Friday, November 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Enthusiastic response to Congress rally
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 29
If the enthusiastic response to the Congress rally held here today is any indication, it seems Congressmen are already smelling power. Congress aspirants from all assembly seats in the district thronged the Rajpura Colony grounds to impress the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was in an upbeat mood.

Party aspirants for the assembly seats in the district assembled here today with supporters of Sheelam Sohi and Deepinder Singh Dhillon, both contenders for Banur assembly seat, being most enthusiastic in cheering the Congress President All-India General Secretary Moti Lal Vora, who is in charge of the Punjab affairs, was also present on the occasion.

The party mood was upbeat with most leaders, including legislature party leader Jagjit Singh, MP Preneet Kaur and senior leaders Sant Ram Singla, Jasjit Singh Randhawa and Surinder Singla, besides the PPCC chief, predicting the end of Akali rule and ridiculing the Chief Minister for getting his ‘’personal assistant’’ Kirpal Singh Badungar elected President of the SGPC.

Capt Amarinder Singh said it was for the first time in history that an Akali leader had got his personal assistant elected as President of the SGPC, adding that the august body had been severely degraded through this move. He said the Akali government had already denigrated the government by appointing mediocre bureaucrats in important positions.

The PPCC chief said the corruption level had reached a new high, adding that he welcomed the demand of members of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) requesting the Chairman to file a defamation suit against him. He said the party had hundreds of affidavits alleging corrupt practices being done by the commission which he would produce in court. He also announced that the Congress would go in for a judicial review of the allegedly wrong appointments done by the PPSC if the party came to power.

Talking to newspersons later, AICC General Secretary Moti Lal Vora said the “charge sheet” against the Badal government had been cleared by the Coordination Committee of the party. When questioned whether the alliance of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with the Panthic Morcha would have an effect on the party’s performance, he said the weaker sections of society would align with the Congress and special schemes had been devised for them in the party manifesto.

Mr Vora alleged that the BSP had been exposed in the state, with even its supporters realising that it had gone in for a secret understanding with the ruling SAD. He said as the BSP could not forge an alliance with the SAD due to simultaneous elections being held in Uttar Pradesh, aligned it is allayed against the BJP, it had gone in for an alliance with the Panthic Morcha in a bid to weaken the Congress. He said this move would, however, not succeed.

He also alleged that the state government still owed Rs 1,500 crore for the paddy procured from the farmers adding that it was surprising that the RBI had not hauled up the government for not making prompt payments to the farmers.


SGPC chief meets Badal
Sikh clergy to hold meeting on Dec 7
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, newly appointed SGPC chief, today held a closed-door meeting with Mr Parkash Singh Badal at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, and briefed him about the ‘misconduct’ of his predecessor, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi. Meanwhile the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has called a meeting of the high priests on December 7 here.

Sources said apart from taking action against Mr Talwandi, the Sikh clergy might seek explanation of Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, for supporting Mr Talwandi on delivering a ‘parallel message’ on the eve of ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ (Divali). In his message, Mr Talwandi had allegedly used derogatory language against the high priests.

The high priests may also seek explanation of Giani Puran Singh as to why he had been absenting himself from the meetings of Akal Takht since his appointment as Head Granthi. It may be mentioned here that Giani Puran Singh, who was sacked as Jatherdar, Akal Takht, by the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, was appointed Head Granthi, Golden Temple, by Mr Talwandi, immediately after taking over as President of the SGPC. Since then, Giani Puran Singh has refused to attend the meetings of Akal Takht which is mandatory as per ‘Sikh maryada’.

Interestingly, the SGPC executive had allowed Giani Puran Singh to send his representative at the meetings of Akal Takht, a step unprecedented in the Sikh history. It may also be mentioned that Giani Puran Singh had refused to attend the meetings on the pretext that he could not sit with the three Sikh high priests whom he had ‘excommunicated’ from the Sikh Panth. Giani Puran Singh also nurses a grudge against Jathedar Vedanti as he had rescinded all edicts issued by Giani Puran Singh in his capacity as Akal Takht Jathedar.

Sources said Prof Badungar was likely to hold a meeting with Jathedar Vedanti shortly to discuss the various Panthic issues. The high priests were sore over the non-implementation of the directives by the ousted SGPC chief, Mr Talwandi, which brought the institutions of SGPC and Akal Takht at the loggerheads. However, Prof Badungar has said that he will uphold the sanctity of Akal Takht. He said he would endeavour to create a congenial atmosphere so that all Sikh institutions could function smoothly.

