Tuesday, March 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Identify corrupt, CM tells officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today directed the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs to identify corrupt officials in their respective districts and send the report to the state government.

Presiding over the first meeting of the Divisional Commissioners, IGs, DIGs, Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of the Police after taking over as Chief Minister, he asked these officers to reserve one day in a week, exclusively for hearing to grievances of general public and redress these promptly.

He also urged the officers to shed their pre-conceived mindset and be susceptible to new ideas and thoughts, so that these could translate the policies and programmes of the State government into reality thereby fulfilling the aspirations of the people.

Effective steps should be taken to check corruption at lower levels as complaints from general public in this regard were pouring from different quarters, said the Chief Minister.

Referring to the mandate, Capt Amarinder Singh, said his party had won the recent Assembly elections on two counts; first on corruption and secondly, on governance and therefore it was our moral duty to provide people a transparent administration without favourtism, nepotism and red tapism. Welfare of oppressed and down- trodden sections of society should be accorded top priority in the agenda of overall development in the State.

He also said at the meeting that attractive self employment schemes would soon be prepared to absorb a major chunk of unemployed youth as they had tremendous potential and energy which should be channelised in a constructive manner. The menace of drug abuse which has assumed disastrous dimensions should be tackled firmly to save our youth.

He asked the SSPs to maintain law and order situation in the state at all costs and efforts should be made to repose full confidence amongst the masses for the security of their life and property. The state government would make all- out efforts to boost morale of the police which had won the battle against terrorism in the past.

The Chief Minister asked the officers to undertake their new and challenging assignment in an effective and result oriented manner to ensure clean and transparent administration to the general public and the same should be amply reflected through the satisfaction of the people.

Mr Y.S.Ratra, Chief Secretary, reminded them that MLAs must be given due respect and regard. In a democratic system, MLAs have to play an important part in the activities of the State Government and therefore they must be taken along by the district administration.


Council of Ministers to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Punjab Council of Ministers shall hold its second meeting here tomorrow.

Wheat procurement, approval of Governor’s Address to the inaugural session of the Vidhan Sabha and basic proposal about the vote on account are the main items on the agenda for the meeting tomorrow, sources in the government said.

The three-day session of the Vidhan Sabha is scheduled to start on March 21. Swearing in of the members, election of the Speaker, the Governor’s Address , obituary references and passing of vote on account for three months are the main items on the agenda.


Funds short for 24-hr power scheme
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
The much-touted 24-hour power supply scheme for rural areas, implemented at lightning speed during the fag end of the Akali-BJP rule in the state with an eye on the poll, may now run into rough weather, with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) not having funds to continue it at the same pace.

According to sources, the scheme, under which 24-hour single-phase power was to be given to villages of the state on the urban pattern, may be severely affected as the government had not reimbursed the board for the money spent on the scheme. The sources said the board had spent Rs 129 crore on the scheme with the understanding that 85 per cent of this expenditure, amounting to Rs 110 crore, would be reimbursed by the government. The sources said the government, instead of reimbursing the amount, had only released Rs 15 crore to the board as grant.

Board officials said the organisation was in the process of taking a loan of Rs 125 crore for the implementation of the scheme. They said the loan would be taken only when the government would commit that it would return the money to the board. They, however, said the scheme was still being implemented, with about 150 villages being given single-phase connections under the scheme last month.

The sources said during the Akali-BJP rule, even the then Chairman, Mr Gurcharan Singh Sohal, had been given the marching orders for alleged tardy implementation of the scheme. The implementation had been affected after the ouster of the government, the sources said.

The sources said the PSEB had recently carried out an internal survey of all schemes as well as the financial position of the institution and felt that it would be difficult to continue with the scheme under the present financial crisis being faced by the board.

The sources said though there were still more than 5,000 villages yet to be covered under the scheme, there were more than 2,000 villages registered with the board which were waiting for the scheme to become functional in their villages.

According to the present policy, each village which wants single-phase connections for residential purposes has to apply to the board for the same. According to the regulations, villages with a population of less than 1,000 have to submit Rs 10,000 as their share for the implementation of the scheme, those with a population below 3,000 have to submit Rs 20,000 and those with a population of 3,000 have to spend Rs 50,000 for the purpose.

