Wednesday, June 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Recorders supplied defective T-72 parts?
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 4
Did a subsidiary of the Punjab Electronics Corporations, Punjab Recorders here compromise with the nation’s security while supplying vital equipment to defence establishments ?.

The answer could be in affirmative. Investigations by the TNS reveal that a consignment of a vital equipment used in the T-72 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) was substandard — a fact denied by the Managing Director of the company, Mr Virinder Singh.

A team from the Department of Defence Production and Supplies reportedly visited the company located in Industrial Area, Phase-8 here, in February and sealed a lot of about 50 pieces of Hatch Traverse Mechanism, worth Rs 18 lakh. The electro-mechanical equipment is vital for moving the turret of a tank. The consignment was part of an order of about 250 pieces to be supplied to a defence establishment.

Sources in the Department of Defence Supplies said as per the practice the physical and chemical composition of the equipment was sent by the Punjab Recorders for testing at a government undertaking, Bicycle and Sewing Machine Research and Development Centre, Ludhiana, and some private firms. On finding irregularities in the reports sent by the company and those directly sought by defence establishment in Ludhiana, two inspectors were sent by the officer incharge, Mr N.C. Gupta, to the company.

After pointing out that the equipment was substandard, the consignment was sealed and was still lying in the stores of the company. However, the Managing Director said rejection of equipment was nothing new and were to improve upon the quality.

On being asked about the variation in the reports of the chemical and physical composition of the equipment, he said the test reports of two different firms never matched.

The supplying of substandard parts in the past might have something to do with the internal audit report of the company for the year 2000-2001, which says that funds were incurred for defence inspectors who visit the company to take the supplies. The audit report — in possession of the TNS, says that affairs of the company were being run on an adhoc manner. Unsigned vouchers were entered in the account books. Every irregularity, when detected, was termed as an adjustment on account of expenses incurred for defence inspectors. Several other irregularities had also been pointed out in the audit report.


Disinvestment Directorate likely
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
Acting quickly on the recommendation of the Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, the Punjab Council of Ministers today decided to create a separate Directorate of Disinvestment by abolishing the Bureau of Public Enterprises with a view to expediting the process of disinvestment in public sector undertakings.

The commission had made its draft report public yesterday and had recommended the setting up of a separate department for this purpose.

A government spokesman said that the council had also decided to adopt a fast-track method of disinvestment in some of the PSUs for timely and optimal realisation of their value. It also decided that the final recommendations of the commission, as and when received, should be immediately processed and placed before it for taking further action in the matter.

As the process of disinvestment often led to a large number of controversies, including the under-selling of assets, a safety net was expected to be provided to those involved in the decision making pertaining to disinvestment. They might get immunity from vigilance and other inquiries.

The spokesman further said the government had also decided to have an overarching law covering various aspects of infrastructure development. Under it a Punjab infrastructure development authority would be constituted.


PFC staff restive over panel report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The recommendation of the Disinvestment Commission report, released on Monday, to wind up the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) has created a stir among the staff.

The PFC Officers Association president, Mr S.C. Sharma, and the secretary, Mr G.S. Kukreja, have termed the recommendation as ''unwarranted'' and said it was “illegal”. The PFC was not a public sector undertaking but was established under the Companies Act (an Act of Parliament), 1951. It was not wholly owned by the state government. It had shares in financial institutions like the IDBI, the SIDBI and insurance companies.

Talking to TNS, the two said that in the first place the PFC did not come under the review of the commission which, as was apparent from the report, had only a casual understanding of the working of a primary industrial development organisation. It was also clear that statistical data given in the commission report was nothing but a reproduction of the official memorandum submitted to the commission.

The commission had also ignored the employees of the PFC while recommending that it should be closed down. It was strange, said Mr Sharma and Mr Kukreja, that even the observations of the Gupta Committee on the working of state financial corporations had been ignored. Mr G.P. Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director of the Industrial Development Bank of India, in his report had clearly mentioned the PFC among the 14 country-wide state financial corporations that could be revived. ''Yet, here is the commission recommending the PFC's closure''.

