Saturday, November 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


 

punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


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Badal’s bid to forge unity?
Invites Tohra, Mann to celebrations
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
In a significant development the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and President, Shiromani Akali Dal, has extended personal invitation to his friend-turned foe, Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) for attending the concluding functions of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on November 18 in which Prime Minister and a galaxy of leaders would participate.

Though invitation cards have been sent by Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, to members of the SGPC and MPs yet Mr Badal chose the occasion to normalise relations with leaders of the rival Akali factions by sending demi-official letters, only few select have received such personal letters by Mr Badal. Talking to TNS, Mr Badal admitted that he had sent cards to senior leaders of all political parties, including Mr Tohra and Mr Mann.

Sources said it was a feeler sent by Mr Badal for forging Panthic unity. Mr Tohra and Mr Mann are simply members of Parliament and SGPC members and do not hold any post in Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and hence the personal letters addressed to them could be a goodwill gesture.

It may be mentioned here that leaders of the rival Akali factions who have been boycotting the bicentenary celebrations since day one are unlikely to participate in the concluding functions too. Mr Onkar Singh Arora, executive member SGPC, and district president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal told TNS his party would continue to boycott the functions. He said the district president of the youth wing of the SHSAD would lead a deputation for presenting a memorandum to Mr Vajpayee during his proposed visit to the city. Mr Arora said the memorandum would include the demand for release of Sikh youths languishing in various jails and the four lanning of road from Jalandhar to Wagha.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice Chairman, Minority Commission who met the Prime Minister along with Mr Badal at New Delhi recently said Mr Vajpayee might announce some developmental projects for the state. Though Mr Badal refused to disclose the projects yet the sources said Mr Vajpayee might sanction Rs 1200 crore for the completion of Shahpur Kandi project. It may be mentioned here that without the completion of Shahpur Kandi project, benefits of Ranjit Sagar Dam could not be reaped. The second project the Prime Minister might announce is four-lanning of the Jalandhar — Amritsar road. Mr Badal, however, said three life-size statues of Maharaja Ranjit Singh would be installed in the Parliament complex, Ranjit Sagar Dam and Ropar district. He said the technical committee of the Lok Sabha had already approved the site for the installation of the statue.


 

Tohra’s posers to Prime Minister
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
The President of the SHSAD, Mr G.S. Tohra, today put certain questions to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in connection with his visit to Amritsar on November 18 to participate in the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Tohra asked the Prime Minister if he was going to give Chandigarh to Punjab and set up a commission of linguistic experts to include all Punjabi-speaking areas in Punjab and opening the river waters case to help Punjabi farmers. He also wanted to know if he was going to give Rs 5,000 crore for the development of Amritsar.

In an interview with this reporter here, Mr Tohra said if Mr Vajpayee was not going to concede these demands what was the point of his visiting Punjab.

Mr Tohra reiterated that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had never been installed as the Maharaja and there had been no “tajposhi”. He was simply declared “sardar” of the 11 misls of the Sikhs and his government was known as “Sarkara Khalsa”.

He criticised the government for not taking any steps to bring back Kohinoor diamond and the chair of the Maharaja which were lying at a museum in London.

The former SGPC chief also alleged that official machinery was being used to draw crowd for the November 18 rally. District Transport Officers had forcibly collected permits of buses and other vehicles.

Mr Tohra was also critical of the state government, saying that Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, a direct descendant of Guru Nanak Dev and belonging to the family of Baba Sahib Singh who installed Maharaja Ranjit Singh as “sardar”, should have been invited to the celebrations.

He declared that the Panthic Morcha would not oppose the candidature of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Mr Mal Singh Ghuman if they were put up as candidates for the presidentship of the SGPC.


 

High-security alert on PM’s visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Mr Sarabjeet Singh, Director-General of Police, indicated a high alert sounded in the wake of the impending visit of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to the holy city on the concluding day of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on November 18.

White talking to The Tribune, the DGP discounted the presence of any human bombs as speculated by intelligence agencies and others.

Although, he said, every precaution including distancing the VVIPs from the general public, was being made to negate such a possibility.

