Tuesday, May 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PPSC changes ‘rules of procedure’
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) today changed its rules of procedure bringing in major reforms in its examination system and reverting all its powers to the entire Commission instead of only its Chairman.

A decision to this effect was taken at a special meeting of the Commission presided over by seniormost member Mrs Harjit Kaur Randhawa which was attended by all the members. The meeting had been called to discuss the “rules of procedure” followed by Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu to conduct various examinations in the past.

The meeting decided that all powers which had been unfairly wrested from other members and concentrated in his own hands by Mr Sidhu, would now revert back to the commission. It was unanimously decided that all decisions would be taken at appropriate meetings of the commission which would be held in the third week of every month.

Announcing sweeping reforms, the commission decided that henceforth the entire list for examiners, paper setters, experts and evaluaters would be approved by the commission. It was decided that the University Grants Commission handbook would be treated at the reference point in this regard to bring in complete transparency in the entire examination system.

Confirming the decisions, PPSC member Amarjit Singh Chawla said it was also decided that examiners would not be selected from Punjab or the neighbouring states. He said the entire commission would also be involved in choosing examiners as well as subject experts who would sit in the interviews for various selections.

He said a system of checks and balances would also evolved under which the entire evaluation system would be centralised. He said besides this it had been decided to have more than two evaluators for one paper so that there was no bias in awarding marks to any candidate. He said it was also decided that the result compilation would henceforth be done in front of the entire commission.

Meanwhile the members also passed a resolution accusing their Chairman, who is presently in judicial custody, of compromising the integrity of the commission and giving it a bad name. The resolution said Mr Sidhu did not bother for any of the members during his term at the helm of affairs despite the fact that they had written to him several times to work in an open manner by associating everyone with his decisions. The resolutions said he, however, believed in functioning in an arbitrary manner and had brought the commission in disrepute in the minds of the people through his arbitrary acts.


We paid money to Sidhu via Dhira: Pammi, Sagar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
Punjab Public Service Commission’s Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu received another set back today when Panjab University Senator Paramjit Singh Pammi and businessman Prem Sagar got damning statements recorded against him under Section CrPC 164 today.

Pammi and Sagar, who had their statements recorded in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjiv Berri, stated that they had given money to Sidhu for certain selections through another middleman Randhir Singh Dhira, also an accused in the case.

Both Pammi and Sagar had, earlier, moved an application in the court praying that their statements be recorded under Section 164. They earlier had been remanded in judicial custody till May 27. The statement was recorded in camera.

Meanwhile the PPSC Chairman filed an application in the court of Mr Berri praying that a notice be given to his counsel in case the Vigilance Bureau proposed to seek his production warrants with an intent to obtain his police remand in the new case registered against him and other family members in Patiala on April 30.

The application said Sidhu was arrested on March 25 in Chandigarh following which he was remanded in police custody for 11 days during which he was interrogated thoroughly by the Vigilance Department. It said following this he was sent to judicial lock-up. It said during this period no relative or friend could meet Sidhu due to the fear of being framed.

It said the Vigilance Bureau had filed another ‘’false’’ case against Sidhu with the purpose of harassing and humiliating him. It prayed the court to ensure that notice was given to Sidhu’s counsel in case the Bureau wanted to seek his production warrants so that a demand for his police custody could be opposed.

Entertaining the application Mr Berri gave a notice of the application to the Vigilance Bureau for further necessary intimation.


Sidhu benefited Cong: Badal

Sohelewala, Muktsar, May 13
Former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal has charged the Amarinder Singh government with stopping all development programmes initiated by the SAD-BJP rule.

“The SAD-BJP government did its best to put the state on the path of development...it was all due to the support of the Vajpayee government,’’ Mr Badal told mediapersons here yesterday while presiding over a school function.

He criticised the Congress government for its failure to fulfil election promises.

About the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) recruitment scam, Mr Badal said Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu was appointed by the then Congress government and even his touts did maximum to benefit the Congress party supporters.

“The SAD-BJP government has nothing to do with the scam,’’ he said. Mr Badal was also critical of the working of the Vigilance Bureau for what he called unnecessary harassment of every section in the state.

The SAD supremo lambasted the Congress government for launching special drive for the recovery of crop and other loans, which caused harassment to the common people.

Mr Badal also expressed concern over deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

On Gujarat, he said protection of life and property was the primary duty of the state government. Mr Badal also opposed any proposal of sending the Punjab police personnel to deal with the situation in Gujarat as such “steps will create hatred towards Punjabis’’. UNI


Writ against Sidhu goes to another Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
A writ petition filed by Harjeet Kaur Randhawa and two other members of the Punjab State Public Service Commission, against Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and other respondents, for ensuring multi-member functioning of the body was today transferred to a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Bakhshish Kaur.

The petition was transferred by another Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, as the Chief Justice had earlier ordered the tagging of all the cases pertaining to the scam on the recommendation of the Bench headed by Mr Justice Singhvi.

Taking up a public interest litigation filed by a social organisation, the Bench had directed that the file pertaining to the case should be placed before the Chief Justice so that the petition, along with all other connected matters in the PPSC case, could be listed before one Bench for maintaining consistency in Court orders.

In their petition, the members had earlier stated that the functioning of the Commission as a multi-member institution was essential for the “ulfillment of the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution”. Giving details, the three petitioners had alleged that despite requests to the Commission Chairman, a meeting for discussing material issues was not convened.

