Wednesday, December 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



It’s curtains down on Anandgarh
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, December 11
The Punjab Government may finally dissolve the New Town Planning and Development Authority, Anandgarh, at its Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

According to sources in the Punjab Government, a Cabinet memorandum in this regard has been prepared and forwarded to the authorities concerned by the Housing Department.

Sources in the Anandgarh Development Authority, (ADA) said after formal approval of the Cabinet, the project will be closed in the next few weeks.

Sources in the ADA said the assets and liabilities of the ADA would be transferred to the Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority (PUDA). It is also learnt that the memorandum urges the government to empower the Punjab Attorney General to withdraw the Special Leave Petition (SLP) pending before the Supreme Court against the Punjab and Haryana High Court decision of quashing the entire Anandgarh project.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal at a public meeting in Kharar recently had announced that the government would drop the Anandgarh township project and the SLP pending before the SC would also be withdrawn. But no written orders had been issued by the state government for jettisoning the project.

When the ADA was established a two years ago, the PUDA had sanctioned Rs 2 crore to it. Sources said the ADA had already spent Rs 1.60 crore. It also owes fees of some advocates in addition to miscellaneous expenditure.

About assets, the sources said office equipment including computers would be transferred to PUDA. Ad hoc employees at the ADA have already been transferred to other departments.

The Punjab Government may also close the ambitious Ranjitgarh township plan, conceived two decades ago to commemorate 200 years of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s birth at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

Highly placed sources in the Government said a Cabinet memorandum in this regard had been forwarded to the authorities concerned and is likely to be taken up at the meeting tomorrow. The project had been defunct for several years.


Talwandi’s removal was must: Bibi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 11
Politically sensitive Bholath constituency of Kapurthala district witnessed a war of words today as former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, who represents the constituency and prospective Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh Khaira, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, levelled allegations against each other.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said the Shiromani Akali Dal’s conference to be held at Nadala on December 13 would be a big show and mark the formal launching of her political campaign. Her rival, Mr Khaira, alleged that the entire official machinery of the district was being misused to mobilise people to attend the rally.

Bibi Jagir Kaur asserted that she would retain her seat from the Bholath constituency as no Akali candidate was ever defeated ever from there except once in 1992. She said senior Akali leaders, including Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhbir Badal and other senior state leaders, would attend the political conference on December 13.

She claimed that 90 per cent development work in the constituency, including upgradation of 12 schools, construction of roads, hospitals and dispensaries, had been completed and people of the area were aware about it.

Contrary to her claim, Mr Khaira told reporters in at a separate press conference here that no development work had been carried out in the Bholath constituency during Bibi Jagir Kaur’s tenure. “You can have a round of the constituency and judge for yourself,” he said, adding that roads were in a bad shape and schools had been upgraded but only in papers.

Asked about the conduct of former SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi during the recent election for the SGPC president, Bibi Jagir Kaur said his conduct was objectionable and it was up to the high priests to take note of it and take suitable action. “As far as Talwandi’s removal was concerned, it was a must as he was too old to bear the responsibilities of dharma prachar”.

On the issue of dharma prachar, Mr Khaira said,” SGPC’s dharma prachar could be judged from the ignorance about Sikhism abroad which led to the killing of a Sikh youth in the USA due to mistaken identity.” He alleged that earlier politics was used to protect religion, but now religion is being used to meet political goals.

He further alleged that the SAD had lost its traditional character and almost surrendered before the NDA government on all issues concerning Punjab like transfer of Chandigarh, the water dispute and handing over of Punjabi-speaking areas in the neighbouring states. In the past it always opposed draconian laws like TADA and the Emergency, but now it had put up no opposition to POTO, which was harsher than TADA, he added.


Lehragaga seat in limelight
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 11
As the Assembly elections are nearing, the high profile Lehragaga constituency, near Sangrur, is in the limelight. It has a vital importance in the current political scenario of the state. The constituency has given two Chief Ministers — Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Babu Brish Bhan — to the state.

Mrs Bhattal has won from this constituency for two successive terms since 1992. However, this time she has not applied for the ticket which has created a “minor political storm” in the party’s top echelons. Mrs Bhattal’s detractors in the party may make it an issue at the time of the distribution of the ticket.

