Saturday, June 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSIEC staff go on mass leave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
The draft report of the Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, Punjab, headed by former Chief Secretary, Mr P.H. Vaishnav, which was released on June 3, has sent shock waves among more than one lakh employees of different corporations, boards and government departments in the state. Number of employees unions organised protest marches here today in protest against the recommendations of the commission.

The unions have declared a ‘fight to finish’ against the anti-employees recommendations, which include winding up of some corporations, partial privatisation, decrease in allowances and retrenchment of workers. Leading the protest, employees of the Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation (PSIEC) went on a mass casual leave and organised a dharna in front of the Udyog Bhavan.

Addressing the workers, Mr Gurdip Singh, chairman of the staff association, questioned the recommendation of winding up a profit-making corporation. He said, “The PSIEC is a profit -making corporation, working for the development of the industry in the state. The decision to wind up the corporation may led to the retrenchment of 1,400 employees.”

Another demonstration was held in Sector 34 by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation. Thousands of employees of Punsup, the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, the Forest Corporation, Housefed, the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board and others participated in the protest march. Employees of the Department of Agriculture, Sports, Public Relations, Irrigation and others also participated in a meeting.

A resolution was passed at the meeting. It warned the government that if it tried to implement the recommendations of the commission, it would have to face an indefinite agitation of employees of the state government departments and corporations as well.

Mr Nirmal Dhaliwal, president, Punjab unit of AITUC, talking to The Tribune from Patiala, said, ‘‘There is no justification in commission’s recommendations, as the corporations have turned sick due to the wrong policies of the government. An organisation like the PRTC is incurring losses due to free travelling worth Rs 200 crore, Rs 70 crore tax evasion by private bus operators during past few years and malpractices of its corrupt officials.”

Mr M.S. Bajwa, president, PSEB Engineers Association, from Ludhiana claimed that the recommendation to retrench one-third staff of the board would simply mean the closure of 50 per cent complaint centres in the rural areas.

He said, “The policy of privatisation of power boards has failed in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, UP and other states. We are not against the reforms but government must take workers and consumers’ representatives into confidence instead of following recommendations.”

The employees leaders of the Punjab Finance Corporation Employees Joint Action Committee, Milkfed, Markfed, PUNSEED, Sugarfed and Spinfed also announced that they would participate in the rally to be organised by the Punjab State Cooperative Board, Corporation Employees Maha Sangh at Sector 17 on June 13. Mr G.S. Oberoi, senior vice-president of the Sangh, said, “The recommendations are ill-conceived as PSUs are basically self-sustaining organisations but the nexus of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians has ruined them. If implemented, the recommendations would lead to law and order problem because of massive retrenchment of workers in the state.”


Acting PPSC chief to revive faith

Lucknow, June 7
Acting chairperson of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Ms Harjit Kaur Randhawa, says her main aim will be to revive people’s faith in the commission, tarnished after the suspension of PPSC chairman Ravindra Pal Singh Sidhu following charges of corruption.

But reviving the commission’s reputation would take some time, she told UNI during the ongoing two-day national conference of the chairpersons of the State Public Service Commissions “Since the Sidhu incident came to light we have held nine meetings of the members to plug the loopholes which had caused panic among the people,’’ she said. All members of the PPSC were cooperating with her and soon the blemishes on the reputation of the commission would be removed from the minds of the people.

Asked about the measures taken to avoid recurrence of Sidhu-like cases in future, Ms Randhawa said all members had been assigned specific work. While one had been made in charge of examination, another entrusted with administration.

“No meeting was held for two years during Mr Sidhu’s tenure and all decisions were taken arbitrarily without consulting the members,’’ she claimed.

She said she had written over 70 letters to Mr Sidhu for convening a meeting of the commission and when he did not act she was forced to move the Punjab High Court. “We are awaiting still the decision of the court even though Mr Sidhu was removed from the post yesterday,’’ she said.

When asked about the discussions held in the conference here, the PPSC acting chairperson said all state chairpersons expressed concern over the Punjab incident and several among them suggested measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents. UNI


Rs 16.2 cr salary grant for aided colleges
Punjab releases the UGC pay-revision arrears, too 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
The Punjab Government has taken one step towards fulfilling the demands of employees of aided private colleges by releasing the Rs 16.2 crore salary grant for the first quarter of the session 2002-2003 through the DPI (C) Punjab. The grant is for 140 colleges.