The fate of Giani Mal Singh who was recently appointed Priest of Golden Temple by Mr Talwandi still hangs in balance as his appointment is unlikely to be cleared in the next executive meeting. The appointment of Giani Mal Singh had raised eyebrows as Sikh institutions were not taken into confidence as per the tradition.


SGPC to keep off politics: Badungar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29
The new SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today said that he would keep the institution away from politics and focus on the religious affairs. Mr Badungar, who called on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at Ganga Ram Hospital here, said he would act without prejudice. “I will strive to take everyone along and try to restore due honour of the Sikh high priests,” he said.

The new SGPC chief, whose name as SAD nominee came as a surprise to many, said even he was not aware of his candidature. Maintaining that the image of SGPC chief had earlier become that of a “dictator,” Mr Bhadungar said that simplicity and humility would be the guiding factors during his tenure and he had already issued instructions to the SGPC functionaries and offices to not display his photograph.


BJP poll panel to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The legislative group of the Punjab BJP and the state election committee of the party will meet here tomorrow.

For the past few weeks, a large number of BJP workers, aspirants for the party ticket in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections, have been making rounds of the party office in Sector 4 here.

The meetings tomorrow, therefore, will discuss the criteria for the allocation of the party ticket and also draw up a strategy for the elections. As a coalition partner of the SAD, the meetings are expected to decide the date for undertaking a mass-contact programme as a run-up to the elections besides constituting a committee to draft the manifesto, it is learnt.

The performance of the BJP ministers is also likely to figure at the meetings besides evaluation of the party’s strengths and weaknesses. The BJP does not want any uncalled-for confrontation with the SAD on party ticket distribution. It is keen on putting up strong candidates to defeat the Congress. Though senior leaders are silent, factionalism among the Akalis and the presence of the Panthic Morcha are causes of concern to the BJP.

The party is likely to draw up a plan on how to get the maximum political mileage from the Prime Minister’s Rs 1,500 crore bonanza, abolition of octroi and other sops given to urban voters. It will also have to find answers to issues like corruption in the government, POTO, differences in the cadre with the SAD counterparts in certain pockets and evolving of a mechanism for a synchronised campaign and joint meetings with SAD leaders in the key areas.


Punjab okays leave for self-employment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
Punjab has offered its employees sabbatical leave up to a period of five years enabling them to seek self-employment. If successful, an employee may either resign or seek premature retirement; if not, he/she may rejoin to complete the remaining term of service.

A commitment to this effect was made by Capt Kanwaljit Singh while presenting the Budget in the Vidhan Sabha on March 19. It has now been fulfilled with the Council of Ministers on Wednesday approving the terms governing the scheme. This has been done while the employees are still waiting for the introduction of the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) which was also announced in the same Budget speech.

Under the sabbatical leave provisions, an employee should have put in at last eight years of regular service to be eligible. An employee can seek leave up to five years. If leave is not due then this leave can be considered as “extraordinary leave”. An employee will be at liberty to seek this leave for three years at a time, in the first instance, and then get it extended for another two years. But an employee cannot curtail his leave prior to the completion of three years to rejoin service.

All this while an employee’s lien will be retained in the office for a period of five years or till the date he/she rejoins service or the date of superannuation. No substitute or fresh recruitment, however, will be made during the period an employee remains on leave. During the period of leave an employee can retain the house allotted as per the existing rules.

This facility of special leave, however, is not applicable to employees who are specialist officers having obtained specialised training during service and those who have executed service bonds and have not fulfilled the relevant conditions. The others who are ineligible are employees who are serving abroad under special arrangements or bond or against whom disciplinary proceedings are contemplated/pending or those appointed on contract or those who are highly skilled and qualified and whose retention is necessary in the interest of the government.

The employees seeking sabbatical leave will be entitled to all kinds of pensionary and retiral benefits, including gratuity, leave encashment, commutation of pension, etc. Leave salary will also be permissible.

An employee can rejoin after a period of three years or before the expiry of the five-year period of leave. The period of leave spent will be deducted from the leave account on return. Employees who seek sabbatical leave will be allowed to withdraw 75 per cent of the amount in the general provident fund to enable him/her to go in for self-employment.

Informed sources said that when the proposal for granting sabbatical leave was examined by the Finance Department, it had recommended a minimum regular service of 10 years. But later it was reduced by two years since the proposed VRS had also kept 10 years as the minimum service.

This is just one of the ways the government hopes to cut the burgeoning flab to save on wage and pension bills that are eating into the vitals of financial management.


