Saturday, April 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal writes to President
Says Amarinder carrying out vendetta
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 5
The issue pertaining to allegations and counter-allegations being levelled against each other by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during the election campaign in this Assembly segment for the past many days took a new turn when Mr Badal while reacting to the large-scale violence allegedly done by Congressmen during the polling, “threatened the peaceful atmosphere in the state. The proud Punjabis and the Sikhs can take everything but not an affront to their honour and the petty vindictive actions of the Chief Minister may lead to a reaction”.

In a letter written to the President of India and others, Mr Badal while alleging that Mr Amarinder Singh had let loose a reign of terror on those not toeing his line, Akali workers and on him (Mr Badal) and his family members, urged him to restrain the Chief Minister and counsel him (Mr Amarinder Singh) against playing with fire.

The former Chief Minister alleged that systematic police excesses were committed against the political opponents by the Punjab Government during its first month. Alleging that democracy was murdered and human rights violated during the election to the Malout Assembly segment which went to polls yesterday, he demanded that a high-level inquiry by an independent agency be undertaken.

“I have been constrained to bring all these facts to your kind notice as a concerned citizen and Punjabi”, Mr Badal, said in the letter to the President.

“Ever since the government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh took over on February 27, 2002, instead of going in for good governance and for addressing the pressing issues concerning the state, false cases are being registered against Akali leaders and workers, including my son who is member, Rajya Sabha, and former Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Badal, and my nephew, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, who is a sitting MLA. Another MLA of my party, Mr Malkit Singh Keetu is already behind bars in a false case,” alleged Mr Badal.

In the Malout, Assembly elections, the Chief Minister himself instigated Congress workers to arm themselves with lathis,” he alleged.

He further alleged, “No day of the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, begins without his making a statement that he (Amarinder) will ensure that I and my family will be put behind bars. He makes all sorts of baseless and irresponsible statements personally directed against me and I have great difficulty in restraining my supporters from taking to the streets. My son and I have been constrained to move to the courts for defamation against him and the cases are pending decision. He had further displayed height of irresponsibility by alleging that my government did not pursue the SYL case in the Supreme Court with a view to help Haryana in lieu of benefits to my son. In making this accusation, he had defamed the entire legal community and the eminent lawyers who represented the state in the Supreme Court.

The Chief Minister had also shown scant regard for constitutional propriety when he defied the orders of the Election Commission of India directing that an inquiry be held and suitable disciplinary action be taken against Mr B.I.S. Chahal, who as a government servant was found by the commission to have organised the media campaign for the Congress in Punjab. But Mr Amarinder Singh, instead, rewarded Mr Chahal by appointing him Advisor to the Chief Minister status of a minister of state and all the perks attached to it.


19 booked for poll violence
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 5
Three cases in connection with the violence which took place in this Assembly segment during polling yesterday have been registered in different police stations of Muktsar district.

Mr K.J.S. Pannu, district police chief, talking to TNS, said a case against Bittu, Jaspal Singh, Harbans Singh Brar, Darshan Singh and Santokh Singh, a municipal councillor, was registered under Sections 307, 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC on a complaint by Mr Darshan Singh.

He said the complainant had earlier alleged that Mr Sukhbir Badal and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal were involved in the attack, but he failed to make a statement in this connection before the police. Hence, no case against Mr Sukhbir Badal and Manpreet Badal was registered.

Another case was registered against Harmeet Singh and 11 more in the Sadar police station on a complaint by Manjeet Singh under Sections 307, 323, 324, 34 and 171 of the EF and Section 25 of the Arms Act.

A third case was registered against Darshan Singh and Gurinderpal Singh on a complaint by Jeet, a resident of Jhurud village, under Sections 354, 506, 382, 148 and 149 and 171 of the EF and Sections 3 and 4 of the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. 


SHO’s snub to Badal

The former Chief Minister, Mr Badal, appeared to be a dejected and hapless man on Thursday in Malout. “Even an SHO is not ready to listen to us”, said Mr Badal while talking about the alleged police high-handedness in the Malout Assembly constituency. “Around 9.15 a.m., I rang up an election observer appointed for the Malout constituency by the Election Commission of India, but was told that he was having a bath, though the polling had started at 8”.

Mincing no words, Mr Badal said that the Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Mrs Usha Sharma, was biased against his party because he had shifted her from Kapurthala where she was working as Deputy Commissioner. The ruling Congress had “completely politicised police officers and other administrators and its consequences would be dangerous for the state”, said Mr Badal, commenting on the alleged role of certain police and other officers in Malout elections.


