Wednesday, April 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Spurious Bt cotton seed being sold
Agriculture Dept warns of action
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
Even as the Punjab Government has announced that Bt cotton seed will be made available to farmers next year, some unscrupulous traders have started cheating the farmers by selling them spurious seed.

Though officials of the Agriculture Department have not caught any such trader, they have been receiving complaints from the rural areas that some persons have been selling spurious seeds to the farmers under the brand name of Bt cotton seed.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that some farmers have started visiting Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat in search of Bt cotton seed. Agriculture Department official have been repeatedly urging the farmers not to buy Bt seed and only sow those varieties which have been recommended by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU).

Mr Harwinder Singh Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, said they had been organising village, block and district-level camps to educate the farmers in this regard.

Public address system installed in religious places were being used to send the message to the farmers, he said.

Seed dealers had been warned that they would be punished if they tried to sell such seed to the farmers.

A special squad comprising the Seed Development Officer and Agriculture Development Officer had been constituted to keep a close watch on the activities of the traders in the rural and urban areas.

However, a major section of cotton growers who have had bad crop for the past over six years due to bollworm attack and other factors, said they were reeling under heavy debt and were finding it difficult to get certified seeds.

Every year, the farmers have to depend on private traders to get the required quantity of cotton seed even though they are not certified by the Punjab State Seeds Certification Authority.

Mr Kattar Singh Jeeda, President, North India Cotton Growers Association, said the Punjab Government should take steps to revive cotton crop. It should facilitate research for the development of pest and bollworm-resistant varieties, apart from ensuring remunerative prices for the produce, he said.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said the revival of cotton crop could improve the economy of the farmers and the financial health of the state.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Finance Commission, Punjab, said a seminar on various aspects of cotton crop would be organised here by the CII soon.


Finding solutions to Punjab problems
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Taking the White Paper on the state of finances as the benchmark, a two-day discussion on finding solutions to the vexed Punjab finances and economy was initiated at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, here today.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, spent over two hours listening to the views of the experts on the twin subjects of finance and economy after an overview of the situation, as it obtains in the state, was presented by the Editor of The Tribune, Mr Hari Jaisingh.

It was left to the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, who sired the White Paper, referred to as “status paper”, to do some plain speaking while defending the contents and telling the fellow bureaucrats, economists and the political-executive that the options were limited: to sit back and do nothing; to muddle through and follow the Bihar path, staggering payment of salaries to burgeoning establishment; or to introduce radical reforms through political will.

This refrain echoed in what other speakers said, some disagreeing with the hypothesis, some demanding to know more of social profiles and parameters, some following the beaten path, suggesting cutting administrative flab, broad-basing tax structure, re-orienting tax administration, some emphasising on wanted diversification of agriculture, and some suggesting; political networking to impress upon the Centre to help Punjab clear its mountains of rotting foodgrain to make room for new stocks. There were still others who stressed on reinventing primary health and primary education systems, commensurating these with the investment.

The Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, touched upon all the three ingredients of much-needed fiscal management that had to embrace social, economic and political aspects. In a nutshell, he sought from the participants solutions that were socially equitable and acceptable, economically viable and politically applicable and valid.

Unless the administration was made slim and trim and people assured corruption-free, transparent good governance, much might not be achieved. The bottomline was: do or die now for posterity.

Mr Hari Jaisingh articulated the aspirations and concerns of the people, who deserved the best as the state had the requisite capacity, resources and enterpreneurship. “If one can recount innumerable success stories of Punjabis elsewhere in India and abroad, why frustration amongst them in the home state”, he asked. Then he answered, “We lack political will”.

Turning to Capt Amarinder Singh, he asked him to muster political courage and give the people what they deserved. He listed agriculture, education, health and infrastructure as the major areas of concern which required immediate focus. While restructuring Punjab, these had to get priority. “This is not a tall order. If people who matter are even 25 per cent more honest, there will be qualitative and quantitative change”.

Capt Amarinder Singh, in his response, was equally forthwith. He said everything was in a mess. The idea was not to apportion political blame by publishing the White Paper but the present to the people a fact sheet. He expected the expert gathered to enable the government to find remedies to the problems listed and aired. Punjab was in a hopeless situation, where demoralisation had set in and the state faced near bankruptcy. The problems were immense. “I assure you that there is no lack of political will. All we need to do is to balance our policies in tune with the changing global scene and follow the middle path of fulfilling promises and doing social justice, keeping in view the government finances and the system of freebies”.