Cops get taste of their medicine
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
Forty policemen of the Punjab police, sent as complainants to various police stations in the state recently by the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, to study the police working and behaviour, had a first-hand experience of how difficult it was for the common man to get a case registered.

Analysts of the academy were shocked to learn that not a single FIR had been registered in any case where as according to the Supreme Court ruling and the free-registration of cases policy adopted in some police districts it was mandatory to register a complaint instantly.

Interestingly, they found that the behaviour of the police was polite. Sources said noting the behaviour and the registration of the cases was the main thrust of the study.

An official, wishing not to be quoted, claimed that the present situation of the police working in the registration of cases may not be as ‘disturbing’ as the study suggested. He reasoned that a number of months had passed and most of the police district authorities had taken corrective steps. The report has been brought to the notice of the DGP, Punjab, Mr Sarbjit Singh. Talking to The Tribune in a recent interview, he confirmed the study and the results. He said after the introduction of the community policing system he was hopeful of further improvement.

The 40 policemen, including officers personnel and women, were chosen from different parts of the state and sent to police stations far off from their usual place of working in disguises They were given a questionnaire to note down the observations regarding the behaviour of policemen on duty. What was embarrassing for the analysts was that not even a single complaint had been registered as an FIR. The complainants were either told that the case was not fit to be registered or that they would inquire into the complaint and then register it.

Academy sources said the study was very helpful in pointing out the grey areas the police force needed to improve.


Lok Bhalai Party to contest 90 seats
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 29
The Lok Bhalai Party will contest 90 Assembly seats in the coming elections. The names of 20 candidates have been announced and they have started campaigning. This was stated by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, while addressing a party conference at Shamsher Nagar village today.

The conference was organised by Mr Surinder Singh Banka, who has been allotted the party ticket for Sirhind constituency by Mr Ramoowalia. Several Congress supporters and local leaders joined the Lok Bhalai Party after deserting their party.

Later, talking to this correspondent, Mr Ramoowalia said his party would not form any alliance but added that it would extend support to like-minded candidates.

Addressing the conference, Mr Banka said. Congress workers had started joining the Lok Bhalai Party. He also launched his election campaign on the occasion.

Those who joined the party after deserting other parties included Mr Jaswant Singh Bhamarsi Buland, senior vice-president, District Congress Committee, Mr Bhagwan Singh, former general secretary of the DCC, Mr Gurcharan Singh, senior Congress leader, Mr Harvinder Pathak, Municipal Commissioner, Sirhind, of the BJP, Mr Ashok Kumar Sood, president, Sirhing Tempo Union, and Mr Harwant Singh, senior Akali leader. Several panches and sarpanches also joined the party.

Mr Kewal Krishan district president of the party, Mr Surinder Singh, general secretary, Mr Malkiat Singh Ghuman and Mr Janak Raj, members of the central committee, also addressed the gathering.


Unity only if Badal steps down: Baba Bedi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener , Panthic Morcha, said here yesterday day that doors for the likes of Bhaniaras had been opened in Punjab by Mr Parkash Singh Badal with the election of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as the president of the SGPC.

Commenting on the election of Mr Badungar as the President of the SGPC, Baba Bedi said the induction of Mr Badungar as president of the elected parliament of the Sikhs proved that Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara had the support of Mr Badal and he was responsible for the incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab. “Now ‘bhaniaraism’ will flourish in the state and there will be no place for Panthic men in the Akali Dal. Earlier, Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala and Bhai Ranjit Singh have been shown the door and now Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi has also been ousted.”

Asked if still there was any hope of any unity between the Akali Dal led by Mr Badal and the panthic morcha, Baba Bedi said Mr Badal was never sincere in having Panthic unity and now with the election of Mr Badungar as president of the SGPC the doors for unity had been finally closed by Mr Badal.

He said the unity of the Akali factions was possible only “if Mr Badal steps down from the presidentship of SAD and chief ministership of the state keeping in view the follies committed by him during the past five years. Let the unified Akali Dal decide the issue of leadership of the Akali Dal and legislature”, he observed.

Baba Bedi had a meeting with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra today at the latter’s village and discussed the situation arising after the election of the office-bearers of the SGPC yesterday.

The Panthic Morcha is likely to intensify its campaign against the ruling Akali Dal with the next few days.


S. Asian Friendship camp concludes

Moga, November 29
The week-long 11th South Asian Friendship camp, organised by the South Asia Fraternity Chapter of India, concluded today with the declaration for strengthening ties and bringing awareness among the people of the countries to shun hatred.

Atleast 290 delegates from 22 states of India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma and Bangladesh attended the camp.

