Monday, April 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Cong in bind over free power
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The Congress government in Punjab led by Capt Amarinder Singh may have several sleepless nights ahead until it comes out with a plan whereby farmers would not get free power but would be suitably compensated.

The nine-point agenda based on socio-economic and administrative issues outlined by the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, at the conclusion of the Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave in Guwahati yesterday has caught the Punjab Congress in a quagmire as the state is heading for municipal elections followed by block, panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections.

Mrs Gandhi held that it was the Akali-BJP government which used to give free power to farmers and when the state went to the polls in February this year, her party could not tell the people that they would have to pay for something they have had free under the previous regime. A look at the election manifesto of the Congress, however, presents a different picture.

When the Punjab Congress released its “please-all” election manifesto in Chandigarh on January 27, it not only announced the continuation of free power for the agricultural sector but also announced an increase in the monthly quota of free power to 150 units to each SC, BC and below-poverty-line family in the state. Not only that it went a step further and even assured relief to those farmers who operated their tubewells with diesel engines.

The Punjab Congress would now prefer “silence” or buy time on the issue on the pretext of formulating a new pro-farmer policy in lieu of the withdrawal of the free power facility rather than allowing it to snowball into a major political controversy in the wake of the municipal and panchayat elections ahead. It certainly faces an uphill task in “silencing its critics in general and the Akalis in particular who have always been labelling the Congress as anti-farmer political outfit”, says Congress sources.

Though Mrs Gandhi was very clear that such “populist” measures were a drain on the states’ resources and the people would have to be told about the negative effects of such steps, the timing of her announcement may not have been “politically suitable “ for Punjab where the Congress government has just completed six weeks in office.


UP liquor barons rule roost in Punjab
K. S. Chawla

Liquor barons of Uttar Pradesh have succeeded in making inroads into the liquor trade of Punjab and these barons have got a major share through the auction of vends. With the entry of these barons in Punjab, the local traders have become apprehensive and feel insecure.

As a matter of fact, the entry of UP liquor traders was made possible allegedly by Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal who was Excise and Taxation Minister, to break the monopoly of the men being supported by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

U.P. liquor traders were already on the lookout for new states as the Rajnath Singh Government in UP also was keen on breaking their monopoly and had introduced the licence system using a type of lottery for allocating liquor vends, instead of an open auction. Auction of liquor vends had become a big problem for the UP Government because of political patronage enjoyed by certain liquor barons in that state.

The UP liquor traders managed to get a hold over the liquor trade in Doaba and Majha belts in particular and to some extent in the Malwa belt of Ludhiana district. At some places, the local liquor contractors have been completely eliminated from the trade. Despite the entry of UP traders, the local liquor contractors admit the fact that the auction of liquor has been very fair this year and there was little political interference in it. Even if there was any interference, it was done in a subtle manner.

Meanwhile, the open sale price of liquor — both countrymade and Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) has seen a rapid rise within 10 days of the start of the new financial year.

Premium brands of IMFL are being sold at a high price compared to the price fixed by the state government. There is big difference in their prices in Doaba, Majha and Malwa belts. A popular whisky, Peter Scot, is being sold at Rs 500 against the official price of Rs 285 per bottle in the Doaba and Majha belts, Royal Challenge for Rs 400 as against the official price of Rs 285 per bottle. Country liquor officially priced at Rs 80 is sold for Rs 110 and Rs 120 per bottle. As against this, prices in Ludhiana are cheaper-Peter Scot — Rs 400 and Royal Challenge Rs 350. The traders in Ludhiana are selling at lower rates because of the government fear as this region falls in area dominated by the Garchas, supporters of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The state government to increase the sale of beer fixed a dual price for light and high content brands at Rs 40 and Rs 45 per bottle Kingfisher comes under light beer and is priced at Rs 40 while Thunderbolt-5000 is priced at Rs 45 per bottle. These brands are being sold for Rs 50 and Rs 60 per bottle respectively. The state government gave a clear warning at the time of the announcement of the excise policy that enhancement in the beer price would not be tolerated and licences would be cancelled. But despite this warning, various brands are being sold at higher prices.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary, when contacted said there was no bar in selling whisky at higher prices. The dealers could sell the same at higher prices but not below the minimum price fixed by the state government.

