Thursday, December 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab for administrative restructuring
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Even as the coming Assembly elections have intensified the political heat in Punjab, once again there is talk of administrative restructuring on the basis of ‘’need and functionality’’ at all levels. This could mean the assimilation and elimination of several departments, consolidating their resources for the desired proficiency and fiscal management.

Informed sources say that a modest beginning is likely to be made by the end of the year when Mr I.S. Bindra retires. He holds charge of Youth Services and Sports. This is likely to be merged with School Education, at present headed by the Secretary, Mr R.S. Sandhu.

Interestingly, even the Director, Sports, retires on December 31. The race is on among hopefuls, who include hockey player Pargat Singh and wrestler Kartar Singh, besides the Joint Director, Ms Chanchal Surjit Singh. Even some IAS officers are angling for the post.

As an illustration, the other merger proposals under serious consideration pertain to the Department of Health and Family Welfare with Medical Education and Research, the PWD (B and R) with Public Health, General Administration with Personnel and Coordination, Higher Education with Culture, Relief and Rehabilitation with the office of the Financial Commissioner (Development), Pensions and Grievances going to the Chief Secretary, Freedom Fighters to the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, Social Security with Social Welfare, Science and Technology with Information Technology, besides placing a couple of departments related to rural development/agriculture under one umbrella. The same could be done in respect of the social service sector.

‘’Despite better communication means, administrative units have proliferated without reference to viability’’, say bureaucrats, thereby putting several ministers as also administrative secretaries in an ‘’under or no-work mode’’.

The aim behind the administrative amalgamation is to make the best use of the available manpower for effective coordination and control from top to the field level. A workload assessment of the top-heavy bureaucracy has reportedly revealed that while some secretaries hold a ‘’heavy’’ charge, others scarcely have enough work to keep them occupied for more than one or two hours during the day. This scenario has existed for quite some time resulting in ‘’evil implications’’ allowing for rumours. As a consequence of such inequitable distribution of responsibilities, most of the 40-odd ministers are reportedly ‘’under-worked’’.

With several top slots falling vacant due to retirement and no new ones likely to join the top echelons, the move for a second look at the administration structure has assumed importance. The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr Rajan Kashyap, is reported to have even sent a note to the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, suggesting certain readjustments for better coordination and administrative and operational efficiency. He is not alone. Several others have also approached the Chief Secretary with similar suggestions aimed at getting bureaucrats ‘’gainfully employed’’ in the interest of the state, given its administrative slackness and fragile financial health.

When contacted, Mr Arora confirmed that suggestions for a relook at the existing administrative departments had been received.

In fact, what is now on the anvil is in consonance with the report of the committee of officers on a strategy for fiscal management submitted in November, 1998.

No matter which political outfit emerges after the elections, it will have to tackle the stupendous task of fiscal management and administrative reforms for sustainable development. Any political agenda has to emerge from the administrative and financial understanding of the state for transparent, effective and efficient governance. What is crucial to Punjab today is balancing the revenue receipts and revenue expenditure. The core areas that merit immediate attention after administrative and financial management are: compressing the salary and wage bill, pension and retirement benefits, indebtedness and debt repayment, expenditure on the law-enforcement agencies, grants to education and the poor inflow of taxes.

As per the budget estimates, the current year’s salary and wage bill is pegged at Rs 4906.19 crore; pension and retirement benefits at Rs 1,150 crore; the total debt (as on March 31, 2001) is Rs 27830.33 crore with an interest liability of Rs 2812.19 crore. Add to this the staggering wage bills of education and the police.

Contrast this with the total revenue receipts and revenue expenditure: the current year’s receipts total Rs 11299.30 crore and payments Rs 13956.23 crore. From this what emerges is that the ‘’government is paying mainly for its own continuance’’, as the committee observed in its report.


PTU-UGC duel intensifies
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 19
The duel between the Punjab Technical University (PTU) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) intensified today, with the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, dubbing the UGC Chairman as an “agent” of private institutions having interests in Punjab and saying that the UGC was merely a recommendatory body.