The real causes of the losses by the PFC, the two said, were as follows: 1. With the PFC lowering its lending rate by 1 per cent, to maintain the momentum of industrialisation, it suffered a loss of Rs 33 crore. This was when Mr A.S. Chatha was the Chairman of the PFC. He was now Adviser on industrial revival to the government. 2. Providing special assistance to different categories like the Jodhpur detainees and 1984 riot-affected borrowers. 3. The PFC extending a loan of Rs 50 crore for the establishment of the country's first nucleus industrial project at Goindwal Sahib in Amritsar, which never developed. 4. Disturbed conditions in Punjab.

Mr Sharma and Mr Kukreja said at present the PFC's outstanding loan was to the tune of Rs 653 crore, while interest on sick units that the PFC had acquired under Section 29 and sold was Rs 300 crore. That sum was unlikely to be recovered. Till date the PFC had taken over 800 units of which 320 were yet to be sold.

A major chunk of the recoveries was due to the PFC from “influential” persons. Similarly, Rs 700 crore was blocked in 39 companies that had gone to the BIFR. These had been jointly financed with the PSIDC and were promoted by influential persons.


Block samiti poll brings Congress rift to fore
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 4
Upset over the alleged arbitrary rejection of papers filed by five Congress nominees in the Ghal Khurd block for the coming block samiti elections, Mr Ravinder Singh Babbal, Congress MLA from the Ferozepore Cantonment has virtually locked horns with Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Adviser to the Chief Minister, Punjab.

According to reports, five Congress nominees backed by Babbal had filed papers for the block samiti elections on May 29 for Sattawali, Wajidpur, Sher Khan Sandu Asham and Mohkam Patti seats. Internal differences surfaced when the papers of all five were rejected by the local SDM (official-in-charge of elections) on the grounds that their papers were not submitted in time.

Five candidates allegedly backed by Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi and another senior Congress leader Gumaib Singh Brar were considered as party nominees because their party ticket were signed on May 31 by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa. The PPCC President had made Mr Bajwa party-in-charge of the elections in Ferozepore district.

Surprisingly, on May 31, the day on which the party ticket were allotted to other candidates, Mr Bajwa was not present in the state. He was somewhere in South India on an official visit.

When contacted Mr Babbal revealed that the senior officials of the district administration were involved in a political conspiracy against him. The Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore was called by Rana Sodhi to a private house on the mall road and handed over the nominations of his candidates”, he said.

Lashing out at the district administration and Rana Sodhi he alleged that the original authority letters signed by Mr Bajwa, but without date, were misused to reject the forms of his candidates. He revealed that all authority letters signed by Mr Bajwa were without date. This was done so to fill the dates as per the requirements of the local administration so that the nominations did not get rejected.

Further, he said the party had not rejected the ticket allotted earlier to his candidates. Hence, the question does not arise of rejecting their party nominations. Everything was done by the local administration at the behest of Rana Sodhi.

On the other hand, talking to the mediapersons, Rana Sodhi has condemned the allegations of Mr Babbal and said he had nothing to do with the elections in Mr Babbal’s area.

Later, in a significant move the rejected party nominees have decided to contest the elections as independent candidates. Mr Babbal has given his support to them against the party nominees.


Pbi varsity allows IT students to take exams
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 4
Punjabi University today decided to allow students of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology (MRSIIT) to give their second semester examinations at the end of this month. The university has already decided to stop further admissions to the institute.

Students of the institute, which was started by ousted Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia against the University Grants Commission norms, today assembled in front of the office of acting Vice-Chancellor N.S. Rattan and urged him not to close down the institute.

Following talks with the students, it was decided that the second semester examination would be held in the last week of June and Pro Vice-Chancellor R.N. Pal was deputed to draw a time table and conduct the examination.

The acting VC also assured the students that he would try to ensure that their future was not affected. He said that the institute could be asked to get itself affiliated with the Punjab Technical University (PTU), Amritsar. However the students protested saying that the university could not declare the institute illegal just because the VC had changed. They also claimed that the authorities had given them certificates following examinations, which meant that the institute was recognised.

The Students Action Committee, after talking to Mr Rattan, said that the students were not satisfied and that could not wait for the university to take a decision on their future after the second semester examinations, as stated by Mr Rattan.