Apprehensions regarding two human bombs in the city have been rife since the past month. The DGP said very security precaution, including deployment of 5,000 cops and separate cells for the management of security, anti-sabotage, traffic, anti-riot measures etc, had been formulated under the command of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Rajan Gupta.

“Precautionary measures are high”, he said, especially in the wake of this being a border city and adverse scenario prevailing in the neighbouring country.

Mock drills for security were specially undertaken much in advance to the Prime Minister’s visit due to the prevailing conditions in Pakistan, he said.

Admitting lapses in traffic management during the inaugural and ongoing celebrations, he said announcement of closed routes preceding the PM’s visit would be made in advance for the concluding day function.

He announced a five-day holiday for nearly 300 Punjab police personnel who participated in today’s martial arts display in connection with ongoing celebrations, after the conclusion of the week-long events.


 

Publicise Maharaja’s philosophy: Sushma
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, stressed upon the need to effectively publicise the secular and humanitarian aspect of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s philosophy to further strengthen the mutual brotherhood and spirit of patriotism among the different sections of society in the country.

Addressing a large gathering before formally inaugurating a light-and-sound programme presented by the Information and Public Relations Department, Punjab, depicting the golden period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign late last night, Ms Swaraj described the Maharaja’s rule as a glorious period in Indian history when the people belonging to all the religions had equally prospered, irrespective of their caste and religion.

She said the people of the country were straining from the ideology of the great ruler and the secular and humane fabric of the society was being adversely affected, which was a matter of concern for every citizen of the country.

She said the Maharaja had been celebrating the important festivals of all the religions and had spread the frontiers of his kingdom up to Kabual and Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Earlier, she announced the setting up of another TV project costing approximately Rs 20 crore at Gharinda village in the district to improve the transmission of DD-2 programmes.

She also inaugurated a high-power DD transmitter, HPT, having a capacity of 20 KW, which will transmit programmes within the radius of 85 to 90 km covering areas across the Indo-Pakistan border. She said the height of the transmitter tower would be raised from the present 100 metres to 300 metres and the coverage would be extended to 100 km-radius. She said the government would also set up TV transmitters at Patiala and Ludhiana in the near future.


 

Book on Maharaja released
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 15
Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, here yesterday released a book, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh: The State and Society”, edited by Prof Indu Banga and Prof J.S. Grewal.

The book has been published by Guru Nanak Dev University to mark the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the book was a collection of 21 essays on various aspects of the life and times of the Maharaja.


 

Martial arts mark celebrations
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
A formidable martial arts display took off to a spectacular start as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh here today.

Events of show-jumping, tent-pegging, “gatka” using seven ancient weapons in intricate combination and horse show feats marked the fourth day of the celebrations.

Multicoloured regiments representing the Maharaja’s army provided the backdrop to the bygone era in a combined effort by the Punjab police, the PAP, the union territory police, the BSF and contributions by other states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.

Traditional arts of tent-pegging using three consecutive weapons to pick handkerchiefs and split hanging fruit with swords as horses charged, were feats that exhibited tremendous courage and precision. These were followed by modern day motor cycle acrobatics.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal called upon people to emulate the ideals and rich traditions established by the Maharaja.


 

Recalling Maharaja’s era through art works
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
To highlight the heritage of the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Indian Academy of Fine Arts has put up a photographic exhibition of Mr Balwinder Singh, head of the Guru Ram Dass School of Planning, GND varsity here today.

The exhibition by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the Minority Communities Commission, has on display 44 pictures besides three maps from the Maharaja’s era. The snapshots of art works include those of the Golden Temple, Gobindgarh fort, Ram Bagh, Pulh Kanjri besides photographs depicting Guru Nanak with Bala and Mardana, the Baradari, Fort Phillaur, Delhi and Lahori Gate.


 

No economic package for Punjab likely: Sukhbir

Sultanpur Lodhi (Kapurthala) November 16
The former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha, Member Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today said he was not expecting any economic package for Punjab by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit at Amritsar on November 18.

Talking to mediapersons at Circuit House here, Mr Sukhbir Badal said Mr Vajpayee had already given enough financial assistance to the state to revive its economy.

