Monday, December 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



‘Sangat darshans’ on despite CM’s absence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The BJP is in an upbeat mood following abolition of octroi with effect from December 1. The fulfillment of this poll promise is expected to give the BJP the much-needed shot in the arm in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

The Minister of Local Government, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, who piloted the proposal at a recent cabinet meeting, himself presided over that meeting in the absence of the Chief Minister, who wanted the promise made to the public implemented at the earliest once the decks were cleared by the High Court.

Mr Tandon, while reminding the business and trade of the governments promise of doing away with octroi, said benefits accruing from it would be passed on to consumers as well.

Talking to TNS, Mr Tandon said abolition of octroi is one of the strings of people-friendly steps the government had taken with the support of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The other steps included simplification of sales tax , relief in house tax, development of urban infrastructure, concessions in electricity consumption to the urban poor, etc.

Mr Badal, has sent word that the coalition partners should work diligently in constituencies attending to the grievances of the people and monitoring the pace of development works. Mr Tandon revealed that he had been asked to represent the Chief Minister at the scheduled ‘’sangat darshan’’ programmes to avoid a vacuum.

Consequently, Mr Tandon held a ‘’sangat darshan’’ in Jalandhar North constituency today and is scheduled to visit Narot Jaimalsingh tomorrow for another such function as promised by Mr Badal.

The BJP’s state election committee and the legislature wing have already met in Chandigarh to draw up a poll strategy for the forthcoming Assembly elections. Given the strong equation that Mr Badal enjoys with the Central BJP leadership, the BJP state unit is confident of denting the so-called impact of the Congress in recent weeks following a temporary halt of “sangat darshan’’ programmes.

Mr Tandon has been briefed about the wide welcome the abolition of octroi has received and says the committee under the Chief Secretary would shortly submit the report on actual implementation of suggestions of the Shakar Committee on ‘’alternatives’’ to octroi that fetched the state’s 140-odd municipalities and four corporations approximately Rs 500 crore, annually. Even the Centre is expected to bail out Punjab by extending a soft loan of Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore.

The council decision not to retrench any employee, who was eligible for all benefits, and that payments to the contractors would not be withheld has sent the right signals down the line. The initial confusion in some quarters would be sorted out in a week’s time.

The BJP proposes to start its own pre-poll campaign in which the SAD leaders and its national leadership would participate. But SAD-BJP ministers, who, in the past, were repeatedly coaxed by Mr Badal to undertake ‘’sangat darshan’’ in their respective constituencies by taking MLAs along are now reportedly feeling lost.

The SAD Political Affairs Committee meeting at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi tomorrow is expected to review the post-SGPC religio-political situation and getting general feed-back on the outcome of the Presidential poll and chalk out a strategy to galvanise the party’s organisational and legislature apparatus in the absence of the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister is likely to give necessary guidelines on mobilising public opinion and ensure coordination with the coalition partners. Informed sources say that Mr Badal is keen that groundwork is completed well in time before the Election Commission makes an announcement on the holding of Assembly elections. This is because the election code of conduct becomes operative from the very date of the announcement.


Amarinder to contest as PPCC chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
Punjab Pradesh media committee chairman Surinder Singla today said Capt Amarinder Singh would contest the Assembly elections as PPCC President during the course of which he would be the main campaigner of the party.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Singla said a wrong impression had been created in a section of the Press in which the general secretary of the party, Mr Moti Lal Vora, had been quoted as saying that Capt Amarinder would have to resign from presidentship if he wanted to contest.

The Congress leader said he had contacted Mr Vora on the issue and was asked by him to make it clear that he (Vora) had not made any such statement.

Mr Singla said a disinformation campaign was being spread by some forces that the Congress was not in favour of farmers or the weaker sections. He said Capt Amarinder had already announced a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal for the farmers on the paddy sold by them during the last season once the party came to power.

He said the party was also committed towards making special schemes for the empowerment of the weaker sections.

He alleged that the SAD government was indulging in shady deals as was apparent in the manner in which it proposed to open a lottery bid submitted by an Australian company. He said this was being done despite the fact that the Reserve Bank of India had clearly banned direct foreign investment in lottery. He said he had written to the RBI Governor, informing him about the move, and had asked him to intervene.

Meanwhile in a separate statement, former minister Prem Gupta urged the government to adjust 4,000 employees who had been rendered jobless after the abolition of octroi.


SGPC panel may run into rough weather
Varidner Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
With the unceremonious removal of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi as SGPC chief, the parallel three-member panel constituted by him to probe into acts of sacrilege may run into rough weather.

