Thursday, December 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Poll code comes into force
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Following the announcement of Assembly elections in Punjab on February 13 by the Election Commission of India in New Delhi today, there has been a flurry of activity in various departments of the Punjab Government. Coinciding with the announcement, the “model code of conduct” becomes operative. The poll notification will be issued on January 16.

Several administrative secretaries and heads of departments appeared to heave a sigh of relief now that they will not have to ‘’please’’ the political bosses taking shelter behind the code.

What does the code codify?

One, the ministers and other authorities shall not: a. announce any financial grants in any form or promise thereof; or b. lay foundation stones etc. of projects or schemes of any kind; or c. make any promise of construction of roads, provision of drinking water facilities etc. or d. make any ad-hoc appointments in government, public undertakings etc. which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.

Two, the party in power shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purpose of its election campaign. The ministers, in particular: 1. shall not combine their official visit with electioneering and shall not make use of official machinery or personnel during electioneering work; 2. government transport, including official aircraft, vehicles, machinery and personnel shall not be used for furtherance of the interest of the party in power; 3. public places such as maidans etc. for holding election meetings and use of helipads for air-flights in connection with elections shall not be monopolised by itself; 4. rest houses or other government accommodation shall not be monopolised by the party in power or its candidates and no party or candidate shall use such accommodation as a campaign office; 5. issue of advertisements at the cost of public exchequer in the newspapers and other media and the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided; and 6 ministers and other authorities shall not sanction grants/payments out of discretionary funds from the time elections are announced.

It may be recalled that the 1997 Assembly elections were held on February 7. The date of Notification was January 13. Mr Parkash Singh Badal took oath as Chief Minister, along with his council of ministers on February 12. The constitution of the Assembly was gazetted on March 3, 1997.

The announcement by the Commission today has created a flurry of political and administrative activity. As the parties scurry to finalise their candidates going to the polls either alone or in alliances and draw-up poll strategies, the un-finished administrative tasks, that have a bearing on the poll outcome, are also being rushed through in respect of release of grants, finalising recruitments etc.


Badal asks poll panel to be cautious
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while welcoming the announcement of the Assembly elections on February 13, reiterated his appeal to all parties and individuals, ‘’morally committed’’ to defeating the Congress, to join hands with the SAD-BJP combine.

Talking to media persons at his residence tonight, Mr Badal said the elections would once again give their an opportunity to the people to exercise their franchise and give verdict. ‘’We will not only repeat our 1997 performance but win with a thumping majority’’. The Congress had no agenda. The people had not forgotten how the Congress misrule had ‘’destroyed’’ Punjab — politically, socially, economically, religiously and even its peace.

Mr Badal assured the people and Opposition political parties that his government would ensure a ‘fair and free’ election, as had been the practice in the past. The SAD-BJP combine had always believed in the policy of political consensus and not confrontation. ‘’The government was not vindictive to any party, politically or administratively. Unlike the Congress, we allowed full freedom and free-run to the Opposition to have their way and word because we believe in up holding democratic values and ethics. No Congressman has seen the door of a jail, while, we have spent years in jails’’, he added.

Commenting on the reports of fudging of voters’ lists and the action of the Election Commission of India, Mr Badal said his party had all respect for the constitutional body. The process of inviting ‘’objections and claims’’ was in progress. It was premature propaganda that there had been deletions and additions. He appealed to the Commission to adopt a ‘’cautious’’ approach while dealing with complaints. ‘’My government is ready to co-operate and conduct a joint scrutiny into complaints. Our party’s Secretary-General, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has met the Commission and lodged a protest. The Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, has also filed a representation’’. He hoped the Commission would take the government also into confidence because ‘’we also believe in fair play. The people of Punjab themselves took pre-emptive steps to ensure there were no bunglings’’.

