Thursday, March 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



State civic body election in May
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Government today dropped the idea of delimitation of the wards in the four Municipal Corporation. It has decided to hold the elections of these bodies straightway in second week of the May.

The decision to hold the elections was taken at a high-level meeting of officers of the Punjab Local Bodies Department here today.

Informed sources said the process to hold the elections had already been set in motion. The officers concerned have been told to apprise the State Election Commissioner of the decision. The other legal formalities in this connection are expected to be completed within a week or so.

Confirming the government’s decision regarding elections, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Punjab Local Bodies Minister, told TNS that the idea of delimitation of the wards had been dropped as the process of delimitation was a very time consuming one. He said the ordering of the delimitation of the wards at this stage would delay the holding of the elections in the May.

There are four corporations — Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Ludhiana — in the state. The elections to the Patiala corporation would be held for the first time. Earlier, there was a municipal committee but its status was elevated to that of a corporation by the previous SAD-BJP government as the population of the city had crossed the 3 lakh mark.

It may be mentioned that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had told TNS that the delimitation of the wards would be held before holding the elections. He was of the view that the ward should be a compact unit formed on the basis of contiguity formula. At present wards in the Patiala, Ludhiana and other corporations are not compact units.

The eagerness of the Congress government to hold the elections of the Corporations in May, shows that it wants to take advantage of the massive response in urban areas in the recently held Assembly elections. In Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar, the Congress party had got a tremendous response and the SAD-BJP combine was almost wiped out.

The corporations are facing a big financial crisis after the abolition of the octroi by the previous government. In fact, most of these are surviving on day-to-day basis. On court orders, the Punjab Government was committed to providing funds to these bodies on the regular basis to compensate these for the deficit incurred from the octroi abolition. The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has so far got about Rs 27 crore from the state government.

Though several development projects have been undertaken by corporations, these are facing an uncertain future because of paucity of funds, it is learnt.


SHSAD’s volte-face on sehajdhari issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
In a volte-face, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has stated that the party was not against giving voting rights to sehajdharis during the General Elections of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Secretary-General of the SHSAD, said the party was against allowing ‘patit’ (apostate) to give the voting right. Interestingly, the SHSAD had been raising the demand for deleting the word sehajdhari from the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. When the SGPC General House had passed a resolution, the SHSAD was party to it as the resolution was passed with voice vote. Mr Bhaur said his party was convinced with the definition of a sehajdhari Sikh mentioned in the proforma for becoming a voter printed by state government on behalf of the Sikh Gurdwara commission.

Interestingly, the SHSAD had taken stand in support of sehajdharis close on the heels of the decision of the Council of Ministers that the Central Government would be contacted for keeping the voting right of sehajdharis intact.

When asked as to why his party had taken a diametrically opposite stand on the issue of sehajdharis, he said the issue of sehajdhari was probably misinterpreted and misunderstood. He admitted that his own party might not have taken a clear stand on the issue in the past.

He, however, said being a member of the SGPC, he was bound to support the resolution passed by the General House that the Sehajdharis should be deprived of voting rights. He said the word ‘patit’ (apostate) should not be confused with sehajdharis. He said it was a matter of shame that the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and the then SGPC chief and other dignitaries had not only attended the bhog ceremony but also praised Balbir Singh Pannu, the then senior Vice-President, SGPC, who had died in an accident and bottles of liquor were found in his official vehicle.

Mr Bhaur further said the denying of ‘siropa’ to Capt Amarinder Singh during his visit to the Golden Temple was unfortunate. He said the presenting of ‘siropas’ was a tradition which should be continued. He said if Mr Ujjal Dosanj, the then premier of British Columbia, who had visited the Golden Temple, along with an excommunicated Sikh, could be presented a ‘siropa’ as to why the same was being denied to Capt Amarinder Singh? He said the logic of Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary of the SGPC, that Capt Amarinder Singh was denied ‘siropa’ as he dyed his beard was ridiculous as the junior Vice-President of the SGPC, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, also coloured his bread. Giani Zail Singh, the then President of India, Mr Buta Singh, a former Union Home Minister, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, President, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, who used to dye their beards were honoured with ‘siropas’ from time to time.


Kanwaljit Singh presents witnesses in his favour
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Dr Kanwaljit Singh, who had resigned from the post of Director, Sports, Guru Nanak Dev University, today presented five ‘eye witnesses’ before the media to press his point that at the time of the alleged sexual harassment, he was at the university grounds to conduct physical efficiency entrance test for M.P.Ed.

The ‘witnesses’ claimed before mediapersons that the former Director was in the university grounds from 7.30 am to 12.30 pm while the time of the alleged harassment was mentioned as 11.30 am in the complaint.

The ‘witnesses’ included Dr Sukhdev Singh, senior lecturer, Department of Physical Education, Dr G.S. Kang, senior lecturer, Dept of Physiotherapy, Mr Rankirat Singh, lecturer in Khalsa College Senior Secondary School, Mrs Amarjit Kaur, lecturer in Department of Physical Education, DAV College for Women and Prof Brij Bhushan, DPE, DAV College for Boys.

