Wednesday, June 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Anti-corruption drive to go on: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
The Punjab Chief Minister and Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, today hit back at the Akalis saying that their “threats” would not scare his government and stop it from pursuing anti-corruption cases against politicians and public servants, howsoever highly placed.

He was replying to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the Governor for his March 22 Address to the Vidhan Sabha. The House passed the Motion by voice vote.

Capt Amarinder Singh reiterated that there would be no political witch-hunt, but those persons against whom evidence became available would not escape the vigilance net. In the previous government, one saw only scams with corruption ingrained in the body politic and administrative machinery. “Corruption had almost become a religion’’, he added.

He rejected the offer of Mr Parkash Singh Badal that he alone should be investigated, allegedly for amassing assets worth Rs 3,300 crore, a charge levied against him by the Congress since the February elections. (Mr Badal had made this comment while drawing the government’s attention to the ongoing “harassment and humiliation” of Akali-BJP workers and supporters. He said rather than going after them, why not try him alone, if that was the aim, and punish him, if found guilty.) Capt Amarinder Singh said the government was gathering facts in the matter.

A new judge to head the one-man commission of inquiry against the previous government would be appointed shortly, in place of Justice A S Garg, who had since quit. The terms and conditions of the commission showed that it would sift complaints and the ones that required a vigilance probe would be expeditiously taken up.

It was a major speech by the Chief Minister, who backed his arguments with facts and figures while finding fault with the previous Akali-BJP government. He drilled holes in the claims of the Badal government and ridiculed it for its “misrule”. He rubbed it the wrong way on all fronts of governance—economic, financial, agricultural, industrial, developmental, administrative and even in the matter of recruitments.

The bottom line of his nearly 75-minute speech was the promise of “good governance’’, freedom from corruption and financial bankruptcy, creating a new Punjab through a series of socio-economic, administrative, infrastructural and PSU reforms and the restructuring of key organisations like the state electricity board.

He chronologically listed the “achievements’’ of his government in the past 100 days or so and sent a clear message to the Akalis: be prepared to face the Vigilance Bureau. He did not point by point reply to the issues raised by Mr Badal in his speech on Monday and stuck to his party’s political agenda and his government’s policies. He promised to fulfil all promises made in the Congress election manifesto, including the payment of Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on paddy, but added a rider. All promises and commitments would be fulfilled as and when the financial position so warranted. In respect of most of the issues, he would pause to say: “Wait for the Budget to be presented tomorrow’’.

Capt Amarinder Singh did not make any reference to the “cooperation’’ extended by the Akalis in fighting corruption provided Congressmen, too, were included in vigilance inquires. On the contrary, he stoutly defended his colleagues whose names were repeatedly mentioned in connection with the Bhikhiwind and Midhu Khera killings. He read out from the police reports in respect of Bhikhiwind and Midhu Khera to say that the two killings were the out come of “old enmity and land disputes, respectively, and not political in nature’’.

The Chief Minister, continuing his diatribe against the Akalis, chided them for rushing to Delhi to the Prime Minister, as smallschool children go to their teacher with petty complaints. In a spirited defence of the law and order situation, he said there was nothing wrong with it.

He also quoted from The Tribune editorials to impress upon the House that Mr Badal had done only selective reading of excerpts and went on to complete the same by reading out passages that were left out by Mr Badal.

Though he spoke extempore, only occasionally looking at the notes, Capt Amarinder Singh’s prepared text, running into 18 closely-typed pages, gave an overview of the government’s performance so far and its future plans.

At times, he seemingly lost continuity and sounded repetitive in his comments while referring to financial mismanagement during the Akali regime, recalling their politics of “morcha” and went on to say that today the Akalis were reaping what they had sown in the past five years. Conscious of the fact that the Akalis occasionally called him “one of us’’, Capt. Amarinder Singh said he had understood the Akalis’ modus operandi to remain in power. They first precipitated a situation, mobilised workers through sentimental appeals, had them beaten up, landed themselves (comfortably) in jails and came out as “heroes’’.

Warming up to the issues of power, irrigation, sharing of water with Haryana, construction of the SYL canal, etc, Capt Amarinder Singh said the government (Congress) policy was clear and there should be no ambiguity about it. He emphasised that “Punjab does not have a drop of water to spare and share with anyone’’.

In the same breath, he ridiculed the Akalis on their “pro-farmer” stance and went on to tell how many farmers under debt had committed suicide and how agriculture had become unremunerative. He promised to “transform’’ agricultural practices and develop agriculture as an industry by promoting agro-processing and involving private investment in infrastructure.

He referred to poor industrial development and the plight of the have-nots, who did not have basic facilities like drinking water and sewerage. He had a dig at the BJP for converting urban Punjab into an “unlivable’’ habitat full of filth.

He kept reminding the House of the critical financial position, loss-making public sector undertakings, outstanding debt repayments, poor socio-economic services, failing the primary education and primary health care system and how, despite the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, democratic organisations like municipalities and panchayati raj institutions had been deprived of administrative and financial autonomy.

In short, he touched upon all aspects of governance, punched the Akalis hard where it hurts the most and presented his views aggressively. He gave enough hints of the politics of confrontation. He also reminded the House that the focus would remain on corruption and it would not be allowed to be diverted to law and order. The people had supported the government policies in the past over 100 days, as was evident from the series of electoral wins.

Several members from both the Treasury and Opposition Benches today participated in the discussion prior to Capt Amarinder Singh winding up the same.


Punjab FM presents Budget today
P P S Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
The Minister for Finance, Mr Lal Singh, will present the Punjab Budget, 2002-03, to the Vidhan Sabha tomorrow. This is the first Budget of the Congress government.

The government had earlier bared financial facts and figures, as if mentally preparing the people to tighten their belts.

Broad contours of the Budget are visible, including the blame that would be apportioned to the previous Akali-BJP government, holding it responsible for the fiscal mess. All indications are that the Budget is primarily a “bureaucrats’ cuisine”.

If lack of political will of the previous government and the presence of a large number of concessions and exemptions lowered the tax-GDP ratio down from 7.62 per cent in 1994-95 and 6 per cent in 1998-99, what is proposed now? The government would approach the Centre about off-Budget liabilities for action and relief.