Mr Badal was here to lay the foundation stone of a Rs 2 crore bridge to be built by PUDA on Bein rivulet. He also laid the foundation stone of a Rs 6 crore new grain market at Sultanpur Lodhi.

The rift in the Akali Dal here came to surface when Sultanpur Lodhi Municipal Jeimal Singh, who is also an SGPC member, and Akali leader Jarnail Singh Dogranwala told mediapersons that the Punjab Urban Development Minister, Ms Upinderjit Kaur, the local MLA, did not invite them to attend the function at new grain market. They said they had come to the venue of the function their own on along with their 300 supporters. UNI


 

Row over pension for aided-college staff
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The issue of grant of pension, all benefits, gratuity included, to the staff of the government-aided colleges in Punjab seems to have again run into rough weather.

The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has been repeatedly categorically assured of “full” pension benefits for all 4,025 teachers and 2,765 non-teaching staff under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme by the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The scheme would also be on a par with the one in vogue for government employees, he had asserted. Yet, some grey areas remain.

The latest irritant, sources told TNS, was the “advice” tendered by the Department of Finance to the Department of Higher Education. As per that advice, the government desired to make the pension-payment scheme ‘’self-sufficient’’ keeping payments outside the budget. In other words, the benefits accruing to the retired staff, teaching and non-teaching, will not be paid from the treasury but by the college managements. The Department of Higher Education has been asked to work out the modalities. The pension scheme is to be effective April 26, 1999.

This argument was advanced by the Department of Finance, say sources, because funds available by way of the contributory provident fund with the managements was sufficient to last only till 2005. Thereafter, the burden would have to be borne by the government. Hence, the proposal to keep pension benefit payments outside the purview of the treasury. This calculation was based on the figure work done by the Department of Higher Education and the Director, Public Instruction (Colleges). Therefore, when it desires that the pension scheme should be made “self-sufficent” it seemingly means giving some elbow-room to the college managements to arrange funds from other sources, say donations.

Sources informed TNS that the PCCTU had rejected such an arrangement of payment way back in January, 1991, when the government wanted to introduce the pension scheme. Moreover, what is being proposed today is contrary to the 34-page notification on the scheme issued on December 18, 1996. The issue is back to square one. Hence, the present row over the issue. A civil writ petition by some retired teachers from Hoshiarpur is also before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The latest meeting between the PCCTU and the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, on November 12 had failed to make a breakthrough with the former threatening to intensify its agitation. The teachers and non-teaching staff are in no mood to be at the mercy of the managements.

The issue of granting pension to government-aided colleges has been hanging fire since April 1, 1991, the date from which the pension and gratuity scheme was to become effective. Later, however, teachers agreed to its implementation from April 26, 1999.

And despite the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service of Employees) Amendment Act, 1999, the issue has remained unresolved. The Bill itself was moved by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in the House on March 30, 1999.

The scheme has been approved thrice by the Council of Ministers—in January, 1996, April, 1998 and, October, 2001. It is fine-tuning and working out of modalities that impede its implementation.

In fact, the Act provides for “punishment” to those found guilty of non-compliance with any provision of the Act. The punishment includes imprisonment and fine.

Even as this issue remains unresolved, the Private Colleges Non-Teaching Employees Union general secretary, Mr Raj Kumar Singla, told TNS today that the backbone of the private, government-aided colleges, the non-teaching employees, had been left high and dry. This category included the office, laboratory and library staff, safai karamcharis, peons, gardeners and guards.

The ratio of the teaching and non-teaching staff is 35:25, whereas the ratio of the total expenditure is about 100:25. “We have been given step-motherly treatment”.

The main demands of the union include payment of the arrears of revision of scales (January 1, 1996, to March, 1999) in one instalment rather than staggering the same over six; implementation of the Anomaly Committee report; sanction of house rent allowance to employees of rural colleges, as per the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission; sanction of pension and gratuity on a par with government employees; and payment of minimum wages to the “uncovered” non-teaching employees.