He also presented Prof B.S. Sandhu and Prof. Satwant Sandhu, who were reportedly known to the complainant. They claimed that a compromise had been made between Dr Kanwaljit Singh and the complainant and both had taken back their complaints against each other.

However, Dr Kanwaljit Singh alleged that the complainant had not revealed the contents of the ‘document of compromise’ to the committee which was conducting the inquiry into the case.


Governor’s Address to map out policy regime
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Redefining policy guidelines aimed at reconstruction of the economy will be the bottomline of the Governor’s Address to the twelfth Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 22. The blueprint will identify the thrust areas, indicating what the Congress Government intend to do to improve its housekeeping.

The state’s first priority is to set its finances in order for which a four-member Cabinet sub-committee under Capt Amarinder Singh has been constituted. The members are Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Mr Lal Singh.

Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, is a special invitee, while, the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, is the Member-convener.

Unlike in the past, the Governor’s Address will not be conventional. It will give a survey of the economic situation, map out the policy regime and indicate the government’s resolve how it will restore the state’s economy, informed sources told TNS.

The agenda for the Cabinet sub-committee has already been chalked out in the memorandum on the financial situation, submitted to the Council of Ministers on March 6. Enquires by TNS have revealed that the signs given by the government, so far, are positive. But much will depend how these are backed up by action.

The Union Budget has a provision of Rs 15,000-odd crore for transfer from the Centre to the states in the next financial year — 2002-03. The transfer will be governed by the state-sector policies and intentions. Therefore, the Governor’s Address will focus on what ‘’tough’’ measures the government would initiate to get maximum benefits. Besides, Punjab has an eye on Rs 11,000 crore that the Centre proposes to share with the states in the next five years for specific schemes like accelerated irrigation or for power.

Sources told TNS that key suggestions to improve fiscal management before the Cabinet sub-committee include withdrawal of ‘’free’’ power to tubewells and ‘’free’’ supply of canal water besides imposing ‘’user charges’’ on social and economic services to the extent of recovering cost of operation and maintenance and hike in bus fares, fees etc.

The real test will be how the committee decides on drastically cutting down on committed expenditure — salaries, wages, pensions in the medium and long term and ‘’freezing’’ all fresh recruitments as also perks and allowances to employees besides, the usual austerity measures in terms of security, furnishing, vehicles, petrol, telephones etc.

Punjab has to politically sync with the NDA to get its repayments rescheduled and opt for low-cost debts. Proper administration of excise and taxation to get Rs 4,000 crore by way of sales tax and Rs 1,500 crore from excise duty are other suggestions.


Punjab to repatriate 3 IAS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has approved the repatriation of the IAS officers who were on deputation with the Punjab Government to their parent states. This was disclosed here today by the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra.

The officers to be repatriated are Mr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, a 1988 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, Mr K.J.S. Cheema, a 1993 batch IAS officer from West Bengal and Mr Vivek Aggarwal, a 1994 IAS batch officer from Madhya Pradesh.

Though, Mrs Surjit Kaur Sandhu and Mr G.S. Pirzada are also on deputation to Punjab from UP and Tamil Nadu, respectively, but their cases have been treated separately. Mrs Sandhu has been allowed to stay in Punjab for some time. Her case was discussed at the top level in this connection.

Mr Pirzada, whose order for repatriation was issued by the previous government, has represented to the Union Government as well as the Central Administrative Tribunal that he should be allowed to complete his deputation period in Punjab. In the light of that representation, the Punjab Government has been dealing his case accordingly.

Earlier, the previous government had sent back Mr Devinder Kumar and Mr Mohinder Singh to their parent states following the completion of their deputation period with the Punjab Government.

When asked why the Punjab Government was not asking its officers to go to the Union Government on deputation as per rules, Mr Ratra said IAS officers were taken on deputation by the Union Government on the basis of the record of the officer concerned. For this purpose, a panel of officers for the posts of Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Deputy Secretary etc was prepared. But the number of empanelment of officers from Punjab in the Union Government was very low.

At present, there are about 20 IAS officers on deputation with the Union Government from Punjab while their number should be above 35.