Badal breaks silence on Sekhon case
Says punishment excessive, denies getting letter from Air Marshal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 5
Breaking silence on the controversial forced retirement of Air Marshal Manjit Singh Sekhon, the former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Air Command, the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the punishment handed out to Sekhon was in excess of the “mistake” committed by him.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Badal said the Union Government authorities concerned should have not inflicted such a punishment on Air Marshal Sekhon. The matter should have been dropped by giving him either a warning or other mild token punishment.

The Air Marshal has been forced to retire by the Union Government for seeking political favour from Mr Badal. It has been reported that Air Marshal had written a demi-official letter to Mr Badal seeking his support for appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Delhi-based Western Air Command as it would have provided him a chance to be the Chief of Air Staff.

However, the letter was leaked to the press a few days after Mr Badal quit office of Chief Minister after the Assembly elections.

Significantly, Mr Badal said he did not see the letter written to him by Air Marshal Sekhon. “Neither did I see the letter nor was it presented to me at any stage”, he added. Explaining further, he said he did not make any recommendation either to the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister for the appointment of Air Marshal Sekhon at a particular place, the former Chief Minister said.

Asked whether he had tried to find out who leaked such an important document from the office held by him, Mr Badal said, “I don’t know any thing in this connection.” The letter must have been probably leaked by any of the several officers who were privy to the documents in Mr Badal’s office.

However, Mr Badal has not made any effort yet to identify the officer concerned.”

Mr Badal said that it was common practice in the country to seek political help by officers for the advancement of their careers. Almost every second day, politicians were approached by bureaucrats and others to seek favours for appointments etc.

When asked whether he would make any attempt for the adjustment of Air Marshal Sekhon, whose promising career has been cut short because of him (Mr Badal), the former Chief Minister said that he was not aware whether an officer retired in such circumstances could be accommodated elsewhere.


No money for paddy bonus
Minister says govt can’t keep poll promise to farmers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The newly elected Congress government is finding it difficult to fulfil its promise of giving Rs 30 bonus per quintal to farmers on paddy procured from them last year, with Food and Civil Supplies Minister Lal Singh today categorically stating that the state did not have the money to meet the promise.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Lal Singh, however, said the Congress government would give the bonus but refused to specify any timeframe within which the promise would be fulfilled as the government was finding it difficult to even pay salaries, pensions and various grants-in-aid.

The Congress had distributed slips in various grain markets of the state promising farmers that they would be given a Rs 30 bonus per quintal above the procurement price paid to them to compensate them for the “failure’’ of the Akali-led government to negotiate a fair procurement price for them.

Meanwhile, Mr Lal Singh today tried to allay any fears that there would be problems in procuring the wheat crop. He said the government was committed to procuring every grain of wheat in the state and that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had already sanctioned a loan of Rs 6,100 crore for the purpose. He said the government expected around 120 lakh tonnes of wheat to arrive at various markets in the state.

The Minister, who also has the Finance portfolio, disclosed that the state was passing through a difficult situation, with the overdraft touching Rs 1,000 crore. He said this was due to the wrong policies of the previous government which had issued cheques even though it did not have any money in its coffers.

Mr Lal Singh said the extent to which the previous government had misutilised funds could be judged from the manner in which it handled the Rural Development Fund. While the state government usually got Rs 300 crore under this head every year, the Akali-led government had managed to take Rs 650 loan under this head for the purpose of which it mortgaged RDF funds for the next five years to the loanees. He said this amounted to an illegal act committed only for the purpose of gaining cheap popularity without taking the damage this would have on the state in the long run in mind.


PAU set for global challenge: VC
To motivate farmers to diversify
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
‘‘The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has accepted the challenge to provide assistance and guidance to the farming community of Punjab to come out of the wheat-paddy circle. All new research projects, training and education programmes at the university have been oriented to prepare the state for the challenge of global competition by developing new varieties of non-traditional crops like chilli, onion, potato etc,’’ said Prof K.S. Aulakh, Vice Chancellor, here today.

Presenting the annual report on the achievements of the university at the convocation, he said,‘‘ The university gave top priority to research programmes by allocating to them about 52 per cent of the Rs 137.79-crore budget during 2001-02. Consequently, university scientists have introduced various new varieties including PDW-274, a durum wheat variety, sunflower hybrid, PSFH-118, CoJ-88, a sugarcane variety, and various hybrid varieties of vegetables. During the last year, the PAU released 13 varieties of field crops, nine varieties of vegetables, four of flowers.”

He asserted that efforts were being made to motivate farmers to divert at least 10 lakh hectares from the wheat-paddy rotation to other crops like fruits, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds. However, the government would also have to provide marketing support to encourage farmers. The heavy dependence on wheat and paddy had resulted in over-exploitation of natural resources and ground water.