Acharya Ram Murti, veteran Gandhian and patron of the fraternity, while addressing the valdictory function of the camp, reminded that how the people of South Asian countries were ruled by the Britishers. He said that the time had come when we should start thinking in terms of people-to-people relationship among countries of South Asia.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who was the chief guest, said the youth was the backbone of the society and it plays a vital role in building a strong nation.

He said the friendship among the youth provided an opportunity to resolve the conflict of different regions and nations.

Mr Nisar Ahmed, leader of the Pakistan delegation, said they had come to spread the message of peace and brotherhood between the two neighbouring countries and also desired atmosphere of peace and mutual trust between the two countries.

Mr Sat Paul, secretary general, South Asia Fraternity, said the organisation was established in 1990 to discuss problems and to seek solution, for the freedom of the people of South Asia and it had been organising friendship camps since 1991 for this purpose. PTI


Parties on toes to check bogus voters
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, November 29
Members of various political parties and prospective candidates for the coming assembly elections today remained on their toes in the tehsil offices of the district to thwart any attempt, particularly belonging to the ruling alliance of Punjab, to register bogus voters.

Workers of the Congress and SAD today reached the tehsil offices and remained their till late evening to keep a watch on the process of registration of new voters and deletion of names of those persons from the voters lists who were no longer voters.

Today being the last day the government officials revising electoral rolls received thousands of application form in this regard

Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, senior leader of SAD, while talking to TNS said he had submitted about 2,000 applications at the tehsil office for deleting the names of those who had been found bogus voters. He added that the maximum numbers of bogus voters were found in Maur Mandi town, while some were found at Bhaghi Bander village.

Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, President, District Congress Committee, Bathinda, said he had come to know that thousands of bogus voters had been registered by the ruling alliance in all assembly segments falling in the district.

Mr R Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, when contacted said the revision of electoral rolls was being done in a transparent manner and every objection in connection with the registration of new voters and deletion of names from the voter lists was being properly entertained.


50 yrs gone, she still waits for spouse
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, November 29
After she was dumped by her drunkard husband 50 years ago, 75-year-old blind Sarla Devi, resolved not to live under a roof till her husband came back and took her home. She has been keeping her promise for five decades by living in the open near Town Hall here.

Wrinkle-faced, Sarla Devi has been waiting for “celestial justice” for decades. She lost her eyesight at the age of four due to wrong use of medicine. She got married to a milkman who left her. If this was not enough, she lost two of her four children as being blind she could not take their proper care. She decided to lodge a novel protest against the Almighty by staying shelterless and facing the vagaries of nature.

For residents of this “city of Vedas”, this frail woman has been an epitome of courage. All their efforts to make her relent and shift to roofed accommodation, which they are ready to provide for her, have failed. So had the pleas of her two married daughters who have been unsuccessful in taking along with them.

“Whenever any of her two daughters come here and ask her to accompany them to their homes, she refuses flatly, saying she will go to the home of her husband alone said Usha Rani, a resident of Town Hall.

“All neighbours are ready to join hands for arranging accommodation for her but she has been refusing it,” she added. Master Rattan Singh Rajput, a resident of nearby Bahadurpur locality, said he had been seeing her live in the open for the past about 30 years.


Bungling in fish supply by contractors
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 29
The case of death of fish in the Sutlej took a new turn today, with the district administration admitting that the fish which perished on November 17, allegedly due to toxic effluents in the river, were supplied by contractors in the market. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, talking to this correspondent, said on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Ropar, Mr Krishan Kumar, had conducted an inquiry into the incident.

The high court, taking suo motu notice of the report published in The Tribune regarding the perishing of fish in the Sutlej, had directed the district administration to get an inquiry conducted into the incident by an officer not below the rank of ADC.

During the inquiry, an associate of a fish contractor, who had the rights for fishing in the affected area of the river, admitted that they supplied about 14 quintals of dead fish. For doing so, a criminal case would be registered against the contractor, the Deputy Commissioner said.

Mr Sukhchran Singh Grewal, president of the Fish Farmers Association, Punjab, had earlier told this correspondent that the fish from the area were generally supplied in Ambala, Jammu and Leh areas.

The Deputy Commissioner said action was also recommended against the Chief Fisheries Officer, Ropar, and local fisheries officers for dereliction of duty. These officers have been found guilty of failing to inform the district administration about the incident on time and to collect the samples of affected fish and river water. About the cause of the death of the fish, the Deputy Commissioner said the Punjab Pollution Control Board authorities had collected the samples from the site of the incident. However, they had not submitted their report and anything regarding the cause of death of the fish could be said only after the receipt of the fish, he added.