41 IAS, PCS officers reshuffled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
In yet another major administrative reshuffle, the Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of 41 IAS and PCS officers. The fresh posting orders of the transferred officers are: Mr Mukul Joshi — Principal Secretary, NRIs and Industrial Liaison, New Delhi; Mr A. Didar Singh — Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare. He will also look after the work of the Project Director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society; Mr D.S. Bains — Secretary, Department of Higher Education and Commissioner, NRIs and Industrial Relations; Mr Mandeep Singh Sandhu — Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board; Mr S.K. Sandhu — Director, Treasuries and Accounts; Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu — Special Secretary, Election Commission; Mr J.B. Goel — Special Secretary, Technical Education and Industrial Training; Mr Ashok Kumar Goel — Special Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs; Mr Som Parkash — Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development; Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar; Mr R. Venkat Ratnam — Special Secretary, Agriculture; Mr Jagjit Singh — Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar; Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu — Joint Development Commissioner; Mr Kanwal Bir Singh Sidhu — Director, Colonisation; Mr Surinderjit Singh Sandhu — Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Jalandhar; Mr B.R. Banga — Director, Local Government; Mr Mandeep Singh — Special Secretary, Personnel; Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu — Managing Director, Punjab Financial Corporation; Mrs Raji P. Srivastava —Additional Managing Director, Markfed; Mr Karam Singh — Director, Civil Aviation; Mr Samir Kumar — Special Secretary, Coordination; Mr Alok Shekhar — Deputy Commissioner, Mansa; Mrs Jaspreet Talwar — Secretary, PSEB; Mr Hussan Lal — Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Chandigarh; Mr Rahul Bhandari — Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Ludhiana; Mrs Rakhee Gupta Bhandari — Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana; Mr Hans Raj Gangar — Director, Welfare of SCs and BCs; Mr Megh Raj — Additional Secretary, Secretariat Administration; Mr Prabhjot Singh Mand — Additional Registrar, Cooperatives; Mr Karamjit Singh Sra — Additional Secretary, Irrigation; Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu — Director, Tourism; Mr Rupinder Singh Randhawa — Director, Cultural Affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museum; Mr S.R. Kaler — Deputy Director, Local Bodies; Mr Chander Gaind — Special Land Acquisition Collector, Jalandhar; Mr Gagandeep Singh — Deputy Secretary, Forests and Wildlife; Mr S.K. Sharma — LAC, Industries; Mrs Indu Misra — AO, Punjab Mandi Board; Mr Manjit Singh Brar — LAO, Improvement Trust, Patiala; Mr Shivdular Singh Dhillon — Additional Deputy Commissioner, Patiala; Mrs Sarojini Gautam Sharda — Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Jalandhar; and Ms Kuljit Kaur — Deputy Secretary, Home Affairs.


Akali MLAs’ plea on schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
A meeting of the Akali Dal Legislature Party was held here today. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, leader of the party, presided over the meeting.

The party has decided to play the role of a constructive Opposition in the State Assembly and outside.

At the meeting, MLAs criticised the Congress Government for “ halting the process of development”. The meeting also took notice of the alleged suspension of the “shagun”, pension and other schemes started by the previous government. Akali MLAs at the meeting said that the Congress Government should continue those schemes which had been started for the welfare of poor sections.

The session of the Punjab Assembly will start tomorrow.


From radio repair to Padma Shri
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
Struck by poverty and untimely death of mother, most of the people tend break down. But there are some who, braving all odds, achieve their goal in life and make the impossible happen with determination and hard work.

The journey of life of Mr Gian Chand Jain, who was born in Gidderbaha, and now lives in Delhi, carries certain instances which could motivate people to work hard to achieve their goal and not allow circumstances to sabotage their plans.

From a radio mechanic to assistant engineer to author publisher to computer books publication to getting the Padma Shri is the route map of journey of Mr Gian Chand Jain.

On January 26, 2002, the Government of India announced Padma Shri for Mr Jain for spreading computer education all over the world. The award would be given to him on March 26, 2002. After doing diploma in radio servicing, Mr Jain graduated in arts from local Government Rajindra College. He would meet his hostel expenses by repairing radios. During college days, he contributed about 40 short stories of a Urdu daily.

To pursue his studies, he took up a job in Radio Bazar in Delhi with the monthly salary of Rs 225 and started working for his postgraduation in English. But due to unavoidable circumstances leave his studies. The turning point in his life came in 1958, when he started a publishing company as author-publisher with an investment of Rs 328 after leaving his job. In 1959, he wrote his first book titled “Build Your Own Transistor Radio” for school kids.

There after he wrote several books on hobby electronics and started a monthly magazine “Electronic Hobbyists”. Although, life was not easy for him, he continued writing and publishing books.

In 1982 he entered into a tie-up with a famous computer books publisher of the USA and started publishing low-priced Asian editions of American books on computer. Today his BPB Publications has published over 5000 titles and has sold more than five crore books on different IT subjects.

His company is rated as the largest computer book publisher in Asia.

By publishing low priced Asian editions by renowned American authors he has saved a lot of foreign exchange for the country and has provided low-priced books to the computer fraternity, not only in India, but the neighbouring countries too.


Who killed the girl child?
Villagers protest against administration’s inaction
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 20
Though the district has taken the lead in getting the first case of female foeticide registered, yet the menace itself is spreading through agents operating in rural areas. Strictness by the district administration has resulted in an increase in the fee that the clinics charges for carrying out ultrasounds. Registration of the first case was widely publicised and the culprit, Surinder Kaur and her relative, Devinder Kaur, residents of Kalemajra village arrested and the dead female foetus also recovered, but till today the other two accused named in the FIR, the ANM posted at Chamkaur Sahib and the Ultrasound machine-owner, the persons who actually committed the crime had not been arrested so far.

