Tuesday, November 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bhattal’s group not allowed to speak
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda), November 26
Even as Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that there was an absolute unity among the party while addressing a district-level rally here today, three former minister belonging to Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s group — Mr Surinder Kapoor, Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu and Mr Gulzar Singh — were given no opportunity to address the gathering.

Though three former minister were present in the rally for the first time to express complete unity in the party, only former PPCC chief, Mr Varinder Kataria and the DCC president, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, addressed the gathering before the main speaker, Mr Amarinder Singh.

Mr Amarinder Singh alleged that the Akalis when in power never tried to solve the outstanding issues relating to the river water share, transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab despite the fact that friends of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal were in power in Haryana, Rajasthan and at the centre.

He alleged that the Punjab Government failed to take action against the MLAs and ministers of the ruling alliance who had been booked in criminal cases including murders.

The Punjab Government had even failed to implement the recommendations of the Sardara Singh Johal’s Committee. Sardara Singh Johal, and eminent economist, had evolved certain measures to improve the agriculture and its profitability in 1985, he said.

The government had taken loans worth thousands of crores on the pretext of carrying out development but no development had been done in rural and urban areas of Punjab, he alleged.

Those who attended the rally included Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Mr Kewal Krishan, Aggarwal, Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, Mr Sewak Ram Bhola, Mr H.S. Jaurkian, Mr K.K. Sharma, Mr Inder Singh Sahni, Mr Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Mr Gurdev Singh Lalli, Mr Surinder Gupta and Mr Tinku Grover.

Mr Jassi while addressing the gathering said all false cases registered against Congress workers and other innocent people would be withdrawn. He added that the Congress, if voted to power, would also give relief to those farmers who had been getting inflated electricity bills.


Explain detentions, SHOs told
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
In gross violation of human rights, at least five persons, including a woman, were reportedly kept in unlawful custody by the Punjab Police recently. The “detainees” were rescued by the warrant officers, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, after raiding the police stations.

The fact came to light after the warrant officers in their reports to court stated that Bhajno and Jatinder Kumar of Mishopur village in Jalandhar district, besides Jagdish Kumar and two other residents of Gurdaspur district, had been unlawfully detained by the police.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Mr Justice M.L. Singhal of the High Court today asked the Station House Officers of Bilga and Rangar Nangal police stations in Jalandhar and Gurdaspur districts to show cause why they should not be dealt with for allegedly detaining the five persons unlawfully.

Issuing directions after going through the reports submitted by the officers in two different cases, Mr Justice Singhal also issued notice of motion to the SHOs for January 14. The Judge observed that the reports of the warrant officers prima facie showed that the persons had been detained unlawfully.

In a habeas corpus petition, Youth Congress (Rural) president Surinder Kumar had alleged that his mother, Bhajno, and another relative, Jitinder Kumar, were picked up by the police. He had added that the police was harassing the family after a first information report was lodged by them against certain accused having close links with an MLA. The accused had allegedly teased the petitioner’s sister while she was travelling on a three-wheeler.

The warrant officer, in his report, had subsequently confirmed that no entry had been made by the officials in the roznamcha regarding the involvement of Bhajno and the other detainee in any case registered against them.

In the other case, Kulwinder Kaur of Baddowal village had alleged that her husband, who had opposed the marriage of their daughter, Sukhwinder Kaur, with one Jagdish Kumar, had made a complaint to the police. The SHO and other police officers, acting on the complaint, had taken the groom and other acquaintances in custody and detained them unlawfully, the petitioner had alleged. The cases will now come up on January 14 next year. 


Punjab: 80% infants ‘hit by anaemia’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The second National Family Health Survey of India (1998-99) report reveals that in Punjab 80 per cent of the children in the age bracket 6-35 months are anaemic and even 41 per cent women suffer from some degree of anaemia. And “son preference” continues to have a very strong influence on women’s contraceptive use, especially on terminal methods.

Despite claims of the best health facilities, the nutritional status of children is low. At least 29 per cent of the children, under three years, are underweight. An equal percentage are stunted. The high rate of vaccination notwithstanding, 13 per cent of the girls compared to only 5 per cent of the boys did not receive the required vaccination.

The Punjab part of the survey report has been compiled by Ashwani Kumar Nanda and Rajesh Aggarwal of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development in collaboration with the International Institute for Population Sciences. The first similar survey was done in 1992-93.

The report provides a wide-ranging demographic and health database. The survey states that access to various amenities (electricity, toilet, drinking water, school enrolment, etc) has improved since 1993, when the first survey was done. But there remain grey areas which need to be improved. And the girls still lagged behind in going to school.

The survey shows a continuing decline in the fertility rate at which women will have an average of 2.2 children each throughout their childbearing years. This is slightly more than the goal of 2.1 children, per woman, required to achieve the replacement level of fertility.