Meanwhile, the Bench headed by Mr Justice Singhvi directed that the documents pertaining to the scam, including the statements recorded by the investigating agency and the Courts, should be kept in the custody of Punjab’s Advocate-General. The Bench, on the last date of hearing, had directed that the sealed envelope, to be placed before the court, should necessarily contain information on the progress of investigation and the details of witnesses, besides the recorded statements. The case will now come up for further hearing tomorrow.

Written notice

After counsel for the state of Punjab informed the Court that no case had so far been registered against former Akali minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Justice R.L. Anand of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday ordered the issuance of an eight-day written notice in case a first information report was registered against him.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Anand observed that this would enable the former minister to approach the Court if he was required by the police in connection with some case.

In his petition, the former minister had earlier stated that the government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards the opponents and members of the Akali Dal in order to arrest them in false cases. His counsel had added that some police officials had visited his residence in his absence and as such he apprehended his implication.

Anticipatory bail plea

Mr Justice M. L. Singhal of the High Court on Monday allowed the anticipatory bail plea filed by research scholar Amandeep Kaur in Punjabi University’s former Vice Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia’s case.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Singhal observed that as per the allegations the accused, a woman, had no contribution in the commission of the offence.

The petitioner was apprehending arrest in a case registered on February 19 on the statement of post-graduation student Saru Rana. In her complaint, Saru Rana had alleged that “wrong things” were happening in the department of Fine Arts. She had added that the VC, instead of taking action, had forced her to keep her mouth shut.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, the petitioner had contended that she was being made a scapegoat because of a dispute between the complainant and her supervisor. Her counsel had added that the petitioner was “not concerned with the Vice Chancellor or anyone else” and there was no evidence to connect her with the alleged offences.


PSHRC asks Punjab to file reply by July 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Taking cognisance of the complaint submitted by the Akali MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has directed the Punjab Government to file its reply with regard to the complaint by July 2.

The order was passed today by, Mr M.S. Chahal, a member of the Commission.

Mr Manpreet Singh, a nephew of the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had submitted a six-page complaint to the commission last week. He had also attached a list of about 40 FIRs alleging that cases had been registered by the police against workers and supporters of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, at the behest of the Congress government in the state. Most of the FIRs pertained to the Gidderbaha and Muktsar belt.

Mr Chahal, in his brief order, stated that the commission had considered the matter in the light of the allegations levelled in the complaint. The filing of the large number of cases, allegedly under political pressure and with a view to harassing the members of a particular political party, “does, prima facie, constitute a violation of human rights” of the victims. “ It is, therefore, a fit case for taking cognisance. Register it as a case”. A copy of Mr Chahal’s order has been sent to the Principal Secretary, Home.

Mr Chahal has directed that a copy of his order and of Mr Manpreet Singh’s complaint should be sent to the IG ( Litigation) to procure a government report on the complaint by July 2. Passing another order, the commission directed the Government to submit a report pertaining to the cases mentioned at serial numbers 3,7,19,24 and 43 in the complaint by Mr Manpreet Singh within four weeks.

Referring other issues like the “misuse” of the state electoral machinery for removing the names of Akali supporters from voter lists, the commission stated that the complainant should take up this matter with the State Election Commission.


Badal summoned in land-grab case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
Mr Surinder Mohan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, here today issued fresh summons against former Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal and former Science and Technology Minister, Chiranji Lal Garg directing them to appear in court in person on June 7 in a civil suit filed against them in connection with the alleged grabbing of 400 acres.

Mr N.K. Garg, an advocate, who has instituted the suit, filed an application under Section 340 Cr P.C. against Mr Badal and Mr Garg for misrepresenting facts to the court.

Petitioner advocate alleged that respondent number one Chiranji Lal Garg, purchased a plot of 1800 square yards in 1970, khasra number 2848 which was ‘shamlat’ land, through bogus transaction. Mr Garg filed a civil writ petition in the high court alleging that the facts were not correct and had been concealed. The writ petition was allowed.

Later the respondent number one (Mr Garg) got the mutation sanctioned on December 1, 1983 on the basis of high court’s decision, whereas the high court never ordered sanction of the mutation. The high court’s decision was vacated by Supreme Court on May 5, 1987 and respondent number one (Mr Garg) lost the case. The Punjab government acquired the 400 acres for developing Phase III urban estate of Bathinda and notification under Section 4 was issued in 1976. The land measuring 1800 square yards of respondent number one (Mr Garg was also acquired by the above said notification.

He added that the respondents’ number one, respondent number two (Mr Badal) and respondent number three (Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA) allowed encroachments on the above said 400 acres of land and indulged in land grabbing. The respondents number one to three, were relying upon the over-ruled judgement of the high court. They had procured forged and fabricated documents. The officials of PUDA were not filing written statement and were supporting the case of respondent number one (Mr Garg) knowingly and fraudulently disregarding decision of the Supreme Court.


13 Punjabis in Pak jails
PM urged to secure release
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, May 13
Parents of Punjabi youths languishing in jails in Pakistan have urged the Government of India to initiate a move to secure the release of their sons. Talking to mediapersons here today, they said they had appealed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to promote values of human rights and humanity by bringing back the youths.

According to information, these 13 Punjabi youths were forced to enter into Pakistan at gunpoint by the Rangers of Iran after they were arrested in their territory for travelling without valid documents. All these youths were trying to sneak into Greece via Turkey.

Surinder Rani, mother of Shiv Kumar, told The Tribune that her son had paid Rs 4 lakh to a local agent who had promised to get him settled in Greece but he was arrested in Turkey. From there, Shiv Kumar was deported into the territory of Iran and finally into Pakistan. She alleged that even after eight months since her son had left India, neither a case had been registered against the agent nor the Indian Government had allegedly tried to bring back their nationals from Pakistan.