The scheme was introduced by the Congress-led government in 1992 but could not pick up as the share of the villages in the scheme was felt to be on the higher side. Subsequently when the scheme was relaunched in 1997, the share of the villages was reduced, generating interest in the scheme.

The scheme was implemented at breakneck speed during the last seven months of the Akali-BJP government. The sources said this was aimed at the rural electorate.


Registrar accused of nepotism
JAC writes to Chancellor for action
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Punjabi University, which is spearheading the agitation against Vice-Chancellor (VC) Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, today urged the Chancellor and Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), to order a probe into the alleged ‘’illegalities’’ committed by the Registrar, Dr B.S. Bhatia.

The JAC, in a letter to the Chancellor which was signed by its convener Dr U.C. Singh and co-convener Sukhwant Singh Sidhu, levelled serious allegations against Dr Bhatia. The allegations include running of a “benami” college, manipulating admissions and migrations of his son and daughter, getting a nephew appointed and allocating a chemist shop on the campus to one of his relatives.

Dr Bhatia, however, said the JAC had launched a vilification campaign against him. Denying any wrong-doings, he said the management college being referred to was a non-profit organisation in which his son did not have any role. He said his son and daughter had availed of the migration facility from other colleges to the university campus according to rules after paying the migration fee, adding that many teachers who belonged to the group which had levelled the allegations against him had also availed of the migration facility for their children. He also claimed that he was not a member of the committee which gave permission for a chemist shop on the campus, adding that his holding responsible posts did not disqualify his relatives from seeking jobs in the university.

The letter to the Chancellor claimed that Dr Bhatia was running a “benami” college, — Patiala College of Management and Technology — in the name of his son. It said Dr Bhatia was on the inspection committee in his then capacity as Dean, Academic Affairs, which approved the affiliation of the institution when the then VC was on a foreign tour.

It said Dr Bhatia had also got his daughter who had got a reappear in B.Com paper admitted to the MBA course at the Talwandi Sabo Regional Centre of the university and then got her migrated to the Management Department on the varsity campus. He also got his son admitted to MCA at Talwandi Sabo and got him migrated to the Department of Computer Science on the campus.

The JAC alleged that he favoured his relatives by getting his nephew recruited as a technical assistant in the Department of Commerce. He allowed the private construction of a shop on the campus by a person close to the VC, against the rules, it said.

The JAC also alleged that Dr Bhatia was acting as a part-time Registrar. It said as per the University Act: ‘’The Registrar is a whole time administrative officer of the university’’. There was no provision for a part-time Registrar. It urged the Chancellor to order a probe by an independent agency into the ‘’misconduct, illegalities, favouritism and nepotism” by Dr Bhatia.

Meanwhile, the JAC has urged the Chancellor to appoint a three-member search committee consisting of a nominee of the Chancellor, a nominee of the state government and one of the (UGC) to select the new VC.


Staff shortage hampering speedy justice’
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
“An acute shortage of judicial staff in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and also in lower courts is hampering the speedy disposal of justice. There is an urgent need for the government to pay attention in this area and release more funds for administrative and infrastructural support to the already overburdened judicial system”.

Making these observations here today Mr Justice Mr R.L Anand of the Punjab and Haryana High Court said judicial officers were working relentlessly to cope up with the ever-increasing work pressure.

Mr Justice Anand, who is in town in connection with a three-day inspection of the lower courts in Ludhiana district, said the High Court and the judicial officers were doing all that they could to provide justice to litigants, but owing to the delay in the release of funds by the government and shortage of officers, the starting of “Fast Courts” had been delayed. He said that setting up of such a court in Ludhiana and shifting of the lower courts to the new judicial complex was being taken up on a priority basis.

Making his point, Mr Justice Anand said: “As against the sanctioned strength of 40 judges, the High Court at Chandigarh is functioning with only 26, two or three of whom are either on leave or on inspection of lower courts”. He said the government released only Rs 10 crore annually for judicial complexes in the state. This, he said, was grossly inadequate as districts like Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, besides half a dozen other districts needed major infrastructure development.

He, however, described as “impractical” the concept of holding courts in two shifts. “This is simply not possible, keeping in view the likely problems litigants are bound to face”, he pointed out.

