Thursday, November 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sonia okays poll front
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21
The Congress high command has approved the proposal of the Punjab unit of the party to form a front of secular, democratic and progressive forces to defeat the alleged communal SAD-BJP alliance in the coming state Assembly elections.

Informed sources said that the issue came up yesterday at a meeting of the Coordination Committee of the party formed to draw up the poll strategy.

The main allies of the Congress in Punjab are likely to be the CPI and the CPM. The number of seats to be offered to these parties has not yet been decided. The party high command wanted that only those constituencies should be allotted to the Left parties which they could win. The number is likely to be far below their expectations.

The party high command is relieved that there was no bad blood between the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar at yesterday’s meeting. In fact, according to the sources, both talked to each other in a decent manner and gave suggestions.

The meeting was held in a peaceful atmosphere. At earlier meetings heated exchanges had taken place, it is learnt.

The party high command has told all concerned, including senior leaders, not to issue any statement to the media regarding the party’s internal matters. If anyone has any grievance or complaint, he or she should raise it at the party platform.

A recent war of statements between supporters of Mr Brar and Capt Amarinder Singh appears to have forced the party high command to issue such instructions. The disciplinary committee set up by the PPCC has been told to take action against those harming the party.

The Coordination Committee also approved the draft of the poll manifesto. It has now been sent to the apex committee headed by Dr Manmohan Singh for clearance.

Sources said that the party would make Punjab’s shattered economy its main poll plank. It would announce concrete policy programmes to take the state forward on the economic front. Besides, the thrust would be on improving service sectors like health and education. The Congress would also announce a sectors special programme to improve the lot of the poor sections.

As the Congress is trying to form a front with the Left parties, it will have to prepare a manifesto acceptable to them also. The Left parties have reservations on the WTO and other issues.


Bathinda oil refinery to go on stream
by December, 2005
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21
A prestigious project of the Badal government, the Bathinda oil refinery will go on stream as scheduled in December, 2005.

This was announced here today at a press conference by Mr H. L. Zutshi, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL). Christened as Guru Gobind Singh Refineries Ltd (GGSRL), a subsidiary of the mammoth public sector Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), it will be a nine million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) state-of-the-art refinery at Phulokhari in Bathinda district of Punjab. It would cost Rs 9806 crore.

According to Mr Zutshi, the refinery has been configured to meet product specifications of stringent Euro-IV norms. The crude oil will be shipped from Mundra on the Gujarat coast to the refinery site at Bathinda through a 1011 km long pipeline. The products from the refinery will be moved out through three modes viz pipeline (line proposed from Bathinda to Udhampur), by road through trucks and by rail.

All statutory approvals including environment clearances from various state pollution control boards and Ministry of Environment and Forest have been obtained for initiating the project activities.

Work at the refinery site and on various other infrastructure facilities have commenced in June 2001. An 18-km-long approach road has been constructed and completed between Bathinda-Dhabwali road (NH-64) to the refinery site. This was constructed under the supervision of the Punjab PWD at a cost of Rs 23.5 crore on a 50:50 cost sharing basis between GGSRL and the Govt of Punjab (GOP). A 12 km long water canal has also been laid to the refinery site at a cost of Rs 7.3 crore. The PSEB is in the process of installing hardware for providing the required construction power at site.

At the refinery site, 1600 acres of operational area is being levelled and graded and roads are being constructed for which 1000 nos. workmen have been mobilised. Orders are being placed within the next two months for construction power and water distribution systems, constructions of tankages and buildings. Tenders are being finalised for providing Fire Fighting Facilities, Effluent Treatment Facilities, Product Despatch Facilities and covering 350 acres of land with green belt. A total of Rs 300 crore is being spent on the above facilities.

For the Crude Oil Pipeline, Engineers India Limited (EIL) have been appointed as the Project Management Consultant for the construction of Single Point Mooring (SPM), Crude oil terminal at Mundra (Gujarat coast) and cross country Crude Oil Pipeline.

