Tuesday, December 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Big response to education bandh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Assuring protesting private college teachers that their demands would be met shortly, the Punjab BJP President, Prof BL Rinwa, said the process would be completed within the next couple of days. He was speaking at a rally organised by the Joint Action Committee of teachers, principals, managements and non-teaching staff, here today.

He said the demand of sanction of pension-cum-gratuity through the government treasury, payment of Rs 100 crore pending salary and extending the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme to 26 remaining colleges would be taken up on priority basis.

Meanwhile, the education bandh call by the Joint Action Committee comprising the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union, Principals’ Federation, Managements Federation and that of non-teaching employees elicited tremendous response from the teaching and non-teaching community of the non-government aided colleges of Punjab and the city.

A large number of lady teachers from places like Abohar, Gidderbaha, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Moga, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana participated in the rally.

Addressing the gathering, the speakers blasted the SAD-BJP combine for not honouring the decisions of constitutional bodies like the council of ministers, Punjab assembly and the office of the Governor.

They alleged that the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was violating norms by not making payments through the government treasury. They also raised the demands for release of Rs 80 crore pending salary grants, non-payment of UGC arrears of Rs 21 crore and bringing unaided colleges in the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

Also, a state-level rally of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) would be organised on December 14 in the constituency of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, at Banur, as a continuation of the protest. The ceasework call has also been extended to December 18.

Those who spoke at the rally include Principal PS Sangha, Prof NP Manocha, Dr Ishar Singh, Prof. Charanjit Chawla, Prof Jaspal Singh Randhawa, Prof Gurman Singh Kahlon, Mr Tarsem Bahia, Mr Jaipal Singh, President of Government College Teachers’ Union, and Mr Raj Kumar Singla, representative of the non-teaching staff.


Dowry complaints on rise: PHRC
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 10
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) Chairman, Mr Justice V.K. Khanna, today addressed a state-level Human Rights Day function at the nearby Palahi village which the commission had adopted last year.

Addressing newspersons after the function, Mr Justice Khanna disclosed that the maximum number of complaints that the commission received related to cases of dowry and bonded labour. He said dowry complaints were on the rise. Claiming that efforts were on to combat social evils like female foeticide, Mr Justice Khanna said the commission had started a research project about this malaise and would recommend the course of action to be taken after the research was over.

Expressing concern over the lopsided male-female ratio leading to a demographic imbalance, Mr Justice Khanna said foeticide was a phenomenon where a female was pitted against a female. “We have started a sensitising process in villages and towns to combat these social evils,” he said/

Mr Justice Khanna said a sub-committee had been constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court to monitor whether the 12 guidelines of the apex court on custodial cases were being followed by the police or not. The sub-committee would also give its recommendations on cases of custodial violence, he said. Headed by him, the committee has Justice J.S. Sekhon and Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, ADGPY, as its members and would submit its report by the end of January next year.

Mr Justice Khanna disclosed that from 90 complaints that the commission received in the year of its inception, the number had swelled to 7,500 this year. As many as 64 per cent of these complaints had been disposed of, he said.

Earlier, addressing the function, Mr Justice Khanna underlined the urgency for sensitising parents, women and children about human rights. If we follow our duties, the rights would be protected, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Piara Singh Bhogal and Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, chairman and general secretary, respectively, National Rural Development Society, and Mr Gurmit Palahi, Principal, stressed that civilised behaviour was a pre-requisite for protecting human rights. Deputy Commissioner Vivek Aggarwal called human rights a way of life. The SSP, Mrs Gurpreet Deo, maintained that it was not an isolated concept but a comprehensive issue.

Earlier, Mr Justice Khanna laid the foundation stone of a computer lab in the community polytechnic.


Ropar headworks in danger
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, December 10
Official apathy may threaten the life of thousands of people and cause enormous financial damage to the country.

The 50-year-old structure of the Ropar head on the Sutlej is in danger due to lack of repairs for the past three years.

Ten of the total 32 iron gates of the Ropar head have been damaged due to corrosion. The iron gates have developed holes or perforations. So large is the leakage from the damaged gates that the authorities at the head don’t have to open the gates for maintaining the water flow in the natural course.