However, Mrs Bhattal has made it clear that she will contest the Assembly elections and as she is a sitting MLA of the party, there is no need for her to apply for the ticket in the light of the party’s decision to renominate all sitting MLAs in the coming elections.

Mrs Bhattal has carefully nursed her constituency. In 1996, on becoming the Chief Minister, she provided enough funds for the development of the area. So, she will give top priority to contest the elections from this constituency. Even last time during the “Akali wave”, she had won from this constituency with an impressive margin. Besides Mrs Bhattal, Capt Amarinder Singh, his wife, Mrs Praneet Kaur, and some Akali leaders, including Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, have high political stakes in this belt. So, the internal politics of the Congress as well as of the Shiromani Akali Dal will be at full play in this constituency during the elections. The area at one time was a battlefield of the Lal (red) Communist Party, led by comrade Teja Singh Swantanter, who had waged a grim battle against feudal hegemony. Leftists have some presence in the area.

There are many claimants to the Akali Dal ticket. Foremost among them is Giani Niranjan Singh Bhutal whose wife is a member of the SGPC. One of his close relations from Longowal is also a member of the SGPC who is a confidant of Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, a minister having close relations with Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Giani Bhutal’s brother and his son are well-placed officers in the Punjab Government. Moreover, he is regarded as a veteran campaigner and organiser. In two sangat darshan programmes, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, had lent his patronage to Giani Bhutal.

Other claimants are jathedar Gurcharan Singh Fatehgarh, Mr Gurmail Singh Thaska and Mr Garja Singh Khandebad, who lost to Mrs Bhattal in the last elections. Mr Sham Lal, former Chief Engineer in the Irrigation Department who had resigned as General Manager of the Thein Dam and who is a nephew of Babu Brish Bhan, is also reportedly keen to contest on the Akali ticket.

Supporters of Mr Sham Lal say that he can give a tough fight to the Congress candidate because the fighting Akali factions in the area may rally around him. Moreover, he may get Hindu votes from Lehra, Moonak and Khanauri, the three main grain markets in the constituency.


BJP may have to settle for 23 seats
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in Punjab appears to be gradually getting into the election mode. While it is still to discuss seat adjustment with its major alliance partner, Shiromani Akali Dal, for the coming Assembly elections, it has set in motion its election machinery by convening an important meeting here on December 14.

The main agenda for the meeting, says Mr Avinash Jaiswal, General Secretary of the Punjab unit, shall be finalisation of the poll strategy. All members of the legislative group, all the three MPs , Mayors of Jalandhar and Amritsar, chairmen of various improvement trusts, chairmen (belonging to the party) of various boards and corporations, presidents and secretaries of all districts, mandal presidents and constituency of all 23 assembly segments from where the party contested the 1997 elections, besides presidents and secretaries of state units of various morchas and cells had been invited for the meeting.

Though the party has been demanding an increase in its share of assembly seats from the present 23 to 31, yet the issue is yet to be taken up with the Punjab Chief Minister and the Shiromani Akali Dal chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

“We are going to take up this issue with Mr Parkash Singh Badal as soon as possible,” said Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, maintaining that hospitalisation of the Chief Minister had delayed such a meeting.

The BJP leadership, looking at its strategy and programmes, has been concentrating on all the 23 seats it had contested in the 1997 assembly elections.

Its demand that it should be given at least one seat in each of 17 districts has so far evoked no response from the SAD. Its leaders are also keen that some of the seats held by the SAD and now SHSAD should also be considered for transfer to it as some of these were urban seats.

But this portion of the demand may not be pursued as the BJP leadership is keen that there should be unity in the Shiromani Akali Dal.

“The venue of the December 14 meeting would be Aggrasen Bhavan in Sector 30. Other items on the agenda of the meeting are the starting of “rath yatra” and holding of the BJP Yuva Morcha rally at Wagah border on January 6,” said Mr Jaiswal.

The party leadership appears satisfied and confident as most of its demands under the minimum common programme have been conceded. Certain clarifications on account of grant of pensionary benefits to teachers of privately-managed government-aided colleges are being sought by the state unit from the Finance Department as the last major demand — abolition of octroi — has already been implemented after approval by the Cabinet.


Vote with caution, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The Punjab Chief Minister and SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked party workers from Hoshiarpur to reach out to the people telling them about the “evil designs’’ of the Congress and other inimical forces out to create a communal wedge and vitiate the peaceful atmosphere.