Competent authorities for acquiring Right Of Use (ROU) in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana have been appointed. The design and preparation of various tenders are in advanced stage.

The project is being financed through a debt: equity ratio of !:5:1. HPCL is committed for an equity contribution of Rs 2,000 crores. GGSRL has obtained permission from SEBI to tap capital market in a phased manner for raising equity. For financing the expenditure upto the year 2003, GGSRL proposes to issue shortly Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures (OFCD) of Rs 900 crore and an equity of Rs 100 crore. HPCL shall be guaranteeing payment of interest and principal amount to debenture holders investing in the OFCD. Necessary ground work in terms of finalisation of Book Running Lead Managers, Co Runners, Trustees, Registrars have been completed. The two foremost credit agencies viz. CRISIL and ICRA have awarded a AAA rating for the proposed public issue, which is the highest rating awarded by ICRA for such instruments. The debt portion will be raised through FI’s, banks and Export Credit Agencies.

With the coming up of the refinery, a spate of ancillary industries need to come up and the prospects for Entrepreneurial growth are tremendous. Job opportunities not only in the GGSRL refinery but more so with Contractors involved in refinery operations and maintenance and various ancillary industries will be created. In a recent study for an automobile project conducted by National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), employment multiplier was estimated at 1:6 and investment multiplier at 1:2:5.

In order that the benefits of such a big industry coming up in Punjab are reaped by the people of Punjab the requisite skills in the ITI’s and the Polytechnics need to be upgraded. To ensure this, GGSRL has prepared a detailed syllabus for a refinery engineering course and submitted to the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) for modifications required to Syllabi for existing skills and submitted to DTE. In addition, a program on awareness of the Refinery working was made to senior officials of DTE and class room training was imparted to instructors of ITI’s. An on-site awareness programme at existing HPCL Refineries is also being arranged for the ITI instructors.

Three link roads from the various towns and villages around the refinery are being widened and strengthened in addition to the new road already constructed. A state-of-the art hospital and a school had been planned in the refinery township area which will be available for use by the public at large.


Guidelines for safety of US Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 21
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the USA has issued fresh guidelines to employees of aircraft operators and other security personnel who conduct the screening of passengers following reports of harassment of Sikhs and other Asians at airports after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The latest instructions issued by the FAA on November 16 were received by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities yesterday.

Mr Tarlochan Singh and many other Sikh organisations based in the USA had raised a voice against the humiliation of the Sikhs at the airports in the United States and the hate campaign against them. Mr Tarlochan Singh had also written to the US Ambassador in India in this connection urging the US Administration to stop the harassment of the Sikhs in the USA.

The FAA has observed: “In the aftermath of the September 11 tragedies, concerns have been raised about intimidation and harassment directed at individuals who are, or are perceived to be of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent or Muslims. Specifically, there appears to have been a rash of improper and insensitive search and improper treatment of Sikh and Arab Americans by airport and air carrier security personnel. Exercising our role under the US law to protect the constitution and civil rights of our citizens, it is illegal under the federal law for any air carrier or its employees to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, origin, religion, sex and ancestry”.

Referring to complaints of Sikhs having been asked to remove their turbans after passing through the metal detector test, the guidelines maintain: “Sikhs view their turbans as an important connection to God. Accordingly, the removal of a turban is considered one of the most invasive acts imaginable. A Sikh turban is not like a hat. Asking a Sikh to remove his turban for inspection must be discontinued. Regarding carrying of “kirpan” by the Sikhs, the guidelines say that if a Sikh is detected carrying a ceremonial sword through a screening check-point and is respectfully told by the security personnel that the FAA requirements forbid all persons from carrying any knife of other sharp object into an aircraft, then the action taken is proper.


Seat sharing: Kanshi wants lion’s share
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 21
If an electoral alliance with the Panthic Morcha was formed in Punjab, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest nearly 100 seats while it will allot only 15 to 20 seats to the Panthic Morcha. If the Morcha rejects this offer of the BSP, then it will contest all 117 Assembly seats on its own”, Mr Kanshi Ram, the BSP supremo, told mediapersons after addressing a rally at Sunam about 15 km from here, this afternoon.