The committee has decided to meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tomorrow to present their viewpoint. They said that they would intensify their agitation in case the university remained adamant on not recognising the institute. It may be mentioned that the university had recently decided that both the MRSIIT and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology, which is running distance education courses in IT, do not fulfil the criteria for recognition by the government.

Both are being run by private companies with the institutes having a governing committee headed by the VC. The UGC had earlier stated that no company could enter into an agreement with any private party to open a institute on a university campus. Former VC had allegedly bent the rules by first taking permission of the syndicate to start a IT Department which later led to a private party opening up an institute here and another one setting up the Distance Education Centre at the Regional Centre at Damdama Sahib.


Docs go on mass leave
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, June 4
Except doctors on emergency duties, members of the district unit of the PCMSA working in various hospitals and dispensaries today went on a mass casual leave and held a rally in the Civil Hospital complex here in protest against the move of the government to terminate services of about 850 doctors appointed during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu.

Health services in hospitals and dispensaries remained paralysed in the district.

The protesters said if the doctors were terminated, health services in the state would be affected to a great extent, especially in the rural areas. They claimed that there was no evidence indicating any foul play in the selection of the doctors.

The rally was addressed among others by Dr Jaswant Singh, Dr H.N. Sharma and Dr Navtej Pal Singh, president, senior vice-president and treasurer, respectively, district unit of the PCMSA, Dr S.S. Dhindsa, Dr Tejinder Singh and Dr Ravinder Singh, all PSMSA leaders.

HOSHIARPUR: Members of the PCMSA organised a protest rally in the local Civil Hospital against the proposed move of the government to remove PCMS doctors recruited during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and the recommendation regarding the abolition of non-practicing allowance (NPA) by the sub-committee set up by the government to give suggestions on curtailing expenditure.

Dr Tej Pal, vice-president, and Dr Ajay Bagga, publicity secretary, of the unit of the association appealed to the government that services of the doctors should not be terminated as they had not used illegal means for their selections. Dr Lakhwinder Singh, Dr Sewa Singh and Dr Surinder Singh were among others who addressed the gathering.

MANSA: Members of the district unit of the PCMSA organised a rally in the OPD complex of the local Civil Hospital. They condemned the government's move to remove the doctors. They claimed that they had been selected purely on merit and no money had been paid for securing their selection.


Will NRI Sabha be dissolved?
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 4
Has the Congress government in the state backtracked from its poll promise with regard to dissolution of the NRI Sabha? It seems so, if the appointment of the local MP and senior Congress leader, Mr Balbir Singh, as vice-pattern of the sabha by the Punjab Chief Minister is an indication.

Ironically, it was Mr Balbir Singh who had criticised the functioning of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, and had prevailed upon the Capt Amarinder Singh during the last Assembly elections to incorporate the clause of dissolution of the sabha in its poll manifesto.

The Punjab Congress in its manifesto had stated that the sabha would be dissolved immediately if it came to power and a new organisation would be formed having NRIs at the helm of affairs. The Congress has always criticised the malfunctioning of the sabha.

The decision of the Chief Minister — being ex-officio chief patron of the sabha — to vest all powers with Mr Balbir Singh by appointing him as the final authority has come as a surprise in the political and bureaucratic circles here.

According to sources, the president of the district unit of the Punjab Congress, Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, had played a significant role in bringing the Congress leaders and the sabha officials on a common platform. The formula, thus, worked out by both sides and hectic lobbying by some influential persons was to appoint Mr Balbir Singh as its vice-patron rather than pursuing its poll manifesto which assures the dissolution of the sabha.

The Congress had always criticised the role of the bureaucrats in the sabha, who were holding key positions like chairman and vice-chairman, by alleging that the sabha comprised a bunch of retired government employees enjoying the facilities at the cost of NRIs funds.

Mr Balbir Singh, who took the new assignment at the office of the sabha here today, said he had discussed the matter pertaining to the dissolution of the sabha at length with the Advocate-General of Punjab and Legal Remembrance and it was stated that if the Congress government went ahead with its poll promise the sabha’s assets running into crores would automatically be transferred to the state government.

