Saturday, June 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Fund paucity hits Khalsa complex
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 14
Paucity of funds has hit work on the ambitious Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex at Anandpur Sahib. The Anandpur Sahib Foundation, which has taken up the project, has not received any money for the past five months.

Larsen and Torbo Company, which has been entrusted with the construction work of the project has also not been paid any amount for the same period. As per the agreement, the company does work on credit and claims payment from the Anandpur Sahib Foundation on a monthly basis.

The monthly bill of the company ranges from about Rs 2 crore to Rs 2.5 crore. Though the company is continuing with the work, authorities, on the condition of anonymity, said if the money was not paid by next month, construction might be stopped.

Company officials say that the credit had reached about Rs 10 crore. The company has been forced to continue the work, as the laying roofs on the main building is in progress. They said once work on the roofs is over, the company would not proceed with the further construction till its dues are cleared.

The paucity of funds is creating other problems. Sources said the interior construction will be based on the designs of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, which is doing the interiors. The initial estimate of the interior designing of the complex was Rs 70 crore, which was later raised to Rs 90 crore. The design institute is demanding a major chunk of the said amount in advance before delivering the detailed designs. However, due to the non-availability of funds, the foundation has not been able to pay to the institute.

Though the government was making a budgetary provision of about Rs 15 crore in the forthcoming budget for the Khalsa Heritage Complex, the amount would not sustain the development. The Punjab Government was also trying to attract donations from the Punjabi NRIs and the Union Government. However, the donations for the project have been dismal.


Badal to submit memo to PM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
Senior Akali leaders led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal today left for Delhi to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani.

They are likely to meet both leaders shortly after 12 p.m. on Saturday. Among those who left for Delhi were, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Capt Kanwaljit Singh. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is already in Delhi.

All Akali legislators accompanied by the senior party leaders are supposed to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Mr Badal had stated that the BJP MLAs would also accompany the Akali MLAs to the Capital.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, in charge of the publicity wing of the SAD, told The Tribune that by tomorrow morning all Akali MLAs would be in Delhi. He said certain MLAs had left for their respective constituencies yesterday after attending the Assembly session and would be travelling to Delhi from there.

The memorandum will be, by and large confined to three main issues. The first is the alleged rigging of elections by Congress activists with the help of official machinery especially a section of the police. It has been stated in the memorandum that the ruling Congress leaders started the “rigging” of elections in the Malout Assembly poll and continued the process in the municipal corporation elections and later in the recently concluded zila parishad and block samiti elections. It was a pre-planned rigging of elections. When complaints were made to the government authorities concerned in this connection, no action was taken.

The second issue in the memorandum relates to the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state. Giving instances, the memorandum, states that violent attacks have been made on Akali activists at various places. The instance of senior Akali leader Gurdial Singh, who was the SAD’s candidate in the Valtoha constituency, has been given in the document. Gurdial Singh, along with his close relations, was shot dead at Bhikhiwind, near Amritsar, last month. Congressmen were behind these murders, it has been alleged.

The third major point in the memorandum relates to political “vendetta”. It has been alleged that the ruling party is making Akali leaders and their supporters selective targets and false cases have been registered against many of them. A list of cases has also been attached to the memorandum. A number of other incidents have also been mentioned briefly in the document.


Sikh sangats plea to Centre
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 14
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (RSS) has appealed to the Central Government to review all pros and cons before taking any decision on making amendment in the Gurdwara Act regarding the deletion of Sehajdhari voters in the SGPC elections to be held later this year. Any hasty step in this connection could harm to the centuries old Hindu and Sikh ties.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sewa Singh Chawla state President, RSS while regretting the move by some Sikh politicians, said they had done this for their political, and personal interests.

Meanwhile Mr S.K. Gupta, former President District Congress Committee, Faridkot, has expressed concern over the indifferent attitude of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief for holding a meeting with Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani in Delhi yesterday regarding debarring the Sehajdharis from exercising their franchise in the SGPC poll.


Lecturers’ recruitment ‘bungled’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 14
Even as the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) scam is yet to reach a logical end, complaints regarding bunglings in the recruitment of physical education lecturers last year by the departmental selection committees have started pouring in.

Mr Ramandeep Singh and Mr Najar Singh, both local residents, in a complaint sent to various authorities have alleged that at least three candidates selected by the Departmental Selection Committee had been selected by using unfair means.

They pointed out that one of the candidates who was selected for appointment as a physical education lecturer, did not possess a D.P.Ed degree, which was necessary according to the rules. In another case, a candidate who was selected and was placed high on merit in the final selection list had only D.P.Ed and M.P.Ed degrees and even his academic merit was not very high. The merit was of this candidate was deliberately assessed wrongly to benefit him.

The complainants alleged that one of the appointees had obtained his degree from outside Punjab as he failed to get admission to any college of Punjab due to poor academic merit. One candidate was given the highest marks in the interview though he had no certificate of sports, which was mandatory for appointment as a physical education lecturer. All these cases proved that the selection process was unfair, he alleged.

Mr Ramandeep Singh claimed that he had obtained 70 per cent marks in D.P.Ed, 72 per cent marks in M.P.Ed, and had obtained first class marks in a Yoga certificate course. He also had a diploma in physical education coaching, besides being a player of national level. He alleged that he was not given fair marks in the interview to select favourite candidates. Mr Najar Singh also claimed to have a good academic record and said he was not given even six marks in the interview. They demanded a probe into the bunglings in the recruitments.

