Wednesday, November 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Unruly scenes mark Cong rally
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 27
Unruly scenes marred the proceedings at a protest rally against the Punjab Government organised by the Congress at the new grain market here today. Nearly 10,000 persons participated in the rally which was attended, among others, by Mr Moti Lal Vora, in charge of the Punjab Congress affairs and treasurer of the AICC, Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Chief Minister, and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Supporters of two claimants of ticket for this Assembly constituency is Mr Arvind Khanna, PPCC treasurer and Mr Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, PP
CC secretary raised slogans in favour of their respective leaders despite a “blanket ban” on slogans in favour of any individual by the president of the District Congress Committee, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, in his welcome address.

When Chaudhary Jagjit Singh started speaking, both groups started raising slogans. Ms Bhattal and Mr Dirba had to intervene.

However, Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Vora described it as “enthusiasm” among workers for their respective leaders. They declined to admit that it was an act of indiscipline.

Speakers criticised the Badal government and asked people to vote for the Congress to get rid of the “corrupt” regime of the SAD-BJP government.

Addressing the rally Ms Bhattal lashed out at Mr Badal, saying that he had forgotten issues, including the transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab. Besides, the government had been “discriminating” against Congress MLAs as far as development grants for their constituencies were concerned. She also said the rule of Mr Badal was so bad, that farmers were committing suicides.

Ms Bhattal alleged that every job under the SAD-BJP regime was on sale. She also criticised the SAD-BJP government for banning recruitment during the first four years of its regime.

Capt Amarinder stated that Punjab had no spare waters and hence not a single drop of water would be allowed to flow in the SYL canal. If voted to power, the Congress would constitute a commission to probe into cases of inflated electricity bills.

Mr Vora assured farmers that their welfare would be the first priority.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh lashed out at Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP supremo, alleging that he was misleading the dalits as he had no programme for their welfare.


No factionalism in Congress: Vora
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 27
Mr Moti Lal Vora, in charge of the Punjab Congress Affairs and Treasurer of the AICC, today said there was no factionalism in the Punjab unit of the Congress and added that discipline would be maintained at every cost.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Vora said claimants to party’s ticket for an Assembly constituency might be more than one, so supporters of every claimant had a right to project their leader. This could not be considered as indiscipline, he added.

Mr Vora was accompanied by Capt Amarinder Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Chief Minister.

Mr Vora said by the end of December this year, the process for selecting Congress candidates for the Punjab Assembly seats would be completed. The reports regarding claimants to the ticket would be sent to the state Congress Election Committee by the district units of the party on December 4. After that a scrutiny committee of the AICC would review the names while final decision would be taken by the party high command.

Mr Vora said talks were on with the CPI and the CPM for forming an alliance. He said Capt Amarinder Singh had been authorised for this purpose who had formed a sub-committee which would submit its report shortly.

Mr Vora said the Congress had finalised its election manifesto but he declined to give details.

He said the party would issue a “charge sheet” against the Badal Government in the “people’s court” against rampant corruption and lawlessness.

Capt Amarinder Singh said if the Congress was voted to power it would order a probe into the assets of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his colleagues by a sitting judge of the high court. He said the Congress would approach the Chief Justice of the high court to give a judge for this purpose.


Finance Dept’s warning on octroi abolition
P.P.S Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Abolition of octroi is a key item on the agenda before the Council of Ministers meeting here tomorrow. Because of the accidental fall of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the meeting will be presided over by the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon. And, incidentally, the issue of abolition of octroi is also close to his heart.

The Chief Minister, who is hospitalised in New Delhi, has already said that octroi has to be abolished, as per his commitment to both the BJP and the people. The abolition of octroi has been even on the agenda of the SAD-BJP government as part of the Common Minimum Programme adopted by the coalition partners.

But contrary to the wishes of the Chief Minister, some politicians and bureaucrats are reportedly out to sabotage the abolition. There may be some logic in their arguments. But once the Chief Minister has conveyed his views such opposition is unwarranted, say sources. They point out that Mr Badal’s commitment is to Punjab as ‘’one constituency’’. He did not distinguish between the urban and rural areas.