The UGC had objected to the starting of some distance education courses by the PTU and its recently started practice of giving franchises for opening centres for various technical and computer courses.

Mr Garcha, who was here to inaugurate the Distance Education Online Virtual Campus of the PTU here today, alleged that the UGC Chairman was hand-in-glove with private institutions running various computer courses across the country and were charging huge fees from the students.

“In fact, the Chairman is issuing baseless statements against the PTU just to create confusion among students, who are interested in joining distance education programmes run by the PTU. More than 20,000 students have recently deserted the private institutions in the state to join courses at different PTU-approved study centres, which, in fact, had destabilised the managements of private institutes and had infuriated the Chairman”, Mr Garcha alleged.

“The UGC guidelines are not binding on us. Why had the Chairman failed to initiate any action against the private institutions in the past one decade, which are charging huge fees from the students”, the minister questioned.

Earlier, the employees of the privately managed government aided polytechnics of the state gheraod the minister, while he reached the venue in the morning. They raised anti-government slogans for not sanctioning the grant-in-aid for the past two years.

Later, a deputation of the employees was invited by the minister for holding talks on the issue of salaries.

“Since the matter is related to the Finance department, I can only convey the demands of the employees to the Chief Minister”, Mr Garcha said.

Earlier, the PTU Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Gurm, said the virtual campus was the first of its kind in the country and it will provide online guidance to distance education students.


‘Take tough stand on Pak’
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, December 19
Notwithstanding the heightened threat perception in the aftermath of the Afghan war, terrorist attack on the Parliament has brought war clouds on the country’s frontiers with neighbouring Pakistan.

If troop movement on both sides of the border is any indication, the country’s defence personnel reinforce the option for major and decisive war.

The Defence Services Association, that came into being after the terrorist attack on America comprising of retired officers from all three forces, here today expressed the view that war with Pakistan was imminent as obvious from the recent attack on the Assembly, as a measure of the emboldened and an aggressive enemy that is sure to spread its tentacles in India.

According to Brig (retd.) Jaswant Singh who commanded 8 Sikh Battalion and a veteran of World War-II and also the Chairman of the Defence Association, the attack on a premier institution of democracy and the infiltration of terrorists in our educational institutions was the consequence of the “soft” posture of our government amply displayed during recent kidnapping and hijacking of IC 814. The post-Afghanistan war scenario can only become worse with polarisation into Islamic and non-Islamic countries putting India into a tight spot.

Brig (retd.) M.L. Chadha, Commandant Artillery, that was based in Amritsar in ’71 war said India must adopt an aggressive posture to assert its strength to ward off Pakistan’s misadventures.

Echoing his views Group Captain retired Kirpal Singh Sufi, Indian Air Force, asserted that India need not indulge in “pin-pricks” but “solid-kicks” to the enemy country that only listens to the language of power.

Sq. Leader (retd.) Sarabjit Sandhu, IAF, laments India’s increasing dependence on the USA “hence it awaits a favourable nod from the super power to take any incisive action”, he adds.

Col (retd.) A. S. Bal who served in the Dras and Kargil sector and in the Bangladesh war opines that hot pursuits and limited war are options that bely ground realities which demands high scale operation.

While Col (retd.) Iqbal Singh, Artillery impels the country to “shed the soft state stigma and proceed like Israelis and Americans”. Major (retd.) Raghbir Singh feels UN General Assembly meeting could be requested to bring China and the USA to favour a war against terrorism for India to have a formidable pre-war standing.


Border villages in high spirits
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi
Tribune News Service

Pul Kanjari (Amritsar), December 19
In response to the Pakistani Army build-up across the International Border in Punjab, the Indian Army has moved its troops to safeguard its territorial integrity. In the aftermath of the December 13 attack on Parliament by Pakistan-based terrorists groups, the Indian defence forces are not taking any chances as the neighbour has been fomenting trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pul Kanjari village, situated on the Indo-Pak border, however, showed no signs of tension.