In Punjab, illiterate, poor, Muslim and Scheduled Castes women have a much higher fertility rate than other women. Women also indicate a strong preference for sons. In fact, 86 per cent wanted at least one son, compared to 78 per cent who wanted at least one daughter. And almost one-third — 29 per cent — of the women wanted more sons than daughters. Just a negligible proportion wanted more daughters than sons.

Women who have one or more sons are consistently more likely to use contraception than women who have the same number of children but have only daughters. It was found that 85 per cent of the women with two sons and no daughters used some contraception against only 40 per cent of the women who had two daughters and no son.

When it came to the prescribed health indicators, it was seen that on the weight-for-height index 17 per cent of the women were undernourished. Though Punjab has generally a healthy population, the survey revealed certain morbidity patterns — 1 per cent each suffered from asthma, malaria and jaundice, 0.5 per cent from tuberculosis and 28 per cent of the women suffered from one or the other reproductive health problem, including abnormal vaginal discharge, urinary tract infection and pain or bleeding associated with intercourse. Surprisingly, 41 per cent of such women did not seek any medical advice or treatment.

It was found that 87 per cent of the mothers squeezed the first milk (colostrum) from the breasts before feeding the baby, thereby depriving it of natural immunity against diseases that colostrum provided. Only 36 per cent of the children were exclusively breast-fed. Only a small percentage (39) of the children received the recommended combination of breast milk and solid/mushy food.

It was also found that only 55 per cent of the women had heard of AIDS. Awareness about it was pretty low.

An interesting fact brought out in the report is the degree of autonomy and empowerment women enjoyed in the families. The topics covered were participation in household decision-making, freedom of movement and access to money they could spend as per their own wish. The survey showed that 97 per cent of the women decided on their own what to cook. More than 32 per cent were not involved in deciding about going to their parents or siblings and 25 per cent were not involved in the purchase of jewellery or other household items.

While 78 per cent of the women took decisions in respect of their own healthcare, 44 per cent of the working ones decided on their own how to spend their pay and 38 per cent took joint decisions with their husbands or someone else in the family.

Punjab’s demographic profile showed that 31 per cent of the state’s population was below 15 years and only 8 per cent was 65 or older. The survey found some difference in the sex ratio figures it had arrived at compared to the ones released by Census-2001. It observed that sex-selective abortion was not the only factor responsible for the low sex ratio of 0-6 in Punjab. The sex ratio of non-surviving children during the seven years preceding the survey (1992-98) showed that there were about 1.6 times as many girls as boys among such children. This suggested that excess female mortality was also an important factor contributing to the low under-seven sex ratio in Punjab.

Chewing paan masala or tobacco, consuming alcohol and smoking were common among men and women aged 15 and above. This was having a detrimental effect on their health. This problem, particularly chewing paan masala, was more common in villages. This practice was more pronounced in poor or middle class households. Nearly 28 per cent of the men above 15 years consumed liquor. Punjab and Goa are the highest drinkers of alcohol. Smoking is also widely prevalent.


Minister wants funds properly utilised
Warns absentee officials
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister for Medical Education cum Chairman, District Planning and Development Board, while presiding over a meeting of the board here today directed all the officers of the concerned departments to utilise the grants released by the District Planning and Development Board positively and to ensure the quality of the works. He also warned that strict action would be initiated against those officers, who would remain absent from the meetings of the board without prior approval from the Deputy Commissioner. He also directed to call the explanation of those who were absent today.

In the meeting, Mr Kalia took a serious note of the unnecessary delay in submitting the utilisation certificates of the grants by certain officers and warned that in future, if any official failed to submit the UCs in time the new grants would not be released to that department. In the meeting the grants amounting to Rs 1.90 crore released in the last meeting of the board were approved and another grant of Rs 20 lakh was released for public health schemes and medical facilities.

Giving more details of the development projects to be under taken by the District Planning & Development Board, Mr Kalia informed that during the current financial year, funds amounting to Rs 3.35 crore would be spent for the development and welfare scheme in the district, out of which grants amounting to Rs 1.90 crore had already been released till date. Mr Kalia informed that an amount of Rs 81.38 lakh would be spent for the implementation of welfare schemes for the Schedule Castes and Backward classes during this year, and so far Rs 56 lakh had been released to the departments concerned for this purpose. He said that under the new scheme of the government to provide plots measuring 5 marla each to the houseless families for construction of houses, Rs 26.54 lakh had been earmarked to purchase land in those villages where panchayat land was not available.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner asked the officers to ensure the quality of the projects and pay regular visits to the sites for this purpose. He also directed the officers to clear the remaining utilisation certificates at the earliest. He assured that beneficiaries under 5-marla plots scheme would be identified keeping in view the ground realities in each village and concerned SDMs would be fully responsible to ensure the genuineness of the beneficiaries.


Are officials coming in the way of development?
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
Ruling SAD (B) leaders have alleged that the development funds sanctioned by the CM during his sangat darshan programme held here recently are not being allowed to be utilised by Rural Development Department officials until the concerned panchayats “do not settle commission with them”.