The main opposition is from the Department of Finance. On the eve of the meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Principal Secretary, Finance, has sent a note to the Chief Secretary against the abolition of octroi requesting that it should be placed before the council tomorrow. This has been done with the approval of the Finance Minister.

Informed sources told TNS that the argument put forward by the Finance Secretary was that the abolition would result in the loss of revenue amounting to several hundred crores of rupees to the local bodies.

It was being placed on record that the present financial position of the state was ‘’extremely difficult’’ and under no circumstances would the department be able to sanction funds for meeting expenditure such as pay and allowances of the staff or any other expenditure which was being met at present from the revenue earned from octroi.

‘’There is also no likelihood of any improvement in this position till the end of the financial year and even after that’’, says the note to the Chief Secretary.

This naturally will lead to a hot debate at the meeting. Mr Tandon is reported to have met even the Union Minister of Finance for a ‘’one-time’’ loan of Rs 150 crore in lieu of octroi to enable Punjab to tide over the problem. The abolition of octroi is also of political consequence to the BJP, which primarily operates in the urban areas.

The Cabinet had constituted a subcommittee to go into the merits of the decision to abolish octroi. Later, some municipal councillors from Bathinda filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the decision of the government to abolish octroi. A division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jawaharlal Gupta and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohanta, issued a stay order on September 26, directing that no steps should be taken to proceed further.

At the very next meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal, was called and his opinion sought in the wake of the stay order. Mr Mattewal is reported to have advised that the court decision must be respected. Thereupon, Mr Badal asked him to immediately file an application for vacation of the stay order to enable the government to fulfil its public commitment.

Mr Mattewal argued before the court that the council was performing its constitutional duties and the court had no jurisdiction to come in its way. The stay was vacated on November 11 enabling the government to continue the process for the abolition of octroi.

At the next hearing of the case, in the first week of December, the government has to inform the court of its decision and the options suggested to make up for the revenue that earlier accrued from octroi.


SAD wooing Dalits: Arshi
Our Correspondent

Budhlada, November 27
“Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, has been distributing public funds as if they were his personal treasure.” This was stated by Mr Hardev Arshi, local MLA and leader of the CPI group in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said Mr Badal was doing so to woo the votes for the forthcoming Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. He said the state government had purchased utensils worth Rs 16 lakh from the Rural Development Fund for distribution among Dalit families. He said these utensils had been stored in the houses of Akali Jathedars and the district administration had not been taken into confidence.

Mr Arshi further said, the utensils worth Rs 2 lakh were distributed in the Mansa, Budhlada and Joga Assembly constituencies, while those worth Rs 10 lakh were distributed in the Sardulgarh constituency of Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Member, Rajya Sabha, and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Arshi said he was not associated with the distribution of utensils in Budhlada even though he is the local MLA.


Kanshi Ram opposes use of voting machines
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 27
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram today opposed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the coming Assembly poll in Punjab.

Talking to newsmen and later addressing party activists at the local Budh Vihar at Satnam Pura, Mr Kanshi Ram agreed with the view of the Punjab Congress that EVMs could be tampered with. He said he would write to the Election Commission not to use these machines in the forthcoming elections.

He sought the intervention of the Chief Election Commissioner for preventing the Punjab government from doling out pre-poll sops. All transfers or promotions and distribution of grants, which could have impact on the poll, should be stopped, he said.

Mr Kanshi Ram said he had alternative options in case Jathedar G.S. Tohra, SHSAD President, switched over side and supported the Badal dal.

He said the BSP would not settle for less than 70 to 80 seats in its poll pact with the Panthic Morcha. The BSP was keen to form a government and hence it wanted a lion’s share of seats in its alliance with the Panthic Morcha, he continued.