However, Mr Ratra warned that action would be taken against those dealers who indulged in charging higher prices for beer. They would be challaned and their licences cancelled. The state government has earned revenue of more than Rs 10 crore from vend auctions this year and there was no political interference in it, he asserted.

The UP liquor traders have also managed to enter the liquor trade of Haryana and they have their monopoly in Faridabad, Gurgaon, Karnal and Panipat and Sonepat districts.

These contractors have brought their own men from UP who looked after the vends. Earlier the traders used to hire Himachalis to look after the retail sales. Some of them have even their musclemen at sales counters.

A leading liquor contractor observed: “If the UP traders continue to enter the Punjab liquor trade, they will rule over it in the next few years and auctions would be decided according to their dictates”.


Absorption of six ‘galiara’ JEs into MC decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 14
The appointment of six persons as Junior Engineers (JEs) has led to resentment among the Galiara project (Golden Temple beautification project ) employees. It is being alleged that these employees were employed on contract and regularised later reportedly in violation of government directions.

It is also alleged that other employees who were similarly employed (on contract) in the project which started in 1994, were not regularised despite recommendations by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Amarjit Singh.

Although the Municipal Corporation denies concern with the project, it is learnt that most of its functions are organised by the corporation despite the project being the Central Government’s concern with the Deputy Commissioner here as its director.

The employees whose services were reportedly regularised are Manjit Singh, Inderpal Aujala, Anurag Mahajan, Ravinder Garg, Parminder Singh and Sanjeev Devgan. They say they are diploma and degree holders, eligible for regularisation in their jobs. Nagar Nigam Galiara Employees Association secretary Narinder Sharma, however, says these persons were adjusted in the three Municipal Corporations of Punjab namely Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana while others were denied the benefit of permanent employment.

To prove that the Galiara project was a concern of the Municipal Corporation, all bills to contractors, employees etc were being paid through the corporation and the account from which the payment is made is also in the name of the Municipal Corporation. Even the office dealing with the Galiara project is housed in Municipal Corporation building.

At least two of cases of regularisation were passed as agenda in the corporation house meeting and the persons absorbed in the corporations of Punjab.

Additional Commissioner, Khushi Ram when contacted said the power to incorporate Galiara employees in the Municipal Corporation was with the Deputy Commissioner and the corporation had nothing to do with this Central Government project. He said he was not aware of the government decision denying regularisation to other employees in the Galiara project and the Deputy Commissioner was the appropriate authority to take any decision on the project. Deputy Commissioner S.S. Puri was not available for comments.

Meanwhile, the corporation is facing a lot flak due to the non-payment of salary to its employees. Municipal Corporation employees especially are feeling a lot of hardship to meet day-to-day expenses.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch headed by Prof Mohan Singh, has written to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, with copies to MLAs and MPs informing them of the gravity of the situation arising of lack of funds following the abolition of octroi in the state and demanded a package for the holy city. 


A host of issues before planning board
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The reconstitution of the Punjab State Planning Board with “professionals” from industry, trade, agriculture and education on April 11 has rekindled hope that the Congress government means business. The very appointment of Dr S.S. Johl, an eminent economist, as vice-chairman indicates this.

The inclusion of Members of Parliament as “official’’ members is an important indicator of the new thinking. The very thought of cutting across political lines to draw up a “common minimum economic agenda” for the beleaguered state would in itself help dilute political bitterness and bring down the political temperature in the state. Dr Johl believes that without political networking and bureaucratic commitment Punjab is unlikely to move forward and achieve much.

All policy recommendations, says Dr Johl, should be implementable and a proper monitoring mechanism must be evolved from within the system for effective and wider acceptance. This is possible only if there is “corruption-free” governance. For that the bureaucracy down the line has to be made “accountable’’ besides being responsive. There is an opinion that bureaucrats should be personally held responsible for losses in public sector undertakings and in departments under their charge.