 

Bibi fires salvo against Talwandi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
Describing the ‘unsavoury remarks’ of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President SGPC, against Jathedar Akal Takht, as ‘most unfortunate and irresponsible’, Bibi Jagir Kaur, today said he (Mr Talwandi) should desist from making such utterances, aimed at denigrating the institution of Takhts.

Talking to TNS, here today, Bibi Jagir Kaur said if the SGPC chief who is considered as ‘pope of Sikhs’ would speak against the age-old institutions of the Sikhs what could be expected from a common man. She alleged that some agencies had already been active to erode the 'Sikh maryada' and hence it was the duty of SGPC, to give a befitting reply to such forces. She said giving time to Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, to address Sikh sangat on the occasion of ‘bandi chhod divas; (Divali) was against the Sikh traditions. She said it was perhaps for the first time that Head Granthi of the Golden Temple was allowed to address Sikh sangat on Divali.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said it was not a matter of concern but ‘shame’ that Mr Talwandi had described the ‘message’ of Jathedar Vedanti delivered on Divali as a ‘bundle of lies’. She said it was an attempt to insult the Jathedar and denigration of Akal Takht.

Firing yet another salvo, Bibi Jagir Kaur said the claim of Mr Talwandi that Jathedar alone could issue ‘hukamnama’ had shown that he (Mr Talwandi) was totally ignorant about the institution of ‘panch pardhani’. She said the gurus had established great institution like ‘panch pradhani’ (the meetings of five Sikh High Priests) and hence it could not be violated. She said Mr Talwandi should refrain from issuing such irresponsible statements. She urged the SGPC chief to help uphold the Sikh maryada.

Meanwhile, sources close to Akal Takht said the Sikh clergy would take up the matter at its forthcoming meeting scheduled for November 16. Akal Takht secretariat had procured the video cassette of the function where Mr Talwandi uttered unsavoury words.

Mr Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesman for Dal Khalsa in a press release took a serious view of the objectionable wording of Mr Talwandi against Jathedar Vedanti, he said it was the need of the hour to bring Akal Takht from the control of the SGPC. He favoured the establishment of widely a represetative religio political body for the appointment and removal of the jathedar.


 
POLITICS

Badal kin’s switchover: focus on ex-Speaker’s role
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), November 16
Even as new political alignments in the native village of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, have emerged with his three cousins — Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal — joining the Congress at Chandigarh yesterday, the question whether the former Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, played any role in this switchover is being hotly debated in the political circles?

The political observers, are taking yesterday’s happening as an answer to the Congress leadership to Mr Badal’s move in which he has succeeded in roping in his close kin, Mr Lalli Badal and Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon to the Akali’s fold last month. The political observers suspect that the former Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, might have played a role in this switchover. They felt that when Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal had failed to join at the Congress’ Malout rally held on September 11 through Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar then why had he joined the party at Chandigarh yesterday in the presence of the PPCC chief, Mr Amarinder Singh and other leader.

The political observers have been stressing upon the fact that Mr Ravi Inder Singh was having close association with Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal. Mr Hardeep Inder Singh and Mr Sarbjit Singh on one hand and on the other hand he was also having cordial relations with Mr Amarinder Singh.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, when contacted denied having played any role in Mr Badal’s cousins joining the Congress. He said he was disappointed over this development as he was urging Mr Mahesh Inder Singh to contest the next assembly elections from the Lambi segment as an independent candidate with the support of various other parties including the Panthic Morcha. He said that now the Panthic Morcha would field its candidate against Mr Mahesh Inder Singh in the Lambi assembly segment. He claimed that now a section of the Akalis, who would have voted in favour of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh had he not joined the Congress, would vote against him.


 
COMMUNITY
 

Manch seeks Rs 100 cr for development
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
The Amritsar Vikas Manch has urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to sanction Rs 100 crore for the overall development of the city on the pattern of Anandpur Sahib.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, senior vice president of the manch, urged the Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to come out with ambitious plans for the overall development of the city. They demanded the beautification of the area as was done by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his regime.

The two leaders demanded some funds for expediting the remaining phase-IV and phase-V works of the Galliara scheme.