Yesterday, on the orders of the high court, the district administration had banned fishing and the sale of fish from the Sutlej till further orders.


Fishing banned in Sutlej
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 29
On the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the district administration, the fishing and the sale of fish from the Sutlej has been banned till further orders.

The local Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, told newspersons that the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Krishan Kumar, had been sent to the site where fish died due to the polluted Sutlej waters. Mr Krishan Kumar would submit his report before the High Court tomorrow, Mr Grewal added.

Meanwhile, reliable sources said the Fisheries Department had submitted its interim report regarding the loss of fish in the Sutlej allegedly due to the release of toxic wastes.

According to the report, a team of fisheries officers has estimated that about 30 quintals of big fish and seed fish or the small fish worth Rs 2 lakh perished due to the toxicity in the Sutlej.


PCI panel meets Chief Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
A three-member fact-finding committee, constituted by the Press Council of India, on the alleged attack on the Editor of a Hindi daily of Bathinda, today met the Punjab Chief Secretary, the Information Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police and others.

The committee comprises Mr Alok Mehta (convener), Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi and Mr Sunil Dang.

Earlier, the committee had visited Bathinda and met the Deputy Commissioner and others. It also visited the jail to meet the Editor lodged there for the past two years.

In the next round, said Mr Dang, the committee would meet the Chief Minister and others. Some persons associated with the incident would be summoned to New Delhi on December 3.

The committee will submit its report to the council on December 4.


Processions taken out on Gurpurab eve
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
A “nagar kirtan” procession led by the Guru Granth Sahib and the “panj piaras” started from Akal Takht and passed through various parts of the city today. The entire route of the procession was decorated on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, carries the holy Guru Granth Sahib before the start of nagar kirtan on Thursday. — Photo RS

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, and a large number of devotees participated.

SAMANA: Religious and educational institutions took out a “nagar kirtan” procession today on the eve of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary. Thousands of residents of nearby villages participated in the procession. The processionists were led by the “panj piaras”.

It started from Gurdwara Singh Sabha and passed through the main bazaars of the town before culminating at Gurdwara Singh Sabha.

Sweets and fruits were also distributed at some places in the city.

HOSHIARPUR: A “nagar kirtan” procession was taken out by the local Singh Sabha in the main bazaar of the city on Thursday to mark the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev. Bazaars were decorated and sweets and fruits were distributed to celebrate the occasion.

SAMRALA: A “nagar kirtan” procession was taken out on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. It started from Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha and concluded at Gurdwara Sri Sangat Sahib. It passed through various bazaars of the town.

The procession, led by the “panj piaras” included schoolchildren and members of various religious parties.


Sobha Singh Art Gallery to get facelift
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 29
Mr Swarna Ram, Minister for Tourism, Cultural Affairs and Archives, today announced that the state government would renovate the Sobha Singh Art Gallery at Sri Hargobindpur (Gurdaspur) — the birth place of the artist, which is in a state of utter neglect.

Talking to the correspondent, Mr Ram said the invaluable paintings of Sobha Singh, which were taken by the villagers, would be restored soon.

Earlier, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Director, Cultural Affairs, expressed concern that no private collector of the paintings of Sobha Singh responded to the call of the department for displaying the same at the exhibition held at the Thakur Singh Art Gallery here today to mark the birth centenary of the artist. Mr Sandhu said the department had offered to bear all expenses for transporting the paintings.

The exhibition which was organised amid much fanfare, turned out to be a low-key affair as only the paintings collected by Bibi Gurcharn Kaur, adopted daughter of Sobha Singh, could adorn the walls of the art gallery.

A seminar on the life and work of Sobha Singh was also held. Dr Saroj Chaman, Punjabi University, Mr J.S. Virdi and Mr K.L. Vaidya, art critic, read their research papers on Sobha Singh.


ASI slaps ‘munshi’, both suspended
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 29
An Assistant Sub-Inspector posted at the Police Division No. 3 here allegedly slapped the “munshi” of the police station this morning.

The incident took place when ASI Deepak wanted to use the police station telephone and the “munshi” objected to it saying that the police station was already getting hefty phone bills. This led to a wordy duel between them and the former allegedly slapped the latter as he could not tolerate his insult at the hands of a junior.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said both the officials had been suspended for creating a scene at the police station and a strict departmental action was being taken against them.