Thus, one hopes the board will not remain only a decorative body, as in the past, but play an active role in “reconstructing Punjab”, as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has often said. The board will have enough cud to chew coming as it would from a slew of ancillary committees, some of which are already in operation.

Not many are aware or would remember that Dr Johl had submitted two reports to the previous government on the education policy as early as December, 1997. Similarly, Dr Amrik Singh had submitted a report on technical education. Therefore, the inclusion of an educationist in Dr R. P. Bambah, a former Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, will enable the board to pay more attention to this important aspect of planning.

The issues to be addressed by the board pertain to economic prosperity through human development and also the per capita net state domestic product. Punjab needs a strong infrastructure. There is also talk of levy of the “socio-economic user charges”. Equally imperative, however, is to make services commensurate with user charges. Downsizing or “rightsizing”, as the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K. R. Lakhanpal, calls it, besides administrative restructuring will require political guts and bureaucratic will.

Another important issue is that the sex ratio in Punjab is highly skewed and so is education. There are also indicators of economic disparities in terms of the ‘’poverty ratio’’ in the southern and northern districts.

Suggestions on various measures that the board should take are beginning to pour in. These range from a “plan holiday” to no investments in new projects for at least two years and strengthening of the existing infrastructure. Another is cutting financial frills available to employees, including non-practising allowance, redeployment of employees and restructuring the police to cut down on the cost.

One suggestion is to constitute independent regulatory and tariff authorities for social and economic services. These can attract private capital. Much has been said on diversification in agriculture. A set of 26 policy recommendations on the future of agriculture is available with the vice-chairman. 


BBMB staff oppose repatriation move
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 14
To resist their repatriation from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), employees of the partner states serving here have formed a joint action committee (JAC). About 3,000 employees of the Punjab and Haryana Governments are facing the threat of repatriation to their states due to the decision taken by the Finance Departments of the state governments.

While the Haryana Government is bent upon calling back all its employees who have just two years left for their retirement, the Punjab Government seems to have decided to withdraw all its employees serving here. The state Personnel Department, in a recently issued directive to all state government departments concerned, ordered the latter to withdraw employees who had either completed five years’ service in the BBMB or had just two years left for retirement. If this directive is implemented, it could lead to the elimination of the Punjab quota of employees from the BBMB and consequently the state may lose control over the major irrigation and power project of the region.

The president of the JAC, Mr Ashok Kumar Rana, talking to this correspondent today, said the decision of the state governments was unfortunate. He said the recent move was aimed at dislodging employees who had served in the BBMB for a long time.

He said the Punjab and Haryana Governments were trying to dislodge the employees on the pretext of saving money by calling them back. The repatriation would put an additional burden on the state governments, he said.

The BBMB is being run by contributions from the partner states. About 3,000 employees of Punjab and Haryana are at present working for the BBMB. Even if these employees are withdrawn, the partner states would still have to pay their share in the budget to the BBMB. Also, the states would have to bear the financial burden of the salaries of the repatriated employees.

Mr Rana said the quota of the state employees in the BBMB has already been reduced to a great extent. Originally, Punjab and Haryana had a quota of about 12,000 employees. However, when the states did not send employees despite repeated requests of the BBMB, the organisation recruited its own employees. If the states withdraw their, employees, the BBMB will recruit its own quota to run the organisation, he said.

Mr Rana said the Punjab Government should send its surplus staff from the Ranjit Sagar project to the BBMB rather than withdrawing the employees.

Members of the JAC also met the local MLA, Mr K.P.S. Rana and urged him to plead their case with the Chief Minister.


Badal ‘backing’ NDA for personal gains
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, April 14
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, was supporting the NDA government at the Centre for some personal interests.

Mr Tohra, while addressing a rally of the party here yesterday on the occasion of Baisakhi, said Mr Badal should have withdrawn his support from the NDA government when the Union Government failed to make arrangements for sending jathas to Pakistan and protecting the interests of minorities.