A large number of people from Kalemajra village who had come here today told The Tribune that Surinder Kaur, coming from a poor family had become the victim of an ongoing tussle between the two ANMs of the area, both posted at Chamkaur Sahib.

Sources revealed that both the ANMs, Harbans Kaur, who is named in the FIR and Gurmail Kaur, who is considered to be the informer enjoying influence with the police, health officials and reputed politicians of the area, are well-known in the area for conducting abortions. Villagers contend that the main accused responsible for identifying the sex and then aborting the female foetus had not been arrested due to reasons best known to the administration.

The Deputy Commissioner, through a press conference had announced the registration of the case to mediapersons on March 8, but actually, the incident had occurred on February 25. The accused, Surinder Kaur had a dispute over property with ANM Gurmail Kaur who when she came to know about the abortion of the female foetus informed the higher health officials at Chandigarh. The directorate asked the Civil Surgeon Ropar, to take action, but the Civil Surgeon reasoned that though the ANM, who had conducted the abortion was posted in Ropar district, yet the village of the patient falls in Fatehgarh Sahib district, so the case should be registered there. Then the Civil Surgeon, Fatehgarh Sahib, was entrusted with the job. He deputed ACS, Dr Jojhar Singh, for this purpose, who visited the village and ultimately on a tip-off by ANM Gurmail Kaur, the dead foetus was recovered.

Now the entire village has boycotted the ‘informer’ ANM and is accusing her of doing wrong to the poor family of Surinder Kaur. According to the sources the ANM, along with her husband had also met the Deputy Commissioner and protested that instead of ‘honoring’ her for giving the information provided, her name had been blacklisted by villagers.

Meanwhile Dr N.S. Bawa, who has written a book on female foeticide and is an ardent crusader against this menace has demanded that till all culprits were not punished severely, irrespective of their position, the menace cannot be controlled and Fatehgarh Sahib would continue to have the lowest sex ratio in the country.

When contacted, Mr B. Chandera Sekhar, SSP, said that the accused were not traceable and efforts were being made to arrest them.


Harappan traces in Mansa area
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 20
The recovery of pottery pieces, triangular baked-clay cakes, steatite disc beads a perforated jar, coins, paintings on pottery and other articles, reminiscent of the Harappan tradition, during excavation of a 20-acre mound at Dhalewan village in the district in the past two months and a half has archaeologists wondering whether the Harappan civilisation had roots in this area.

According to Mr Anil Dagar, member of the excavation team, about three decades ago, after the first finds of Harappan civilisation at Kalibangan in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan excavations here have provided sound evidence of the civilisation flourishing 4500 years ago in this area as well.

The high ash content found while excavation has made the archaeologists conclude that a fire ravaged the settlement.

According to Ms Madhubala, in charge of excavation work at the site, the dwellings existed in a radius of 7 km. Excavation could be carried out in only 20 acres as more than 24 mounds had been levelled out for agricultural purposes by farmers of the village.

Excavation work on the mound was started on the hints provided by Mr J.P. Joshi, an archaeologist, in 1984, after excavation at Kalibangan and Pilibanga in Rajasthan.

She said some articles found here were inscribed with a Harappan-type script. She added that with the presence of high ash content during the excavation, it could be concluded that civilisation here had perished in fire.


Polluting unit: MLA threatens to move HC
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
The issue pertaining to the pollution being caused by four units of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) in the city today took new turn when Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, said he would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court if the officials concerned of the PSEB failed to take necessary steps in this regard.

Mr Singla said the electricity would not be allowed to play havoc with the lives of lakhs of people. He added that during a meeting with the board’s chairman and other senior officials, he had asked them to either use the latest technology to check the emission from the chimneys or dismantle the units which had become a health hazard.

While addressing a press conference here today, Mr Singla said if the board officials failed to take concrete steps in this connection, he would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court to bring relief to the residents of this city and surrounding areas.

For the past many years, the residents have been witnessing coal ash rain in the city and surrounding areas due to the emission of gases and other contents from the four chimneys of four units of 110 MW each of the plant. Cases pertaining to eye ailments, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis and skin diseases are on the rise for the past many years.

Mr Singla said Union Power Minister Suresh Prabhu had assured him that funds would be provided to the PSEB for installing new equipments to check pollution. The PSEB chairman had assured him that the menace would be checked at the earliest, he said.

Mr Singla alleged that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had been misleading the farmers on the wheat procurement issue. He said Union Food Minister Shanta Kumar had made a commitment in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question of Ms Ambika Soni, MP, that wheat would be procured in all circumstances.

He alleged that Mr Badal was using his influence to make the Agriculture Price Commission (APC) to deliberately delay the announcement of minimum support price (MSP) of wheat.

When asked about the oil refinery project in the state, he said the Punjab Government would force Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to set up the refinery.


Lifetime pension for War Decorated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Government today clarified that the monthly pension payable to the War Decorated soldiers would not cease after the expiry of a period of 30 years, from its inception, as reported in The Tribune dated March, 20.