The discussion would conclude tomorrow, when a set of recommendations would be presented to the Chief Minister. Those who spoke today included the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, a former Chief secretary, Mr P.H. Vaishnav, a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, economists, Mr Sucha Singh Gill and Mr Janak Raj and Mr S.K. Goyal.

The CRRID Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, introduced the subject and the participants.

Amarinder Singh also released the book ‘Future of Agriculture in Punjab’ published by the CRRID. 


SAD MLA, son booked in stripping case

Baghapurana (Moga), April 23
The police here has booked Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Sadhu Singh, his son Jagtar Singh and two policemen in a criminal case, for allegedly stripping the daughters of Jarnail Singh of Rajyana village in August, 2000.

The case under various sections of the IPC has been registered on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, following a writ by the father of the girls.

A judicial magistrate here, however, stayed the arrest of the MLA, his son former SHO Joginder Singh and ASI Gurmail Singh till April 29, following their bail petition.

According to an FIR, it took 20 months for the police to register the case and that too at the instance of the high court, which had directed the police on January 10 to register a case within three months and proceed with the investigations.

Sources said SP (Headquarters), Moga who, on the directions of the district police chief Varinder Kumar investigated, found the allegations correct.

According to an FIR, on the evening of August 16, 2000, Jarnail Singh’s daughters were stripped by the police, led by ASI Gurmail Singh, at the instance of the then ruling party MLA Sadhu Singh in the presence of a large number of policemen and villagers. The ASI also tried to molest one of the girls, it was also alleged.

The girls’ only fault was that they were daughters of Jarnail Singh, who was involved in a land dispute. The police was allegedly helping his opponents at the instance of the MLA.

It was further alleged that Jarnail Singh too was summoned to the police station and detained without registering any case against him. His brother Lakhbir Singh too was detained at the police station.

Following a habeas corpus petition by relations of Jarnail Singh the high court deputed its warrant officer, who found Jarnail Singh and Lakhbir Singh at the Baghapurana police station. In between Jarnail Singh had won all civil suits involving the property dispute. UNI


VC manhandles scribe
Detains him, smashes camera
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 23
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Mr H.S. Gurm, allegedly manhandled a reporter of a Punjabi news’ channel on the university campus here today, who had gone there to cover the dharna by students of engineering colleges in the state.

The trouble started when the lensman of the Punjab Today channel, Mr Pardeep Kumar, who was trying to record the conversation between the Vice-Chancellor and the agitating students, was allegedly manhandled by the VC himself. The infuriated Mr Gurm even snatched the camera and smashed it.

According to Sandeep Kaul and Pardeep Kumar, reporters of Punjab Today, the VC allegedly got infuriated over the recording of the events on the campus and had asked his subordinate staff to detain Pardeep Kumar. Subsequently, Pardeep Kumar was roughed up by the VC and his staff and the former was detained in a nearby room and his camera smashed.

The agitating students broke the window panes of the university. Sensing trouble, the reporter was released by the authorities. The police reached the spot after the matter was reported to senior police officials by mediapersons. Later, Mr Gurm reportedly tendered an unconditional apology over his behaviour and submitted that he would not repeat it in future. The police has yet to register a case.

Meanwhile, the agitating students alleged that the Punjab Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, was allegedly shielding the VC and was hesitating in ordering a probe into the alleged irregularities in the functioning of the PTU. They said why the Congress government was now dithering from its pre-poll promise with regard to a probe into the scams and irregularities committed by the senior functionaries of the university during the SAD-BJP regime?

The students have been on an indefinite strike for the past one week demanding revocation of the recent controversial instructions issued by the PTU authorities with regard to internal assessment and exams. They declared that a deputation of the students would be meeting the Punjab Chief Minister at Chandigarh next week to apprise him of the failure of the minister concerned to check the irregularities in the functioning of PTU.

Repeated attempts to contact Mr Gurm, however, proved futile as his staff said he was busy in a meeting.


Cong men observe fast, seek Modi’s removal
Our correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 23
Congress workers led by Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, acting President District Congress Committee, went on fast here today on a directive by the AICC and the PPCC to demand the resignation of Mr Narendra Modi from Chief Ministership of Gujarat.