He said the statements by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, against the Muslims had shown the real face of the BJP and its policies towards the minorities.

He said while members belonging to the minorities had opposed POTO, the Akali Dal MPs had voted in its favour. He said Mr Badal had sold the interests of state and Sikhs to the Centre.

Expressing dissatisfaction about the meagre increase in the MSP of wheat, he said the Congress had started on a similar ground, as was the case with the previous Akali Dal government. He said the procurement of wheat was unsatisfactory.


MCs in financial crisis
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 14
With the abolition of octroi in Punjab the financial health of municipal bodies has become precarious.

The local Municipal Council has no funds to pay for their electricity bill and is facing the threat of disconnection. If this happens, the people of the town may have to live without drinking water and street lights this summer. According to local Municipal Council sources, a grant for Rs 11.86 lakh was due from the government towards the end of this financial year. Whereas liabilities of the council for March consisted of Rs 9.5 lakh as salaries and Rs 3 lakh as electricity bills. In last couple of years, with an income of more than Rs 1 crore each year from octroi and a total of Rs 1.5 crore grant from the government, the town had witnessed development on a war footing. But now the same council is struggling to pay the mandatory dues to its staff. In the absence of the grant the council has an amount of Rs 3 lakh in its coffers, which has been collected by the way of octroi on electricity and collection of some arrears. Thus the council will only be able to pay the salaries of Class IV employees for the month of March.

The Municipal Council Employees Association has threatened to go on an indefinite strike if their salaries were not paid by April 18. In fact, the Punjab Government is in Catch 22 situation with regards to abolition of octroi. As the abolition was also part of the Congress manifesto, the government would not like to impose the octroi on its own. But it would not be possible for the government to provide funds to the council in the present state of economic affairs in Punjab. The sources have revealed that Punjab Government has divulged a gameplan, as the case of abolition of octroi is still pending in the High Court. The Punjab Government has decided not to pay the grant to the councils. If the court decides to impose octroi again the government may skip from the unwanted blame.


‘Snoring causes accidents, divorces’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 14
Snoring is one of the major reasons behind road accidents in India and abroad and broken marriages, particularly, in the western countries, where serious efforts are being made to contain the deadly sleep apnoea syndrome.

Dr H.J. Singh, a renowned bronchoscopist and sleep disorders expert, in his inaugural address during an in-house seminar on “sleep disorder and its fatal impacts” at the local Ranjit Hospital here today, said it had been found that the major reason behind road accidents in India and abroad was snoring.

“The patients afflicted with the sleep apnoea syndrome sometimes cease to breathe altogether for seconds, which is very risky to their life, particularly while driving a vehicle. Normally when one is awake the airway is maintained open by the tone of muscles of upper airway, including the tongue and soft palate, on the other hand during sleep though brain remains active but the muscles are virtually in a state of hyptonia to the extent that the lining on the both sides of the respiratory tract comes close to each other creating obstruction in the airway,” he quipped.

He further said during a recent study conducted in different parts of Punjab, it was found that in most of the cases overeating habit was the major reason for snoring among Punjabis. “You see, the sleep cycle remains incomplete in case of those suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea resulting in patients keep on sleeping during day time. In most of such cases the patients are not able to control sleep, even while driving a vehicle or handling some machines, causing accidents,” he added.

It also causes sexual impotency and memory loss among the patients due to non-conservation of energy in the body during night sleep. It has also proved to be a major cause for divorces, particularly in the Western countries, where 20 per cent of spouses seek divorce sighting sexual impotency as the reason. In India, however, this has led to stressed relations between husband and wife, posing a serious threat to the social structure,” Dr H.J. Singh observed.

He said the first step in treatment was to eliminate precipitating factors like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and alcoholism. Dr Gagan Jain, said there was a great need to create awareness among the people about the bad impacts of snoring on their health.


Irrigation tunnel inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 14
Inaugurating the tunnel T-2 at Ranjit Sagar Dam, the Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), said on Sunday it was a great occasion that irrigation tunnel T-2 had been made fully operative due to the hard work of engineers, staff and workmen.