No official could be contacted for comments.


Two new components included
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The countdown has begun to the Punjab Budget, (2002-03) to be presented in the Vidhan Sabha on June 19.

Besides the usual features, two new components have been included in the Budget: The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill; and the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Bill.

The first Bill, it is reliably leant, is intended to bring about continuity, consistency and transparency in the budgeting and planning process. It is an aggregate perspective for the next two years. It will contain a medium-term fiscal programme that will enable the government to review the prescribed targets of macro-level fiscal corrections. It has an inbuilt mechanism of quantity and quality review with a provision to update the Vidhan Sabha on fiscal performance and slippage.

The second Bill is an overarching instrument to build a strong, viable infrastructure to accelerate economic growth and industrial development. The Bill is aimed at attracting private participation and providing a level playing field, establishing a transport regulatory framework governed by an autonomous regulator and granting concessions and incentives to make infrastructure investments viable and attractive.

The Bill will also seeks to establish a regulatory framework to provide the necessary guidelines on projects and the legal basis for the grant of concessions to private entrepreneurs, define parameters for commercially accepted principles such as build-operate-transfer, build-operate-own and build-own-operate-transfer, provision for a dispute regulation mechanism, levy cess, etc.

Schedule III (Articles subject to levy of Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess) of the Bill gives a complete description of the articles and goods to be covered under the proposed cess. These include petrol, diesel and all agricultural produce, except fruits, vegetables and pulses, as defined in the Punjab Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1961. There is also a provision for the repeal of certain Acts.

In fact, the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, was constituted in January, 1999, to act as a nodal agency for infrastructure development. The government had also created a development fund to finance the board by levying 1 per cent cess on petrol, all agricultural produce, except fruits, vegetables and pulses, which was estimated to generate about Rs 100 crore per annum.

The actual receipts were around Rs 259 crore, as on March 31, 2002, with an annual inflow of about Rs 80 crore, which was inadequate to mount a credible infrastructure development effort. Hence, the new overarching Bill.

A recent review of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board showed a shortfall of Rs 201.25 crore, despite the release of Rs 289.03 crore for various projects. The shortfall has affected ongoing projects and committed liabilities. Therefore, it has now been proposed to levy a toll on projects of the board on bypasses, high-level bridges and railway overbridges outside municipal limits. The state hopes to net Rs 50 crore per annum from identified places. Construction of most of the projects is expected to be completed by December, 2002.

One of the proposals is to replace the infrastructure cess of 1 per cent on petrol, which generated about Rs 17 crore per annum, with cess on the sale of petrol at the rate of Rs 1 per litre. Will diesel be included? If it is, both will generate Rs 290 crore per year.

(To be concluded)


Insurance frauds on the rise
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
It is not only banking and other financial institutions which are facing increased cases of fraud and bunglings, insurance companies, too, are not far behind.

“In fact, in the insurance industry, , white-collar crime is well organised,” says Mr Sudarshan Singh Sachar, a former Assistant Inspector-General of Police and private investigator.

“The insurance sector is stinking with frauds and scams as rich and influential persons, in connivance with senior functionaries of these companies are making fraudulent claims,” he adds.

While frauds in the banking industry are exposed often, those in the insurance industry mostly remain unreported. The surveyor-client-company-executive nexus is reportedly behind most of the scams in the insurance sector. And the major beneficiaries, besides the claimants, are senior functionaries of the insurance companies.

One of the new players in the automobile insurance business has been upset over the theft of seven brand new cars from various parts of Punjab and Chandigarh during the past few months. Two of the cars, both Maruti 800s with temporary registration numbers, were stolen from Chandigarh and never recovered.

Some of the new vehicles so stolen get back into the market with “forged” registration documents after their engine and chassis numbers are tampered with.

Recently, a gang involved in the theft of brand new vehicles with temporary registration numbers was tracked down in Punjab.

Other players involved in insurance-related vehicle thefts are officials of the Regional and State Transport Authorities. Without their connivance such stolen vehicles cannot be registered afresh with forged sale letters and tampered engine and chassis numbers.

In fact, the number of stolen vehicles recovered is negligible. Insurance companies dole out crores of rupees annually as “claims”. Interestingly, the inventory of the police — Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh or even Chandigarh — contains a large number of unclaimed motor vehicles, including two-wheelers and four-wheelers. And in the case of most of these “unclaimed” vehicles, the owners have already made insurance “claims.”

Fire and theft are the major avenues used for defrauding insurance companies.

Industrial units, road transport companies and even major trading houses have, in connivance with senior officials of the insurance industry, been also committing frauds almost every day.

Take for example the case of a pharmaceutical company which made a huge claim stating that an entire truckload of costly medicines had been “destroyed in a fire”. Then there are claims in which stocks are shown destroyed in fires in godowns or on the factory premises. A few cases picked at random for investigation, however, usually reveal a different story. Then attempts are made to pressurise or persuade the private investigators to either change their report or dilute the findings.

To be concluded


Police shielding murder accused’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
The two eyewitnesses of the daylight killing of Akali leader Gurdial Singh and five others have alleged that they have been receiving threatening telephone calls from the accused, who are absconding.