The Congress workers who participated included Congress workers of the Block Congress Committees of Gurdaspur (Urban), Gurdaspur (Rural), Dhariwal and Dina Nagar. Mr Narinder Sharma, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Tarun Gupta and Mr Joginder Singh Bains Block Congress presidents of Dhaliwal, Dina Nagar, Gurdaspur urban and Gurdaspur (rural) led their respective workers fast was observed in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner from 10 AM to 4 PM today. Anti-Modi, anti-BJP and pro-Sonia Gandhi and pro-Capt Amarinder Singh slogans were raised. They demanded the removal of Modi from Chief Ministership of Gujarat and restoration of security in the minority community in Gujarat.

Mr Babehali condemned the BJP government at the Centre for failure to restore sense of security among the minority community in Gujarat.

He said that killings of is innocent Gujarat were on but the BJP took no action. Mr Modi accused of communalism. The Prime Minister instead of condemning Modi has supported his action. Gujarat, he said was a national problem and the central leadership must take into confidence the Opposition to restore law and order in the state. 


Vigilance team finds 17 doctors absent
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 23
At least 17 doctors and several other employees were found absent from duty when a team of the Vigilance Department raided hospitals, health centers and dispensaries at various places in the district.

The position was so bad in certain places that not even a single employee was found present at the health centers of Bhudmaur, Dhanuala and Roshanpur Chungian against their sanctioned strength.

Four teams were formed by the department, one of which was led by Mr P.S. Grewal, SP (Vigilance), while the three other teams were led by officers of the DSP rank.

Dr Ajay Gupta, SMO, Ms Chanderwanti and Pardeep Kumar (both Class IV) employees of Bhadson Health Center were found absent. At Bhari Phanecha Dr Kuldeep Singh (Medical Officer) and Sukhdev Singh were not present. The vigilance team found Dr Raj Kumar (incharge), Mr Karam Chand (veterinary pharmacist) and Dr Parampal Singh Dhillon absent from duty. Dr Ajay Trehan (Incharge) of Maradpur Health Dispensary was found absent and in Ajrour the incharge of the dispensary Dr Parminderpal Kaur was not present.

Rajesh Kumar (a class IV employee) of Sarastigarh centre was not present and at Badshapur Dr Mukhtiar Singh, Dr Jaspreet Kaur, Dr Jamnir Singh, Dr Navdeep Kaur (all medical officers), Mr Prem Kumar (radiographer), Sheesh Pal and Balbir Singh (both lab technicians), Ram Murthy (gardner) and Ms Jaso, (a class IV employee) were all found absent.

When the team raided Shutrana Health Centre, those found absent included Dr Parshotam Lal (Medical Officer), Mr Avtar Singh (driver), Mr Kulwinder and Ms Darshan Kaur. Dr Balwinder Singh Chawla was found absent at Kalwaunu Dispensary.


Youth-on-drugs worries DC
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 23
Mr A. Venu Prasad Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot has expressed great concern over high rise in the number of drug addicts in this district. He said nearly 40 per cent youth in rural and urban areas was on different drugs like opium, poppy husk, liquor, phensydryl, dexowan and proxywon. It was posing great threat to their future. In a press note released here today while addressing a meeting of chemists and health officials of the district the Deputy Commissioner regretted that a large number of tea stall and kirana shop owners besides unregistered medical practitioners were selling such type of different drugs openly particularly in villages and there was need to check this menace or the problem would take a serious turn in the near future.

Mr Prasad made it clear that mere fixing of banners and posters on walls and publicity and rallies would not check the problem. He asked chemists to cooperate with Health Department officials and the district administration to identify anti-social elements misguiding the youth.

He also sought the cooperation of non-government organisations in this regard. The Deputy Commissioner who is also chairman of the district Red Cross Society disclosed that the society was running a de-addiction centre here and had treated more than 5400 drug addicts and freed them from evil in the past eight years in the district. The Deputy Commissioner said that identity of a drug addict is kept secret at the centre.

Dr S.S. Toor, Civil Surgeon, Faridkot said that a special campaign to nab the drug peddlers besides to identify the drug addicts to give them timely treatment would be launched. The District Education Officer said that special time will be devoted after prayer in the morning in every school to educate students on the harmful effects of drugs.