“In fact, it is a better opportunity for me to streamline the functioning of the sabha, being one of its part, rather than forming a new organisation for the same purpose. One thing I will assure that the sabha will be dissolved within one year if its functionaries fail to act according to the guidelines of the state government,” he asserted.

It is learnt that Mr Balbir Singh is planning to reconstitute the executive committee and advisory board of the sabha by nominating new faces, including senior congressmen as its members. “We will appoint overseas directors and constitute international board of governors as per the constitution of the sabha,” says Mr Balbir Singh.

When asked about bringing some amendments in the constitution of the sabha to cut down the role of the bureaucrats, Mr Balbir Singh said, “We will do everything to ensure the faith of the NRIs in the sabha.”


Fake currency racket
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 4
Three youths have been arrested for running a fake currency racket and producing fake currency for partners in Delhi and other parts of the country.

Disclosing this at a press conference here, the district police chief, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said besides fake currency in the denominations of Rs 500, proofs of the fake currency as well as a computer, printer and other material needed for producing the currency had been seized from them.

Mr Umranangal said the arrested have been identified as Manpreet Singh, Narinderpal Singh, alias Raju, local residents, and Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Amritsar. He said three others absconding in the case have been identified as Harinder Ghola of Sheranwala Gate, Bikramjit Singh Bikki of Gajraula and Sanju of Paharganj.

He said these youths had started committing crimes four to five months ago beginning with crimes like getting stolen vehicles from Delhi and selling these in Punjab, before graduating to producing fake currency. He said recently the gang had committed a daylight robbery in the Leela Bhavan area in the city, wherein they stole as many as 12 mobile phones. He said besides the phones, three vehicles, including a Tata Sumo, an Esteem car and a Maruti car, one motor cycle and two scooters had been recovered from the accused.

Mr Umranangal said Narinderpal, alias Raju, was the kingpin of the gang who regularly operated from Delhi also. He said the gang members had admitted during interrogation that they had produced lakhs in fake currency which had been distributed to sub agents mainly in Delhi and nearby areas in west Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Showing copies of the fake currency, he said it was quite close to the real specimen adding that the gang had started getting more offers for the notes after the “good” results of the sub agents in spending them by mixing them with real currency.

He said all three were being produced for police remand today following which further investigations would be done in the case to unravel their links with other gangs in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh who were responsible for disposing of the fake currency.


Cong picking on Akalis: MLA
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 4
Akali workers at Sunam are up in arms against the registration of a case against Mr Mohinder Singh Sidhu, senior Akali leader and former Chairman of the Market Committee, Cheema.

The case was registered against Sidhu under Sections 380, 323, 358 and 452-34 of the IPC. Mr Sidhu is also contesting a zila parishad election from Sheron village.

Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, MLA from Sunam, while addressing a press conference here yesterday said the Congress was adopting the policy of repression in Punjab. He said SAD workers in Punjab were being murdered and false cases registered them.

Mr Dhindsa said the registration of a case against Mr Sidhu at the time of zila parishad elections showed the Punjab police was playing in the hands of the Punjab Government.


‘Make distinction between tainted & meritorious’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
“Why is the government treating us on a par with ‘tainted’ people? If we have done anything wrong, hang us. But do not kill us in cold blood,” rue a score of young technocrats, including both doctors and engineers, apprehending the “sack” because they were recruited by the Punjab Public Service Commission headed by Ravi Sidhu.

“The sword of uncertainty has been hanging over our heads for the past few weeks. We are not able to concentrate on anything,” say these young professionals holding that some of them are scheduled to sit in an examination for admission to postgraduate courses in medicine and surgery on June 16 as inservice candidates.

All these professionals support the government’s drive to weed out corruption from the system. “But not at the cost of meritorious candidates who got their present jobs purely on merit.”

Of 33 temporary engineers (SDOs) in the Irrigation Department recruited by the PPSC in 1999, four had been university toppers and gold medallists at the BE level. Nineteen of the 33 possess the ME degree. Two of them are university toppers in ME as well.

“Three of them were working with multinational companies before opting for the Punjab Government job. Certain others have worked as junior engineers in various government departments. Every second persons has worked as a lecturer in one engineering college or polytechnic or the other before the PPSC selection,” says Mr Vinod Gupta, press secretary of the Temporary Engineers Association of the Punjab Irrigation Department.