He claimed that a chilli hybrid variety developed by Prof J.S. Hundal and other scientists of the Department of Vegetables had been widely accepted in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The farmers were earning Rs 40,000 per acre by sowing this variety.

Later, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob, Chancellor, PAU, and Governor of Punjab awarded degrees and merit certificates to 271 students, which included 46 Ph.D scholars and 149 MSc students in agriculture, basic sciences and home Sciences.

Dr Panjab Singh, Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research ( ICAR), gave the Meritorious Teacher Award for 2001 to Prof Satpal Singh Cheema of plant pathology in recognition of his teaching work. He also presented cash awards to Dr J.S. Hundal for the evolution of chilli hybrid varieties and Dr M.L. Sood, of the Department of Zoology and Fisheries for his book ‘ Reptilian Nemotodes from South Asia.’

In his convocation address, Dr Panjab Singh appreciated the role of PAU in bringing about the Green Revolution in the region. Congratulating the students, he said,‘‘ “Agriculture students are entering a tough job market where government jobs are almost nil, but a lot of new avenues like hybrid seed production, nursery production, floriculture, agro-forestry, fish farming, farm machinery, post harvest technology, animal husbandry and consultancy services are opening up”.


Demarcation of MC wards rejected
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
While rejecting the demand of the opposition parties for fresh demarcation of wards on rotation basis before the elections to four municipal corporations in the state, the Punjab Local Bodies Minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh today declared that the ensuing MC poll would be held on the existing pattern without changing the status of wards in four districts.

Addressing a press conference at the local Red Cross Bhavan here today, Choudhary Jagjit Singh said the Congress Government was committed to completing the election process in the four municipal corporations before the expiry of their terms. “The process of MC elections will be delayed further for a period of six months if the state government decides to accept the demand for fresh demarcation of wards on rotation basis.

Besides, we are not going to follow the tradition of the previous regime to put on hold the elections to panchayat samities and zila parishads for a long time,” asserted the minister, adding that the state government had the constitutional powers to hold elections according to its wishes.

Regarding the decision of the state government to dissolve bodies of 18 improvement trusts in the state, the minister quipped, “We have decided to dissolve them after receiving numerous complaints of irregularities committed by the functionaries of the trusts during the previous regime. We are in the process of scrutinising the official records to unveil the corrupt deeds of Akali nominees”.

He further said the state government was seriously considering to dissolve the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation if it failed to conduct the mandatory monthly meeting of the house.

Later, Choudhary Jagjit Singh along with local MP Balbir Singh flagged off three trucks full of relief material for the riot victims of Gujarat. The president of the district unit of the Punjab Congress, Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, Punjab Revenue minister Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr K.Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, were also present on the occasion.


Sidhu in judicial remand till April 19

Kharar, April 5
A local court today further remanded Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravinder Paul Singh Sidhu to judicial custody till April 19 in an illegal gratification case. The orders were pronounced by Judicial Magistrate Roshan Lal Chouhan here.

The accused was produced in the court where Punjab Vigilance SP Jaskarm Singh filed an application for five more days of police remand to trace the four persons allegedly involved in the case.

The judge, after hearing the arguments, remanded Mr Sidhu to judicial custody till April 19 and sent him to Central Jail, Patiala. PTI


Octroi to be key poll issue
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The elections to the four Municipal Corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala have been announced for May 19, accelerating political activity.

The elections have come at a time when the state has “abrogated its constitutional obligations towards the local self-government institutions by withholding their share in taxes, recommended by the state Finance Commission”, says the White Paper.

The first commission had recommended the devolution of a share of five state taxes: stamp duty, electricity duty, motor vehicle tax, entertainment tax and entertainment (cinematography shows) tax. The sharing was to start from the fourth quarter of 1996-97. This did not happen, resulting in an accumulated shortfall of Rs 380.81 crore over a period of five years. This sum includes the share of the panchayati raj institutions.

Another important point pertains to octroi, which was abolished from December 1, 2001. That has put an additional financial liability of Rs 450 crore per annum on the state exchequer. This will be a key talking point in the elections.

The elections to the four corporations have come at a time when all local bodies are in financial turmoil because of the abolition of octroi. It has taken away a big slice of Rs 419 crore cash inflow out of a total income of Rs 720 crore.

The fund-starved civic bodies are in for tough times ahead facing agitation by employees in the event of the non-payment of salaries. There is a case pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where Mr Justice J.L. Gupta and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohanta, have reserved judgment on the validity of the government decision to abolish octroi. It has directed the state that till a decision in the case is pronounced, the government must honour its commitment, as per an affidavit submitted by a former Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr P.K. Verma.