Though the SGPC has already withdrawn an official car given to the panel, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, SGPC secretary, said it was taken “temporarily” from the Chandigarh sub-office.

It may be mentioned here that the announcement of the parallel panel had led to a cold war between Mr Talwandi and Mr Parkash Singh Badal. However, following mediation efforts by Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, Punjab Public Service Commission member and leaders of the Sikh Student Federation, both of them decided to bury the hatchet.

While Mr Badal was first to announce the constitution of a one-member judicial probe, the SGPC announced a three-member panel. Mr Badal claimed that the panel had legal sanctity and Mr Talwandi said, SGPC panel enjoyed religious sanctity.

Surprisingly, both panels did not spell out the terms and references and time frame for the probe.

Sources said both panels were unlikely to complete the probe before the elections.


Call for Akali unity an appeal: Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 2
The Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today outrightly rejected the hukamnama issued by the then Jathedar Ranjit Singh in 1998 calling all the warring Akali factions to join hands and termed it as an “appeal”.

Jathedar Vedanti, who was talking to mediapersons at Talwandi Arraian village in Hoshiarpur, said though no religious edict could be issued without the consent of all five head priests (Panch Pardhani), the unilateral decision of the then Jathedar to announce a hukamanama asking all the Akali factions to unite was nothing but an “appeal”.

“If any Jathedar of Akal Takht issues a religious edict violating the concept of Panch Pardhani, it may well be termed as a move to settle political scores with innocent persons which is dangerous for the community. The unilateral decisions cannot be termed as religious edicts,” said Jathedar Vedanti while blaming the violation of Sikh traditions by senior Sikh religious figures for the decade-long turmoil in the state.

Regarding his appeal to all Akali factions to join hands for the welfare of the people of the state and to ensure a defeat to the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections, the Jathedar said he had issued an appeal for the welfare of the Sikh community and it was up to them to adhere to it or not.

“It is painful to know that former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, too, has rejected the unity appeal. I will not issue such appeals in future,” he said.

Regarding his views on the maintenance of sovereignty and credibility of the Akal Takht, Jathedar Vedanti said he had raised the issue soon after taking over as the Jathedar of Akal Takht but no significant initiative had been taken so far to formulate the rules regarding the appointment of the Jathedar, including qualifications and a time limit for the appointment. “I will impress upon the recently elected SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Bandugar to formulate specific rules in this regard to avoid any further controversy over the appointment of Jathedar”, he added.


Audit for better liaison in PU
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
An academic and administrative audit of Panjab University has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the existing systems and has suggested networking of the two.

In pursuance to a directive from the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.N. Pathak, constituted an 11-member committee, headed by Dr S.K. Kulkarni, to conduct an academic and administrative audit. There were two objectives: One, to review progress of the implementation of the research projects/schemes funded by the UGC in the IX Plan. Two, to objectively assess the future needs of 50 teaching departments and 11 faculties enabling the university to project the X Plan requirements.

The audit is as much a blueprint for the future as it is revealing. While recording the strengths of the faculties and listing steps for improvement, the report is a telling comment on the working of the central administrative offices and also highlights how despite in-built infirmities some departments have excelled academically.

The audit is Panjab University’s “CT scan”. It would help it make purposeful use of the available “diagnosis” to serve society better. Even the all-India conference of Vice-Chancellors, to be held here next week, would deliberate on coordinating and maintaining high standards of higher education.

Dr Pathak told TNS that the audit report had brought out the inadequacy of the funds made available under various UGC research projects/schemes and infrastructure development—laboratory and library facilities in the IX Plan. The UGC funding was not just meagre but incommensurate with the actual requirements. The total funds available to Panjab University was just Rs 2.7 crore for the entire five-year period of IX Plan, whereas each department of the science faculty had projected almost matching amounts as their requirement for proper academic pursuits.

The second major observation of the audit was ‘’slow pace’’ of information flow between the teaching departments and the central administrative offices. ‘’The time taken in the communication of permissions and sanctions in response to requests for executing or implementing various academic programmes, participation in seminars and conferences, sanctions for research projects etc. varies from a few weeks to almost an year in some cases’’.

Panjab University, from the time of pre-partition, rehabilitation and relocation, has inherited a legacy in terms of burgeoning population of staff to man academic and administrative services. The list in the report shows the variety of human resources as also the hindrances these create in the smooth and efficient functioning of the university. Any university for that matter.