Addressing the district unit, Mr Badal recalled the “misdeeds” of the Congress, while focusing on the achievements of the SAD-BJP government aided by the National Democratic Alliance, led by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Compared to the step-motherly treatment meted out to Punjab during the time of the Congress, the NDA had held the hand of Punjabis time and again bailing them out of economic recession, he added.

“Remember the manner in which every grain produced by hard working farmers was procured each year at a remunerative price? Go and tell it to your constituents, who must exercise their vote with caution. People know their choice’’.

The Akali workers, keen to be noticed by Mr Badal, swarmed the lawns at his residence that has doubled up as his office as well as party headquarters. Those present included ministers, MLAs and SGPC activists.

Taking a pot-shot at the Panthic Morcha, he said disgruntled elements were now enabling the Congress to regain power. He reminded the workers that the glorious past and sacrifices of the SAD should not be forgotten and the ill-conceived designs of the Opposition must not be allowed to spread. He attributed Punjab’s poverty, unemployment and illiteracy to the long rule of the Congress, which had myopic vision.

The party chief, who is confined to his residence due to his fracture, reminded the people of Doaba that they must convincingly approach voters and not allow a political vacuum to be created due to his temporary absence. “Ä far greater responsibility today lies on your shoulders. I will join you soon’’.


Cong rally proves damp squib
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 11
The Jan Shakti rally organised by the Congress today at Bijli Grounds Sujanpur, 8 km from here as part of the party’s poll campaign proved to be a damp squib because of the absence of senior Congress central leadership.

Though a majority of the ticket seekers from Sujanpur and Pathankot Assembly segments did not attend the rally, more than 5,000 Congress supporters from all over the area came to attend the rally.

Mr Moti Lal Vohra, AICC treasurer and in charge of Punjab Affairs, Ms Ambika Soni, general secretary, AICC, Capt, Amarinder Singh, President, PPCC, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister, and other senior party leaders were scheduled to address the rally, but due to a function in Delhi, reportedly, they could not make it to the rally.

Dr Kewal Krishan, senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister, Punjab, while addressing the gathering said none of the issues mentioned in the SAD-BJP manifesto had been resolved. He said the Congress election manifesto was people-oriented and it would be released soon.


‘Congress enemy of farmers’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 11
The SAD (B) has achieved success not only at the national level but also at the international level in safeguarding the interests of farmers, as its stand against the WTO terms relating to the farmers was fully endorsed by the representatives of the developing countries in the Doha conference held recently. As a result, all anti-farmer terms of WTO would be renegotiated and have been deferred till 2003, claimed Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Minister for Finance, while talking to The Tribune today.

Lashing out at the Congress, he termed it as the biggest enemy of the farmers and Punjabis, as it signed the WTO agreement to ruin the farmers under a well-planned conspiracy, without taking any state or political party into confidence. He said that if the Akalis had not raised the issue, the fate of the farmers of the country would have been sealed. He said the Congress had much to answer to the public as during its 50-year rule it showed discrimination towards the state politically, economically and in religious matters. He said that due to its step-motherly treatment to the state, the people had never voted it into power since 1980.

Answering a query, he said that there was confusion whether the Panthic Morcha and the BSP were going to form an alliance in the coming Assembly elections. There was a tussle between both the parties over supremacy. If they formed an alliance, it would hardly affect the prospects of his party.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh criticised the so-called Akali leaders of the Panthic Morcha and alleged that they are hand-in-glove with the Congress and making a false hue and cry against the government just to satisfy their egos and to please their masters in the Congress.


Sukhbir lays stones for minor projects
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will strictly give tickets for the forthcoming Assembly poll in Punjab on merit. This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, General Secretary, SAD, talking to mediapersons here today.

A meeting of the senior functionaries of the party will be held shortly to finalise the process. However, he parried all questions regarding the allocation of tickets to the sitting party MLAs. Mr Sukhbir Singh who had arrived here to attend the akhand path bhog arranged by the local nagar council for the speedy recovery of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Earlier, while laying the foundation stones of the Bhilewala and Golewala minors, 15-km from here, Mr Sukhbir Singh said that both the minors would irrigate 11609 acres of 23 villages, including Golewala, Dalewale, Arayranwala, Beguwala and Sangrahur. The projects would cost more than Rs 9 crore. The farmers who had sold their land for the projects had agreed to take the payment later on. Mr Sukhbir Singh also laid a foundation stone of the street light project on the circular road here which would cost Rs 25 lakh to the local nagar council.