Another woman, Nirmal Kaur, mother of Manminder Singh, said 19 months ago, her son had paid Rs 2 lakh to an agent for getting him settled in Greece. He first went to Syria then to Lebanon. He was later arrested in Turkey. From there he was deported to Pakistan via Iran.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, who organised a press conference revealed that Bhai Sham Singh, president of the Pakistan Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), had recently visited the youths imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore. The PSGPC chief had promised to take up the matter with the Pakistan Government.

The Pakistan Government had agreed upon the request of Bhai Sham Singh to bring the youths together at Lahore Jail. This would help in pursuing their case of return to India.

In a telephonic conversation with Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, the PSGPC chief revealed that the Pakistan Government had promised to withdraw all cases registered against the 13 Indians as soon as the Indian Government formally sends a request letter to deport them back. Presently, a case under the Terrorism Prevention Act had been registered against six youths — Gurpreet Singh (Jalandhar), Jagjeet Singh (Kapurthala), Manminder Singh (Hoshiarpur), Kuldeep Singh (Jalandhar), Shiv Kumar (Nawanshahr), Kehar Singh (Hoshiarpur) and Harwinder Singh (Hoshiarpur). These youths have been languishing in Lahore Jail.

On the other hand, four youths — Karam Singh, Gurnam Singh, Amarjit Singh and Gurmeet Singh — have been languishing in Mach Jail of Baluchistan province on the charges of illegally entering into their territory. Two other Sikh boys, Jaswinder Singh and Kartar Singh, however, managed to flee from the security forces and have taken shelter with a Muslim family in Kota. Their son was working with them in Lebanon.


Intrusion bid in Fazilka sector
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 13
S. M. Jain, IG, BSF, Punjab Frontier, I. M. Mall, DIG, BSF, Faridkot Range, while briefing mediapersons here today disclosed that jawans of 181 Battalion of the BSF repulsed armed intrusion attempt by nearly 10 persons on Saturday night in Fazilka sector.

According to information, BSF constable Wajidullah on patrol duty heard some noise around 2 a.m. on the night intervening Saturday and Sunday near Gatti No 3 village and cautioned his companions Basant Singh and Sushil Kumar. They noticed two Pakistani intruders aged between 20 and 25 years who were carrying blue bags, entering into the Indian territory.

When the jawans challenged them, the intruders opened fire which was returned by the BSF patrol party. Thereafter, nearly 10 intruders, who had been hiding in the dark, started firing on the jawans. The encounter lasted for one hour. Thereafter, the intruders started retreating but while running away fired the floodlight. As the report of the encounter reached the BSF headquarters, more forces reached the site. About 150 empty cartridges of AK-47 rifles were recovered from the site. It is suspected that the intruders were agents of the ISI of Pakistan or members of some terrorist organisation.


Speaker declares petitions infructuous
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, has declared two pending petitions pertaining to certain MLAs of the previous Assembly infructuous and disposed them of.

The petitions were filed on April 28, 2000, under Article 191(2) read with paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The first petition was filed by Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpura and the second by Mr Raghbir Singh praying for the disqualification of Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Jagtar Singh Rajla, Mrs Daljit Kaur, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, and Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, all members of the 11th Punjab Legislative Assembly.

In fact, most the MLAs against whom the petitions were filed had joined the Tohra camp following Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s split with the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The petitions were filed by confidants of Mr Badal.

The petitions were still at the argument stage when the 11th Vidhan Sabha was dissolved. Further, none of the respondents has been elected to the 12th Assembly. In the light of these facts, the Speaker declared both petitions infructuous.


No-trust motion against MC chief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
Mr Ashok Kumar Sood, president of Municipal Council, Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib, belonging to the SAD (B)-BJP alliance was today voted out as a no-confidence motion submitted by the 21councillors against him was passed at a meeting of the council held today. Twenty councillors, including Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests favored the motion, while one member opposed it and eight members abstained from the meeting. The meeting was presided over by president Ashok Sood and Mr M. L. Sharma, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, was present as observer. The district administration had made elaborate security arrangements for the meeting.

Since the change of the state government, Dr Harbans Lal, MLA from Sirhind, had been making efforts to remove the president, though the Congress had only eight members, but the minister had succeeded to get the support of the required councillors. Even certain councillors belonging to the SAD (B) and BJP had also supported the Congress-sponsored motion. It was also alleged that both the groups had indulged in horse trading of certain councillors and these councillors were taken to a hill station as precautionary measures. One of the councillor reportedly took money to cast his vote in favour of the president but at the last minute changed loyalties and that vote reportedly proved fatal for the president.

Earlier, 19 councillors led by Dr Harbans Lal reached the council office from the Minister’s residence. Dr Harbans Lal said that the election of the new president would be conducted at the earliest and a loyal Congress councillor would be made the president of the council within days. He said that as he had promised to develop the district as model district, the developmental activities in the town would be carried on a war footing. He thanked all those councillors, who had supported the motion.

Mr Naresh Sharma, former president, Mr Subhash Sood, former vice-president, Mr Sadhu Ram, president BCC, Mr Varinder Takyar, Mr Sushil Sood, Congress leaders were also present.


Notice to govt on Tribune report
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has taken cognizance of a news item “Budda Nullah — source of woes” published in columns of The Tribune on April 16 and issued notices to the state Principal Secretary (Home), Principal Secretary (Health), Secretary Industries, Chairman, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, and scientists of the university, Dr G.S. Dhaliwal and Dr Roopinder Singh.