While taking the decision to abolish octroi, the state had resolved to compensate the local bodies to the extent of the resultant revenue loss. And Mr Verma has given an affidavit to the court to release regular monthly instalments of the compensatory amount. The state, it is learnt, compensated the local bodies for the revenue loss for three months, December, 2001 to February 2002. It has defaulted in the release of Rs 37.50 crore during March.

The urban electorate constitutes a common pool for the Congress and the BJP, an ally of the Akalis, who have a limited role. Fissures have appeared between the two parties at the grassroots level given the blame game in which the BJP, of late, has indulged in accusing Akali workers of not campaigning for the BJP candidates in urban constituencies in the February Assembly elections. Thus, a poll-bruised BJP is demoralised as it prepares for the corporation elections to face the Congress, which is euphoric.

In view of the financial health of the local bodies, the Principal Secretary, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, says a plan is ready to face emerging exigencies. Since the municipalities cannot wash their hands of the responsibility of providing basic services, drinking water, sewerage, scavenging, streetlighting, etc, under the plan low-paid employees, who run day-to-day operations, will not be deprived of their salaries and wages. The cost of running these minimum services, in terms of salaries alone, is more than the leftover incomes of all local bodies.

Mr Kaushal has already issued guidelines. No expenditure should be undertaken on any item unless and until certain liabilities of the past and the likely expenditure till April 30 on the following most essential areas of expenditure are safely and securely catered to: day-to-day maintenance/operation of drinking water and sewerage facilities, prescribed standards of sanitation and salaries of the staff.

What is likely to cause more commotion is the abolition of 21 improvement trusts in the state today and a show-cause notice served on the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation why it should not be dissolved in the light of persistent defaults in the performance of duties.

The possibility of the shadow of the Malout byelection being cast on the corporation poll is not ruled out.


Eye operations in open banned
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 5
In view of the mishaps in the recent past in which patients lost their eyes in the eye camps being organised by various voluntary organisations in open, the state government has decided to ban such surgical eye operations. If any organisation now wants to conduct any kind of eye operation, it would have to first arrange for proper operation theatre in government or approved private hospitals.

The State Minister for Health, Mr Ramesh Dutt, stated this while addressing a public function here today. He was here to inaugurate an eye camp organised by Samaj Seva Dal in the local Civil Hospital. The Supreme Court had also issued directions in this regard recently.

Mr Dutt said the decision had been taken to avoid mishaps which the patients from poor sections suffered due to the unhygienic conditions that generally prevail during operations in such camps. Though the present move might initially decrease the number of free camps organised by voluntary organisations, but it would help in avoiding such mishaps, he said.

The minister also directed the doctors in the government hospitals to improve their dealings with the patients. If any doctor was found misbehaving or mistreating patients, stern action would be taken against them.

The minister further said the drive against corruption started by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would now be carried to lower levels. The anti-corruption drive of the current government would be carried out without any vindictive attitude towards any official, he added.


Protests hit sanitation work
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 5
Whereas the grim financial position of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, has forced its employees to start gate rallies and dharnas in protest against the non- payment of their salaries and the removal of 88 sanitation employees working on ad hoc basis has affected the sanitation work and sewage water has started overflowing. The employees of the council hold a gate rally and threatened to go on indefinite strike on April 8 and to disrupt the water supply and sewerage facilities, if their salaries are not paid immediately. The president of the council has blamed the government for not releasing the grant for the past two months and said that the council was not in a position to pay the salaries.

Mr Ashok Sood, president of the council, said that since the abolition of octroi the council had been totally depending upon the state government grant for the salaries of the employees. He said that the council had an income of more than Rs 1.5 crore from octroi, but what to talk of salary, all the development works were going on a war footing in the town and the entire town had been given a facelift. Now the council has no solid source of income and it is difficult to pay the salaries what to talk of the development works. He said that the council has removed the services of 88 ad hoc employees recruited for sanitation purpose as the state government has deleted the amount of Rs 10 Lakh from the annual budget passed. He said that this amount was meant for the salaries of the ad hoc staff so now when the government had not passed the budget of the council and deleted the salary amount they have terminated the services of these ad hoc employees. He said at present there are only 45 permanent and 31 part-time sanitation employees to look after the entire Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib town and adjoining villages which have become part of the council. He said that within a week the town would start smelling and the sewer had chocked in most part of the town and is overflowing. He demanded immediate grant from the government so that the employees may be given the salaries and the terminated staff are again recruited and pressed into service to provide better sanitation facilities.