In a statement issued here today, the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, Mr K. B. S. Sidhu, stated that all winners of PVCs, MVCs and VCs would continue to draw the monthly pension of Rs 1,500 per month during their lifetime.

This pension would also be payable to the widows to the awardees during her entire lifetime, in respect of posthumous wards and also in case where the awardee pre-deceased his wife.

Mr Sidhu stated that the benefits given to the War Decorated soldiers in Punjab were among the highest in the country. The winners of PVCs, MVCs and VCs were entitled to cash awards Rs 22,000, Rs 15,000 and Rs 7,000, respectively. This was accompanied by a 30-year annuity of Rs 4,200, 3,300 and Rs 2,400.

This annuity was a vested right and also devolved to the legal heirs of the awardee or his widow, in case they passed away earlier. The newspaper report had probably confused the concept of annuity and the monthly pension, which were two separate and distinct benefits.

Mr Sidhu revealed that the awardees were also given land to the extent of 10 acres. Those who could not be given the agricultural land are entitled to cash award in lieu of the land, which is Rs1.50 lakh, Rs. 1 lakh and Rs 0.50 lakh for PVC, MVC and VC winners, respectively. The Secretary said that Punjab was perhaps the only state in the country that was giving these benefits twice over to the double winners of the gallantry Chakras.

He said the new government had already approved a comprehensive package for ex-servicemen, the details of which would form a part of the Governor’s Address to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on March 22.


Ex-Bar chief manhandled
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 20
An official of the Government Fisheries Development Department trespassed into the chamber of a leading lawyer and former president of District Bar Association, Mansa and manhandled him.

According to information available Mr Suresh Kumar Goyal, Inspector Government Fisheries Development Department, posted at Mansa, entered the chamber of Mr Raj Kumar Garg (Kotliwale), a former president of the Bar yesterday and manhandled him.

Mr Vijay Kumar Singla, an another former president of the Bar overpowered the accused and handed over him to the police. It is said an inquiry was conducted by Mr Harbans Lal Bansal, while posted at Mansa as Assistant Commissioner (General), a close relative of Mr Garg, against the accused.

The police has registered a case under Sections 323, 452 and 506 of the IPC.

Mr Sarabjit Singh Grewal, President of the Bar condemned the incident and urged the district administration to set-up security for lawyers in the court complex.


Lawyer manhandled
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
A local lawyer, Mr Sazid Jamil Chaudhary, was allegedly beaten up by the Postal Department employees at the head post office, here today.

In his complaint with the police Mr Chaudhary alleged that he was beaten up by some employees of the post office when he had gone there to despatch a registered letter.

He said that an altercation took place between him and the employees when he asked for the balance amount after paying the postal charges. He alleged the balance amount was not given back to him. Instead the employees picked up a quarrel and beat him up while threatening to kill him, he said.

When contacted, the postal, employees refuted the charges levelled against them. However, some employees admitted that an altercation had taken place.


Shifting of XEN’s office demanded
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
About 30 employees of the Bathinda district soil conservation office, including subdivisional officers, have approached the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for shifting the headquarters of the Executive Engineer, Mr Brahm Dutt, for harassing them.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, the employees alleged that Mr Dutt had been caught red-handed by a vigilance bureau team while accepting bribe and had remained in police custody for about a week in December last. They alleged that he had now been forcing them to make the witnesses in the case, turn hostile.

They pointed out that Mr Dutt had neither been suspended, nor had his headquarters been shifted. They alleged that Mr Dutt had not been fixing the pay of the deputy divisional soil conservation officer and the soil conservation officer according to the new pay scales, as had been done in other parts of Punjab.

They demanded that either the headquarters of Mr Dutt or their be shifted from Bathinda. They also sent letters in this regard to the Financial Commissioner, Punjab, the Chief Soil Conservation Officer and the Director, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab.

Mr Dutt, when contacted, denied the allegations. He said a section of employees had been causing great losses to the exchequer by claiming reimbursement of expenses on bogus tours, besides indulging in absenteeism.

He pointed out that he had stopped the payment of salary to an employee as per the directions of then Deputy Commissioner. He also alleged victimisation and implication in a false corruption case.


Sarpanch suspended for keeping excess cash
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 20
Sarabjeet Singh, sarpanch of Doomwali village, has been suspended as he had kept cash-in-hand in excess of the prescribed limit on many occasions, thus violating the Panchayat Raj Act, 1994.

In an order passed on March 19, Mr J.P. Singla, Deputy Director, presently discharging the duties of Director, Panchayats, has stated that Sarabjeet Singh has been suspended with immediate effect and his duties will be handed over to any panchayat member who was legally authorised for discharging such duties. The Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) of Sangat, under whose jurisdiction Doomwali village falls, held an inquiry against the sarpanch on a complaint that he had made bungling in the functioning of the panchayat and kept money in excess of the prescribed limit.