While talking to The Tribune Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, a hot contender for the SAD (B) ticket from Sirhind, and Mr Rajeshpal Singh Lalli, senior SAD (B) leader, said that during their tour of the constituency the panchayats of various villages had complained that the officials of the department were creating problems on one pretext or the other. They quoted the sarpanch of Baras village, one of the biggest villages of the constituency having population from all sections of society and for which a grant of Rs 12 lakh was sanctioned by the CM, as having alleged that the BDPO, Khera, was demanding 20 per cent commission from him for getting the development work started. They said that the village sarpanch had started the development works in the village but the BDPO got the work suspended by sending the panchayat secretary to the spot. The sarpanch alleged that the BDPO had earlier been nabbed by the Vigilance Department twice. The sarpanch said that as he had refused to oblige the BDPO got the ongoing work suspended. The sarpanch said that the same position was prevailing in the other villages. He said that he had called a meeting of the sarpanches of the area to sort out this problem. He said that they were also planning to meet the higher authorities as well as the CM if the local Akali leadership failed to redress their grievances and control the menace of corruption.

Similarly, a sarpanch of another village, Mustafabad, in Bassi Pathanan block alleged that officials were demanding commission through panchayat secretaries. He said just to start the development works of construction of drains and streets in the village, he had conceded to their demand of commission. After subsequent approval from the DDPO, he started the work, and as half of the work was completed, officials started demanding commission.

Mr Bhatti and Mr Lalli said that this was not the problem of only these two villages. A majority of the village panchayats were facing similar problems.

The office of ADC (D), who is in charge of all development works in the district, had no comments to offer.

The superintendent of the office however, said Rs 4.29 crore were sanctioned during sangat darshan programme for development works in rural areas. He said that the office was not in a position to tell whether the works had started or not as it had not yet received any progress report from any BDPO. No panchayat had brought this problem to their notice. He said panchayats were independent to start the works at their own. Moreover, the office had also sent the administrative approval to all the BDPOs, and they had been asked to submit the utilisation certificates within three months.


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Apropos of the news item “Sutlej Waters Turn Toxic” appearing in these columns on November 11.

The National Fertilizers Limited Executive Director, Mr S. K. Mehta, said that the management had invested Rs 24 crore on pollution abatement to protect ecology and environment.

The note says: The effluents flowing out of the factory at Nangal have been tested a number of times by various labs in different locations. Besides the Punjab Pollution Control Board regularly monitored the effluents’ quality. The specimens showed that toxicity was within the prescribed limits. All effluents met the minimal national standards.

“The Nangal unit has planted over 1.50 lakh plants to create a green belt. Because of the care taken to ensure clean environment the unit has received ISO-9002 and ISO-14001 certification.”


Cong nominees’ list by Dec-end
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 26
To allot ticket to genuine party workers for the coming Assembly elections, the Congress high command will base its selection on the basis of reports of surveys conducted by four different agencies, including official and private, engaged by the AICC and the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC).

Stating this at a Press conference at Chak Fateh Singh Wala village, 25 km from here, PPCC president, Amarinder Singh today said two surveys, including an official one and another through a Maharashtra-based private agency had been conducted by the PPCC to shortlist candidates. The other two surveys had been conducted by the AICC. He said various factors were taken into consideration while conducting these surveys.

The PPCC president said applications from prospective candidates were being taken and these would be sent to the state election committee and later for scrutiny to the AICC. Final selection would be done by the central election committee. The process would be over by the end of December and candidates would get about 45 days for campaigning if the elections were held in mid February.

He said the PPCC had approached the Chief Election Commissioner on November 24 through a written representation in which the CEC had been urged to ask the Punjab Government to ban the transfer and postings of employees. 


Split in CPM imminent
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, November 26
The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is likely to split, unless the Central Committee intervenes and stops the two warring groups from holding parallel rallies. Both the factions of the Punjab CPM, one led by Prof Balwant Singh, Secretary, and the other led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, former secretary of the state unit, are now busy organising parallel rallies. The Balwant Singh faction is supported by CPM General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet while the Pasla faction holds Mr Surjeet responsible for the turmoil in the party.

Both the factions have held district and tehsil-level rallies and mobilised the workers and are claiming the support of the majority of the cadre. The two groups accuse each other of violating party discipline and have expelled certain members.

Mr Chander Shekhar, who has been removed from the post of general secretary of CITU, Punjab unit, and is siding with the Pasla faction, asserts that the fight has entered the final phase. “We will wait for sometime for the Central Committee to intervene,” he asserts. The Pasla faction, attributes the controversy to the 1996 decision of Mr Surjeet to put Mr Jyoti Basu as candidate for prime ministership of the country.

Mr Chander Shekhar alleged that Mr Surjeet had joined hands with the Congress and other fascist forces. “He is bent upon installing Mr Amarinder Singh as the Chief Minister of Punjab who is a feudal lord”, he said.