Mr Kanshi Ram said the BSP had its agenda to form government in Punjab, so it would have to contest at least 100 seats to win 60 seats on the election symbol of elephant.

When asked about the projection of Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a former Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, as BSP candidate for the Chief Ministership, Mr Kanshi Ram said he had selected Mr Ravi Inder Singh to run the government as he had no candidate in the Punjab BSP for this post.

Mr Kanshi Ram said the BSP had completed the ground work on all 117 seats to face the ensuing Assembly elections.

The BSP supremo also claimed that his party was more Panthic than other Panthic parties because the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh” created “Khalsa” for bringing equality in society and uplifting the downtrodden. He said the BSP was working for the upliftment of the down-trodden, so it was also a Panthic party.

Earlier addressing the rally, Mr Kanshi Ram called upon the Dalits to unite to form the BSP government. He said there were 36 per cent Scheduled Castes in Punjab while another 15 per cent down-trodden could also side with the BSP. Thus, the BSP would have a base of 50 per cent votes.

He asked the Dalits not to run after money during elections to “sell their votes to rich candidates. He asked them to work for gathering votes for the BSP.

The BSP supremo also stated that the BSP would organise conferences in all 13 parliamentary constituencies in Punjab. The first such conference was being organised by the BSP at Malerkotla on November 26.


Discrepancies in voters’ lists alleged
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 21
Former Punjab Minister and Congress leader, Mr Raman Bhalla, today alleged that there were large-scale discrepancies in the electoral rolls and sought a strict action against the officials who were fiddling with the voters’ lists at the behest of the SAD-BJP government.

He alleged that a large number of eligible voters belonging to a minority community in the Pathankot Assembly constituency had not been enlisted.

Mr Bhalla added that there were irregularities even in the preparation and distribution of the identify cards.

Meanwhile, Mr Brij Mohan Puri, member, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and former chairman of the local Improvement Trust, said the Electoral Registration Officer had given him a patient hearing and assured to take an appropriate action in the regard.

Ms Bhawna Garg, SDM-cum-Electoral Registration Officer, said here today that according to the orders of the Chief Election Commissioner the work of registration of new voters had already commenced from November 3.


Morcha to launch campaign on November 24
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 21
The Panthic Morcha will launch election campaign for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections from Mansa on November 24 by holding a conference here on that day. Senior leaders of the morcha, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A), Mr Ravi Inder Singh former speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Bhai Ranjit Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode former Jathedars of Akal Takht and Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha are likely to address the conference.

Mr Gursewak Singh Jawaharke district president of the SAD (A) today accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister of misusing positions to promote their kin.


Dalits to weigh Sonia against blood
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 21
The Dalits International Welfare Society (DIWS) Birmingham, UK, and its branch office at Nangal Maroof, Hoshiarpur, will weight Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Parliament, with blood of Dalit youths at a blood donation camp here on the eve of Christmas or New Year Day.

This was stated by Mr Bhagwan Dass Badhan, an NRI and president of the society, at a press conference here today. He said the future of India and the Dalits was safe only in the hands of the Congress. Anti-national forces and fundamentalists had become active and were posing threat to unity of the country, he added.

Mr Bardhan said though many Dalits were holding key posts not only in states but also at the Centre yet majority of them were still leading miserable life in the country. The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, exploited the sentiments of the Dalits and misled them.


Arrest killers of Dhuri boy: panel
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 21
More than 100 persons under the banner of the Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee today took out a protest march on scooters and a tempo from Dhuri to Sangrur.

They alleged that the district police had failed to nab the murderers of Ravi Kant, a teenaged boy from Dhuri, as it was hand in glove with them.

Ravi Kant was allegedly kidnapped from Dhuri on August 14 and his body was found in a canal near the Police Lines here the same day.