The BSP supremo had come here to oversee arrangements for the December rally to held here. Activists of nine assembly segments of the Phillaur parliamentary constituency attended the meeting. Mr Kanshi Ram claimed one lakh party workers would attend it. Mr M.P. Singh, Mr Sukhbir Singh Shalimar, Mr Ashok Sandhu, BSP leaders, also addressed the activists.


BJP poll panel to meet on Nov 30
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 27
An 11-member election committee of Punjab BJP will meet on November 30 in Chandigarh to finalise election strategy. This was stated by its organisational general secretary Avinash Jaiswal while talking to this correspondent here today.

He said BJP national election in charge Pyara Lal Khandelwal, among other leaders, will review the performances of MLAs and discuss the allotment of ticket.

He said there was complete coordination between the SAD and the BJP.

Asked about the BJP’s claim regarding an increase in the seats of the BJP, he said the BJP wanted representation in the remaining eight BJP unrepresented districts.

Asked to comment on the PPCC’s demand to ban electronic voting machines and the transfer of government officers, he said the Congress was getting frustrated as it had read the writing on the wall.


Chhibber not keen to contest
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 27
Bringing all speculations at rest, Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber (retd), former Punjab Governor, refuted that he was keen to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Talking to The Tribune, he justified his decision to join the Congress and address a rally here. He said it was the Congress which managed the rehabilitation of 50-60 lakh refugees after Partition. The Green Revolution was also the brainchild of the Congress.

It is pertinent to point out that in the past few weeks, he had played a key role in bringing warring factions of the Congress in Punjab together and exhorted them to remain united. He said earlier he fought war in uniform and now he would fight with more vigour for the country.


Bathinda gets facelift as elections near
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 27
This city, heartland of the Malwa region which remained backward even after it becames district head-quarters in 1948, is being given a facelift in some pockets at a time when the Assembly elections are round the corner.

The city, which boasts of having Asia’s biggest cantonment, fertiliser plant, thermal plant and North India’s biggest railway junction is synonymous with potholes, and flowing sewage. Successive government failed to improve basic amenities and the sewerage system.

Keeping the elections in view, the government has earmarked projects worth crores of rupees to give the city a facelift.

Sources said projects included strengthening of Guru Kashi Marg, repair of internal roads of grain market, construction of an overbridge across the Paras Ram Nagar level crossing and four-laning of a portion of NH 15 from canal bridge to the residential colony of the National Fertiliser Plant.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said loan worth Rs 110 crores was being taken from Hudco for the purpose.


Medicos take oath against sex tests
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 27
In a unique move, the thirteenth annual Conference of Patiala Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society issued an appeal to medical professionals to make public declarations against sex determination tests aimed at female foeticide.

The appeal was issued by the Society president, Dr Ashi R. Sarin, who also spoke on the subject through her presidential address titled, “Silent Female Genocide - Need for Innovate Initiatives”. Dr Sarin advocated the adoption of collective public declarations against sex tests by members of the medical profession as well as rural and urban communities.

Dr Sarin said such an experiment had been successful with regard to female genital cutting in Senegal in Africa. As a first step, five members of the Society were administered an oath against conduct of sex determination tests by Dr D.N. Bhardwaj, former principal, Medical College, Patiala. The doctors also swore to neither indulge in sex-selective female abortions nor directly or indirectly abet such unethical practises.

Dr Bhardwaj, while speaking on the occasion, emphasised the importance of continuing education for medical practitioners to provide the best possible healthcare to patients. Two panel discussions were also held on the occasion on “Multi-foetal pregnancy” and “Foetal Monitoring in High Risk Pregnancy”, which were attended by Dr Neerja Bhatla, Dr Umesh Jindal, Dr Dalip Dutta, Dr Nimesh Shelat, Dr Kamal Gupta and Dr Mangla Dogra.

Dr Meena Garg, honorary secretary, hightlighted various activities of the society during the year, which she said included holding of medical education programmes, workshops and free rural health check-up camps. Dr Sarita Aggarwal welcomed the delegates and guests and proposed a vote of thanks.