 

No ‘path’ at tombs, says Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 16
Akal Takht today took serious note of the performing of ‘path’ at tombs etc.

A directive issued by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, here today said the installation of idols and their worship, rubbing of foreheads and noses on walls and raised places etc. were against ‘Sikh maryada’ Jathedar Vedanti said such actions by the Sikhs could not be tolerated.

Akal Takht had to take this step following complaints received by its secretariat. It may be mentioned here that leaders of various political parties, by its secretariat. It may be mentioned here that leaders of various political parties, including from the ruling Akali Dal, were found visiting such places in the past. So much so, leaders of rival Akali factions had sought action against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, for visiting ‘controversial places’ in the past.


 

Vishvakarma Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 16
A large number of Dhiman community members of this subdivision celebrated Vishvakarma Day with great enthusiasm at Ramlila ground, here today.

On this occasion, leaders of the community thanked Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister of Punjab, for the development work done in the subdivision in the past about four years.

Besides honouring the minister with the Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh Memorial Award, the community also honoured Mr Parmod Sharma, vice-president of Rana Group of Industries, with Shri Vishvakarma Udyog Rattan Award for his outstanding contribution to industry in the area.

Earlier the minister appealed the residents to spread the message of brotherhood and to follow teachings of Vishvakarma. He also announced a grant of Rs 51,000 for the Vishvakarma Committee, Dera Bassi. Mr Narinder Dhiman, chairman of the Vishvakarma Committee, Dera Bassi, Mr Bhupinder Saini, chairman of All Rotract Clubs, Mr Jaspal Singh, a former sarpanch of Zirakpur, and Mr Narinder Sharma, a former sarpanch of Lohgarh villages, were present on the occasion.

A cultural programme was presented by Punjabi folk singer Surinder Chhinda, Tania Gill and Shivani.


 

House sparrows face extinction
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 16
The small constantly chirping house sparrows (passer domesticus) were so common that nobody noticed the steady decline in their population until now when they are hardly spotted in the state. Ornithologists in the state have raised the alarm over rapid decrease in the population of the house sparrows, which a decade ago were the most common birds found around the human habitations.

The house sparrows have a body length of just about 15 cm. The male sparrows have streaked brown plumage with pale cheeks, a grey crown and black bib. The females are paler and without a patterned head. They are typically found near the human habitations, including city centre, parks, gardens and fields etc. They remain in small groups and feed mainly on seeds, but also eat vegetables and insects.

Sources said a rapid decrease in the natural habitat of the bird was considered as one of the major reasons for the decrease in its population. These birds, which generally live near the human habitations used to make their untidy nests of grass and straw inside the holes in “kutcha” buildings. However, due to rapid urbanisation and new methods of concrete construction, hardly any space had been left for these birds to build nests and lay eggs. There had also been an increased trend in the rural areas of the state to construct concrete houses, which have deprived these birds of their natural habitat even there.

Some also blame the increased use of pesticides for fall in the population of the Passer domesticus. These birds generally feed on the grains, which are increasingly being preserved against pests by using of chemical pesticides. These pesticides might be having a detrimental effect on the health or the reproduction capacity of the birds feeding on them. A large number of birds can be seen feeding near the food stores, where generally pesticides are used for preservation. These pesticides might be adversely affecting the health or other characteristics of the birds.

Ornithologists and environmentalists have now demanded that the government should take some concrete measures to stem the rapid decrease in the avian population in the state. After the near extinction of vulture, it was Passer domesticus, which has fast becoming extinct. This was the indication of the deterioration of the environment in the state. The government should conduct the census of the population of birds whose population was decreasing and take steps to save them to avert an ecological catastrophe, they demanded.

The Deputy Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, when asked about the status of Passer domesticus said he had received information from ornithologists about the absence of the bird from some areas. However, since it was not categorised as a threatened species as yet, no census had been conducted to check its population. He said he had advised people to help the birds by keeping seeds on their rooftops and not resisting their nests in their homes or vicinity.


 

Help which came too late
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
Tara Singh, a resident of Kot Kapura in Faridkot district, who died here late last night at the local Civil Hospital, was cremated by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva today.