About 800-1000 cusecs water leaks daily from the damaged gates, which may ultimately lead to their collapse due to the enormous pressure of water and weakened strength.

The Ropar head on the Sutlej which was constructed in 1952, controls the water spread across 1365 acres. The waters of the Sutlej are stopped and raised at the head before being diverted to the Sirhind canal. The head receives, on an average, about 10000-15000 cusecs of water per day.

However the water inflow increases enormously during the monsoons.

The reliable sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the corrosion has started weakening other gates too. The damage to the gates is being caused due to non-availability of funds for repairs. The government has not released a single paise for the repairs in the past three years.

Since the iron gates of the head remain in constant contact with water these have to be regularly coated with CA-50 paint to prevent corrosion.

Besides, these damaged portions of the gates have to be repaired through patchwork on replacement of irons sheets.

However, the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to repeated requests by the head authorities to sanction funds for the repairs. The authorities here have been regularly sending photographs and detailed reports of the damaged structures of the head. However, no heed has been paid by the government.

The sources said the government had started stone pitching work to check leakage. However, due to paucity of funds, the work was stopped mid-way. Stone pitching has been done on just 16 gates of the Ropar head.


120 bonded labourers rescued
Nidhi Mishra Azad
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 10
It was search for livelihood that brought them to Hamirpur district in Himachal Pradesh, all the way from Chhattisgarh. But with expectations having fallen flat, they broke free from the shackles of bonded labour.

This is a story of about 120 persons, including children, who till recently worked at a brick-kiln owned by Kuldeep Kumar at Chowki Churan village in Nadaun tehsil. They were allegedly paid far less than what was agreed upon, and were not allowed to work anywhere else. The story came to light when some of them managed to approach the People’s Vigilance Committee on Bonded, Child and Migrant Labour at Phillaur. The committee filed a complaint before the Shimla Human Rights Commission, which sent a police party to the village for investigation. But as no action was taken after that, the committee contacted the SHO of the area concerned, Inspector Nathu Ram.

“We asked him to intervene to the matter, with a warning that if he failed to do so, we would complain against him for not taking any action on the labourers’ complaint,” said Ms Poonam, a committee worker. After this, the SHO pressured Kuldeep to let the labourers go away. All of them reached the committee office on Saturday morning.

Looking perturbed, Ashok Kumar, a labourer, said, “We moved to Hamirpur about six months ago. However, we were not paid according to the union rates there. Though I, along with my pregnant wife, used to make about 1,500 bricks per day, we were paid just Rs 300 weekly instead of around Rs 1,750. Moreover, electricity charges at the rate of Rs 300 per month and clay charges at the rate of Rs 8 per 1,000 bricks were also imposed on us in the form of debt.”

Ashok Kumar added, “About two months ago, my wife had to be hospitalised a few days before her delivery. When I asked my employer to give me some extra money for medicines, he refused. On Kuldeep’s assurance, I borrowed ration but he did not give me any money. When I asked for it, he beat up me and my brothers.”

Unable to find a decent job in his home state, Suraj Joshi, a postgraduate from Guru Ghansi Dass University, Bilaspur, migrated to HP along with his wife and daughter about three months ago. He said, “My employer never allowed me to sign any papers, forcing me to put my thumb impression instead. Recently, I was pressured to put my thumb impression on a letter stating that the “jamadar”, who brought us from Chhattisgarh, was instigating us against him.”

Ved Ram had been going to Chhattisgarh since the past six years to bring labourers from there. “Kuldeep Kumar often gave me a meagre amount for the purpose, with the promise that the balance would be paid later on. I even had to sell my land to arrange for the money, but he never refunded it. He beat me up many times for demanding the payment,” he alleged.

On being contacted, the brick-kiln owner denied all the allegations against him. “The labourers owe me more than Rs 1.20 lakh. They hurled abuses at me after drinking heavily at their function about one-and-a-half months ago, and stopped working after that. However, I am ready to compromise with them if they return to work. I’ll also let go of my money,” said Kuldeep Kumar.