To a question, Justice Anand said there was no need for introducing new laws as the existing ones had been tried and tested over the years and still held good in most situations. “In fact, if required, small amendments can be made. The Evidence Act and the Indian Penal Code have incorporated some clauses keeping in mind the need of the hour, but by and large these Acts have been so drafted that there is very little room for misinterpretation”, he observed.

Justice Anand said there were so many new local legislations that times it became difficult even for judges to keep track of these. He said the Law Commission was performing its job as a watchdog and there was no reason for concern on the issue.

Expressing complete satisfaction over the Lok Adalats being held under the supervision of the Districts and Session Judge, Mr V.B. Handa, Mr Justice Anand said that these Lok Adalats were helping greatly to reduce the workload in courts. “Once the workload is reduced in the main courts, judicial officers will be able to pay quality attention to the main courts”, he pointed out.

Ludhiana District and Sessions Judge, V.B. Handa and president of the Ludhiana Bar Association Harish Rai Dhanda escorted Mr Justice Anand and introduced him to various judicial officers and local lawyers. Chief Judicial Magistrate Arunvir Vashist coordinated.

While talking about the “Fast Track Courts” in the district, Mr Anand said two Judges, Mr B.S. Bedi and Mr Balbir Singh, had been appointed to speed up the judicial process here, but both could not resume duty. “But we will definitely set up ‘Fast Tract Courts”, he assured.

There are more than 40,000 traffic challans pending in the Ludhiana district courts, but disposal of these challans has become a cumbersome process. Mr Justice Anand taking serious view of the problem, asked the District and Sessions Judge, Mr V.B. Handa, to hold a Lok Adalat for clearing these. 


Liquor vends’ auction fetches Rs 133 cr
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 18
Liquor shops in the Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar districts, put to auction for the next financial year here today, yielded an increase of 6.61 per cent in the excise revenue as compared to the current financial year. The auctions for the three districts would fetch Rs 133.02 crore as excise revenue, an increase of Rs 8.24 crore. Liquor vends were auctioned for Rs 124.78 crore during the current financial year.

The auction process, conducted amid tight security, was completed within 40 minutes. The auction was held in the presence of the Excise Commissioner and Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner. There was an increase of 5.27 per cent excise revenue in Ferozepore, 9.58 per cent in Moga, and 4.46 per cent in the Muktsar districts.

Mr Samarjeet Singh, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, told TNS that the liquor vends in Ferozepore district would fetch Rs.54.30 crore as compared to Rs. 51.58 crore in the current financial year resulting in an increase of Rs. 2.72 crore. The incidence per bottle has also increased from Rs. 89.62 to Rs 91.11. The excise revenue from Moga district has also increased from Rs 44.19 crore to Rs. 48.42 crore registering an increase of 9.58 per cent. The incidence per bottle has touched Rs 85.45 as compared to Rs 80.75 in the current financial year. And in Muktsar district, the liquor vends were auctioned at Rs 30.31 crore as compared to Rs. 29.01 crore in the current financial year with a marginal increase of 4.46 per cent. The incidence per bottle increased by 71 paisa from Rs 80.09 in the current financial year.

The circle wise details available from the Excise Department reveal that the liquor vends of Ferozepore city/ cantonment were auctioned for Rs 14.33 crore, Fazilka Rs 9.96 crore, Jalalabad Rs 9.52 crore, Abohar Rs 15.90 crore, Zira 5.6 crore, Moga Rs 16.50 crore, Dharamkot/Ajitwal Rs 12.76 crore, Baghapurana/Samalsar Rs 8.30 crore, Nihalsinghwala Rs 7.31 crore, Muktsar/Bariwala 12.3 crore, Gidderbaha 6.25 crores and Malout/Lambi Rs 12.02 crore.

Unlike last year, with the change of guard in Punjab, the government has been able to break the monopoly of a few groups in Malout, Ajitwal, Lambi, Dharamkot and Jalalabad circles. There was a minor incident of exchange of heated words between two groups for Moga district but the matter was later sorted out with the intervention of senior officials of the Excise department.

The two groups reached an understanding and there were no apparent attempts to outbid the other with the result that the finalised bids for each group of vends remained more or less near the reserve price announced by officials of the Excise and Taxation Department at the start of each bid. Consequently, the groups of vends in the Moga, Baghapurana and Nihalsinghwala circles were retained by the sitting group of contractors while the Ajitwal and Dharamkot went to the other party.