Mr Chander Shekhar said that they were planning to forge a third front comprising the Left parties and the Bahujan Samaj Party, but Mr Surjeet was against this plan and was working for a two-party system.

ROPAR: The factionalism in the CPM has spilled over to the grassroot level.

The Pasla faction which is led in Ropar district by Mr Tarlochan Singh Rana, district secretary, has held rallies at Kharar, Ropar and Nangal till November 18.

The other faction, owing alliance to Mr Balwant Singh has also held a parallel rally at Nangal.

The division in the party will have an adverse effect on its poll prospects in the forthcoming Assembly elections. In this district, the party has already announced the candidature of Mr Mohinder Pal Gautam from the Nangal Assembly constituency.


Work hard to form govt, Kanshi tells Dalits
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla November 26
The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, today gave a call to the Dalits to work hard for the formation of a government of the Bahujan Samaj by giving a crushing defeat to the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress during the ensuing assembly elections in Punjab.

He was addressing the public at a conference at the local sports stadium.

Mr Kanshi Ram sought to boost the morale of the Muslim community in view of the dominance of the Muslims in this town. He said the morale of the Muslims had been declining since 1947.

Interestingly, while Mr Kanshi Ram did not speak on the Mandal commission report but some of the BSP leaders assured the gathering that in case the BSP was voted to power in Punjab it would implement it in 24 hours.

Mr Mann Singh Manhera, secretary of the Punjab unit of the BSP, promised a job for all unemployed youths. He said the BSP government would not offer a shagun of Rs 5,100 to a Dalit girl in her marriage rather it would provide a job to her brother.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Shalimar, vice-president of the Punjab BSP unit, Mr Lal Singh Salhani, in charge of the BSP affairs for the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency and Mr M.P. Singh Goraiya, a BSP leader, said after the formation of a government in Punjab, the BSP would take the first decision to implement the Mandal Commission report in the state.


Raja complains against Capt to public
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 26
Raja Narinder Singh, Minister for Public Health and Civil Aviation, Punjab, once again vented his ire against his colleague, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, at a Press conference held at Nangal today.

A peeved Raja Narinder Singh, responding to a query about the state of civil aviation, said he had asked for Rs 1 crore from the Finance Ministry for improvement purposes, however, it was never sanctioned due to the alleged intervention of Capt Kanwaljit.

He said: “Despite the directions of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Cap Kanwaljit had been constantly coming to his Nabha constituency and distributing grants without his (Raja’s) knowledge.

He (Kanwaljit) had kept the entire funds of the lotteries and small savings with him and was distributing them in different parts of the state at whim without consulting local leaders of the party.

Asked about the patch-up that the Chief Minister had worked between him and Capt Kanwaljit, Raja Narinder said the patch-up had to be from the heart.

Raja Narinder had come to Nangal to inaugurate water supply schemes in the rural areas.


No poll deal with SAD: Baba Bedi
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 26
Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, Panthic Morcha, said, “Unity with the SAD (B) is possible only if Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, appears before Akal Takht to seek forgiveness and restore Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht. He said the Panthic Morcha would align with like-minded political parties for Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. He ruled out the possibility of any alliance with the Congress the SAD (B) and the BJP. He was talking to reporters here today.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Member of Parliament and President of SAD (A), who also spoke to the media, said he made a courtesy call on Mr Badal in hospital and there was no political purpose of the meeting. He said press had blown his meeting with Mr Badal out of proportions.

Mr Mann said if the Panthic Morcha was voted to power it would demand the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. He accused the Central Government of ignoring the minorities.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, former MP and general secretary of the SHSAD, said the Badal government in Punjab had failed on all fronts. Punjab was under Rs 1100-crore debt when Mr Badal took over as the Chief Minister and this debt had risen to Rs 62,000 crore.

Mr Chandumajra said the Panthic Morcha would try to bring the CPI and the CPM out from the Congress grip. Later leaders of the Panthic Morcha addressed a conference at Mansa.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former President, SGPC, who was also to address the conference, could not come. Mr Baldev Singh Khiala Joga, MLA, Mr Dhiyan Singh Mand, vice-president SAD (A), Mr Charan Singh Lohara, executive committee member of the Morcha, and Mr Gursewak Singh Jawaharke, district president, SAD (A), also spoke.


Tohra, Badal appeals
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, has given a call to all SGPC members to cast their vote as per their conscience in the Shiromani Committee elections here tomorrow. In case the Panthic Morcha, which has 60 members in the House, fields its own candidate ruling party members might cross the floor.

Meanwhile Mr Parkash Singh Badal in an open letter to the SGPC members has urged them to vote for the party nominee.

There are 170 elected members while 15 are coopted.


Loudspeakers blare, residents scream
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 26
The much-publicised ban on use of the public address system by the district administration is being allegedly violated by many schools and religious institutions in the city causing inconvenience to the residents.