149 labourers rescued by warrant officer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Acting on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a warrant officer, appointed by it, has rescued about 149 labourers locked in a sugar mill at Patran in Patiala district by sacked workers, besides certain members of the employees' union. Some of the alleged detainees, including women and children, were reportedly “dying of hunger”.

According to sources, the warrant officer, appointed on the basis of a petition filed by the general manager of the Piccadily Sugar and Allied Industries Limited, was informed by the detainees that the children, locked inside the mill, had not been given milk since December 2. Even polio drops had not been administered. The alleged detainess had further claimed that the ration sent for them had not been allowed to enter the premises.

The warrant officer, on reaching the premises on Saturday evening, had initially posed as a trader and had tried to jump over the main gate but was stopped by agitators and was informed that no one could enter or leave the premises due to a strike. At that time, the gates were being manned by cane growers and others. Some of them were reportedly armed with batons.

The warrant officer, accompanied by Naib Tehsildar-cum-Duty Magistrate Nirmal Singh, Station House Officer Tarun Rattan and petitioner Jaswinder Singh Cheema, subsequently returned to the mill and freed the alleged detainees. Some of them even started weeping, sources added.

In his petition, the general manager had earlier alleged that about 120 workers had been detained since December 2 after they refused to join the strike. The case will now come up for hearing on December 13.


Book minister, says Sarpanch
Sushil Goyal and Vinod Seth

Gurbuxpura (Dhuri), December 10
Mr Charanjit Singh, Sarpanch of Gurbaxpura village, situated 23 km from Dhuri near Sherpur, today demanded the registration of a case against Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Minister for Social Security, Punjab and his gunmen for allegedly abducting him in a Gypsy from Kanjhla village after beating him up at the residence of the minister the previous day.

Talking to The Tribune in the presence of Mr Gurmeet Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhanesar, president and senior vice-president, respectively, of the Sherpur Circle of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at his residence here, Mr Charanjit Singh also urged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal not to give Mr Kanjhla the party ticket from the Sherpur Assembly constituency to safeguard the party’s interests.

However, Mr Kanjhla has denied all allegations levelled against him in the case. Talking to The Tribune on the phone last night, he claimed that no such incident had occurred at his residence in Kanjhla village. The Sarpanch also claimed that he had been got released from the custody of the Sherpur police by Mr Harbans Singh Sherpur, a confidant of Mr Kanjhla, last night on the instruction of the minister. He stated that he was kept in illegal custody by the Sherpur police from 7 p.m. to 11.45 p.m.

The Sarpanch also alleged that after beating him up, Mr Kanjhla ordered his gunmen to take him in the Gypsy parked outside the residence of the minister. He claimed he had been abducted from Kanjhla village around 11 a.m. the previous day and taken to Shergarh, Sanghein and Changli villages in the Gypsy. At Changli village, he had been handed over to two police constables who took him on a scooter to the Sherpur police stations. During this period, he was neither allowed to meet anyone nor permitted to eat anything, he alleged.

The Sarpanch also alleged that he had been forced by the Sherpur police to leave the police stations at midnight. He said he had been brought to his residence by Mr Harbans Singh at Sherpur where he spent the night before reaching his village this morning. He claimed that he even asked the Sherpur police to register the case for which he had been brought to the police station but the policemen had not responded.

Mr Gurmeet Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhanesar said they would not tolerate such acts of Mr Kanjhla. They said they would meet Mr Parkash Singh Badal in a few days along with sarpanches of this area in connection with the incident.

They also said that if no action was taken by Mr Badal and the police against Mr Kanjhla and his gunmen, they would launch an agitation under which about 20 sarpanches of Sherpur block would submit their resignations.

They also demanded the registration of a case against Mr Kanjhla and his gunmen for allegedly beating up and abducting the Gurbaxpura Sarpanch.


Galiara’ scheme comes to a halt
Harwinder Dhillon

Amritsar, December 10
The “galiara yojna” was the brainchild of the Central Government to develop a green belt around the Golden Temple by clearing shops or any other structure which could create a hurdle in the way of the security forces. The Army had to face a lot of problems while entering the SGPC premises for flushing out militants.