Three family members of the deceased Ravi Kant, including Mr Gopal Krishan Sharma, father of Ravi Kant, Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Sukhdev Sharma, president and secretary, respectively of the action committee were also present.

Later they sat on a dharna in the SDM’s office complex here as the police did not allow them to enter the district administrative complex. The local SDM, Mr Neelkanth Awhad, intervened in the situation and arranged their meeting with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, on the issue.

Mr Baldev Singh, convener of the action committee, said the Deputy Commissioner had assured them that he would talk to the Barnala SSP, who was holding an inquiry into the murder case.

He said the action committee had decided to gherao an office of the state or central government at Dhuri on December 6, in case the police did not arrest the culprits.

The dharna was addressed among others by Mr Achhra Singh, a former MLA from Dhuri, Mr Nardev Singh, secretary of the Punjab unit of the All-India People’s Resistance Forum, Mr Pawan Harchandpuri, an employees leader, Mr Baldev Singh and Mr Sukhdev Sharma, president and secretary, respectively of the action committee.


Witness claims to have acted as courier for Kandahar hijacker
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 21
An hotel waiter from Mumbai today claimed that he had met one of the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane which was hijacked in December, 1999, and even acted as a courier to get two of his accomplices to Mumbai from West Bengal.

Deposing as a witness in the hijacking case before the designated court here, the waiter said Latif had befriended him when he was working in Haider Hotel in Mumbai in 1999. He said Latif had requested him to fetch two of his accomplices from West Bengal as he was familiar with the Bengali language. The waiter claimed that he did not meet Latif or the other two persons again, one of whom was identified by him as Gopal Verma.

The CBI had earlier claimed in its charge sheet that Gopal Verma was an alias for Shakeel, who is one of the hijackers and had been declared a proclaimed offender. The next dates of hearing in the case are December 13, 14 and 15.

Earlier, Mahmood Zaffer, son of the owner of Nizami Guest House at Nizamuddin, New Delhi, appeared before the designated court as witness and identified one of the hijackers as Abdul Latif during cross examination.

Zaffer had also told the court during his cross examination that Latif stayed at their guest house twice, once in 1995 and again in 1999. Abdul Latif was identified, among other accused, as he was wearing a cap and blue-coloured clothes.

Two other witnesses, Mr Pawan Garg, who travelled in the hijacked airbus, and another, who witnessed the knife attack on Rupan Katyal and Satnam Singh by one of the hijackers, could not be cross-examined due to lack of time.


Choked sewers fray tempers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 21
An executive engineer of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board and president of the Municipal Council here on a visit to Sidhu Nagri and Thakur Abadi yesterday faced angry residents as sewage had collected in streets and on roads due to blockage in sewers since Saturday and authorities did not do anything to rectify it.

Residents reportedly grilled the President for failure to provide necessary relief to the ward which had elected him during the last civic elections. Residents said so far Rs 10 lakh had been spent on the Thakur Abadi road, which linked the level crossing with Azimgarh but problem of disposal of sewage persisted. Funds had been released by the Chief Minister for renovation in the locality but nothing was done. People doubt that funds might have been misutilised.

The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board released drinking water in selected areas for two hours after a gap of three days last evening but majority of the people could not get water. On the other hand pumping of sewage from Gaushala Road, where the junction line was blocked, continued today. Water was being drained through main holes in the Timber Market. This, however, meant no relief to residents of Arya Nagar ward which elected the Municipal President. Hundreds of students have to walk through stagnant water for going to educational institutions. Water entered shops and houses in adjoining areas also.

Situation in other localities, including Gobind Nagar, Nanak Nagar, Idgah Road, Patel Park continues to be grim where no efforts to remove overflowing sewage had so far shown any positive result. The PWSSB Chairman Mr Sat Pal Mahajan had announced certain schemes to improve sewerage but nothing was visible even after two years of the Chairman’s visit to this sub divisional town. Experts pointed out that the state government was responsible for the failure of the water disposal arrangements.