The government officials have been directed to furnish whatever records or materials was in their possession regarding the pollution caused by the Budda Nullah in 40 villages of this district through which it flows. The commission has fixed July 23 as the next day of hearing in the case. The officials have been directed to submit details on or before that date.

The Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has been directed to supply the studies of the scientists of the university.

The matter was brought to the notice of the commission by a Chandigarh-based advocate and social worker, Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi, through a complaint. Mr Bakshi has pleaded before the commission that the news-report highlights the miseries of residents of the town and 40 other villages of the district, who have been forced to consume unhygienic water.

The PSHRC orders says the news report presents a very dreadful picture of the population of the town and villages adjoining the nullah who are exposed to serious health hazards. It adds, “The averments enshrined in the complaint do make out a case for taking cognizance of the matter by the commission under the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The complaint be registered as a case.” The case No. is 1713/2002.

The complaint quoting the report says the Environment Protection Act 1986, The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, was enacted by the legislature as it was realised that environmental decay will inevitably lead to the extinction of the human species.


He worships through rabab
K. S. Chawla

The job which should have been done by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has been taken up by Chris Monney Singh, an Australian who has become an Amritdhari Sikh. He has taken upon himself the task of reviving the rabab, the musical instrument of Guru Nanak Dev. Chris Monney has set up the Rabab Research and Education Foundation to propagate the message of the Gurus through this classical music instrument used by Bhai Mardana, an associate of Guru Nanak, in singing Gurbani.

Chris, a journalist, poet and short story writer, was attracted to Sikhism while studying major world religions and doing meditation.

The Australian, who came to India as a youth in 1989 on radio arts journalism assignment for Radio National, Australia, came in touch with Sikhs and was greatly impressed by Guru Granth Sahib which he considered a great anthology of divine poetry.

Chris, who had trained as a musician, learnt that Guru Granth Sahib was categorised according to ragas. “From that time my love for Sikhism began and I adopted the religion inwardly and outwardly. He took ‘amrit’ in 1999 after 10 years of study with his Punjabi wife, Savinder Kaur.”

“I was attracted to Guru Nanak’s faith because it was a religion founded by a creative artiste. The hallmark of Sikhism is that the divine poem expressed through music comes before a lecture or discourse. No other religion gives primary importance to artistic expression as does Guru Nanak’s religion’.

To become devout Sikh, he says, “I must have complete knowledge of the Guru Granth Sahib. In order to follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, I have learnt Gurmukhi and am still making efforts to know the script better.”

Chris Monney Singh says that the structure of Guru Granth Sahib is based on classification of 31 ragas.

As for his training, he initially adapted guitar to Indian notes and later transferred the guitar technique to the rabab. He studied vocal music under Pandit NR Vashisht, a disciple of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, and rabab with Pandit M. Sen Gupta, a disciple of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

He strongly feels that refinement of gurmat sangeet music is not possible with the harmonium! Harmonium was an imperfect instrument while Indian classical music is so subtle that there are 21 notes which are divided into fractions of notes — half notes and even quarter notes. “Just as a microscope is not able to see into the heart of the cellular life, how can we learn the music without the spirit”, he quips. Chris settled for the rabab because it was the chosen instrument of Guru Nanak. In fact, it has been the leading instrument at all kirtans, he maintains.

After 10 years’ research, he set up the foundation with its headquarters at Chandigarh. ‘We have two trained and qualified staff members, Pandit Vashisht and Pandit Sen Gupta, who are now imparting training in rabab and other instruments. There are ten students with the foundation.

The foundation has also introduced the Bebe Nanki Rabab scholarship programme for students. Sikhs abroad have also come to realise the need for imparting training to their children in rabab and to know the essentials of Sikhism.

Chris performed for five days at Harmander Sahib in 1999. He disclosed that he was asked by the SGPC to prepare the replica of rabab of Guru Gobind Singh which he saw at Mandi Saket in Himachal Pradesh five years ago. This was made but SGPC had not fulfilled its promise of putting it in the Sikh Museum at Amritsar.


When dreams turn sour
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Kaljharani (Bathinda), May 13
The dairies set up at the village under the dream project of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for unemployed youths who have taken loans from the Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) for running the units under the self-employment scheme, have become defaulters due to their failure to pay periodical instalments of debts.

About 12 unemployed youths of the village, who had hoped of something big, found their dreams shattered when most of them were given “desi” cows against the promise of cross-bred Holstein Friesian cows by the authorities concerned despite the fact that they had taken the loans at the rate of 14 per cent.

Now the youths are trying to save themselves from arrest as the warrants have been issued.

Official sources said the arrest warrants for eight youths had been issued. One of the defaulters, Rajinder, who was rounded up today, was released after he paid the due amount to the PADB authorities.

Mr Nand Singh, District Manager, PADB, when contacted, said those who had been defaulting in paying their instalments were left with no alternative but to go to jail. He added that the recovery of loan would continue till June 30.

However, the youths, who find themselves in the debt trap, pointed out that the sheds constructed on the basis of the Israeli technology were found unsuitable for running the dairy units leading to low milk yield. They added that because of low returns they were finding it hard to repay the loans.

One of them on the condition of anonymity said it would have been better if the previous government had given them jobs instead of giving them loans for running the dairy units. However, a section of youths had misutilised the loans and the authorities concerned had failed to take any action against them during the SAD-BJP government.

So far in the district the PADB authorities have been able to recover 16 per cent of the advances compared to 11 per cent last year. Most of the farmers had deposited the dues after becoming aware of the fact that the state government would show no laxity in the recovery of loans.