However, after giving compensation to the tune of Rs 37 crore to landowners, the government failed to complete the scheme. Mr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, vice-president, Amritsar Vikas Manch, says it is a matter of concern that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has ignored all developmental projects in the holy city.

He says the government has failed to release Rs 62 crore for completion of the ‘galiara’ scheme. He says this amount must be increased from Rs 62 crore to Rs 75 crore as more buildings need to be demolished for beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple under Phase-IV. Work on the phases has come to a standstill.

Another reason for non-completion of the much-talked -about project is attributed to political bottlenecks. Sources say BJP stalwarts are supporting certain landowners who have already taken sufficient compensation, but do not want their structures demolished.

Though after coming to power, the SAD-BJP government released some amount for the scheme yet work continues at a snail’s pace. The non-completion of scheme has resulted in frequent traffic bottlenecks. Since the Golden Temple is visited by VVIPs, apart from devotees, from all over the world, the congested surroundings cause a lot of inconvenience to local residents. At times it takes hours to reach the Golden Temple. There is no parking site.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch leader says the Badal government has, perhaps, not taken up the issue with the Prime Minister.


Mohindra now dons ‘pagri’ to woo Sikhs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 10
First it was a spate of appearances at small religious functions, including jagarans, culminating in a massive ‘jagaran’ organised at the Rajpura Colony grounds in which singer Lakhbir Singh Lakha was the star attraction. Then when former minister Brahm Mohindra, who is in competition for the Patiala Assembly seat with the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, was criticised for appealing to members of only one community, hoardings sprouted in the city felicitating Sikhs on the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev.

Today the former minister presided over a medical camp organised by the Naujawan Seva Society in the predominantly Sikh populated ‘Khalsa mohalla’ during the course of which eminent doctors of the city examined patients. The former minister even donned a ‘pagri’ presented to him by the society besides flashing the ‘kirpan’, which was also presented to him on the occasion.

Mr Mohindra, who has been marginalised by the rank and file of the party in the city with most party workers appealing to the Congress to give the Patiala ticket to Capt Amarinder, is now making last ditch attempts to create a movement in his favour at the grassroots level. As he cannot do open politicking for the party ticket in the city, he is resorting to presiding over functions being organised by clubs as well as supporters to woo the people of the city.

The veteran Congress leader is feeling the heat as the PPCC President is not making any bones about the fact that he is a candidate from the Patiala Assembly seat. Mr Mohindra had earlier put up hoardings all over the city to publicise a ‘jagrata’ in which Lakhbir Singh Lakha was the main singer. The hoardings had paintings of Lakha as well as the former minister.

Though it is still to be decided as to whether these tactics will see Mr Mohindra getting the party ticket from Patiala, the people who attended today’s function were undecided whether it would help him politically. Most said they were more concerned about local problems of the colony, including need of a modern sewerage system for which Mr Mohindra did not have any answers.

The Congress leader on his party during a speech at the medical camp, alleged that the Akali Dal government in the state had ignored the interests of urbanites totally. He said while the government had been able to get Rs 1,000 crore from the Centre to ensure hassle free paddy procurement, it had not got any such central concession to compensate the various municipal corporations and councils, which would be left without any funds following abolition of octroi in the state.

Mr Mohindra also called for giving concessions on power charges for domestic supply in the urban areas saying power had become too expensive for the common man. The camp saw senior doctors, including heart specialist Dr Sudhir Verma, orthopaedecian Dr Gurdeep Singh and eye surgeon Dr Man Singh


Cong determined to oppose POTO
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
Senior Congress leader and party spokesman Ashwani Kumar today said that the party would oppose POTO in all its versions. Addressing a press conference here Mr Kumar added that the BJP was trying to through see the Bill and the Congress would not let it happen. The liberal conscience of the country have rejected the POTO in totality and cosmetic changes being suggested by the government were not acceptable.