IMA Punjab Ratan for doctor
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 21
Dr R.C. Garg, a Barnala-based doctor as well as Honorary Secretary of the Punjab Indian Medical Association (IMA), has been honoured with the IMA Punjab Ratan Award for his remarkable services towards the cause of the IMA.

Dr Ketan Desai, President, Medical Council of India as well as national president of the IMA who was the chief guest of the annual conference of Punjab IMA, organised by the Punjab IMA at Doraha on November 18, conferred the award on Dr Garg.

Dr O.P.S. Kande, president, Punjab IMA, and Dr Santokh Singh of Amritsar are the other two doctors who too were honoured with this award which was recently instituted.


People deprived of benefits under Antyodaya Scheme
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 21
Due to a delay in the issuance of yellow cards and non-identification of families covered under the Antyodaya Scheme for urban population, these persons have been deprived of the benefits under the government scheme.

The issue was brought to the notice of the District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) by a deputation of Amritsar Consumers Welfare Forum here today.

The DFSC said it was the prerogative of the municipal corporation to supply them the list of the identified families and assured that as soon as the list was finalised, the monetary benefits under the scheme would be passed on to these families.

Mr Dev Raj, chairman of the forum, suggested that depot-holders should identify such families in the areas falling under their jurisdiction and get it cross-checked by the councillor concerned to reduce the delay.


Akhand path not allowed
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 21
The police today did not allow akhand path at Saidowal village near the town at the dera of Sant Baba Amrik Dass in the village.

The dera is situated adjacent to the village gurdwara. The dera and gurdwara have a common courtyard. Residents of the area pay obeisance at the dera there. The trouble arose when a village non-resident Indian Darbara Singh expressed desire to hold akhand path at the dera today. When it came to the notice of the Youth Wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) its workers and a few youths of the village went to the house of Nirmal Singh, sewadar of the dera and threatened him with dire consequences if akhand path at the dera against the directives of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was allowed. Nirmal Singh reported the incident to the police. The police and tehsildar reached the spot and persuaded Nirmal Singh and Mr Darbara Singh for not holding akhand path at the dera. DSP Chaman Lal confirmed the incident.


Punsup staff go on leave en masse
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 21
Punsup employees today went on casual leave en masse and held rallies before Punsup offices throughout the state in protest against the alleged indifferent attitude of the state government towards them.

Stating this, the general secretary of the Punsup Employees Union, Mr Girish Kumar Sharma, told newspersons here today that the agitation was launched in protest against the decision of the Punsup management to decrease the TA and DA.

Mr Sharma said the Board of Directors of Punsup had agreed to restore the earlier allowances on August 20 but the decision had not been implemented so far.

Mr Sharma urged the state government, particularly Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Food and Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal, to provide pension to Punsup employees on the state government pattern. He threatened to organise a protest rally and protest march on December 4 in Jagraon, the assembly constituency of Mr B.S. Molla, MLA and chairman, Punsup, if the employees’ demands were not accepted till then.


Punsup staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 21
Members of the district unit of the Punsup Employees Union Punjab, (PEUP), today held a protest rally on a call given by the state unit of the PEUP. The rally was held in front of the office of Punsup.

Mr Sucha Singh, general secretary of the union, in a press note said the employees were angry over the decision of the Punsup management over cutting of their house allowance and conveyance allowance etc.


Lance Naik Gurmeet Singh cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 21
The mortal remains of martyr Lance Naik Gurmeet Singh, who lost his life while fighting terrorism in were consigned to flames today at his native village Sampla. Earlier his body was brought from J&K by the jawans of Rashtariya Rifles.

Mr Gurmeet Singh, the only son of his parents was a recruit of 3, Rashtariya Rifles Regiment, J&K. On the fateful day of November 18, a convoy of the regiment was on its way to Srinagar when it was ambushed near Ramban by terrorists and Gurmeet Singh was killed.