One eyewitness, Mr Gurcharan Singh, who had been seriously injured, was under treatment at the missionary hospital under tight security. Mr Naunihal Singh, younger brother of the slain Akali leader, who was also an eyewitness, said though the Punjab police was providing security to Mr Gurcharan Singh, supporters of the leaders had arranged private security for him.

Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP and relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, said the family of Mr Gurdial Singh had lost faith in the Punjab police, which had been shielding the culprits. He alleged that Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, Director-General of Police, had taken personal interest in shielding the accused.

Mr Naunihal Singh alleged that the son of the DGP, Mr Kuldip Singh, was instrumental in the surrender of two of the accused in a dramatic fashion. He said since the murder, the culprits had been threatening the family members on telephone.

Mr Kairon, the political mentor of the slain leader, said the SDM of Patti had been delaying the release of Mr Virsa Singh Valtoha, a former member of the Punjab State Service Selection Board, and 32 others, who had been arrested from Bhikhiwind recently. He said he would demand a CBI probe into the alleged links of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, with Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and Nishan Singh Makhu.

Mr Kairon alleged that Mr Bhullar was directly involved in the crime and the police had not taken any action though his name had been mentioned in the FIR. Mr Naunihal Singh alleged that Bakshish Singh, one of the main accused, was taking shelter at the official residence of the minister.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal decided to stall proceedings of the Punjab Assembly on Monday over the photographs of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, with Jasbir Singh Jassa, the main accused, a few days before the formation of the Congress government.


War hysteria gets satirical drubbing
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 14
Long-standing tension between India and Pakistan may be subsiding, but the prolonged war rhetorics, claims and counter-claims by premiers of the two countries and the repeated talk of “Aar paar ki ladai” by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee have been aptly satirised by a well-known Punjabi comedian pair.

Not only this, the visible or invisible American intervention, the Gujarat riots and the “misuse” of the Kashmir issue by politicians of the two countries, and their repercussions reflect vividly the “Chankaata-2002” — a novel Punjabi comedy venture in video and audio — produced by Jaswinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma — of the Chacha-Bhatija fame.

The strong statement of Mr Vajpayee that the Indian side would go in for an “Aar paar ki ladai”, this time came in for a sound drubbing as one of two comedians went on to say, “Paar di ladai taan kar nahin sake, aar di ladai kar ke baith ge.” When asked to explain, the comedian replies, “Pakistan naal ladai di bajai, dedh hazaar banda (1500 persons) Bapu gandi de pind (Gujarat) wich marva ke rakh ditta,” with “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”, tune playing in the backdrop.

On the other hand, Pervez Musharraf, too, has not been spared as his statement that, “Pakistanion ne churian nahin pehan rakhian”, found an answer purportedly given to his counterpart by Mr Vajpayee, “Churian nahin pehnee to kiya huaa, salwaaren to pehan rakhee hain.” Politicians, too, were not able to escape the imagination or rather open criticism of the comedian duo, who dubbed the Kashmir issue as a “giddersingi”, (panacea for all ills) in the hands of politicians of the two countries, where common people were suffering by the repeated war hysteria created by the former. Jaswinder Bhalla, better known as Chacha Chattar Singh, also aptly mimicked the voice of Mr Vajpayee. Not only this, at one point he created laughter as he said the war could have been initiated but for the injuries suffered by Punjab (Badal) in its hip and the non-functioning of legs of the Centre (says, Vajpayee). “Was it not enough that Vajpayee did challenge the enemy?” questions Chacha, who also pays tribute to brave Punjabis and their sacrifices for the country in his own inimitable manner. Praying that the war cry should not turn into reality, Chacha recites a couplet, “Ae sharif logon, jang talte rahe to behtar hai, aapke aur hamare ghar mein shama jaltee rahe to behtar hai.”

The functioning of the Punjab police, psyche of its officials and the alleged tendency among them to change their colours with the change of government, has also been depicted vividly. As to a question put by Bhatija, the Chacha rues, “Eh taan Badal sahib nu kujh ni samjade, jina panj saal raaj kita. Mint lagaonde ne akhan pheran nu. Chacha Chatar Singh inhan da ki lagda hai.” If this was not enough, the recent trend of going vegetarian has been laughed off by the comedian duo, who sing full song, “Teri mungi masri ne, tabbar di sehat jihe kartee.”

Talking to The Tribune, Bal Mukand Sharma and Jaswinder Bhalla said the objective of the comedy, produced in audio and video, was to put forth current issues and problems before people in a lighter vein. Neelu, who played the character of Bhatiji, said this was the 22nd issue of comedy audio cassettes produced by their group. “With the ‘Chankaata 2002’, we have launched the video for the first time,” she said. 


Langah’s house searched
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 14
Armed with search warrants, sleuths of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau searched the Sector-44 house of former PWD minister in Akali government Sucha Singh Langah, here today. The bureau also searched the house of Mrs Varinder Kaur in Sector 45. There has been no information on what the sleuths found from Langah’s house but they would produce the report of the search before the Judicial Magistrate Kharar tomorrow.

It may be mentioned here that the Judicical Magistrate, Kharar, Mr R.L. Chouhan, had issued search warrants of the houses of Langah and one of his associates. The public prosecutor, Mr J.S. Punn, and two inspectors of the Vigilance Bureau had pleaded before the magistrate to issue search warrants of Langah’s houses in Chandigarh and Dhaliwal, Gurdaspur district.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Langah was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Department for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income on May 16.