The SAD President said there was no difference of opinion with the BJP on seat adjustments. ‘’Our relations with the BJP is far more sincere and above any suspicion. The strategy is to win with a thumping majority. There is a common pool of seats. Even if the BJP seeks more seats and is confident of winning, we have no objection. We are natural allies. Even my Lambi seat is at their disposal’’. He refused to be drawn into any controversy over the way the BJP had reacted to the release of the first list of 43 candidates on Monday.

Mr Badal said he would contest only from one constituency, though, there were offers from many seats and districts, primarily because there were in-house conflicts and controversies.

Referring to war clouds and reports of migration form the three border districts, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepur, he said he had a meeting with the deputy commissioners concerned and had given them Rs 1 crore each as contingency money to meet any eventuality. ‘’Punjab is the sword-arm. Its people are time-tested ‘desh bhagat’. They are ever ready to defend the nation’’.

Without offering much comment, he said he had had a meeting with the General-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt-Gen. Surjit Singh, and all help was assured.

He said two officers have been specially placed at the disposal of the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, to extend a helping hand with reports of families moving their women and valuables to safer places.

On Akali unity, he repeated that any one out to defeat the Congress was welcome. ‘’I will not name any party or person. We will announce the complete list of candidates before the year-end’’.

Asked when he was likely to move out on the campaign trail in view of reports that he was starting from Hoshiarpur in January, Mr Badal said the doctor, who operated upon him in New Delhi was arriving on December 30. ‘’I feel no problem. I have to ask if travel will be safe’’.


Congress welcomes  EC announcement
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 26
The PPCC today welcomed the Election Commission’s declaration to hold Assembly elections in Punjab on February 13 next year.

Talking to reporters here, the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, and the Punjab Youth Congress chief, Mr Davinder Singh Baboo, said the timely declaration by the EC to hold elections in the state would put a stop on the misuse of the official machinery by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his council of ministers to lure the voters.

“All Punjab ministers are virtually on a spree to lay foundation stones of hundreds of development projects across the state during this month just to lure voters on the eve of elections. Now that the code of conduct has been enforced, it will be difficult for the ruling SAD-BJP combine ministers and leaders to misuse the official machinery,” chaudhary Jagjit Singh said.

“We have already prepared a comprehensive plan to stop the ruling combine workers from capturing booths during the elections as the Youth Congress will deploy 10 workers at each booth. We are prepared to give befitting reply to any move by the Akali workers to rig the poll,” Mr Baboo said, claiming that the Congress would form the next government in the state.


DC, SDM transferred on EC’s order
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 26
Taking action on the directions of Election Commission, the state government has transferred the Deputy Commissioner of Muktsar, Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Subdivisional Magistrate of Tarn Taran, Mr G.P.S. Sahota, and Tarn Taran Executive Magistrate, Mr Deepak Gakhar.

The Election Commission had directed the suspension of two officials and transfer of four officials for gross dereliction of election duty.

Mr Rahul Bhandari, ADC, will look after the post of DC, Muktsar, while orders for the posts of Tarn Taran SDM and Executive Magistrate would be issued later. The Election Commission had directed that the officers transferred be relieved immediately by local arrangements and had directed the state government to take prior permission from the commission for posting of substitutes.

It had issued directions through a stern letter written to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr N.K. Arora, after it received a number of complaints regarding large-scale irregularities in electoral roll revision in Amritsar and Muktsar districts.

The three officials have been asked to report in the Department of Personnel at Chandigarh. The commission had also directed that the officials transferred on its directions should not be assigned any election work in ensuing Assembly elections in the state.

The Election Commission had taken the action and issued directions, after a full panel headed by Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh considered the inquiry report submitted by Mr K.R. Prasad, Secretary, Election Commission, with regard to the discrepancies in electoral roll preparations in the Tarn Taran, Naushera Pannu, Gidderbaha and Lambi Assembly constituencies.

The report had revealed large-scale irregularities, with mala fide intention to subvert the process of free and fair elections, in the preparation and revision of electoral rolls with reference to January 1, 2002, as the qualifying date.