Kuldip Singh and his brother Satnam Singh told TNS that although the Army had taken over the front positions, there was no palpable fear and all of them were busy in their daily chores. The village was captured by the Pakistani Army in December 1971 which was later wrested back by the valiant soldiers of Second Sikh Regiment on the night of December 17. The villagers erected a memorial of 11 soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice to recapture the village from the control of 43 Punjab Battalion of the Pakistan Army.

Kuldip Singh said that the memorial stood testimony to the valour of the Sikh soldiers who laid down their lives to wrest back the control of this historic village which was once used by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as resting place during his many visits to Lahore.

The Indian Army has taken over the defences and troops are patrolling the area to ward off any misadventure by the Pakistani Army.

A senior Army Commander looking after the defence of the area, preferring anonymity, told TNS that the morale of the Indian forces was very high. It was backed by the helpful villagers who have been wanting to teach Pakistan a lesson ever since the country had engaged India in a proxy war, bleeding India slowly.

India was matching its force level on the border based on the movement of heavy artillery and armour by the neighbour. The Commander said that India was not taking any chances and was prepared to meet any eventuality in case Pakistan dared to attack India.

Naranjan Singh of Modde Dhanoa village, close to the International Border, said that the Army had taken up the positions all along the barbed wire fencing and was maintaining a strict vigil on the border. He added that all the families in this border belt were not moving to safer places as they wished to fight the enemy with their brother soldiers and provide them all possible help through supplies of food etc.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has requisitioned a number of civilian trucks and other vehicles to transport essential supplies, including ammunition and heavy weapons close to the border.


Long wait for justice
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
He challenged his “compulsory retirement” from Punjab Finance Corporation when he was 51. Today, Mr C.L. Nanda is 72 and his case is still pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“My dark hair have turned silver grey since the petition was filed in the High Court,” he claims. “I hope the case is decided before I make a final exit from this world”.

His case is not an isolated one. According to highly-placed sources in the High Court, cases pertaining to service rules, including the ones involving the payment of retirement benefits, are pending in the Courts since the early 80s, along with certain civil cases, while criminal appeals against the orders of acquittals are pending since the mid 90s.

This is not all. As per a report recently released by the Press Information Bureau, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has the second highest number of dowry death cases in the country. As many as 842 such cases were awaiting disposal when the report was released in June this year. The Rajasthan High Court, with 926 cases, topped the list.

The shortage of judges is being cited as the prime reason for the increase in the pendency of cases. Sources assert that the number of judges has already decreased from 30 to 27 with the retirement of Justice A.S. Garg and Justice S.S. Sudhalkar, besides the transfer of another judge to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. One more judge will retire this month further decreasing the number to 26. The sanctioned strength is 40.

Sources add that the problem of pendency would have been largely solved with the appointment of seven members of the Bar as Judges, but till date nothing has been confirmed. Sources further add that their names had been recommended for appointment, but had been referred back to the High Court for further comments and the matter was likely to be delayed by another six months.

In an attempt to bring down the number of old cases pending in the courts, the High Court had earlier recommended the constitution of a special cell for chalking out a programme to list old cases on a priority basis. A committee of three Judges had also suggested that “two officers of Punjab and Haryana Superior Judicial Service may be appointed for the purpose”.

The committee had also suggested that the cases pending before the subordinate courts, in which the High Court had issued stay orders, “may be listed for hearing on a priority basis before all Benches on Fridays”.

Two Benches could be left out of the process for deciding urgent bail matters after hearing the arguments, the committee had further suggested.

It had also requested the Judges “not to give fresh dates for Fridays so that the old cases could be taken up for hearing”. The authorities had also been directed to prepare “a consolidated list of cases in which proceedings had been stayed by the High Court, but cases were still pending before the subordinate courts”.


All Morcha MLAs to be renominated: Baba Bedi
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 19
The Panthic Morcha has decided to give party ticket to all its sitting MLAs in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab. This was stated by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi convener of the morcha while talking to the mediapersons here today.

He said the morcha would contest the poll from all 117 Assembly segments and the morcha had already received over 600 applications in this connection. The names of the candidates will be finalised soon by five senior members of the morcha, including Mr Simaranjit Singh Maan, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Rode and by himself.