Another person, who also allegedly acted as a tout for the minister, was also booked by the department. The minister along with the other persons have also been booked for alleged cheating and forgery.


Langah’s relative remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 14
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today remanded one relative and one neighbour of Sucha Singh Langah, a former PWD Minister of Punjab, who were arrested by the Vigilance Department yesterday, in police remand till June 18.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, who appeared in the court said that a case had already been registered against Mr Langah in connection with various corruption charges. He said Mr Langah had purchased benami land in the name of both accused.

He said Mr Langah purchased 16 kanal of land worth Rs 8.80 lakh in the name of Sampuran Singh, a relative of Mr Langah, at Fateh Naggal village in Gurdaspur district. Similarly Mr Langah purchased 151 kanals in the name of Subhash Chander his neighbourer, in village Sacrap (Pathankot) village for Rs 3,77,500. The money for both transactions was given by Mr Langah. He pleaded for 10 days’ police remand of Sampuran Singh and Subhash Chand as more information was yet to be collected about other benami lands purchased by Mr Langah. It is worth mentioning that Sampuran Singh is a farmer where as Subhash Chander is a mill worker and both belongs to Dhaliwal. 


Race hots up for top jobs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 14
With the Municipal Corporation elections out of the way, local Congress leaders have again started lobbying for the spoils of power, including Chairmanships of the Improvement Trust as well as those of boards and corporations.

With the party adjusting senior Congress leader Vishnu Sharma by appointing him President of the Patiala Municipal Corporation, city leaders are again hoping that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will accommodate them appropriately either locally at the Improvement Trust or in other state-level boards and commissions.

Among the city leaders who are hoping to get the share of the spoils are local Congress leader K.K. Sharma and District Congress Committee (Urban) President Ved Prakash Gupta. Mr K.K. Sharma had earlier been in the forefront of election campaigns of both the Chief Minister as well as MP Preneet Kaur.

Recently Mr Sharma had also lobbied vigorously to ensure that Mr Vishnu Sharma was not selected Mayor of the corporation by the state party leadership. Mr Sharma, who had himself not contested the corporation elections, had created a group of party corporators to thwart Mr Sharma’s chances. Although he was not successful with Mr Vishnu Sharma being able to wean the majority of the Corporators to his side, a feeling has emerged in the party that he should be adjusted in some manner.

As regards Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, he has a strong case for adjustment in an important post as he has been heading the DCC (urban) unit for the past five years. In the latter half of this period the Congress has been successful in both Lok Sabha and assembly elections from Patiala winning with handsome margins. He has also taken credit for steering the party successfully in the Municipal Corporation elections.

The only important position up for grabs in the city as Chairman of the Improvement trust. Mr Gupta, who has already headed the Trust once during the tenure of Mr Beant Singh, could be saddled with the responsibility again depending on how the party wants to adjust Mr K.K. Sharma. However, Mr Gupta has indicated that he would like to become Chairman of a board or corporation linked with business due to his experience as member and also patron of various business cells.

Though Mr K.K. Sharma also wants to be rewarded at the state level, one of the two leaders would have to accept the chairmanship of the local Improvement Trust. However, the appointment would depend on how soon the government tackles of the problem of putting its own men to head the various Improvement trusts in the state. Similar is the position with appointments to various boards and corporations with the government reviewing the case of dissolving some of the corporations which are not able to stand up on their own.

Besides Mr Gupta and Mr Sharma, there is also the question of adjusting senior Congress leader and former mp Sant Ram Singla who was overlooked for the Samana assembly seat which was given to Mr Brahm Mohindra. Mr Singla was in the race for a Rajya Sabha nomination which eventually went to Mr Ashwani Kumar. Sources disclosed that Mr Singla had emerged as a front-runner for the post of president of the Pradesh Congress. 


PDA to revive Patiala’s lost glory
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, June 14
Multicrore investment in the development of a multi-use mini-township to be used both for industrial and residential purposes, restoration of heritage monuments, formation of an integrated traffic plan and revival of traditional arts and crafts of Patiala will be the main thrust of the recently revived Patiala Development Authority (PDA).

The PDA, which falls under the National Capital Region (NCR) Act, was recently revived when Capt Amarinder Singh, who is also the scion of the Patiala royal house, took over as Chief Minister of the state. When this scheme was formulated under the NCR Act it was decided to develop 5 towns in five states adjoining the National Capital Region as counter magnets equipped with revenue generating projects. These projects were to be funded on a loan basis by the government of India. Patiala was earmarked as the town to be developed in the state of Punjab.

However, the PDA after receiving an initial sanction of Rs 1 crore from the centre around six years back has been put on a backburner since then. In contrast Gwalior which was chosen as a counter-magnet in the state of MP, has been able to derive tremendous benefit under the scheme whereby it received finance of over Rs 100 crore from the centre to develop power stations and such projects.

However, now the Secretary, Housing, Mr Rakesh Singh, has plans to use the Patiala Development Authority as a wider umbrella for integrated development of the city along with its hinterlands and not purely as counter magnets under the NCR Scheme. C B Richard Ellis, a multinational company, has been chosen as the consultant which will assist the government in identifying viable projects and formulating an action plan for the consideration of the Central Government.