The Budget is likely to promise to cap the rate of growth of fiscal deficit at not more than 2 per cent per annum, reduce revenue deficit as a percentage of total revenue receipts by 5 per cent, each year, and cap debt to GSDP ratio at a maximum level of 40 per cent.

It is also seen that the government is keen to cap outstanding guarantees on debt raised by public sector undertakings (PSUs). It is clear from the financial position of these PSUs that these guarantees are liabilities, which are likely to devolve upon the state, sooner than later.

The return to the government from PSUs, despite an investment of over Rs 8,000 crore, is zero. The Budget proposes “fast-track disinvestment” for which a separate directorate has been created.

Panchyatai Raj institutions and municipalities are likely to get more financial and administrative powers, as per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. Similarly, infrastructure development will get attention.

On the agriculture front, biotechnology would get priority, as would information technology in education. Land and water being critical inputs in sustaining agriculture, averting further degradation is imperative. While wheat and paddy may have given socio-economic status to the people, the two have ruined ecology and environment. Therefore, the Budget is likely to refer to diversion of at least one million acres (20 per cent of the total cultivated area), to more remunerative crops. This is expected to give farmers 100 per cent to 150 per cent additional return once commercial crops are sown.

Agro-industry will get a push as the Budget hints at private investment of nearly Rs 1,000 crore in the next two or three years. The government worry is soil health, reclamation of alkaline soil and introduction of integrated pest and weed management. A provision of nearly Rs 54 crore for this purpose to be spent in the next five years is to likely to be there.

Drinking water and sewerage is to be provided in cities. The Budget will take cognisance of certain urban projects that have remained neglected, including the Sutlej Action Plan. In, all only 8 per cent Plan allocation was released for all proposed urban projects in 2001-02. Similarly, a World Bank-aided project for water supply and sewerage, costing Rs 462.5 crore is on the anvil for seven towns. Middle East Funding Agencies are providing Rs 140 crore for the same purpose in respect of 21 other towns. The Budget hopes for financial assistance from LIC and HUDCO to the tune of Rs 150 crore.

For Patiala, a special Rs 114-crore scheme is ready, as part of the National Capital Region Counter Magnet development scheme, while reference would be made to ONYX, France, for the garbage collection scheme.

An industrial policy is on the anvil, with a provision for caring for small scale industries, as per WTO requirements. In fact, even for agriculture development, WTO provisions are being kept in view. The industry will get a ‘’self-certification and licensing of certification authority to qualified persons’’ scheme that is to be introduced.

There is good news for the industry. There is a backlog of sanctioned incentive cases of over Rs 500 crore, as on March 31, 2002. The government is likely to announce the plan to issue fully tradable and marketable bonds, as part of its strategy to discharge this liability. The Budget has an investor-friendly input.

A software technology park at Patiala is likely to find mention in the Budget, besides one at Mohali.

Power sector is dear to the Chief Minister. The Budget is likely to assure full financial support to the state electricity board, which, in return, will ensure efficiency and transparency. Therefore, a special provision to check theft and pilferage by introducing energy audit and accounting system, is included, besides additional funds for the expansion of the existing power generation units at Lehra Mohabbat, Shahpur Kandi and Mukerian. A new policy to attract private investors in the power sector is on the anvil. So is a proposal for joint venture with Central Power Utilities. Punjab wants generation plants at the coal pithead and is tying up hydro-power agreements with Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, besides, a banking agreement with it.

The Budget proposes to stress on Sarv Shiksha Abhyan and introduce the Early Child Care and Education Scheme to be run in village level government primary schools, as pre-primary class, which will supplement the work of ‘’anganwaris’’ to cover children in the age group of 3 to 5. The village development committees would get power to monitor schools and dispensaries. As per the plan, fundamental reforms are on the anvil to introduce medical insurance and healthcare financing in the health sector.

A special comprehensive and integrated improvement scheme for Dalit Habitats is part of the Budget proposals for an overall amelioration of the poor. Safe drinking water and rural sanitation is to get priority.

The discussion on the Budget will be opened by the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh.


Ministry expansion after Budget session
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has decided to expand his Council of Ministers.

“After the Budget session, I will discuss the issue with Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All India Congress Committee”, he said today. Some senior congress MLAs are waiting in the wings to be inducted as ministers.

Among those aspiring for berths Mr Birdevinder Singh, Prof Darbari Lal, Mrs Razia Sultana, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Hans Raj Joshan and Rana Gurjit Singh. Capt Amarinder Singh said that there was no plan for the reshuffle portfolios at the moment. There are 14 cabinet ministers, six ministers of state, two parliamentary secretaries besides the Chief Minister in Punjab.

The issue of appointing working president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee is also pending. Capt Amarinder Singh, who is at present head of the PPCC, has requested the party high command to appoint a working president to handle the organisational matters.

About the registration of criminal and corruption cases against Akali leaders, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he was overseeing everything and nothing was happening without his approval. He said first the investigation was started by the Vigilance Bureau on the basis of a complaint or source report. After investigation, a report was submitted to him by the top brass of the bureau.

“I give approval for registration of the case after going through the investigation report. The decision is taken only after I am convinced that the matter deserves to be further investigated after registering the case and involving the persons concerned in the investigation”, Capt Amarinder Singh said. “Nothing is happening without my approval and the impression that the bureau is doing everything on its own is false.,” he added.

He said no one was above law and no one involved in corruption would be allowed to escape the bureau’s net. He said the function of the commission to be set up under the chairmanship of a retired Judge would be confined to sifting genuine complaints and rejecting the motivated and false ones. The commission was not being set up to hold a probe into the scam.

He said there was a plan to take out about 10 lakh hectares from the paddy-wheat rotation this year for diversification of crops. “We are negotiating with certain multinational companies in this connection”, he added.


Emotional outbursts in House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
Politics of emotions today swept across the Treasury and Opposition Benches in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during a discussion on the Governor’s Address of March 22.

In the emotionally-charged House many members exchanged hot words. It all started with the Akali MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, when speaking on corruption, he suddenly took the House by storm by swearing on his children that he was not corrupt. Then he asked if those on the Treasury Benches would do the same.