Baba Sarbjot Singh who had arrived here to attend the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Teg Bahadur clarified that the seat sharing arrangements would also be made with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after discussing the issue with BSP supremo Kanshi Ram who was visiting Punjab shortly.

The convener said the morcha was still ready to make alliance with like-minded parties to give a crushing defeat to the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress in the elections. The list of the Morcha candidates would be announced before the end of this month. He also ruled out all possibilities of any unity move with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

In a question Baba Sarbjot Singh said Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra went to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, last month only to enquire about the health of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. It was just a courtesy call.

Baba Sarbjot Singh said if the morcha was voted to power it would lay stress to check corruption, creating more employment opportunities, waiving the loans of farmers, promotion of education and many other concessions to scheduled and backward classes in the state.


Kanwaljit wants ex-servicemen to join SAD
Our Correspondent

Lalru, December 19
The Shiromani Akali Dal will approach the Central Government to press the demand for ‘‘one rank and one pension’’ of ex-servicemen, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister of Punjab, while addressing a convention of Ex-servicemen of the Banur Assembly constituency here today.

The minister said that SAD wanted ex-servicemen to join the Party so that the development and other works may be monitored in a disciplined manner.

He urged the ex-servicemen to go about reassuring masses whose confidence had been shaken after the shootout incident outside Parliament.

A number of ex-servicemen who joined the convention were also asked to form ex-servicemen’s unions and get a berth in SAD. He said that the Punjab government has provided maximum financial help for the families of Kargil martyrs.

Besides this Rs 2.2 crore had been distributed among the parents of martyrs as war hero family relief funds and Rs 16 crore had been provided as financial help for the ex-servicemen, who had suffered losses in transport trades.

Those who were present on the occasion included Mr Jasbir Singh Mangat, president of the Ex-Services Association, Punjab, Capt Kesar Singh, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Patiala, Lt-Col Gurnam Singh, Lt-Col Kamal Karanbir Singh, Capt Gurdial Singh, Col Surinder Singh, Commandant C-Point Lalru and Mr Pritam Singh Joghal, SDM Dera Bassi.


Welfare schemes for SCs not implemented: Cong
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 19
The Punjab Congress today criticised the ruling SAD-BJP combine government for its failure to implement welfare programmes for Dalits and farmers during its rule in the state.

Former Congress minister and President of the district unit of the Punjab Congress, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, while addressing a party rally at Pholriwal village near here today, alleged that the ruling combine had failed to implement welfare schemes for Dalits. “The Scheduled Castes are being denied their share in government jobs. Besides, the SAD-BJP combine government had abolished the roaster system pertaining to the reservation in promotion for Scheduled Caste employees. The state government had even failed to fill the vacancies meant for Dalits due to its indifferent approach towards the community,” Mr Kaypee alleged.

“The ministers are involved in various acts of commission and ommission and it is virtually difficult for a common man to get his work done without paying bribe to the bureaucrats and ministers. The Congress will set up a judicial commission to inquire into the allegations of corruption against the ruling combine ministers,” Mr Kaypee added.

The Vice-President of the Punjab Congress Committee, Mr Avtar Henry, alleged that the farmers of the state, who were reeling under debt, had been committing suicides because of the failure of the Akali government to announce welfare schemes for them.

“The state government is least concerned about the future of the students hailing from rural areas, which is evident from the fact that more than 10,000 posts of primary teacher have not been filled in the past five years,” he alleged.


CM forms panel on seat adjustments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 18
The Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has constituted a four-member committee to interact with BJP and other like-minded parties seat adjustments for the forth coming elections to the Punjab Assembly.

The members of the committee are Mr Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, according to a party spokesman.


Cong warns against rigging
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 19
The Congress launched its election campaign in the adjacent Jalalabad Assembly segment by holding a public meeting in Mandi Ladhuka of this subdivision last evening.

Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, member, election campaign committee and secretary PPCC, warned the SAD-BJP government that Congress workers would not allow booth-capturing and rigging as done by them during the Lok Sabha elections of 1999.