The first meeting of the PDA under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was held in the last week of May here and was attended by officials from various departments, besides PDA’s members which include secretaries Finance, Housing and Local government. Local representatives include mp Preneet Kaur.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, who is also the official member of the authority, while talking to this correspondent said that besides other projects proposals for improving water supply and sewage of the city alongwith establishing an adequate network of roads will be considered under the scheme.

Elaborating further on the areas to be focussed upon, Mr Tejvir Singh said the scheme would encourage technical institutions to set up centres here to cash upon the strong basic education infrastructure of the city.

A comprehensive plan to help conserve and preserve heritage buildings in the city besides a tourism development plan is also in the offing. PUDA aims to commission a study on how best to tap the tourism potential of Patiala and will also look for means to revive traditional arts and crafts of the city which are dying a slow death due to lack of patronage.

As far as industrial development of the city is concerned, the PDA plans to focus on creation of a small township on the periphery of Patiala which can be developed into an industrial centre as well.

The authority will also consider development of a green belt area between Passi road and Jail road besides accentuating on tree plantation in and around the city. Bir Moti Bagh sanctuary will also be restored and revived to its former glory with specialised pockets of fauna suitable for a specific species being grown and developed in the sanctuary.


No safety masks for MC staff
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, June 14
Even as the municipal corporation authorities has assured help to the bereaved families of those who were choked to death inside a manhole by inhaling toxic gases yesterday, questions are being raised over the functioning of the civic body which had failed to provide special masks to its employees, resulting in the death of six employees during the past six years.

Four employees had died at Basti Sheikh Colony in 1996. They were killed when they descended a sewer to clear a blockage.

The then Mayor, Mr Jai Kishan Saini sent a proposal to the Local Bodies Department pertaining to the purchase of special masks but the proposal is still pending.

In another incident, four sewermen were seriously injured in 1999 due to the non-availability of special dresses and masks. Time and again the employees’ union had raised the matter with the authorities, but nothing was done. The size of some manholes were found to be too small, restricting the entry of rescue men with oxygen cylinders. Fire Brigade staff found it difficult to enter the manhole yesterday due to its small size.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of the MC, Mr Jagjit Singh, said sewermen would be provided with proper masks and other safety equipment in the future. The kin of the deceased employee (permanent) would be given a job in the civic body, he added.


Court stays arrest of Akali MP
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 14
The local District and Sessions Judge, Mr M.M.S. Bedi, has stayed the arrest of Member of Parliament Zora Singh Mann, his brother Jagnandan Singh and two sons Vardev Singh and Nardev Singh who were booked by the Jalalabad police under Sections 188, 379, 323, 324, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC on charges of assault and theft. Mr Mann and members of his family were said to have been supporting a particular party involved in a dispute over a 31.18 kanal piece of land registered in the names of Mr Harnek Singh and Mr Darshan Singh of his village, Chak Suhele Wala.

After admitting the bail application, the Sessions Court has asked the district police to file a reply before June 15 with all details related to the case. In his application filed before the Sessions Court, Mr Mann has alleged that he and his family have been framed in a politically motivated conspiracy. He denied the allegations and demanded stern action against the police officials involved in framing a political conspiracy against him.

Later talking to mediapersons in Jalalabad today, the SAD Member of Parliament alleged that he had nothing to do with the disputed land that was being cultivated by the owners for the past five years. But with the change of government in the state, Section 145, CrPC was imposed by the district administration leading to a dispute over the control of the area.


Power engineers’ plea to PM
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 14
The All-India Power Engineers Federation has urged the Prime Minister to save the power sector as the power situation has been rapidly deteriorating due to the “failure” of the so-called reforms in the power sector throughout the country.

Disclosing this here today, Mr V.K. Gupta, Secretary of the Northern India Power Engineers Federation, said the federation, in a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had warned him that if timely steps were not taken by the Union Government in this direction, nobody could save the power sector from collapsing, which would badly affect the Indian economy.

Mr Gupta further said deterioration in the power sector was the result of wrong policies of the Union Government and the state governments, which were blindly following the directions of the World Bank. During the last decade, the governments had kept themselves busy in amending laws and dismantling state electricity boards to benefit multinationals. In the process, even the ongoing power projects of the electricity boards had been either abandoned or slowed down, he added.

Mr Gupta said after the failure of reforms in the power generation sector, the Union Government had now shifted its attention to privatisation, in the distribution sector. The government had now linked financial assistance with reforms in the electricity boards and financial aid would be provided to the electricity boards which were willing to adopt power sector reforms in the name of the accelerated power development programme, he added.


Power concession only on paper
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 14
Despite 18 years having passed since a resolution was passed about concessional electricity to Durgiana Temple, the civic body has failed to provide it to the temple complex. Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, has alleged that the corporation has adopted a partisan attitude by not allowing concessional rates for electricity consumption by Durgiana Temple on the pattern of Darbar Sahib despite both being allotted this concession in 1984.

Mr Billa stated that Darbar Sahib had been granted 1600 free units and Akal Takht and Baba Atal Sahib had been given 400 free units of electricity per month. The resolution to this effect had been endorsed by the Chief Electrical Engineer and Durgiana Temple had been allowed 1000 units of free electricity.

However, even after 18 years, Durgiana Temple was still to be provided the facility.

He urged the corporation to immediately make the provisions for concessional power supply to Durgiana Temple.