The strength of the ‘’supporting staff’’ providing administrative, technical, library, laboratory and other services (peons, gardeners, khalasi, waterman, bahishti, farash etc.) to all 50 teaching departments shows that against 1,181 sanctioned posts in various categories, 1,056 were in position — more than 89 per cent and vacancies were less than 11 per cent.

Dr Pathak said based on the audit, in the vision report submitted to the UGC, financial assistance had been sought to ‘’electronically inter-link various branches of the central administrative offices and also to the teaching departments’’. Given the technological advances in data collection, storage and retrieval systems, record keeping could be improved and staff put to better use besides creating more space. There was need for effective utilisation of the existing human resources for more than one type of jobs.

The following points, common to various faculties, emerged from the audit. Obsolete equipment and infrastructure, non-availability of uninterrupted power and water supply, delay in processing of financial sanctions in the central administrative offices for academics and absence of a recruitment policy in view of the large number of faculty retirements due in near future. There was also need for developing inter-disciplinary courses to avoid multiple waste of human efforts, updating existing courses making them relevant to service the sector and drawing up new courses that are job-oriented as well as encouraging research scientists to tie up for contracts and consultancy services to generate resources.

How the working of different faculties and departments can be improved and courses clubbed or excised is mentioned in the report with examples. The audit has taken cognizance of the growing irrelevance of certain courses, dwindling intake of students, acrimony in certain departments and souring of relations between teachers and students in some others.

Suggestions have also been made for evolving an open system to enhance students’ access to department libraries or where courses are required to be made more realistic and job-oriented. Considerable attention has been given to faculties of languages and arts suggesting overhauling of the courses and infusing new blood in view of the emerging needs.

Dr Pathak said Panjab University was still considered among the top ten. He had drawn up plans for bringing about radical changes in the teaching, examination and evaluation systems, introducing concept of ‘’schools’’, autonomous colleges and reduction in entrance tests.


Good response to pulse polio drive
Tribune Reporters

Barnala, December 2
More than 12,000 pulse polio drops were administered to children between the age group of zero and five years during the first phase of the pulse polio immunisation drive here today.

According to Dr S.P. Gupta, SMO, Civil Hospital, Barnala, 30 immunisation camps, including two mobile camps were organised here. Dr Suresh Singhal, in charge of the immunisation drive, Civil Hospital, told this reporter here today that the mobile camps evoked good response from people in slum areas.

Dr Singhal said activists of the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Lions Harmony, Sidana Institute of Nursing and Midwifery, and the Bhagat Mohan Lal Seva Samiti, Barnala, helped the hospital staff carry out the drive.

Similarly, at the Community Health Centre, Dhanaula, about 24,200 polio drops were administered to children in the rural areas.

Dr Baldev Raj Gupta, SMO, in charge, Community Health Centre, Dhanaula, said 95 immunisation camps were organised in villages of the Dhanaula block. He said three mobile pulse polio immunisation camps were also organised.

MANSA: Under the pulse polio immunisation programme as many as 407 booths, including 34 in the Mansa town, were operated in the district on Sunday. As many as 1628 government employees, 81 supervisors and 162 assistant supervisors were deployed at these booths. A total of 1,02,000 children were given polio drops in the district.

A 15-member UNICEF team conducted intensive checking in slum, rural and urban areas of the district. The team accompanied by Dr S.S. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, also visited booths at Bhatta Basti and Charchaman Basti in the slum areas of the town, Nirankari Bhavan and the Civil Surgeon’s office.

Members of the Rotaract Club, Mansa central, Rotary Club, Mansa main, Rotaract Club, Mansa Star, Friendship Yuva Club, Sahara Social Welfare Club also assisted in carrying out the programme.

Earlier Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, MLA, administered the first polio drop of the day at the Civil Hospital booth.

BATHINDA: As many as 1,86,878 children were given pulse polio drops in the district on Sunday.

Mr Gurcharan Kaur, MP, inaugurated the campaign by giving polio drops to children in the local Civil Lines area. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, was also present on the occasion.

Throughout the district 668 booths and 42 mobile teams were set up for the campaign. For giving polio drops to children in slum area 32 special teams were also formed.

A press note issued by the Health Department here today said booths had been set up at public places like the bus stand, railway station, railway crossing and markets. It further said for the next two days the Health Department teams would visit all houses in the city so that all children could be given polio drops.

According to the press note, special teams had been formed for the purpose and the observers of UNICEF were also present during the campaign.

MALERKOTLA: As many as 12,000 children were given polio drops here on Sunday. According to Dr N.C. Garg, CMO, Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, 34 booths and two mobile teams were set up for the purpose. Mr Joginder Singh, Director, Family Welfare, inspected the booths.