Many private schools, which over the years have mushroomed in residential colonies of the city, use the system for conducting morning prayers, annual day celebrations, fetes and other functions, which the administration has failed to stop, despite several complaints from the residents, especially the elderly and ailing persons.

Besides, the bells in schools, have now been replaced by electronic buzzers which cause even more noise pollution.

Even the religious institutions are using loudspeakers, during the day and night.

Mr Mahal Singh, a 65-year-old resident of Model Town, said the sounds made by the high-pitched loudspeakers used by the school near his house were harming his health. “I am a heart patient, advised peaceful atmosphere by the doctors. But the school authorities are hardly concerned about this. The district administration should take strict action against the defaulters, otherwise I will have no other option but to shift my residence”, he said

Other residents of the Model Town also said they were facing similar problems. “I am preparing to sit for the IAS exam but had to shift to a relative’s residence after the authorities of the school near my home refused to stop using loudspeakers”, Mr Deepak Sharma alleged.

The religious organisations, also continue to hold functions in open areas and playgrounds in residential colonies without permission from the administration.

When contacted, the ADC, Mr Parveen Kumar, said that there was a provision under Section 144 Cr PC, to register a case against those violating the ban. “We will take strict action against the violators if any case is brought to our notice”, he added.


SGPC fund misuse case: proof presented
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
Counsel for petitioner Satpal Singh Wadali, senior vice-president of the Sarb Hind Youth Akali Dal, today presented photostat copies of the office note dated December 3, 1999 and its receipt number presented as mark A and mark B in a case related to the alleged misuse of Rs 10 lakh by Bibi Jagir Kaur, former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The petitioner alleged that Bibi Jagir Kaur telephonically called for Rs 5 lakh through her P.A., Mr Harjit Singh. She again telephonically called for sending the same amount through Mr Gurbachan Singh, information officer. The copies of the same were presented in a petition in the Gurdwara Judicial Commission here today.

The president, Chief Judicial Commission, Mr Manmohan Singh, and other members affixed the next day of the hearing for December 18.

The case relates to allegations of misuse of the SGPC and Sri Darbar Sahib funds by the Bibi for the purpose of attending a religious conference held in South Africa.

It is alleged that she took her two daughters and brother-in-law with her to a foreign country with the SGPC and Darbar Sahib funds.

Others accused in the case are Dr Gurcharan Singh Bachan, SGPC secretary, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Information Officer, Mr Harjit Singh, assistant secretary and P.A. of Bibi Jagir Kaur, and Mr Ajaib Singh, the then manager of Sri Darbar Sahib.


Raja Porus Mela from November 29
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
A unique mela, dedicated to 10 lakh Punjabis who died in the communal frenzy of 1947, will be organised at Punjab heritage village at the Wagah here on November 29 and 30. The mela named affair the great warrior, Raja Porus, seeks, to establish peace and harmony in South Asia.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP will inaugurate the mela while eminent writer Kartar Singh Duggal will preside over the function. Mr Asif Shahkar, a prominent writer from Pakistan will also participate as guest of honour, according to a press note

On November 29 a seminar on international terrorism and the problem of establishing peace in South Asia will be held. This seminar will be presided over by Mr Jagjeet Singh Anand, a renowned journalist.

On November 30, a “Mittarta” caravan, which will be lead by Dr Satyapal Baghi, eminent journalist, Dr. S.S. Sandhu and Mr. Harchand Singh Bath, will start from Jallianwala Bagh.

A “Mittarta” flame will be lit by Janab Syad Asif Shahkar and candle lighting ceremony on undivided Punjab map, will be performed by Mr Kartar Singh Duggal and Sayyad Asif Shahkar from, west Punjab.


Peace jatha from Pak arrives
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), November 26
A 38-member peace jatha from Pakistan arrived here via the Samjhauta Express under the aegis of the South Asian Federation for Friendship and Peace. The jatha comprised of six women members, majority of them belonging to the Millat Party, a political party headed by Mr Farooq Ahmed Leghari, former President of Pakistan.

Group leader Abid Gondal who was leading the jatha to Moga for a people-to-people interaction camp., said its main aim was to traverse the boundaries divided by vested interests.

Mr Sadik Nadeem, (55) advocate from Gujranwala, admitted that political manipulations were responsible for the present state of affairs between the two countries.

The jatha comprised of noted classical dancer, Dr Fakir Hussain famous for his “peacock” dance and also included youngsters like Afzal Sahir, a young poet, who said the sympathy for Taliban and the fundamentalist element, had got a setback after Northern Alliance successes in Afghanistan.

The women delegation was headed by Ms Shameen Nazir, president of the Lahore women wing of the party.

Meanwhile, two more Afghani Sikhs, Harwinder Singh and Kartar Singh arrived here today on the Samjhauta Express. Both were unwilling to rebuild their homes in war-torn Afghanistan. 


Bad roads compound traffic chaos
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, November 26
With dilapidated roads and an uncontrollable traffic in the city, schoolchildren live under the constant threat of accidents as most of the schools are situated on busy roads. During peak hours, vehicles choke roads which cannot cope with the flow.