Four towers of high voltage line collapse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
Following a storm in the Morinda area this afternoon, four towers of high-voltage transmission line of (220 KV) collapsed near Gobindgarh, according to reports received here. Informed sources said that circuit numbers III and IV had been adversely affected.

The high-voltage line supplies power from the Ropar thermal plant to the industrial town of Gobindgarh. However, no other loss has been reported because of the fall of the towers. Power supply has been reportedly routed through alternative transmission lines to Gobindgarh.

Sources said the transmission line was installed about two years ago. Before its takeover by the transmission wing of the PSEB, questions were raised about the quality of work pertaining to the installation, it is learnt. 


Harassment case: PSHRC seeks details
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 14
The alleged case of sexual harassment at the local Lakshmi Narain Ayurvedic College has taken a new turn, with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) and the Punjab Women Commission seeking details of the case.

Meanwhile, the committee of the Health Department, consisting of Dr O. P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College, and Dr Dharmpal, Principal, Ayurvedic College, spent the day preparing a reply to a call-attention motion in the Punjab Assembly in this regard. The committee recorded the statements of the rival groups of teachers and students separately. The question had been raised in the Assembly by Mr Nathu Ram and Mr Gurjant Singh. According to sources, the striking teachers levelled serious charges against the Principal and Vice-Principal. The pro-management group refuted the allegations.

On the other hand, in a communication to the Chief Minister, veteran CPI leader Satya Paul Dang said it was a matter of concern that despite the two-month strike at the Ayurvedic College, no action had been taken against the officials facing charges of sexual harassment.


Traders observe bandh after ST raid
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 14
A number of shopkeepers here while raising slogans against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, downed their shutters to observe a partial bandh after the business premises of Mr Jeewan Goyal, former President, City Beopar Mandal, was raided by a team of Sale Tax officials from Patiala accompanied by a heavy police force, in connection with the unearthing of an alleged sale tax evasion.

After the incident, a large number of traders gheraoed the office of Enforcement Wing of the Sale Tax Department while the Additional Commissioner, (Excise and Taxation) was sitting inside it. The district authorities rushed the SDM to the Enforcement Wing office to secure safe passage for the raiding team.

Hundreds of traders, who collected in the bazaar as the news of raid spread in the town, alleged that it was highhandedness of the Sale Tax official to use police force for threatening the traders. They alleged that police personnel sealed the entire areas surrounding that particular bazaar and nobody was allowed to move in or move out. The traders alleged that a section of Sale Tax officials were collecting money from them on a monthly basis and encouraging them to evade tax. They demanded that assets acquired by the Sales and Excise Tax officials should be made public so that their corrupt deeds could be exposed.

Mr R.D. Gupta, a senior functionary of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, alleged that police personnel misbehaved with the trader. He added that employees of Mr Jeewan Kumar were also harassed. He said that bandh would also be observed tomorrow.

Mr Jeewan Goyal alleged that the raid was conducted on his business premises by the Sale Tax official to tarnish his image. He alleged that the raid on his shop was selective. He added that Sale Tax officials could detect Sale Tax evasion by checking the record of transport companies and thus there was no need to raid his business premises.

Mr Krishan Kumar, Additional Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Punjab, when contacted, said the raid was conducted on the basis of a complaint in connection with the evasion of tax. Denying the allegations of traders, he said goods (cold drinks and sweet water) worth Rs 7.5 lakh were seized while the same were being unloaded from the truck. He added that record of the shop had also been seized.

He alleged that when he was holding a meeting with staff members in the office of the Enforcement Wing. Mr Jeewan Goyal tried to snatch away the books seized from his shop. However, security personnel foiled his attempt. Mr Goyal also switched off the light of the shop when the raid was conducted and ran away and returned with about hundred people.

He said he along with the staff members could come out from the office with the help of the police sent by the Deputy Commissioner and SSP on his request. A complaint against Mr Goyal had been lodged with the district police authorities.


Assault case false: SAD MP
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, June 14
Mr Zora Singh Maan, SAD MP from Ferozepore, has denied the charges of assault in a case registered against him. Addressing a press conference here today, he termed the charges as politically motivated as he was not present at the site where the scuffle took place.

A case under Sections 188,379,324/323,506,148 and 149 IPC and Sections 25/54/59, Arms Act, was registered against him, his brother and two sons, besides 12 of his aides at Jalalabad Sadar Police Station on Wednesday evening for their alleged involvement in the theft of an electric motor from a disputed land and assaulting the complainant.

Mr Maan said the complainant had nothing to do with the ownership of the disputed land, which he claimed was registered in the name of Harnek Singh and Darshan Singh who were cultivating it for the last four-five years.

He alleged that the police, instead of preparing an FIR, forcefully arrested his injured supporter, Darshan Singh, from the ICU of a Hospital in Muktsar.


Mystery shrouds woman’s death in Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
Mystery shrouds the death of Piari (45) on the premises of the Golden Temple on June 10. The woman was reportedly cremated by the temple authorities.

Sources said the woman, who was probably a pickpocket, was caught by temple officials and locked and beaten up in the Guru Ram Dass Serai. In an attempt to escape, the woman reportedly jumped from the third storey of the serai and sustained serious spinal injuries. She was taken to Guru Ram Dass Hospital, where she was declared dead. The Golden Temple galiara SHO, Mr Sohan Singh, however, said the matter was not reported to the police when the woman was apprehended by the temple authorities. He said only when she was declared dead by the hospital did the temple authorities inform the police.