Orders on digging roads unheeded
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
The condition of roads would improve if the orders of the Deputy Commissioner that prior permission from the district administration be taken before digging roads for some work and that the work should be completed within the projected time period, were implemented in letter and spirit.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, had in an order said no department could dig roads without getting permission in advance from the district administration and without submitting a project report and expected date of the completion of work.

The order was issued after several social, political and citizens organisations met the Deputy Commissioner and apprised him of the bad condition of roads in the city.

The representatives of these organisations had told the DC that the road were dug up at various places by different departments for some work and these (roads) remained in that condition for months together. They had also said after the work was completed the departments concerned did not care to repair the roads.

The residents had been pleading with the authorities for a long time that the digging of roads already in not-so-good condition created problems for smooth flow of traffic. Therefore, a solution to the problem should be found. A number of persons received injuries in the past few months when they fell accidentally into the trenches dug up.

The General Manager, Telecom, Executive Engineers of the Central Works, Sewerage and Water Supply Board, Municipal Council and the Improvement Trust have been told to ensure that any work undertaken by their departments involving digging of roads was completed in the given time period.

The DC asked the officials concerned that if needed the work on different projects should be done round the clock so that it could be completed in the stipulated time. He ordered that if any department failed to complete the work in the stipulated time period the head of that department concerned be held responsible for the delay. However, the order did not mention any penalty or other action against such department.


Pipe leakage hits water supply
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 5
Uncertainty remains over the fate of 76 municipal council employees who had been on deputation with the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board for the past two years. They were relieved by the board on April 1 but not given any duty by the council. The employees held a dharna inside the council complex for the second day today.

Meanwhile, the supply of drinking water to more than 75,000 residents in the walled city was suspended this morning due to leakage in the main pipeline near Nehru Stadium. Another pipe was replaced two years ago as it had been damaged. The pipes are about two decades old.

The town had been provided with a second waterworks on the Hanumangarh road under the Urban Renewal Project in 1995. However, the supply of water to localities on the other side of the railway station remained unaffected.

Nai Abadi, New and Old Suraj Nagri, Thakur Abadi, Arya Nagar and Ahuja Nagri were linked with the new waterworks. However, residents are facing problems due to the non-functioning of the water and sewerage systems.

Mr Vinay Suluja and Mr Shashi Kant Gihotra, residents of New Suraj Nagri, said scores of residents were suffering from viral fever and typhoid due to unhygienic surroundings. Even proper sanitation arrangements had not been made, they said.

Mr Bhanwer Lal Khatri, a resident of the College Road, said the watercourse that supplied canal water to the old waterworks was overflowing but the authorities could not control it due to the non-availability of staff. Animals could be seen in the waterbody and women often did the washing there, he said.

Some residents of New Suraj Nagri said they had approached a BJP councillor and tried to draw his attention to the problem but he said since they had voted for the Congress candidate in the Assembly election, they must suffer.


PHRO dy chief attacked
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 5
Deputy Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation Kirpal Singh Randhawa was grievously injured in an attack by a person while he was returning to Amritsar on the Rajasansi road here today.

Mr Randhawa, who is also a member of the World Sikh Council, said around 11.30 am when he was coming from Loharka village on his motor cycle along with his gunman Rajinder Singh when one person, allegedly Davinder Singh, sprung upon him with a “datar” and hit him.

In the first attempt, the weapon hit the moving mobike and he lost control of it and fell down. Thereafter, the assailant hit him three to four times, causing head injuries to him.

Admitted at the emergency ward, he said that he ran to a nearby house followed by the assailant who picked up bricks and threw them at him, before he got the better of him and snatched the datar from him.

Mr Randhawa informed that Davinder (who attacked him) is the brother of Constable Gurbaksh Singh who had an enmity with him since he was bringing up cases against police personnel who had committed atrocities during militancy in Punjab.


PM reneged on job promise: DYFI
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 5
The Punjab and Chandigarh unit of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) organised a state-level convention on “Education, employment and communal harmony” at Swarankar Bhavan here today.

Mr Tapas Sinha, General Secretary, all-India DYFI, said no government in the Centre had taken any concrete step to provide employment to the youth. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, before coming to power, had promised to provide employment to one crore youth every year but after assuming power, a cut of 10 per cent was imposed on the existing strength of jobs, besides a complete ban on the recruitment.

He criticised the BJP-led NDA government for privatisation and “saffronisation ” of education and said the DYFI would continue its struggle against the communal policies of the BJP.

The DYFI, in collaboration with Left youth organisations, would organise a national-level conference in New Delhi on May 10. Former Prime Ministers V.P. Singh, Deve Gowda, CPM General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjit, among others, would address the conference.