Dharna against poor condition of roads
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 27
The rally by the lawyers in the city yesterday to express resentment against the dilapidated roads in and around the judicial complex seems to have borne fruit as the civic authorities have started the process for getting permission regarding the repair of roads. It has promised the Deputy Commissioner that the task will be completed by December 15.

Meanwhile, members of the local unit of the District Bar Association today staged a dharna near the Circuit House to press upon the authorities to get the roads repaired immediately. The association has decided to continue the dharna till the roads were repaired.

Sources said the area where the judicial complex was situated was under the preview of the Public Works Department and the municipal council could not spend money on the repair of roads there. It has to take special permission from the higher authorities to get the job done.

A meeting was held by the Deputy Commissioner with the President and officials of the municipal council yesterday and they were asked to do what was needed.

The sources said the President of the council had agreed to make the expenditure for the repair of the roads leading to the judicial complex and also within the complex. The total expenditure on the roads would be around Rs 3.77 lakh. The local municipal authorities would have to take permission from the Secretary, Local Bodies, for making the expenditure.

The municipal council has written a letter to the Deputy Commissioner with regard to the matter and told him about the procedure to be adopted while getting the permission for the repair of the roads. It was learnt that the council had assured that the work would be started immediately after it received the approval of the Secretary, Local Bodies.


Beautification around historic gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is undertaking the landscaping and beautification of the frontage of the historic Gurdwara Ber Sahib at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district, according to the PUDA Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu.

It is widely believed that it was at this spot that Guru Nanak Dev vanished into the river Bein for 72 hours before reappearing to preach his sermon of universal brotherhood.

PUDA is also planning an ambitious project to provide facilities like parking and a shopping arcade near the shrine.

The Chief Administrator said that the space in front of the gurdwara, which was at present being used for parking and temporary shops, was contemplated as an important forespace to the entrance of the gurdwara. An arcade with a series of arches in the traditional architectural style had been planned along the entrance that would serve to unify this space with the main shrine, the Deewan Hall building and the sarovar, imparting a sense of oneness to the campus. This space would have two water bodies with fountains, focussing towards the Deori. The triangular space bounded by the main gurdwara, the Deewan Hall and the proposed arcade had been conceived to lend a serene environment.

The Senior Architect of PUDA, Mr S.L. Kaushal, who is heading the team that has undertaken the design, stated that the quadrangle adjoining the Deewan Hall and the sarovar had been planned to have parking areas for cars and scooters.

The work is being executed by the Engineering wing of PUDA headed by Mr G.R. Jakhu, Chief Engineer, at a cost of Rs 45 lakh and would be completed within three months.


Save power, people urged
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, November 27
The district administration in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Power and Energy and the National Thermal Power Corporation organised a function here at Shivalik Public School today to create awareness among masses, especially schoolchildren about the judicious use of power and energy sources.

Mr Gurpal Singh Bhatti, ADC (Development), president over the function, which was attended by panches, sarpanches, social activists, teachers and students. During the three sessions, Mr K.K. Dada, senior manager, Mr P.S. Ahluwalia, senior manager, Mr R.C. Garg, Mr Ajay Aggarwal (all officials of NTPC), with the help of lectures, video movies made the people aware about the programme of the Union Government to provide electricity to all by 2012.

They said the Union Government had planned to generate one lakh mw power up to 2012. Under the programme electrification of 62,000 villages in the country would be completed up to 2007 and the remaining 18,000 villages would be provided electricity up to 2012. The government had earmarked Rs 8 crore for power generation, its transmission and distribution.


Programme on stress management for cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 27
A specialised training programme on stress management for non-gazetted police officers of punjab and CRPF started today at Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur. Mr D.R. Bhatti, Director of the academy, inaugurated the course. In his inaugural address, Mr Bhatti highlighted various parameters of stressful police working and spoke about the importance of undertaking techniques for managing stress in day-to-day police work. He further said the academy, had chalked out an action plan under which special training programmes would be conducted with a view to improving the professional and behavioural effectiveness of the police.

