal of infrastructure. She said hardware had been provided to counter the Pakistani retrogative propaganda against India in the powered transmitter that was upgraded to double its strength and its range.

She discounted any anti-incumbency wave in Punjab. To a query whether the poor turnout at the state managed bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and at the Prime Ministers Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's recent visit here were any indication to the "negative factor" playing any role in the forth coming Assembly elections. She replied in the negative. She asserted that the coalition mandate was strong in the state if Killianwali rally was any measure of the voter turnout.



 

PATHANKOT ROUNDUP
Villagers await promised power house

Bharat Bhushan Dogra

EVEN after a lapse of 15 months the residents of Gharota village in Pathankot subdivision are eagerly awaiting the implementation of the Punjab Chief Minister’s orders for the installation of a 66 KV substation to ensure a 24-hour power supply to the village.

During his visit to the village on May 14,2000, Mr Parkash Singh Badal not only announced a 66 KV substation for the village but also directed the senior officers of the board to make the necessary arrangements for the construction of a building and installation of a sub-station.

The village panchayat also provided land to the board as per its requirement. But no construction activity was taken up by the board. On June 14, this year the panchayat raised the matter at the Sangat Darshan programme of the Chief Minister organised at Sujanpur, the home constituency of the Information and Technology Minister, Mr Sat Pal Saini. The Chief Minister casually asked about the progress of the 66 KV substation at Gharota in the presence of Mr Saini, but no satisfactory reply was given by the board officers, except that the work would be started soon.

Mr Kuldip Chand Sharma, President local Brahmin Sabha, has said that no person will be allowed to misuse the banner of the Sabha.

He said elections to the Sabha were held under the supervision of Mr Dev Raj, advocate, who was appointed returning officer to conduct elections in the presence of elected delegates and life members of nearly 20 local units of the Sabha.

***

Mr Sharma regretted that certain persons were trying to create problems on the smooth functioning of the Sabha.

The premises of Government Primary School, Udipur Amma village in Narot Jaimal Singh block, has become a nuisance for the tiny students of the village studying in the school. The school looks like a stable for stray animals with the remains of animals scattered all over the ground and varandah of the school.

The villagers allege that due to shortage of funds, the school authorities are unable to construct a boundary wall around the school premises. Moreover the people find it convenient to keep their animals in the school premises in the nights. Some times they lock their animals in the classrooms.

Students have to bring their own jute mats to sit and the classes are held in the open as the atmosphere inside the classrooms is polluted by the animals.

***

In order to force the villagers of Guda Kalan to withdraw the complaint made against the low-voltage power supply, officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board office at Mirthal police station, have alleged manhandling of officials and disruption of smooth working of the office.

The villagers made a complaint to the Executive Engineer of the PSEB against the low voltage supply to the village. A deputation of the villagers led by Mr Arun Sharma went to the office of the PSEB to enquire about the fate of their application. But instead of giving a satisfactory reply to the villagers the staff at the substation used abusive language and tried to manhandle them. The PSEB staff then filed a complaint against the villagers. In order to apprehend the members of the team which visited the PSEB substation office the police started harassing the villagers. The villagers unitedly opposed the police action and threatened to sit in dharna against the police excesses. That ended the police harassment.

The Executive Engineer, Mr R.S. Johal, was not available for comments. The villagers have demanded a thorough probe into the working of the Mirthal substation.

***

More than 7,000 saplings of different fruit varieties, including mango, guava and lemon, have been planted in the semi-hilly and kandi area of Dhar subdivision.

Disclosing this, Mr Mohan Lal, Higher Education Minister, Punjab, said adequate arrangements had been made to check soil erosion. Barren land is being utilised by planting saplings of elm, kikker and sheesham. He said farmers of the area had been provided new variety of tomato seed, kanchan to adopt new system of crop rotation or crop alteration. He said more lift irrigation schemes were being installed to strengthen irrigation facilities in Dhar subdivision.

***

The Pathankot Improvement Trust has chalked out a comprehensive plan for the development and beautification of the city. Mr Purshotam Arora, chairman of the trust, said as first step in this direction the administration would remove all encroachments on road-sides and at public places. He said the trust had plans for the development of Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Market, Sailli Road, and Patel Chowk.



 

8 incidents of fire reported
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 15
Even as eight incidents of fire reportedly took place here on Divali, no loss of life was reported. Damage to property, however, was minor.

The fire incidents happened at Gangaramwali Street, near Melaram Hospital, near Rose Garden, at Aggarwal Street, Sevian road, Sanpura road and Powerhouse road. The fires were brought under control quickly. Three incidents of fire took place on Aggarwal Street but no huge loss was reported. A house was gutted in a fire incident on Powerhouse road. The house belonged to Mr Harbans Singh. The fire broke out due to leakage in an LPG cylinder. Another incident of leakage of LPG gas occurred at Santpura road but it was controlled immediately.

The main cause of fire incidents was the falling of burning rockets or sparks from firecrackers.