Councillor remanded in judicial custody
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 11
Ms Anita Sharma Municipal Councillor from the Majowal area of the Nangal council was today remanded in judicial custody till December 22 by a Magistrate at Anandpur Sahib for her alleged involvement in a murder case.

The Nangal police arrested Ms Anita Sharma and two others, Mr Janak Raj and Mr Rajesh Kumar, yesterday evening for their alleged involvement in the murder of Rajinder Kumar of Majowal Colony. The police said Rajinder Kumar’s brother, Surinder Kumar, had allegedly murdered him on November 20.

The two brothers had an altercation and Surinder Kumar, who was allegedly in an intoxicated state, hit Rajinder Kumar on his head, resulting in his death on the spot. The relatives, in order to save Surinder Kumar, cremated the body of the deceased in connivance with the Municipal Councillor and the other accused.

The matter was reported to the police by Mr brother-in-law of the deceased. He alleged that Surinder Kumar had killed Rajinder Kumar.

The police had arrested Surinder Kumar and Ashok Kumar, brothers of the deceased, earlier. During the investigation, both of them admitted that the said Councillor and other accused had advised them to cremate the body without informing the police.


Punjab Police DSP, others convicted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
In a case of custodial death, a Punjab Police DSP and four others, including a Sub-Inspector, have been convicted by a Patiala sessions court today.

According to information, the DSP, Jaspal Singh, has been sentenced to seven-year imprisonment. The other convicted persons, SI Gurdev Singh, village sarpanch Surjit Singh, Baljinder Singh and Balbir Singh, have been awarded varying sentences ranging from one year to seven years.

A resident of Shatrana Village in Patiala district, Amrik Singh, along with another resident Bhagwant Singh, were picked up by the police from Amrik Singh’s house on May 9, 1995.

The police had reportedly demanded Rs 20,000 through the sarpanch, which the family refused to pay. The next day, Amrik Singh was reportedly found dead in the police lock-up. The police maintained that Amrik had committed suicide.

The matter went up to the Supreme Court and in August 1995, the apex court directed the CBI to investigate into the matter. After carrying out preliminary investigations, the CBI registered a case in 1996. Ten persons were listed in the CBI charge sheet. The other five have been acquitted.


Cops laugh their heads off!
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 11
It was an altogether different day for about 150 Punjab Police personnel as instead of being asked to do the duty, they were forced to laugh by their bosses.

The Police Lines wore a different look today as the sounds of drums and whistles accompanying the usual morning physical training session were replaced by bursts of laughter — thanks to the efforts made by their bosses who thought that laughter could be a potent weapon against boredom and could prove to be a good stress buster.

The policemen laughed and laughed for about half an hour in order to relieve the stress. “It was a nice change for us as instead of hurling dictates on us, our bosses were directing us to laugh and smile and they were leading us,” said Mr Kuljeet Singh, a constable. He said before attending the session he was suffering from stress due to staying away from his children.

Similarly, Mr Gurmukh Singh, another constable, said stress had eroded his thinking capacity and memory but today’s experience had changed him and he was feeling light and stress free.

“Actually, we had been observing that long duty hours were keeping the constables in low spirits and they were visibly looking stressful. As we were looking for a remedy, the idea of making them undergo the laughing therapy — a yogic exercise, struck us”, Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said.

Mr M.F. Farooqui, SP, Headquarters, said the therapy worked well and the response was good. Everybody wanted to join the laughing session, but we selected about 150 constables, he added. It was amazing experience for them to laugh along with their officers, Mr Farooqui said, hoping that such programmes could lead to behavioural changes among the police officials.


Stress can lead to infertility
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 11
Chewing of tobacco and stress of modern life are two of the biggest factors leading to infertility among young couples in India and abroad.

This was the view of leading doctors and experts on infertility from Israel and India who were here to participate in the international symposium on infertility organised at Virk Hospital here today. They also found similarities between India and Israel as around 20 per cent population of these countries was suffering from infertility due to wrong food habits, infections, damage to certain vital enzymes leading to the slowing of sperms’ mobility to join women ova.