The BDPO submitted his report on October 10, 2001, and it was found in that report that the sarpanch was held guilty. Before taking any action on the report, the Director asked the panchayat secretary concerned to submit the record of the panchayat to him. The cashbook of the panchayat submitted to the Director showed that the sarpanch kept cash-in-hand in excess of prescribed limit of Rs 2000 on many occasions between July 2000 to January 2002. Sometimes the said amount was to the tune of lakhs of rupees.

The cashbook showed that during the 19-month record called by the Director, Sarabjeet Singh had cash-in-hand in excess of the prescribed limit except in September, 2001, when the said amount was Rs 211. On many occasional, he had cash-in-hand amounting to more than Rs 5 lakh. Mr Singla, in his order stated that repeated remainders had been given by the Panchayat Secretary in this connection. He stated that the sarpanch had failed to execute his duties properly under Section 208 (L) of the Panchayati Raj Act made him ineligible to remain on the post of sarpanch.


Health workers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Multi-purpose health workers from all over Punjab held a dharna and a rally outside the office of the Director, Health and Family Welfare, here today.

Addressing the rally, the speakers said about 400 multi-purpose health workers were selected by the PSS Board but they were not being given appointment letters.

They urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take personal interest in the problems of the unemployed and get them issued the appointment letters.

To improve the health services, particularly in the rural areas, it was necessary to appoint multi-purpose health workers at the earliest. Besides, their appointment would not put any burden on the state exchequer, they said.

It was decided to continue the protest until their demand was accepted. Those who addressed the rally included Mr Nachhattar Singh, Mr Ravinder Singh, Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Harjit Singh Sandhu and Mr Rupinder Singh.


Khair trees uprooted: 11 lakh recovered
Nishikant Dwivedi

Mirzapur, March 20
The Punjab Forest Department today recovered a sum of Rs 11.31 lakh as price and compensation for the uprooted khair trees which were found in the Mirzapur forests from the contractor working there. The permit of the contractor to fell trees in the forests and adjoining khewat (cultivable) land was suspended after the forest officials discovered 554 khair uprooted trees.

But the permits were likely to be reinstated as the fine for the uprooted trees had been paid, said sources in the Department.

On March 7, the Forest Department, had suspended the permit to fell trees from the Mirzapur forests in the Siswana range after discovering the uprooted khair trees. The permit for felling trees in the adjoining khewat (cultivable) land was also suspended. Chandigarh Tribune had carried the story in its edition of March 11. Uprooting of khair trees in forests falling under the Land Preservation Act is illegal.

According to sources in the Forest Department, the contractor had pledged a security of about Rs 60 lakh in form of FDRs with the department and the penalty had been deducted from it. The Forest Department had asked the bank concerned for the amount on March 9. The contractor could not be contacted for his comments.

The fine was imposed after counting the number of uprooted trees and was decided on the government scheduled rates. The 554 trees now form the property of the contractor.

Meanwhile, some of the residents of Nada village (Kharar) have alleged that they are not getting the benefits of the ‘Joint Forest Management’ project launched by the Punjab Forests Department in the Kandi belt. The Punjab Forest Department has reportedly sanctioned Rs 1 lakh to the village for carrying out development work. The work was to be carried out through a committee of the villagers with the Forest Guard as one of its member.

A section of the villagers allege that despite forming a 10-member ‘Forest Management Committee, Nada’, under chairmanship of the village’s lambardar, Mr Jagdish Ram, (after the sarpanch reportedly refused to join the committee), the work has not yet taken off due to the alleged opposition from another section. The committee had planned to add two more rooms to the village’s Primary school from the funds.

Sources in the Forest Department said that the other section of the villagers was trying to push in their own members in the committee. The committee had reported the matter to the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) concerned. A forest official requesting anonymity assured that the matter would be soon resolved. The DFO was not available for comments.

The Joint Forest Management project has been launched by the Punjab Forest Department in the Kandi area for the first time for the development of the villages falling adjacent to government forests in addition to the safeguarding of the forests.


Parents await relief from PSEB
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Poor parents of a seven-year-old child who died due to electrocution have been awaiting compensation from the Punjab State Electricity Board for almost a year.

Mr Satya Pal Dang raised the issue of negligence of the PSEB that led to the death of Sanjay son of Jagdish and Radhika Prashad, almost a year back. Mr Dang stated that at first the officials concerned asserted that the fault lay with the parents. Later inquiries and spot verification, however, held the PSEB responsible for the child being electrocuted on a rainy day.

In a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he alleged that since the tragedy, several representations had been made, but no avail.


Ban insecticides in cotton fields: expert
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Noted food expert Devinder Sharma has suggested a ban on the use of insecticides in cotton plantation. He argues that excessive use of insecticides is not in the interests of farmers in the long run as in the due course of time the bollworm, which harms cotton, develops resistance against these.

In an exclusive interview to The Tribune at the Punjab Agricultural University here yesterday, Mr Sharma, however, believed that the powerful lobby of insecticide industry would not let the government take this step as the stakes were very high and there was a lot of vested interest involved.