This sparked an outburst. Minister Partap Singh Bajwa asked Mr Manpreet if he would swear on behalf of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. At this, the Leader of the Opposition stood up and said the issue of corruption should be settled for once and for all.

“In my 50 years of political career, if any one proved I have taken a penny, I will quit politics and face any punishment. It does not behove us. Is there any single MLA who can say on oath he had not collected funds for elections? We all do’’, he added.

Then Mr Badal turned to Mr Bajwa and said: “You are like my son. I never stoop low in politics. I also have an affidavit against you. I invite the Press to come and see it”. At this, Mr Bajwa said: “Lakhs of people will give affidavits against you also’’.



Replying to the discussion, Capt Amarinder Singh bent down several times to pick up notes and was heard muttering: “The papers go missing when needed’’. On several occasions the Treasury Benches shouted “shame, shame’’ when he referred to the financial mismanagement by the Akalis.


Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, Akali MLA, made his maiden speech in the House today using notes, something the Speaker allowed him, as a goodwill gesture. He spoke in Punjabi and English. The Speaker asked members not to interrupt him. At one stage, the Treasury Benches thumped their desks when Mr Gaganjit Singh praised the government for its attack on corruption.


Capt Amarinder Singh denied any indictment by the Lokpal of Congress ministers. He said members should not politicise their speeches but observe parliamentary propriety and participate with good spirit.


There was hushed silence when Capt Amarinder Singh said all former Akali-BJP ministers were under scrutiny.


On truck unions, he said these would not be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere by holding trade to ransom.


Birdevinder’s words ‘objectionable’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and a number of other Akali legislators have written to the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, for ordering the removal of what they have described as “unparliamentary words and references” made by Mr Birdevinder Singh while speaking in the assembly on June 12.

In the letter, Capt Kanwaljit Singh stated that Mr Birdevinder Singh made a personal attack on him and from the latter’s tone it was obvious that he had tried to belittle the importance of the Indian Army.

The Akali legislators requested the Speaker to remove the words of Mr Birdevinder Singh from the record of the proceedings of the House and ask him to apologise to jawans and others whose sentiments had been hurt because of his utterances.


Contractor accuses Bajwa of graft
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
Making allegations in the presence of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and former Akali ministers, a liquor contractor, Mr Sanjeev Mallhan, today alleged that the Public Works Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, and his brother Fatehjang Singh Bajwa had sought Rs 30 lakh as bribe for the allotment of certain liquor shops in the Hargobindpur belt of Gurdaspur district.

Speaking to mediapersons, who had been invited by Mr Badal at his official residents, Mr Mallhan said that he had paid Rs 5 lakh to Mr Fatehjang Singh on the direction of Mr Bajwa and the remaining amount was to be paid in due course. He has made these statements in an affidavit, the copies of which were given to the mediapersons.

Mr Badal said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should inquire into the allegations made by Mr Mallhan in the affidavit. Earlier, speaking in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Badal had claimed that he had an affidavit with him regarding the involvement of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa in a scandal and had invited journalists to his residence to have the details of the scandal.

Mr Mallhan, who claimed that he was working in the Congress for the past 15 years and had a close relations with the Bajwa family, had been engaged in the liquor trade for the past eight years or so. “During the last financial year, I entered in the partnership in liquor trade with Mr Fatehjang Singh Bajwa”, he added.

For the current financial year, the auction of liquor shops was held on March 19 at Amritsar. “Though I wanted to expand my liquor business, I was not allowed to do so by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, who used his official influence in this connection.

On April 10, I was removed from the liquor trade by the Bajwa brothers and they made a brother of a senior Congress leader of Amritsar district as partner in the business.”

He said at the time of auction on March 19, he deposited Rs 15.75 lakh in the Excise Department’s account for being partner in the bid that was offered for the Dina Nagar circle to take liquor shops by a firm named Swastik Entrepreneurs in which besides him, Mr Fatehjang Singh was also partner, he asserted.

Mr Mallhan said that on the basis of partnership, he was allotted 20 liquor shops by the firm during the year 2001-2002 in the Hargobindpur and Ghuman areas. But during the current financial year, he was given only four liquor shops. He was removed from even those four shops on April 10 by the Bajwa brothers, he alleged. He said that he had a balance amount of Rs 40 lakh against Bajwa brothers pertaining to previous financial year.

He also gave details of property which he claimed belonged to Mr Partap Singh Bajwa. He has made a mention of certain kothis in Chandigarh, two expensive cars, a 50 acre farm near Chandigarh, a petro-chemical project near Dera Bassi, a market near Uchha bridge in Amritsar city and other properties in this connection.

Seeking the resignation of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa as Minister, Mr Mallhan has requested the Chief Minister to order a CBI probe into this case.

Fatehjang denies allegations

When contacted by mediapersons, Mr Fatehjang Bajwa said that he had no business links with Mr Mallhan. He said Mr Mallhan had enacted a drama and given a false affidavit for which he would have to face the legal action.

He said that he had come to know that Mr Mallhan had himself sold his shops to some party which was supposed to give him a certain amount for block samiti elections.

Mr Fatehjang Bajwa further said that he was not partner of any Swastik Entreprenuers as claimed by Mr Mallhan. All allegations levelled by Mr Mallhan were baseless, he asserted.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa’s version was not available.


Rules given the go-by in appointments?
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 18
Even as a recruitment scam has been unearthed in the Local Bodies Department, it is learnt that nepotism played a big role in several appointments that took place during the five-year tenure of SAD-BJP government in this department.

Cases of appointments allegedly made in contravention of the rules and regulations and against the government strictures that recruitments be made “only on obtaining’ a no-objection certificate NOC from the re-deployment cell have come to light.

The appointment of Manu Sharma as Accountant, Grade-I, who is son of a BJP leader and nephew of a councillor, was made just one day before the election code of conduct came into force. Similarly, the appointment of Pankaj Kapoor has also come under a cloud who, too, was appointed the same day as Accountant, Grade-II, and is a close relative of another councillor.