The report had proved that the allegations levelled by the Opposition parties were true. It had revealed that gross irregularities were committed so as to exclude a large number of names of eligible electors and/or to include a large number of names of ineligible persons from the electoral rolls without following the procedure laid down in the rules and in violation of the relevant directions of the Election Commission.


Decision of CEC lauded
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 26
Mr Raghubir Singh, President, District Congress Committee (DCC), Muktsar, has appreciated the decision of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) for taking action against officials of Muktsar and Amritsar districts for their alleged involvement in irregularities during the correction of voters’ lists.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Raghubir Singh said similar action should be taken against officials in other districts who had deleted the names of genuine voters because of affiliations with Opposition parties.

He alleged that the names of many fake voters were added in the voters’ list under pressure of political parties. He added that they would give an application against such officials to the authorities concerned if they noticed any irregularity during Assembly elections.


Badal’s injury blunts SAD campaign
Renominated candidates get going
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 26
With the announcement of the date for Assembly elections in Punjab by the Election Commission of India, most of the renominated candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have started campaigning in their respective constituencies.

Though most of the Akali candidates have welcomed the announcement, they feel it would have been better if the elections were held in the last week of February.

That would have enabled their party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to campaign for them for some more time, they said.

Mr Badal is still unable to move on his own. His absence from the countryside is proving a big handicap for the SAD. There are reports that Mr Badal will not be able to move out of his house for campaigning for a week or so. He is scheduled to visit Delhi on December 30 for a medical check-up and to seek clearance from the medical team for moving about in the countryside for campaigning.

Since Mr Badal is the only vastly accepted face in the rural and urban areas of the state, most of the SAD candidates are dependent on him to woo the electorate in support of the SAD. In the previous elections, he was a star campaigner and was said to have won the elections single-handedly. But this time the scenario is different. There are other senior Akali leaders but they wield a limited influence on the electorate.

Akali candidates say had the elections been scheduled in the last week of February, it would have provided about a week’s time more to Mr Badal to campaign for the SAD-BJP candidates vigorously. Though he would be able to start campaigning in the first week of January, his movement would be restricted because he would be confined to a special vehicle and would not be able to establish a personal rapport with those coming to attend the election rallies.

Meanwhile, a quick tour some of the constituencies, has revealed that the renominated Akali candidates have started looking for suitable accommodation for setting up their election offices.

Supporters of Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali, who has been nominated from Morinda constituency in place of a political heavyweight, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, by the SAD, were seen mobilising party activists to campaign for him. Mr Wadali is expected to face a triangular contest.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh will contest from Morinda as the Panthic Morcha’s candidate and the Congress will also put up its candidate in this constituency. The BSP headed by Mr Kanshi Ram has already extended his support to Mr Ravi Inder Singh by projecting him as a future Chief Minister of Punjab.

In the adjacent Chamkaur Sahib reserve constituency, Ms Satwant Kaur Sandhu, has started addressing small meetings of her supporters in villages. She has been renominated by the SAD. Chamkaur Sahib is a very compact and predominantly rural constituency.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, who has been renominated from Kum Kalan reserve constituency, held a meeting of his close confidants last evening at his residence to draw up the campaign strategy. Only a few days ago, he had organised an impressive election meeting in his area. Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi, son of a former SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, today held a meeting with his supporters in the Raikot area. Though he was the party candidate last time also from Raikot but he had lost to the Congress candidate , Mr Harmohinder Singh. Mr Badal has renominated Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi obviously to keep Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi in good humour. The latter has been livid following his removal from the presidentship of the SGPC last month.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, who has been renominated from Qila Raipur, has been camping in the constituency for the past several weeks. As he and his brother are very close to the Badal family, he was certain to be renominated by the party. He has been holding meetings with his supporters for the past some weeks. In 1997, Mr Badal had contested from two constituencies and one of them was Qila Raipur. But he had vacated the Qila Raipur seat and had preferred to retain Lambi constituency.