MC chief’s allegation against SDM, EO
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), April 23
Ms Savita Yadav, President of the local municipal council, has alleged that the SDM, Mr A.P.S. Sandhu, and Executive Officer (EO) Suraj Kumar Chabbra have caused a loss of revenue amounting to lakhs of rupees to the municipal council while deciding some cases pertaining to the rent of booths under the Public Premises Act.

Demanding action against them after holding an inquiry by writing letter to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and the Deputy Commissioner, she alleged that Mr Sandhu also misbehaved with her and threatened to implicate her.

She said he had decided the rent of two booths at Rs 1,800 per month each against the actual rent of Rs 6,600 each. Apart from it, he had shown the rent due from 1997, despite the fact that electricity meters in these two booths were installed in 1995.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, said he had received complaints made against each other by the EO, and Ms Yadav and he had asked the SDM concerned to hold an inquiry. Mr Sandhu said the allegations were baseless and motivated. He pointed out that Ms Yadav vacated the official room of the EO, in his absence and occupied it. Mr Chabbra had made a complaint in this connection.

On his complaint, he (Mr Sandhu) had deputed a tehsildar to make a verification on the spot and this irritated Ms Yadav and she started levelling allegations against him, he said.


Bar associations at loggerheads
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 23
The District Bar Association, Gurdaspur, is at loggerheads with the Bar Associations of Pathankot and Batala, on account of the fixation of their cases on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, at Gurdaspur.

An emergent meeting of the local Bar Association was convened today by Mr Inderjit Verma, President of the Association, in which the attitude adopted by the Bar Association, Gurdaspur, was discussed. Members of the association resented the resolution allegedly passed by the District Bar Association, Gurdaspur. This association had decided not to cooperate with the lawyers of Pathnkot and Batala on Wednesday and Thursday by fixing their cases on these days.

On April 11 the local Bar Association had also passed a resolution which stated that the approach of the District Bar Association, Gurdaspur, was devoid of any logic especially when the accommodation given by courts was not detrimental by any means either to the Bench or to the Bar members at Gurdaspur.

Lawyers of Pathankot and Batala alleged that the accommodation of fixing their cases on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, was given to them about five to six years ago, when inspecting judge after hearing the problems of the Bar members and judicial officers had advised them to adjust the cases of Pathankot and Batala lawyers at Gurdaspur on Wednesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, the District Bar Association, Gurdaspur, will go on strike tomorrow and on Thursday and meet the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

On the other hand the lawyers’ body today formed a high-level committee consisting of office-bearers of the Bar Association: president — Mr Indarjit Verma; vice-president — Mr Anil Mehra; secretary — Mr Kulbhushan Singh Manhas; and joint-secretary — Ms Rakhia Pandit.


Steps to check bonded labour
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
With a view to eradicate the evil of bonded labour in the subdivision, Mr Neelkanth Avhad, SDM, Sangrur, today appealed to the social, religious, voluntary organisations, youth clubs and social workers to bring the cases of bonded labour to the notice of the district administration.

Presiding over a meeting organised here, to discuss the steps to end the bonded labour system, he said the administration would not hesitate in providing police help to get them freed from the clutches of the guilty persons.

The SDM said under Section 13 of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, a vigilance committee had been formed which would make sincere effort to protect the rights of the labourers. He also said after more than 25 years of its enactment it was unfortunate that the administration had been receiving complaints in this regard. Mr Avhad also warned that those keeping bonded labourers could be punished with up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 under the Act.

The meeting was attended among others by the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Sangrur, Tehsildar, Sangrur, Mr Chhabil Dass, a social worker, Mr Chand Singh, district secretary of the Dalit Dastan Virodhi Andolan; and Mr K.S. Sekhon, District Field Officer.


Sikh Research Board may be revived
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
In a significant development the SGPC today decided to revive the Sikh Research Board. A meeting of the sub-committee will be held here tomorrow in this connection.

It may be mentioned here that the board could not hold any meeting for the past many years for various reasons. Earlier, the board was constituted to scrutinise various books or literature related to Sikh religion. In absence of any activity many controversies erupted due to the publication of many books on Sikhism. So much so that the SGPC had to stop the sale of the book titled. “Gur Bilas Patsahi Six”, edited by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti (now Jathedar, Akal Takht). It was Jathedar Vedanti, who himself suggested that the board should be revived as there were a number of books which had distorted Sikh history were still being sold in a market.


34 per cent schoolchildren anaemic

Hoshiarpur, April 23
A recent medical examination of school-going children showed that about 34 per cent total students were found anaemic in Hoshiarpur, Dr Ajay Bagga, in charge of the school health programme, said here today.