In the Ferozepore district, the existing group retained the group of liquor vends in the Abohar circle and managed to enter the Zira circle also while it reached an understanding with another group of Fazilka for the Jalalabad circle leaving both areas to them.

The auction of liquor vends of Jalalabad and Baghapurana fetched a record increase of 18 per cent, and 12 per cent respectively. 


Ghuman case takes new turn
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
The case of Mandi Board Chairman Mal Singh Ghuman, who was shot at by his son last week, took a new turn today when Mr Ghuman changed his statement and said he received the gunshot injury in an accident when he was trying to prevent his son from committing suicide.

He said the shot was fired accidentally by him when his fingers pressed the trigger while he was snatching the weapon from his son. He even accused the Jagraon police of blowing up the matter and “by twisting” his complaint.

The police is unfazed by the change in statement. It will pursue the case according to the previous statement unless he changes it in court. A highlyplaced police official said the case of attempt to murder against the Akali leader’s son was registered on the basis of a telephonic complaint lodged by the leader himself and the police had not twisted the complaint.

Police sources said Mr Ghuman’s statement could still spell trouble for his son Jaskirat Singh as he can face charges for ending his life. They said the family could arrive at a compromise. The crime was against the state and it would take some time before the case ended.

Mr Ghuman, who is recovering injury in CMC Hospital, said his son was in a depressed state of mind for the past few months and was mentally imbalanced. He said his son had undergone treatment at a mental hospital recently.

He said the condition of his son was not stable and he had tried to commit suicide several times. On that day, his son locked himself in a room the door of which was broken in time. He said some gunshots were fired accidentally. His son panicked and ran away.

Accusing the police of twisting the case, allegedly at the behest of his political opponents, Mr Ghuman said he had only informed the police that he was injured and his son had run away. He said he had requested the police to look for his son in order to save him from taking any extreme step. However, the police booked his son under Section 307, IPC, and arrested him within an hour from Guru Nanak Public School at Mullan Pur Dakha.

SSP (Jagraon) Balkar Singh Sandhu said the police would react only after receiving the new statement of Mr Ghuman. He said there was no possibility of twisting the statement as police personnel who attended to his call could have done so in minutes.


WSC issue: Vedanti, Bains hold meeting
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
With a view to breaking the deadlock in World Sikh Council (WSC), Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht and Mr Didar Singh Bains, president of one group of the council, held a closed-door marathon meeting at the Akal Takht secretariat here today.

The stalemate in the WSC council, which was formed in June 1996, got intensified when Bhai Ranjit Singh, the then jathedar Akal Takht, appointed Justice Kuldeep Singh (retd) as chairman in place of Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh, on December 21, 1997. Two Sikh leaders, Mr Talib Singh Sandhu and Mr Shamsher Singh Maloa, moved the court against the decision of Bhai Ranjit Singh to replace Prof Manjit Singh without the consent of the General House.

Jathedar Vedanti, when contacted, confirmed that the closed-door meeting took place at the Akal Takht Secretariat. However, Jathedar Vedanti said the stalemate may continue for sometime more as he would have to take the other faction of the WSC into confidence before taking any final decision.

It may be mentioned here that about Rs 60 lakh of both the warring groups of the WSC was still lying unused in the banks due to the deadlock.

When contacted at Chandigarh, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann also confirmed that the meeting between Jathedar Vedanti and Mr Bains was held in a very congenial atmosphere. He hoped that the Jathedar, Akal Takht, would find some way out to resolve the WSC muddle.

According to sources, Mr Bains agreed to the fourmula suggested by Jathedar Vedanti that an a 11-member committee be formed which should continue to work for one year. The proposed committee should give due representation to both the warring goups. The sources further revealed that during the closed-door meeting, nine members were shortlisted while the Presidents, SGPC, and Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, respectively would be ex-officio members. The nine members are Mr Didar Singh Bains, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Dr Darshan Singh of Chandigarh, Mr Ranbir Singh, Delhi, Brig Gurdip Singh (retd). Col Narinder Singh (retd). and Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, personal assistant to the Jathedar, Akal Takht.


Malout seat: BJP backs SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to extend its full support to the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, for the Malout Assembly constituency.