However, the government still has to pay them over Rs 70 crore, which includes the fourth-quarter payment of Rs 18 crore (that was not released by the previous government in February) and Rs 21.34 crore of the University Grants Commission pay-revision arrears that were received from the Centre in 2000, but not passed on to the colleges.

This also includes Rs 40 crore that is part of an undeclared 10 per cent cut in the 95 per cent grant-in-aid. The cut had been imposed for the first time in the session 1997-98 without intimating the colleges.

The colleges are concerned that the present government has released Rs 16.2 crore against Rs 18 crore that is due, if the 95 per cent pattern is followed.

With the cut, the government will have to give only Rs 65 crore against Rs 90 crore in salaries, the DA, the HRA, the CPF and annual increments. Managements and principals of the colleges said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had promised to continue the 95 per cent grant without any cut in his election manifesto.

Meanwhile, sources in the government said Punjab had decided to release the grant of the last quarter and the UGC arrears shortly.


Farm technocrats threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
The Agriculture Technocrats Action Committee, Punjab has criticised the state government for its proposal to terminate the services of Agricultural Development Officers (ADOs) and Horticulture Development Officers (HDOs) recruited during the tenure of PPSC chief Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, calling the development as “illogical as only meritorious and capable candidates were selected and there was no evidence indicating any foul play and nobody challenged the selection in the court.”

They also threatened to launch an agitation if the government went ahead with its move and would even rope in farmers in their stir.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Dr Satnam Singh, general secretary of the committee, claimed that while the minimum basic qualification for the post of ADO and HDO was B.Sc in respective subjects, the candidates selected during Sidhu’s tenure had higher academic qualifications of post graduation and even Ph.D in some cases.

He said the committee leaders did not agree with the government’s view that it was very difficult to distinguish between a meritorious and tainted selection while they claim that it was too simple in the case of a professional as their academic records could be easily scrutinised.

They, however, said they were supporting the government move to nab the corrupt, but it was unfair that by taking the plea of the Supreme Court ruling, the state government was going to dispense with the services of all 3,400 officials without any investigation.

“Moreover, recruited agriculture technocrats have almost completed their probation period successfully with good service record and are rendering yeoman’s service to the farming community and they belong to lower middle and poor rural families. How can they pay lakhs of rupees to the agents for recruitment?” they added.

Dr Chaman Lal Vashisht, state general secretary of the Plant Doctors Services Association, Punjab, Dr Balwinder Singh Butari, president, Soil Conservation Officers Association, Dr R.P. Aulakh, president, PDSA, Ludhiana unit, were also present.


Graft case against Sikh clergy: hearing on June 12
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 7
Even as members of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat who had levelled charges of corruption against the Jathedar of Akal Takht, his personal assistant and the Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib sought more time to submit proofs, Akal Takht has fixed the next date of hearing for June 12.

It is learnt that the members of the Khalsa Panchayat had pleaded that some of their colleagues were out of station and hence could not appear before the Sikh high priests today.

However, according to sources, behind-the-curtain activities were in progress to resolve the ticklish issue. Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has been making efforts in this regard. It is also learnt that some senior members of the SGPC held an informal meeting with members of the Khalsa Panchayat to find a way out. This is for the first time that serious charges of corruption have been levelled against the Sikh clergy.

Panthic circles feel that the case had been mishandled by the Sikh clergy. Taking suo motu action on the brochure published by the Khalsa Panchayat, wherein derogatory language was used against the present set of the jathedars, the Sikh high priests had directed the authors to give concrete proofs, if any, to substantiate their charges. The panthic circles feel that the Sikh clergy should have handled the case carefully. The SGPC had to retire Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, personal assistant to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, and a close relative of Jathedar Vedanti on the pretext that he had attained the age of 58 years.

An Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandhaki Panchayan) member, Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, had urged the SGPC to constitute a high-level committee of retired Sikh judges to probe whether the charges against the Sikh clergy had any base. Mr Talwara had alleged that it was a wrong precedent that the Sikhs had started criticising the decisions and edicts of jathedars publicly.

However, Mr Badungar had rejected the demand of Mr Talwara and assured him that the case would be probed by the Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shiromani committee.


Land case against Badal adjourned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 7
Mr Surinder Mohan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, today adjourned the civil suit filed against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and former Science and Technology Minister Chiranji Lal Garg till June 15 as advocates for the respondents sought time to read the related documents. The third respondent, Additional Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Development Authority, submitted a written reply in the court today which stated that eviction proceedings had been filed against Mr Garg.

The case against them had been filed in connection with the alleged grabbing of 400 acres.