Giving details about the programme on stress management, Dr D.J. Singh, course director said issues like creative use of emotions, stress-related disorders, anxiety management, art of joy for living, effect of alcohol and drugs on behaviour and related medical issues etc will be taken up by experienced and renowned behavioural experts .

With the help of such specialised training programmes, the officers shall be sensitised regarding various stress management techniques. Prominent experts who will interact with participants during the courses are : Mr Chander Shekhar, IGP, Dr Nalini Malhota, Ms Navita Khanna, Dr Suresh Vatsayayan, Dr Agyajit Singh, Dr Manjit Saini, Dr Kumkum Sharman, Dr B.K. Rajkumar and Dr D.R. Vij.


Five hurt in scuffle
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 27
The scuffle between migrant labourers and owner of a tyre manufacturing unit resulted in injuries to five persons near the Pathankot chowk here today.

According to the police, the owner of the unit, Munish, along with his friend Gurwinder went to the residence of some labourers near the Pathankot chowk late in the afternoon to persuade them to return to work. The labourers were reportedly abstaining from work due to non-payment of salaries by the owner.

The labourers refused to join the work resulting in a brawl with the owner. Subsequently, one of the labourers attacked Munish with some sharpedged weapons injuring him. Gurwinder was also injured in the fight.


Vets proceed on mass leave
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 27
The functioning of about 1,000 veterinary hospitals all over Punjab came to a standstill as about 900 veterinary officers, including Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors, went on mass casual leave today on a call given by the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh Mann, organising secretary of the association, said the protest call evoked good response. He said the association had to resort to this step because of the “indifferent” attitude of the government towards their long-pending demands including grant on non-practising allowance on a par with PCMS officers, conveyance allowance, study leave with full pay and three extra increments to doctors possessing postgraduate degrees.


Vets abstain from duty
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 27
Veterinary Officers and members of the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association today went on a mass casual leave. They were protesting against the alleged careless attitude of the state government toward their demands.

Mr Ashok Kumar Sharma, president of the association, in a press note issued here today, said veterinary officers were backbone of the Animal Husbandry Department.

He said it was sad that the state government was ignoring their genuine demands. Their demands include grant of conveyance allowance, academic allowance and three advance increments for postgraduation. He said in spite of assurance from the top authorities nothing had been done so far.


PCI panel visits Central Jail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 27
A fact-finding committee of the Press Council of India (PCI) today visited the local Central Jail to inquire into the complaint made by an Editor of the local Hindi daily regarding his implication in a criminal case.

Mr Sunil Dang, Member, PCI and fact finding committee, while talking to TNS said the Deputy Commissioner, the SSP, Superintendent, Central Jail and scribes of dailies were contacted to find out the truth behind the registration of a case against the Editor on the charge of murder. Mr Dang said the committee would also meet the Chief Minister, the Home Minister and the Information Minister of the state Government.


One killed as car hits tractor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 27
One person was killed and three injured when a car collided with a tractor-trailer at Khasa here last evening. Mohinder Singh, his son Harjit, Harjit’s friend Sawarn Singh and his mother, all residents of Lopoke, were returning home when the mishap occurred. Harjit Singh was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

A case has been registered under various Sections of the IPC.

In another case Gurnam Singh of Lopoke was seriously injured when his brothers Amrik Singh, Gurmeet Singh, Paramjit Singh, Suba Singh and Gurcharan Singh, allegedly attacked him with sharp edged weapons. A land dispute led to the incident. A case was registered on the statement of the victim’s wife, Ms Simranjit Kaur, under various Sections of the IPC.

As many as 10 persons were booked by the police in separate incidents and seized some quantity of countrymade liquor (lahan) and 27,750 ml of illicit liquor. A case was registered under Section 61/1/14 of the Excise Act.