Mr Sharma asserted it was high time that short-term measures should be given up for long-term benefits. Referring to the reported statement of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, about supply of BT (Bacillus Thueirengnsics) cotton to farmers in the state, he said, this may provide a temporary relief to the farmers. But this variety was also likely to develop resistance against the insecticides within three-four years as had happened in China and Canada.

Putting up a strong case he pointed out that the insecticides used in cotton plantation were very powerful and they kill every insect even those which were friendly. He said there were at least 27 insects which are inimical to American bollworm in the soil. But once the strong insecticides were used they got killed before the American bollworm.

However, the government, he observed, would not ban the use of insecticides as there was a vested interest involved. He said 55 per cent of the total insecticides was used in cotton plantation only. “The insecticides industry thrives mainly on cotton and if its use is banned it will go bankrupt so they will not allow it”, he pointed out.

Furthering his argument, Mr Sharma said in 1986-87 Indonesia faced a similar problem in paddy farming as the BPH (brown plant hopper) developed resistance against all insecticides. The issue was discussed threadbare and the scientists suggested a ban on the use of insecticides as the only solution.


CM’s call to diversify agriculture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Chief Minister today stressed the need to chalk out a detailed strategy for the diversification of agriculture through cooperatives in a time-bound manner.

Presiding over a meeting of senior officers of the Cooperation Department, Capt Amarinder Singh directed the authorities concerned to increase the long-term and medium-term financing for the agriculturists in respect of non-farming activities and also to cover such diverse activities as growing and processing of awla and rose flowers. It was also decided to promote the cultivation of marigold for the export of oils required for perfume etc.

For this the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank will take up a project for financing the sowing/growing of Bulgarian roses in Hoshiarpur district for processing and export of rose water and rose oil.

The Chief Minister said that Cooperation Department would identify 25 cooperative societies in three-districts — Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar — for support to take up fruits and vegetable processing, milk processing and the promotion of handlooms etc. It was decided to link these societies with apex cooperative federations such as Milkfed, Markfed and Weavco to market their products and to provide technical support and training.

The central cooperative banks will also provide cash credit limit to these societies for working capital.


DC raids offices, finds 10 absent
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 20
Ms Raji P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner, conducted raids on various offices in the District Administrative Complex here yesterday and found 10 officers of various departments absent from duty.

The officials concerned have been issued show cause notices. They reportedly belong to the District Transport Office and the Fisheries Development Department of the district.


Two arrested for duping Vigilance Bureau
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 20
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested two persons, who had got arrested two officials, for demanding bribe. Each of the arrested persons had managed to get a cash reward of Rs 25,000 before turning non-committal’ and hostile in the court.

The complainants, who had facilitated the arrest of ‘corrupt officials’ have been arrested on charge of playing fraud with the Vigilance Bureau.

Vigilance Bureau officials said Mr Ram Bhaj Kanungo, posted at Behram in Nawanshahr, was arrested in June, 1997 for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from Mr Surinder Singh, a resident of Khothra village. Mr Avinash Chander Jain, a Field Officer with Punsup posted at Dasuya was arrested in August, 1997 for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1,600 from Mr Ajit Singh, a resident of village Miani in Hoshiarpur district. Subsequently, both complainants — Mr Surinder Singh and Mr Ajit Singh — got the announced cash prize of Rs 25,000 each as per the government schemes in this regard.

But interestingly, as both cases were sent to the court for trial both complainants allegedly did not support the prosecution theory, resulting in the acquittal of the accused. “We were astonished to learn this development, which was hitherto unheard of,” said Mr Ishwar Chander, chief of the Vigilance Bureau here who had ordered the arrest of the two complainants. “We are looking for more such cases,” he said, adding that the two complainants had been booked under Section 420 of the IPC.


Couple foil robbery bid

Batala, March 20
In a daring display of courage a couple took on a group of thieves which raided their house in Rajda village under Qadian police station last night.

A police report here today said that the resistance put-up by the couple led to injuries to one of the intruders, which forced them to flee. The couple identified as Mangal Singh and Surinder Kaur too were injured in the scuffle. They have been admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

The report said the same group of intruders had raided two farmhouses in Kot Todar Mal village day before yesterday and had succeeded in looting Rs 20,000 in cash besides gold ornaments.

Meanwhile in another incident a father was allegedly murdered by his two sons over a property dispute in Karnama village under Rangar Nangal police station yesterday. The victim Ajit Singh was attacked with sharp edged weapons while he was signing certain property papers related to the transfer of his agricultural land to his third son Paramjit. UNI


Two arrested on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 20
The SSP, Dr Naresh Kumar, in a press note issued here today said the police had busted a gang involved in stealing scooter by arresting Kulwinder Ram alias Sonu and Sarabjit Singh alias Gian, residents of Ballon village, and with it also claimed to have solved a murder mystery. The police has seized two scooters from them.

During the investigations, the accused confessed to having been involved in the alleged murder of Mohinder Singh of Dhahan village about six years ago on connivance with Kashmiri Lal, alias Shiri, of Thander Khurd, Harmesh Lal, alias Mesha, of Palli Thikki village and Sarabjit Kaur, wife of Mohinder Singh.