Four other appointments were made the same day in the category of Accountant, Grade I. The four, one each from Rajpura, Patiala, Chandigarh and Amritsar, were posted vide this order. While one each was posted at Patiala, and Jalandhar, two were posted at Ludhiana. Similarly, in the Accountant, Grade II, category in which Pankaj was included, three others were also appointed on the same date.

They belonged to Patiala, Gurdaspur and Chandigarh and were posted at Dera Bassi, Haryana and Mohali, respectively, whereas Pankaj was posted at Kalanaur.

Interestingly, in both these categories the advertised posts were three each, but five recruitments were made in Grade-I and four in Grade-II in contravention of the rules of appointment, according to relevant documents procured by The Tribune.

Interestingly, Pankaj managed to get a change in posting to Amritsar on the day of his appointment itself as the code of conduct was to be enforced the next working day.

In yet another instance of nepotism, a special post was created for Pankaj vide a letter, the “despatch date’ of which is a day earlier than the “sanction date” of the order since he was the “excess candidate” in the category to be filled.

This new sanction of post came during the time when the election code was in force. It is alleged that no certificate was obtained from the re-deployment cell which clearly states “no recruitment be made without an NOC.”

It was stated in letters to all heads of government departments from the state Department of Finance in 1999 that “these instructions will apply in all cases where the recruitment process for filling these vacant post had been initiated but the appointment letters had ‘not’ so far been issued.” Violation of these codes will make the officer concerned liable to disciplinary action under the punishments and appeals rule, it states.


PTU steps to check students’ migration
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 18
To contain the annual migration of at least 3,000 students of Punjab to other states for pursuing technical and engineering courses and to plug the siphoning of a whopping Rs 100 crore going to other states in shape of fees of various courses. Punjab Technical University (PTU) Jalandhar has drawn up an ambitious scheme to launch its extension centres by taking over at least 10 buildings of the ITIs, which have been lying non-functional for the one or the other reason.

The PTU authorities have estimated that huge loss of about Rs 100 crore, was being suffered by Punjab every year as nearly 8000 students, who fail to get admission to various technical and engineering courses in the state, go to other states, particularly, Karnataka, where such courses were offered by various private institutes, which admit such students after charging hefty fees.

According to PTU sources, the situation was so pitiable that the state, at present, had the capacity to admit just about 4,000 students, due to which thousands of students have no option but to spend lakhs of rupees in shape of fees after shifting to other states, and this could be prevented only by enhancing the intake capacity.

“To increase the intake capacity, we have planned to take over at least 12 buildings of non-functional ITIs, which would be converted into extension centres of the university for running, of vocational and occupational degree courses under its extended university programme”, said Mr Amarjit Singh Grewal, Director (Outreach) of the PTU. He said the plan had already been okayed by Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, the Minister for Technical Education. Mr Kaypee, according to Mr Grewal was very keen to stop the migration of students to other states and to save the dilapidating, ITI buildings, which were constructed after spending crores of rupees, but which could not be maintained for one or the other reasons.

The Tribune had recently highlighted the poor state of buildings of such ITIs situated in rural areas, including Partabpura, Shahkot, Mukerian, Rajpura, Banarsi, Nathana, Khadour Sahib, Dharmkot and Abohar due to lack of maintenance. “By taking such an initiative, the university would not only able to retain at least 3000 students and to earn about Rs 10 crore annually, but it would also be able to give employment to about 500-700 person,” said Mr Grewal, who added that the amount generated this way would be diverted to establish sophisticated laboratories and centres of excellence. He said after taking over the buildings the priority of the university would be to make arrangements for starting admissions during the current session. “All we would need was some arrangements for admissions after the transfer of the buildings and to ensure cleaning of unkempt but otherwise well-constructed buildings. Actually, nobody has tried to keep a watch on these buildings for past two years,” said Mr Grewal.

Meanwhile, the university sources maintained that a rough estimate revealed that about 54 per cent of students total admissions in various colleges and institutes of Karnataka were from Punjab and this involved hundreds of crores of rupees.


Unemployed benefit from ban on tuitions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 18
The recent raids on government teachers and lecturers who were giving private tuitions has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the educated unemployed youth as well as lecturers employed with various colleges on ad hoc and part-time basis.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that lecturers of government and government-aided colleges and schoolteachers have either stopped giving private tuitions or have reduced the number of students in their classes.

To cash in on the increased demand of tuitions, many new academies have surfaced and some have even forged contracts with the lecturers who were forced to stop giving tuitions. Most of the newly opened coaching centres have engaged in the services of part-time, ad hoc or retired government college lecturers. While the quality of teaching at these fly-by-night tuition centres is under cloud, the tutors have started minting money by reducing their fees significantly and increasing the number of students in a batch. Some retired college lecturers of science subjects have also opened up coaching centres to cash on their experience.

Mr Ranjit Brar (name changed), a part time lecturer in a local college, said it was the name of a college or an institute which attracts the students. He said that most college lecturers teaching the PMT and CET competition classes were much in demand because students preferred to study from the college lecturers. He admitted that most ad hoc lecturers sought jobs in these colleges to improve their reputation and later make money by giving private tuitions.

A lecturer who is teaching one of the specialised science subjects to degree classes in a local college alleged that the college authorities do not pay as per the university rules and teachers like her were often forced to give private tuitions to earn more. She added the rules do not prohibit the part-time and ad hoc lecturer from giving private tuitions or teaching at private academies during vacations or after college hours.

Dr Charan Kumar, a resident of Sivian village near here alleged that he had appeared in various interviews for the post of a lecturer and at times was the only qualified candidate for the post, but was never selected. He alleged that the colleges did not pay well and the selections was based on ‘sifarish’ alone.

When contacted, some students told The Tribune that as the quality of teaching at the new centres was doubtful, they were now planning to go to other cities for coaching. It may be mentioned that over the past one decade the coaching business for various competitive exams has become a lucrative business. A large number of paying guest accommodations and hostels have mushroomed all over the city. Now students of the city have started going to other cities, including Chandigarh, Patiala, Delhi and even Kota in Rajasthan for coaching.

The owner of a leading academy, here, said that May, June and July were the months for minting money and they had employed additional ‘manpower’ for the season. While admitting that his academy was charging the highest fees, he refused to comment on the Income Tax returns on his earnings. No official of the Income Tax Department could be contacted for comments.