Dr Igal Wolman, an infertility expert at Medical Centre in Tel Aviv, said stress of modern life and wrong food and sedentary habits were leading to infertility among men and women. “Chewing of tobacco is the single biggest factor to initiate the malady, particularly in India and other poor countries. Regular chewing or sniffing of tobacco cause damage to certain vital enzymes, which in turn attack the sperms and slows them down,” said Dr Gautam.

N. Allahabadia, Scientific Director of Rotunda, a Mumbai based Centre for Human Reproduction. Dr Allahabadia said most of the patients at his centre were those who were in the habit of chewing tobacco or professionals into stressful jobs. “We have observed that apart from tobacco chewing, intake of drugs and liquor were the major source of infertility these days. We have also observed that males who sit for hours like tractor drivers, taxi drivers, pilots of aircraft are four times at risk to acquire the disease for sitting continuously as increased temperature of testicles also leads to low sperm count. On the other hand, air hostesses and other professionals have 20 times more risk to acquire the disease due to stress in their jobs which leads to abnormal secretion of harmones, which sometimes prove perilous to sperms. Same is the case with women athletes,” said Dr Wolman and Dr Allahabadia. Another cause for the disease are radioactive waves. “All employees of a film roll unit in Mumbai are suffering from infertility and after identification of the disease, the management had to shift employees to other departments,” said Dr Allahabadia adding that TB also contributed to development of disease among women.

Dr Kulwinder Kaur, an expert on infertility and director of Virk Hospital, said trend of marrying late among women was also leading to infertility among them as chances of pregnancy shrink after the age of 38 years. “Women should not defer pregnancy for reasons like jobs or career as they are likely to suffer on this account,” said Dr Wolman, who added the pre-marital sex also leads to infertility.

Prof Daniel S. Seidman, from Sheba Medical Centre, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, said the latest techniques like intracytoplamic sperm injection (ICSI) were proving of help in treating the malady and now it was possible that couples to bear children up to the age of 62. “Even men with azoospermia — complete lack of sperms — can be treated these days and they can be real biological fathers of their children”, said Dr Seidman.

A camp was also organised on this occasion, where 150 infertility patients participated.


MC employees observe strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 11
Employees of the local municipal council today observed a strike against the non-payment of salary to them for the month of November.

The employees also set on a dharna in the complex of the council office. They claimed that the council had earned Rs 30 lakh from octroi in November. They also raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

Mr Arjan Singh, president of the local Municipal Employees Union, said the strike would continue till their salary was not released.


Clock Tower chimes after two decades
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 11
It was a pleasant moment for the residents of the town when they heard the chimes of the local Clock Tower after the district administration succeeded in restoring the old glory of the Clock Tower after two decades.

The tower is situated in the heart of the town and according to old-timers its chimes could be heared miles away. Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, convened a press conference in the DPRO’s office to make the announcement that glory of the Clock Tower had been restored.

He said the repair work of the clock was entrusted to a Calcutta-based watch repair firm which took six months to restore it. He said Rs 3.25 lakh had been spent on the restoration of the building and repair of four clocks.

The tower housed in the local Government Senior Secondary School for Girls in Satnarain Bazar was built by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh who imported four clocks from an internationally renowned watch company, Benson of the United Kingdom, for installation in the clock tower.

The firm, had given one-year warranty for its repair.

Mr Aggarwal said Rs 25,000 was also being spent on electrification.

He said the district administration had undertaken to repair the district courts building. Moorish Mosque and the Lodhi Fort at Sultanpur Lodhi. It had also decided to set up a park on the Mall.

He said the Gol Kothi inside the Kamra garden would be converted into a heritage hotel.


Six of wedding party die in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 11
Six members of a wedding party were killed and five injured after a bus hit their car near Thatian Mahanta village in Tarn Taran police district yesterday.

The car veered wildly and dashed against a tree after the accident, the police said.

The postmortem examination of the dead was at the local Civil Hospital, today. The accident occurred when the Tata Sumo in which these persons were going to attend a marriage at Rasarke Gillan was overtaken by a Punjab Roadways bus of the Muktsar depot. The bus touched the Tata Sumo. The Tata Sumo driver lost control and the vehicle turned turtle resulting in the death of six persons on the spot. The deceased have been identified as Gurdeep Kaur, resident of Sabhara (50), Gurmeet Kaur, wife of Kashmir Singh, resident of village Thathian Khurd (30), Mohinder Kaur, wife of Lachhaman Singh, resident of village Khara (50), Kashmir Singh, resident of village Khara (18), Gurbinder Singh (18), resident of village Pandori Hassan and Avtar Singh.