The SSP said that while Mohinder Singh was in Dubai, his wife Sarabjit Kaur had an illicit relationship with Kashmiri Lal. When Mohinder Singh returned to his village in 1996, he came to know of the relationship between his wife and Kashmiri Lal and prohibited him to visit his house.

Following this, Kashmiri Lal and Sarabjit Kaur allegedly killed Mohinder Singh by mixing sleeping pills in his food in connivance with Kulwinder Ram, Sarabjit Singh and Harmesh Lal and threw the body in a field near Jandiala village.

The police has arrested Kashmiri Lal and Sarabjit Kaur and registered a case under Sections 302, 201 of the IPC, said the SSP.


Woman’s murder solved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
The mystery of half-burnt body of a woman, Reenu Sharma, which was found in the residential quarters of the Railways at the Beas recently is claimed to be solved by the Majitha police.

The murder was allegedly committed by her husband. In order to evade the arrest and befool the police, Madhukar Sharma, husband of the deceased took strong medicine and got himself admitted in a hospital, the SSP, Majitha Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, said.

During investigations, it was found that accused left the gas in the kitchen open and when Reenu approached the kitchen for making tea she caught fire.


3 held in fake currency racket

Moga, March 20
The local police today claimed to have busted a racket of fake currency notes by arresting three persons, including a woman, and seizing fake currency notes worth Rs 9.50 lakh along with a computerised printing machine. According to district police chief Varinder Kumar, the gang was busted last week with the arrest of Major Singh and Balbir Singh along with fake currency notes of the denomination of Rs 500. He said that as a follow-up, the police nabbed Bholi of Sadda Singhwala, along with a fake currency note last evening. UNI


Board cancels papers at 18 centres
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, March 20
On the basis of reports of mass copying given by flying squads, the Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board here today cancelled papers of matriculation and plus two examinations at 17 centres. At another centre, the chemistry paper was cancelled for administrative reasons.

The centres at which the papers were cancelled under Chapter VI of the General Regulation of Examinations are:

Matriculation: Hindi — Government High School, Kaila, Moga and Government Senior Secondary School, Balpurian, Gurdaspur. Social Studies — Kamla Nehru Kanya Senior Secondary School, Nihalsinghwala, Moga; Kent Soldier Senior Secondary School, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, Jalandhar; Government Senior Secondary School, Dhed Fatupur, Gurdaspur, Government Senior Secondary School, Khemkaran (Block I and II), Amritsar, Government Senior Secondary School, Dashmesh Nagar, Lola, Amritsar; Janata High School, Jandusingha, Jalandhar, BAB Senior Secondary School, Balachaur, Nawanshahr; and Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Nawanpind, Amritsar. Science — Government Senior Secondary School, Dera Baba Nanak, gurdaspur; Government Senior Secondary School, Dargahbad, Gurdaspur.

Plus two: Economics — Government Senior Secondary School, Majitha, Amritsar; and Government Senior Secondary School, Chhala, Gurdaspur. Physics — Milan Memorial Senior Secondary School, Dhariwal, Gurdaspur. Chemistry (cancelled for administrative reasons) — Government Senior Secondary School, NTC, Rajpura, Patiala.

Meanwhile, the District Education Officer of Hoshiarpur has detected a case of impersonation in the science paper of the matriculation examination. The Controller of Examinations, Ms Harcharan Jit Kaur Brar, said Vijay Kumar was allegedly given the examination in place of Amrik Singh.

In view of the Malout Assembly poll on April 4, the sociology examination of plus two in the constituency has been postponed and will now be held on April 21 at 10 a.m. at Government Senior Secondary School, Malout.


Focus now on red light outside VC’s office
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
The red and green lights installed by the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, outside his office have come under focus with the local police investigating whether these were installed allegedly for purposes other than academic.

The police has got leads that an important university functionary who was on the personal staff of Dr Ahluwalia was forced to quit service after he entered the office of the VC when the red light was on. The police is also questioning the personal staff of the VC in this connection.

Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, president of the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR), said it was unfortunate that Dr Ahluwalia had introduced “red light, green light” culture in the office of the Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, joint action committee (JAC), comprising students, teachers and non-teaching employees of Punjabi University, today staged a dharna outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office to demand Dr Ahluwalia’s arrest.


Question paper sold on money-back offer!
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 20
Hundreds of students appearing for class XII examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board were defrauded of lakhs of rupees in lieu of question papers of physics examination to be held today.

A copy of the question paper was brought to The Tribune office here by two students appearing for the examination. Reportedly many classmates of theirs had pooled in money to procure the question paper which was given to them today morning.

Reportedly, their section bought at least four copies of papers on a payment of Rs 5000 per copy. The boys were, however, tightlipped about the identity of the person who was known to have sold these.

However some revealed that the papers were given on an assurance of money-back guarantee in case the paper was fake. Inquiries about the paper revealed that it was fake.

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