At a meeting of the unit held under the chairmanship of the state President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, and attended by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal and Mr Avinash Jaiswal here today, it was decided that senior party functionaries would campaign for the SAD nominee in Malout.

Professor Rinwa said the new Congress government in Punjab by withdrawing money given to panchayats for rural development had proved its credentials of being anti-people. He called upon party workers to work unitedly to defeat the Congress at Malout.

Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Mr Swarna Ram, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Ms Gurcharan Kaur (MP), Master Mohan Lal, Mr Satya Pal Saini and Mr Sita Kashyap have been deputed to campaign for the SAD candidate in Malout . 


SAD calls meeting of MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has called a meeting of the Akali Dal Legislature Party here on March 20, according to Capt Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary of the party.

At the meeting, the party MLAs will draw up their strategy with regard to the session of the Punjab Assembly starting on March 21.

Meanwhile, the SAD has started the enrolment of new party members Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the drive would continue till May 31.


SGPC threatens stir on ‘galliara’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, SGPC Secretary, today alleged that work on the third phase of the “galliara yojna” was stalled at the behest of the Congress government.

He said if work was not resumed, the SGPC would give a call to launch an agitation. He said the SGPC would also write to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for starting the work immediately. He alleged that the “mahants” of Akhara Brahmpura Akhara had already taken compensation from the government but they were not vacating the premises to pave way for the completion of the yojna.


Dal Khalsa for ban on VHP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 18
Taking exception to the RSS resolution that “Muslim safety lies in the Goodwill of Hindus”, the Dal Khalsa described the move as an ‘act of exploitation of the minority community by the majority’.

Seeking a ban on the Vishawa Hindu Parishad and its off-shoots for streamlining and instigating violence against Muslims in Gujarat, the Dal Khalsa in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, accused the ‘Sangh Parivar’ for its alleged doublespeak on terrorism. The letter signed by the party spokesman, Mr Satbir Singh Sandhu condemned the section of the Indian leadership for pursuing the politics of ‘genocide’. 


Pall of gloom in Budhlada
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), March 18
A pall of gloom descended the town after five members of a local family, including three children, were killed when the car in which they were travelling collided with a truck near Bodawala village late last evening.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that five members of a family namely Parveen Kumar, his wife Vandana, son Rohit, daughter Veena and niece Ritu Rani were killed on the spot. Mahesh Kumar, cousin of Parveen Kumar, who was driving the car, suffered serious injuries and had been admitted to a hospital in Ludhiana.

Tragedy struck again to the kith and kin of the family when one of their kin died due to cardiac arrest after he was informed about the accident.

A pall of gloom descended on the town after the incident and almost all the business establishment remained closed for about half day today as a mark of respect to the departed souls. A sea of humanity joined their funeral procession and attended the cremation of the deceased. Some politicians also attended the cremation.

Information revealed that after the accident, the people of Bodawala village were informed about the same on the public address system of a local religious place. People in large numbers collected at the site and took out the bodies out of the badly damaged vehicle. Mahesh Kumar, who suffered serious injuries, was given first-aid in the local hospital and then shifted to Ludhiana.

The residents alleged that officials of the local administration reached hospital at about 10 a.m. today and doctors were called from outside to conduct autopsy of the bodies. The bodies were handed over to the kin of the deceased at about 12 noon.

Mr A.P.S. Sandhu, SDM, when contacted, said post-mortem examinations were conducted after the police personnel concerned prepared the necessary documents. He added that civil officials remained in the hospital till the post-mortem examinations were not finished.

A case had been registered in this connection. The driver of the truck is reportedly missing.


Akali Dal (A) team tours Rajasthan border areas
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 18
A six-member study team of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A) visited border areas of Rajasthan from March 14 to 16 and interacted with residents. The team found that due to continued Army build-up on the Indo-Pak border, people were living under a virtual state of siege and they wanted peace, not war.

The panel, headed by Bhai Dhyan Singh Mand, party vice-president and a former MP, visited Hindu Malkot, Karanpur, Rawla, Gharsana, Khajurla, Soorma post, Sakhi post and other border areas. This was stated by Mr Jaskaran Singh, co-convener of the panel and party general secretary, while talking to this reporter today. The two-page report of the panel will be submitted to party President and Lok Sabha member Simranjit Singh Mann on March 22.