The Governor said originally this tunnel T-2 served as a diversion tunnel during the construction of the dam. On completion of the dam, this tunnel was closed from the upstream end on February 15, 1999, for carrying out the second stage closure works inside the tunnels so that water may not enter inside tunnel T-2 during the filling of the reservoir.

General Jacob said the Shahpur Kandi dam project which was approximately 12 km down side of this project was also at its take off stage and the work on the project had been started with the release of funds by the Central Government.

He added this project, on completion, would generate 168 MW of additional power and would help in 3.48 lakh hectare of irrigation potential besides development of the area, including tourism and recreation facilities.

The Ranjit Sagar Dam, popularly known as Thein Dam, itself has a history ever since the Willey Committee submitted its report in 1926-27. The Punjab Irrigation Department first submitted a project report way back in 1957. With the passage of time the project underwent several technical changes and eventually a 600 MW scheme was prepared.

The teething troubles were both manmade and natural, like the devastating floods of 1988 when 5.8 cusecs of gushing water inundated the project site or the snag in the power tunnels which developed when the reservoir was in the process of being filled up in July 1999. That has put a question mark on the fate of the project.


US Red Cross team in Bathinda
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 14
A team of the American Red Cross was taken by surprise when some of the technicians expressed their ignorance about terms related to transfusion although they had been working in the local blood bank for many years.

The American team consisting of Dr Kin Barry, a UK citizen, and Dr Kalai Annamalai an Indian, is on a tour of various cities of Punjab where blood banks have been established by the Red Cross to find that if it can be of help in any way financially or technically for making these of world level.

It is in the state to find a suitable city where a training institute could be established for the technicians of blood banks.

An official of the Red Cross, on condition of anonymity, said the survey was being conducted to see how safe blood transfusion was in India. Sources said the survey would also recommend some solutions and remedies for making blood transfusion safe to save the human lives.

An official said there was nothing unusual about some technicians not knowing about steps to be taken during blood transfusion as it had been a practice for decades to give blood without doing any tests.


Tributes paid to Ambedkar
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 14
Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, unveiled the statue of Dr B.R. Ambedkar constructed at the cost of Rs 1 lakh on his 111th birthday at Ambedkar Bhavan here today. Speaking on this occasion at a seminar organised by the District Ambedkar Mission Society the Deputy Commissioner impressed upon its members to visit remote rural areas and work for the uplift of the weaker and dalit sections which will be a real tribute to (Dr B.R. Ambedkar) who devoted his entire life and energy for the same. Mr Prasad assured to provide all facilities and infrastructure free of cost, to the members of the society if they devoted their energy and time at least for two hours for teaching the illiterate and poor in the bhavan premises.

He also released a book Guru Balmik written by Dr Shammi Kumar on this occasion. Mr Kewal Singh former MP, Mr Sukhdev Singh Pandhi, President of the Ambedkar Mission Society and Mr Hussan Lal ADC also spoke on the occasion.


Dang for probe into misuse of funds by Badal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 14
Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, has drawn the attention of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the alleged illegal collection of money in crores during the rule of his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by illegally transferring land and property of various departments to PUDA and selling these as plots.

He alleged that crores of rupees had been siphoned off from the Social Security Fund. The funds were distributed through various “sangat darshan” programmes of Mr Badal, he alleged.

Mr Dang alleged that a large amount of the money collected was pocketed and the rest was used to woo voters. Mr Dang has demanded a White Paper on the misuse of funds thus collected by the previous government. He has demanded a high-powered inquiry into the matter.


Operation Bluestar memorial: SGPC defers decision
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 14
The SGPC today deferred indefinitely its decision on raising a memorial to Operation Bluestar.

In a press note the SGPC stated that the issue of the memorial had been kept pending. It stated that a final decision would be taken after consulting the Sikh high priests.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has announced that the sub-committees constituted for raising various Sikh memorials would submit their reports within a month. The decision to raise memorials, including the one pertaining to Operation Bluestar, was taken by the SGPC when SAD lost the Assembly elections and the Congress came to power.