Caring for kids of leprosy patients
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, December 19
In a society where children of patients of leprosy are left with no option other than begging, the Nirog Bal Ashram at Kotkapura gives them a chance to lead a normal and respectable life. It is perhaps the only institute of its kind in the state doing service for such children who are discarded by society.

The ashram where such children are given all facilities like boarding, lodging, education and health is being run under the patronship of Dr Om Parkash Grover. He is 83-year-old and still an active social worker. Starting from a rented building in 1984 with 10 children, it is now a modest residential complex having its own playground, lawn, a park, a gaushala and a temple. It has its own middle school and an institution for training girl students for tailoring and embroidery.

At present there are 200 children, including 10 girls, who have come from different parts of the country. Although these children are healthy but all of them faced hatred of society in one or another form for being children of leprosy patients. But here their life takes a turnaround for good.

If children are good enough in studies and want to get higher education the trust makes arrangement for that also. At present three girls and few boys are studying at local colleges. The children are provided three time meal including, milk and fruits. There are 14 employees, including warden, manager, cook, gardener, a lady warden for girls to take care of these children, and a few of them reside here only. Though these employees are paid very less but are satisfied and happy with their job.

The trust feels proud in stating that a number of students passed out from here are well settled and some of them brought laurels to the trust by winning the sports championships at state and national level. Girl students get training for tailoring and if they want to stand on their own, the institute provides the machine free of cost.

The students who passed out from here love to return here time and again. They also do whatever they can, for the development of ashram, which enabled them to live a decent life. Most of the city residents love to celebrate their special days with these children by inviting them or visiting the ashram.

Dr Grover, a doctor who is an institution in himself for the service he rendered to mankind for past five decades is the inspirational force behind the Nirog Bal Ashram Charitable Trust. While talking to this correspondent, he said the idea of opening the ashram came to his mind on seeing the plight of children of leprosy patients. He added that there were a number of institutes for patients but they are not allowed to keep their children with them in the ashram so their children adopt begging. Dr Grover is also the patron of the Guru Gobind Singh Trust.

At present the trust is running two free homoeopathic dispensaries, one middle school and a training institute of tailoring providing free services to poor children, in the city. The trust also organises marriages of poor girls once a year. But it never sought government aid and carry out its tasks with the voluntary donation of the people of the region.

Many a government officials and leaders have visited the ashram and written touching words for the children but the ashram authorities have never sought monetary help from them.


Tongas soon to be extinct in Patiala
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, December 19
Owing to the large number of modern means of transport, which are easily available, dozen odd ‘tongas’ still operating in the city may soon be ‘extinct’ drawing the curtain on an era reminiscent of the long gone princely days.

The ‘tonga’ remained the favourite mode of transport for decades in the city till it was slowly edged out by cycle rickshaws and later local buses. Out of the 80 ‘tongas’ plying till a few years back on various routes in the city, mainly — Sanauri adda to bus stand and bus stand to Rajindra hospital road route — about a dozen or so remain and these too are in a shambles.

The tonga owners are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet on their meagre earnings. “We charge Rs 2 to Rs 3 per passenger for any route. Earlier I used to make a lot of money but now out of the Rs 60 to Rs 70 earn every day half of it goes into feeding the horse”, rues a tonga driver in the city. Besides declining earnings, tonga drivers also have to contend with the fact that they are no longer welcome at their traditional stand near the bus stand and are constantly harassed by local cops who do not want them to park their vehicles there due to traffic problems. “This causes us immense problems as we need a permanent stand if we are to attract customers”, the drivers said.

Private buses, which have been introduced on the bus stand-Rajindra hospital route since the past one year, have struck a crippling blow to the trade as more and more commuters prefer to use faster means of transport. Most of the tanga drivers have gradually shifted professions and sold off their horses. Some have retained their ‘ghodis’ and lend them to marriage parties to be used in ‘baraats’. While this is more lucrative the monetary relief is shortlived as the marriage season lasts for an average of three months only.

Those still plying their ‘tongas’ feel that they are too old to switch profession.