The DYFI would also mobilise public opinion by organising training camps in different regions of the country, he added. As many as 250 delegates took part in the convention.


Meeting discusses development of Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Punjab Government will develop Patiala as a counter-magnet under the national capital region plan. A meeting in this regard was held yesterday at Patiala by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. During the meeting some of the leading real estate consultants made presentations on the project.

A spokesman of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) said the National Capital Region Planning Board Act, 1985, provided development of counter magnet areas outside the national capital region in order to achieve the objectives of the NCR plan. The concept envisages decrease flow of population from the surrounding areas of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

With this in mind, the Punjab Government has taken a fresh initiative to revive Patiala as an important hub of economic activity.

For preparing the blue print of the project, the PUDA has been designated as the nodal agency. The meeting was attended by the Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr Rakesh Singh, Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Mr D.P. Reddy, Chief Administrator, Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, and Mr S.K. Mishra, Vice Chairman of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.


IMA to adhere to PNDT Act
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) today resolved to obey the guidelines of the PNDT Act pertaining to the banning of pre-natal sex determination.

Presiding over a meeting of the district unit of the IMA here today, its newly elected president, Dr S.P.S. Grover impressed upon the members to strictly adhere to the instructions regarding the registration of all ultrasound machines. The meeting unanimously passed a resolution to take strict action against the erring doctors, who would indulge in this illegal act, which had widened the imbalance in male, female sex ratio in Punjab over the past two decades.

The meeting further observed that the failure of the local municipal corporation to install an incinerator for the disposal of biomedical waste of hospitals had resulted in the spread of infections like hepatitis, tuberculosis and GI infections among the residents.

“We will be meeting the Commissioner, Mr Jagjit Singh, within a week to apprise him about the spread of infections and health hazards being caused due to the non-availability of any facility to dispose of the bio-medical waste of hospitals,” Mr Grover added.


Former MLA surrenders
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 5
Mr Sher Singh, a former Akali Dal MLA from the Jalalabad constituency, surrendered in the court of the Judicial Magistrate here this afternoon in a case of recovery of illicit liquor during the Assembly poll.

He has been remanded into judicial custody for a day. The police has been directed to produce him in court tomorrow.

On surrender, Mr Sher Singh complained of an illness, upon which the Magistrate ordered that he be examined at the local Civil Hospital.

Mr Sher Singh was booked when illicit liquor was found in his brick-kiln at Bhamba Wattu village by the Excise and Taxation Officer in a surprise raid a few days before polling.


Cops forced to free panchayat members
Our Correspondent

Kathunangal (Amritsar), April 5
A large number of residents of Gopalpura and Majwind villages sat on a dharna today for two-and-a-half hours in front of the local police station and forced the police to release Joginder Singh, member of panchayat, and Malkiat Singh, a pharmacist, who had been arrested following a dispute allegedly with the wife of a Congress leader of the area, Mr Ramesh Sharma.

The two persons arrested yesterday, who are activists of the CPI and the SAD, respectively, had approached Mrs Naresh Sharma, wife of the Congress leader, over the failure of a student of the school. Mrs Sharma, who has retired as head teacher of a primary school, had declared the result of the school. A case was registered against the two under Sections 107 and 151 of the IPC.

Sarpanch Zail Singh of Gopalpura village and Niranjan Singh of Majwind village told this correspondent that effigies of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the SSP, Ms Shashi Prabha Drivedi, were burnt in Gopalpura village in protest against the high-handedness of the police allegedly in connivance with the ruling party.

Mr Gulzar Singh Ranike, MLA from Attari, and former MLA, Mr Rajmohinder Singh Majithia, and Mr Balwinder Didhala, Additional District Secretary, CPI, joined the protest.


Shradhanjali Samaroh in Major’s honour
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 5
A Shradhanjali Samaroh is being organised by the family of Major Harminder Pal Singh, Shaurya Chakra Awardee, tomorrow in Mundi Kharar to mark the third death anniversary of the youth from Kharar who laid down his life for the country in a fierce encounter with militants.

The 18 Grenadiers Major had been wounded in the left arm but recovered enough to encourage three militants armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades in an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter in a remote Northern Kashmir area on April 13, before being shot through the temple by a militant. Harminder led the commando platoon of his battalion in what has been described as a, “dare-devil” operation, in the congested locality of Sadurkotbala village in Manasbal.

The Major’s father, Captain Harpal Singh, has already decided to make his 36-month-old grandson, Navteshwar, follow on the footsteps of his father.

The late Major’s wife Roopinder Pal Kaur, is serving as District Food and Supplies officer (DFSO) at Fatehgarh Sahib.