HOSHIARPUR: Polio drops were administered to more than 2,25,000 children in the district today. Dr Kiranjit Kumar, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said 1,028 booths for administering polio drops were set up in the district and of which 907 were set up in rural and 121 booths in urban areas. He said 223 teams were formed and 4,500 trained employees were also deputed for the purpose in the district.

PATHANKOT: A pulse polio campaign was inaugurated by Mr Mohan Lal, Higher Education Minister, at the local Civil Hospital here on Sunday. The SMO, Civil Hospital, Dr Parvez Taneza, said 70 teams were set up in the city for this purpose and more than 22,000 children were administered polio drops.

SANGRUR: At least 8,000 children were administered polio drops in the town on Sunday.

Dr Anup Kad, SMO, Civil Hospital, said polio drops were administered to children at 34 camps. Three mobile teams were also formed for this purpose. Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, and Dr C.P. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, visited the camps in bastis and slum areas.


Badal’s working dictatorial: CPI
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, December 2
Dr Joginder Dayal state CPI secretary, said today that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was responsible for the criminalisation of politics in the state.

While addressing a group of party workers here today, Dr Dayal said Mr Badal had adopted a dictatorial behaviour in his working. The CM kept all powers with himself and left nothing for the other leaders of his party, he added.

Attacking the policies of the ruling party he said other leaders of the Akali Dal had become mere puppets in the hands of Mr Badal the leaders of the ruling party instead of giving their views on various topics had given powers to Mr Badal to take decision on certain issues, he added.

Dr Dayal criticised the partial attitude of the Central Government in putting a ban on SIMI as he felt that there were many other organisations like the Bajrang Dal, Vishav Hindu Prishad and RSS which should also be banned.

The secretary was optimistic about the alliance of their party with the Congress in the coming Assembly elections in the states. Talks regarding the alliance were in the final stage and the decision on candidates would be taken after the completion of the alliance, he added. Dr Dayal appealed to Left parties to unitedly fight against Akalis in the election.

He said ruling state government was responsible for the plight of the farmers. Expenses on agriculture was increased manifold but farmers were not getting profitable prices for their produce.

The production of cotton was only 7 lakh bails this year as compared to 27 lakh bails last year. Compensation should be given to the farmers whose crop had failed this year. Farm labourers should also be provided compensation, he added.


BSP opposed to POTO
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 2
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram today flayed the controversial POTO for the first time and stated that the BSP was opposed to it.

Talking to newsmen after addressing the “Hukamran Bano” rally here, Mr Kanshi Ram supported the stand of the Opposition against the reinduction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister. Mr Fernandes should have been reinducted only after he was cleared by the commission probing the Tehelka expose, he said.

Mr Kanshi Ram said the Panthic Morcha would be accommodated in seat-sharing by the BSP only after observing latter’s strength in its December 9 rally at Ludhiana. Asked how many seats the BSP would leave for the Morcha, Mr Kanshi Ram quipped we wanted to win 60-70 Assembly seats for forming government in Punjab and wanted to play the role of dominant partner in our pact with the Panthic Morcha. The BSP was capable of contesting all 117 seats, he added. He said octroi abolition was an election stunt and declared that his party’s election manifesto would be announced after the dates for the election were announced.

Earlier, Mr Kanshi Ram said if voted to power his party would set up a Guru Ravi Das University in Doaba region. Addressing a rally of workers from nine segments of the Phillaur parliamentary constituency at Phagwara — one of the segments where he promised to implement the Mandal Commission report within 24 hours on coming to power he said his party would focus on eradication of corruption, uplift of the downtrodden and providing a clean government. Corruption was the biggest problem of Punjab and the SAD-BJP government was the most corrupt government, he added.

Calling upon Dalits not to rest on their oars till votes were polled and their government was formed, Mr Kanshi Ram cautioned them not to be misled by the propaganda against the BSP in the media. He alleged that the media underplayed the BSP’s rally but overplayed those of the ruling parties and the Congress.

The BSP would form the government in Punjab and capture Delhi within three years, he declared.

The NDA government represented only 11 crore voters, while the BSP represented 62 crore voters, he claimed. The “alapjats” (minorities) would be converted into “bahujan” (majority) by unifying 6000 castes, he asserted. He said similar rallies would be held at Khanna on December 8, Moga on December 23 and Bathinda on December 30.


Demand to create ministry of AIDS
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
The People’s Health Organisation (PHO) demanded the creation of a ministry of AIDS to save the country from the killer disease at a rally held here yesterday.