Sehajdhari Sikh Federation gets EC recognition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 14
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation has been recognised by the Election Commission of India, as per Section 29-A of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. This was stated here today by the president of the federation, Dr P.S. Ranu.

He said the federation was formed on April 13, 2001, to “fight the injustice” of denying the voting right to the Sehajdhari Sikhs in SGPC elections. The SGPC had passed a resolution on November 30, 2000, to disenfranchise Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in the elections.

Meanwhile, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) has filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court praying that only Amritdhari Sikhs should be allowed to vote and all other non-Sikhs should be debarred, including Sehajdharis.

The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation has already been impleaded in this writ petition by the high court as a party to the case for defending the legal voting right of Sehajdharis provided for in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 (amended in 1959). The next hearing is on April 22, Dr Ranu said.


PPSC chief hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 14
The Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Mr Ravinder Paul Singh Sidhu, who is in judicial custody was admitted in the Central Jail hospital today when he complained of backache and diabetes.

Jail sources disclosed that Mr Sidhu was being given proper treatment in the jail hospital. However, Mr Gamdoor Singh, Deputy Superintendent (jails), said that in the case of any eventuality, Mr Sidhu would be referred to Government Rajindera Hospital or to any specialist.

Both jail doctors, Dr S.S. Brar and Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, who are treating Mr Sidhu, were unavailable for comments despite attempts. Mr Swaran Singh, Jail Superintendent, also could not be contacted.


ITBP official seeks security for land
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 14
Apprehending that his land may be illegally and forcibly occupied by his relatives and others in connivance with officials Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Assistant Commandant, Indo- Tibetan Border Police, 4th battalion, has written to the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar to ensure safeguarding of his land. He has about 300 poplar trees on his property at Harsey China village in Ajnala district.

He has alleged that his relatives and others have been trying to re-mark his land and include it in their property, taking advantage of his absence. He has been posted at Srinagar for the past two years and a half. His son is with the CBI and is posted at Chandigarh.

He has employed a few workers to till his land. Villagers have started eyeing his property as no one from his family is present in the village. In his complaint, he has mentioned that many of his poplar trees have been illegally felled and sold. 


Go for inter-caste nuptials, get Rs 25,000
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 14
The state government today declared that an incentive of Rs 25,000 would be given to those who opted for inter-caste marriages.

Talking to newspersons, Choudhary Santokh Singh, Welfare and Social Security Minister, said for the uplift of the Dalits, the government had decided to award Rs 25,000 to those who solemnised inter-caste marriages.

He said out of the total Rs 142 crore earmarked for social welfare in the current financial year, Rs 62 crore would be utilised for education.


Shutdown in power cut-free city
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14
The joy of residents of this city knew no bounds when the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities declared it as the first power cut-free city of the state in September, 2001.

However, with the mercury rising in the region, known for its hot and dusty winds, their joy has been taken away by power cuts which started on Friday.

The city was declared power cut-free with the efforts of the then Punjab minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, to fulfil the long-pending demand of residents who had complained of the pollution caused by the fly ash emitted from chimneys of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) as well as the announced and unannounced power cuts.

Official sources said initially, the power cuts would be imposed for a week beginning on Thursday. Further decision on power cuts would be taken as per the power position, the sources said.

The sources said power cuts had been imposed as the production of electricity from two units of the GNDTP, the Mukerian hydel project and the Anandpur hydel project had stopped recently and a continuous supply of power was to be given to essential services.

Mr R.S. Dhillon, Chief Engineer ( Distribution), said there was no shortage of power in the state and power cuts being imposed for a few days to meet the requirement of power else where.

Meanwhile, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, demanded that the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, should hold a probe into the matter.


Shun tobacco, be rewarded
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 14
The Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the National Public Health Organisation (NPHO) has organised a contest in which any person taking tobacco for more than a year would be given a prize if he quitted it for four weeks.

