Sunday, June 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder defends Budget
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 22
Defending the recently-tabled Punjab Budget, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, today stressed that in order to bring back the derailed economy of the state on track, some harsh measures had been taken in the proposed Budget 2002-2003 of Punjab.

He said these steps were inevitable as the previous government had left the state virtually bankrupt. Appealing to the striking employees in Punjab, who have been protesting against the recent Budget, the Chief Minister assured that these harsh steps were temporary and the government would provide better facilities and concessions to the people of Punjab at an appropriate time.

Presiding over a state-level function in connection with swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected members of the zila parishads and block samitis of the state at Yadavindra Stadium here, the Chief Minister exhorted the members to discharge their duties efficaciously so that the policies and programmes of the state were disseminated at the grass roots level.

Capt Amarinder Singh pointed out that the process of decentralisation of powers to the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) had already begun with the empowerment of village panchayats which had been entrusted with the responsibility of supervising and monitoring health, education and veterinary services in their areas. He said the state government would immediately provide the required funds to the PRIs as recommended by the 11th Finance Commission at the Central level and the second Finance Commission in the state.

The Chief Minister further said due to the non-holding of the elections to the zila parishad, block samitis and non-devolution of functions to the PRIs by the Akalis, the Government of India had withheld grants to the tune of Rs 61.85 crore for these institutions during the year 2000-2001.

Speaking on the occasion, the Rural Development and Panchayats and Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said to ensure the proper development of rural areas, gram sabhas, headed by educated and respected persons of the areas concerned would be constituted.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister of State for Public Health and Rural Development and Panchayats, and Mr Lal Singh, Finance and Food Supply Minister, Punjab.


Reforms increase deficit by 22 pc: report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Assets of the Punjab Government grew by only 14 per cent during 2000-2001 while liabilities grew by 17 per cent. This has been revealed in a report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. The report was tabled in the Punjab Assembly yesterday.

The net receipts from public accounts decreased from 10.67 per cent in 1999-2000 to 4.99 per cent in 2000-01.

Revenue of Rs 9.03 crore realised from nine major irrigation projects with a total capital outlay of Rs 208.40 crore was only 4.33 per cent of the capital outlay and was not sufficient to cover up even the direct working expenses of Rs 94.02 crore. The project suffered a net loss of Rs 99.35 crore in 2000-01.

The lukewarm approach of the government to initiate fiscal reforms to reduce expenditure increased the fiscal deficit by 22 per cent during the year 2000-2001 and forced the government to borrow more and more.

Reviewing the performance of veterinary and animal health services, the report has revealed that out of the total provision of Rs 143.28 crore in the plan during the 1996-2001, Rs 90.52 crore remained unutilised. However, non-plan expenditure increased by 101 per cent over the same period. Shortfall in the treatment of animals ranged between 32 to 44 per cent. Due to inadequate vaccination against foot and mouth disease, 1073 head of cattle perished. Providing animal health care at doorstep has not yielded the desired results as out of the 22 mobile vans only four were in working order.

Coming to the implementation of programmes for prevention and control of diseases, the report says the Union Government had released Rs 292.53 lakh under the national AIDS control programme out which only 51.21 lakh were utilised in 1996-97.

About the Irrigation Department, the report says that though the Government incurred an expenditure of Rs 231.08 crore on the lining of 1092.06 km of channels but the area under canal irrigation had decreased from 16.28 lakh hectares to 9.77 lakh hectares during 1996 to 2000. Even after spending Rs 14.23 crore on raising and lining of the 127.59 km of Bhakra mainline canal, its discharge capacity could not be increased. There was ungainful expenditure worth Rs 5.21 crore on installation of 280 tubewells to tackle waterlogging. Rs 100.79 crore were spent on pay and allowances of the idle staff on the SYL and canal lining projects.