The Shaurya Chakra award in any way cannot compensate for the loss we have suffered, but then, I am among those few fathers who can take pride even in his child’s death,” says the Major’s father Capt Harpal Singh (retd).

Harminder was an alumnus of Khalsa Senior Secondary School Kharar, and Government College, SAS Nagar.

Harminder was twice recommended for decoration and received a letter of appreciation from his Core Commander, who had also sent his name for the Army chief’s commendation certificate.


World Punjabi Theatre Day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
National Theatre Art Society (NTAS) has called upon all Deputy Commissioners of Punjab to patronise theatre movement, especially the 88th World Punjabi Theatre Day celebrations, on April 6. NTAS director Pran Sabharwal said on April 6, 1914, the mother of modern Punjabi theatre, Norah Richards, laid the foundation of the theatre movement by staging ‘Dulhan’ by I.C. Nanda at Dyal Singh College, Lahore.

Mr Sabharwal said the city cable opera will organise ‘Raunaq Punjab di’, a programme of music, dance and drama, at the Baradari Gardens to mark the 88th World Punjabi Theatre Day on April 6.

Mr Sabharwal, who is also an international coordinator for the World Punjabi Theatre movement and had been on the rolls of the Punjabi University’s Department of Speech and Drama, urged the Punjab Departments of Cultural Affairs, Public Relations, Languages and the NZCC and all social and cultural organisations to commemorate April 6 as World Punjabi Theatre Day every year.


Woman gives birth to triplets
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 5
A local resident, Ms Shanti Devi, gave birth to triplets, all males, at Sidhu Nursing Home here on March 31. Mr Vasudev, husband of Ms Shanti Devi, said his wife had undergone ultrasound test on February 15 at the local Garg Hospital and Ultrasound Centre, where Dr Tarsem Garg, proprietor of the centre, told her that she would give birth to twins.

He urged the Chief Secretary, Punjab, to take action against the owner of the diagnostic centre for the wrong results. Dr Garg said due to the limitations of the ultrasound machine, sometimes it could happen.


World Health Day
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 5
The Gardens and Environmental Society here would celebrate ‘World Health Day’ at Baradari Gardens here on Saturday. Ms Parneet Kaur, Member of Parliament, would be the chief guest.


Millers, arhtiyas disagree on payments
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 5
Local commission agents are at loggerheads with Rice sheller owners over the terms and conditions of the payment of paddy.

According to sources, rice millers have refused to abide by mutually agreed terms and conditions of payment in view of the non-payment of levy rice. As per agreement, the rice millers were entitled to pay an interest of 18 per cent per annum on delayed payment exceeding 15 days from the date of the bill.

The Punjab Government has not paid Rs 148 crore of levy rice bills for the past four months out of which an amount of Rs 40 crore is due to be paid to rice millers of Jalalabad.

According to an estimate, local millers have suffered losses of more than Rs 3 crore in the shape of interest on the delayed payment. Every single day passing is costing Rs 2 lakh as interest. The millers have asked the arhtiyas to share the burden in these unprecedented circumstances. They have asked the arhtiyas to bear the 45 day’s delay of the government payment and for remaining 45 days they are ready to pay the interest at the rate of 12 per cent annum.

But the arhtiyas have strongly opposed the millers’ demand. Mr Sher Singh, spokesman for the local Arhtiya Association, alleged that due to non-payment of paddy bill by millers, they were compelled to take money from the market at a very high rate of interest in order to give advance to farmers for the ensuing wheat crop. He said certain arhtiya had sold or pledged their valuables to maintain liquidity in their business. He said if the rice millers did not pay the interest, it would adversely effect the commission agents business especially the small time commission agents.


Farmers take out protest march
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 5
Members of five kisan organisations, including the Punjab Kisan Sabha, affiliated to the CPM; Punjab Kisan Sabha, affiliated to the CPI, and the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), here today took out a march in support of their demands.

Mr Achhra Singh, former MLA and district president of the Punjab Kisan Sabha (CPI), Mr Bant Singh Namol, district president of the Punjab Kisan Sabha (CPM), Mr Gurdev Singh Dardi, Mr Jaspal Singh, general secretary of the district unit of the BKU (Ekta), and Mr Darshan Singh also joined the protest.

The farmers demanded a review of the MSP of wheat by the Union Government, Rs 30 per quintal bonus on the procured paddy, release of general electricity connections to the farmers, 18-hour power supply for tubewells, withdrawal of “false” cases registered against the farmers during farmers’ agitations, Rs 10,000 per acre compensation for crops damaged due to natural calamities and waiver of loans of farmers.