The petitioner advocate, Mr N.K. Garg, alleged that the respondent Mr Chiranji Lal Garg had purchased a plot of 1,800 square yards in 1970, khasra number 2848, which was shamlat land through bogus transaction. Mr Garg had filed a civil petition in the high court alleging that the facts were not correct and had been concealed. The petition was allowed.

Later, Mr Garg had got the mutation sanctioned on December 1, 1983, on the basis of the high court’s decision whereas the high court had never ordered the sanction of the mutation. The high court’s decision was vacated by the Supreme Court on May 5, 1987, and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg lost the case.

The Punjab Government acquired the 400 acres for developing Phase III, Urban Estate, here and a notification was issued in 1976. The land belonging to Mr Garg was also acquired by the above said notification.

Mr N.K. Garg said Mr Garg, Mr Badal and Chief Administrator, PUDA, allowed encroachments on the above said 400 acres and indulged in land grabbing.

On May 13 the Magistrate had issued summons to Mr Badal and Mr Garg to appear in the court in person on June 7.


1 held in CRPF recruitment scam
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 7
The district police has detected vital links and clues pertaining to duping of youth in the CRPF recruitment scam following the arrest of Hari Chand of Delhi yesterday and identification of another major link of the scam known as “master”, who has not been arrested so far.

Talking to the reporter on telephone today, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, here stated that Hari Chand had been remanded in police custody till June 13. He said another accused in the scam Gurtej Singh was still at large.

It might be recalled that after Gurpreet Sharma and 13 other complainants of Dhaula village, about 15 km from here, had submitted an affidavit to the police alleging that Niranjan Singh and Gurtej Singh had promised to get them recruited in the CRPF as ASIs and Constables after taking money from them. The Tapa police registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC and Sections 8/9, Prevention of Corruption Act.

The police arrested Niranjan Singh of Dhaula and Satvir Singh of Chhatrauli village in Uttar Pradesh on June 3. Both had been remanded in police custody till June 11.

Mr Dhillon further said following interrogation Satvir had confessed that he was close to certain national leaders, including Mr Ajit Singh, Union Agriculture Minister. Satvir belongs to Chhatrauli of Baghpat region in Uttar Pradesh and Mr Ajit Singh too hails from Baghpat area.

Niranjan Singh and Satvir Singh further disclosed that they had duped 42 youths of Dhaula of about Rs 8 lakh. Satvir had earlier succeeded in getting two youths from his area recruited in the CRPF.

Mr Dhillon added that Niranjan Singh also admitted that he had offered Rs 4.5 lakh to Satvir and kept Rs 3.30 lakh of the Rs 8 lakh collected as advance from 42 CRPF job aspirants. Niranjan also confessed spending his share of booty on buying land and spending part of money on the construction of his house in Dhaula.


Dimpa denies amassing wealth
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 7
The Congress MLA from Beas, Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, yesterday denied that he had amassed disproportionate assets running into crores. He was reacting strongly to allegations levelled by the Director of the New Piar Bus Service, Mr Jagjit Singh Chahal, on Tuesday that Mr Dimpa was running buses on the Jalandhar-Amritsar route illegally and had amassed assets running into crores disproportionate to his known source of income.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday Mr Dimpa alleged that Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, Akali leader, was behind this drama. He was out to malign the image of the Congress on the eve of the Panchayat and Zila Parishad elections in the state.“In fact, the Akalis are levelling baseless allegations to divert the attention of the people from anti-corruption campaign launched by the Congress government in the state. While some senior Akali leaders and former ministers are evading arrest and seeking anticipatory bails for fear of being arrested due to their involvement in various scams, Mr Kairon is trying to damage the reputation of the Congress by using some rival transporters against me,” he said.

Mr Dimpa said he had already submitted a list of assets owned by him to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and had requested him to order a thorough probe into the matter.

“Mr Chahal is a big fraud and just a tool in the hands of Mr Kairon. I will resign from the politics, if found guilty of committing any irregularities,” he asserted.


40 booths declared extra sensitive
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 7
At least 40 polling stations have been declared extra sensitive and 70 as sensitive of the total of 162 polling booths in Amritsar police district for the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections scheduled for June 9.

Meanwhile, the Congress has an edge in the poll, with 33 of the 42 candidates declared elected unopposed from zila parishad and panchayat samiti seats belonging to the Congress.

In Gagobua village, all candidates who had filed their papers were rejected. The Election Commission has been notified of this development, said Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner.

The district administration has declared dry days on June 9 to 13, apart from imposing a ban on carrying of firearms.