Official sources said the PADB authorities were yet to recover Rs 40 crore from Bathinda district, Rs 11 crore from Muktsar district, Rs 75 crore from Ferozepore district, Rs 6 crore from Moga district, Rs 33 crore from Mansa district and Rs 22 crore from Faridkot district. 


Hope for physically challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Punjab, for the first time, has woken up to the existence of The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which became operative on February 7, 1996.

As per this Act, Punjab now has a Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in Mr D.S. Guru, who has the same powers as are vested in a court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

On taking over, he has shot off letters to various bureaucrats drawing their attention to the existence of such an institution which safeguards the interests of disabled persons. As a familiarisation exercise for the bureaucrats, Mr Guru has informed them about the provisions that ensure proper ‘’access, entry and use of public places by the physically challenged’’.

The aim, as of now, is to create awareness in the departments concerned and a ‘’barrier-free’’ environment for the physically disabled, who use a wheelchair or are ambulatory disabled.

It came as a surprise that only last week the Commissioner, Disabilities, had the requisite official stamp prepared for court work to be done. In Punjab the implementation of the Act is an administrative job of the Department of Social Security. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides the necessary backup. But this has been a closed chapter.

Mr Guru told TNS yesterday that the letters were addressed to the Secretaries dealing with Transport, the PWD, Local Government and Education (school and higher, technical and medical) urging them to ensure ‘’free access, entry and use of public places’’. All have been told to ensure that physically disabled persons, who use a wheelchair, were able to wheel-in to every place, including toilets, in the existing buildings.

The Act alone will not help achieve what the physically disabled need. Mr Guru, therefore, has emphasised that wherever possible suitable architectural changes should be made to create a “barrier-free” environment. For the future the Chief Architect has been instructed to ensure that buildings conform to the Act, wherein the requirements for the physically disabled are laid down.

There is a reservation quota for the disabled in admissions, jobs, etc. But it is seldom adhered to. The Commissioner would see to it that it was implemented.

Mr Guru said India had a large population of disabled, 100 million. It was expected to further increase substantially by 2020 due to the rapidly changing demographic profile and the morbidity pattern. In the last week of April there was also a workshop on the Orientation of medical officers in disability prevention at the local Government Medical College and Hospital. Dr Raj Bahadur, nodal officer, coordinated with the Rehabilitation Council of India to organise it.

Mr Guru said his task was to create awareness in society about the Act and get it implemented. Disability prevention and rehabilitation at the grassroots were important. During the tenure of the Akali-BJP government, Sangrur and Patiala were selected among 100 districts countrywide, for the rehabilitation of the disabled. Nothing tangible has happened, though for Sangrur Rs 62 lakh was available.

India has a great responsibility to look after the disabled. It is estimated that out of 40 million blind persons in the world, 13 million are Indians. Unfortunately, in most of the states this Act remains in limbo.

In Punjab, Mr Guru said, a survey had revealed there were 2,48,540 disabled persons of all categories out of which 1,45,076 were physically handicapped and the rest mentally retarded, deaf, dumb and blind.


Power cuts boon for generator sellers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
Despite this town getting the status of power-cut-free city by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on September 1, 2001, unannounced power cuts and shutdowns seem to have become a boon for the generator set sellers.

Due to unannounced power cuts, which started a week ago in this city, generator set makers and invertor makers have recorded unprecedented rise in sales. Due to shortage of generator sets and invertors, made here the people have started procuring the machines from nearby towns.

Over the years, the town has developed into a centre for makers of generator sets and invertors. Generator sets manufactured here are purchased by buyers from Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Power cuts and shutdowns in this city, which boasts of having first thermal power station of the state, have become a routine despite tall repeated claims made by local MLA and Chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, that the town would get uninterrupted power supply, power cuts have made lives of citizens miserable.

For the past one week, as mercury has been rising in this dust bowl of Punjab, duration of unannounced power cuts has also been increasing day and night. Power cuts and shutdowns are being observed in the city despite three out of total four units of local Thermal Plant have been running to capacity. First, the thieves, who have been striking at houses at their whims, were giving sleepless nights to the citizens and now the power cuts have added to their woes.

The long duration power cuts have started affecting businessmen, students, medical practitioners and industrialists. The students, who have been preparing for final examinations are finding it difficult to concentrate on study as noise from generator sets running in their localities has been causing disturbance to them on one hand and on the other, without electricity, they are not able to make use of nights for studying.

Industrialists have been suffering a great loss due to fact they could not run their units for a full shift due to unscheduled power cuts. Power cuts have been causing loss of production on one hand and on the other, these have also been witnessing the increase into overhead expenses. Power cuts have also affected water supply to several residential areas of this town on one hand and on the other functioning of private clinics has also been hit on the same account.

Mr G.S. Dhindsa, Superintending Engineer (Distribution), said that due to insufficient capacity of transformer of local thermal plant, the authorities concerned indulged in load-shedding whenever it increased to capacity of the transformer and it was the main reason of erratic power supply. He added that no power cuts were being imposed in the city.


Furniture trader’s case: DSP shifted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 13
For his alleged role in the illegal confinement and framing up of a Kartarpur-based Gajjan Singh DSP Bholath was transferred to the PAP headquarters here today.