Jagman’s wife allowed to meet him in jail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 18
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, today allowed Ms Jasjot Kaur, wife of Jagman Singh, an accused in the PPSC recruitment scam case, to meet her husband along with her father, Mr G.S. Mangat, in the local sub-jail. Jagman is currently lodged in the sub-jail here as he is in judicial custody till July 1.

The court issued the order on an application moved by Ms Jasjot Kaur on June 13, seeking permission to meet her husband in the jail. In the application filed through her counsel, she prayed to the court that as she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, she should be allowed, along with her father, to meet her husband once a week.

As per the order of the court Ms Jasjot Kaur and her father met Jagman Singh in the sub-jail here this afternoon. A sub-jail official said both met Jagman for about 15 minutes.

The Sessions Judge also adjourned hearing on the interim bail application of Jagman Singh to June 20. This was done on the request of the counsel for Jagman Singh. This bail application was filed by Jagman Singh through his counsel on June 13, seeking interim bail for some days on the grounds that his wife was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and needed him to look after her.

Earlier, on May 29, the Sessions Judge had rejected the bail application of Jagman Singh.


PPSC scam: remand of 3 extended
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 18
A local court today extended the judicial remand of Randhir Singh Dhira, Prem Sagar and Paramjit Singh Pammi, the three prime accused in the PPSC recruitment scam till July 1.

Two of the accused, Randhir Singh Dhira and Prem Sagar, also filed separate applications in the court saying that they were suffering from hypertension, sugar and kidney related problems and requested medical examination. Special judge, Ms Sabina, directed the Jail Superintendent to take necessary action in this regard.


Mine blast victims seek more aid
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 18
Ms Sumitra Bai, a widow of Molabat Amira village, Fazilka tehsil, in Ferozepore district and one of the 23 persons injured in landmine blasts in the Ganganagar sector while working in fields has expressed concern over the indifferent attitude of the Central Government to give her adequate financial aid.

Ms Bai, who lost her left leg in a landmine blast four months ago in the border sector, had arrived here along with other victims to get artificial limbs at a medical camp organised by the Army here today. Talking to this reporter she said a financial help of Rs 1,500 along with medical aid given by the Army authorities was not sufficient to meet her family’s requirements. The death of her husband two months ago had aggravated her problems. She had urged upon the government to give her regular pension and a compensation.

Ms Rani Bai, wife of Mangal Singh of Karnpur village in Ganganagar district, who also lost her lower limb in a landmine blast, also alleged adamant attitude of the Union Government to provide her with proper assistance. Having two children and being a simple labourer she had demanded a regular pension and a permanent source of income to make both ends meet.

Another injured, Mr Om Parkash, who had a master’s degree had demanded a permanent job. Mr Tarsem Singh, another victim and resident of Kesri Singh Pura in Rajasthan, had demanded in the same tone a permanent source of income in the absence of any male child to look after him.

Mr Arjun Dass (18 FF Karampura) also lamented the careless response of the government to came to rescue of the poor victims. He said he was a labourer working in the fields and was unable to fulfil daily needs of his family comprising three children and his wife under the prevailing conditions.

Most of the injured persons who belonged to the labour class community had urged upon the government to give them adequate compensation and permanent jobs. However, all victims unanimously appreciated the role of the Army and its senior officials who not only provided them with the timely medical aid but also gave them financial assistance.

Later, while distributing artificial limbs to the injured, Brig Amitabh, Station Commander, said the Army had spent more than Rs 2 lakh from its own sources to provide medical aid and other assistance to the injured. Major-Gen R.N. Suryavanshee, General Officer Commanding, 16th Division, who was to preside over the function could not reach due to unavoidable circumstances. He had taken up the matter with the Central Government through his seniors about the plight of the victims. He had also approached the civil administration in this connection, Brig Amitabh said.


Encroachers seek relief
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 18
With no place to go, residents of Gopal Nagar and Janta Nagar here whose dwellings were demolished by the railway authorities recently, have been waiting for some compensation.

A part of these colonies, near the railway track, had been constructed on the land of the railway authorities. A wall was constructed marking the boundary of the railway land a few months ago.

The authorities partially demolished the dwellings a few days ago and asked people to remove their belongings.

Most of the residents had not vacated their dwellings. When this correspondent visited the place some of them were shifting construction material to other places.

Mr Jagga Singh, one of the residents, said he had sent his children to some relative. He did not have another place for his family, he added.

Mr Paira Singh alleged that although a wall had been constructed, no notice was given to them before demolishing the dwellings. He claimed that when the wall was constructed, an official had said the residents would be given some time before the demolition. Another woman resident, whose husband is a truck driver, said she was alone when the house was demolished.

Mr Sher Singh said they were staying in open. The railway authorities should pay some compensation to them, he added.

The authorities said as the land was encroached upon by these residents, there was no question of paying any compensation to them. The wall was constructed to inform the residents about the boundary of the railway land, they added.


Fee for NRI PIO card reduced
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 18
Acceding to a demand of NRIs, the Central Government has decided to reduce the fee for the person of Indian origin (PIO) card from $ 1,000 to Rs 15,000.

The Vice-Patron of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, and Congress MP, Mr Balbir Singh, stated here today that he had received a communication from the Ministry of External Affairs that the fee for issuance of PIO card to an NRI had been reduced to Rs 15,000. The Central Government had launched the PIO card scheme for persons of Indian origin, who were living abroad and had foreign passports, on March 31, 1999, making them entitled to avail visa-free regime, besides providing them special benefits in economic, educational, financial and cultural fields.

Mr Balbir Singh further said that the PIO card scheme had been launched to meet the demand for dual nationality for NRIs. Though the Singhvi Committee had recommended dual citizenship for NRIs and the Central Government had accepted the report in principle, the facility was available only to NRIs presently living in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and England, he added. The sabha demanded that dual citizenship status should be granted to all NRIs.


Kairon retracts statement
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 18
In a volte-face, Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP and close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said Mr Kuldip Singh Bhullar, son of Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, DGP, was not instrumental in the surrender of two alleged culprits involved in the sensational murder of a senior Akali leader, Mr Gurdial Singh and five others last month.