“We demand that an independent inquiry should be conducted into the selection of all temporary engineers and those found tainted should be removed from service immediately. It would be grossly unfair to stamp our resumes with a blot and make us carry a stigma against our names for the rest of our lives for a sin we did not commit,” adds Mr Gupta.

Junior doctors echo the same sentiments holding that they got to the present position by crossing hurdles, including competitions at various levels for admission to medical classes.

“Many of us who were selected in 1998 or 1999 not only have an outstanding academic record but also experience of working in prestigious institutions, including the Sector 32 Government Medical College Hospital. Most of us have been working in rural primary health centres, dispensaries and hospitals virtually performing round-the-clock duty as junior doctors. Not only that in the rural areas, we also perform other jobs, including attestation and medical examination, which in the absence of medical officers no other gazetted employee performs,” say these young medicos. Some of them have qualified to sit in the examination for admission to postgraduate courses this year. “But we do not know whether we will be still eligible as inservice candidates. There is so much of uncertainty and the official position has been changing virtually every day.

“Almost all of us come from middle class families and have, besides old parents to support, our own careers at stake. We are really at the crossroads and do not know whether after so many years of hard work we will be able to settle down in life,” they add.

“It is for the government to devise a mechanism so that a distinction is made between the ‘tainted’ and ‘meritorious’ persons so that the latter do not suffer because of the former,” they conclude.


Bail plea of Ravinder Sidhu dismissed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 4 
A bail plea moved by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, under the Excise Act was today dismissed by a local court. It was the third time that a bail plea moved by the accused under the Arms Act was dismissed by the court. The case against the accused was registered after 14 bottles of foreign liquor, 250 rounds of .12 bore gun and 225 rounds of Springfield rifle were seized from his house in Sector 39. The accused was arrested by the Vigilance Department, Punjab, on March 26 allegedly while accepting a bribe of Rs 5 lakh. The accused had already been granted bail by a local court under the Excise Act registered against him.

Case adjourned

A local court yesterday adjourned the case filed against Punjabi singer, Babbu Mann, filed by some local residents for his song “Chak lo revolver...”, for July 18 as the counsel for the singer had sought time to file reply in the case. The plaintiffs had sought a ban on the song. It was alleged that the song was not only obscene and indecent, but also invoked one particular community to take up arms. The plaintiffs also alleged that the song promoted hatred and disharmony among different sections of society.

Summons against Badals

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, and his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal, have been summoned through a publication in newspapers on Monday by a local court in connection with a civil suit filed by a former Additional Director of Information and Public. Acting on a suit filed by a former Additional Director of Information and Public Relation, Mr Jagdip Singh Chowhan, the UT Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mr C.L. Mohal, ordered for issuance of fresh summons through publication against them as the summons issued against the duo had been returned unserved. Mr Chowhan, had stated that in 1998 he was working as the Deputy Director of the Information and Public Relation Department, Punjab, at Chandigarh. He alleged that the Chief Minister of Punjab had directed him to work in the election campaign of his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, during 1998-1999. He further added that as his promotion for the post of the Joint Director and Additional Director Information and Public Relations, Punjab, was overdue he had no other choice but to participate in the election campaign of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was contesting election from Faridkot constituency. Mr Chowhan alleged that he had spent an amount of Rs 1, 50, 458 from his own pocket for media coverage with the hope that Mr Badal would return it. Mr Chawhan had prayed that a decree for recovery of Rs 82,032 be kindly passed in his favour with costs and with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum.

Recovery suit adjourned

The UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L Mohal, on Monday adjourned a recovery suit of Rs 5 crore damages filed against the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal till June 14. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his son had also alleged that the advertisements had wrongly conveyed a message that the Punjab CM had mortgaged the state’s interest in the SYL canal, besides the future of Punjab farmers, in favour of the Haryana CM in lieu of a gift of 22 acres worth Rs 500 crore, in Gurgaon.