Meanwhile, the issue of corruption is again expected to play a major role in these elections after the debacle faced by the SAD-BJP combine in the February Assembly poll. Feedback from rural backgrounds has revealed that the money sanctioned during sangat darshans organised by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is a sore point with the rural residents.


Employees resent poll duty
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 7
Even as campaigning for the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections came to an end this evening in the entire region resentment prevails among employees of the Revenue and Local Bodies Departments as two officers of the departments have virtually locked their horns over deputing employees for the election work. Even employees required for octroi collection were not spared said. Official preparations appeared inadequate that when correspondent rang up the office of an assistant returning officer (ARO), to know the timings for the polling scheduled for Sunday, no definite reply was given. Supporters of the candidates were struggling till afternoon to get a specimen copy of the form for appointing counting agents.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Teachers Forum condemned the authorities for calling female teachers on election duty.


10 Cong nominees elected unopposed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 7
The Congress is likely to win the zila parishad and panchayat samiti elections in Hoshiarpur. Out of the 185 zones of 10 block samitis, 10 Congress candidates have already been elected unopposed while in 21 zones of the zila parishad it has captured two seats uncontested. This was stated by Mr Kuldeep Nanda, DCC president, in a press note on Wednesday.


Jacob visits forward areas, has jalebis with jawans
Vimal Sumbly & Ravi Bhushan Puri

Somewhere in the Western sector, June 7
The Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), visited some forward areas here and spent a few hours with soldiers. He enquired about their problems and said he was overwhelmed with their morale, enthusiasm and confidence.

Earlier, the Governor was received by senior Army officers.

“For me it is a nostalgic journey”, the Governor, who served the Army for 37 years, told reporters accompanying him. The Governor was his usual joyful self and tried to talk to the soldiers in Punjabi. He asked their names and enquired if they had any problem which could be solved instantly.

At one place when he asked “tayari hai (are you prepared)”, there was a unanimous response from the soldiers and officers: “Ji Sir“.

The Governor had tea and lunch with the soldiers whom he served himself. While serving jalebis to a young Sikh soldier, he said: “Changga munda!” much to the delight of the soldiers.

The Governor said it was not that he was visiting the soldiers in his official capacity “but it is always my deep desire to spend maximun time with the soldiers”. He shared his military experiences with the officers and jawans.

The Governor went to see the soldiers who had cooked food. Although the officers insisted that they would call the soldiers into the tent, he said he would visit them in the makeshift kitchen to congratulate them for having prepared “delicious food”. The Governor also served some fruits to the soldiers which he had brought along with him from Chandigarh.

Talking to reporters, he said: “Our soldiers are the best in the world and I have no reason to doubt that”. He remarked in Urdu: sab kuchh chust aur drust hai”.

The Governor refused to reply to a question regarding his assessment of the situation along the border as a soldier. “Please do not ask me such questions because I have never been a politician. I am doing my job which I have been asked to do”, he said.

Today was the sixth visit of the Governor to the forward areas. “Each visit reinforces my belief and enhances my confidence in the courage and capacity of our soldiers”, he added.


Vigilance raid a mere eyewash
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 7
Residents of the area, patients and even doctors of the local Civil Hospital had high hopes from the raid conducted by the Patiala Vigilance Department on the local Civil Hospital on May 3 in which various irregularities were detected. Interestingly, the raid was conducted on the directions of Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP, on the complaint by certain employees of the hospital.

Various social, religious and political organisations had been complaining to the higher authorities about the irregularities and working in the hospital but no action had been taken to punish the corrupt. Questions are now being raised against the functioning of the Vigilance Department. People feel that the raid was just an eyewash as no erring official was charge-sheeted or booked for committing irregularities detected during the raid.

In a fresh representation to the state vigilance chief and the chief minister, complainants have highlighted various irregularities detected during the raid and expressed surprise over inaction. They have mentioned that the SMO had tampered with the records adding that he had also threatened certain employees whom he suspected of divulging his secrets to outsiders and the Press.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SP, Vigilance Patiala, in a press conference after the raids, had stated that the Senior Medical Officer of the hospital did not cooperate with the vigilance team. He refused to hand over the keys to certain rooms, which forced the raiding team to break open the doors of the rooms, where physiotherapy equipment and other gadgets costing lakhs of rupees were lying unused for the past two years, including a short-wave bio-thermo machine exported from Germany and electric cervical traction machine.