The tonga service in the city may soon be extinct but it shall not go without some regrets. There exist a large number of senior citizens, who feel far more at ease in a tonga than in a bus or a rickshaw. “The tongas can still be relevant due to their non-polluting status,” said an octogenarian, adding they were a much better option for travel on the 2-km bus stand — Rajindra hospital route, than auto rickshaws which spewed kerosene fumes. Besides this those used to the tonga ride felt comfortable on them only. “The vehicles may provide a faster service but the pleasure of a ride on a tonga is uncomparable,” said Amarjit Singh, a senior citizen.


Popularity of Punjabi pop not waning: Waris
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 19
Punjabi pop will continue to dominate the national music scene due to its strong rythmic nature and content.

These were the views of popular Punjabi singer Manmohan Waris and Mr Sogani, senior vice president of the Tips music company. They were here to release “Gajre Gori De,” a Punjabi album sung by Waris.

Talking to TNS, Waris and Mr Sogani, observed that it was a misconception that the popularity of Punjabi pop and music was on the decrease. “Can we make people to dance on a Bengali number? Certainly not. So, I think the Punjabi music will dominate the industry for at least another 10 years or more,” said Mr Sogani.

Waris was of the view that melody of Punjabi music,” particularly folk, would fascinate the young hearts and it will be combination of melody and rhythm which will create a new trend in the coming days.

Waris said “Gajre Gori De” was the first album in Punjabi which also contains a Hindi number,” Haat Haath Mein,” a song authored by Sangtar. Sangtar is a Hollywood-based music composer, who has also arranged the music for “Gajre Gori De”, and digitally mastered it at his Los Angles-based studio.

Referring to the Punjabi music scene, Mr Sogani said. “We receive four to five proposals for cassettes daily, but since we prefer melody, we are very choosy.”

He also refused to believe that vulgarity was being used to promote Punjabi video numbers. “It is nothing when compared to other channels like MTV and people watch them. Can we prevent them? So it is more up to individuals and their liking,” said Mr Sogani.


Check vulgarity in songs: Hans
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 19
“Raj Gayak” Hans Raj Hans today sought the revival of “guru-chela” tradition in music and poetry for clean, and stable singing and literature. He was talking to reporters here after being honoured with a gold medal by the Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister, Ch Swarna Ram, for his contribution to the promotion of Punjabi language.

Supporting the move for a censor board to curb vulgarity in Punjabi music, Hans, however, did not favour punitive action against artistes and singers.

Give employment to youth, make the people aware about clean singing and train singers in it, he said.

Hans dreams to set-up a “sangeet ashram” for training budding singers but does not know as to when his dream will come true.

Earlier, he regaled the audience at a function where Ch Swarna Ram gave cheques for Rs 10 lakh to panchayats and documents for 253 plots to SCs.


Hospital signboard misleading
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
Many doctors of the prestigious Guru Nanak Dev Hospital have retired or joined some other institutions but their names still continue to adorn the main signboard for the past many years. The discrepancies that, too, at the main reception of the hospital put the visitors to great inconvenience especially to those who come from far-flung areas.

For example, the name of Dr M.S. Hora, Professor and Head of the Eye Department , who retired about eight years ago, still figures on the signboard.

The name of Dr Ashok Uppal, the only Associate Professor of Neurology who had started private practice after seeking voluntary retirement, also appears on the sign- board.

Dr Sudesh Khanna seems to be still continuing Professor and Head, Department of Radio Diagnosis though she retired about two years ago after her elevation as Principal, medical college and then Director, Research, and Medical Education. Similarly, Professor of the Orthopox Department, Dr Manmohar Singh, who had joined the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Charitable Hospital after getting voluntary retirement seems to be Professor and Head, Orthopaedic Department of the government hospital. Dr B.L. Goyal who retired in June last year as Principal of the medical college and then took the assignment as Director, Mental Hospital, is Professor of Psychiatry, according to the signboard.


Fencing of park ordered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr B. R. Banga, yesterday gave orders for the fencing of a park located at Majitha House. Installation of grills around the park would start within two days, he said, while talking to The Tribune here.