Mr Kairon and Mr Naunihal Singh, younger brother of the deceased Akali leader, said they had issued the statement on the basis of hearsay that Mr Kuldip Singh accompanied the two suspects Bikramjit Singh and Inderjit Singh who reportedly surrendered before the Taran Taran police after the crime. They said after cross-checking the facts, it was allegedly found that it was Mr Anup Singh Bhullar (not Kuldip Singh Bhullar), son of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister and other senior Congress leaders who were responsible for the surrender.

Both Mr Kairon and Mr Naunihal Singh took a serious view of the allegation of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, who had stated that the Bhikhiwind murder case was a result of personal enmity between ‘two mafia groups’ and was not a political murder. They alleged that Mr Mann was helping Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, who happened to be his close relative.

They claimed that the deceased Akali leader, Mr Gurdial Singh who was the Chairman of Rice Millers Association, collected funds for the election of Mr Mann in 1989. They said before issuing ‘baseless’ statements, Mr Mann should remember the days when Ms Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh (sister-in-law of Mr Mann) had sought help from the deceased for Mr Mann who was behind the bars at that time.


Public Health ‘eyeing’ PUDA projects
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 18
The Punjab Public Health Department is "eyeing" the public health projects worth crores being executed by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) in Punjab.

Seeking transfer of some of the major projects like the laying of supply lines to bring water from Kajauli to Chandigarh and construction of sewerage treatment plants, the Public Health Department has stated that PUDA lacked adequate expertise in executing such works. However, PUDA is learnt to have resisted any such move claiming that it was saving Rs 15 crore as 15 per cent departmental charges which would have to be otherwise paid to the PWD.

Sources in the Public Health Department said officials of the department at a recent meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary has sought that PUDA was supposed to execute the development works within its urban estates only and the works in the periphery of the urban estates was beyond its jurisdiction. On this plea, the Public Health Department had sought transfer of works of sewerage treatment plants, located outside the urban estates.

The sources said the PUDA officials present at the meeting said PUDA had an experienced team of public health engineers. The work of storm and sullage sewers of Dugri in Ludhiana, channelisation of seasonal rivulet in SAS Nagar and augmentation of the water supply scheme of SAS Nagar have been listed as some of the works. Hitting back, PUDA had said the Public Health Department had so far not constructed any sewage treatment plant in Punjab.

It may be pertinent to mention that when the previous SAD-BJP government was planning the Anandgarh project (now scrapped), a proposal had been mooted by the Public Health Department to club the public health works of the Anandgarh and the SAS Nagar urban estate. The proposal died its own death after the PUDA officials protested to the then Chief Secretary.

The Chief Secretary had constituted a committee to look into the matter.


Punjab order on Vigilance Department stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
Acting on a petition for quashing of a circular issued by the Punjab Government two years ago “completely nullifying the functions of the Vigilance Department” and disabling it from “checking corruption against public servants”, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered stay on a clause contained in it requiring the department to register an inquiry or a first information report on the recommendations of certain committees after the approval of the competent authority.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, added that the stay would continue till further orders. The Judges ruled that all pending inquiries would be completed by the investigating officers expeditiously and reports would be filed in the Court before the next date of hearing.

The Judges added that the state had initiated investigations on different fronts for checking acts of dishonesty and corruption. The efforts would, however, stand frustrated by the issuance of such instructions. The investigating agency, the Judges further added, required free hand to complete investigation and bring to book the guilty.

In their detailed order on a petition filed by an organisation of advocates — Lawyers’ Initiative — the Judges clarified that all the investigating and inquiry officers would adhere to the orders and failure to do so would be viewed seriously. Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Kumar expressed the hope that the state would function normally and make every effort to achieve the ends of justice by presenting the challans.

The Judge observed that the Bench was prima facie of the view that a part of the instructions were offending a Supreme Court judgement. Mr Justice Kumar added that checks and balances for proper implementation of law were laudable, but pre-requisite of the same should not be in conflict with the law of the land.

The Judge added that in the present case, the clauses were completely placing an embargo upon the authority being exercised by the inquiry or the investigating officer. If the administrative body of the bureaucracy refused to grant permission, the officer would not be able to register a case. The intention behind the clause was apparently to make the decision of the investigating agency to fall in line with the administrative wing of the state, the Judge further observed, adding that the constitution of the committees would only frustrate the basic concept of expeditious conclusion of trial.

In their petition, the members had earlier contended that following the issuance of the circular in March 2000 the Vigilance Bureau and the department was “not even allowed to register a simple first information report against a public servant accused of gross acts of corruption. They could not organise a trap or a raid, could not proceed on their own on the basis of complaints, could not inquire into information received by them without seeking the approval of committees of secretaries”.

Counsel had added that as per the circular, the department could also not inquire into the allegations against the members of the judicial services, besides employees of the judicial courts, could not inquire into allegations against staff of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, could not even conduct a probe against surpanches, panches and Municipal Councillors. The circular issued in the name of streamlining the vigilance machinery in the state, he had claimed, was against the statutory provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.


A Division Bench of the High Court on Tuesday asked counsel for martyr Bhagat Singh’s relatives to file a detailed affidavit after viewing alleged distortion of historical facts in the movies.

Disturbed by alleged distortion of history, the relatives had earlier sought directions to the Union of India and other respondents against screening the films assassinating the “national hero’s character”. Nieces and nephews of Bhagat Singh had claimed that in a movie a heroine was shown as the martyr’s fiancee. The two were shown as dancing. In another movie he was shown as wearing a garland. This, they had asserted, was against the facts. “Bhagat Singh had refused to marry. The only agenda in his life was freedom of motherland,” the petitioners had added. In another movie, Chander Shekhar Azad was shot by a fellow revolutionist though he had shot himself, counsel had argued on behalf of the petitioners.

Notice issued

In less than 24 hours before elections for choosing the Mayor, the Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation were scheduled to be held, a Division Bench of the High Court Tuesday issued notice of motion for tomorrow on a petition filed by six councillors against the holding of the polls through raising of hands.