The Salhali police has registered a case under Sections 304-A, 279, 337, 427 of the IPC against the bus driver Mandir Singh. The driver has been detained. The bus has been impounded.


Dharna by Class IV staff of forum
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 11
Class IV employees of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum today held a demonstration in front of the forum premises here in protest against the change in designation of a Class IV employee of the forum from peon to sweeper-cum-chowkidar.

Sources said the dharna virtually turned into a “gherao” forcing the President of the forum, Mr D.K. Monga, to ask the local SDM, Mr Neelkanth Avhad, to intervene in order to avoid any untoward incident. The SDM had to send Mr Amarjit Singh, Tehsildar, to resolve the issue.

Sources said on intervention of the Tehsildar, the gherao was lifted by the employees. It was decided that a meeting between the representatives of the Class IV employees and the President of the forum would be held on December 17 to resolve the issue.


JEs’ rally against power Bill today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 11
Nearly 5,000 Junior Engineers (JEs) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) belonging to the JE Council, will participate in the chetna rallies to be held tomorrow in the state to create awareness among masses against the Electricity Bill-2001.

The JEs are opposed to the Bill as they feel that it would pave way for privatisation of the electricity boards. Tomorrow’s rallies are meant to create awareness among employees of the PSEB and public and seek support against the Bill.

The JEs feel that after the Bill is passed by Parliament in the current session and the electricity boards divided into three parts catering to different aspects of power generation and distribution, the power would become expensive.

The Council of JEs gave a call for holding chetna rallies in the state to express resentment against the Bill. They said after the Bill was passed problems of the electricity boards of various states would increase.

“The Bill would create problems not only for the employees, but would also be against the consumers who were getting free or subsidised power. If the electricity boards were handed over to private sector then the price of power could increase manifold,” said one of the JEs working at the local office of the PSEB.

Mr Harjeet Singh, vice-president of the Council of Junior Engineers and President, Association of Junior Engineers, talking to this reporter on phone, said the work of the PSEB would not be affected tomorrow due to the chetna rally. He added that the rally was meant to create awareness among people against the proposed Bill, therefore efforts would be made to ensure that consumers did not face problems.

He said the experiment of handing the electricity boards to the private sector had failed in states like Orissa, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.

“If the government wants to improve the quality of working of electricity boards, it can do so within the present framework. The government should hold meetings with the members of the unions of the boards, so that the consumers could get uninterrupted power at reasonable rates. There was no need of the proposed Bill,” he said.


Demand to step up night patrolling
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 11
The Ropar District Petroleum Dealers Association has demanded that keeping in view the recent incident in Kurali in which Manjit Singh, an employee of a petrol filling station, was shot dead and cash looted, the police should strengthen night patrolling on the National Highway and the culprits responsible for the Kurali incident should be arrested soon.

According to a press note issued here today by Mr Sushil Kaushal, president of the association, they met the SSP, Ropar, yesterday in this connection and security arrangements at petrol stations were discussed.

Meanwhile, the association appreciated the courage shown by the deceased Manjit Singh and decided to help his mother.


Train passengers stranded
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 11
Several hundred passengers of the Sriganganagar-Abohar-Hardwar Inter-City Express were put to inconvenience for three hours yesterday.

Mr Hanuman Dass Goyal, joint secretary, Railway Passengers Association (North Zone), in a letter faxed to the General Manager, Northern Railway yesterday said the New Delhi Inter-City Express arrived here in time on Saturday at 8 pm, but the Hardwar Inter-city arrived at 1.30 am instead of 10.30 pm. The passengers had to pass the night on the platform. On Sunday morning instead of sending the New Delhi Inter-City train to Hardwar, the Railway officials sent the New Delhi Inter-City well in time but delayed the departure of Hardwar Inter-City by three hours. As a result many passengers missed connecting trains at Ambala and Bathinda.


RSS workers burn effigies
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 11
Workers of various organisations of Anandpur Sahib tehsil including the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, today burned effigies of the Bangladesh government and carried out a rally at Nangal today, to protest against the killing of the Hindus in Bangladesh. The workers raised slogans against the Bangladesh government and presented a memorandum to the executive magistrate.