The SP had alleged that it was shocking that a colour X-ray machine costing Rs 25 lakh was lying packed in the store, while patients were forced to get their X-rays conducted from private clinics. The team also detected items that were purchased without any approval and quotation. Most of the purchases were made from Patiala, where as the same material was available here at cheaper rates.

Another instance of misappropriation of funds detected by the department relates to publicity. Payments worth lakhs of rupees were made to Suresh Kumar for writing mottos and sign boards, where as these already existed. The bills were obtained from three firms — Minta Art Studio, Suresh Kumar Sandhu and Sandhu Art Service, all of Sirhind. Similarly, bogus payments were made for electricity and building repair, where as the corporation had maintained all electricity and building maintenance work on its own.

The URI sticks supplied to the laboratory of the hospital by a private supplier bore the stamp “CGS Supply not for sale”, which clearly indicated how the government supply was sold in the open market and then repurchased.

It was also detected that the SMO also misused the funds by making fake purchases. He made purchases of goods worth more than Rs 5,000 without quotations and verifications by any other officials, where as he was entitled to make purchase of up to Rs 2,000. It was also alleged that during the checking of cash, the team found Rs 2,454 in the chest instead of Rs 4,944 and the SMO had not signed the cashbook since February 5.

The complainants have demanded immediate transfer and action against the SMO.


Labour scam: guilty not penalised
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 7
For how long has the bungling in the employment of contract labour in Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) been continuing? Were the PSEB authorities aware of these misappropriations? If yes, why no action was taken against the officers responsible for the contract labour scam, due to which the PSEB had to allegedly suffered losses worth crores?

Investigations by ‘The Tribune’ reveal that labour contractor Deepak Cadha, who was ousted from the GGSSTP after the EPF scam, first brought the bungling to the notice of the board. After falling out with his associates, on May 22,2000 Cadha complained to the Vigilance cell of the PSEB regarding the alleged misappropriation in the employment of contract labour. He stated that he along with other contract labourers had been supplying fictitious manpower to the GGSSTP in connivance with officers concerned in the PSEB. It was shown in the muster rolls that the contract labourers were present on duty for the entire month whereas they legally used to take four rests and three casual leaves in a month.

The board used to make payments to the labourers on a daily basis whereas the contractors made them on a monthly basis as per the prevailing rates fixed by the Deputy Commissioner. The extra mandays marked on the muster rolls used to go in the pocket of the officers and contractors concerned, Cadha alleged.

Cadha produced the diary before the Vigilance authorities in which he used to maintain a record of the amount received by various officers of the GGSSTP from him. He also gave a list of 27 fictitious workers.

The contractor also lodged an FIR in the Ghanauli police station under Section 120-B regarding the contract labour scam. He deposited with the police the fake muster rolls. The police, however, also did not pursue the case.

On the complaint of Cadha, the DIG Vigilance in the PSEB, Mr D.S. Cadha, conducted an inquiry. In his report, he indicted about 25 officers of the GGSTP for the glaring misappropriations in employing contract labour.

The board constituted another committee comprising the Secretary of the board, Member Generation and the Member Finance to look into the findings of the Vigilance cell. The committee also substantiated its finding.

However, no action was taken against the officers held guilty in the enquiry. Even the charge sheets drafted by the Vigilance cell were never issued to the guilty officers.


PSEB staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 7
On a call given by the Struggle Committee, Punjab, employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Sunam, held a dharna and a rally in front of the divisional office here today. They demanded the implementation of the accord finalised between the representatives of the Struggle Committee and the board management on October 25, last year.


XEN alleges vandalism 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 7
An Executive Engineer, Mr Devinder Singh Jassar, of the Patiala Dranage Department, today complained to the police and the district administration that a local Congress leader and his supporters had resorted to goondaism in his office to stop him from opening tenders for flood protection works.

Mr Jassar claimed that Congress leader from the Ganaur constituency, Madan Lal barged into his office this afternoon along with armed men, and took away his mobile phone and office files besides destroying office furniture.

In a complaint to the SP (H) as well as the Deputy Commissioner, whom he also met personally, Mr Jassar claimed this incident happened in the presence of police personnel.

He said the police personnel had earlier been deputed at his office in the morning by the SP (H) when he had requested for security to the open the tender.

Mr Jassar said Mr Madan Lal and other local contractors, supporting Mr Madan Lal, had earlier also forced him to extend the date for opening of the tender from June 3 to June 6 for which corrigendum had to be issued in newspapers.

Mr Jassar has appealed to Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh to intervene in the matter as flood protection works would be delayed if the tenders were not allowed to be opened.