He said as many as 2,37,644 students were examined in 1,646 schools in the district. Of the examined children, 13 per cent were found suffering from different diseases. Out of 31,014 students, 34 per cent were anaemic, 10 per cent were suffering from ailments of ear, nose and throat, 6.23 per cent had scabies, and vitamin deficiency was reported in 4.8 per cent.

He stressed for the supply of safe, clean drinking water to the students in schools and advised parents to avoid giving their children jams, jelly crystals, and bubblegum. He urged the school authorities to make arrangements for clean toilets in schools.

Dr Kiranjit Kumar, Civil Surgeon, said healthy children formed a firm foundation of the nation and the school health services had gained a lot of importance. PTI


Govt proposes council to promote Punjabi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab Government has proposed to set up a ‘Punjabi Promotion Council’ to look after all aspects of development of Punjabi and its monitoring under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister.

This was agreed to by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, in pursuant to the demand by a delegation of the World Punjabi Conference which met him here today. This was stated in a press note of the Punjabi conference.

The delegation was headed by Mr H.S. Hanspal, chairman. Others included Dr Maheep Singh, president, Mr Harbhajan Singh Rattan, senior vice-president, Dr Deepak Manmohan Singh, general secretary, Mr Makhan Singh, Dr Satinder Singh, Prof O.P. Vashisht, Dr Swaraj Sandhu and Prof Nirmal Singh.

The delegation demanded that Punjabi language should be used at all levels in government and official work. In a memorandum, the delegation sought that all efforts should be made to promote Punjabi language, literature, art and culture.


Driver killed in bus collision
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 23
One person was killed and seven women were injured in a head-on collision between two buses near the Doordarshan kendra here today. The condition of two of them is stated to be critical. The deceased has been identified as the driver of a staff bus of a local leather manufacturing unit.

Staff of the Doordarshan kendra helped the passengers. Those injured are Gurbaksh Kaur, Kamla, Rina, Satya Devi, Kulwinder Kaur and Shobha and have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. Traffic remained disrupted for about two hours due to the accident.

The bus driver of the other bus fled after the incident.

A case has been registered under Sections 304, 279, 337, 338 and 427, IPC.


IOC adopts 80 TB patients
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 23
The Kandla-Bathinda oil pipeline wing of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has adopted 80 patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) will bear all expenses for their treatment.

These patients belong to 14 villages of the district from where the pipeline passes. They had been adopted under the social development programme of the IOC, aimed at improving interaction with residents of these villages.

Officials of the IOC said various schemes were launched like the development of rural schools, water works and monetary and other help for poor students. An amount of about Rs 1.5 lakh would be spent on the treatment of the patients adopted under the scheme. It organised a camp at Balianwali village today in this connection.


FCI union groups clash in Bhikhiwind
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
Tension gripped the border town of Bhikhiwind when two groups of union of Food Corporation of India or other procurement agencies who were at loggerheads made several attempts to clash.

While one group has the patronage of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister the other warring group enjoys the support of Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, a former minister.

The police put up nakas on all entry points of the town as a precautionary measure. Mr Hardip Singh, SHO said members of the “Galla Union” from the warring groups were not allowed to enter the town.

Senior officers, including Additional Deputy Commissioner, the SDM and the SP, the DSP visited the spot and held a series of meetings.

The situation is tense but under control.


Fire destroys wheat crop
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 23
Standing wheat crop in more than 100 acres has been burnt in fire caused by shortly burnt circuiting of electric wires in this district during past 24 houses.

Wheat crop in 15 acres at Nangal Brahmanan, 13 acres at Mustafabad, 15 acres at Atwal and 60 acres at Dalia Mirzan was reduced to ashes.

The affected farmers included Surinder Singh, Darshan Singh, Parkash Singh and Manga Singh of Dalia Mirzan, Satnam Singh, Anoop Singh, Kartaro, Mulakhraj and Rakesh of Mustafabad, and Dalbir, Bachan Singh. Narinder Singh, Kartar Chand and Lakhbir Singh of Nangal Brahmanan.

Wheat crop in 5 acres at Babehal village was also destroyed in fire. The crop belonged to Harbans Lal. Wheat crop at Bhaini Khaddar belonging to Amar Singh and Bawa Singh was also burnt.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, has directed the officials of the P.S.E.B and the Revenue Department to assess the loss so that compensation can be paid to the affected farmers.