In their petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, Krishan Lal Chhabra and others had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to hold the elections by adopting the method of secret ballot as per the rules. Quoting a newspaper report, they had contended that the elections were to be held by raising hands. This, they had added, was illegal and arbitrary.

Bail granted

Chief Engineer Baldev Singh, booked in two different cases regarding the selection of a junior engineer and purchase of certain machines, was on Tuesday granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Baldev Singh was booked by the Vigilance Bureau for cheating and other offences under Sections 420, 409, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the FIR, one Kamalpreet Singh was selected as a junior engineer against reserved vacancy for handicapped persons, contrary to the facts, since he was related to former minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon. The other FIR, registered on May 16, pertained to the purchase of machines.


Snakelets in water supply
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 18
Even as piped water supply has been eluding about 50 per cent population in the city, those who are getting it find it unfit for consumption due to contamination.

Residents alleged that the water being supplied by the Punjab Water Supply and Swerage Board (PWSSB) during the past two days emitted foul small. However, what has scared people is the presence of snakelets in the contaminated water.

Mr Surinder Singh, a resident of Guru Teg Bhadur Nagar, said, “About 40 snakelets were found in about two litres of water supplied to our locality this morning. Yesterday, the water was emitting a foul smell.”

Mr Raman Kumar, a resident of Aggarwal Colony, located adjacent to Guru Teg Bhadur Nagar, also lamented the supply of contaminated water.

The residents pointed out that the authorities concerned had failed to supply potable water to them. They alleged that entrepreneurs producing mineral water had been cashing in on the situation.

Mr D.L. Garg, Executive Engineer, PWSSB, said people in certain localities received contaminated water as underground dirty water got laced with the piped water due to cracks in the pipes. He added that use of electrical motors on pipes at times caused the cracks.

He added that arrangements would he made for the supply of potable water.

Mr Kamal Kant, Executive Officer of the municipal council, said two tankers had been hired at the rate of Rs 400 per day for supplying water to areas where the piped water was not supplied.


Vehicle pollution goes unchecked
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 18
Though pollution levels can be monitored and controlled now, yet pollution caused by fumes emitted by vehicles is on the increase in all cities of Punjab, and the enforcement agencies are finding it difficult to handle the situation due to lack of adequate staff.

Since the Pollution Control Board, the agency supposed to test vehicles and ensure proper emission levels, is “handicapped” due to shortage of staff and lack of testing equipment, the task has now been assigned to private agencies.

With the number of vehicles increasing by the day, the vehicle emission, if not checked, can be far more damaging than passive smoking, say medical experts.

They say the air pollution caused by the vehicle emission is one of the many causes for chronic bronchitis and other diseases affecting the respiratory system. According to them, the toxicity of pollutants emitted by vehicles is far more than that of smoking.

Despite the Motor Vehicles Act introducing statutory provisions to ensure that the emission from vehicles is within the prescribed limits, its enforcement has not been effective, admits a senior official of the Transport Department.


Batala resident in illegal custody?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 18
Mr Vipin Kumar of Batala (at present residing in Sharifpura here) today alleged that the Batala police had kept him in illegal custody for five days.

In an affidavit he said he had a property dispute with his landlord Gurmeet Kaur. He wanted to purchase her house. He claimed that he had given Rs 25,000 as advance payment in this connection and the deed was to be registered on May 20. But he could not get the deed registered on the said date, as he had to go to attend cremation of one of his relatives.

Therefore, he demanded two-day time to get the deed registered. Instead of giving time, Ms Gurmeet Kaur, lodged a false complaint of an illegal occupancy of the house against him. The SSP, Batala, forwarded the alleged false complaint to the SP Operation, which was further forwarded to the DSP (City).

He stated that he presented all documents related to the case to the DSP who summoned him on June 11. But on the same day, the DSP kept him in illegal custody for five days and tortured him, he alleged.

However, the SSP, Ms Neerja, when contacted refuted the allegations levelled by Mr Vipin Kumar.


PSEB engineers may intensify stir
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 18
The PSEB Engineers Association will intensify its peaceful agitation from June 27 if the state government and the electricity board fail to accept genuine demands of the association by that date.

Mr Jagjit Singh, regional secretary of the association, said that the decision of the PSEB to decrease various incentives for employees had caused a lot a resentment among the engineers. He said it was a matter of concern that the board had fixed limits for the use of official telephones and mileage of official vehicles which would adversely affect the working.

The association has demanded reviewing of all ‘anti-employee’ decisions. He alleged that the employees could not be blamed for the loss being incurred by the board as it was the result of bad policies of the state government and the board, including free power supply to the farmers.


Workshop on AIDS held
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 18
A one-day training workshop on “HIV/AIDS and reproductive health problems” for female educators and women leaders from nearby villages was organised by the Mohali branch of the Family Planning Association of India here today. Dr N.K. Singla, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Ropar, inaugurated the workshop.

Dr V.K. Jindal, District Family Welfare Officer, explained the impact of female foeticide on society. He said the government had taken effective steps to check this menace. Mrs S.K. Sandhu, president of the branch, while addressing the participants, stressed the need for community participation in development programmes, especially health-related programmes.

Experts from different fields like reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and drug abuse motivated the participants and improved their knowledge so that the message in this regard could be disseminated to the grassroots level.

As many as 29 women from Solkhian, Behrampur Zimidara, Bheora and Kotla Nihang villages in Ropar district and Asron and Rail Mazra villages in Nawanshahr district participated in the training programme.


Female foeticide awareness camp
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 18
The United Welfare Society yesterday organised a blood donation-cum-female foeticide awareness camp at Jodhpur Romana village, near here.

Mr Vijay Bhatt, president of the society, said despite the PNDT Act, the awareness about the ill-effects of female foeticide was not there.

Fifteen volunteers, including three women, donated blood for the Civil Hospital blood bank. A cultural programme was also presented on the occasion. The camp was organised with the help of Aman Youth Club of the village.


Uruguay envoy calls on CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 18
A six-member delegation led by Mr Enrique Anchordoqui, Ambassador of Uruguay, today called on Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab to explore the possibility of checking the menace of water pollution, especially in the districts of Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa and Ferozepore.