The problem worsens at noon as schools close by this time. It is also peak time for commuters. Almost all schools close at the same time flooding roads and streets with the children. Students on foot, bicycles and two-wheelers, cycle rickshaws and buggies transporting students all vie for place on roads at the same time causing in traffic jam.

A major factor behind danger of accidents for students is the location of schools in the city. MSD School, a convent school, DAV School and College, two government schools, GTB School and many other schools are mostly situated on busy roads or near busy squares adding to the gravity of the problem.

Mr Surinder Singh Sandhu, a city resident and father of Isha Singh a class VII student, says his daughter goes to the school on bicycle and he always fears that any eventuality might occur with his daughter as the school is on the Bathinda-Goniana road and very near to a roundabout. He added that traffic rules should be made a part of the school curriculum and seminars organised from time to time on rules and regulations to be followed while travelling on a road.

Mr Vineet Kumar, a city resident, said although his son grown up and was a student of class X, he was still worried about his safety. He added that closing times of schools should be altered by 10 to 15 minutes. Rohit, student of class X, said in the past few years the number of vehicles had increased manifold. He added that earlier it used to take only 15 minutes to reach school from his home, but now it took him more than 30 minutes.

The main thing is that even small children meet with accidents on the road. There are a number of incidents in which school-going children get killed or injured and it is also a fact that such incidents are increasing day by day.

Higher traffic police officials when contacted said the traffic police was organising ‘traffic week’ from time to time in the city during which school children were educated about the traffic rules. He added that time spent on students would help the society in a big way. If they learnt the rules and regulations at this age it would help them throughout their life. A plan was in the pipeline to check students who were underage but drove scooters and motorbikes.


Rural areas ‘lack’ medicare
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 26
Mr Sucha Singh Gill, educationist, while speaking on the state of health services in Punjab said the SAD-BJP combine had failed to provide basic health facilities in rural areas. He was speaking at the concluding session of the two-day seminar on “Analytical Assessment of the SAD-BJP Rule in Punjab” organised by the Punjab Academy of Social Sciences, Literature and Culture at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here yesterday.

Dr V.K. Tiwari observed that the Central Government under pressure from the IMF and World Bank had privatised higher education thus making it impossible for the poor students to study in college. Even Punjab Technical University had set up hundreds of institutes in different parts of the state to “sell” degrees through small computer centres, he alleged.

Among those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Sukhbir Singh Chatha, Principal, Mr Satnam Manak, Dr N.K. Pal, Dr Rajnish, Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sangha, Dr Joginder Singh Poar and Dr Kamlesh Singh Duggal, Head, Department of Journalism, Regional Centre, Guru Nanak Dev University. 


5 die as car falls into canal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 26
As many as five occupants of a car, including two doctors, died when their car fell into a canal near Dhapali village late last evening.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the deceased were returning home after attending a marriage function near Bhadaur town in Sangrur district. Sources said the police came to know about the incident today and the dead bodies and the vehicle were taken out of the canal.


Dang writes to CM for relief to poor girl
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
Mr Satya Pal Dang, a senior leader of the CPI has sought compensation for a seven-year-old poor girl Surinder Kaur, who lost one eye in an accident while her other eye was also hurt seriously.

In a letter to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and IGP Rajan Gupta, Mr Dang said she had been under treatment in different hospitals with the help of an NGO and doctors. Mr Dang alleged that Mr S.S. Brar, SSP, Batala, and the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, were requested for action, but no action had been taken so far, he said


Groom killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 26
Two persons, including the bridegroom, were killed and four others injured seriously when a maruti car carrying seven members of a marriage party hit a parked truck near Rachhpalwan village yesterday evening.

The accident took place at 8 p.m. when driver of the car (CHK 9573) carrying the bridegroom and five others lost control.

The deceased have been identified as Bittu, alias Sewak of Pathankot, James (bridegroom) of Uche village, Sri Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur district.

The injured are Paramjeet (Bride), Rammi, Vijay and the driver of the car. They were shifted to Amritsar hospitals while Rammi was admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Shubam, a seven-year-old boy who was also travelling in the car, escaped unhurt.

After a post-mortem examination the bodies of James and Bittu were handed over to relatives.

A case has been registered in this regard.


Cows died due to fungi in feed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar November 26
The mysterious death of about three dozen cows in the Pinjrapool gaushala at Bulandpur village, near here, during the past week was caused by high intake of carbohydrate-rich diet contaminated with severe growth of fungi. This was stated by Dr H.S. Sandha, Deputy Director, Punjab Animal Husbandry Department, Jalandhar.

Preliminary inquiries by a team of doctors and reports of the tests conducted by the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory of the Punjab Veterinary Department have suggested that the animals might have died following high intake of carbohydrate-rich rice flakes.

The gaushala authorities had said some person had donated a truck-load of fodder on Divali.