At Bhucho Mandi, a fire broke out in a firecracker stall and caused a loss of about Rs 50,000 to five shopkeepers. Around 7 pm firecrackers at the shop of Mr Satpal Rohit Kumar at Guru Teg Bahadur Market caught fire which spread to other shops. It took hours to control the fire. However, no loss of life was reported.



 

Action against MC official demanded
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 15
Shopkeepers, who are tenants of the Municipal Council, Mansa, and have deposited Rs 20,000 per square yard with the municipal council to become owners of the shops they are holding, have demanded action against the Executive Officer of the council for his failure to execute sale deeds of the shops in their favour.

Talking to this correspondent here today, they said, they had deposited the amount as per the decision of the committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner on June 4 last. Thereafter, the municipal council had authorised the Executive Officer and the president of the council to execute the sale deeds in their favour. Since then, the shopkeepers have been approaching the municipal authorities but they are sent back on one pretext or the other.

They said they had deposited lakhs of rupees with the municipal council. They had written to the Subdivisional Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner, Deputy Director, Local Government, Bathinda but no action had been taken, they said. Now they have written to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to take action against the Executive Officer and get the sale deeds registered.



 

Golden Temple official transferred
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 15
Mr Major Singh, Additional Manager, Darbar Sahib has been transferred to Haryana till further orders.

Though no reason has been assigned for Mr Major Singh’s transfer, sources said he was “punished” for allegedly arranging a meeting between Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, and her supporters in the SGPC complex after the beginning of the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation. On the directions of Mr Talwandi, Mr Major Singh will remain at Gurdwara Teg Bahadur, Jind (Haryana), in the same capacity till further orders.

Earlier, too, Mr Major Singh was transferred to Ferozepore, but he moved the court against his transfer and the SGPC had to cancel his transfer. He is likely to file a contempt of court petition against the fresh orders, for his transfer.



 

Pharmacists’ rally at Lambi on Nov 18
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 15
Nearly 3,000 pharmacists, working in the government hospitals and dispensaries in Punjab, will hold a state-level rally and demonstration on November 18 at Lambi, the Assembly constituency of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in protest against the non-implementation of their demands by the Chief Minister on June 22 last.

Giving this information here today, Mr Swarnjit Singh, general secretary of the Punjab State Pharmacists Association, said resentment prevailed among the pharmacists over the indifferent attitude of the state government towards their long-pending demands. He said their demands included the removal of anomalies in the pay scales, change in the designation of the pharmacists, the appointment of District Pharmacy Officer in every district, and creation of a post of Deputy Director, (Pharmacy).

He said earlier, a few months ago, the association had postponed the agitation after receiving an assurance from a kin of Mr Badal, but to no avail so far. He said after the Lambi rally, the further course of agitational action would be announced to get the demands accepted and implemented.



 

Medicines worth lakhs destroyed in fire
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 15
Medicines worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a fire which broke out in a chemist shop situated on the College Road here last night. A short circuit is said to be the cause of fire.

Residents of the area raised the alarm when they saw smoke coming out of the shop. They with the help of water from the nearby taps, controlled the fire. It took two hours to extinguish the fire.

“The fire could have been easily controlled if the brigade had come on time” said Manoj Kumar owner of the shop said.

Mr Munish Jindal president, Malerkotla Welfare Association, has demanded the setting up a fire station at Malerkotla immediately.



 

Wrath of tipsy policemen

Kapurthala, November 15
Cops vested with the rights to challan drivers for the violation of traffic laws become nasty at times particularly when why are under the influence of liquor.

This was exactly what happened with Happy, a local resident and a BA-I student of Sports College, Jalandhar today. Happy along with two friends was moving on a scooter when two cops under the influence of liquor signalled him to stop in the Mahatabhpur locality of the town.

Happy admitted with multiple injuries at Civil Hospital claimed that when he stopped his scooter, the cops one of whom was carrying a hockey stick started beating him up. He said his two friends who were riding with him fled when they say the two cops beating him.

Happy claimed that he was rescued by residents of the locality and the two policemen were apprehended and handed over to the city thana in charge Sucha Singh. The SHO when contacted by newsmen confirmed the incident and assured that action would be taken. UNI



 

Polio drops to be given on Dec 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
As many as 35 lakh children below the age of 5 years will be administered polio drops on December 2 and January 20 by the Health and Family Welfare Department, Punjab, under the polio immunisation programme.

Mr Ranjan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, said here today that 16,500 booths manned by 70,000 employees and volunteers would be set up at different places to undertake the task.


 

BSP (A) plans stir against SHO
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 15
Mr Mangal Singh and Mr Lalit Kumar Lovely, leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar), in a written press statement issued here today said the party had planned to launch an agitation against the use of vulgar language by an SHO for a senior district women leader and against other police atrocities.

Party leaders said the party had already brought the matter to the notice of the SSP no action had been taken against the SHO concerned. The party in the first phase would organise a big rally here on November 24 and from January 1 the party would gherao Sarhali police station for an indefinite period.


 

Poll officer visits Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 15
Mr S. Mendiratta, Deputy Election Commissioner from New Delhi visited Faridkot today to review the distribution of photo identity cards and other process in this division comprising Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot districts. He held a meeting with senior officers of these districts.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Mendiratta said nearly 90 lakh voters out of 1.56 crore had got their photo identity cards in Punjab. The remaining would get it before the announcement of the elections. No voter would be allowed to exercise his franchise without a photo identity card.