Paddy worth 2.51 crore missing
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 23
A team from the Vigilance Department raided and sealed two rice mills in the area after paddy worth Rs 2.51 crore was found missing from shellers. The department has recommended registration of criminal cases against the proprietors.

When the team raided the sheller at Gajukhohra, 54,782 paddy bags belonging to Markfed worth Rs 1.53 crore and 27,707 paddy bags worth Rs 77 lakh belonging to Punjab Agro were found missing. The paddy belonged to 2000-2001 and the 2001-2002 procurement period.

The same team also raided a mill at Rajpura and found paddy stocks worth Rs 23.39 lakh belonging to Punsup missing.


Procurement of wheat
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 23
The Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Vikas Partap, said 2.90 lakh mt of wheat was expected to be procured in this district till April 30. Till today 2,01,597 mt of wheat had been procured. He said procurement agencies were procuring wheat at 35 centres and Rs 51 crore had been paid to farmers till now.

He directed the SDMs to inspect the mandis daily and make more efforts to further gear up the procurement.


DC warns officials against bribe
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, April 23
Residents of the district could now hope of getting their works done without paying any bribe, if the Deputy Commissioner could ensure that the instructions given to officials by him were implemented in letter and in spirit.

Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the officials of different department to be personally present at the weekly meetings convened at the district and subdivisional level.

The Deputy Commissioner and the SDMs would preside over the meetings at the district and subdivisional level, respectively.

The Deputy Commissioner has asked the officials to make them available between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday for the meetings.

He has also asked the officials that if any of them was found guilty of taking bribe or harassing the people without any reason, stern action would be taken against him. The purpose of such meetings was that the residents of district would not have to go to various offices for getting their works done, the Deputy Commissioner claimed.

Meanwhile, a committee has been formed under a Civil Surgeon to keep a check on female foeticide in the district. The committee would conduct surprise raids at the ultra sound clinics in the district.

Mr Babu Lal instructed the officials concerned to make sure that no case of female foeticide was found in the district. He said the help of religious and social organisations, youth clubs, sarpanchs and panchayats would be taken in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Babu Lal had imposed a ban of the use of recycled polythene and plastic bags which had thickness of less than 20 micron. In an order issued today he said the use of such polythene bags for the packing of eatables had also been banned. He said the manufacturers of these bags had been asked to get their concerns registered with the Pollution Control Board and should manufacture the bags as per their specifications. Stern action would be taken against the violators, he added.


Sarpanch misappropriates funds, shown the door
Jaswinder Paul

Bathinda, April 23
Close on the heels of the suspension of the sarpanch of Doomwali village last month for the alleged irregularities in panchayat funds, another sarpanch in the district has been suspended by the Director, Panchayats.

The sarpanch of Kotshamir village, Harbans Singh, was found to have committed irregularities in the panchayat funds after an inquiry was conducted by the Divisional Deputy Director of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department.

Although the District Development and Panchayat Officer had not received a copy of the order of the Director, Panchayats, in this connection, but an official in that office confirmed the suspension.

The order was issued on April 17, a copy of which was procured by The Tribune today, by Mr Joginder Singh, Additional Director of Panchayats.

The Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) has been instructed that the property and other record of the Kotshamir panchayat should be handed over to any other panchayat member who was legally authorised to discharge such duties.

The BDPO has also been asked to inform all banks in which the panchayat has its accounts about the suspension so that the sarpanch does not withdraw any amount from there in the name of the panchayat.

The Regional Deputy Director of the RDP Department had submitted his report on April 13 in which he had stated that the sarpanch had committed irregularities in funds while discharging his duties. It was also found that no record was kept of the expenditure incurred on the different works of the panchayat.

The sarpanch had not kept any record of the income from the auction of “hadda rori”, sale of panchayat land and funds to the tune of Rs 40 lakh for the development of the village were misused. He had also spent the income from a petrol station of the panchayat at the village.

It was alleged that the sarpanch had spent only Rs 2 lakh received by the panchayat for development of the village.

Mr Joginder Singh in his order stated that the findings of the inquiry showed that the sarpanch had violated the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, under Section 2D (4) and he had been suspended under the same section.

He has been debarred from taking part in the meetings of the panchayat.