Irked over the death of the animals, some religious organisations and Baba Bankhandi staged a dharna in front of the gaushala today and criticised the failure of the authorities to save the animals.

The Animal Husbandry authorities have pressed teams of doctors in service to treat the other ailing animals. “As many as six animals are serious and under treatment, while others have recovered,” Dr Sandha said adding that preventive measures like withdrawal of contaminated feed have been taken. 


Subsistence relief extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The Punjab Government has extended the subsistence allowance to the parents and widows of special police officers/Home Guards volunteers who were killed by terrorists before December 1, 1991.

A spokesman of the Relief and Rehabilitation Department today said the allowance was earlier given from December 1, 1991. 


Gurpurb celebrations on Nov 30
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, November 26
The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev will be celebrated here at Guru Nanak Darbar near Sheesh Mehal. According to Mr Partap Singh, president of the Sindhi Sabha, nagar kirtan will be organised on November 29. A kirtan darbar and langar will be organised on November 30.


Lawyers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 26
Hundreds of lawyers on a call for strike given by the District Bar Association today hold a rally and staged a dharna at the local Circuit House. They were protesting over the “apathetic” attitude of the district administration towards the improvement of roads around the judicial complex.

The Bar Association also suspended work in courts for the day. A dharna was also staged before the office of the Deputy Commissioner and a memorandum handed over to the Additional Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Mithu Ram Gupta, president of the association, said Bar Council members had approached the district administration several times for the purpose but to no avail.


Kinnow growers seek export infrastructure
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Ghuman Kalan (Bathinda) November 26
“I have made efforts and invested a lot of money for producing export-quality kinnows by adopting Israeli techniques, but now I do not know whom to contact to send these to the foreign countries,” said Mr Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, a farmer of the village.

Mr Bhullar is one of those farmers who dared to experiment, following the advice of farm experts to break the paddy-wheat crop cycle and to produce good quality fruits, but now they seem to be repenting their decision as they are not getting enough buyers in the local market, what to think of exporting agencies.

The decision by the farmers to grow fruits was taken following frequent failure of cotton crop and non-procurement of paddy in the previous years. They thought that by growing fruits they would earn more compared to the income from traditional crops of wheat, paddy and cotton, but their speculations failed.

Mr Bhullar said he had adopted the techniques being used in Israel to produce kinnows containing more juice than the ordinary ones. He added that the irrigation system and methods to pick the fruits were the ones employed by Israeli farmers.

A few fruit-growing farmers of the region said that the government agencies should make arrangements to enable them to export their produce. The kinnow-growers said if the government could not export the fruits, at least it should make efforts to sell it in other states.

A farmer of the same village said people of various Indian states did not know about the kinnows. He said if the government made efforts to hold exhibitions at the tourist spots in the country to popularise the fruit they could sell it there.

Mr Bhullar claimed that the kinnows produced by him and some other farmers of the area were so juicy and good that people would plump for it vis-a-vis Nagpur oranges. He said if the department concerned gave them technical and financial assistance they could improve the quality of fruits.

Mr Bhullar, who was awarded by the state government for being a progressive farmer and is one of the non-official members of the Punjab Kinnow Board, said agriculture could be profitable if the farmers treated it as a business venture rather than a family occupation.

The other farmers in the profession said the government departments were not providing necessary guidance and help. They said if given proper guidance and facilities, they could make Punjab the “fruit bowl” of the nation.


Markfed to study silos in Australia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
A five-member team, led by the Punjab Minister of Co-operation, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, leaves on a nine-day tour of Australia tomorrow.

The Secretary, Co-operation, Mr S S Brar, told TNS that the primary purpose of the visit was to study the design concept of silos for scientific bulk storage of food grain. Punjab was saddled with over 58,000 tonnes of wheat worth Rs 16,000 crore. The Markfed share was over Rs 5,000 crore. Most of the wheat was in the open though under polythene cover. But its quality had deteriorated making it unfit for human consumption.

Given the slow movement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), it would take at least six years to clear the stockpile from Punjab, something the state could ill-afford.

Therefore, continuous pressure from Punjab has made the FCI sit up. Now, Mr Brar said, the FCI proposed to float international tenders for silos for bulk storage. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the visit had been proposed to Australia.

The team visiting Australia comprises of (besides Mr Brahmpura and Mr Brar) the Markfed Chairman, Mr Jagdish S. Walia, the Managing Director, Mr D.S. Bains, Markfed’s Chief Manager International Trade, Mr Birinder Singh and Minister’s aide, Mr Charanjit Singh.


Estate to be dedicated to Atma Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) will dedicate its newly established Urban Estate at Kapurthala to the memory of the late Atma Singh, a former Cabinet Minister of Punjab, at a ceremony to be held at the site on November 30.

Revealing this, a PUDA spokesperson stated that a formal decision in this regard was taken recently by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice- Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, New Delhi, would be the chief guest on this occasion.