Residents of the border areas told the team members that they wanted mines to be removed from their fields. They alleged that relief and rehabilitation work was unsatisfactory, their cattle were dying of starvation and the compensation was not forthcoming.

Punjabi settlers were being discriminated against and they sought rights to buy landed property in Rajasthan, Mr Jaskaran Singh said. He said water of the Indira Gandhi canal had been denied to Punjabi settlers in Gharsana area. He said the canal water was being siphoned off to Mohan Garh and Ramgarh areas where many leaders of Rajasthan had purchased land.

He said arhtiyas were fleecing farmers and even the Army was not much charitable. He said the Army took away the tractor of a farmer in Gharsana. When it was returned, the farmer had to spend Rs 6,000 on repair from his own pocket. Youths engaged as daily wagers by the Army were not given wages, he alleged. The kin of three villagers, who died in a mine blast, were not given compensation, Mr Jaskaran Singh alleged.


Kang seeks funds for farmers, jobless
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Punjab’s Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Fisheries and Youth Affairs, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, has asked the Centre to give top priority to Punjab in the allocation of funds for the benefit of Punjab farmers and unemployed youth. During a courtesy call on the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, Mr Kang told him that the Congress Government had inherited a badly destroyed economy and in view of Punjab being a border state the Centre must give top priority to this aspect.

Mr Kang assured the Union Agriculture Minister that the Punjab Government would give top priority to providing training and viable loans to Punjab youth through financial institutions/ banks to set up their own small-scale ventures in the allied sector of agriculture. He also assured the Centre of full implementation of Centrally-sponsored schemes in the state.

Welcoming the initiative and interest shown by Mr Kang, the Union Minister told him that a meeting of the Chief Ministers, Agriculture Ministers and Ministers of the allied sector of Agriculture of North India would be convened in Chandigarh shortly to discuss the various issues related to diversification of crops.


Return unused grants, panchayats told
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 18
The financial crunch in the state is likely to claim its first casualty in the form of development of rural areas, with the panchayats being asked to return the unused grants given to them by the previous government. The Block Development Officers (BDOs) have been asked to collect the cheques given to the panchayats during the last months of the regime of the previous government.

Sources here said the district authorities have estimated that the previous government had distributed rural development funds worth Rs 15.28 crore to various panchayats during the last financial year. Out of this, Rs 1.44 crore had been lying unutilised.

On a directive from the government, the district panchayat authorities have directed the banks to stop the payment of these funds to the panchayats. However, though the payment for the cheques has been stopped, the collection of cheques from the panchayats is proving to be tedious task for the officials concerned.

Many of the sarpanches are unwilling to return the cheques to the BDOs. They are also threatening to take legal recourse against the governemnt if their cheques were dishonoured in the banks. Most of the grants given under the rural development fund were meant for the construction of streets and drains in villages. If these were taken back by the government, it would adversely hit the development of villages, the sarpanches allege.


Unprescribed drugs being sold
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 18
Drugs which are only used by the doctors for medical treatment of patients are being freely made available in chemist shops here and in chemist shops in nearby village at a premium.

According to sources most of the chemist shops sell intoxicant drugs on demand. Even the wholesale chemist shop owners sell these drugs to their customers (chemist shop owners and registered medical practitioners) of the town and nearby village shops.

Corex, Phensedyl, Proxyvon capsule and Parvon-Spas are being sold at a premium to those who are known to those running chemist shops.

Mr Mohan Singh, president BJP, Batala alleged that the District Drug Inspector rarely visited the town.


Muktsar farmer gets Rs 1-cr lottery prize
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
Mr Om Parkash Thind of Muktsar, who is a farmer and winner of the frist prize of Rs 1 crore in the New Year Lohri Bumper-2002, was handed over the prize money bank draft by Mr V.K. Bhalla, Director, Punjab State Lotteries, here today.

At the function held in the Punjab Lotteries Directorate, many other winners were also given their prize money bank drafts.

Mr Bhalla said that till date, the department had created 24 millionaires. The success of the lotteries was attributed to fair draws and quick payment. The revenue earned from lotteries goes to the Consolidated Fund of the state.

He said the Punjab State Lotteries was known for its transparency and its bumpers were quite popular in northern India.