The Deputy Commissioner has reportedly asked Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Shivdular Singh Dhillon to conduct an inquiry into the case.


Torture victim reappears
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
Nirmal Singh, alias Dhiddi, the alleged torture victim in the Ghungrana treasure case, has re-appeared as mysteriously as he had disappeared. He reached his house in Ghungrana village late last night.

Mr Mukhwinder Singh Cheena, SSP, Jagraon, claimed in a press release issued here today that according to a statement given to the police by Mr Ajeet Singh, father of the victim, Dhiddi had never gone missing but had left on his own. However, he had claimed to “The Tribune” that his son was missing.

Supporting the previous statement of Mr Ajeet Singh and the missing of the victim as well as of the undue harassment of the whole family, Ms Shevinder Kaur Dhillon, a claimant to the treasure said the youth had definitely gone missing. A resident of Chandigarh, she told “The Tribune” that Mr Ajeet Singh had contacted her also to know if Dhiddi had come to meet her. The woman was helping the family fight the case.

Ms Dhillon said the victim's father was sobbing over the phone and was quite perturbed over the police harassment and the disappearance of the youth. She also confirmed that the victim's family was being harassed by the accused cops in the case who were also being supported by some serving cops in the area.

Mr Cheena, however, said his verification of the case revealed there was no pressure on Nirmal Singh or his family by any police officer.


Water samples unclean
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 7
Out of a total of 10 samples of drinking water collected from water sources of the municipal council in May, two samples were found unfit for the consumption. These samples were taken from Balmiki Mohalla and Kalyan Theatre.

Five samples from the water sources of the Public Health Department at Ropar were also taken but these were potable.

Dr Rana Harinder, Civil Surgeon, said the health authorities had collected these samples from different localities and mohallas, besides the main water tank of the municipal council.

The Civil Surgeon said the report had been sent to the Deputy Commissioner for action.

The Deputy Commissioner had asked the municipal authorities to give a reply about unfit samples.

Meanwhile, resentment prevails among residents of the town against the municipal authorities and the administration for not providing potable water to them. They said the water was light yellow or brown in colour in some areas.


Raman Mandi without water for 3 days
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 7
Residents of Raman Mandi, 45 km from here, have been without electricity for the past three days.

All essential services, including supply of drinking water and functioning of civil and private hospitals, have been disrupted.

The residents have been fetching drinking water from far-off places due to non-functioning of the water works. “The municipal council has been left with no other option but to wait for the restoration of electricity to start the supply of drinking water to residents,” said Mr Kishan Chand, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, here.

Special teams of engineers have been rushed to the power grid at Talwandi Sabo from where the power is supplied to the town to detect the fault and take corrective measures.

Though the SDO concerned, Mr Swaran Singh Khosa, claimed that power would be restored by the evening, the army of engineers drawn from various wings of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have failed to find the fault so far.


Give peace a chance: Sikh bodies
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 7
Expressing concern over the looming threat of war between India and Pakistan, Sikh organisations today asked the heads of both countries to allow international peace-keeping forces under the supervision of the United Nations to patrol along the LoC.

In a joint appeal passed during the meeting of heads of five Sikh organisations comprising Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon of Human Rights and Democracy Forum, Mr Satnam Singh of Dal Khalsa, Mr Narien Singh of Akal Federation, and Mr D.S. Gill from Sikh League said since both countries had lost faith in each other, the only option was to permit international peace-keeping forces to guard the LoC until the Kashmir issue was resolved.

Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, secretary of the Dal Khalsa, released the copy of the statement to the Press.

They said the military standoff between the two rivals was frightening and would spell disaster for both countries.


Remand of Langah’s touts extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 7
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, yesterday extended the judicial remand of four alleged touts of former Punjab Public Works Minister Sucha Singh Langah till June 20 in a case registered against them by the Vigilance Bureau under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998.

The four alleged touts are Amrik Singh Mohali, Municipal Councillor SAS Nagar, Gurcharan Singh Channi, Pradeep Bhateja and Kamaljit Singh, alias Neetu. They were produced in the court following expiry of their 14-day judicial remand granted by a Kharar court on May 24. The case was registered against them, on May 16.


Harpreet was pregnant, testifies doctor
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 7
Chandigarh-based doctor Jyoti Rana today testified that the late Harpreet, daughter of the former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, had been pregnant when she came for a check-up in February 2000.

Dr Rana while testifying in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr S.P. Bangar said Harpreet was four months pregnant and had come twice to her clinic. She said Harpreet had come along with Kamaljit, who according to the prosecution was the father of the child.