PAs of Langah remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 4
Ms Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded two private assistants (PAs) of former PWD Minister, Punjab, Mr Sucha Singh Langah — Jasbir Singh and Bikramjit Singh — in police custody till June 6. They were arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Department in connection with a case registered against Langah in Mohali.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, and Mr Jatinder Singh, DSP (Vigilance), appeared in the court and pleaded for a remand of 14 days for the accused. Mr Punn informed the court that Jasbir Singh was very close to Langah and Langah had purchased benami buses in his name.

The other accused, Bikramjit Singh, used to get money from officials of the department for their promotions and transfers. He used to give this money to Langah. They used to stay in the kothi of Langah in Sector 39, Chandigarh, he added.


A walker’s paradise
Anirudh Gupta

As the name sounds the Ferozepore Mall may not be the place where you would find restaurants, towering showrooms or giant shopping plazas, but it is definitely a bonanza for health conscious people who call it a walker’s paradise.

Dotted with rows of blossoming trees on both sides and fountains at crossroads, it is a refreshing experience for all. Besides this, many buildings of historical and architectural importance are located on the mall which make this 3-km stretch special.

The Mall also has the residences of the Deputy Commissioner, the CMO and the SP, Flag Staff House, the official residence of the GoC, Golden Arrow Division, besides Officers Mess of various Army units and the District and Sessions Court are also located here.

The road begins from Barki Square, built in mid 1970s, to commemorate bravery of soldiers of 7 Infantry Division who made the supreme sacrifice in 1965 and paved the way for the fall of Barki, a town situated 15 miles south-east of Lahore.

The mall is closed to vehicular traffic for two hours in the morning and two in the evening so that people can enjoy their walk without being bothered by the traffic. The CMP personnel keep a hawk’s eye on anybody breaking the rules. The old-timers nostalgically recall that before Independence a military band, with awe-inspiring liveried cavaliers used to be in attendance on the Mall daily.

A feeling of patriotism engulfs heart and soul as you walk past the war memorial built in the memory of officers, NCOs and men of VI KEO Cavalry who laid down their lives for the country during 1914-1918. The war memorial of the 20th Duke Cambridge’s Own Infantry (Brown low’s Punjabis) was built in the memory of soldiers who attained martyrdom during the Great War in France, Mesopotamia, Egypt, east Africa and frontiers of India.

These two monuments, constructed in red stone and engraved with the names of the gallant martyrs, are situated at the Flag Staff House crossing. Another monument of historical value on the Mall was constructed in the memory of British and Indian officers, NCOs and men of 19th, 22nd and 24th Battalion of Punjab Regiment who laid down their lives during First World War.

The Flag Staff House depicts a picture of ceremonial grandeur and pristine splendour. Before Partition, the British Commander resided in this building. The last British Station Commander, who occupied this house till 1947, was Colonel Spencer.

Towards the end, the Mall culminates into Golden Arrow Ecological Park where a helipad and Golden Arrow Riding School are situated.


JE recruitment case: IAS officer gets bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 4
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today granted anticipatory bail to Mr R. Venkatratnam, an IAS officer and former Director of Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Department, who is an accused in the junior engineer recruitment scam of the department.

On the anticipatory bail application of Mr Venkatratnam the Judge observed that all records pertaining to the case were available in the office of the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Department. Keeping in view the fact that the applicant had already jointed the investigation eight times and he was a public servant and when nothing objectionable could be recovered from him, he deemed it a fit case to grant bail to the applicant, the judge added.

The judge further ordered that in the event of Mr Venkatratnam’s arrest he be released on bail on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the arresting officer. The judge also directed that Mr Venkatratnam should join the investigation as and when required by the police and he would not tamper with the prosecution’s evidence and also not leave India without prior permission of the court.

Mr Venkatratnam has also been directed by the court to surrender his passport.


Action against staff of Children’s Home
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 4
After the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy, Randeep Singh, an inmate of the local Children’s Home, being run by the Punjab Social Security Department, due to drowning, near here, on May 27, Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, has recommended the government to suspend three employees of the Children’s Home. They are Amrit Bala, Superintendent of the Home, Milap Chand and Ram Chand, cook.

The Balachaur police has registered a case under Section 304-A, IPC, against the three.

The Deputy Commissioner, said today that she had also recommended departmental action against the employees for their negligence.