Tara Singh was usually seen begging in the lanes of the city, despite the fact that he owned a house and his son had a job. Hospital sources said volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva got him admitted to the hospital for the treatment of a neck injury a few days ago.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Jan Seva said Tara Singh had a life full of misery and was forced to beg. The members of his family did not cared for him. Tara Singh, received the neck injury a few day ago after he fell on one of the busy roads of the city.

Mr Goyal said as Tara Singh wanted to go to his house, he was taken to Kot Kapura by the volunteers of the organisation. But luck did not favour him and his son refused to see his ailing father. He was then brought back by the volunteers and admitted to the hospital where he died last night.


 

Sangrur IMA bags 6 state awards
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
The local branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has bagged six states awards of the Punjab IMA this year. The awards will be presented at the 56th annual conference of the Punjab IMA, to be held at Sahnewal in Ludhiana district on November 18.

A spokesman of the local branch said the branch had been selected for “best branch award”, “hundred per cent membership award” and “IMA president community project award”.

He said the branch had organised a state-level conference on “peace, health and development” on the eve of “Hiroshima Day” this year and a number of seminars and conferences for doctors and the public, besides strengthening the network of the IMA.

The secretary of the local branch of the IMA, Dr Surinder Singla, had been selected for “lifetime achievement award” in the category of “IMA president’s appreciation award” for all-round best IMA member.

Dr Singla has also been selected for the “best secretary of a branch award” by the Punjab IMA.

The president of the Sangrur branch, Dr Nirpal Singh, has been selected in the category of “best president award” along with three other presidents of different branches of the Punjab IMA.


 

Villagers observe Black Divali
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 16
Residents of Tarkhan Majra village in the district observed Black Divali due to the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in the village on the night of September 28. Not even a single candle was lit in the village nor any cracker was busted. The people offered prayer at the gurdwara.

Villagers said that they had taken this decision unanimously and even the children cooperated with them. They were disturbed and annoyed over the false implication of the four villages in the sacrilege case.


 

Show-cause notice to cinema owner
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 16
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, has issued a show-cause notice to Jagmohan Theatres, a cinema house of Kurali. Mr Grewal told newspersons that a lot of complaints were received regarding the sale of tickets at higher rates and other discrepancies in the cinema house.

He said an inquiry was conducted into the matter by the ADC (General), Mr Krishan Kumar. Many discrepancies were found in the working of the cinema house to which the notice had been issued to the owners, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner, however, said the owners had been asked to give reply within seven days and if they failed to satisfy the administration regarding the charges, their licence would be cancelled.


 

Make Amritsar main tourist centre: Sharifpura
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Amritsar should be made a dynamic tourist destination and a multifaceted development council should be set up for this, Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, president of the urban unit of the SHSAD, said.

He suggested this to the Akali government on the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister and sought a budget of Rs 100 crore for the purpose on the pattern of significant projects formulated for Anandpur Sahib during the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa last year.


 

Relief sought for journalists
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 16
Members of the Press Council of India and the Chairman of the Small & Medium Newspaper Committee of Indian Newspapers Society, Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, today demanded that the Central and State governments should announce relief and rehabilitation measures for journalists who had laid down their lives while protecting the independence of the media on the occasion of National Press Day.

He stated that the contributions of media professionals who had exhibited special courage should be highlighted to bring forth exceptional examples and role models for the next generation of journalists.


 

KBC money helps set up stitching centres
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 16
With Rs 25 lakh, won by film actress Preity Zinta, a couple of days ago in the Divali special episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, the local Umeed Khanna Foundation has announced the setting up of 72 stitching centres in the district from December 15.

Giving this information here today, Mr Rocky Gill, coordinator of the foundation, said these centres would be set up for a period of six months in the villages.

Preity Zinta has donated his prize money, Rs 25 lakh, to the foundation for charitable and social works.


 

Labourer’s sons gain eyesight
Our Correspondent

Moga, November 16
All five sons of a labourer of Raunta village, under the Baghapurana police station in the district, have gained eyesight, thanks to the local Seva Bharti.