Dr Amrit Singh, in charge of Guru Ram Dass Hospital said he had asked the temple authorities to report the matter to the police and get a post-mortem conducted.

Mr Ajaib Singh, manager, Darbar Sahib, denied that the woman was a pickpocket and said she was a pilgrim who fell off the serai and died.


Show-cause notices to tempo, truck unions
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 14
The District Magistrate, Mr Rakesh K. Verma, taking cognizance of the alleged highhandedness of tempo and truck unions, has issued show-cause notices asking them why they should not be asked to execute bonds for maintaining peace in the city. He passed these directions under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Mr Verma said it had been brought to his notice that the unions were allegedly indulging in forcible collection of money from vehicle owners who were not affiliated to them, besides indulging in physical violence against traders and labourers using these vehicles.

He quoted a specific incident in his order when members of tempo and truck unions allegedly attacked commission agent, Pappu, labourer Tulsi Ram and trader Sohan Lal and forcibly took cash from them. This had led to tension in the ‘mandi’ area and trading was suspended for the day.


Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom day observed
Tribune Reporters

Tarn Taran, June 14
The martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev was observed on Friday with religious zeal. Chhabeels were organised at several places in which devotees belonging to Hindu and Sikh communities participated. “Langar was also organised at various places to mark the occasion.

AMRITSAR: “Chhabeels” were organised in many parts of the city on the occasion of the death anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev here on Friday.


Former minister Som Dutt cremated

Sangrur, June 14
Former Punjab state Minister Pandit Som Dutt, who died yesterday following a brain haemorrhage, was cremated with full state honours here this afternoon.

Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh and Science and Technology Minister Avtar Singh were among the senior Congress leaders who were present during the cremation.

The former minister was associated with the Paraja Mandal and freedom movements and was jailed several times. UNI


Misuse of serais denied
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
Mr Harbeant Singh, Secretary, SGPC, has refuted the complaints of Mr Puran Singh Josh, regarding the misuse of Golden Temple serais.

In a statement he said no “professional disreputed women” were brought into the serais as alleged by Mr Josh who is a senior member of the SGPC. He also denied langar was being misused and the langar was being served in the serais or in private residences of some important persons.

He denied that serai rooms were being let out.

Mr Harbeant Singh lashed out as Mr Josh for approaching the media with the complaints before bringing it to the notice of the SGPC which is the rightful authority to take action against such alleged misuse.


Fort controversy: DCC writes to high command
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 14
Even as Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, President, DCC, Bathinda, said the issue of alleged threat by one of the functionaries of the district unit to officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had been brought to the notice of Ms Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, General Secretary, DCC, whose name figured in news items appeared in various dailies today, while denying any such incidents, alleged that some vested interests had been trying to malign him and create a friction in the DCC.

Mr Dhaliwal said the DCC was against unauthorised construction which had come up here. He added that the DCC was against its functionary who had allegedly facilitated the unauthorised construction around the historic fort. He said action would be taken against that functionary.

Mr Aggarwal, in a press note, said his name was being drawn unnecessarily into the controversy. He added that he had no connection with the construction of a building around the fort and had not threatened any employee of the ASI.


Construction around fort stopped
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 14
Unauthorised structures have come up around the Gobind Fort here.

The structures have been coming up very close to 120-feet-high walls and a wide moat around the fort. The area around it up to 200 metre has been declared as prohibited and regulated area.

In the past few days, the construction of a multi-storey building near the fort has created a major controversy. Employees of the ASI allege that the authorities concerned did not take any action to stop the construction though they were informed well in time.

Mr Kamal Kant, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, said that the ASI had sent a letter to the Municipal Council which was received on June 10. The site plan of the multi-storey building was got sanctioned on June 12 and subsequently revoked yesterday for implementing the conditions laid down in the letter. He added the construction of the building had been stopped.

The multi-storey building came up in a few days near the fort despite the fact that a statutory warning issued by the ASI, Chandigarh circle, has been put up near the fort.


Engineers seek contractors’ arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
A joint meeting of the Punjab State Engineers Class-I Association and Temporary Engineers Association of the Irrigation Department held here today demanded the arrest of the contractors who allegedly assaulted Mr J.S. Jassar, Executive Engineer, Drainage Division, Patiala.


FCI saddle with Rs 30 cr loss
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, June 14
About 1500 consignments of par-boiled rice of  khariff crop 2001-2002 worth Rs 30 crore have  been downgraded, which was stored in unscientific godowns due to paucity of storage space with FCI at this center. About 3200 consignments of rice were stored in private godowns offered by rice millers. Due to acute shortage of storage space,  these unscientific and small godowns were given nod by FCI authorities on the condition that the stocks of these godowns would be liquidated with in three months from the date of its storage.  

But even after 15 months of its storage, the rice is yet to be liquidated . Now 1500 consignments still lying in these godowns facing the risk of further deterioration. For the last four months not a single grain has been dispatched by the FCI  from this center.


Man done to death by wife, children
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 14
The mystery shrouding the disappearance of Dalbir Singh, a resident of Kot Dhanjal under Kahnuwan police station, from his house on May 25 was solved yesterday when his wife, Gurmeet Kaur, confessed to having murdered him on the same day with the help of her daughter and son.