In a press note here today Ms B. K. Kamlesh, an officer bearer of the local unit of the Vidyalaya, said the Quit tobacco competition-2002 had been started in 100 countries to motivate addicts to quit tobacco.

She said the competition was from May 2 to May 29 and persons above the age of 18 years could participate.

Any person who was taking tobacco for more than a year and who could quit it for four weeks was eligible for participating in it.


CPI to back strike call by PSU unions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 14
To raise their voice against the privatisation of the public sector undertakings, the CPI will support the countrywide strike call on April 16 given by various unions of the PSUs. Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, said the policy of disinvestment being pursued by the BJP-led government was not in the interests of the country.


Licences of 6 arhtiyas suspended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 14
Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, has ordered the suspension of licences of six arhtiyas in three grain markets of this district for possessing fewer tarpaulins for this procurement season.

According to official information here today, the Deputy Commissioner visited the grain markets of Sunam, Chhajli and Lehra yesterday to check the procurement of wheat and other arrangements. He ordered the suspension of licences of two arhtiyas each at Sunam, Chhajli and Lehra when he found that they did not have the requisite number of tarpaulins.

The Deputy Commissioner also listened to grievances of farmers.

He directed agencies to work for smooth procurement. He said if any complaint came to his notice, strict action would be taken against erring officials.

He also warned the arhtiyas that the administration would not tolerate any lapse on their part.


Amarinder appoints fifth OSD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Mr Vishavpreet Singh Chhina, a grandson of Mr Hardev Singh Chhina, a former Chief Secretary of Punjab, has been appointed Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, an order of the state government said today. He is the fifth OSD appointed by the Chief Minister.


4 bank staffers booked in fraud case
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 14
Four staff members of the local Land Mortgage Bank along with one of their touts have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act for bungling in the advancement of a loan while a sarpanch of Ulak village has been arrested for embezzling Rs 3.46 lakh meant for development.

The four staff members of the bank, Joginder Pal Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Gurtar Singh and Mishra Singh, along with their tout Babli were booked for bungling in the advancement of a loan to Mr Mukhtiar Singh of Khilan village.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh had applied for a loan of Rs 35,000 for a tubewell through Babli. The loan had been sanctioned and he had been given Rs 25,500 in two instalments. Despite making rounds of the bank, he had never got the remaining amount.


Youth defrauded of 6 lakh, six booked
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 14
On the complaint of a youth of Narur village, Narinder Singh, the local police has registered a case of fraud, forgery, conspiracy and breach of trust under Sections 420, 406, 467, 468, 471 and 120 of the IPC and certain Sections of the Immigration Act against six persons. They have been identified as Malkiat Ram, his wife Vidyawati, his son Kartar Singh, all residents of Talhan village, and their relatives Rajinder Kumar of Salempur village, Surinderpal of Sangowal village and Jeet Ram.

Narinder alleged that he was defrauded of Rs 6.30 lakh by them after being promised that he would be sent to the USA. The deal was struck in November, 2000. He was to give a total of Rs 8 lakh, including Rs 4 lakh in advance after being provided visa and air ticket. He was taken to Mumbai and the suspects took Rs 3.50 lakh from him. Then they forced Narinder’s parents to cough up Rs 1.80 lakh more.

Narinder was then sent to Kathmandu, Nepal, in July, 2001, and kept there for some time. His passport was also taken away. However, neither was he sent to the USA nor the amount returned to him. When he narrated his tale to the police, a case was registered against the suspects. However, no arrest has been made so far.


Suicide bid by Dalit woman
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 14
Babli (25), a Dalit daily-wage sweeper working in the local Civil Hospital, attempted suicide yesterday by setting herself on fire after sprinkling kerosene oil in her house in the Old Hospital Complex following alleged police torture.

She was admitted to the emergency ward of the hospital after sustaining about 90 per cent burns.

Mr Iqbal Singh, her brother, said the police had taken her to the police station on the charge of stealing Rs 5000 and had tortured her.

He added that Babli wanted to go home for changing clothes. The policeman who accompanied her to her house allegedly tried to molest her.