Panchayat officers held for taking bribe
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Jhunir (Mansa), April 23
Mr Subash Chander Aggarwal, Block Development Panchayat Officer (BDPO) and Mr Baljeet Singh, Panchayat Officer, today fell into the police net after they were caught redhanded while taking a bribe of Rs 1500 from Mr Jasbir Singh, former secretary panchayat.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), while talking to TNS said the accused took a bribe of Rs 1500 from Jasbir Singh in lieu of clearing his fixed T.A. dues worth Rs 2160 and issuing him an experience certificate.

He added that when the raiding team led by Mr Gurmail Singh, DSP (Vigilance), searched the person of Baljeet Singh, Rs 1500 was recovered from his pocket. The accused Subash Chander took Rs 1500 from Mr Jasbir Singh and then handed over the same to Baljeet Singh.

Mr Grewal pointed out that Mr Jasbir Singh was discharged from his services by court. Some payment of fixed T.A. was pending with office and the accused were demanding bribe for him in lieu of giving him same along with experience certificate.

On the complaint of Mr Jasbir Singh, a resident of Mansa town, a trap was laid by the raiding team, which was accompanied by two government witnesses namely Mr Manjeet Singh, Subdivisional Engineer and Mr Amrit Garg, SDO, Panchayat. A private witness Mr Rajinder Singh was also with the raiding team. The fixed T.A. was from the period of August 2000 to January 2001 and July 2001 to September 2001.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered at Vigilance Bureau police station, Ferozepore.


12 civil servants shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab Government ordered the transfer and fresh posting of three IAS and nine PCS officers today.

Mr Jagjit Puri will be Special Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare; Mr A.K. Sinha and Mrs Rakhi Gupta Bhandari will swap places in Ludhiana after the Municipal Corporation elections on May 19; Mr G.K. Singh becomes ADC (General), Bathinda; Mr Darshan Singh has been posted as ADC (Development), Bathinda; Mr Gagandeep Singh becomes Joint Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment, and in addition Chief Executive, PEDA; Mr Narinder Singh Bath is SDM, Talwandi Sabo; Mr Preetdev Singh Shergill becomes Deputy Director (Enforcement), Excise and Taxation; Mr G.S. Chahal is the new SDM of Samana; Mr O.P. Verma goes as Executive Magistrate, Gurdaspur; Mr Bhupinderjit Singh has been posted as Executive Magistrate, Sangrur, and Mrs Anita Darshi becomes AC (Grievances), Ludhiana, in addition to Executive Magistrate, Ludhiana.


Kehar Singh to stay as board chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, Dr Kehar Singh, will continue in his present post, according to informed sources.

This morning he met the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to offer his resignation. But he was politely told by the Chief Minister to continue as the government had no plan at the moment to remove him, according to the sources. Dr Kehar Singh told Mr Amarinder Singh that as he was appointed by the previous government, it was his moral duty to meet the new Chief Minister and offer his resignation.

Dr Kehar Singh, who is close to Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, was earlier in the Political Science Department of Punjabi University before his appointment as Chairman of the board. In fact, he was a strong candidate for the post of Vice-Chancellor of the university.


Council in financial crisis
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 23
The local Nagar Council has been facing financial crisis for the past three months after the abolition of octroi in the state. All development works has come to a standstill.

Even a payment of about Rs 80 lakh of those contractors who completed various development projects in the past two months in the town remained unpaid.

According to reports available, a large amount of GPF deducted by the council has also not been deposited in the bank accounts of the employees.

Mr Kuldip Sharma, state general secretary, safai karamchari association, said if positive steps were not immediately taken by the state government to compensate the council on a regular basis as promised by it before the abolition of octroi it might put more burden on the council.


Mother, son cheat youth of Rs 3 lakh
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 23
Ramesh Soni of the local Lambian mohalla has reportedly been defrauded of Rs 3.50 lakh by three persons, including a mother-son due belonging to the same mohalla. The trio had promised to send him to the USA after a payment of Rs 6 lakh. Half of the amount was paid in advance and the remaining had to be paid later.

The deal was struck in January 1998. The accused even showed him fake visa and he was kept in a hotel in Delhi before his “flight”. When he went for a bath, he was locked inside by the accused who took away his passport.

When he returned, he demanded the amount back, but only got threats.

A case has been registered against Pushpa Devi, Vipin Soni and Rana Partap. No arrest has been made so far.