She said she had given Harpreet a tetanus shot and had also recommended her to go for an ultra sound examination. The next hearing is on July 25.


CM mourns Jatti’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 7
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has expressed grief and shock over the death of Mr B.D. Jatti, a former Vice-President of India, in Bangalore today.

In a condolence message, the Chief Minister said that Mr Jatti was a true statesman, who worked for the uplift of the weaker sections and the downtrodden. In his death, the country had lost a visionary, who had served the nation with devotion, dedication and missionary zeal.


Fortis cardiac camp on June 9
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 7
Fortis Heart Institute, as part of their healthcare and outreach programs, will organise a one-day free cardiac camp on June 9 in association with Dr Sanjeev Mittal of Mittal Hospital & Heart Center, opposite New Telephone Exchange, Exchange Road, in Moga. The camp will be held from 9 am till 4 pm.


GNDTP employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

GNDTP employees jam the traffic
GNDTP employees jam
the traffic at Bathinda on Friday. 
— Photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, June 7
Employees of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) held a rally today to show their resentment against the decision of the PSEB authorities for setting new criteria for giving the generation allowance to the employees.

They also disrupted the traffic on the Bathinda-Malout state highway for some time. The employees of the thermal plants situated in the city and at Lehra Mohabat village, had been agitating since May 30.


Blackout rehearsal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 7
The city was plunged into darkness and traffic came to a standstill as the siren was blared to announce the blackout rehearsal here today.

It brought back memories of the 1965 and 1971 wars. Almost everybody remained indoors during the hour-long blackout, watching their favourite television programmes.


Early paddy sowing lowers water table
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 7
Farmers are playing havoc with the sub-soil water resources by violating instructions issued by the Punjab Agriculture Department and Punjab Agricultural University pertaining to the transplantation of paddy.

The farmers had been directed not to transplant paddy in the state before June 10. The PAU has described the period between June 10 and 20 as the best one for the transplantation of paddy. However, farmers started sowing paddy in the middle of May, throwing aside the instructions.

Nearly 25 per cent area of the total 26 lakh hectares expected to be brought under paddy this year, has already been covered with the crop. In fact, at a number of places especially in this district, which has been topping in the production of paddy in the state for the past many years, one can see vast tracts of paddy crop.

Admitting that farmers were not adhereing the experts’ advice, an agriculture scientist commented, “There is none to discipline the farmers. While it is necessary to give them freebies and subsidies in the form of power and fertilisers etc, it is also required to play tough with them when they do not stick to the schedule for the sowing of various crops”.

The health of the top soil is also destroyed with long duration of watering of fields, he adds. Farmers are not realising loss they have been causing to the sub-soil water table which has gone down rapidly in the past 15 years because of unplanned transplantation of paddy.

Mr Charan Singh, a farmer of Badbar, said in his village every second year, the water table lowers by 5 feet and he has to shift booster pump deeper to keep the tubewell operational. It has added to the cost of installation of tubewells also.

Dr Gurcharan Singh, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, told TNS that the water table was going down by 40 cm every year for the past 10 years. The situation was alarming in districts like Moga, Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib and certain other central districts of Punjab to the south of the Sutlej.

“We are trying our best to educate farmers against the early transplantation of paddy”, he said. The sowing of paddy in May does not suit Punjab. The water table goes down to the lowest level in this month because it is the last month before the recharging of the water table starts with the arrival of monsoon in the end of June.

The only solution was that farmers be motivated to shift from paddy to other less water-consuming crops and to start sub-soil water recharging projects to check the depletion of water resources. A vast area of Punjab falls in the dark zone which means the 15 to 20 per cent more draining out of the sub-soil water than its recharging by monsoon etc in a year.

On why farmers resort to early transplantation, Mr Atama Singh, a farmer of Bhedpura village, near Patiala, asserted that late sowing of the crop leads to blackening of paddy grains, affecting its marketing. Late sowing also means late ripening of the crop, he adds.


Weekly off for industry
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 7
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today decided to impose compulsory weekly day off for all industrial consumers in the state from June 10.

This measure had been taken due to the rising power demand for farm tubewells. It said consumers could contact their respective PSEB circle offices or the Power Control Room at Patiala.


Exams on though results awaited
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 7
Even as the second semester MCA examinations have started, the Punjabi University authorities have failed to declare the results of the first semester held in December-January. Students are demoralised over the recent developments in connection with the affiliation and recognition of their course and institutes.