Mr Sujan Singh, who has been renominated from Malout reserve constituency, will start his election campaign tomorrow. He has shifted his headquarter from Chandigarh to Malout.


Punjab Cong leaders may seek Central rule
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
Punjab Congress leaders would meet President K.R. Narayanan and Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh to protest against the “misuse of official machinery” in Punjab and demand a thorough probe into the complaints of irregularities in the voters lists in the state.

AICC leaders here said that the Congress leaders might also demand the imposition of President’s rule in the state for impartial elections. The party has welcomed the action taken by the Election Commission against officials in Muktsar and Tarn Taran, saying that election complaints received from other areas of the state should also be probed thoroughly.

With the date of election in Punjab having been announced, the party is in a hurry to decide about seat adjustment with the Left parties in the state. The party is willing to give six seats to the Left parties. The CPI and the CPM are demanding more. Though there is a feeling among some senior leaders that the party can go it alone if no agreement is reached on seat sharing, most senior leaders are in favour of a understanding with the Left parties as lack of an agreement could damage prospects of Congress candidates in nearly 30 constituencies. The decision on seat adjustment is expected to be taken at the tomorrow’s meeting of the Punjab Election Committee here.

Meanwhile, AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora said today that there was no move to replace Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP as convener of the Punjab Congress Parliamentary Party. Mr Vora said that no party MP had written to him on the issue and there was no truth in reports of a change in Punjab Congress Parliamentary Party. Reports in a section of the Press had said that Mr Brar had been replaced as convener by the party’s MP from Jalandhar.


Traders to oppose SAD-BJP nominees
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 26
Senior leaders of trade organisations from Punjab and Rajasthan have vowed to oppose the SAD-BJP candidates in the next Assembly elections by fielding 25 candidates of their own and supporting potential candidates of other political parties.

At a session of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (K) and the Yuva Beopar Mandal here on Sunday, participants from various towns of the state described the abolition of octroi at the last leg of the present government’s term as an election stunt and condemned those who lauded the move.

Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, Punjab State Beopar Mandal (Ludhiana) and Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president, Pradesh Beopar Mandal (Bathinda), lashed out at those who had described Mr Parkash Singh Badal as the most efficient Chief Minister of Punjab on the base of a motivated survey.

He alleged that the state had never seen such rampant corruption, criminalisation of politics, “auction” of postings and transfers since Independence. Traders were being humiliated on the roads by enforcement wing officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, the leaders said.

The leader said only the law of jungle prevailed in Punjab, corrupt officers were shielded by those in power, selection of B.Ed and ETT teachers and that of Panchayat Secretaries and other employees stank of corruption. Wives of certain officers were known for lavish living disproportionate to their known sources of income, but the officers dared accuse the traders of evasion of taxes and unfair practices.

The SAD-BJP combine had cheated the trade community, they said. The BJP had stabbed in the back of the traders community by luring them with false promises. It was resolved to put up a strong candidate against Industries and Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tondon even if the minister decided to change his constituency. The BJP, they said, would not be in a position to get more than two MLAs elected this time even if the party fielded more candidates.

The leaders resolved to oppose the new system of sales tax which was to be enforced from April 1 as this would multiply the tax putting additional burden on consumers and adding to problems of shopkeepers. They also warned certain officers of the sales tax department here and a senior income tax officer of Bathinda against “harassing” the traders. Trade was already facing a crisis and additional burden would evoke protest, the leaders said.

Mr Gurparsad Behal of Rajasthan Beopar Mandal, Mr R.D. Gupta president, Chemists Association, Punjab, Mr Vimal Gupta, president, Faridkot District Beopar Mandal, Mr Brahm Parkash Bhusari, district president, Ferozepore Beopar Mandal, Mr Rakesh Dhuria, president, Yuva Beopar Mandal, Mr Satpal Khariwal, chairman, Consumers Movement, also addressed the gathering. Mr Jagat Verma, a young fashion designer selected for Adharshila Award, was honoured by the organisers.