Last date for booking replicas extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
On public demand, the last date for the booking of gold and silver replicas of coins originally issued by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his regime 200 years ago, has been extended to November 30.

A press note issued by Mr Kulbir Singh, Managing Director of the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation, said these replicas were available at all branches of Phulkari, Punjab Government Emporium and selected branches of Punjab and Sind Bank, the Bank of Punjab and HDFC Bank in Chandigarh and Punjab.


Sikh jatha leaves for Pak
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), November 27
In the wake of heightened tension in the region after the September 11 attacks on World Trade Center in the USA, a number of Sikh pilgrimage cancelled their visit to Pakistan at the eleventh hour.

According to sources, many Sikhs from the USA, Canada and the UK had cancelled their pilgrimage to Pakistan. With this, the Gurpurb of Guru Nanak at Nankana Sahib is likely to be a low-key affair.

The pilgrims left for Pakistan in two special trains.

According to rough estimate, about 2,000 Sikh devotees left for Pakistan against a jatha of 3000 of last year.


Tribune sub-office section head dead
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 27
The Section Head of the local Tribune sub-office, Brinder Singh, died following a sudden illness at his residence in Sirhind early today. Brinder Singh (46), who has served the paper for 20 years, is survived by his wife Harjinder Kaur and three sons. The cremation took place at Sirhind in the evening. Wreaths were laid by the local staff.


Sutlej pollution: fish farmers seek action
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 27
The Fish Farmers Association, Punjab, had demanded that criminal cases should be registered against those responsible for the death of fish in the Sutlej. The president of the association, Wg Cdr Sukhcharan Singh Grewal, while talking to newspersons here today alleged that the fish dying in Sutlej due to the toxic wastes had damaged the reputation of the quality of fish being produced in the state. It would also have an adverse affect on the earning of fish farmers in the state.

In cases where industrial units are found guilty of causing pollution they are let off after payment of fines, which was not a permanent remedy to the problem of pollution. The pollution control board authorities should in fact book the culprits responsible for causing pollution for criminal offences.

A strict vigil must be maintained over the level of pollution in various rivers. There is continuous pollution of heavy metals in some areas of the Sutlej. These metals lead to slow poisoning of the fish, which is further carried to the consumers. The pollution control board authorities should constantly conduct random surveys in the rivers of the state to check the pollution levels in various rivers, he demanded.

The pollution in various rivers in the state has been affecting the fish for quite some time but the authorities concerned have not taken any action against the guilty units, despite complaints from fish contractors. The earnings of the government from contracts for selling fish in the state has also been declining steadily over the past decade. The level of pollution is such that now the contractors of the state are reluctant to take contracts in the Ghaghar and Sutlej areas due to the declining population of the fish in these rivers, he alleged.

Mr Karminder Singh, general secretary of the association, who was also accompanying Mr Grewal, alleged that the government had kept no budget for the conservation of marine life in the state. Due to it many fish varieties in the state were under the threat of extinction.

The illegal entry of the African cat fish or the Thai magoor, which has been banned by the Central Government, in the rivers and the ponds of the state also poses a major threat to the indigenous varieties. Which should be checked, he said.


Water schemes inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 27
Raja Narinder Singh, Minister for Public Health and Civil Aviation, inaugurated rural water supply schemes at Kamera and Dukli villages, about 60 km from Ropar, yesterday evening. These schemes have solved the longstanding drinking water problem of about 10 villages in the area.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, under whose constituency the villages fall, thanked Raja Narinder Singh for helping solve the drinking water problem of the people in the area. He said Rs 10 crore was being spent on drinking water schemes in the kandi areas of the Nangal Assembly constituency under NABARD-sponsored schemes.

Raja Narinder Singh said drinking water schemes in the state were hit due to stoppage of loans worth Rs 680 crore by the World Bank. The bank had stopped the loans on the plea that the Punjab Government was providing electricity free of cost to farmers. However, despite this handicap the government had strived to improve drinking water supply.