Martyrs cremated
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 29
The mortal remains of Jasbir Singh, Naib Subedar, and Hardip Singh, sepoy, were today consigned to the flames with full military honours at their native villages Dholewal in Dasuya sub-division and at Kalewal in Mukerian subdivision of this district, respectively. Police contingents fired in the air and reversed their weapons as a mark of respect to the departed souls.

Both, Jasbir Singh and Hardip Singh, lost their lives while fighting terrorists at Surankote in Jammu & Kashmir on November 27. The bodies of the martyrs reached their respective villages this morning. Jasbir Singh is survived by his wife and a daughter.


Punjab Regiment to give aid to widows
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 29
Financial assistance will be provided to war widows and disabled soldiers during a function being organised by the regiment of Punjab Regiment belonging to Punjab and Himachal Pradesh at Ferozepore on December 3.xEach soldier or kin will get between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh from the Army Central Welfare Fund and the National Defence Fund, a defence note said here today. Mr J.S. Sekhon, Punjab Irrigation Minister, will preside.


Dhaliwal is chief of surgeons’ body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director Principal, Guru Ramdas Medical Institute, Amritsar, has been re-elected president of the Association of Surgeons of India, Northern Chapter.

Other office-bearers are: vice-presidents — Dr B.S. Sidhu and Dr G.S. Sidhu; honorary secretary — Dr Kuldip Singh; joint secretary — Dr A.S. Grover; and treasurer — Dr Ashok Attri.


Orthopaedics surgeon dead
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 29
Padmashree awardee N.D. Aggarwal (80), a senior orthopaedics surgeon of the city, died following a brief illness on November 27. The cremation took place here yesterday.

Dr Aggarwal was the founder of the Orthopaedics Department at Government Medical College, Patiala, and the seniormost professor of orthopaedics surgery in the state with a teaching experience of 22 years.


Rs 643 lakh for Ferozepore villages
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, November 29
The Punjab Government proposes to give greater administrative and financial rights to all the district-level planning and development boards in order to ensure all-round development of the villages and to implement various development schemes at the grass-roots level. In addition, the state government will spend an amount of Rs 1304.72 lakh on the completion of various ongoing developmental schemes during the current financial year in this district.

This was stated by Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, while presiding over a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board. The meeting was attended by Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, MLA, Mr Sukhpal Singh Nannu, Mr V.K. Meena, ADC, Mr M.S. Sandhu, SDM, Zira, Mr H. L. Bansal, SDM, Ferozepore, Mr J.C. Sabharwal, SDM, Jalalabad, and Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, Fazilka, besides heads of various departments.

Mr Ladhar said out of the sanctioned amount of Rs 706.2 lakh, Rs 642.66 lakh would be spent on the development of villages. An amount of Rs 2.02 crore has been received for the development of the border area under the Border Area Development Fund, he added. He said this amount would be utilised for providing basic amenities to the people of the border area.

He said an amount of Rs 55 lakh would be spent on the widening and beautification of the main road leading to Hussainiwala Indo-Pakistan joint check post and the work on the same would be started soon. Mr Ladhar stated that the BDPOs had been directed to install boards at vital places for the information of the villagers about the development works being undertaken together with the amount received from the state government for the purpose. Mr Ladhar instructed all government officials present at the meeting to ensure fair utilisation of the funds, sanctioned by the planning board.


PUDA policy on plots for staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has approved a policy on the allotment of residential plots to its employees. The decision was taken at a Finance and Accounts Committee meeting of the authority held last evening.

Under the policy, Class I, II, III and IV regular PUDA employees will be eligible for the allotment of plots up to 5, 8, 10 and 14 marlas, respectively. The offer is, however, open to only those who have put in five years of service in department.

A spokesman of PUDA said an employee who had already been allotted a plot or a flat earlier by PUDA/the Punjab Housing Development Board /the Urban Estates Department would not be considered eligible. The ownership of the plots could be transferred after a period of five years, after the issue of the completion certificate.

The committee meeting, chaired by the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, also approved a policy to encourage the activities of charitable, social welfare and voluntary organisations.

Land would now be made available to these institutions on a leasehold basis at a concessional rate of Rs 6 per sq yd. However, only those organisations which were pursuing the establishment of orphanages, schools, training centres for orphans, facilities for mentally retarded children, hospitals for the mentally sick, etc, would be deemed eligible under this policy.

Normally, the land offered would be limited to 1,000 sq yd but in exceptional cases, based on the appraisal of the project report, more land could be allotted. With the adoption of this policy, PUDA has brought these institutions on a par with places of worship.