Top leaders absent from Congress rally
Tribune News Service

Dhanaula (Sangrur), December 26
Though thousands of Congressmen participated in the constituency-level Congress rally for the Dhanaula segment at the stadium ground here today but no top leader of the party turned up to address the rally organised in connection with the ensuing Assembly elections.

However, in the absence of top party leaders, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, MLA from Dirba and president of the district unit of the party, emerged as the main speaker. As per the programme of the party, Mr R.L. Bhatia and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, both MPs, were to address the gathering but they did not turn up. Over their absence, Mr Dirba said they could not attend the rally as they were busy in a meeting being held at Delhi in connection with the selection of party’s candidates for the ensuing Assembly elections.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Dirba said the Congress would field candidates with clean image in the ensuing Assembly elections. He said people should vote for the Congress candidates as the Congress only could make the state prosperous and crime-free. He said during Badal’s regime 814 minor girls had been raped which showed deterioration of law and order situation in the state.

Mr Dirba also described Mr Badal’s tenure as the “worst time” seen by the Punjabis. He said there was resentment among the farmers, employees, traders and labourers against the “wrong policies” of Mr Badal.

Mr Dirba said the Badal government had even forgotten the birthday of Shaheed Udham Singh. This was the reason that no function had been held today in connection with his birthday in Sunam by the government while the Congress organised a function at Chajjli village today to pay tributes to the martyr.

Mr Jagtar Singh Dhanaula, district president of the Youth Congress, and Mr Jasbir Johny, Chairman of the SC/ST cell of the Punjab Congress, also addressed the gathering and criticised the government for its “anti-people” policies in the different fields and hike in the tarrif of electricity etc.

Some claimants for the Congress ticket from the Dhanaula Assembly constituency including Mr Madanjit Singh, a retired SP; Mr Prem Kumar Bhoot, a member of the PPCC; Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh Sukhi, general secretary of the district unit of the Congress; and Ms Rajvinder Kaur Bhattal, daughter of late Manjit Singh Bhattal ex-MLA, also addressed the gathering and assured the party that they would support the same candidate to whom the party would allot ticket for Dhanaula segment.


Nomination of Nand Lal criticised
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 26
The non-clearance of the names of two SAD MLAs, Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha of Nawanshahr and Mr Mohan Lal of Banga, in the first list of candidates released by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for the forthcoming Assembly elections, as well as the possibility of a poll alliance with Mr Satnam Kainth, President of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha, could be an indication of new political equations in the state. The clearing of the name of the SAD MLA, Mr Nand Lal, from Balachaur has also given rise to speculations. The BJP had been staking its claims to this seat.

The nomination of Mr Nand Lal from Balachaur has been sharply criticised by the BJP as well as Mr Roshan Singh Thiara, a local SAD leader, an aspirant for the Balachaur seat. The BJP aspirant, Ms Varinder Kaur Thandi, and Mr Thiara had been opposing the candidature of the MLA, Mr Nand Lal.


Border residents against war: panel
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 26
An 11-member study team constituted by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, to guage the public mood and gather the version of people living in the border areas of Ferozepore, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts has come to the conclusion that residents of these areas do not want the tension between India-Pakistan to flare up into a full-scale war. The residents sincerely desire that peace should be given another chance to save Punjab from vagaries of war.

Stating this here today after a two-day tour of border districts, Mr Dhyan Singh Mand, vice-president, SAD (A) and head of the team, and Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary of the party, and member of the team, claimed that people urged the BJP-led Union Government and other political parties not to whip up war hysteria. Both countries should open diplomatic channels for defusing the tension as they feared that the war would displace them for the fifth time.