Veterinary officers to launch stir tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 4
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has decided to launch a state-wide agitation from June 6 against the proposed move of the Punjab Government to remove 350 veterinary officers recruited during the tenure of PPSC chief Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu.

Dr Ashok Sharma, president of the association, said here that it had decided to form a joint action committee in consultation with other employees’ organisations, including the PCMSA and other officers’ associations to tackle the situation.

The association president also said if the government dispensed with the services of 350 veterinary doctors it would create vacancies in the Animal Husbandry Department.

He also stated that all veterinary officers selected during the tenure of Sidhu had already completed their probation period and even been confirmed by the department.

Dr Ashok Sharma also criticised the state government for posting veterinary officers as presiding officers for zila parishad and block samiti elections.


Power staff resent move on allowance
Our Correspondent

Lehra Mohabat (Bathinda), June 4
Engineers of the local Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant held a rally today in protest against the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on generation incentive.

Members of the PSEB Engineers Association of the plant wore black badges to express resentment. They alleged that in place of taking steps to decrease the loss to the PSEB, the authorities concerned were taking anti-employee decisions.

Mr Harnek Singh, regional secretary of the union, said the causes of the loss were theft of power and free power being given to the agricultural sector.

He said they would continue their agitation against the cut in the allowance given to the employees. They would urge other employees of the PSEB to participate in the agitation at their respective places of work, he added. Mr Harnek Singh said if the authorities did not withdraw their decision, they would hold rallies every day near the entrance of the plant.


Blackout in city today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 4
Total blackout will be observed in the city tomorrow from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. to familiarise the residents about the practice.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said in an order issued yesterday that during the blackout nobody would switch on lights and the drivers would drive vehicles with lights switched off. The order said a siren would be blown to indicate the starting of blackout time.


Hike in diesel, petrol prices will hit farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary, Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, today criticised the hike in the diesel and petrol prices announced yesterday.

In a statement here, the former finance minister, who is also the spokesperson of the SAD, described the hike as “harmful to the interests of the farmers as well as other poorer sections”. He said the plight of the farming community, which was the backbone of the Indian economy, continued to be alarming, requiring state intervention in the form of public sector inputs in research and development on the one hand and the creation of a healthy market trend on the other.


Punjab shifts 3 IAS, 4 PCS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of three IAS and four PCS officers. Mr Gurinderjit Singh Sandhu, Secretary, Transport Department, has been given an additional charge of the Civil Aviation. Mr Ramesh Chander Nayyar has been appointed Secretary (Expenditure) in place of Mr Vini Mahajan, who has been appointed Director-cum- Member Secretary of the newly set up Directorate of Disinvestment.

Mr Dharam Dutt Ternach has been given additional charge of an Additional Secretary in the Department of Civil Aviation. Mr Arvinder Singh Bains has been appointed as an Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner in the department’s headquarter at Chandigarh. Mr Saudagar Singh Khara has been appointed as Deputy Secretary, Transport in addition to the Secretary, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board. Mr Amar Partap Singh Virk has been appointed as Additional Managing Director, PRTC, Patiala.


Raped minor commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 4
In a bizarre incident, a minor school girl of Burjladhasingh village committed suicide on Sunday after she was allegedly raped by two persons, including a former driver of the jeep owned by her father.

Police sources said on June 1, the victim, a student of plus one at a school located in Burjladhasingh, was standing at the bus stand of Kesarsinghwala village with her brother and waiting for a bus to return home.

Raju, who had worked as their driver, and his associate Sukha stopped and offered them a lift.

After covering some distance, they threw her brother out of the car and took her to a secluded place where they raped her.

She managed to reach home but set herself afire soon after. She was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Bhagta Bhaika, where she was referred to another Civil Hospital. The police has recorded here statement. Later she succumbed to her injuries. A case under Sections 363, 366, 376, 306 and 34, IPC, has been registered.


Congress leader arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 4
The police today arrested Congress leader Ajay Thapar, who runs a travel agency near Dukhniwaran Gurdwara, on charges of making fake passports and charging more than the prescribed passport fee from clients.

The district police chief, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said a case had been registered against the leader after a complaint was received from the Regional Passport Officer, Mr Arvind Kumar.