He said electronic voting machines would be used, ruling out apprehensions regarding the tampering with machines.

He said elections in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal would be held simultaneously.


 

Admn Secys asked to implement EIS
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, has directed all Administrative Secretaries to devise a plan for their department to implement Executive Information System (EIS), a pilot e-governance project, in their departments. The direction was issued during a special meeting called for the implementation of EIS, on Monday.

The Director, Information System and Administrative Reforms, Mr N.S. Kalsi, said with the operation of Secretariat Local Area Network and Mini Secretariat Local Area Network, the EIS project was poised for accelerated implementation.

Mr R.K. Verma, Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister, gave a detailed presentation of the revised version of the EIS and its various features. He informed that the application could be accessed through Internet or on Secretariat LAN and caters to three distinct categories, the intranet for various Punjab Government departments (offices), an extranet for various citizen-government application interfaces and an important section containing the published information by the government for the public.

Mr Verma said it was decided in the meeting that in addition to senior officials, employees at various levels would be immediately trained so that the application could be optimally utilized. A detailed and scientific analysis of cost and benefits of the EIS is yet to be worked out.



 

VDCs may be back
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, November 15
The Patiala police is likely to reintroduce the Village Defence Committee (VDC) scheme to curb the alarming rise in crime in Dera Bassi and its surrounding areas.

Sources in police department revealed that under this scheme, the police and local administration would include some responsible retired defence personnel and youth of the villages. Arms and ammunition would be distributed among them.

Members of the committee would have the right to use arms under Sections 96 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code for private defence. Two additional companies of commandos were being deployed in Dera Bassi to tighten the noose around miscreants.

The police was still clueless in the Gazipur poultry farm crossfiring incident. An armed robber had been killed and three persons, including one of his accomplices, had sustained bullet injuries in the incident.

The poultry farm owner, Mr Prithi Pal Singh Randhawa, and his wife, Ms Narinder Kaur, had sustained bullet injuries. The latter was discharged from the PGI today and admitted to a private hospital in Chandigarh.

Police officials said a police team had been sent to Jammu to verify the documents of the gun recovered from the scene of the incident. Police parties had also been sent to various suspected hideouts of the assailants in Saharnpur, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kala Amb, Kalka, Panchkula, Rajpura, Ambala and Chandigarh.

All government and private hospitals, civil dispensaries and clinics in the vicinity were directed to inform the nearest police station if any patient with bullet injuries came for treatment. Police personnel were deployed around these institutions.

The police would release a sketch of the unidentified dacoit who had been killed in the encounter. The body had been sent to the Rajpura hospital mortuary.



 

One more held in robbery case

Jalandhar, November 15
The district police today claimed to have arrested one more person in last month’s Rs 1.22 crore foreign exchange robbery case and recovered foreign currency worth Rs 1.1 lakh from his possession.

Superintendent of Police Pawan Uppal said after getting a secret information that Sukhdev Singh of Dakoha village, who was allegedly involved in the robbery, was moving in the city to exchange the looted money, a naka was laid near Dakoha railway crossing.

He was arrested near the crossing and Dutch currency worth Rs 1.1 lakh was recovered from his possession, Mr Uppal said adding that the suspect had been remanded in police custody till Saturday.

Mr Uppal said this was the ninth arrest in the case and two main suspects Mohan Singh and Darshan Singh were still at large and efforts were on to arrest them.

The robbery occurred on October 16 when two employees of Tata Finance Amex Ltd, carrying foreign exchange worth Rs 1.22 crore in a bag, were attacked by robbers. PTI


 

Pak national held

Batala, November 15
The Punjab police today apprehended a Pakistan national who had crossed international border from Pakistan illegally.

He was identified as Mohammad Kamran, a resident of Sialkot in Pakistan. A revolver along with five cartridges and 300 grams of opium were seized. He has been remanded in judicial custody up to November 28 by a local court. PTI


 

10 hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 15
As many as 10 persons, including two women, were injured late last night at village Behman Diwana in a group clash, hospital sources said today.

The sources said the injured belonged to two different groups and when one of the groups was having a stroll in the village they were abused by the other. This was followed by the pelting of stones. Most of the injured had serious head injuries.



 

NAAC accredits Punjabi University
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous institution of University Grants Commission, has granted accreditation to Punjabi University, Patiala and 24 other institutions of higher education in the country.

The accreditation process involves the preparation of the self-study report, its validation by the peer team by expert technical analysers, followed by an on-site visit. As many as 25 sitting and former vice-chancellors, 30 principals and 15 deans and professors are involved in this national interactive academic auditing process.

According to Mr V. Rajasekharan Pillai, Director of the NAAC, with the completion of the performance evaluation, assessment and accreditation of 25 more higher education institutions during the past three months, the NAAC has covered 206 institutions including 39 universities and 167 colleges. The final accreditation was approved by the executive council meeting held at Bangalore on November 5, 2001.



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