The park has been mired in controversy for the past 25 years. Measuring about 900 square yards, the area was a prime property worth crores on which attempts to encroach continue to be made. Corporation employees and a former Mayor had allegedly also attempted to occupy the park area in connivance with some political figures.

The Majitha House Welfare Society under its president, Mr K.J.S. Bedi, was thus formed to counter the designs of land grabbers. Mr Bedi said orders for boundary demarcation were passed by the former Commissioner, Mr S.S. Rajput, in 1998 when certain elements had tried to pass a resolution facilitating encroachment. Even then, no fencing was undertaken by the corporation, so much so that a minister unknowingly inaugurated a lane in the park some time ago, Mr Bedi said. Several representations to develop the park were pending with the corporation, he added.


Honesty still exists
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 19
Mr Prem Kumar, owner of Delhi photostat here, preferred honesty to growing rich overnight by handing over a bag containing Rs 40,000 to the Senior Superintendent of Police yesterday.

Talking to this correspondent, he said a customer left the bag with the money in his shop. When the matter came to his notice, he rushed to the SSP and handed over the bag to the SSP.

Later, Mr Balbir Hundal, a retired school principal, approached Mr Prem Kumar about the bag. He immediately took him to the SSP and got the amount returned to the owner.


Cops dilly-dallying on arrests: Bishop
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
The Bishop of Amritsar Diocese, Babu Masih, has alleged police inaction in nabbing persons involved in the December 5 attack on his house.

At a press conference here yesterday, Mr Babu Masih alleged that the police had failed to apprehend the suspects. He claimed that self-styled Bishop P.K. Smanta Roy and Mr Denial B. Das, convener of the Church Bachao Sangharsh Committee (CBSC) were behind the attack.

Mr Masih said even though a case had been registered at the Civil Lines police station against the suspects, the police was not taking any interest in the matter.

He said mission shops were the properties of the Anglican Church and had been on rent for the past 40-45 years and all allegations by the CBSC were baseless.


Thousands take dip on Shaheedi Divas

Moga, December 19
Despite biting cold thousands of devotees visited historic gurdwaras at Muktsar, Nanaksar and Takhtupura and took bath in the sacred sarovars on Shaheedi Divas of ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur today.

Akhand path and bhog of Guru Granth Sahib and kirtan were held at all gurdwaras at Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Nanaksar and Takhtupura. Langars were also organised. PTI


PSEB power plants exceed target
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 19
All three PSEB thermal power plants in the state have exceeded their respective targets of power generation and their performance from April to November this year has surpassed that of the corresponding period in the last fiscal year. An official note here claimed that the three plants had performed extremely well and the thermal plant at Ropar was expected to surpass all previous performance parameters during 2001.

The Ropar power plant has generated 5,870 million units in the first eight months of the current fiscal year as compared to 5,565 million units during the same period in 2000 as against the target of 5,640. The Lehra Mohabbat plant has generated 2,165 million units as compared to the target of 2095 while the Bathinda plant, which is the oldest, has generated 1856 million units as compared to the target of 1795 in the corresponding period during the last fiscal year.

Engineer Suresh Gupta (member generation), PSEB informed that this had become possible due to the various research and maintenance schemes carried out by the PSEB to maintain and improve the performance levels of its thermal plants. He said boiler air pre-heaters, boiler pressure parts and boiler insulation had been replaced and wagon-in-motion weighing system had been commissioned. He said steps were being taken to reduce pollution around the plants by bringing down the suspended particulate matter.


Tota Singh holds board meeting
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 19
The District Planning and Development Board had received Rs 541.76 lakh for various development works in the district and out of it Rs 284.83 have been spent so far.

Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, who is also the Chairman of the District Planning and Development Board held a meeting with administration officials here today, according to a press note issued here today.

Those who were present here at the meeting included Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, Punjab, Mr Makhan Singh MLA, Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP and district heads of various departments.

While presiding over the meeting Mr Tota Singh said officials had been instructed that the amount allotted for the development works concerned with the Dalits should be immediately used.