The DSP, according to Jalandhar Range DIG Dinkar Gupta, had booked the furniture merchant Mr Varinder Dhiman, on a complaint of Gurdial Singh, a resident of Jaid village near Bholath in Kapurthala district. He had alleged that Mr Dhiman had fleeced him of Rs 4 lakh for sending him and his family abroad. Picking up of Mr Dhiman from Jalandhar district court premises by the Gypsy-borne the Subhanpur police station officials led to protests by Kartarpur residents, who said that Dhiman had never been a travel agent. Following protests, Mr Gupta ordered a probe into the matter, which revealed the DSP’s alleged nexus with Dr Gurvinder Singh Samra of Kartarpur, with whom Mr Dhiman had a legal case. Several land grab cases were pending against Dr Samra and Mr Dhiman was a witness in a number of such cases.

The probe by Mr Amar Singh Chahal (SP-city) revealed that a police party led by DSP Gajjan Singh and ASI Balwinder Singh had picked Mr Dhiman up on May 7 from the district courts complex, where the latter had gone to attend a court. Later, he was shown arrested and his police remand was sought, even as there was no case warranting arrest. A copy of the inquiry report with by The Tribune, revealed that Subhanpur Police Station SHO and the Investigating Officer admitted that a case was registered against Mr Dhiman at the behest of Mr Gajjan Singh, who had enacted the episode of the arrest of Mr Dhiman. Mr Chahal, in his probe said that before the arrest of Mr Dhiman, Dr Samra had come to the Subhanpur police station in an open Gypsy and he prevailed upon Mr Gajjan Singh to prevent Mr Dhiman from giving a statement against him in the court, and the latter did so. The probe also revealed that complainant Gurdial Singh had no reason to go abroad at an age of 40-45 to earn a living. As the arrest of Mr Dhiman had generated protests, the DSP tried to shift the buck to subordinate officials, who in turn washed their hands of the case by submitting that they asked accordance with the directions of the DSP, the probe revealed. Mr Chahal, has also recommended that since there was no fault of Mr Dhiman, the case against him be revoked.

Mr Gajjan Singh, it was learnt, was shifted to the PAP Complex Jalandhar, after his indictment. The police authorities are writing to the DGP for departmental action against the DSP, for his alleged role in the episode.


ATF not to allow Samjhauta Express
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
The Anti-Terrorist Front (ATF), headed by formed Youth Congress President M.S. Bitta, has announced that it won’t allow the plying of Samjhauta Express and bus service between India and Pakistan till the Pakistan hands over two most wanted fugitives to India.

Mr Bitta, who was here in connection with a party function said the train and the bus had been used by Pakistan’s ISI to carry out its nefarious designs in the past.

The ATF chief said that he would endeavour to revive the ‘Bharatiya Naujawan Sabha (BNS), which was formed by Shaheed Bhagat Singh before Independence. He said the sabha was being revived to inculcate the spirit of patriotism among students and the youth. 


Rotary Club honours Forests Minister
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 13
The Rotary Club, Sirhind, honoured Dr Harbans Lal, State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Forests, at a function organised at Amm Khas, Bagh, Sirhind, in recognition of his services for the development of the area and his association with the club.

The club also felicitated the Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Vikas Partap, and the SSP Mr B. Chander Shekhar, for their role in the all round development of the district.

Dr Harbans Lal, while speaking on the occasion, appreciated the services being rendered by the Rotary Club, Sirhind, under the leadership of Prof Harshvinder Singh and Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha. He appreciated the club projects, including the crusade against female foeticide, hepatitis-B vaccination monthly camps, free computer education to the poor and the needy students, blood donation camps, pulse polio camps, dental clinic at Hansali and efforts to bring about awareness about social evils.

He announced a grant of Rs 1,00,000 in two installments from his discretionary fund for the extension of Rotary Bhavan.

Mr Vikas Partap lauded the club’s efforts in this direction and promised cooperation from the district administration. Mr B. Chander Shekhar spoke about the role of police in maintaining peace and order.

The club president, Rtn Prof Harshvinder Singh, welcomed the guests and inducted the three dignitaries as honorary members of the club.

The assistant governor of RI Dist 3090, Mr Vijay Bector, presented mementos to the guests and Senior Rotarian Mr R. N. Sharma thanked the guests.


Singla for panel to solve problems
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 13
Mr Surinder Singla, chairman of the High-Powered Finance Committee and local MLA, has favoured the formation of a committee comprising 50 prominent citizens to suggest remedies to problems faced by residents in the city.

Addressing a meeting of traders and other prominent citizens from different walks of life here on Saturday evening, Mr Singla said the formation of such a committee would help the government to know the problems being faced by the residents.

Mr Singla said the Congress government was determined to weed out corruption and work for the overall development of the state. He sought the cooperation of the people in this regard. He said he was aware about the lack of basis facilities and civic amenities in the city.

He said he had formulated a master plan for tackling the sewerage problem and whenever the required funds would be available, the work on the plan would start.


Heat wave claims three lives
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 13
The heat wave has claimed three lives in the past 72 hours and rendered many unconscious in the region.

Amarnath fell unconscious at railway station yesterday. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Sunil Kumar was found in a critical condition at platform No. 6 of the railway station on Sunday. Doctors at the hospital declared him brought dead. On the same day, an unidentified person also died due to scorching heat.

Two persons, one of whom has been identified as Hari Krishan, fell unconscious after they failed to stand the rising mercury. Both of them have been admitted to the hospital.


Health club owner booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 13
The district police has registered a case against owner of a local health club under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, and under Sections 272 and 273 of the IPC following yesterday’s incident in the health club, in which about 60 persons, mainly body builders, were taken ill allegedly after consuming contaminated soya milk which had been manufactured by the club.

Although the police has registered a case against Dinesh Kumar, owner of the club, yet neither he nor any other employee of the organisation team has been arrested by the police. The SP City-I, Mr Naunihal Singh, said the accused and other persons had been absconding.