Retirees may continue with GPF accounts
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 27
The financial position of the Punjab Government has reached such a position that it is now trying to formulate schemes to keep the GPF deposits of its employee even after retirements. The Finance Department in a letter to various heads of departments has stated that the state government has now decided to amend civil services rules to permit the retirees to continue with their GPF accounts for another five years.

The scheme will be applicable for the employees of the newly created first, second and third categories. Under it the retirees are being offered the continuation of their deposits in their GPF accounts for five years after retirement and continue getting the benefits they were getting during service.

Earlier as per as the 13.28 rule of the Punjab Civil Services the GPF account of any employee had to be closed after retirement and he was paid the entire amount. Sources said due to the large number of retirements in the coming years and tight financial position of the government, the Finance Department of the state had formulated the scheme.


Gang of robbers busted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 27
The district police has arrested four members of a gang of robbers. They are Mandar Singh, Bhanta Singh, Resham Singh and Surjit Singh.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, at a press conference here yesterday said members of the gang were also involved in the robbery on November 22, at Rampura Phul in which an arhtiya was robbed of Rs 50,000 and a mobile phone.

Dr Jain said weapons including a rifle, some pistols, an air gun, .315 bore one pistol, a sharp-edged weapon, cartridges, a car, two scooters a cell phone, jewellery and Rs 22,800 were seized from them.

Dr Jain said that cases had been registered against the accused at the Rampura police station.


Rs 1 lakh looted
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), November 27
Two car-borne unidentified persons today allegedly looted Rs 1 lakh from Mr Surinder Kala, an employee of a local business establishment, while he was bringing the money from a bank here.

Police sources said that the two accused, who were travelling in a car stopped Mr Kala on the way and looted him at gunpoint.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, police chief of Mansa, said the town had been sealed and the accused would be apprehended shortly.


Science exhibition inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 27
Dr Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI, Schools, inaugurated the state-level science exhibition-cum-competition organised by the District Education Department here today. More than 800 students and 350 teachers from all over the state are participating in the exhibition.

According to Mr H.S. Bhullar DEO (S), the district was holding the state-level event for the first time. The main theme is “ Science and technology for the society” and has been divided in eight sub-themes like landmark in science, harnessing energy, diet, environment, health, transportation and communication, science as a medium of entertainment and educational technology.

He said to educate rural students about the significance of environment a separate competition would be organised to make the exhibition more interesting. Five types of competitions among teachers and students would also be organised.

The first three models from each theme would be given prizes and some top items would be sent to compete in the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Science exhibition next year and in Northern India Science Fair, being organised by the NCERT.

He said the Science exhibition would be shown to students of various schools and it would also be open for the public. He said a panel of judges would inspect the models for two days. The results would be declared on the third day. Jathedar Tota Singh, Minister for Education would give away the prizes to the winners.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, Mrs Surinder Kaur Dhingra, Bachitar Singh, DEO(P) also addressed the gathering.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI (Schools), said here today said the government had decided to set up 408 Adarsh Model Schools in 216 blocks of the state. In these schools only those students would be admitted, who would get first divisions and the admitted students would also be given stipend.

He said as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, 7230 posts of teacher would be filled from the ETT and B.Ed. category. Preference would be given to all those ETT teachers who had applied for the posts and the remaining would be filled from the B.Ed. teachers.

Later Dr Khatra also made a surprise visit to certain schools.


‘Open brain competition’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 27
The local Regional College of Management and Technology organised a district-level “open brain competition” yesterday. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Students of all schools were invited to participate. The students were to solve 100 questions in as many minutes. Vikas Bansal won the first prize of Rs 3,100. Paramjit Kaur and Amrit Kumar won the second and third positions, respectively. The second and third prizes were for Rs 2,100 and Rs 1,100 respectively. Mr Garg distributed the prizes among the winners.

Five students were given consolation prizes of Rs 500 each and 20 students were given cash prizes of Rs 100 each. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Garg said such competitions were a must to boost the confidence of students.

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