Mr Ashok Goel, secretary-general, PHO, urged the Punjab Government to abolish sales tax on drugs, kits and equipment used in the treatment of HIV and AIDS patients.

The PHO organised a rally of cars, scooters and pedestrians, involving medical teachers, students and staff of Government Medical College, DAV College for Women, Hindu Sabha School and Hindu College, to commemorate the World AIDS Day.

The rally was flagged off by Mr B.R. Banga, Commissioner Municipal Corporation and chief patron of the PHO. The rally started from Government Medical College and concluded at BBK DAV college.

Mr Banga, while addressing the rally, said the awareness about AIDS must reach the grass-roots, especially slums, rural areas and illiterate poor people of the society.

He appealed to the students to hold “nukkar nataks” and skits, to make the public aware of the killer disease.

Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal Government Medical College, said on the occasion that HIV and AIDS were the largest public health problems and without the active involvement of the society, nothing tangible could be achieved.

The organisation also appealed to all sections of society to attend “lamp lighting “ under “red ribbon” which will be held on December 5.


Crime unchecked in Ranjit Avenue
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
The law and order situation in the Ranjit Avenue locality here has gone from bad to worse as the crime rate has increased manifold during the past one-and-half-year.

Dozens of cases of robbery, chain-snatching, dacoity and murders were reported in the area during this period and the police has allegedly failed to arrest even a single culprit so far. About 80 per cent of these crimes were committed in broad daylight.

The Joint Forum of the avenue, in a press conference held here today, alleged that the police post in the area did not have a telephone which gave culprits ample time for committing a crime. The residents said the incidents usually increased during the VIP visits to the holy city.

The forum alleged that there were certain illegal and unauthorised cigarette vendors who were also involved in smack business. These kiosks were also frequented by informers of robbers and thieves. The residents had lodged a complaint for the removal of these unauthorised kiosks, but no action had been taken so far.

Prof Avtar Singh , member of the forum and a resident of the area, said these culprits were so professional that they could even distinguish between artificial and original jewellery. Mr Sukhwinder Singh president of the forum said in most of the incidents of chain snatching, young boys from good families were involved.

The forum demanded a special investigation cell for the crimes in the area and round-the-clock patrolling by a police official. They also demanded the removal of illegal vendors and installation of a telephone in the police post in the area.


He earns to cremate unclaimed bodies
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
Mr Hari Ram is an institution in himself for the service he has been rendering to mankind for the past many decades. Braving adverse weather conditions, he sells newspapers in the city to cremate unclaimed bodies.

Biting cold, torrential rain and scorching sun do not dampen his missionary zeal.

After the cremation of unclaimed bodies, if he finds surplus money with him, he spends it on the upkeep of a cremation ground on the Bibiwala road near DAV College. He spends his spare time cleaning it and growing flowers on its premises.

The turning point in his life came during Partition. After seeing the plight of those who were uprooted during the riots, he decided to make arrangements for their food, clothing and shelter. Later he started arranging drinking water for passengers at the local railway station.

To make ends meet, he started selling newspapers. He was the first newspaper hawker of this region. With his little income, he has provided education to his children and continues to serve people.

He initiated a youth, Vijay Goyal, into social welfare and a club was formed which took up the cremation of bodies in a big way, apart from taking care of injured animals and desitute. Mr Hari Ram has now started giving his daily earnings for the purchase of wood and other material required for cremation purposes.

He also organised langar during the 1984 riots.

Mr Hari Ram said he had no desire for an award from the government or other agencies. Though he had entered the fag-end of his life, he said he would continue with his work.

He wished that all able-bodied people should serve those neglected by their near and dear ones and those who facing starvation.


City focused on sports
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

The National Games brought sports into focus in this city as never before. The city, which has been bereft of quality sports despite being home to the National Institute of Sports, breathed sports for 10 days.

After a sluggish start with little spectactor interest, the Games later on saw people visiting the Polo Ground in large numbers. The spectators evinced more interest in Kabaddi and Kho Kho which attracted the largest crowds. Posting of senior officers at all venues ensured smooth conduct of the Games. Players as well as spectators had access to a unique screen in a kiosk where information about the Games could be had simply by touching the computer monitor.

The city also benefited from the Games as a much-needed sports infrastructure was created.

The Polo Ground has been transformed into a full-fledged institution. New stands have been raised and stateof-the-art gymnastics equipment has been installed in the indoor gymnasium. Officials say it will remain in the city even after the Games.