PPSC Secy, 11 IAS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Acting quickly on a memorandum submitted here this evening by members of the Punjab Public Service Commission to the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, the Punjab Government ordered the transfer of the Secretary of the commission, Mr Pritpal Singh, besides ordering transfer of 11 IAS and one more PCS officer here this evening. Mr Pritpal Singh’s place will be taken by Mr Satwant Singh, also a PCS officer.

The following transfers and postings were also ordered.

Mr P.K. Verma will also look after the work of Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Forests and Wildlife.

Ms Romila Dubey will be Principal Secretary, School Education.

Mr R.S. Sandhu will be the new Commissioner, Jalandhar Division.

Mr D.S. Kalha becomes Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment.

Mr G.S. Sandhu has been posted Secretary, Transport.

Mr Suresh Kumar will be the new Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

The government has decided to post Mr Satish Chandra as Chairman, Pollution Control Board.

Like Mr Suresh Kumar, Dr Roshan Sunkaria has been transferred again and posted as Special Secretary, Forests and Wildlife.

The services of Mr Vivek Pratap have been placed at the disposal of the Department of Industries for appointment as Additional Managing Director, PSIDC.

Ms Anjali Bhawara has been appointed Special Secretary, Personnel. In addition, she will be Secretary, Lok Pal, Punjab. Mr Mandeep Singh will be Special Secretary, Personnel. In addition, he will be Special Secretary, Secretariat Administration.

Mr Megh Raj has been appointed Director, Lotteries.

Fresh posting orders in the cases of Mr Pritpal Singh and Mr Vinod Kumar Bhalla will be issued separately, a communication of the state government said.


Improvement Trusts dissolved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Punjab Government today dissolved all 21 Improvement Trusts in the state.

According to a notification, the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Faridkot will be the Administrators of their respective Improvement Trusts, while the Additional Deputy Commissioners of Gurdaspur, Ropar, Patiala, Moga, Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Sangrur and Bathinda districts have been appointed Administrators.

The Subdivisional Magistrates of Pathankot, Nabha, Malerkotla, Faridkot, Khanna, Phagwara, Abohar, Batala and Barnala towns have been appointed Administrators of the trusts concerned.


Two arrested for planning dacoity
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
The police has arrested two members of a gang who were allegedly planning to commit dacoity.

The SSP said in a press note today that the suspects have been identified as Om Parkash and Devinder Singh of Amarpura basti. He said the gang comprised five persons. The police raided a hideout of the gang near Behman Diwana village while a plan was being made to commit dacoity.

While the police nabbed two of the gangsters, the others escaped. .12 bore pistol and two cartridge were seized from the possession of Devinder Singh.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested two more suspects in a case pertained to murder of Rajiv Kumar, a member of an orchestra party, on March 27. The suspects have been identified as Bhupinder Singh and Manpreet Singh.


6 dacoits held

Kapurthala, April 5
The police has busted yet another 10-member inter-district gang involved in dacoities, lootings and thefts and arrested six members of this gang. One stolen Tata Safari, two motorcycles, a computer set, a lamination machine, three pistols and some cartridges were among other things that were seized.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the SSP said all members of the gang were between the age group of 20 and 25 years and were unemployed. He claimed that they confessed to have committed more than 20 dacoities and thefts in Kapurthala and Amritsar districts. UNI


Lineman held for stealing wires
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 5
Sat Pal, a lineman, working in the PSEB at its Kaheru grid near Dhuri, has been arrested for stealing wires.

Giving this information here this afternoon, Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, SP (D), said Sat Pal was arrested from Mallumajra canal bridge near Dhuri last night and four kg of wire and two jute bags were recovered from him on the spot, he added.

The SP (D) further said during investigations, the police also recovered 66 kg of aluminium wire from his possession. 


Poisoned to death by in-laws

Hoshiarpur, April 5
Jaswant Kaur (20) was allegedly poisoned to death by her in-laws at Chakswana village under Hariana police station on April 3, the police said.

The SSP, today said a case against her father-in-law Ujagar Singh, mother-in-law Rano husband Ramesh, who is in Dubai, and her sister-in-law had been registered.

The police has arrested Ujagar Singh and Rano. The sister-in-law has absconded. UNI


CET form: date extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Panjab University has extended the last date of submission of application forms for CET 2002 up to April 15. The earlier date was April 5.

This was said by Dr Sodhi Ram, Controller of Examination, in a press release here today. The test will be conducted for admission to Bachelor of Engineering, MBBS, BAMS, BHMS, B Pharmacy and B Sc (honours) courses on May 22 at Delhi, Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

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