The vice-president of the Seva Bharti, Mr Visva Mitter Dada, said here today that labourer’s sons, who were blind by birth, were transplanted eyes donated by local residents. The Seva Bharti had transplanted eyes into 151 blind persons in the district during the current year, he added.


 

Teenager run over by train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
A 13-year-old girl, Aruna, died here last night after she was run over by a train. The volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa took the body of the deceased to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examinations.

The body was handed over by the Railway police to her father, Hardev, but he expressed his inability to cremate it. She was later cremated by the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa. In another incident, Kirpal Singh of Kot Bhagh village allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a train near Kot Fattu railway station. He was reportedly under mental stress for the past sometime, hospital sources said.


 
AGRICULTURE
 

Glut of sugar in godowns: Kaunta
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 16
“The minimum support price of sugarcane should not be increased recklessly as it will have a disastrous affect on the sugar industry. Sugar stocks worth Rs 220 crore are lying in godowns, leading to a glut.”

This was stated by the Chairman of Punjab Sugarfed, Mr Pritam Singh Kaunta, while speaking at a seminar on the “Impact of WTO on Agriculture and Agro-based Industries in Punjab” here today. He said the more than 40 per cent gap between the statutory minimum price and state-advised price had led the cooperative sugar mills to pay an extra amount of Rs 500 crore to the farmers in the past five years. He further revealed that sugar mills were directly connected to more than two lakh families.

Mr Jagjit Puri, Managing Director of Sugarfed, said Sugarfed had decided to tie up with oil giants, including Indian Oil and Hindustan Petroleum, to set up joint ventures for the production and distribution of gasolene. He said since Punjab was a land-locked state, the Central Government should bear the transportation cost as export subsidy so that it could compete with coastal states.

Speaking on “Global Competitiveness and Strategic Implications for Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries of Punjab,” the Executive Director of CITA, Mr Vijay Sardana, opined that export subsidies, including hidden subsidies, given by some developing countries should be eliminated..


 

BKU (E): waive loans of farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
Mr Resham Singh, general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Maur block, while addressing a gathering here yesterday said that the state government was “anti-farmers “and” “pro-traders”. Farmers belonging to this cotton belt had been ruined due to devastation of their crops by the American bollworm and other calamities, but the government was not doing anything for their welfare, he said.

The Maur unit of the BKU (E) is holding rallies at several villages of the district to stop farmers from committing suicide because of debts and a continuous loss of crops. Mr Resham Singh in a press note issued here today said that members of the BKU(E) were holding ‘vehra meetings’ with the farmers and their families to tell them that suicide was no solution to any of their problems.

He said the ruling party should waive the loans of farmers whose sole means of earning was agriculture.


 

CM ‘ignores’ charge of procurement fraud
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 16
Expressing concern over corruption and various malpractices and irregularities allegedly committed by staff of paddy and wheat procurement agencies in Barnala, Mr Ved Parkash Singh Tallewalia, president, Kacha Arhtiya Association, Barnala, has urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, to unearth and expose the “clique” responsible for indulging in large-scale corruption in which multi-million rupees have exchanged hands.

In his letter dated November 5, written to the Chief Minister, he regretted that he had written seven letters to the Chief Minister, drawing his attention towards the matter, but all his letters went unheeded.

Mr Tallewalia claimed that on October 10 his stand stood vindicated as Sukhpal Sharma, Manager, Markfed, Barnala branch, was apprehended red handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000 and another Rs 50,000 was seized from his possession by the Vigilance Department in a raid.

He said the delay in the payment of paddy purchased by government agencies was paving the way for resentment.


 
ADMINISTRATION
 

DAC plan likely to be shelved
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 16
The plan for the construction of the district administrative complex (DAC) here is likely to be shelved. The site for the complex which was approved by the Chief Minister and got vacated with the help of Minister for Animal Husbandry has been re-occupied by the district Animal Husbandry Department. Earlier, the department vacated the land on the promise that it would be given an alternative site with in six months.