A double storey building has also been raised next to the stands where the media centre and the control room of the local Organising Committee are housed. A small hostel constructed in the ground can be used in the future for hosting state level camps.

The residents have also learned what a clean city is and what the Municipal Corporation can do if it has the will.

The Corporation geared up its staff during Games to ensure clean roads and orderly disposal of garbage. The excellent work done by the safai staff has raised the expectations of the residents. They feel the example set during the Games should become a standard to be followed in the future.

* * *

Punjabi University has brought out a unique book, “An Overview of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his times”, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his coronation.

The book has been edited by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, and Dr Param Bakshish Singh and contains papers by some eminent historians.

The book addresses some significant aspects of the Maharaja’s rule not attended to so far. The modern impulses of the Maharaja and his role on the world canvas have been highlighted in the book.


Inaction against Tehsildar resented
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 2
Resentment prevails among the local lawyers against the district administration for its failure to take immediate action against Mr Jatinder Singh Saggu, the local Tehsildar, allegedly for his involvement in corrupt practices.

There are numerous complaints that the Tehsildar has been demanding graft for the registration of documents and causing harassment to those who do not succumb to his corrupt practices.

According to reliable information, a senior Congress leader of the town complained to senior officers against the Tehsildar. Dr Indu Malhotra, Subdivisional Magistrate, was asked to hold an inquiry into the complaint. She snubbed the Tehslidar and asked him to mend his ways.

She sent her report to the higher authorities, but no action has been taken so far.

Mr Vijay Kumar Singla, an advocate, recently went to the Tehsildar in connection with the registration of a document, but the Tehsildar left the office without registering his documents. The Tehsildar rushed towards the residence of SSP in his vehicle when Mr Singla followed him.

Mr Singla took a deputation of advocates and met Mr Raji P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner, and apprised her of the matter. Ms Srivastva issued verbal order to Dr Malhotra to take action against the Tehsildar.

This correspondent contacted the local SDM who said she had sent her report to the Deputy Commissioner. She said she was not competent to take any action and withdraw the work assigned to the Tehsildar.

Mr Sanjay Kumar, former Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, had withdrawn the registration powers of the then Tehsildar, Mr Sukhdev Singh, but now the district administration has been unable to take any action against Mr Saggu.

Mr Saggu said he was not aware about the complaint filed against him.


No funds for Civil Lines upkeep
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
The Civil Lines area, considered to be a posh area, is in bad shape due to the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned.

Though the government has been spending crores through its various agencies, including the municipal council, the Public Works Department and Building and Road, for the overall development of the city, the Civil Lines areas has failed to get enough funds.

Roads have developed potholes and sewage has become a permanent feature. Streetlights are a rarity. Some abandoned houses have become a paradise for stray animals.

Sources said Bathinda became a district headquarters in 1948 and the Civil Lines area, including official residences and the Deputy Commissioners office and courts complex, came up within a few years. The area was then clean and had considerable green cover.

Whenever, the district administration took up the matter pertaining to the upkeep of the Civil Lines area with the PWD authorities, it was told there were no funds.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said all approach roads to the area would be carpeted before December 15. He admitted that no funds had been spent for the upkeep of the area for the past many years.


Registration of bogus voters ‘rampant’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, former Punjab minister, alleged today that bogus voters were being registered and names of genuine voters deleted from the voters’ lists by government officials who had been revising the electoral rolls.

In a complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner, Punjab, he alleged that government officials had been registering bogus voters and delating the names of genuine voters from the list under political pressure.

He alleged that a Cabinet minister of Punjab had given application forms for registration as voters to those who were not eligible for it. He alleged that the officials concerned were not available for the registration of genuine voters while those who had political connections but were otherwise ineligible were getting themselves registered as voters.

Mr Sidhu further alleged that all officials and employees were under the influence of this particular minister and working as his agents.


Punjab opthalmology conference ends
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 2
Dr Hari Gopal, a renowned eye surgeon of the Barnala region, presented his paper, “Bi-lateral Miosis in Topical Insecticide Spray Toxicity,” on the inaugural day of a two-day annual conference of the Punjab Ophthalmology Society which began at Baba Farid Cultural Centre, Faridkot, yesterday.

Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health and Medical Sciences, inaugurated the conference in which about 200 eye surgeons and specialists are taking part. 


Lab technicians to hold rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
The Medical Laboratory Technicians Association will hold a rally on December 9 in protest against the (dilly-dallying attitude of the authorities concerned towards their demands which include raising their rank from technician to technologist and increasing the diploma tenure from one year to two years.