She pushed the policeman away, sprinkled kerosene oil on herself from a stove lying nearby and set herself afire. The trousers of the policeman too were partly burnt.

The Barnala SSP was not available for comments. Police sources revealed that a case under Section 380 of the IPC had been registered against Babli for stealing Rs 4500.


Two car thieves arrested
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 14
Dr Naresh Kumar Arora, SSP, in a press statement issued here yesterday, said the local police had busted a gang of car thieves by arresting two members — Manjit Kumar and Raja — residents of Jalandhar, during a special checking operation on Saturday.

The police recovered two Maruti cars, which they had stolen from PAP Complex and Joginder Nagar, Jalandhar, and a scooter, stolen from the local KK Medical Hall from them. One of them, Manjit Kumar was involved in a case of car theft in Dehra, Himachal Pradesh, in 1992 and was arrested in 1994 in connection with a robbery case.


Liquor shop burgled
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 14
Some unidentified persons broke into an English wine shop at Circular Road here last night and took away 16 bottles of whisky and Rs 12,000.

The police rounded up about six persons in this connection this morning. Two of them were salesmen of the shop. The police registered a case.


Paper-setters’ inefficiency decried
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 14
Mr D. D. Singal, Principal, and Professor Achhru Singh, Head of English Department, Government Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College, Mansa, in a joint statement issued here yesterday expressed dissatisfaction over the inefficiency of paper-setters appointed by Punjabi University, Patiala, for undergraduate classes in English.

They said the paper-setters were either extremely negligent in following the instructions contained in the syllabus or too incompetent to comprehend the same. If the question papers set for the ongoing examinations were any proof, one could easily assume that the paper-setters in question did not bother at all about the interests of the students and their only motive seemed to be to harm the student community by either asking questions which were out of syllabus or by not following the instructions contained in the syllabus.


Mobile labs to grade wheat in fields
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Markfed will shortly set up a world class testing laboratory at Ludhiana. Alongwith this, mobile laboratories for identification of wheat in fields are also likely to be set up, said Mr S.S. Channy, MD Markfed, while addressing a press conference here today.

He said in the coming days the role of Markfed was likely to undergo a major change and in order to attain excellence in the management of foodgrains and related areas, the organisation had initiated the process accordingly.

“Mediocrity would be a concept of the past. We are working towards modernisation of foodgrain storage and also tie ups with major foodgrain players in the global market”, said Mr Channy. A beginning has already been made with companies like Cargill of USA, Noble Grin, Singapore and Toepfer, Singapore. Backward integration of Markfed and forward integration by the international players can make a powerful supply chain, he said.

Markfed has planned to double its foreign exchange earnings by the end of this financial year to Rs 650 crore from Rs 325 crore last year. “We have also requested the government to make Markfed a canalising agency for rice exports”, he said.

Talking about the procurement, Mr Channy said of the total 5,77,000 tonnes, Markfed has procured 1,33,580 tonnes followed by Punsup (1,33,520 tonnes) and FCI (98,792 tonnes).

Emphasising on the quality of wheat produced, he said the role of agriculture university would be enhanced in growing and maintaining the quality of wheat production.


Markfed for tie-ups with global players
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Markfed has planned to double its foreign exchange earnings by the end of the financial year to Rs 650 crore from Rs 325 crore last year. Apart from emphasising upon tie ups with global foodgrain players, the agency is also working towards modernisation of foodgrain storage for which foreign companies are expected to invest here, said Mr S S Channy, Managing Director, while addressing a press conference here today. He said Markfed has requested the government to make it a channelising agency for rice exports. 

“Commercialisation of foodgrains and state-of-the-art foodgrain management is likely to come to the forefront in the coming days and Markfed will have to create a niche for itself in the global supply chain”, said Mr Channy, adding that, “with its present status, Markfed is likely to assume a leadership role in the foodgrains’ management in Punjab whereas other departments like Food and Supplies may see their role being marginalised”. Markfed is working towards attaining excellence in foodgrains management. A grading laboratory will shortly be set up at Ludhiana, information regarding which will be made available later on the website, he said.

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