Mr B.K. Uppal, SSP, talking to newsmen here today, said a case under Section 302 and 34 of the IPC had been registered against Gurmeet Kaur, Sukhwinder Kaur, her daughter, and Amarjit Singh, her son. The police has arrested Gurmeet Kaur and Sukhwinder Kaur whereas Amarjit Singh, who is in the Army, left to join his unit on May 25.

Mr Uppal said after a few days of the reported disappearance of Dalbir Singh, Mehar Singh, a resident of nearby Kala Bala village and one of his close relatives reported to the police that he suspected that Gurmeet Kaur had murdered him.

During the interrogation, Gurmeet Kaur confessed to having murdered her husband and cremating his body. She revealed that his bones were put in a jute bag which was thrown into the village pond.

The police brought the bones to Civil Hospital yesterday. The Hospital authorities have sent a sample of the bones for a DNA examination to a chemical laboratory at Patiala.


Five tourists crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 14
Five women were killed while three others were seriously injured when a Maruti car, in its attempt to overtake a truck, crushed them to death near Paragpur village on GT Road this evening.

They were part of a 110-member tourist group from Maharashtra. According to eyewitnesses, the tourists descended from their buses near Paragpur village this evening and were taking their meal on the roadside.

The incident took place when the driver of a Maruti car, in his bid to overtake a truck, lost control over the vehicle and crushed eight women. While five died on the spot, three others were admitted to a private hospital at Rama Mandi in a serious condition.

The deceased were identified as Hira Bai (54), Bai Vishnu (77), Harro Bai (55), Daropatta and Leela Bai. A case has been registered.


Husband booked in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 14
Mystery shrouds death of a married woman in the border village of Churiwala Chisti, about 10 km here.

According to an FIR lodged with the Sadar Police by Gajjan Singh of Dullapur Keri village in Sriganganagar district, his sister Chhinder Kaur, was married to Gurmeet Singh, a farmer, about six years ago. For about two years, Gurmeet Singh and his mother had reportedly been harassing and torturing Chhinder Kaur for not bringing sufficient dowry. She had come to live in her parental house at Dullapur Keri village about three weeks ago.

However, Gurmeet Singh accompanied by others reached there and persuaded his wife and members of her family and took her (Chhinder Kaur) along with him.

Yesterday morning Gajjan Singh got a message that Chhinder Kaur was being harassed. He informed his relatives and planned to visit Churiwala Chisti village again, but before they could reach the village they received another message in the evening that Chhinder Kaur had died.

Gajjan Singh has alleged that Gurmeet Singh and his mother Mohindero Bai had demanded Rs 20,000 from them. Earlier, he had given Rs 10,000 to the in-laws of Chhinder Kaur.

According to post-mortem examination report, Chhinder Kaur was pregnant and there was no external mark of injury on her body.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304-B, 315, 34 IPC against Gurmeet Singh and his mother, Mohindro Bai.


Employee murdered
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 14
Resham Lal (37), a resident of Bibiwala village, 4 km from here, was murdered last night while he was irrigating a field. Dev Raj, brother of the deceased, said he was murdered with sharp-edged weapons. Resham Lal, an employee with the MES, went to the field yesterday evening and was found dead this morning. 


PCCTU to observe black day on June 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to observe a black day on June 25 in Guru Nanak Dev University and on July 1 in Panjab University and Punjabi University against the negative policy of the Punjab Government on the private college pension issue.

This was stated by Mr S.S. Hundal, Fellow, Panjab University, on behalf of the PCCTU while condemning the modified pension scheme for the employees of the non-government aided colleges. It has also been decided that extended dharna by the executive committee of the PCCTU will be held on June 27 at the Matka Chowk, Chandigarh. The communication also states that agitation will be intensified if the executive order dated 18.12.1996 was not implemented and the order to lower the grant-in aid scheme by 10 per cent was not withdrawn forthwith.


GND University LLB interview
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
The interview for LL.B (FYIC), Gurdaspur, has been postponed to July 5. The interview will be held on the regional campus, Gurdaspur, while tests for the NRI category will be held on July 6 on the Guru Nanak Dev University campus here.

Interviews for admission to B. Pharmacy, B.Sc industrial microbiology (reserved) will be held on June 21. Candidates (general) with rank up to 300 shall be held on June 22 at the same venue, result cards-cum-letters for counselling for all candidates who have qualified the test JET (UG) Sciences have been despatched.


GND varsity BCA results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
Results of BCA (Bachelor of Computer Application) Part III examination of Guru Nanak Dev University will be declared tomorrow. The results will also be available on the website after 5 pm.


Prashant tops MCA test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 14
Prashant Mehra has topped the MCA entrance test conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University. Prashant Mahajan and Tanvir Dhillon stood second and third, respectively. The results of the test are available on the university website and


College staff dharna on June 27
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 14
The joint action committee of non-government-aided colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh today decided to observe a “black day” on June 24, the opening day of the new academic session, and stage a dharna at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh on June 27 in protest against the failure of the Punjab Government to implement the pension-cum-gratuity scheme and the downsizing of the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

Stating this here today, Mr Tarsem Bahia, a spokesman for the 10,000-strong JAC, called the modified pension-cum-gratuity scheme approved by the Council of Ministers on June 9 a big hoax and a fraud played with the teaching community.

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