As soon as the body reached the village, people from various walk of life came to pay last respect to the great son of the soil. The cremation was done with full State honour and SDM Bassi Pathana, on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner, Capt. Kesar Singh, District Sainik Bhilai Officer, R.S. Cheema, former minister, Dr. Harbans Lal MLA, Didar Singh Bhatti, Senior Akali leader and various prominent personalities attended the cremation.

The martyr is survived by his parents, wife and three minor children. The Deputy Commissioner assured that all the required benefits would be provided and the family would be well looked after. He also urged the social organisations to help the families of such martyrs.


Martyr cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 21
The mortal remains of Hav Hans Raj of 3 Rajputana Rifles, who died on November 18 in Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir while fighting against militancy, were consigned to the flames with full state honour at his native Kataru Chak village of the subdivision.

A large number of Army and civil officials paid floral tributes to the martyr.


Relief announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21
The Punjab Government has decided to provide ex gratia relief and also jobs to next of kin of persons who had been shot dead or critically injured by unidentified criminals in the state. A government spokesman said that dependants of those who had been killed or rendered permanently disabled by unidentified persons would be given Rs 1 lakh as ex gratia relief. The jobs to be offered would be Class III or Class IV. The decision would be implemented from January 1,1999.


Rally against pollution held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 21
A protest rally was held against the growing pollution in the city by the Pollution Control Committee here today.

Led by the president of the committee, Mr Muktar S. Mahal, the activists condemned the alleged irresponsible behaviour of the local Municipal Corporation and the government towards the problem. “The unchecked dumping of garbage has choked drains besides proning a breeding ground for epidemic-causing insects,” the committee said.


Farmers seek compensation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 21
Farmers of the state held dharna in front of the office of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and later the before Deputy Commissioner’s office under the banner of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) to press for the acceptance of demands of cotton growers of the region.

Thousands of farmers and activists of the BKU (E) gathered here today in support of the cotton growers alleged that they were motivated to sow cotton this season by the state, following problems of paddy procurement last year the state government publicised sowing cotton this year, but failed to supply sufficient good quality seed and stop the sale of spurious pesticides, they alleged.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, state General Secretary, BKU (E), alleged that the so called farmer-friendly policies of the state government were benefitting only big landlords. Land holdings had been dwindling and the government claimed that the farmers were in debt due to lavish lifestyle which was not true, he said.

District presidents of the BKU (E) including Bathinda, Patiala, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Sangrur, Amritsar, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ludhiana districts had come to attend the rally and the dharna. Districts leader of BKU (E), Janda Singh Jhethuke alleged that the activists who were arrested by the police after the Maiser Khana episode were forced to submit an affidavit stating that they would not be participating in the activities of the union, curbing their democratic rights, he demanded. He demanded a judicial probe into the beating up of innocent farmers at Maiser Khana village a few months back.

The BKU (E) leaders demanded that compensation of Rs 15,000 per acre should be given to the cotton growers who had suffered losses due to the use of spurious seed and pesticides sold in the market. After the attack of American bollworm which reduced the cotton output considerably, now the imported cotton has broken the back of the cotton growers. If the import of cotton was not stopped and the farmers suffered losses in cotton, next year the region would again see an increased area under paddy cultivation, they said.

In an important decision BKU (E) leaders demanded in a “demand letter” given to state government through the Deputy Commissioner that Rs 7,000 per acre be charged from the companies on account of compensation for the cotton growers. 


PSEB amends decision on tubewells
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 21
The Punjab State Electricity Board has reviewed and amended its previous decision regarding regularisation of temporary tubewell connections to farmers.

As per the new directive, only those consumers who had applied for a connection on or before July 31 and had received a temporary connection before August 31, shall be entitled to a regularised tubewell connection. It has been further decided to allow loading of existing distribution of transformers up to 100 per cent of their capacity instead of 80 per cent as per the existing special instructions.