Mr Ashwani Kumar said that although the Congress had declared that it was ready to have terrorists prevention Bill but the draft proposal of such a Bill should be discussed with all political parties and formal approval by Parliament sought after reaching conscience on it. He charged the BJP with first preparing the Bill and then asking the parties to let it be passed by the Lok Sabha. He condemned the proposed changes, adding that major provisions of the Bill were against democratic norms.

The provisions on journalist in the Bill were most condemnable as it deprives newsmen of secrecy of the source of information.

On the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir resettlement Bill, Mr Ashwani Kumar, said, that it was the most retrograde and reprehensible piece of Act the Congress will oppose it. Mrs Sonia Gandhi has form a high-power committee headed by Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Arjun Singh and Mr M.L. Fotedar to study the Bill and make recommendations to the party president. He added the steps initiated by Dr Abdullah would bring back militancy in the most sensitive region of the country.

He added that such a Bill would provide opportunity to those who left the valley during 1947 to 1954 to settle in Kashmir and would be given back properties and the citizenship of the country. He pointed out that Dr Farooq Abdullah was playing with the unity and integrity of the country and his party would oppose the Bill.

He was shocked that the BJP and its allies in the NDA that had commented on the implementation to the Bill. It appeared that the Central government had given tactic support to Dr Abdullah on this Bill.


Cong rally against ‘bogus’ voters in Lambi
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
The issue of registration of bogus voters and deletion of the names of genuine voters in this region during correction of voter lists took a new turn today when hundreds of Congress workers held a rally and blocked traffic near Lambi, the home constituency of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana, former Punjab minister led hundred of Congress workers who sat on dharna on the Malout-Delhi main road for more than four hours demanding that registration of bogus voters be stopped.

The protesters raised slogans against the ruling party. The SDM and the DSP reached the spot to control the situation and restore traffic.

Mr Abulkhurana talking to The Tribune on phone said that the ruling party was misusing power to win forthcoming Assembly elections.

He alleged that the registration of bogus voters and deleting of names of supporters of the Congress, were the first step in that direction.

He alleged that the residents of Rajasthan and Haryana villages which share border with Killianiwali village here were being registered as voters of Punjab by showing them residents of the village.

He said that in 1997 the Akalis had acted similarly when they had made registration of residents of Shergarh village in Haryana as voters of Punjab by showing them residents of Killianiwali village.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, Mr Hardeep Inder Singh, Mr Aalla Singh, Mr Gurbaz Singh, Mr Gurmeet Singh Khudian, Mr Balraj Singh Brar, Mr Gurjant Singh, all senior leaders of the Congress and Youth wing of the party were present during the rally and dharna.

Addressing the gathering leaders said that ruling party would not be allowed to use unfair means to win elections.

They alleged that the ruling party prepare more than 14000 bogus votes in connivance with officials.

They also alleged that the ruling party appointed faithful officials and other staff for correcting the voter list to win elections.

Mr Abulkhurana claimed that there was no record of names and addresses of many persons registered as voters and these were not genuine.

He said the names of 4000 voters of Congress workers were deleted from the voter list and no information regarding it was being given by the district administration.

He said that a delegation of the Punjab Congress Committee led by Capt Amarinder Singh, President, would meet the Chief Election Commission urging him to look into the matter of registration of bogus votes.

Meanwhile Mr Raghubir Singh, president DCC, Muktsar and former MLA has written to the Chief Election Commissioner, the Punjab Election Commissioner, alleging that bogus voters were being registered and names of genuine voters deleted.

He urged them to look into the matter.


Cong men disturb party rally
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 10
A Congress rally was organised here in favour of Mr Santokh Singh today. Despite attempts by Congressmen to disturb the rally, senior Congress leaders continued speeches amid slogan shouting. Dr Kewal Krishan, PPCC vice-president, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Umrao Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, and Mr Santokh Singh were among the speakers who condemned the SAD-BJP government for anti-Punjab and anti dalit policies.

Dr Kewal Krishan alleged the Badal government encouraged corruption and “looting” of the state treasury.

Dr Kewal Krishan announced that the Congress would revive “yellow cards” scheme and solve issues of Chandigarh, water disputes, and Punjabi-speaking areas.