He said on inquiry Thapar could not produce any licence or any other paper to prove that he was running an authorised travel agency. He said investigations had revealed that he was getting passports made through a Chandigarh-based agency by the name of Swastik Travels. There were complaints that he was charging Rs 800 as passport fee although it was actually Rs 300 only. Complaints of making fake passports were also being investigated, he added.

The police also raided the premises of Thapar Travels today during the course of which it seized certain documents. A case has been registered against Ajay Thapar under Sections 418 and 420 of the IPC. He has been remanded in police custody for two days.

Ajay Thapar, who was previously a senior member of the District Congress Committee, had been sidelined before the Assembly elections after he revolted against the DCC (Urban) president, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta. Making a break with the DCC he had aligned with Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.


Students’ future hangs in balance
Varsity decision to withdraw affiliation to 2 institutes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 4
The decision of Punjabi University, Patiala, to withdraw the affiliation of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology and the Guru Kashi Institute of Advanced studies, Damdama Sahib, has put a question mark over the future of students doing various courses being run by these institutes for the past year.

The university took the decision after it was suspected that some private information technology institutes had got affiliated against the rules. The Punjab government also took a decision to direct universities to ensure that all information technology institutes affiliated with them should seek fresh approval and affiliation from Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar.

Several students of the Guru Kashi Institute of Advanced Studies said they had paid huge amounts as tuition fee for their courses and cleared the first semester examinations. They said the decision of the Punjab Government and Punjabi University to withdraw the affiliation would harm their career prospects.

The students pointed out that they had spent a year in the institute and if they were made to start their course afresh, they would not be able to compete with students of other institutes for getting jobs.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the Guru Kashi Institute of Advanced Studies had been running M.Sc. (software technology), M.Sc. (information technology), B.Sc. (information technology) and postgraduate diploma in computer applications. Punjabi University had collaborated with K.T.C. Institute, Delhi, for running these courses in its various centres.

An eminent educationist of the region, speaking on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the Technical Education Department of the Punjab Government had introduced the culture of franchise technical education centres in the state, due to which some persons were making money through illegal means by cashing in on the aspirations of those who wanted to get good jobs after passing various computer and information technology-related courses.

Mr Chander Mohan Ruby, Joint Secretary, Punjab Law Forum, said a CBI probe should be ordered into the opening of “money-spinning” centres by private persons under the garb of information technology and computer institutes. He said the role of the authorities concerned during the previous SAD-BJP combine government should also be probed.


Punjab needs to focus on debt reduction: PHDCCI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) has submitted its recommendations regarding fiscal reforms in Punjab to the State Planning board and the newly-constituted high-powered committee on finance.

According to the Chamber, the state needs to focus on debt reduction by avoiding borrowings for consumption or current expenditure, closure of loss making public sector undertakings and take measures like offering incentives for attracting new investment in the industry.

“The deteriorating financial position of the state has been clearly spell out in a White Paper on State Finances published by the Government in March this year. Free supply of power, free water for irrigation, abolition of property tax in urban areas, largely subsidised higher education etc. have to be reconsidered and reasonable user charges be imposed”, the Chamber stated.

The Chamber also recommended that residential property be subjected to tax and exemption be restricted to the urban poor only.

Regarding the loss-making public sector undertakings, the Chamber said the government needed to adopt a policy to close these so that public funds were utilised in the best manner.

The Chamber further emphasised on allocation of substantial funds for developmental projects to facilitate higher growth and minimisation of expenditure on salaries, interest payments, pensions, maintenance and loan re-payment grants.

It was recommended that the state should also approach the international institutions for funding infrastructure-related projects.

The Punjab Government may also consider preparation of a project report for setting up of a Special Economic Zone in the state. The private sector could be invited to work in partnership, the Chamber said.

Stating that new investment in industry was crucial to the financial growth , it was recommended that special incentives like100 per cent exemption from payment of stamp duty and registration charges was extended in certain cases, suitable investment incentive (capital subsidy) should be made available for small, medium and large units in the specified industrial zones should be considered.

The Chamber further said that the state government needed to focus on creation of self employment.

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