The committee approved the allotment of 1,500 sq yd in Sector 38-A, Samrala Road Urban Estate, Ludhiana, to the Social Welfare Department for the construction of Maharishi Balmiki Bhavan, apart from offering a school site in the Dugri Road Urban Estate, Ludhiana, to the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana. The committee also formalised the levy of external development charges in the case of the Basant Vihar Cooperative House-Building Society, adjacent to the Urban Estate (Phase II), Jalandhar, at the rate of Rs 69.10 per sq yd.


MC violating Local Bodies Dept norms
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, November 29
Has the local municipal corporation violated prescribed norms by undertaking development works in unapproved private colonies on the outskirts of the city in the past one decade at the expense of the state exchequer? It seems so, if laying of water supply and sewerage lines worth crores of rupees by the civic body in these colonies is any indication.

Most colonies developed by private colonisers near Dakoha village, Bast Pir Dad, Basti Danishmanda, Ladhewali village and Basti Bawa Khel were allegedly provided with water supply and sewerage lines by the civic body two years ago.

The MC had undertaken development works in these colonies after the then Prime Minister, Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 crore for augmentation of the water supply system in the city.

Subsequently, the selling price of residential plots in these colonies were hiked manifold resulting in huge profits minted by private colonisers at the expense of the state exchequer.

“The Superintending Engineer, Mr A.K. Parbhakar in connivance with private colonisers had prepared a master plan for utilisation of Rs 10 crore Central Government grant for augmentation of the water supply system in the city and had included these unapproved colonies in the plan, which was later sent to the Local Bodies Department for necessary approval two year ago,” Mr Gurcharan Singh Narula, Senior Deputy Mayor, alleged.

In a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary of the Local Bodies Department on November 23, Mr Narula alleged that Mr Parbhakar had used the public money to provide water supply and sewerage facilities in some unapproved colonies, where nobody was residing at that time, contrary to the prescribed rules of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act.

Mr Narula alleged the nexus between civic body officials and private colonisers should be exposed since their activities were bringing a bad name to the SAD-BJP government. He said he would present a memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in this regard at Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal, too, demanded a high-level probe into the allegations. “The officials had kept me in the dark about the use of part of the Rs 10 crore grant in such illegal colonies and strict action will be taken against the erring officials,” he added.

When contacted, the SE, Mr Parbhakar, admitted that they had laid the water supply and sewerage lines in some unapproved colonies.

“We have undertaken development works in different parts of the city after getting necessary approval from the Local Bodies Department. Mr Narula is hurling baseless allegations just to defame me and in a bid to stop the ongoing development works in different localities,” Mr Parbhakar said.

While the Principal Secretary of the Local Bodies Department was not available for comment, the Commissioner, Mr Sameer Kumar said he was not the competent authority to order an inquiry against the SE, who was a Class I officer.


District admn complex plan hangs fire
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 29
The plan to construct a district administrative complex by PUDA here to house all offices under one roof has virtually been abandoned.

The plan got a head start when the district administration offered 14 acres to PUDA more than 6 months ago. The land belonged to the Animal Husbandry Department and was part of the official house of the Executive Engineer (Canals). The department vacated its office and shifted the residence of the Deputy Director, District Animal Husbandry Department, temporarily.

The premises of the complex was approved by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in agreement with the Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dr Rattan Singh.

PUDA was authorised to sell approximately 100 acres on the Malakpur-Jammu road which belong to the Irrigation Department and more than 14 acres under district courts.

The district administration made a blueprint of land on the Malakpur-Pathankot road and kept Rs 62,500 per marla as price for the land. PUDA sought applications for the purchase of plots on the land, but could not find buyers.

The administration made another plan and sent it to the government seeking approval for the sale of land at a rate of about Rs 32,000 per marla, but is awaiting clearance till date.

PUDA managed to took possession of the land under the offices of the Deputy Registrar and the Assistant Registrar (Cooperatives) in the open auction at exhorbitant prices and promised the Cooperative Department to allot them alternative site at the earliest.

It also promised to pay rent for the temporary accommodation hired by the Cooperative Department till the allotment of the alternative site. PUDA deposited Rs 26 lakh in shape of fixed deposits in the commercial banks to meet the expenses of the temporary accommodation rented by the Cooperative Department.

Meanwhile, PUDA had arrived at an agreement with the Animal Husbandry Department to allot them 5 acres from the land of the T.B. Hospital, Babri.

The land of the hospital has been given on lease to it and the promise made to the Animal Husbandry Department is hanging fire till date.

PUDA was also to transfer Rs 50 lakh to the Animal Husbandry Department for the construction of its office building but nothing has been done in this connection.