The majority of residents disliked the decision to terminate rail and road services between India and Pakistan as well as recall of the Indian High Commissioner, the team members said. The youths are being forced to become members of defence committees and are being given a temptation to get recruited in the army in case of outbreak of war, alleged the members. They said the standing wheat crop had been trampled under military vehicles, distress sale of remaining crops was on and transporters were fleecing villagers fleeing border areas.

Mr Mand said the war was being thrust upon the people as they feared that their sons would be made the fodder for war. Administration has not erected any tents or made any camps for migrating public, alleged the members. The people feel that those who had got commission for purchasing coffins for Kargil martyrs would also make money from the war, the leaders said.

The panel will submit its report to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann on December 28 after which Mr Mann will himself visit the border areas, they added. Other members of the team were Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, Bhai Ram Singh, Mr Parminderpal Singh Shukarchak, all general secretaries, and Mr Sukhjit Singh Kala Afgana, and Mr Daya Singh Rakkar, all district presidents of border districts.


Frame’ law against sexual harassment
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 26
The SAD-BJP government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was failed to frame law to check sexual harassment, despite directions given by the Supreme Court. This was stated by Ms Rekha Sharma, district President of the Punjab Istri Sabha yesterday. However, she said several times the Istri Sabha and other women organisations, besides Ms Vimla Dang of the CPI and Ms Laxmi Kant Chawla, BJP MLA, have brought specific instances of sexual harassment to the notice of the government.

She said the condition of girls and working women was much worse in the districts of Mansa and Bathinda.

She said the sabha had continuously raised the demand for the setting up of a women’s police station at the district level if not the tehsil level.


2 jawans injured in mine blast
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 26
Two Army jawans are reported to have been injured in land mine blast in Chack Amira village, 6 km from here, yesterday. According to eyewitnesses the jawans were on guard duty near the land mines but one of them slipped fell on the mines. The other jawan tried to rescue him but the mine blow up resulting in injuries to both of them. This is third mine blast in the Fazilka sector in the past two days.

Meanwhile, villagers of the Fazilka sector shifting their valuables to safer places have now started sending the aged women and children to safer places. The exodus of villagers has started following the laying of mines by the Indian Army in the forward areas. Due to the laying of mines the villagers have been denied access to their fields. The villagers have also been directed to shift their livestock too which creates problems by straying into the mined areas.

The majority of the villages which have been vacated are Pakka Chisti, Nooran, Beriwala, Gharumi, Asafwala, Kabulshah Hithar, Khanpur, Muradwala, Bakhushah, Kadar Baksh, Mohammad Pira, Hamir, Mansa, Teja Rohala, Mumbeke and Mohar Jamsher. These villages are situated in strategic areas in this sensitive sector. 


3 Army men killed in accidental blast

Batala, December 26
Three Army personnel were killed when a landmine they were laying near the border went off accidentally in Gurdaspur district yesterday, official sources said today.

Two Army personnel of 26 Punjab Regiment were killed and two others injured while a landmine they were laying near Nangali Border Observation Post (BOP) in Dera Baba Nanak sector of the district went off accidentally, they said. One of the injured succumbed in a hospital today.

Meanwhile, the Army apprehended four Pakistani nationals, believed to be ISI agents, while trying to cross to this side of the border, near Dharamkot Pattan along the Ravi last night, the sources added.

Sources said two Pakistanis were caught moving in a suspicious manner in the prohibited area along the border. They disclosed that three of their accomplices were also moving along the border, leading to the arrest of two others. PTI


Unmanned level crossing claims 5 lives

Ferozepore, December 26
Three women and two brothers were killed on the spot and other five were seriously injured when a jeep in which they were travelling collided with a train at a unmanned railway crossing near Kasu Begu village of the Ferozepore-Bathinda section this morning.

The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital where the condition of the two of them is stated to be critical.