The visitors were informed that the government was contemplating the setting up of about 600 water treatment plants in the state.

Uruguay has donated a transportable water purification plant, Model 200, which has been installed in Talwandi Sabo. It will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister on June 21.


Move to plant 1 lakh saplings
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 18
The Divisional Forest Officer, Mr C.K. Shahi, said here today that 1.15 lakh saplings would be planted in Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts this season.

Three species, including value, those having wood value and ornamental ones would be planted this and next months. The plantation would start with the onest of the monsoon.

The Divisional Forest Officer promised to the local Environment Association that 20,000 plants would be allotted for Phagwara. He also held a meeting with local voluntary organisations.


Re-election sought
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 18
Ms Radha Rani, who unsuccessfully contested election from Zone no 7 of the Nurpur Bedi block for panchayat samiti, recently, has urged the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, to quash the election of zone no 7 and order repolling.

In a letter to the State Election Commissioner, she has alleged that besides the misuse of government machinery and violation of the code of conduct, certain irregularities had been committed by the Congress whose candidate has won election from zone no 7.


One held in cheating case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 18
The Moga police has arrested Amarjeet Singh wanted in cases related with preparing of registration papers of the stolen vehicles.

Amarjeet Singh was an employee in the District Transport Officer at Faridkot. He used to help car thieves in preparing the registration and other papers.

He used to forge the signature of the then District Transport Officer, Faridkot, Mr Dhayan Singh. He also had prepared a stamp of the DTO office.

A resident of Faridkot, Prem Kumar, alias Kala, allegedly served as his tout. He used to charge between 25,000 and 30,000 for making the papers of a vehicle. The two had prepared fake papers of 20 vehicles which were recovered from a gang in April this year by the CIA staff of Moga. This information was given in a police press note.

Meanwhile, Raghbir Singh of Usang Patti, Moga, was arrested as he was wanted in a murder case in Canada.

The Interpol had informed the Moga police that Raghbir Singh had allegedly murdered Rupinder Kaur Sanghea in Canada some time back. He has been remanded in judicial custody.


6 proclaimed offenders held
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, June 18
In a major breakthrough, the police has arrested six proclaimed offenders and four others involved in heinous crimes.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, district police chief, said these criminals were wanted by the Bhikhiwind, Valtoha and the Khemkarn police. Mr Bhargav said six other proclaimed offenders were arrested under different cases of the Indian Penal Code.

The Tarn Taran police has also seized 10 kg of opium from Harnek Singh of Bandala village. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

On the other hand, the police has released a computer sketch of a suspect, involved in the robbery committed in the LIC department on May 8. Mr Bhargav announced that anybody who would help the police tracing the culprit would be awarded suitably. The secrecy of the person providing a clue would be kept secret.


Ex-SBI employee murdered
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 18
Jeevan Lal, a former employee of the State Bank of India, was murdered at his residence in Mohalla Valmik, Khajuri Gate, here late last night.

His wife Sheela Mattu, who died last year, had been a SAD-BJP combine municipal councillor from the local Ward No 27.

Assailants tried to strangle him with a telephone wire and hit him on the head with a heavy object, which led to his death.

Jeevan Lal had retired from the State Bank of India’s Gurdaspur branch last year under the VRS scheme.

The police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC.


Ayurvedic college strike ends
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 18
With the intervention of the Dean (Colleges), Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, the two-month old strike in Shree Lakshmi Narain Ayurvedic College was called off today.

According to a press note issued by Mr Santosh Gupta, President, Sri Durgiana Education Foundation, which runs the college, it was decided that all teachers against whom inquiry is pending, will either be suspended or sent on leave till the enquiry is completed within one month. It was decided to either place all indicted teachers, including the Principal and the Vice-Principal of the college under suspension or send them on leave till the completion of the inquiry. The management agreed in principal to revoke the suspension of three teachers including Dr N.K. Chaturvedi, Dr Suresh Chauhan and Dr Amitabh Singh but they would be sent on leave.


Maiden exhibition by young artists impresses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 18
For the five students of Punjabi University's Department of Fine Arts, who displayed their work today in the Banasar Art Gallery at Sheesh Mahal here, it was a nerve- wrecking experience. Their first exhibition , none had expected such a overwhelming response and the enquires for purchases coming from different quarters was a pleasant surprise, as Simran, one of the artist puts it.

In the exhibition organised by the North Zone Cultural Centre(NZCC), young artists — Parvesh, Simran, Kanwaljit, Harpreet and Hardeep, exhibited around 72 oil paintings, canvasses, graphic prints and clay models.

Most of the works being from their private collection and not for sale, much originality of conception and theme could be witnessed as none of the painters seemed to have been influenced or obsessed by any particular 'school' of art, although extra caution seemed to have been taken in respect to maintaining balance and composition in several paintings.

Creations by Parvesh, a first year art student, especially his patch work 'Relation' depicting the inter-dependence and also the alienation of the human — being from his natural environment was a visual treat. The surrealistic sequence titled 'Dream' by him encompassed some fine colour schemes and intelligent balance. Another interesting oil -on-canvas is by Parvesh titled "Spiritually dead and awakened". It stressed on the richness of complexity in an individual, accompanied by some fine composition.

The clay models exhibited by Hardeep and others, complementing the displayed paintings attracted much attention for their original designs and sheer visual appeal.

Depicting the celebration and monotony in the life of an individual at different times and stages, Harpreet's oil work including 'still life' and 'a woman with ektara' proved not just the thematic vision of the artist but also showed her fine command over the technical aspects of this art.

Simran's exhibits included several oil paintings and graphic designs in wood prints . The oil-on-canvas titled 'relation' successfully presented an abstract dealing and the thread between ‘He’ and the ordinary human.

Her 'politics', an intelligent chaos of colours and 'Space', done using the blue colour brought forth the vacuum in the life of the a historical man.

Visibly happy with the response to their maiden exhibition, the young artists now plan to hold some collective and solo exhibitions of their work here and in Chandigarh. As Parvesh and Simran put it “such exhibitions are definitely a confidence booster, we could have displayed more of our works if there were no space constraints in this gallery.”

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