Compensation for farm land unpaid
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, December 11
Residents of border villages on this side of Sulemanki and Hindumalkot sectors are now feeling completely relieved after the end of the “seasonal exercise” undertaken following USA-led strikes against Taliban in Afghanistan. The morale of Indians, however, remained high this time even when a majority of them remembered the days when their villages had been razed to the ground by the Pakistan army in 1965 and 1971 with heavy shelling from close range.

This correspondent found residents of some villages close to the fencing taking up the construction of new houses. They said this time none of them thought of shifting to safer places. They, however, were unhappy with the state government as the compensation for the agriculture land acquired for the construction of the drain had not so far been paid to all affected farmers. The designing of the drain was improper and could prove harmful for the border villages if the Pakistan authorities ever thought of repulsing the flood water, they maintained. Due to the drain, some, residents of Muhar and Jamsher villages near the Sutlej had to demolish their houses, but they were not compensated properly. Other houses had the river on one side and the drain on the other side which could pose a threat to their houses following seepage of water from both sides. Sutlej water had turned black in colour and it was stinking as some industries on the way had reportedly been discharging effluents into it. This had hit the fishing business, the residents said.

Mr Nanak Singh had been performing the duty of teaching hundreds of students all alone at Government Primary School, Mansa, a branch of Government School, Muhar Sona. He had been on deputation for performing this challenging job for the past 10 years. However, the number of teachers for Government School at Dilawer Bhaini village, across the Sutlej, had been increased to two.

The farmers, who had to go to their fields across the river after getting permission from the BSF check post, had themselves constructed a temporary bridge on the river. They had to spend five to six hours daily in chilled and dirty water for the construction of pillars for the bridge, the Sarpanch said. Under the MLA development fund scheme, they had received a grant of Rs 1 lakh only. The rest of the money was contributed by the farmers themselves, former sarpanch Jagga Singh said.

The residents complained that the Punjab Roadways had not been running buses in the border belt regularly. They had to depend on three-wheelers and bullock-driven carts. The telecommunication system was not satisfactory. The authorities had not accepted the demand for opening small C-dot telephone exchange.

The rural waterworks near Muhar Sona village had not been repaired. Water was leaking from the overhead water tank when this correspondent visited the area.


Kisan union to gherao minister
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 11
The BKU (Lakhowal) has decided to gherao the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, at his residence on December 18 to press for the long-standing demands of the farmers.

This was stated by Mr Sukhwinder Singh, block president of the union, while talking to mediapersons here today.


6 held for smuggling drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 11
The police has arrested six persons for smuggling narcotics and indulging in anti-social activities. One kg opium, 16 litres of illicit liquor, 5 litres country-made liquor and Rs 250 were recovered from their possession.

An official press note here today said Mangat Ram of Chakheera Singh village of the district was arrested from near his village for allegedly possessing 1 kg of opium. During investigation he said he had brought the opium from Rajasthan from a person whose identity he did not know. A case has been registered.


Petrol station owners looted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 11
A gang of at least eight armed men looted Rs 50,000 after seriously wounding a father and son duo proprietors of a petrol station at Doraha last night, the police said.

Sunil and his father, Gora Lal, who were assaulted with lethal weapons, were left bleeding in their office which was locked by the assailants from the outside before fleeing in a Maruti car.

A doctor couple known to the proprietors happened to drive in to the filling station when the assault was still in progress. But they were asked by Sunil, not to come in the office through a signal. The looters also took away the keys of the doctor’s car in an apparent bid to prevent them from chasing them. The doctor couple took the bleeding father and son to a nearby hospital in their car which was parked in a dark corner of the filling station.


Computer training centres to be set up in villages
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 11
With a view to providing quality computer training to rural youth and to enhance the number of IT professionals in the state, the government has chalked out a comprehensive plan to open more computer training centres in villages, where training in different computer courses, introduced by Punjab Technical University would be imparted at the affordable charges.

This was announced by Capt. Kanwaljit Singh while addressing a rural gathering after inaugurating a new Computer Training Centre established by the village Panchyat at a cost of Rs. 18.57 lakh at village Bhambri about 30 Kms from here, last evening.