PAU VC takes austerity steps
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 23
In an unprecedented austerity measure, the authorities of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has put restrictions on the use of mineral water and offering of snacks to guests in various functions of the university. The university had also distinguished between Indian and foreign guests by directing that only foreigners would be served with the ‘costly’ mineral water.

According to a copy of a circular no. SVC/2002/3818-3940, signed by the Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Satish Goswami, the Vice-Chancellor has put these restriction to save money as the university was facing a serious financial crunch. The circular, a copy of which is with The Tribune, says that the ‘much-needed’ measure was taken to use the saved money for research and other purposes.

The four-point restriction formula states that immediate restriction was required on serving of water and snacks and also for preserving the non-used eatables. The first direction was that the staff should not serve mineral water to the guests except foreigners in any meeting or functions of the university.

The second order was that most of the times, the water served to foreigners was not used. Such quantity of water should not be thrown but a plan be made to re-use it. Thirdly, no snack other than biscuits should be served to the guests. The last direction was that the in charge concerned with the function or meeting should ensure that the left-over biscuits should be preserved and served again.

The circular has been issued to all deans, directors, other officials and heads of various departments who have been directed by the Vice-Chancellor for immediate implementation.

The Vice-Chancellor has also instructed that these direction should be followed in the letter and spirit.

The circular has become the talk of the campus. While some denounce it as a disgraceful act by public display of the weak financial situation and a dent on the Punjabi hospitality, others feel that such small measures were the need of the hour. Teachers opposing the circular said the university was saving small expenses but was not doing much to save huge losses incurred by university on teachers given special appointments, which were not required. These teachers said the university had not done much to recover crores of rupees lost in frauds and scandals.

However, some sections of teachers supporting the circular said a stitch in time saves nine. They say that such small savings can go a long way in saving money for research and teaching work.


Students refute molestation charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 23
The management of Shree Narain Ayurvedic College today managed to win over the support of a section of students in a bid to refute the charges of sexual harassment levelled by some women teachers and a former sweeper.

The students, who met mediapersons on the premises of Shree Durgiana Temple said here today that allegations against the Vice-Principal, Mr Vibhakar Sharma, were malacious and factually incorrect. They said if there was any iota of truth in these allegations, the teachers should have brought the matter to the notice of the management and the Principal at the time of incident. They further said one of the lady teacher was the wife of a senior lecturer who was placed under suspension.

Meanwhile, a student, Ashim Gupta, in a complaint lodged with the district police chief has alleged that the son of Prof Vibhakar Sharma made threatening phone calls to him for not joining the pro-management students.

The vice-president of the students’ association, Mr Sachin Sharma, said all the three suspended teachers had been threatening to ruin the career of the students by giving them low marks in the practicals and internal examinations in case they do not support their agitation against the management. The students said if the impasse continued for some more time it would adversely affect their career. They had already sent detailed report to the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and sought an interview with him.

The teachers of the ayurvedic college have been sitting on a dharna since January 15 in pursuance of their demands, including payment of arrears of dearness allowance etc. They alleged that the management resorted to dilly-dallying tactics and had been victimising the teachers on one pretext or the other. Though the management had indefinitely closed the college yet the agitating teachers have decided to go on mass casual leave tomorrow.


Pepsi talent hunt qualifiers announced
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 23
Pepsi today announced the names of first three contestants who have qualified for the semi-finals of the music talent hunt in Punjab “Pepsi Banjaa Staara Yaraa Contest”.

16-year-old Akriti Kakar, 43-years-old Tarlochan Singh and 18-year-old Manpreet Dhillon emerged winners in the first quarter-final. In a concert held at the premises of Khalsa School in Bathinda last night, six quarter-finalists performed in front of about 10,000 persons. The contestants were judged by well-known singers Gursevak Mann and Paramveer Singh, music director Atul Sharma, president of ETC Channel (Punjabi) Ravindra Narayan and journalist Chetan Sharda. Gursevak Mann also enthralled the audience with a performance.

Akriti is member of the musical group “Sh Kalyanji-Anand ji” with whom she has performed in as many as 150 live shows across the USA and Europe. A thrilled Akriti said “the contest gives me an opportunity to spread the message of peace and love. While Manpreet has recently won gold medal in the All-India Youth Festival, 2002, held at Hisar, Tarlochan has also earlier won a number of awards and prizes for singing.

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