Official sources said PUDA was the nodal agency to construct the district administrative complex. It reached an understanding with the office of the Deputy Director, District Animal Husbandry Department which was to vacate its premises for the construction of the complex. In return PUDA was to transfer five acres of land in favour of the department and cash for the construction of the office . So far PUDA has done nothing and the Animal Husbandry Department has re-occupied the land leaving the scheme in the lurch.

The sources said no interest to construct the complex by the was being from by the office of the Chief Minister or the district administration.


 

Candidates in quandary over test timings
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 16
A goof-up by Patiala Central Cooperative Bank Limited has put several candidates in a quandary as they have been asked to take two different tests on the same day at the same time.

Harvinder Singh, who had applied for the posts of data entry operator and stenographer, has been asked to appear for both tests at 2 p.m. on November 18. He said more than 20 other candidates, who had applied for more than one post, had also received similar ‘admit cards’ for the tests.

He said that he had contacted the authorities concerned in regard but the confusion still prevails. He said, “Bank officials informed me that only the Managing Director of the bank could do anything in regard, but I could not contact him despite my best efforts.”


 
CRIME

Couple hurt as miscreants open fire
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Some miscreants allegedly opened fire at Surjit Singh and his wife, Surinder Kaur, residents of the Ganga building locality here at their home, late last evening. The couple sustained injuries.

Surjit Singh alleged that the accused who came for robbery fled from the spot in a car which was without number plates. A case has been registered under Section 307 and 34, IPC.

Meanwhile, the police booked Ravinder Kumar, Harnam Singh, Balwinder Singh, Dharminder Singh, Vijay Kumar, Gurmeet Singh, all residents of Verka, for gambling. A sum of Rs 2520 was seized from them. A case has been registered under sections 13/2 and 67 of the Gambling Act.


 
EDUCATION

Trust honours fifty teachers, 44 students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
The Teachers Home Management, Welfare and Education Trust honoured 50 teachers and 44 meritorious wards of teachers, who had excelled in examinations conducted by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) here today.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, Chairman of the trust, while speaking on the occasion said commercialisation of higher education had made it out of the reach of the common man. The facilities at the state-run institutes were nowhere in comparison with that of the privately-managed institutes. While the primary education was suffering the worst due to the lack of funds the secondary and university education was out of the reach of many. The technical education had been fully commercialised, he regretted. Mr Kaushal, while highlighting the role of the teachers in the moral development of the society said the trust had launched a monthly magazine, devoted exclusively to education, for the first time in Punjab. He said the magazine, “Saahi Buniyaad” had been approved by the Director, Public Instruction (S), for the libraries of the educational institutes in the state.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Law Minister, Punjab, highlighted the role of education in overall development of personality. No democracy could progress and survive when a large part of the population was illiterate, he said. He also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the trust.

Mrs Gurcharan Kaur, Rajya Sabha MP, in her address said education was a must for the empowerment of the downtrodden and underprivileged. She also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the development of the trust.

Later Mr Garg and Mr Kaushal laid the foundation stone of a hall, to be built in the memory of Shaheed Karnail Singh, at the Teachers Home. Fifty retired teachers with distinguished service and 44 wards of teaching personnel were honoured. The students, all from this district, has excelled in the board examinations conducted by the PSEB for classes V, VII, X and XII this year.


 
BUSINESS

Market Committee complex opened
Our correspondent

Phagwara, November 16
The Union Minister for Fertilisers and Chemicals, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has indicated that there was no possibility of the intervention of the Central BJP leadership in the Akali unity issue. Mr Dhindsa, who inaugurated the Market Committee administration complex at the grain market here today, told reporters that SAD would not have alliance with any Congress-supporting party.

The Union Minister dubbed the Congress as the enemy of Punjab. He hailed the “sangat darshan” programme of the SAD government, stating that these had given a boost to the development and to the redress of grievances of the people.

Mr Dhindsa assured that freedom of press would be maintained under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO).

Mr Dhindsa said the long-pending issues of Chandigarh and Punjab areas and sharing of water would be settled with the cooperation of the people. Replying to a question, he said in the case of overdrawing of subsidy of Rs 769 crore, a CBI inquiry was going on and notices had been served on the accused. He denied that the subsidy on fertilisers would be abolished in the near future.


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