Meanwhile, the relay fast of the employees entered its 14th day. Mr Nishan Singh, president of the association, urged the authorities concerned to accept their demands.


Farm technocrats seek better deal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab Agriculture Technocrats Action Committee, at an all-party meeting here yesterday demanded better deal for agriculture, agriculturists and farm technocrats.

Among the resolutions passed at the meeting was one on higher financial outlay for research in Punjab Agricultural University, opening of ‘’plant clinics’’, steps to educate farmers on the implications of the World Trade Organisation regime, continuation of the minimum support price and procurement of foodgrains. The other resolution was for better service conditions, including parity in pay scales with other technocrats similarly placed.

The Agriculture Technocrats Action Committee, General Secretary, Dr Satnam Singh, said besides others the meeting was attended among others, by Punjab BJP Vice-President, Gurcharan Kaur, PPCC Senior Vice-President, Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Bhupinder Sambar (CPI), Mr Hardev Sandhu and Mr Inderjit Singh (CPM), Bahujan Samaj Morcha’s Satnam Singh Kainth, and Mr Gurinderpal Singh Dhanoa (BSP).


Bank Branch Manager booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 2
Rahul, Branch Manager of the Lauka branch of the State Bank of Patiala, along with two others, has been booked under Sections 420, 467, 464 and 120-B of the IPC, by the Patti police for drawing an amount of Rs 2.25 lakh in the name of another person.

Sources said today that Mr Ajmer Singh, a resident of Kot Budha village, in the court of Mr Amarjit Singh Virk, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Patti, some time back had complained that the Branch Manager in connivance with Lakha Singh and Kuldeep Singh, both residents of Kot Budha village, had made a forged document in the name of his father, Mr Kartar Singh, and withdrawn an amount of Rs 2.25 lakh. The Magistrate ordered that a case against the accused be registered. The Branch Manager is said to be absconding.


Woman burnt to death by husband
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 2
In a bizarre incident, Paramjit Kaur was allegedly burnt to death by her husband and his brother when she refused to have illicit relations with her brother-in-law, despite pressure from her husband.

Paramjit Kaur, who was married at Alike village of this district about two years ago, was allegedly being forced by her husband Raghuvir Parkash to develop illicit relations with her brother-in-law Tirath Ram. She was tortured by her husband and his brother whenever she refused to do so.

On November 22, Tirath Ram poured kerosene on Paramjit Kaur and Raghuvir set her afire. She was taken to a Tapa-based hospital and later shifted to a hospital in Barnala, police sources said.

When her condition did not improve, she was referred to the PGI in Chandigarh by the Civil Hospital authorities. She, however, succumbed to her injuries on November 28, the sources said.

On the basis of her statement to the police, a case had been registered against Raghuvir Parkash and Tirath Ram. Both had been booked under Section 302, IPC, and later arrested, the sources added.


Campaign against gambling launched
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
The district police has launched an intensive campaign against gambling and “satta” transactions. From December 1, police personnel in civil dresses have been raiding shady places.

The police registered more than 18 cases and arrested 18 persons under the Gambling Act and seized thousands of rupees from them.

The arrested persons have been identified as Amarjit Singh of Goniana Mandi, Prem Kumar of Bhucho Mandi, Karam Singh of Chak Hirasinghwala, Labh Singh of Shekhu, Sukhvinder Singh of Bhagibandar, Pawan Kumar of Bahiman Jassasingh, Sukhpal Singh of Bangi Nihalsingh, Ashok Kumar and Pritam Singh, both residents of Rampura, Darshan Singh of Maurkalan, Som Dutt, Raj Kumar, Balram, Brijal, Jagdish Rai and Joga Singh, all city residents and Kirti Kumar of Madholpura.


Gang of narcotic smugglers busted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 2
The police has claimed a major success with the arrest of four members of an inter-state members of gang involved in narcotics smuggling. It has seized 94 kg of poppy husk and a car from them.

In an official press note here today, the police said the gang was smuggling narcotics in Punjab and Haryana.

The arrested persons had been identified as Balkar Singh of Bhagta Bhaika, Jasgir Singh of Dyalpura, Bikkar Singh, a local resident, and Sajjan Singh of Vassoanan village in the district.


Jaycees chief killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 2
Mr Gyaneshwar Arora, president, Phagwara City Junior Chamber (Jaycees), died in a road accident on the G.T. Road last night. The 39-year-old NGO stalwart was returning from a marriage when his motorcycle skidded and he had a fatal fall.

Mr Arora was cremated at his native village, Bhullarai, near here, this evening. A large number of activists from voluntary organisations were among those who attended the cremation.