Mr Darshan Singh alleged that the Badal government abolished octroi without finding alternative source of revenue. Mr Santokh Singh appealed to Congressmen of Phillaur to come on one platform to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance.

Dr Kewal Krishan claiming unity in the Punjab Congress hoped that former Chief Minister Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal would contest next Assembly elections.

He told that the Congress had made poll alliance with the CPI and was for a poll pact with a group of the CPM led by Harkishan Singh Surjeet. Commenting on BSP chief Kanshi Ram’s remarks on dalits, Kewal Krishan demanded registration of a case against Kanshi Ram under the SC/BC Act. On alliance with the BSM led by Satnam Singh Kainth, he said Kainth could be welcome in the Congress.

He said that allotment of the ticket would be decided by December end and all the sitting MLAs would get the tickets.


Cong decries delay in display of voter list
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 10
Mr Sukhjinder Singh, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), alleged today that the Dera Baba Nanak SDM, who is the Returning Officer for Fatehgarh Churian constituency, had not displayed the final voter list in front of his office even though the Election Commission had issued directions that it be displayed by December 7.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh stated that the SDM had said he had received a list of 14.500 voters to be registered afresh but it had not yet been made public.

The Congress leader accused the SDM of deleting names of voters owing allegiance to the Congress.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh has requested Ms Usha Sharma, Election Commissioner, Punjab, to intervene in the matter.


SHSAD meeting on Dec 16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
The Sarb-Hind Shiromani Akali Dal General Secretary, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, in a statement today reiterated that all political parties, barring the SAD-BJP and the Congress, were welcome to join the Panthic Morcha.

He said a meeting of the district presidents of the party had been called at Gurdwara Amb Sahib, Mohali, on December 16. On sharing of seats with BSP, the statement said the issue would be clinched by the end of the month.


Hospital taps run dry
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, December 10
The Government Hospital of Nathana village is not getting water supply for the past four days. In the absence of any other source of water in the hospital, its functioning has been badly affected and patients as well as staff members are facing inconvenience. The hospital was earlier a primary health centre under the Public Health Department (PHD), which was also having the charge of its water supply.

Last year, the Health Corporation took charge of the health centre, including waterworks. At that time, no filter of waterworks was in a working condition and the water tank had developed leaks. The Health Corporation spent Rs 98 lakh on the repair of waterworks and built the new building of the hospital.

When the corporation took charge of the health centre, employees deployed here stopped working on the pretext that they were employees of the PHD and not of the corporation.

A few months ago, the water supply to the village stopped due to some problem in the distributary and the corporation started taking the supply from the waterworks of the nearby subdivisional complex. When the PHD came to know about the same, it stopped supply to the hospital as the subdivisional complex was under its jurisdiction.

According to reliable sources in the hospital, the PHD did so on the pretext that the corporation had its own water works. But the water of the hospital has been non-functional for the past seven months due to no supply from the distributary.

Although the hospital authorities have written to the PHD and the corporation about the problem, nothing has been done so far. Patients and their relatives, besides staff members, are fetching water from outside. Employees residing in the quarters are forced to make their own arrangements. The ground water here has been already declared unfit for consumption by the health authorities.

Dr Manjit Kaur, SMO, Nathana, when contacted, said as there was no supply from the distributary, the hospital was facing this problem. She assured that normal water supply would be restored shortly. No official of the Health Corporation could be contacted for comments.


192 villages get grant of 4.7 cr
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 10
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, today held a ‘sangat darshan’ at which the main demands of residents remained unmet.

Work on the sewerage system, for which the Finance Minister had himself laid the foundation stone, on June 20, 1998, remains incomplete. Similar is the case of a women’s college on which about Rs 1 crore has been spent. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, was expected to inaugurate it. Now girls students will have to seek admission elsewhere.

Speaking on the development works, the minister said roads in each constituency at a cost of Rs 5 crore would be laid. Two roads (18 feet wide) at a cost of Rs 7.5 lakh had been laid in the Amloh constituency and the Amloh-Nabha, Amloh-Mandi Gobindgarh and Amloh-Khanna roads repaired. A grant of Rs 4.70 crore was disbursed among 192 villages through cheques.