The dead have been identified as Surjit Kaur, wife of Mukhtiar Singh, Kulbir Kaur, wife of Randhir Singh, Kulwant Kaur, wife of Chamkaur Singh, Naib Singh and Sukhdev Singh, sons of Dalip Singh. The injured are Harbans Kaur, Kuldeep Kaur, Sandeep Singh, Jasbir Kaur and driver Swaran Singh.

The victims were residents of Ugoo village in this district. The government railway police has registered a case. UNI


Badhnikalan sub-tehsil inaugurated

Moga, December 26
Badhnikalan, one of the 25 sub-tehsils recently announced by the Punjab Government to be set up, was formally inaugurated by state Education Minister Tota Singh today.

Addressing a rural gathering, Mr Tota Singh said the sub tehsil, part of the Nihalsinghwala subdivision of this district, was set up for the convenience of the people of the area.

Badhnikalan will have nine villages, nine patwari circles, one kanungo circle and one naib Tehsildar. PTI


MC to allot work to pvt contractors
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, December 26
Even as the committee headed by the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, is yet to submit its report to the state government regarding alternative measures to generate revenue after the abolition of octroi from December 1, the local municipal corporation authorities have envisaged a plan to allot development works worth Rs 1.5 crore on Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis to private contractors.

Talking to The Tribune here today, the Mayor of the corporation, Mr Suresh Sehgal said state government had announced to disburse Rs 5 crore per month to the civic body to carry out development works in the city. The corporation had formulated a comprehensive plan to allot various development works worth Rs 1.5 crore on BOT basis to private contractors.

“As a first step,” the Mayor said we have decided to construct overbridges at high density traffic points, including the bus stand, HMV College Chowk and Adarsh Nagar Chowk for the convenience of pedestrians. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 50 lakh. We have already invited quotations from private contractors and the work will be allotted soon to the successful bidders.”

“Similarly, we have recently conducted a survey to identify suitable places for the construction of more than 200 bus shelters near all the main educational and religious institutions and other places in the city. Besides, we are going to invite bids for construction of public urinals in different parts of the city under the BOT scheme. The total cost of construction of bus shelters and public urinals is estimated to be Rs 1 crore,” the Mayor said, adding that it would improve the financial position of the civic body, which is virtually at the mercy of the state government for monthly grants after abolition of the octroi system in the state.

Though the state government had recently announced that it would provide Rs 5 crore per month to the corporation for paying salaries and financing development projects, the major chunk of the grant was being used in disbursing monthly salaries to the corporation employees.

Besides, the corporation is planning to hand over the maintenance of 195 gardens in the city to private institutions in lieu of advertisement rights.

“The whole investment for these projects will be made by private contractors and, in turn, they will be allowed exclusive rights of advertisements for a period of eight to 10 years. After this, projects will be transferred to the civic body as per the agreement,” Mr Shegal added. 


Sandhu is Health Director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Punjab Government has promoted Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Deputy Director Health Services, Punjab to the post of Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab in the scale of Rs 18600-22100, with immediate effect. Earlier he has worked as Civil Surgeon, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar, and at present was officiating as Director Health Services (ESI, Punjab).

Dr D.S. Virk, Joint Director, PHSC, and Dr Rameshwar Chander, Deputy Director working as Director UT Chandigarh, have also been promoted as Director, Health and Family Welfare, by giving them performa promotion.

Dr G.L. Goyal, Deputy Director Health Services has also been promoted as Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab.


PSEB to acquire coal mine
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), in order to arrange better quality, coal at cheaper rates, has taken an initiative to acquire its own captive coalmine for the thermal plants in the state. The PSEB will be the first electricity board in India to benefit from the recent policy of the Centre which had liberalised the acquisition of captive coalmines for thermal plants of various states.

Punjab has been allotted ‘Pachwara block’ in Dumka District, Jharkhand , for the development of a captive coalmine. The block has a mining reserve of 407 million tonnes of superior quality coal.