The Animal Husbandry Department did not shift its piggery farm from its parent building. According to some reliable sources, the Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Punjab, has directed his district office to shift back to its original office, leaving a little scope for PUDA to construct the complex.

Official sources said neither the state Chief Minister nor the district administration under these circumstances was keen on carrying out the construction of the complex.


All octroi employees to be absorbed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
All 4,000 employees, who had been working at various octroi posts, would be absorbed in different government departments after the abolition of octroi.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Bodies Minister, while addressing a press conference here today said the employees would continue to get their emoluments and annual increments even after the abolition of octroi. Mr Tandon said all 142 municipal committees and four corporations would get an amount equal to the revenue they were earning from octroi and at least 5 to 10 per cent increase every year so that they use properly compensated.

He said the Rs 475-crore deficit would be met by additional resources and the government had already applied for a loan of Rs 200 crore from the Centre.


Varsity XEN retires
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
Mr Narinder Singh Ghai, Executive Engineer at Guru Nanak Dev University, today retired after 29 years of service. He was given farewell by the officers association and staff. Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, appreciated the services of Mr Ghai.


Robbers’ gang busted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 29
The Jalandhar police has busted a two-member gang of robbers by arresting its kingpin today and seized an imported revolver robbed by the gang from a house in the Urban Estate here recently.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said the arrest of Sudesh Jyoti of Islamabad locality in Gurdaspur, at a naka here yesterday led to the busting of the gang. Sudesh, it was found later, was the ringleader of a two-member gang formed by him with his accomplice, Raj Kumar Raju of Jhoolna Mahl locality of Gurdaspur.

The duo had attempted an armed robbery at the house of Mr Harvinder Singh Sandhu in Urban Estate, Phase II here, on the intervening night of November 7 and 8. Sudesh was hit in his left thigh by a bullet fired by Mr Sidhu with his licenced revolver. They, however, seriously injured Mr Sandhu with knives and had fled after snatching his revolver. The bullet was still embedded in Sudesh’s thigh.

My Yadav said the interrogation of Sudesh revealed that he had committed as many as 12 robberies and murders in Karnataka and had been arrested by the Bangalore police. He had jumped the bail after remaining imprisoned for four years. He had also committed robberies at several PCOs in and around Bangalore with the help of one Satwinder Singh of Hanuman Chowk locality in Gurdaspur.


65 drums of bitumen seized
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 29
The local police has seized 24,810 intoxicant pills, 832 capsules, 230 injections and 54 kg of poppy husk from different parts of the city.

Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, SSP, Barnala, said here today that three contractors, Birbal Dass, Jagpal Singh and Manjinder Singh of Barnala, had been arrested for possessing 65 drums of bitumen without any valid documents.

The SSP said the market price of these bitumen drums weighing 8,807 kg was Rs 97,000.


PCCTU’s week-long stir from Dec 4
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
Academic work in 172 private colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh is likely to be disrupted for a week beginning from December 4 in the wake of a ‘‘cease work’’ call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) here today. While the colleges will remain open, no classes would be conducted during the week.

Addressing a press conference, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, President, PCCTU, said the teachers were agitating against ‘‘the anti-higher education policies’’ of the Punjab Government. He said the teachers had been demanding implementation of pension-cum-gratuity scheme since long, but despite repeated assurances nothing much had been done.

Prof Sodhi said the Non-Government College Managements’ Federation, Principals’ Federation and Non-Teaching Employees Union had already conveyed their support to the PCCTU. He said the PCCTU, in association with the managements’ federation, was demanding that the 95 per cent grant to the private colleges be updated from the current aid of Rs 72 crore to Rs 92 crore.

Stating the plan, Prof Sodhi said the members of the executive committee of the PCCTU would court arrest at Chandigarh on December 3. He said during the week, protest rallies would be held in front of the residence of ministers and MLAs falling in a particular district.

Rallies will be held in front of the residence of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, at Ludhiana, Mr Baldev Raj Chawla, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, at Amritsar, Mr Tota Singh, Minister for Education, at Moga, Master Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, at Pathankot, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, at Bathinda, Mr Natha Singh Dalam, Minister for Public Relations, at Batala, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Minister for Irrigation, at Ferozepore, Mr Balbir Singh Miani, Minister of State for Higher Education, at Hoshiarpur, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, Minister for Tourism, at Phagwara, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister of State for Health, at Jalandhar, Mr Raghbir Singh, Minister for Transport, at Kapurthala, and Mr Ajaib Singh, Minister of State for PWD, at Patiala, he added.

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