A grant of Rs 4.70 crore was disbursed among 192 villages through cheques. Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur also spoke.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, thanked the minister and appealed to the panchayats to utilise the grants in a proper way.

Mr R.S. Gill, president, Rice Shellers Association, Amloh, presented a memorandum to the minister, demanding charges for the actually used instead of flat rates from rice mills.

He said payment for levy rice, which the state government was bound to pay the millers within 24 hours, had not been done.


Rs 460 cr disbursed among orphans, widows
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
As a welfare measure, the Punjab Government has disbursed Rs 460 crore among handicapped persons, orphans, widows, destitute women and old aged persons. This was stated by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Social Security and Development of Women and Children Minister.

After presiding over a meeting of his department here today, Mr Kanjhla said the Congress Government had distributed only Rs 179 crore during its five-year rule from 1992 to 1997 among such beneficiaries. He said the number of such persons had gone up to nine lakh. Pension up to August this year had already been disbursed and money for September had also been released.


SGPC executive to meet on Dec 25
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, said here today that the executive of the committee would meet at Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran, Patiala, on December 25. The meeting will discuss issues like the framing of rules for the appointment and removal of high priests.

The SGPC chief said as per the directives of Jathedar Vedanti, an advisory board on religious issues would be constituted.

Prof Badungar said inquiries, including those into the conduct of Jathedar Manjit Singh and Jathedar Kewal Singh, would be completed at the earliest. He said the Sikh History Board would be revived. He had recently met Dr Kharak Singh Mann, a member of the Dharm Parchar Committee, and sought his help to revive the board.

Prof Badungar agreed with Jathedar Vedanti on scrutinising issues before referring these to Akal Takht. He reiterated that he would neither allow the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal nor the SGPC to interfere in the functioning of the Sikh clergy.

The SGPC chief said he would personally meet Giani Puran Singh to urge him to attend the meetings of Akal Takht.


Virinder Yaadgari Mela held

Phagwara, December 10
The Punjab Government was committed to its struggle against “cultural pollution” and stop vulgarity in stage shows, as well as in television satellite channels, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister Swarana Ram has said.

The minister was addressing a rally yesterday at the Virinder Yaadgari Mela, organised on the 13th death anniversary of eminent Punjabi filmactor, producer and director Virinder, who was gunned down by militants during a Punjabi film shooting near Ludhiana 13 years ago.

Mr Swarana Ram said that an artiste found indulging in vulgar singing and dancing could be booked under Section 294, of the IPC, by local administrative officials. UNI


Cut entertainment tax, Subhash Ghai urges Punjab

Jalandhar, December 10
Renowned film maker Subhash Ghai today urged the Punjab Government to reduce entertainment tax in the state to promote the exhibition sector.

Holding the state government responsible for the deteriorating status of the film industry in Punjab, Ghai, who was here to attend a private function, told reporters that despite the fact that some famous film producers were from Punjab, the government had not done anything to promote the film industry in the state. PTI


‘No retrenchment’ on octroi abolition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, today assured the representatives of various municipal employees unions that no employee would retrenched because of the abolition of octroi in the state.


WSC leaders meet Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
The World Sikh Council (WSC) chief, Mr Didar Singh Bains, and its general secretary, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, today held a meeting with the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, here today. They have reportedly urged the jathedar to revive the WSC.


Arhtiyas hold rally over paddy payment
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
Members of the Kacha Arhtiya Association today held a rally in the city in protest against the failure of the authorities to make payments to them for the paddy procured this season.

The agitating arhtiyas alleged that though the government had claimed that arhtiyas and farmers would not have to face problems regarding the procurement and payment of paddy, they had not received their dues though they had procured paddy more than two months ago.

They also raised slogans against the authorities concerned for allegedly delaying the payments.

The arhtiyas said they needed to give the money to the farmers so that the latter could make arrangements for sowing the next crop.