The recent notice of Punjabi University, disaffiliating colleges and institutes offering MCA courses, had put a question mark over the validity of the degrees.

Shikha Sharma (name changed) an MCA student at a college here, asked if the college authorities sought affiliation with Punjab Technical University (PTU) what would be the validity of the degrees as the first two semesters would be under Punjabi University and the rest under the PTU. She said “personal and political rivalries” should not affect the future of the students.

Officials of the college concerned admitted that the results of the first semester of the MCA were yet to be declared. A Principal of a private college pointed out that the college was equipped with the infrastructure and had well-qualified and trained staff, but still had been facing problems.

The authorities maintained that the colleges were granted affiliation only after the approval of the academic counsel and university Syndicate.

They maintained that the university had authorised them to continue with the (BMIT) and BCA courses but not the MCA course. This would not be financially viable for private institutes, they said. No senior officer of the university was available for comments.


Varsity panel to decide future of IT institutes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 7
Punjabi University has instituted a five-member committee headed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor to look into the future of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information and Technology (MRSIIT) and Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology (GGSIIT).

Both institutes were established by former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. The committee has been asked to submit its recommendations before the scheduled meeting of the Syndicate on June 19.

The university, which was earlier adamant on the closure of both institutes as it claimed that government norms were not followed, has been forced to institute a committee after students of the institutes appealed to the acting Vice-Chancellor N.S. Rattan to reconsider the issue.

The committee comprises the Pro VC, Dr R.N. Pal, Registrar K.S. Sidhu, Dean, Academics Dr U.C. Singh, Dean, Colleges, Prof S.P.S. Virdi and Computer Science Department Head Dr Chandan Singh.

Mr Rattan said the main problem before the authorities was cancelling the decision of the varsity. It had been decided to conduct the second semester examinations for students from June 22.

Sources said two of the committee members had protested against the setting up of the institutes.

While the MRSIIT is running courses on the university campus here, the GGSIIT is running various courses through distance education centres which it claims have been set up all over the country. According to the new university dispensation, the institutes could be affiliated with the Punjab Technical University only.


JRF roll numbers despatched
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 7
Roll numbers for the UGC test for the Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Lectureship which is scheduled to be held on June 23 have been despatched. This was stated by Dr Gurnam Singh, Co-ordinator of the test, in a press note issued here today. In case any student does not receive the roll number by June 17 he could contact the Co-ordinator along with two attested passport size photographs.

Meanwhile, Guru Nanak Dev University has declared the result of the MBA/MCA (five year course) entrance test which was conducted in morning here today. As many as 723 candidates appeared in the test. The office of the Co-ordinator, MCA Entrance Test 2002 of Guru Nanak Dev University, will remain open on June 8 and 9 for issuing duplicate admit cards. Prof Sarup Singh in a press note issued here today said the provisional admit card had already been sent to eligible candidates. In case any candidate fails to receive the card he could contact the office of the co-ordinator personally.


JET (sciences) results declared
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 7
Guru Nanak Dev University yesterday declared the results of the joint entrance test held on Wednesday for admission to various undergraduate science courses in the university.

More than 800 candidates appeared for the test. Tejinder Pal Singh (11130) got the top position. Sumedha Arora (11538) and Karan Kaushal (11035) got second and third positions, respectively.


Gold medallist ignored
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, June 7
A gold medallist of Punjabi University, Patiala, has moved the Lok Pal for her merit was ignored during the selection of school lecturers.

In a communication to the Lok Pal, Jagbir Kaur, daughter of Mr Kartar Singh of Bhogiwal village, near here, has alleged that the selection committee for recommending 29 names for school lecturers had ignored her merit and had made these appointments on “safarish” or by accepting bribe. She is sad her medal could not get her a school lecturer’s job.

Having done her B.Sc., B.Ed., MA (Punjabi) and M.Phil with good marks she had topped not only Punjabi University but all universities of the state in 1999. She said she was awarded only five marks out of 15 in the interview whereas the favourites of the board had been awarded 15 marks.

She said a candidate with 56 per cent in MA (Punjabi), had been given a higher rank whereas her 72 per cent marks could not even get her the last rank in the waiting list though her name appeared on the top of the list prior to the interview.


BCA, B.Sc (IT) test postponed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 7
The UGIT entrance test-2002 for admission to BCA and B.Sc (IT) courses in colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, scheduled for the June 13, has been postposed.

This was stated by Mr Kulwant Singh, coordinator of the test, in a press note issued here yesterday.

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