2 youths killed in road mishap

Ropar, December 2
Two youths were killed when the motor cycle they were riding was hit by a truck on the Morinda-Chamkaur Sahib road today, the police said.

One of them who was seriously injured was taken to the PGI, Chandigarh, where he was declared as “brought dead”. Both hailed from a village in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

A case has been registered. PTI


Cyclist crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 2
Jagjit Singh (45), a resident of Sondhra village falling under the Bhikhiwind police station was crushed by an unidentified truck yesterday near the drain of the village. Jagjit Singh was on his bicycle and died on the spot.


PG college faces govt neglect
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 2
The state government has not paid any attention to improve the condition of the local Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College. It is the lone govt college in the district and has a strength of 1,300 students.

The building of the college was declared unfit and unsafe for use by the Public Works Department (PWD) in 1991. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, laid the foundation stone of the new college building on August 7, 1997. It was to come up with an estimated cost of Rs 2.85 crore.

The government did not release the required amount after the intial release of Rs 85.30 lakh. The construction work is held up for want of funds. No grant has been released for the college building since December, 1998.

The amount already spent on the construction of the building is likely to go waste if the funds are not released forthwith. Mr Badal had promised to complete the building three times. Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, both Members Rajya Sabha, and Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister also gave assurances in this connection, but nothing has been done so far.

The incomplete building still needs plaster, roofs, doors, windows and electrical work. The college is the only government college catering to the needs of 247 villages of the district.

Though the colleges of Mansa and Giddarbaha were taken over by the government simultaneously, the building of the Gidderbaha college, situated in home district of the Chief Minister, has long since been completed. In the absence of the new building, the classes are being held under trees or in the old building which is shambles and may collapse anytime.

There is no arrangement for the potable water. Students have to drink water brought from outside. There are no proper toilets for the students and the staff.

Out of 27 posts of the teaching staff only 13 have been filled. No substitute is provided when a teacher retires or is transferred. There is a shortage of staff in the college library. It has not received any supply of books since long. Owing to the shortage of teaching staff, MA (political science) classes could not continue. Certain student unions have launched an agitation to press the government for the acceptance of the long-standing demands of the college. They observed relay fast under the banner of the Punjab Radical Students Union, but no action was taken by the state government.

A public interest litigation writ has been admitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the inordinate delay in the completion of the college building and the authorities concerned have been issued summons.


Annual day of school
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 2
Guru Nanak Foundation Public School, Chappar Chiri, celebrated its second annual day. Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Punjab, was the chief guest of the function.

He gave away prizes to students for their achievements in cultural and sports activities. An educational exhibition was also organised on the occasion.

Mr L.S. Boparai, director of the school, extended warm welcome to the chief guest and highlighted objectives and working of the Guru Nanak Foundation.

The following students were declared best athletes in their respective age groups: Jatinder Singh, Gursleen Kaur, (senior group); Lovnish Tangri, Amandeep Kaur, (junior group); and Harmanjeet Singh, Anwinder Kaur, (sub-junior group).

Parkash House was declared best in cultural activities and Upkar House was declared best in sports.


Small-scale units ‘hit’ by WTO pact
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 2
The WTO agreement has proved to be disastrous for India as it has shattered the Indian economy by directly hitting small-scale industries, competitive policy and procurement in the country. This was stated by Prof Madhu Dandavate, former Union Finance Minister, while addressing a press conference at the canal rest house here today.

Professor Dandavate said with the implementation of this agreement more than 6 lakh small-scale industrial units had been closed in the country as a result of which 1.97 crore skilled and unskilled workers became jobless. These units were producing 30 per cent of the total industrial production and were behind 40 to 45 per cent export growth of the country.

He said he always opposed the WTO agreement. Referring to the recent Doha ministerial conference, he said Mr Murasoli Maran, Union Commerce and Industry Minister, had miserably failed in getting any positive result from it. He had accepted the work programme, an outcome of the conference, which would further ruin the country two years after its implementation. Replying to a question, he said the Indian Government should drop out of this agreement in the interest of the country. Professor Dandavate strongly opposed POTO and said it was against the Indian Constitution. It could be used against any person and even his or her property could be confiscated. While giving the example of MISA, he said soon after the imposition of the Emergency in the country, he was arrested under MISA. He strongly criticised Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, for describing those who were opposing POTO as “anti-national” and “pro-terrorism”.

He criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab for indiscriminately distributing public money in his sangat darshan programmes only to please the voters for the coming elections of the state Assembly.

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