Race for top BBMB finance post hots up
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 21
With the tenure of the current Financial Adviser to the BBMB, Mr Satish Loomba, coming to an end on November 30, the race for the top finance post in the organisation has gained momentum. Highly placed sources said the Union Ministry for Power had recommended to the BBMB two names —Mr P.S. Purthi from the Indian Revenue Services (IRS) who is presently posted as Commissioner, Central Excise and Taxation, Punjab, and Mr Jagbans Singh from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS) who has recently returned from a posting in Washington DC as Director of Indian accounts in North and South America — for the post.

Both officers are reportedly lobbying hard for the post. The Financial Adviser looks after the interstate finances of the BBMB, which are contributed by partner states and other electricity boards. He is also in charge of the treasury operations for the control of the cash balances of the BBMB held under the public ledger account (PLA) of the government of India.

The post of Financial Adviser in the BBMB has always been held by officers from the IAAS cadre since the inception of the organisation. In case Mr Purthi takes over he will be the first IRS officer to take charge of the post.

The tenure of the Financial Adviser in the BBMB is generally for three years and is extendable up to five years. Mr Loomba served in the BBMB for five-and-a-half years and is likely to take over as AG, Himachal Pradesh.


Engineers’ body opposes officer’s transfer
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 21
The PSEB Engineers’ Association, Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant region, has alleged malafide intention behind the transfer of the Additional Superintendent Engineer, Mr H.S. Hira.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Charanjit Singh, regional secretary of the association, alleged that the officer saved crores for the Board in the EPF scam that was unearthed here in the recent past.

Contractors are the principal employers of contract labour in the thermal plant and responsible for the deposit of the EPF of their workers. However, some vested interests tried to shift the liability of the missing, EPF amount to the PSEB. However, it was due to the efforts of Mr Hira, that now even the EPF Commissioner had given the verdict in favour of the PSEB in the case.

However, now Mr Hira was being transferred at the behest of the vested interests the engineers alleged.


Two killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 21
Two persons were killed and one was injured in separate incidents here last evening

Thura Ram of Alawalpur was killed and Mr Satnam Singh of Kotlachal was critically injured when a bus collided with their scooter at Batala. The driver of the bus reportedly fled from the spot.

In another incident, an unidentified cyclist was killed on the spot when it was hit by a scooter. Tilak Raj of Batala, who was driving the scooter, however, managed to escape.

Cases have been registered under Sections 304-A and 279 of the IPC at Batala Sadar police station and Majitha police station, respectively, in this regard.


PCCTU members to court arrest
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 21
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided that its executive members will court arrest at Chandigarh on December 3 against the failure of the state government to implement pension and gratuity scheme for employees of privately managed non-government affiliated colleges.

In a press conference here today, Mr K.B.S. Sodhi, president, and Mr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, general secretary of the PCCTU, alleged that though the ruling SAD-BJP combine had passed the amendment Bill pertaining to provision of pension and gratuity for employees of the privately managed non-government affiliated colleges two years ago, but it was never implemented causing resentment among more than 7000 employees of 142 such colleges.

They announced that members of the district councils for the union would hold protest rallies in front of the residence of the minister and MLAs of the ruling combine throughout the state from December 4 to December 10. Besides the teachers would not attend the classes to press for the acceptance of their demands.

“The SAD-BJP government is pursuing the policies of the IMF and the WTO to encourage participation of private educational institutions in higher education which is evident from the fact that the state government, had not released Rs 80 crore as salaries of employees for the past more than 10 months”, Mr Sodhi added.


Posts lying vacant in schools
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 21
Government Girls Senior Secondary School and Government Senior Secondary School here lack adequate staff. The posts of the Principal have also been lying vacant in the schools. As a result, teaching work has been badly affected.

In Government Girls Senior Secondary School, the post of the Principal has been lying vacant since the retirement of Ms Jagdish Kaur in 1997. The posts of lecturer in mathematics, physics, Hindi and Punjabi have not been filled the past many years. A few posts of teacher for the middle and high classes are also lying vacant.

Similarly, Government Senior Secondary School for boys does not have a Principal.

The posts of lecturer in Hindi, Political Science, English each and two posts of Punjabi lecturer have not been filled for the past many years.

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