Police postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Punjab Government today posted Mr Rohit Chaudhary and Mr IPS Sahota as Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ludhiana and Patiala ranges, respectively, against vacant posts as the previous incumbents, Mr Suresh Arora and Mr Sanjeev Gupta, have been promoted Inspector-General.


Tortured by wife, man ends life
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 26
The police said here today that Mahesh Chander, son of Jaggi Ram of Railway Colony, Ludhiana, reportedly committed suicide by jumping into a canal. His body had been recovered from the canal near Tarkiana village of this district last evening.

In his suicidal note, he alleged that he was being mentally tortured by his wife Kamlesh Kaur, and his in-laws staying in Jalandhar.

Before committing suicide, he had also sent representations to the Chief Minister, Governor, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, besides the DIG and SSP, Ludhiana.

The police has registered a case under Section 306, IPC.


3 typists booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 26
Three persons have been booked by the police for allegedly receiving Rs 10,000 from a person to prepare a will.

According to the police, the three — Sunita Rani, her father Bhupinder Lal and her brother Vijay Kumar — were working as typists in a tehsil complex. They had allegedly taken the money from Didar Singh to prepare the will but did not get the work done.

A case has been registered against them.


50th sociological conference opens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 26
A three-day golden jubilee conference being hosted by the Sociology Department of Guru Nanak Dev University, in collaboration with the Indian Sociological Society, was inaugurated here today. The 27th Indian Sociological Conference is also being held here as part of the golden jubilee conference.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Victor S D’Souza, a distinguished sociologist, said for the democratic functioning any complex modern society, the politics, the economy and the religion have to play their legitimate and complementary roles. The study of sociology has become a greater challenge for the younger generations of sociologists, he added.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, exhorted the sociologists to keep pace with both the changing society and theoretical and methodological paradigms. He said they must also be able to build a critique of the existing society for a better tomorrow. He appealed to the sociologists that they should contribute to the study of social change, especially with regard to women and Dalits, keeping in view globalisation, modernisation and post-modernisation period.

He pointed out that sociology and literature had a kinship and sociological insights could be derived from literature.

Prof B.S. Baviskar pointed out the importance of the 73rd constitutional amendment and emphasised the need to find out the true impact of the reservation for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Panchayati Raj system.


Students’ woes: AISSF to meet CM
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 26
Showing concern about the problems faced by students particularly in the rural areas, and the functioning of prevailing education institutions, the All-India Sikh students Federation (AISSF) has decided to take up the matter with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Addressing a Press conference here today, Ujjal Didar Singh Aulakh, spokesman for AISSF, alleged that the decision of charging a late fee of Rs 2,000 from students by the Punjab State Education Board was a cruel joke on the poor students. “The late fee should be slashed to its usual level of Rs 330 since the board has been constituted only to control the secondary education system in the state and not to earn profits to run its affairs, “he said.

“Besides, we will highlight the problems faced by the students, including failure of the state run roadways buses to stop at prescribed bus stops in the rural areas and the non-issuance of bus passes to deserving students by the transport authorities,” he said.

He announced that nine members of a 21-member policy-making committee of the AISSF (United) had decided to form a new students’ outfit.


Youth festival from Jan 7
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 26
The youth festival of Bathinda-Faridkot zone will be held from January 7 to 9, 2002, at the local DAV College.

Students belonging to colleges of Faridkot and Bathinda zone affiliated with the Punjabi University, Patiala, will participate in various cultural activities during the festival.

A meeting was held at DAV College yesterday in this regard which was presided over by Mr Daljit Singh, Dean, Youth Services, Punjabi University, Patiala, in which principals of colleges of Bathinda-Faridkot zone participated.


Appointment letters for ETT posts
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 26
The District Education Officer (Primary), Mr Amrit Singh, informed here today the B.Ed candidates, who have been selected for ETT posts in the district, should collect their appointment letters from his office up to December 31. “We have decided to issue appointment letters up to December 31 to the selected candidates,” Mr Amrit Singh added.

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