Last year, the department earned a net profit of Rs 35 crore and the expected profit for the current financial year would be more than Rs 65 crore.

It would be the endeavour of the department to contribute the maximum to the state exchequer and for this purpose it was in the process of starting the online (computerised) lottery soon.

He also announced that the state government had decided to launch the Punjab State Baisakhi lottery.


Dogra outlines healthcare agenda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 18
“Discipline will be the new 'mantra' in all health and family Welfare institutions in Punjab, says Mr R.C. Dogra, Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Medical Education.

Mr Dogra said absenteeism would be viewed as a serious violation of government rules and invite strictest disciplinary action. He appealed to all categories of employees to perform their duties with sincerity. He was addressing a meeting of senior health administrators of the state here today.

The Health Minister emphasised that improving quality of healthcare delivery system in all institutions in the state would be priority of the new Government. He stated that he would pay special attention to the facilities in the Mental Hospital, Amritsar.

Expressing deep concern over the changing sex-ratio in the State, the Health Minister called upon the Civil Surgeons to pursue the enforcement of PreNatal Diagnosis (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 with high degree of commitment.

On the possible spread of water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis, cholera, typhoid and jaundice in the approaching rainy season, he called for an advance comprehensive strategy to prevent breakout of any epidemic.

Earlier, Mr R.D. Sharma, Minister of State for Health Family Welfare and Medical Education, said chemists and druggists should not be allowed to sell any medicine without qualified doctors' prescription in accordance with the Drug Control Rules. He advised the Civil Surgeons to proceed legally against any possible offence under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab said: "the cause of girl-child will be promoted in a big way and massive efforts are under way for awareness generation". The Government of India was being approached for more funds for this purpose, he added.


End stagnation, docs urge govt
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 18
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) has urged the Punjab Government to review the cadre of PCMS doctors immediately to end frustration among doctors due to meagre promotion chances.

Dr Surinder Singla, state general secretary of the PCMSA, said here today that the review of the cadre would not only provide promotion opportunities to doctors, but also strengthen the supervision and administrative network of the Health Department, besides giving better health services to the people.

Dr Singla said the association through a memorandum to Punjab Health Minister R.C. Dogra had brought this matter to the notice of the state government. He said the cadre had about 5,000 doctors but only 1 per cent doctors had any promotion opportunity. Many would retire as Medical Officers.

The general secretary said the association wanted that Senior Medical Officers be re-designated as Deputy Civil Surgeons and be given promotional increment, which had already been accepted by the state government.

He said the association wanted the decision on upgradation of 500 posts of Medical Officer to Senior Medical Officer taken by the Beant Singh government on April 17, 1995, at a meeting with representatives of the PCMSA be implemented.

The association also wanted 150 posts of Additional Civil Surgeons at district headquarters.

Dr Singla said the PCMSA had constituted a committee to hold negotiations with the state government regarding implementation of demands of the association.


Build toilets in markets: forum
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 18
The Vigilant Citizens Forum (VCF) has urged the authorities concerned to remove encroachments on parking lots and build toilets in various markets of the city.

In a letter written to the President and Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council, the VCF said the parking problem could be solved by cleaning encroachments and checking the misuse of existing parking lots. It said at various places in the city, the space earmarked for parking was being used by shopkeepers for storing goods.

The forum said a special drive should be launched to make these places free of encroachments. It said the number of parking lots should be increased in view of a rise in the number of vehicles in the city.

The forum said there were no toilets in various markets in the city and some people used open space to relieve themselves.

Mr Prem Bhatia, general secretary of the forum, said the forum has given a memorandum to the authorities a few months ago and had been assured that attention would be paid to the problems highlighted. However, nothing had been done so far, he said.


5 of family die in car mishap
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 18
Five members of a family of Budhlada in the district were killed last night when their car was hit by a truck coming from the opposite direction near Borawal village on the Budhlada-Bhikhi road.

Parveen Kumar, a commission agent, along with members of his family was returning to Budhlada after attending a marriage ceremony here. When their car reached near Borawal village, a truck PB-11A-7743 belonging to truck union, Bhikhi, collided head-on with the car. Five occupants of the car died on the spot the car driver, Mr Mahesh Kumar, suffered serious injuries and was rushed to Government Rural Hospital, Bhikhi, from where he was referred to the local Civil Hospital today. 