The Finance Minister said that though the state had launched its information technology adoption programme much later than the other main IT savy states yet within a period of five years Punjab had mad substantial achievements in this field and with the setting up of an Information Technology park at Mohali a large number of computer software industries have come up as a result of which the software export had been increased manifolds. He informed that an International level Information technology Institution was also being set up in the state and the computer training have been introduced in 5000 High and Senior Secondary schools and 42 colleges of the state and international level Computer Training Companies have been engaged for the quality training. The Finance Minister asserted that a large number of youth from the state was expected to get good jobs in the developed countries of the world where there was a great demand of the IT professionals.

Referring to the efforts of the Government made during the last around five years to shift maximum number of youth from Agriculture sector to the industrial sector, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh said that big industrial units amounting tom Rs. 40,000 crores have been got sanctioned from the Centre Government for the state and liberal loans for setting up of self employment ventures. He claimed that with the completion of these industrial projects the state would be among the top industrial developed states of the countries. He further informed that to boost the industrial development , the state Government was spending Rs. 2230 crores to built suitable infrastructure including strengthening and construction of all the main roads and construction of a large number of over bridges on the rivers and railway crossings and with the completion of these projects the state would be having excellent infrastructural facilities in the country. He exhorted the youth to avail the self-employment schemes of the government to start their own ventures, as in future, there was no scope of white colored job at the international levels.

Appreciating the achievements of the administration for introducing the computer up to the lower level in the district. the Finance Minister said that Fatehgarh district has the distinction in the country to put all the revenue record on the computer and provide efficient and responsive administration to the people.

Giving detailed information about the first computer training centre set up by the Panchyat in the district, Mr. Vikas Partap, the Deputy Commissioner said that the centre have been set up at a cost of Rs. 18.57 lakh where computer training in three computer courses of Punjab Technical University including Accountancy, of three months duration would be provided to the students. After the training the government would also help the trainees in getting gainful jobs in the government and corporate sectors.

Later the Finance Minister inaugurated a newly constructed yard of grain market at a cost of Rs. 11 lakh and laid the foundation stone of parking place to be set up at a cost Rs. five lakh at Amloh.


GND varsity convocation on December 15
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
At the Syndicate meeting of Guru Nanak Dev University held here today, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA and a Syndicate member, raised the issue of wearing black gowns at convocations by the students. She said donning of black gowns was an affront to the Indian ethos and a symbol of slavery to the erstwhile British regime.

Ms Chawla quoted the example of Kolhapur University, Osmania University of Andhra Pradesh and five other universities in India which have discontinued the practice of wearing such gowns.

Talking to The Tribune, she said examination centres for non-aided private colleges should be made on their own premises. The issue has been hanging fire for the past year. She offered Rs 10 lakh from her MLA’s fund if the university decided to make its model heritage village in the city instead of university. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the meeting at which Ms Chawla insisted on reviving the free legal cell in the University Law Department.

Meanwhile, the university has decided to establish a centre for immigration studies. The centre will undertake literary, social and economic studies about immigrants settled in various countries. It will organise seminars and conferences for the purpose.

The Syndicate also gave its concurrence for the establishment of directorate of distance education. The UGC and IGNOU has already approved this proposal in principle. The university will start professional and technical courses to impart quality education through distance education.

Dr S.P. Singh informed the Syndicate that construction work of the regional campus has been started at Jalandhar which would be complete before the academic session 2002-03. Technical courses like B.Tech (Computers), B.Tech (Electronics) and law courses on the pattern of National School of Law, Bangalore, would be introduced here.

The Vice-Chancellor also informed the meeting that the 28th annual convocation of the university would be held on December 15. Mr Arun Jaitly, Union Minister for Law and Company Affairs, would be the chief guest while Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university, would preside.

He told the Syndicate that the university had also decided to establish a heritage village on its campus to preserve the rich Punjabi cultural heritage. Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Revenue Minister, Punjab, had already announced a grant of Rs 20 lakh for the establishment of the heritage village. The university has already decided to adopt a historical village.


Punjabi University results
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 11
Punjabi University, Patiala, will declare the following results tomorrow.

MA History (Final year); MA English (First year); MA Fine Arts (First year); BSc (Part III); B Lib Sc; PG diploma in journalism and mass communication; BA honours (economics) (Part I, II and III); BA honours (History) (Part III); and BA honours (political science) (Part III).

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