Meanwhile, only 13 persons in the DMC Hospital and two in Raghunath Hospital were still in hospital.


Plea to shift kabari market
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The district administration has been urged by the Mehra Bradri Social Sangthan to remove the kabari market from its present location to another place on the outskirts of the city.

Mr G.S Mehra, president of the sangthan, has asked the administration to shift the Kabari market to a place near the Bhakra canal on the Sangrur road. He said the market at its present location on the Bahera road was creating a lot of traffic bottlenecks, causing accidents.

Mr Mehra also said that the nullah passing through the city from the bus stand to Raghomajra was polluted and hundreds of people were running milk dairies on both sides of the nullah, which created health hazards. The dung and fodder of these dairies was being thrown in the nullah, which was compounding the problem. He suggested that the nullah should be covered and a double-lane should be constructed over it and a sewerage pipeline laid under the road.


Kang launches vaccination drive
Our Correspondent

Kharar May 13
The Punjab Government has started a vaccination programme for animals in the state.

The campaign was started by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, in a nearby village, Madauli Kalan, on the Kharar-Morinda road today.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Kang said 80 lakh animals would be vaccinated. He said the government had made arrangement of injections worth Rs 2.30 crore and these would be given on subsidised rates. He said all villages would be covered.


Govt to promote prawn culture
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 13
The Punjab Government will promote prawn culture in saline areas of the state. Since the prawn culture has brought prosperity to farmers in southern states, the government has now asked Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) experts to identify areas and techniques by which the prawn culture can be promoted in the state.

The Minister for Fisheries, Dairy Development and Sports, Punjab, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, gave this information while talking to The Tribune on Friday. He was in Ropar yesterday to preside over a state-level seminar of fish farmers. The seminar, organised by the Fisheries Department of the state at the local boat club, was attended by about 200 fish farmers from across the state.

Mr Kang said the initiative to launch the prawn culture in the state had been taken by a few progressive farmers in Bathinda and Muktsar districts. They collectively purchased seed from southern states and sold their produce to five-star hotels in Delhi. The government, after studying the ecological effects of launching the prawn culture, would motivate the farmers to go for it.

The prawn culture could provide a good income to farmers, especially in the areas where the underground water was saline. The government would also explore the possibilities of promoting the export of prawns, he said.

Earlier, addressing the seminar, Mr Kang said fish farming could prove to be a potent source of diversification from the traditional crop circle. Studies had shown that fish farming yielded about Rs 60,000 per hectare, per annum, which was almost double of what was recovered from traditional crops.

The department had identified lack of communication as the basic reason for the slow growth of fisheries in the state, and, hence, the government was organising seminars of farmers to get their feedback on the current policies. From their feedback the government would frame a new policy to promote fish farming in the state.

Fish farmers also presented a memorandum of their demands to the minister. They urged the minister to provide electricity at concessional rates, to arrange facilities for international training, to increase the lease period of village ponds and other natural water sources and better transportation and storage facilities.

The minister assured the farmers that he would consider their demands.

Earlier, the minister, along with the Secretary of the department, Mr D.S. Jaspal, and Director, Fisheries, Mr Swinder Singh, visited the Katli fish farm near Ropar. He gave a hormone injection to a fish and released fish seed into the Sutlej on the occasion.

Agriculture experts, including Dr M.S. Johal, Professor, Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Dr Kamal Deep, Professor, Department of Zoology, PAU, Dr H.S. Sehgal and Dr P.K. Sexena of PAU delivered lectures to the farmers on the occasion.


Levy payment for rice-millers released
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Punjab Government has released the pending payment of Rs 200 crore towards levy charges of paddy to rice millers, which were withheld by the previous SAD-BJP government.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Mr Lal Singh, Minister of Food and Supply and Finance, said that the government had received the requisite amount from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the amount would be disbursed to the rice-millers from tomorrow.

Mr Lal Singh said alleged that the payment of levy was hanging fire for the past six months, as the previous government had received part of the money but the same was not distributed to the rice millers.

He said that due to various austerity measures, the government would be saving at least Rs 550 crore. He also informed that the Cabinet had taken a decision that from now onward, no expenses would be incurred on hospitality accorded to ministers at various places.

All arrangements for lifting of paddy had been taken and the farming community would not be harassed during the paddy procurement season.

Meanwhile, in a memorandum submitted to the minister, Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the Punjab Rice Millers Association, urged the government to dispose of or auction paddy stocks that were not lifted last year owing to space shortage with the FCI.


35 retired persons on contract shown the door
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The services of 35 superannuated officials serving in the Punjab Local Government Department have been terminated. They had been given post-retirement extension and hired on contract. They drew a fixed honorarium ranging from Rs 1,800 to Rs 10,000 per month, courtesy political patronage of the previous government.

While the orders, in respect of 34, effective immediately, were passed today by the Secretary, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, the order terminating the services of Mr D.P. Jain, Superintending Engineer-cum-Additional Commissioner, Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, was passed last week with the approval of the Chief Minister.

Justifying the termination of services, the order stated that it was shocking to note that the department had been converted into an ‘’old age home’’ becoming a haven for those who should have retired to the “peace and comfort of old age on superannuation.”

The list of the 34 persons shows that they had been given contract assignments in crucial departments at the headquarters, namely the recruitment and pension cells, as also in the offices of the deputy directors in the region, Ferozepore, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar and also in the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Those granted extension on political and extraneous considerations include deputy/assistant controllers, finance and accounts, accounts officers, senior town planners, officers on special duty, superintendents, senior assistants, patwaris, naib-tehsildars and peons.