Daire” repeat show at Mansa
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala has extended its satewide Punjabi theatre campaign of its value-based Punjabi musical play “Daire” after giving 25 performances in all districts of Punjab, including some performances in Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director of the play and chief organiser of the state theatre campaign, said here today that the pressing demand for repeat performances from all over the state had inspired their team.

The NTAS, he said, now was repeating the play at Mansa on March 24 again on public demand though three performances of the play had already been given in Mansa district last month on different dates and at different venues.


Nagar kirtans
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 18
A large number of nagar kirtans from different parts of the state today thronged Gurdwara Sach Khand Angitha Sahib at Gursagar Mastuana Sahib in connection with the centenary celebrations of the establishment of Gursagar Mastuana Sahib, about 7 km from here. Gursagar Mastuana Sahib was established by Sant Baba Attar Singh.


Plan to build dist offices shelved
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 18
The proposal for the construction of a district administrative complex here to house all offices, including the administrative, police and judicial, under one roof has been shelved. The site, selected for the purpose in the district Animal Husbandry Department complex, which was vacated more than a year ago, has been restored to the department.

The site was approved at the behest of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and former Animal Husbandry Minister Dr Ratan Singh. PUDA, which was to be the nodal agency for the construction of the complex, was given valuable pieces of land at Gurdaspur and Pathankot where the department, allegedly, planned to construct residential and commercial accommodation for sale to create funds for the project. The offices of the Deputy Registrar and Assistant Registrar, Co-operatives were auctioned and the administrator in charge of the sale, in a press note, said the sale poceeds would be later utilised for the construction of the district administrative complex here.

Out of the sale proceeds which were to the tune of more than Rs two crore, Rs 26 lakh was kept in fixed deposits towards the rent of the offices of the Deputy Registrar and Assistant Registrar, cooperatives till they were provided alternative accommodation in the complex. The offices of these officers are operating from rented accommodations, the expenses of which are being met by PUDA with no hope to shift to the proposed building complex.

According to official sources at PUDA office at Jalandhar, there is no move on the part of the government to initiate construction of the complex. Even the small PUDA staff posted here has been withdrawn. Moreover, the Punjab Government, after reportedly having been given an empty treasury by the previous SAD-BJP government, is facing a resource crunch and in no mood to take up new projects involving huge expenditure.


PSEB to reconduct class X paper
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) authorities today formally decided to reconduct the chitarkala (painting) paper of class X to give relief to the students who have been complaining that they were shocked to see that the question paper of the optional subject was carrying questions pertaining to the drawing subject on March 16.

Official sources said the PSEB authorities had decided to take application forms from the affected students along with Rs 100 as examination fee up to March 26. Though an official order had been passed in this connection by the Chairman, PSEB, Dr Kehar Singh, today, no new date for the exam had been announced.

Students all over the state had complained that the question paper of chitarkala had questions from drawing. Interestingly, in many cases even the teacher of some schools had expressed ignorance about the difference in the drawing and chitarkala papers. A cross-section of teachers, who have been working as centre superintendents, while talking to TNS pointed out that though they received complaints immediately they had not allowed the change of option to the students, as it was beyond their powers.

At some of the examination centres, the students failed to attempt even a single question and sent written complaints to the PSEB authorities seeking an inquiry into the entire episode and a re-examination. Some of the students alleged that even their schoolteachers were not allowed to redress their complaints during examination. The Principal of a local school said the students had suffered due to the mistake of the teachers who failed to differentiate chitarkala from drawing, while helping the students select their optional papers.

On the day of examination, senior official of the PSEB had ruled out the possibility of a fresh examination claiming it to be a mistake on the part of the school authorities and the students. Even as this decision of the PSEB authorities would come as a relief to the students, the district authorities and schoolteachers criticised the decision by saying that the task could have been easily completed by awarding grace marks to the affected students.


4 cases of copying detected
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 18
Mr Hans Raj Garg, deputy District Education Officer, and in charge, flying squad said today that four cases of copying were detected in the social studies paper of matriculation examination being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board at the Government Senior Secondary School, Mehraj centre.

In a press note issued here today, he said cases had been reported to the board and disciplinary action would be taken against the guilty teachers.

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