While presiding over the meeting of the District Road Committee, Mr Tota Singh instructed the officials to take the help of village panchayats for completing the task.


Four held on murder charge
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 19
With the arrest of Raja Masih and James Masih, alias Gholoo, both residents of Indranwali, Sukha Masih and Mukha Masih, both brothers and residents of Mangalsain in this district, the murder cases of Gian Chand of Salimpur Raian committed on the Kalanaur-Gurdaspur road on the intervening night of October 27 and 28 and a chowkidar committed at Dhariwal on the intervening night of November 2 and 3 have been reportedly solved. Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday, said the accused were robbers and were wanted in 13 cases of burglaries, snatchings and thefts.

Mr Angra said all accused were drug addicts, belonged to poor families and were school dropouts. He said the accused started as small time thieves but later became robbers and killers, adding that during their preliminary interrogation they confessed having committed 13 acts of snatching, burglary and theft and also killing of the said two persons.

They gave information about another gang of thieves, the members of which have been identified as Satnam Singh, Nirmal Singh and Tinkoo, all residents of Gurdaspur. They have also been arrested.


Labourer found murdered
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 19
Two persons were killed and three hurt in different incidents in the district.

Pankaj, a labourer from Bihar, was found dead near the focal point on the Bathinda-Dabwali road on the outskirts of the city this morning.

Police sources said that he was reportedly murdered last night with sharp-edged weapons although the real cause of the death would be known after the investigation only. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.

In another incident a 22-year-old youth was crushed to death by a truck this morning on the Bathinda-Dabwali road on the outskirts of the city. He was identified as Naib Singh of Sekhu village. A case under Section 304-A has been registered against the truck driver who ran away after the incident.

Three persons were injured in a conflict between two groups near the Bir Behman bridge in the Parasram locality of the city today. The clash which was reportedly related to a property dispute started when members of one group hurled abuses on the other group. Some members of the two groups also fired from a rifle.

Those who received injuries were Gurjant Singh of Burj Mehma village in the district and Gurdas Singh of Lohara in Muktsar district, and Jagjit Singh, a local resident. All of them have been admitted to the local civil hospital. No case was registered till the filing of the report.


School holds annual day function
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 19
A colourful variety show marked the annual day function of the local Assumption Convent School. More than 1,400 students enthralled parents and other guests with programmes, including folk dances, yoga, and aerobics.

The Principal of the school, Sister Tissiana, while presenting the annual report, said the performance of the school was above the national average of Indian Certificate of School Examination. Chief guest Gurcharan Singh Sandhu, Additional DTO, urged the parents to keep their children away from drugs. He said drug addiction was a serious threat to the country.

Deepinder Singh was adjudged the best athlete. He had won the second prize in Javelin throw at the National School Games in Bangalore recently. 


Punjabi university alumni to form association
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The alumni of Punjabi University (campus) plan to form an old students' association at a meeting to be held at the chashme Shahi farm house, near the sales tax barrier, Balongi, on the Kharar-Mohali road on December 25.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Sidhu, an old student of the university and brain behind the move, has given a call to various alumni to get themselves registered as members with Mr Gurcharan Singh Sidhu (0172-609890) or Mr Sukhdev Singh Sidhu (0172-642473).


Mini-bus operators demand tax cut
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 19
Operators of mini-buses have urged the Punjab Government to reduce the special road tax levied on mini-buses so that their operational costs could be reduced.

In a press note issued here today Mr Baltej Singh Wander, president of the district unit of the Mini-Bus Operators Union, said while the special tax was reduced in case of big buses, the interests of mini-bus operators were not taken care of.

He said the cost of plying mini-buses had increased manifold in the past few months and it had become difficult for them to ply their buses. He alleged that the mini-bus operators were being given stepmotherly treatment by the state government. Under the influence of some influential transporters.

Mr Wander said they had met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on many occasions and had apprised him of their problems, but nothing had been done so far.

He further said the special tax on bigger buses was reduced on the plea that the rates for diesel had increased. The tax on mini-buses should also be reduced on the same pattern, he demanded.

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