By granting extension to these 34, the promotion avenues as well direct recruitment were adversely affected in respect of deserving employees and the public.

The case of Mr Jain is interesting. He was to retire on March 31, 2002. But he was hurriedly given one-year extension at the initiative of Mr Suresh Sehgal, Mayor, Jalandhar, on December 26, 2001, on the eve of the elections. The then Minister issued an order the same day, bypassing the then administrative secretary, who reportedly had objected. He was overruled. The Minister issued another order on February 18, 2002, that his earlier order should be implemented after the elections. Mr Jain was allowed to submit his joining report on February 26. This extension, it is learnt, was against the government policy and the present Minister accordingly concurred with the Secretary and agreed to the termination of the services of Mr Jain, which the Chief Minister later approved. A similar exercise is on in several other departments to dig out such extensions or other aberrations, said sources. 


Kuljit shifted from Home to Sports
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of 11 senior IAS officers and five PCS officers. The most significant transfer is of Mrs Kuljit Kaur, a PCS officer and daughter of a controversial former SSP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Pherurai. She has been shifted from Home Department, where she was posted as Deputy Secretary, to Sports Department in the same capacity.

Her name is said to have figured in a list of PCS officers under investigation by the Vigilance Bureau in connection with the alleged recruitment scam in the Punjab Public Service Commission.

Mr V.N. Ojha has been shifted as Principal Secretary to the Department of Planning in place of Mrs Satwant Reddy, who has been sent to the Department of Medical Education and Research as Principal Secretary. Mr K. K. Bhatnagar has been posted as Principal Secretary, School Education vice Mr R. P. S. Pawar, who goes to Department of Information Systems and Administrative Reforms.

Mrs Romila Dubey has been posted as Principal Secretary, Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training. Mr D. S. Bains has been sent to the Department of Labour and Employment as Secretary vice Mr B. Sarkar, who has been shifted as Secretary, Department of Higher Education. Dr Swarn Singh, has been posted as Secretary, School Education. Mr Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi, has been posted as Managing Director, Punjab Electronics Development and Production Corporation in addition to charges held by him at present.

Mr R.L. Kapoor, has been posted as Special Secretary, Department of Home and Justice. Mr Mandeep Singh has been given additional charge of Director, Hospitality, Punjab.

Mr Arvinder Singh Bains, a PCS officer, has been posted as Secretary, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board against a vacant post. Mr Ashok Kumar Sikka has been posted as Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Patiala. Mr Manjit Singh Brar has been posted as Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Ludhiana. Mr N.K. Wadhawan has been posted as Additional Director (Administration), Department of Information and Public Relations, Punjab.


300 more buses for Punjab Roadways
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 13
The Punjab Government will buy 300 buses for the Punjab Roadways during the current financial year. Out of these 50 buses will ply on different routes next month.

This was stated by Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Minister for Transport, while talking to mediapersons at the residence of Mr Avtar Singh Brar, former minister, here yesterday. The minister who arrived here to attend the cremation of widow of former President Giani Zail Singh, Pardhan Kaur, at Sandhwan village stated Rs 45 crore would be spent to modernise three bus stands of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. An institute to educate drivers about the traffic rules would also be set up shortly, the minister said.


Octroi collection privatised
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 13
The local Municipal Committee has decided to privatise the work of collection of octroi and has passed a resolution in this regard.

This resolution was passed unanimously at the meeting of the committee held here today.


Plot to implicate 2 youths exposed
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 13
The police has unearthed a conspiracy of making a false complaint of kidnapping against two youths.

The case was revealed to media today in front of the accused and the complainants. On April 30, Pinder Kaur (14) had a scuffle with his mother Jaswinder Kaur of Kalaiawala village, under Ghal Khurd police station. The girl without informing her parents, ran away to her elder sister, Mander, at Dale village in Moga district.

When Baldev Singh, former sarpanch of the village, at whose house Jaswinder Kaur (the girl’s mother) work as peasant, came to know about this he cooked up a story to falsely implicates sons of Ajmer Singh and Jagjit Singh of the same village to settle an old score.


Punjabi University urged to start exam process
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
The Study Centres Association of the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology has appealed to the Punjabi University authorities, as well as the private company which has taken affiliation for the IT courses from the University, to initiate the process of conducting the examinations of the students.

Addressing a press conference here, association representatives said even though the examinations for the different courses were to be held in June 2002, Punjabi University had not even initiated the process of releasing the examination forms of the students, leave aside preparing datesheets for conducting the exams.

Association secretary Harmanpreet Singh said students of the various studies centres were running from pillar to post to ascertain the dates of their examinations but to no avail, as they had got no concrete answer from the university or the private company KCC.

The association representatives said the situation was such that two admission cycles had been completed, that is academic sessions of 2001- 2002 and calendar session, January 2002.

They said accordingly, the students enrolled for various courses in the study centres had undergone regular classes for theory and practicals for almost one year and the courses had been nearly completed.


School building inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 13
A new building of Budha Dal Public School was inaugurated on the school premises at Samana, near here, on Saturday.

The inauguration was done by the eminent scientist and former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr S.S. Johal, extolled he virtues of good education and exhorted children to concentrate on studies.

Mr Johal said even if a teacher managed to make a student a responsible individual in society who had imbibed moral and human values, the teacher would bring a good name to the community.

Among those present on the occasion were Mr Sukhbans Kailey, Principal of the school, Mr Udey Singh, Vice-President of the Sikh Education Society which manages branches of Budha Dal School at Patiala and Samana.

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