They alleged that arhtiyas and farmers were facing problems at the purchasing centres from where the Food and Supplies Department had procured the paddy.

Mr Jaswant Rai Balloh, vice-president of the Arhtiya Association, Bathinda, and the president, Kacha Arhtiya Association, Rampura Phul, talking to this correspondent on the phone said association members had gone to Chandigarh to get their payments cleared but to no avail.

He alleged that some ministers and members of the ruling party had spent the money meant for making payments for paddy on public welfare works in order to win votes for the Assembly elections.

The agitating arhtiyas also gave a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said the payments to the tune of Rs 8 crore were yet to be made.

He said Rs 2 crore had already been received by the district authorities and would be distributed to the arhtiyas in the next few days.

He said he was not aware of the reason of the delay in the payments and only the higher authorities could tell about it.


Arhtiyas threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 10
The District Arhtiya Association, Patiala, has threatened to close down mandis all over the district and gherao government officials in case paddy payments are not cleared within the next three days.This was disclosed by the president of the association, Mr Subash Banga, here today.

Calling it a breach of faith by a government which claimed to settle farmer dues within 48 hours, he said government procurement agencies, especially the DFSC and the Punjab Agro Industries, had failed to clear dues of farmers and arhtiyas even after 48 hours.

He added that members of the association had made numerous rounds of procurement agencies but to no avail and they were now being forced to take a confrontationist stand.


Dry spell worries farmers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 10
The farmers of Dhar Kalan area are worried about the prolonged dry spell because of which they have not been able to sow wheat.

The farmers fear that if the dry spell continues, they may face a drought-like situation.

Mr Brij Mohan Puri, member, PPCC, said that a majority of the farmers of the area had been unable to sow wheat so far. According to a farmer fruit crops, especially kinnow, were also affected.

However, experts say that if rain was delayed by another 10-15 days, the farmers may not be able to sow their crops at all.

The present weather conditions may also create a scarcity of fodder which is also a cause of worry for the farmers.


Suicide: mother alleges police harassment
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 10
Ruby Satinder of Bahadurpur Chowk, Bhagwan Dass Road, died after consuming a poisonous substance here today. She said her son along with a local Shiv Sena leader had met the local SSP and made a complaint against some police officials, on which inquiry was being held by the CIA staff. The police officials were harassing him to take back his complaint.

Mr B.S. Grewal SP (D), Hoshiarpur, said three cases of theft were registered against him in the city police station and one in the Ranaik Bazar police station, Jalandhar. He said Ruby was also wanted by the counter intelligence branch, Amritsar.


ETT candidates stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
Fortyfive ETT candidates selected as teachers by the Punjab Government recently staged dharna today in front of the DEO’s office in protest against the failure of the district authorities to issue them appointment letters.

The candidates alleged that for the past five days they were being harassed by the authorities in connection with the issuance of appointment letters.

They said the DEO (Primary) was not available in the office despite his assurance that all selected candidates would get appointment letters on December 7.

The candidates had earlier protested on December 5 and 7.

The candidates alleged that during their meeting with the Deputy Commissioner and the DEO (Primary) yesterday, the authorities had promised that all candidates would be issued appointment letters very soon. But the DEO issued letters to 69 candidates only, they alleged.7

The protesters demanded that the remaining candidates should also be given appointment letters immediately and allocated their place of posting according to their position on the merit list.


Teachers’ dharna on December 16
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
The district unit of the Unemployed Teachers’ Front Punjab, has decided to hold a dharna in front of the residence of Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, on December 16 in protest against the indifferent attitude, of the state government towards B.Ed graduates.

A meeting of the unit was held at the local teachers’ Home today Mr A. Godara, secretary of the front, while addressing the meeting said the system of 1:5 being applied on the B.Ed graduates for interviews should be abolished as done in the case of ETT teachers. He alleged that thousands of B.Ed applicants had not been invited for interview by the authorities concerned.


Stone laid
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 10
Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Minister for PWD (B and R) laid the foundation stone of a girls’ hostel at Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

The three-storeyed building with 66 dormitories will house 200 students and cost Rs 1.75 crore.

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