Giving details, the PUDA Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said that the Urban Estate was situated on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar highway and had an expanse of 212.4 acres. Apart from 1,417 residential plots of different sizes, the estate had also been provided with 64 sites for shop-cum-offices and 156 booths for commercial activity. Most of the plots in the estate had already been sold at a price of Rs 2040 per sq yd. PUDA would be launching a scheme to market the remaining plots in the estate shortly. An area of 8.87 acres had been reserved for eight public buildings. With a view to encouraging group housing, the layout plan provided for 3.46 acres for middle income group (MIG) multi-storeyed flats and an area of 4.15 acres for dwelling units belonging to economically weaker sections (EWS).

The Chief Administrator said that PUDA would also provide in the Urban Estate a modern sports complex, a community centre, a health centre, a site for a Cinema house and four spacious sites for educational institutions. As many as 11 parks were also being provided.

A striking feature of the estate was its wide roads, especially the 100-foot-wide road which was being built around the commercial centre. Mr Sidhu said an additional area of 51.83 acres near the estate had also been notified by the government for acquisition under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.


Direct recruitment proposal flayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union today urged the State Chief Secretary to scrap the proposal to make direct recruitment of Senior Assistants. Mr K.K. Jindal, General Secretary of the union, was said the need of the hour was framing a policy for stopping direct recruitment, at least at the first-level promotional post.

A press note issued by Mr Jindal said there was stagnation in the clerical cadre. Therefore, posts of Senior Assistants should be filled by promoting all those clerks and steno-typists who had put in many years of service.


Sarpanch hurt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 26
Ten persons, including a Sarpanch, Des Raj, sustained serious injuries in a clash between two groups at nearby Dhak Pandori village yesterday. Some old dispute was stated to be behind the clash.

The seriously injured have been hospitalised.


Institute closes down, PTU comes under attack
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 26
The functioning of Punjab Technical University (PTU) has come under attack following the closure of one of its affiliated computer institutes without prior information.

More than 25 students had deposited fees to the tune of Rs 26,000 each for the web engineering course of nine-month duration with Netbrunz, an affiliated institute of the PTU, in March. But, the students and employees were shocked to learn about the closure of the institute by the management in October.

Pankaj, a student, alleged that though he had deposited Rs 26,000 as fee for the course, the sudden closure of the institute had virtually sealed his fate. “The course was started on March 5 and the management closed down the centre on October 15 leaving several students at the mercy of the PTU authorities, who are least concerned to solve the issues, he said.

H.S. Sidhu, another student, said though they had met the PTU authorities in this regard several times in the past month, they failed to take action against the owner of the computer centre.

“The PTU should take action against the owner of the centre for playing with the future of the students, failing which the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) will launch a statewide agitation against the PTU which is virtually on a spree to privatise technical education by approving hundreds of computer centres which do not possess requisite infrastructure and faculty,” Mr Jaswinder Singh Lalli, secretary of the ABVP said.


Foreign tours for varsity teachers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 26
Under the special scheme, Punjabi University has earmarked Rs 25 lakh to send its teachers abroad every year to upgrade their skills as well as to interact with eminent scholars at the national level.

According to a press note, the scheme, which will be carried out during the summer vacations, will have university teachers of different faculties being sent abroad with the university bearing the fare.

The Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr T.S. Anand, said the teachers selected under the advanced studies scheme should have attained special position in their fields of study and should have got published works of quality. The teachers would, on their return, have to submit a monograph about their interaction with scholars abroad, besides sharing their acquired knowledge with colleagues and students.

The press note added that Rs 15 lakh had been earmarked for arranging national tours for academically brilliant students during their vacations so that they were able to have a wholesome view of the country and acquire first-hand experience of the progress made by the country in various fields.

It said the varsity would also organised Bharat Darshan for students who showed excellence in academic, cultural and sports activities. It added that the proposal of the Vice-Chancellor had been approved by the Finance Committee.

The University would make budget provisions of the Rs 25 lakh and Rs 15 lakh. The two schemes had come into force with immediate effect and teachers would be sent abroad during this academic session.


Vikram Cement to use fly ash within week
Tribune News Service

Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda), November 26
Even as the 22-foot-high fly ash dykes of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) here have been filled up the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have initiated the process of raising its height to store more fly ash.

Official sources said tenders had been floated by the PSEB for the works relating to the raising of height of dykes. The Board had planned that the height of dykes should be raised to 50 feet in a phased manner.

The sources added that if the PSEB failed store or make use of fly ash, it could lead to the closure of both units of the GHTP apart from creating health problems for those living around the dykes.

Both units of the GHTP were producing fly ash in excess as the coal used in the plant has high ash content.

The PSEB had entered into an agreement with Vikram Cement for using the fly ash in making cement.

Mr Subash Bansal, Chief Engineer, GHTP, said the cement plant set up by Vikram Cement was under trial run. It would start using fly ash of the plant.

He claimed that though washed coal was not being used in the two units of the GHTP, no pollution was being caused.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |