Wednesday, June 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab to defend cops who fought terrorism
Two MLAs join Congress

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said that the government would do everything possible to ‘’defend’’ policemen, who had done a commendable job in fighting terrorism. All monetary and legal assistance would be provided to the policemen and regretted that just because some of them could not afford litigation, they were in prison at present. Already a litigation cell, headed by an Inspector-General of Police, was functioning.

Addressing a news conference at his residence, Capt Amarinder Singh expressed his concern at the ‘’inhuman’’ living conditions of security personnel, who had long duty hours and yet did not have even basic facilities like proper kitchens, cooking gas (firewood was used), water coolers, toilets and barracks.

Giving an example of the living quarters of his own securitymen, he said he was appalled to see that they were virtually living in a slum. He personally took mediapersons to the place to show the stinking toilets and what renovation was under way. ‘’As money becomes available, I would certainly like to improve the housing facility of the police and the paramilitary forces all over the state’’, he remarked.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who returned from New Delhi after a meeting with the Planning Commission, disclosed that he had been assured by the Member, Agriculture, Mr Som Pal, that there would be neither decentralisation of the procurement of foodgrains nor dismantling of the minimum support price system.

In his presentation, the Chief Minister had impressed upon the commission that the much-hyped ‘’food surplus’’ was only ‘’illusory’’ because while on the one hand, millions were living below the poverty line, who must be provided with food as per their requirements, on the other hand, much of the stocks lying in the available storage might, in fact, turn out to be ‘’unfit’’ for human consumption.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was flanked by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, thanked the people for endorsing the Congress policies pursued in the past 100 days, by overwhelmingly voting in favour of the party in the panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections. The Congress won 79 per cent of the zila parishad posts and 64 per cent of the samiti posts.

He rejected the Akali allegation of foul play during the elections. As the Akalis had been defeated, including on their home turf, Lambi, Malout, etc, they could only cry for a repoll and level allegations. ‘’It is time Mr Parkash Singh Badal retires from politics. He has grown too old. He should go to a gurdwara and do service”, he quipped.

Patting himself on the back, Capt Amarinder Singh said the panchayati raj institution poll showed that people approved of the government fighting corruption and showed that ‘’good’’ governance could pay electoral dividends.

Capt Amarinder Singh said during the Budget session all Congress MLAs would be given forms to fill to provide details of their assets. The forms would be submitted to the AICC Ethics Committee Chairman, Dr Manmohan Singh. “These will not be made public’’.

Having taken stock of the state’s financial situation, working of the public sector undertakings, state of the economy, both agricultural and industrial, the government, Capt Amarinder Singh said, was now poised to draw the road map for reconstructing Punjab.

He said that the Washington-based Smithsonian Institute has organised a ‘’black-tie’’ dinner on June 12 to raise funds for preserving and protecting the ‘’cultural heritage’’ of Punjab. Though invited to the dinner, Capt Amarinder Singh could not go.

On the question of ‘’lavish’’ spending on the renovation of some of the houses allotted to his close associates, Capt Amarinder Singh was evasive, but aware where the finger pointed.

He also announced the return of Mr Om Parkash Soni and Mr Sher Singh Gaggowal, both MLAs, to the Congress fold.


Capt Amarinder Singh was in his element today. Joyed over the success in the panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections, he shared lighter moments with the mediapersons. For instance, he said, he began his day by devoting one and a half hours to reading newspapers. In order of preference, he began his day with The Tribune. For spice it was The Indian Express and then Hindustan Times, etc. He got language dailies as well, but, amidst laughter, would not say which paper he did not read.


On the question of overspending on the renovation of ministers’ houses, including his own, he said when he had a look at the place before shifting it was... (he fumbled for the appropriate word) and smilingly said: “If I use it, it will make headlines’’.


Pointing in the direction of the gym, he remarked, tongue in cheek, he had got it redone and got his own machines for the workouts. “The only change I made is the hanging of a curtain that was missing between the gym and the jacuzzi used by ...’’.


Soon after the swearing-in ceremony at Punjab Raj Bhavan, Capt Amarinder Singh brought along the new member of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Lt-Gen. Surjit Singh, and introduced him to the mediapersons. The Chief Minister said he was two years junior to General Surjit Singh, who had twice missed the opportunity to become the Chief of Army staff.

Asked why there were ex-servicemen now in key slots in the administration, he quipped: “The Army does a better job. That is why things are working now ‘’.


Surjit Singh sworn in PPSC member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Lt-Gen Surjit Singh (retd) was sworn in as a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) by the Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), at a simple ceremony at Raj Bhavan here today. The slot was created with the retirement of Mr R.C. Gupta.

General Surjit Singh will perform the duties of Chairman till the removal of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, who has been suspended.

The Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, read out the warrant of appointment and the oath was administered in the presence of a select gathering, including some ministers, besides the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mrs Deep Surjit Singh was also present.

General Surjit Singh had retired in March. He is the only General to have commanded field armies twice and also twice missed the chance to become the Chief of Army Staff, once due to two years’ extension in the retirement age and, recently, due to a delay in the implementation of the Chief of Defence Services appointment.

He is a keen environmentalist and a voracious reader. General Surjit Singh comes from Nawanshahr, where he had his preliminary education. He has a son and a daughter, both married. His son is working in a multinational company.

Commissioned into the Army in 1961, he saw operations in 1965, 1971 and has worked in the East, leading his men against insurgency. He is a recipient of the PVSM.

General Surjit Singh said he was a member of a team that was required to function in a transparent and efficient manner and provide to the state the best available manpower for administration. It was a challenging job and he would do his duty, making use of his Army background, where any task assigned must be done.

Asked if he and his wife had planned a quiet life after retirement (he has put in 41 years of service) and whether he took his wife’s permission before accepting the new job, he laughed and said: “It is a challenge, which I have accepted”.


Initiate power reforms, Pant tells Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has reasons to feel happy. His request to the Planning Commission for special allocation of Rs 50 crore to meet government obligations in the border districts has been partially met.

Following the presentation made to the Deputy Chairman , Dr K.C. Pant, in Delhi on June 10, Punjab’s Rs 2,750 crore Annual Plan (2002-03) stands enhanced by Rs 43 crore. It is now pegged at Rs 2,793 crore.

The bottom line of the Chief Minister’s presentation was how Punjab proposed to take a U-turn to put the economy back on the rails. Therefore, he emphasised that the Commission must intervene to bring ‘’greater equity’’ into the relationship between the state and the Central government, as also provide additional central assistance.

Dr Pant, while landing Punjabi entrepreneurship, regretted that the state’s economic growth had slowed down. It was 5.2 per cent in 1980-81 to 1996-97 and decelerated to 4.67 per cent in the first three years of the 9th Plan period. Referring to the structural changes in the economy in the past two decades, he said, the contribution of the primary sector to the gross state domestic product declined from 49.13 per cent in 1980-81 to an estimated 40.49 per cent in 1998-99, while that of the secondary sector went up from 20.01 per cent to 29.44 per cent in the same period. The share of the service sector has virtually remained stagnant at around 30 per cent.

Punjab achieved the 9th Plan target of foodgrain production, mainly due to the wheat-paddy rotation. This, however, has had an adverse effect on soil health, as also resulting in the over-exploitation of groundwater. The commission wanted Punjab to diversify into fruits, vegetables, floriculture, oilseed, sugarcane and cotton. ‘’Biotechnology should form an important component of the programme of second push to agriculture and allied sectors.”

On irrigation, the commission advised Punjab to improve the system net-work, as the state had harnessed 98 per cent of the available irrigation potential.There had to be better management of water resources. In the same breath, Dr Pant spoke about implementing the decision of the Chief Ministers and Power Ministers conferences to charge at least 50 paise per kwh for agricultural consumption.

The Punjab State Electricity board was incurring commercial losses, he noted. The average tariff charged in 2001-02 accounted for only 65.4 per cent of the average cost of supply. Of the total available power, the agricultural sector consumed 28.47 per cent for which farmers were not charged. Unmetered supply to farmers concealed the actual level of losses during transmission and distribution. “The state should initiate power reforms in right earnest’’, he added.

The commission expressed concern over the losses incurred by Punjab Roadways, Rs 89.35 crore in 2001-02. This was due to a large, obsolete fleet of buses and huge revenue expenditure, coupled with sluggish revenue receipts due to concessions.

There was visible concern over literacy. The rate is slightly higher than the national average but at least in seven districts it is below the national/state average. There is also preponderance of Scheduled Castes and low-income group students among dropouts.

The sex ratio was specifically mentioned by the Deputy Chairman. The female-male ratio, which was 882:1000 against the All-India figures of 927:1000, has, according to the 2001 census, dropped further to 874 against 933 for All-India. This trend could have serious repercussions, if allowed to continue unchecked.

The commission’s advice, in a nutshell, is that Punjab must take a ‘’holistic view’’ of developmental issues at this stage.

Capt Amarinder Singh assured “reforms’’, hoping the commission would enable Punjab to change its economy. The commission projection was that Punjab was the slowest growing state. But then the commission, as also the Centre must help the state grow. The Chief Minister observed that the share of central taxes to states was much lower than projected by the 11th Finance Commission. He also suggested to the commission that the formula governing central assistance must be revised from the present 70 per cent loan and 30 per cent grant to 50 per cent loan and 50 per cent grant.

Taking a broad view of the commission’s advice, Capt Amarinder Singh said the burden of loans must be reduced by allowing states to ‘’pre-pay the high cost debt’’. Such rescheduling of debt would be ‘’monetary policy neutral’’. He also urged Dr Pant to provide higher open market borrowings.

Some of the central agencies earned huge profits at the cost of states by charging high rate of interest on loans. This was unfair. Capt Amarinder Singh pleaded that since the government was downsizing its public sector undertakings and improving its fiscal management, the commission and the Centre must help the state financially in drawing up attractive voluntary retirement schemes.


CM to ‘secure’ package for Punjab
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, June 11
Mr Ashwani Kumar, member, Rajya Sabha, and Chairman of the Vichar Vibhag cell, AICC, said here yesterday that the Congress would extend full support to the Central Government to combat cross-border terrorism, but will not compromise on the issue of national security and integration.

Mr Kumar said the President should be elected through consensus after consultation with other political parties.

Mr Kumar, who was addressing a gathering at the felicitation ceremony organised by Mr Ashok Sharma and other Congressmen on his arrival at Pathankot after being elected as member, Rajya Sabha, said he would work to revive the Punjab economy. He said Capt Amarinder Singh and other Congressmen would meet the Prime Minister for securing a special package for Punjab to bring its economy back on the rails.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharma, MLA, thanked Mr Kumar for sparing time to visit his constituency.

He said Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, had strengthened the party and enthused party workers. He said the Congress had always protected the interests of the weaker sections of society.

GURDASPUR: Mr Kumar, talking to newsmen here on Tuesday said that Punjab’s demands, including distribution of river waters and merger of Chandigarh and other leftout areas with Punjab, would be his priority in the coming Rajya Sabha session.

Regarding construction of the SYL canal as per the decision of the Supreme Court, Mr Kumar said the Congress was looking for constitutional means to withhold the construction. He added that the Eradi Tribunal was yet to give its decision regarding distribution of river waters. The Congress would put up its case before the tribunal that Punjab could not spare even a drop of water and hopefully the decision would be judicious, he said.

Political parties should not pursue policies which endangered the unity and integrity of the country. He accused the BJP of pursuing such a policy in Gujarat in spite of communal tension in the state.

Mr Kumar said the move to reappoint India’s a High Commissioner in Pakistan and allowing Pakistan the use of Indian airspace have lessened tension between the two countries and are steps in the right direction. He said he favoured diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan.

He said the people of India had made up their minds to change the government at the Centre. The Congress had formed governments in 13 states and was sure to increase its tally.


Abolition of posts halts promotions
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Punjab Government’s order to abolish all vacant posts and those which are likely to fall vacant in various departments has applied brakes on the process of promotions of the employees in the state.

An order issued by the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y. S. Ratra, has directed the administrative secretaries and head of various departments to not fill the posts lying vacant and those which are likely to fall vacant due to retirement or other reasons. The order stated that all such posts should be deemed abolished forthwith. A post, thus, abolished could only be revived with the prior approval of the Council of Ministers after seeking the advice of the Department of Finance.

Mr Ratra issued the order to enforce the decision of the cabinet sub-committee to reduce non-plan expenditure on salaries and allowances of government.

While enforcing the order, the authorities have stopped the filling of the posts of block education officers, superintendents, deputy directors and other officers. The authorities concerned interpreting the Chief Secretary’s order said since the post falling vacant because of retirement was supposed to be abolished, therefore there would be no promotion to fill that post.

Earlier, most of the posts falling vacant at middle and higher level used to be filled by promotion on the seniority basis from the employees eligible for the post within the department. Since the Chief Secretary has directed not to fill such vacant posts and abolish the same, the process of promotions in various departments has been halted. The Punjab Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation has submitted a representation to the Chief Secretary, Mr Ratra to issue the clarification urging the authorities concerned that the posts falling vacant at the higher level should be filled by promotion by following the earlier practice.

Mr Oma Kant Tewari, general secretary of the organisation, said the Chief Secretary had assured that he would issue clarification. A representation had been submitted to the Chief Minister today requesting him to revise the order. Mr Tewari said as many as 200 officials had retired last month awaiting their promotion and about a similar number of employees would retire this month. He said that the government should first abolish the posts of Financial Commissioners, Principal Secretaries, Special Secretaries and DGPs, ADGPs and others at senior level. He said the government was wielding the axe against junior-level employees. He said the employees had been feeling demoralised following the ban on recruitments. Besides, the government had not paid 4 per cent DA in cash to employees, he said.


Congress wins more ZP seats
Tribune Reporters

Muktsar, June 11
The Congress has made a clean sweep in the Zila Parishad election in the district by winning all eight seats polling for which was held on June 9. Polling for the Sikhwala seat will be held on June 12.

As per a notification of the state Election Commission, the winners are: Gursewak Singh (Lambi), Sito (Malout Pind), Tulsi Singh (Bhuttiwala), Parminder Kaur (Dhaula), Natha Singh (Surewala), Parminder Singh Pasa (Lakhewal) Parmjeet Kaur (Ude Karan) and Ajaypal Singh (Hari Ko Kalan).

The Congress has won 11 out of 18 seats in the Malout Panchayat Samiti election. The remaining seats have been won by the SAD.

The Congress candidates have won from Bam, Midda, Bodiwala Khadak Singh, Shamkot, Danewala, Jandwala Charat Singh, Enna Khera, Alamwala, Jhorar, Bhangchari and Khunan Kalan while those of SAD have won from Panniwala Fata, Aspal, Kattianwali, Burj Sidhwan, Malout Village, Bhagwanpura and Tamkot.

ABOHAR: In the local Panchayat Samiti election, the Congress has won 15 out of 22 seats results for which were declared last evening. Six seats have been won by SAD candidates.

Congress winners included Mr Mohan Lal (Shergarh), Mr Sohan Lal (Waryamkhera), Mr Naib Singh (Dhani Karnail Singh), Mr Sandeep Kumar (Mammukhera), Mr Vijaypal (Rampura), Mr Sant Ram (Khubban), Mr Udmi Ram (Seetogunno), Ms Chhinderpal Kaur (Bahadurkhera), Mr Vikram Karwasra (Ramsara), Mr Ashok Kumar (Bhagu), Ms Rukma Devi, Ms Shanti Devi (Raipura), Ms Chanderkala (Kerakhera), Mr Balwinder Singh (Burj Hanumangarh) and Ms Hardip Kaur (Kundal).

SAD winners are: Ms Sushila (Kandhwala Amarkot), Mr Rohtas Singh (Dazidpur Dhoma), Mr Vijay Singh (Dulanwali), Mr Ajaib Singh, Ms Reshma (Chanankhera) and Mr Jaspinder Singh (Dharangwala). Mr Gurmukh Singh his won as Independent from Burjmuharwala zone.

FEROZEPORE: Out of 22 seats of the Zila Parishad 16 have been won by the Congress, one each by the SAD and the BJP while one seat has been won by an Independent. The results of Ladhuwala Uttarh, Wajidpur Bhoma and Sajrana zones will be declared by tomorrow evening following orders of re-polling in three villages.

The Congress candidates who have won the Zila Parishad seats are: Narinder Singh (Fatehgarh Sabrawan), Baldev Singh (Khosa Dal Singh), Mukhtiar Kaur (Saner), Sukhdev Singh Bhullar (Bhagwanpura), Gurwant Kaur (Mamdot Uttarh), Jagdish Kaur (Karhma), Sant Singh Brar (Guru Har Sahai), Harpreet Kaur (Panjeke Uttarh, Sharda Rani (Chak Sotria), Amar Singh (Hasta Kalan), Tota Ram (Amiwala Shekh Subham), Vijay Kumar (Sayyidwala), Mahinder (Panj Kosi), Santa Singh (Bareka), Simar Singh (Kandhwala Amarkot), Baljit Singh (Balluana) and Shrimati Rani (Bajidpur). The SAD and BJP candidates who won the seats of Zila Parishad are Gurmeet Singh (Mudki) and Harbans Singh (Aarafke) respectively.

As far as the presidentship of the Zila Parishad is concerned, Sukhdev Singh Bhullar from Bhagwanpura, Sant Singh Brar from Guru Har Sahai and Mahinder from Panj Kosi are named in the political circles.

In Makhu block Samiti, all 15 seats have been won by the Congress. And in Zira, the Congress has got 13 out of total of 15 seats. Similarly, in the Ferozepore block, where BJP has managed to secure two out of the 15 seats, five have been won by the independents leaving a simple majority of 8 seats to the Congress.

In Mamdot block the Congress has won all 15 seats. In rest of the blocks-Abohar, Khuian Sarvar, Jalalabad, Fazilka and Guru Har Sahai — the Congress has made its supremacy. According to Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, the Congress has won 145 seats out of 182 results declared in all blocks. Results of five seats are likely to be declared by tomorrow evening following orders of re-polling. The SAD has won 21, the BJP three, the CPI two and the Independents 13.

GURDASPUR: Out of the 25 Zila Parishad zone the Congress has won 22, the SAD (B) 1 and Independents 2.

Out of 259 zones of Panchayat Samitis in the district, the Congress has won in 197, the SAD-BJP alliance in 38 and Independents in 22. In 2 zones identified as 13 and 14 in Dhariwal development block, papers of all party candidates were rejected earlier.

The Congress has made a clean sweep in development blocks of Kahnuwan, Dera Baba Nanak, Sujanpur and Gurdaspur by winning all 67 zones.

HOSHIARPUR: The Congress has captured the local Zila Parishad. Out of 21 zones of Zila Parishad, the Congress has won 15, the SAD (B) 5 and Independent 1.

Out of 10 block samitis in the district, the Congress has captured 7 while the SAD (B) has remained victorious at 1. In Garhshankar block, Independents got majority and in Mahilpur block none of the party has succeeded in forming samiti independently.

Following are the final results — Hoshiarpur-1: (total zones 21), The Congress 12, the SAD (B) 7 and Independents 2; Hoshiarpur-II (total zones 22) the Congress 15, the SAD (B) 5 and Independents 2; Bhunga (total zones 19), the Congress 12, SAD (B) 5, and Independents 2; Mahilpur (total zones 19), the Congress 6, the SAD (B) 6, the CPI 2 and Independents 5; Garhshankar (total zones 25), the Congress 7, Independents 17 and CPM 1; Tanda (total zones 17) the Congress 7, the SAD (B) 9 and Independent 1; Dasuya (total zones 16) the Congress 13, the SAD (B) 2 and Independent 1; Mukerian (total zones 16) the Congress 14, the SAD (B) 2; Hajipur (total zones 15) the Congress 11, the SAD (B) 2 and Independents 2; Talwara (total zones 15) the Congress 13, the CPI and Independent 1 each.

Out of 185 zones, the Congress has secured 110, the SAD (B) 38, the CPI 3, the CPM 1 and Independents 33.

KAPURTHALA: The Congress has captured block samitis of Sultanpur Lodhi and Dhilwan while the SAD (B) has captured Nadala block samiti.

In Kapurthala block samiti, the focus is on Independents as both parties have failed to get majority.

Out of 10 seats of Zila Parishad, the SAD-BJP-BSP alliance has captured five seats, the Congress four while one seat has been won by Independent.

The following are results of different block samitis.

Kapurthala (total seats 17) the Congress 7, the SAD-BJP-BSP alliance 7 and Independents 3; Sultanpur Lodhi — the Congress 11, SAD-BJP-BSP 3 and Independent 1; Nadala (total seats 15) the SAD 11 and the Congress 4; Dhilwan (total seats 15) the Congress 9, the SAD 5 and Independent 1.

Out of 10 seats of the Zila Parishad, Congress winners are: Bakshish Singh, Mukhtiar Singh, Gurmail Singh Geila and Harjinder Singh. Akali-BJP-BSP winners are: Ms Paramjit Kaur, Nathu Ram, Kulwant Kaur (Nadala), Kulwant Kaur (Ramgarh) and Kashmir Singh.

PATIALA: The Congress has won 19 out of 21 local Zila Parishad seats. Two seats have been won by candidates of the SAD.

The Congress winners are: Devinder Singh Chahal (Kalyan), Gursharan Kaur (Daftari Wala), Chunni Lal (Malewal), Urmila Devi (Dudhan Sada), Umar Ranjit Singh (Bhuner Heri), Balwinder Ram (Arnetu), Paramjit Kaur (Duldi), Baldev Singh (Maddaur), Harvinder Singh (Loh Simbli), Paramjit Singh (Dhaneta), Jagwinder Singh (Bamna), Harmesh Kumar (Balwera), Har Roopinder Kaur (Main), Rajesh Kumar (Harpalpur), Madan Lal (Bhadurgarh), Baljit Kaur (Mubarakpur, Harmesh Kumar (Lalru), Kuljit Singh (Bhankarpur) and Harkesh Kaur (Chalaila).

Jaswant Singh and Amarjit Kaur of the SAD have won from Neelpur and Khera Gajju respectively.

PHAGWARA: Though the Congress has swept Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad poll in various parts of the state, the SAD-BJP-BSP alliance here secured majority by winning 11 seats of the Panchayat Samiti out of 19 and the Congress had to be content with eight seats.

The results were delayed due to recounting in zone 5 of Malikpur. The recounting had to be done after the Congress lodged objection when it came to know that its candidate Gian Singh was losing by just six votes. However, after the recounting the victory margin of the Akali candidate Gurpreet Singh increased by 56 votes.

The following are winners: Mr Ram Saran (Lakhpur), Ms Ashok Kumari (Palahi), Mr Nachhattar Ram (Ranipur Kamboan), Mr Bhulla Ram (Khajurala), Mr Baldev Singh (Bhanoki), Mr Gurpreet Singh (Malikpur), all SAD candidates; Ms Rupinder Kaur (Rehana Jattan), Mr Charanjit Singh (Uchapind, (Ms Krishna (Mauli), Ms Kanwaljit Kaur (Chachoki), Mr Piara Lal (Bhulla Rai), all BSP candidates; Ms Upinderjit Kaur (Domeli), Mr Hari Singh (Panshta), Mr Shangara Ram (Khalwara), Mr Sukhwinder Singh (Jagpalpur), Ms Vijay Laxami (Nangal Majha), Mr Hukam Singh (Mehtan) Inderjit (Sahni) and Mr Sadhu Ram (Kot Rani), all Congress candidates.

ROPAR: Out of 10 results of the local Zila Parishad elections declared till 8.00 pm yesterday, the Congress has won in eight zones while the SAD has captured only two zones. There are 13 zones in the local Zila Parishad. The results of three zones are still awaited.

The following are Congress winners: Ms Veena Kumari (Bhabour Sahib), Mr Kanwal Singh (Kulgran), Mr Prem Singh (Kiratpur Sahib), Mr Daulat Singh (Takhtgarh), Ms Kuldeep Kaur (Bharatgarh), Mr Jagir Singh (Kotla Nihang), Mr Harbans Singh (Teeur) and Ms Sonika (Khizrabad). The SAD candidates — Ms Harpreet Kaur and Mr Dharam Singh — have won from Chamkaur Sahib and Morinda, respectively.

By winning eight seats in the Zila Parishad, the Congress has proved its majority.

BATHINDA: The Congress has won 69 of the 134 seats in the Panchayat Samiti elections. The SAD outperformed the Congress in certain pockets.

Of the eight zones in this district, the Congress outperformed the SAD in as many as five zones but had to eat a humble pie in Phul where the latter won 10 of the 15 seats and two went to Independents. The SAD also proved its mettle in Bhagta where they won nine of the 15 seats. As many as 16 Independents were also elected to panchayat samiti this time and the largest number of Independents (four) made it to the Zila Parishad from Bhagta.

The CPI managed to win only the Mall Walla, seat where its candidate, Mr Randhir Singh, was declared winner. The SAD (A) candidate, Ms Daljit Kaur, was declared a winner from Gehri Devi Nagar, from Bathinda zone.

The Nathana zone proved to be a close battle and of the 15 seats while the SAD won seven the Congress came a close second by winning six seats and the remaining two seats went to Independents.

JALANDHAR: The Congress has registered victories in block samiti and Zila Parishad election here by winning 92 and 15 seats respectively.

Notable among the winners from the Congress side was Mr Ramanjit Singh, grand son of senior Congress leader and former minister Mr Umrao Singh, who defeated his nearest rival in block samiti elections by a margin of more than 800 votes.

The SAD has been routed from rural areas of the district as it has managed to win 52 seats out of 173 in block samiti elections and only one seat out of 19 seats in Zila Parishad elections.

The Independents have won 29 and 2 seats for block samiti and Zila Parishad elections respectively.


Akali MLAs to meet PM on law & order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Akali MLAs, led by SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, will proceed to Delhi on June 14 to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani the next day to apprise them of the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state.

Mr Badal said he had met the Prime Minister and the Home Minister last evening in Delhi to seek an appointment regarding the meeting of MLAs with them.

Meanwhile, Akali legislators, according to Mr Badal, have submitted a motion to the Speaker of the state Assembly, Dr Kewal Krishan, seeking full debate on the “political murders” and the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state. Mr Badal said the Akali leaders and activists would not rest till Congress minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar was arrested in connection with the murder of Akali leader Gurdial Singh and his certain close relatives at Bhikhiwind last month. Mr Badal alleged that Mr Bhullar was behind the murder.

After addressing a group of Akali workers, who had come from the Valtoha constituency to stage a dharna at the local Matka Chowk to seek the arrest of Mr Bhullar, Mr Badal said he would keep his promise to the people of the constituency that those involved in the murder of Gurdial Singh and others would be made to face the law of the land. Several family members of Gurdial Singh, including his widow, Gian Kaur, his sister Jeevan Kaur, his brother Nau Nihal Singh, along with others, had come here to participate in the dharna.

As we are expecting no justice from Capt Amarinder Singh’s government on this issue, we have also planned to move to high court to seek a CBI probe in this case”. He said before getting any inquiry conducted, Capt Amarinder Singh had given a clean chit to Mr Bhullar.

He said Akalis were not even being allowed to hold rallies and were being sent to jail even for using their democratic right to protest.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, in charge of the publicity unit of SAD, said his party’s MLAs would not allow the Assembly to function till those involved in the “political” murders were arrested.

Among the others who addressed the dharna were Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Raj Mohinder Singh, Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Swaran Singh, Mr Veer Singh Lopoke and Mr Surinder Singh Kairon.


Crucial SGPC-Centre meeting tomorrow
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 11
Even as the Union Home Minister has convened a crucial meeting to amend the 77-year-old Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, on June 13 at Delhi, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, has decided to lodge a protest against inviting of Chief Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Governor, Union Territory, Chandigarh at the meeting, Mr Badungar said as per Nehru-Tara Singh Pact 1953, the Central Government could make any amendment in the Act with the consent of SGPC only and hence the Chief Ministers had nothing to do with such meetings.

Earlier, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, had lodged a strong protest when Chief Secretaries and DGPs of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh had attended the meeting on May 17 in the office of Union Home Secretary, at Delhi with regard to the amendment in the Gurdwara Act. Talking to TNS, she said though the Union Home Secretary had assured her that he would record the dissenting note of the SGPC, yet representatives of other states at the meeting, proposed to be held on June 13 was bound to create unsavoury situation. She said the SGPC could not tolerate the intervention of any state in the Act or Sikh affairs.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur alleged that during the meeting held on May 17, representatives of the Punjab Government had rejected the proposals of the SGPC without any reason while the representatives of Haryana had supported the same on the ground that it was the prerogative of the SGPC to make such suggestions.

Mr Badungar said the main agenda of the proposed meeting to be held on June 13 (earlier the meeting was scheduled for June 12) would include the demand for deleting the word ‘Sehajdhari’ from the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925. Such an amendment would deprive the ‘Sehajdharis’ the right to vote during the SGPC elections. Another point of discussion would be reducing the age limit of SGPC voter from 21 years to 18 years. The SGPC has also sought amendment to the Act to ensure that the general elections of the SGPC and local gurdwara committees should be held simultaneously.

In yet another demand, the SGPC has asked the Centre that instead of Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Chairman of the Sikh Gurdwara Commission should preside over the first meeting of the SGPC after its elections.

The SGPC, however, has reportedly decided not to discuss the issue of ‘one man, one post’ at the proposed meeting to held on June 13. It may be mentioned here that the SGPC executive had decided that if any MLA or MP was also elected as SGPC member he or she should not become an office-bearer or executive member of the Shiromani committee. The move was aimed at debarring Bibi Jagir Kaur, Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra from contesting the forthcoming election of the SGPC President. However, Mr Badungar said since the issue was not passed by the general house, it could not be part of the agenda of the proposed meeting.


No commitment from Power Minister
Funding of Shahpur Kandi Project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Is Punjab suffering for want of funds in the power sector due to non-implementation of the power sector reforms agreed upon at a central-level meeting a few months ago? In the reforms is an inbuilt system to do away with subsidies or at least rationalise them to logical limits.

Today the suffering was even more evident. At a function here, the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh P. Prabhu, did not make a public announcement about future funding of the Shahpur Kandi Project despite cajoling by the Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd). The dam — an important one on the Ravi river — is a desperate need but the non-committal minister reflected the mood of the Power Ministry. Later when media-persons asked the minister about funding for the dam, the minister did not give a clear answer saying “Though it is on the list of projects but funds are not earmarked in the immediate future.”

Without the dam, the waters of the Ravi which have been allocated for use to India under the Indus Water Treaty, 1960, are flowing waste to Pakistan as no barrier exists to prevent the flow. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, made an announcement while formally commissioning the Ranjit Sagar Dam in October last.

Sources in the power sector in Punjab said the question of funding such huge projects is directly linked to reduction in subsidies.

Actually during the function today, the Punjab Governor was present in his capacity as UT Administrator. During his speech at the commissioning of the 220 KV sub-station in Chandigarh he exhorted the Union Power Minister to make an announcement about the Shahpur Kandi Project. He said: “On behalf of the people of Punjab I request the Minister to release the funds for the Shahpur Kandi Project at the earliest”. In his typical informal way the Governor asked the Minister to come forward and make an announcement but this was resisted by the Union Minister. Seeing his discomfort the Governor did not insist. Later, the Minister told reporters that Punjab and Haryana had to follow the principles agreed upon for power reforms in the country.

It may be recollected that a few months ago the Minister had come for another function in Punjab where he made it very clear that populist schemes would have to go.


Murder suspect exonerated
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 11
Sucha Singh, the NRI brother of Dalo, has been exonerated in the Dalo murder case and the “supari” angle sought to be given by the killer Pawittar Singh has turned out to be a ruse, a press note said here today. Dalo of Mauli village was kidnapped last month by his friend Pawittar Singh of Sadana village robbed of Rs 30.35 lakh, strangled and buried at Nawanpind village falling in Phillaur. The police had exhumed the decomposed body of Dalo on June 6 after nabbing Pawittar under Sections 364, 302, 120-B, 34 of the IPC. Pawittar had alleged that Sucha Singh, the younger brother of Dalo, who was settled in the UK, was behind the murder.

Sucha Singh, however, come to India and presented himself before local DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill who after a thorough probe, found him innocent. Sucha Singh had told the DSP that he had joint accounts with his brother Dalo and as such could withdraw money whenever he wanted. The police found that Pawittar Singh, a relative of Sucha Singh , had committed the crime all by himself and kept the entire amount of Rs 30.35 lakh robbed from the victim. Pawittar Singh, who is currently on a seven day police remand confessed during investigation, that he had himself strangled Dalo, the DSP added.


Move to sack PCMS docs opposed
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, June 11
In response to a call given by the PCMSA, doctors of the state wore black badges today in protest against the decision of the Punjab Government to terminate the services of all 872 doctors selected during the tenure of former Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravi Sidhu and the proposed move of the finance committee to abolish the NPA.

In a press note issued here, Dr Hardeep Singh, president, and Dr Surinder Singla, general secretary of the association, said the association members had pleaded the case of 872 colleagues but had not received any positive move from the Chief Minister. Dr Hardeep said these doctors had been serving in rural areas of Punjab for three to four years.

The PCMS doctors thanked the Health Minister, Dr R.C. Dogra, for strongly representing the case of doctors to the Chief Minister and urged Capt Amarinder Singh to reconsider the decision.

Regarding the NPA issue, the association demanded that the proposed move of finance committee should be halted immediately as NPA was a right of doctors.

The PCMS doctors wore black badges and protested at the Civil Surgeon’s office, ESI hospital and civil hospitals at Ludhiana, Jagraon, Khanna and Samrala. Dr Hardeep Singh said similar protests were held at Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Sangrur, Faridkot, Gurdaspur, Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar and Ropar.

NAWANSHAHR: Doctors working in the civil hospitals, dispensaries and primary health centres of the district today wore black badges to protest against the state government’s proposed move to terminate the services of more than 850 doctors appointed during the tenure of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu and to abolish the NPA. This was stated by Dr H.S. Gupta, regional secretary of the PCMSA, in a press note issued here.


Probe ordered into former Mayor’s working
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 11
The state Local Bodies Department has asked the Vigilance Bureau of the Punjab police to conduct an investigation into the alleged irregularities committed by the former BJP Mayor of Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, Mr Suresh Sehgal, during his five years of tenure.

Talking to reporters after the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected councillors of the civic body at the MC office here yesterday, the state Local Bodies Minister, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, revealed that his department had asked the Vigilance Bureau to conduct a thorough probe into the alleged irregularities committed by Mr Sehgal during his tenure as Mayor.

When asked whether the department was considering to hand over the investigation into the multi-crore scam involving senior officials and some builders, who had erected huge buildings allegedly in violation of building bylaws throughout the city, the minister said that he was unaware of the matter.

The Vigilance wing of the Local Bodies Department, during a raid on the MC office last week, found from the official records that about 7,300 legal notices, issued to building defaulters during the past five years, were deliberately “suppressed” and no action was taken with regard to realising “compensation” fee, estimated to be Rs 100 crore, from them.

Choudhary Jagjit Singh said strict action would be taken against the erring officials and the decision regarding the handing over of the investigation to Vigilance Bureau would be taken only after receiving the report of the department’s Vigilance wing in this regard.

The minister further said that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been authorised by the newly elected councillors of all four municipal corporations in the state to appoint mayors and his decision was expected by June 22.


House pays tributes to Jatti, others
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Budget session of the Punjab Assembly started today with the paying of tributes to eminent persons who died during the past few weeks.

Among those to whom tributes were paid were former Vice- President of India, B.D. Jatti, Mrs Pardhan Kaur, widow of Giani Zail Singh, Mr Atma Nand Sharma, former Union Minister, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, former Minister, Mr Om Parkash Bhardwaj, former MLA, Mr Abhey Singh Rao, former MLA, Mr Suraj Tanvir , freedom fighter, Mr Labh Singh, another freedom fighter, Mr Harpal Tiwana, film producer, and 30 persons killed in the Army camp at Kaluchak, near Jammu.

Among those who paid tributes were the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a BJP MLA, Mr Avinash Khanna, an independent MLA, Mr Sucha Singh Chhotepur, and the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan. Two minutes’ silence was observed by the House.

The proceedings of the House were conducted in Punjabi by the Speaker.

There was little interaction among Akali and Congress MLAs in the House. Only Mr Gurdev Singh Badal met Capt Amarinder Singh briefly in the House while other Akali MLAs led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal left the House well before the Chief Minister.

It is worth mentioning that Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal have not exchanged pleasantries in the House yet.


Golden Temple serais being ‘misused’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
Alleging blatant misuse of serais attached with the sacred Golden Temple, Mr Puran Singh Josh, senior SGPC member of the Shiromani Akali Dal, accused the caretakers of the serais of letting out rooms to “mischievous and unscrupulous” elements in the premises of the Golden Temple.

In a press note issued here today, he stated that the rooms which were meant for the devotees free of cost were being hired at Rs 100 to 200 by these elements.

In addition to that, ‘langar’, which was cooked in the temple premises, was being served there with extra helpings while that being served in the temple was without these extra seasonings. Approximately, a hundred persons were served ‘langar’ in each serai attached to the temple. There were some persons who ate all their meals there and several policemen also eat ‘langar’ regularly by paying the staff. Moreover, it was learnt from reliable sources that the ‘langar’ cooked there was also sent to the houses of some important persons against the ‘maryada’.

He said Guru Hargobind Niwas was one of the most misused serais out of the five serais attached to the Golden Temple.


4 kids drowned in canal

Amritsar, June 11
Four children have drowned in a canal, near Chattiwind village on the city outskirts, within a span of two days.

Happy and Sonu, were drowned yesterday while taking a bath in the canal, the police said yesterday.

The bodies of two other victims, drowned on Sunday, were also fished out of the canal yesterday. The victims, all of whom took a plunge into the canal, were found stuck in the sand at the bed, the police said.

The police has issued instructions asking children not to dive into the canal. UNI


Half-day holiday in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The Punjab Government has declared a holiday for the second half of June 12 (Wednesday) in government offices, boards, corporations and educational institutions situated in Chandigarh and Punjab to enable employees to participate in nagar kirtan on the occasion of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev, says a press note.


Gang of thieves busted, 9 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 11
The district police claims to have busted a gang of thieves with the arrest of its nine members and recovery of stolen goods and two revolvers from their possession.

A police spokesman stated here today that the Kartarpur police, after receiving a tip-off on Monday that some unscrupulous elements were planning to conduct a robbery in the area, raided the playground behind Gurudwara Gangsar and arrested nine persons from the spot.

Two revolvers and 10 rounds were recovered from the possession of two of the arrested persons, later identified as Gurdawar Singh of Chahoor village in Nakodar and Parkash. Others who have been arrested include Gurmail Singh, Sarabjit, Surinder Singh, Balwinder Singh, Nand Kishore and Sonu.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested three persons for their bid to loot cash from a city-based petrol station on Sunday. They have been identified as Tarsem Singh, Sandeep Singh and Satnam Singh.


Former BJP MLA held

Gurdaspur, June 11
Roop Rani, a former BJP MLA from Dinanagar, was today arrested by the Punjab police from the local Civil Hospital where she had been admitted for a heart problem.

Rani is wanted in a corruption case registered against her on April 26 in a police station here.

Rani along with her husband Munishwar and son Rahul, alias Bunty were charged with taking on money for getting a job to an aspirant. Munishwar and Rahul were granted anticipatory bail from the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge here, whereas the bail applications of Rani was rejected both the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh and Supreme Court, Delhi. PTI


Rs 2.80 lakh looted from bank
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), June 11
Four armed persons looted Rs 2.80 lakh from the local branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce today in broad daylight.

They came to the bank in a white Maruti car which was without registration number and two of them armed with guns and one with a sword entered the bank and asked the cashier, Mr Jyoti Parshad, to come out of the cabin. On his refusal they broke open the cabin and removed Rs 2.80 lakh lying with him. Thereafter they made a bid to break open the strong room of the bank. The accused smashed the window panes of the office of the Bank Manager, Mr Pushkar Dua, and hit him with the weapons.

Mr Sudhanshu Shekhar Srivastva, Senior Superintendent of Police, rushed to the spot with other police officials. Interestingly, there was no gunman in the bank.


Six booked for espionage
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
The police on a tip-off today booked six persons on espionage charges in the border areas of the district. Mr Manjit Singh, Station House Officer of the Sarai Amanat Khan police station in the border area, identified the accused as Jasbir Singh of Burj village, Nirmal Singh of Rasoolpura, Balwinder Singh of Hawelia, Baldev Singh of Naushehra Dhala, Gurmukh Singh Dauke and Virsa Singh of Parowal village.

A case under various Sections of the IPC, Indian Passport Act, Foreign Act, NDPS Act has been registered.


DC patronising defaulters: DEO
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 11
Dr Malti Batra, District Education Officer (DEO), primary, here today accused the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, of patronising local defaulters allegedly involved in the Rs 136-crore scam in the Education Department. On the other hand Mrs Jain refuted the allegation levelled by Dr Batra, saying that neither she was aware of any such scandal or inquiry nor she was patronising anyone in the case.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Batra said she wanted that appropriate action should be taken against the alleged defaulters. She further said senior officers of the Education Department of the district and posted at Chandigarh were involved in the scandal. She also stated that in the scandal senior officers of the department siphoned off money through purchase of articles from “bogus” firms, withdrawal of money from welfare grants and fee collected from the students.

She added that she had written to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard. She also released the letter to the Press. She requested the DC to restrain the defaulters from threatening her. She alleged that the DC was pressuring her not to initiate action against the defaulters.

When the mediapersons contacted Mrs Jain, Deputy Commissioner, in her office today regarding the allegations levelled by Dr Batra, she refuted the allegation with regard to pressurising Dr Batra for not taking action against the alleged defaulters. She said she had come to know about the scandal only after May 31 when members of the district unit of the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, submitted a representation to her against Dr Batra, in which they had presented their grievances.

The Deputy Commissioner said, she had called both parties on June 6, but Dr Batra did not turn up and had sent a letter to her on June 4.

Dr Batra said the permission to hold a press conference at the local Canal Rest House was withdrawn which had been granted to her earlier. The Deputy Commissioner said she had not prevented anybody from going there. She said the rest house was already booked due to the panchayat samiti elections.

Dr Batra also stated that she had not received salary for the past 62 months in the absence of the last pay certificate (LPC) from the authorities concerned.

Regarding the suspension of four employees of the secondary wing of the department by her, Dr Batra said she had the powers to do so.


Varsity admission racket accused arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
The police has arrested Parmanand, the main accused in the fake admission racket at Guru Nanak Dev University.

It may be mentioned here that Dr Kalia in his inquiry into the admission of Rakesh Kumar in the MCA course last year had found prima facie that Parmanand, the then PA to Dean, Academic Affairs, in connivance with Dr Kahlon, head of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, had taken over Rs 2.5 lakh from the student for accommodating him in the MCA course.

The scam was detected when Rakesh Kumar was allotted the roll number issued to another student for the first semester papers.

The police officials refused to divulge the details of interrogation. When contacted, Mr Narinderpal Singh, district police chief, said the police had still not found any proof against Dr Kahlon and they were investigating the case further.

Meanwhile, Mr Rakesh Kumar, the complainant, has alleged that the case was not being properly prosecuted in accordance with law as the police had not nabbed Dr Kahlon, the other accused.


Abohar boy tops AIIMS exam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Determination, hard work and self-study, that's what it took to make Abohar boy Abhinav Sidana a topper in the prestigious All-India Institute of Medical Sciences examination.

“The competition is very tough and seats very limited. One wrong question and you are out of the game. For the 34 seats of the institute, we have the best students competing from all over the country. Never in my dreams did I think of topping the examination,” said an excited Abhinav, speaking on the telephone from his home.

A student of Army School, Fazilka, he said that he was regularly in touch with a coaching centre in Chandigarh and studied there on weekends.

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