Coming to Punjabi University, the report says that it has not prepared its balance sheet since its inception. Temporary advances amounting to Rs 5.50 crore remained unadjusted. The services of teaching staff were under utilised (25 per cent) having financial implication of Rs 7.62 crore. As many as 69 programmes produced were found to be too poor in quality to be telecast resulting in wasteful expenditure of Rs 1.07 crore. About the Punjab Agricultural University, it says that an investment of Rs 4 crore by it in PUNWIRE in violation of government instructions resulted in a loss of the entire investment and interest of Rs 2.11 crore. Entertainment duty of Rs 27.54 lakh was not charged on cricket matches organised by the Punjab Cricket Association. The Excise and Taxation Department has not collected entertainment duty of Rs 64.40 lakh from 347 cable operators in the state.

The Lottery Department paid incentive claims to agents, sub-agents and sellers in violation of instructions resulting in a loss of Rs 2.06 crore. The Punjab Tourism Development Corporation set up an unviable hotel project at Anandpur Sahib resulting in unfruitful investment of Rs 1.23 crore.

The percentage of transmission and distribution losses of the PSEB ranged from 17.76 to 18.07, thus resulting in a loss valued at Rs 514.87 crore during the five years up to 1999-2000. The PSEB instead of adopting the figures of agriculture consumption assessed on the basis of representative metres, assumed that 12691.50 million units valued at Rs 2890.34 crore were consumed by agriculture sector on account of use of high powered motors. It simply lacked justification.


Economists stress need for creating more jobs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Sharing concern of economists and financial experts over negligence of human development and shrinking employment opportunities in Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, today suggested holding of a “job summit” to find ways and means of tackling unemployment in the state.

The problem of unemployment figured prominently at an inter active session on the Punjab Budget organised by CRRID here today where it was pointed out that the number of unemployed youth in Punjab was more than 14 lakh. And a mere para on employment in the Budget speech was not enough to redress this major problem facing the state where the government has virtually raised its hands in helplessness.

Responding to the suggestion, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director, CRRID, offered to host the proposed summit by inviting not only economists, financial experts and prospective employers from within the state but also from outside to solicit their views and suggestions on giving Punjab youth gainful employment.

Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor, The Tribune, was the moderator.

The Punjab Finance Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, who participated in the interactive session, made it clear that it would be inappropriate to expect from the government to continue as a major player in the employment sector.

“We are cutting the flab. As much as 95 per cent of the total revenue collection of the State goes towards salaries, pensions and office expenses . Where is the money for development or capital formation ? How can the pace of development be accelerated without taking some harsh steps to restore fiscal health of the state,” he added.

Mr T.K.A. Nair, a former Punjab Chief Secretary, said that the paradigm shift in the government thinking was a positive step. The message of the Budget is clear that there would be no more free lunches for anyone. A small section of society enjoyed various prerogatives which no state could sustain indefinitely.

When the government wants to revise or increase user charges, it must improve the quality of service to people, said Mr Nair.

The setting up of a “think tank” by involving intellectuals, academicians, economists, financial experts and others to advise the state government on future planning was also well received and Mr Singla promised to take it to the Chief Minister for approval. The suggestion came from Dr Baldev Singh who felt that this was a totally neglected area. He also wanted the use of technology in accelerating development in the state. Other suggestion of Dr Singh to get unanimity was creation of the research and development wing.

Various issues, including revenue collection, improving tax collection, levying of user charges, devolution of powers to democratic institutions at grassroots level, diversification and taking one million hectares out of wheat-paddy rotation, cutting the flab and putting the economy back on rails were discussed threadbare at the session.

Among others who participated in the session were Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Dr H.S. Sidhu, Dr P.S. Raikhy , Dr Baldev Singh and Dr Kesar Singh — all economists and Mr J.P. Gupta, a former Financial Commissioner of Punjab.

It was Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman of Punjabi University who pointed out that the “path breaking Punjab Budget” was silent on human resource development in general and enhancement of people’s capabilities in particular. He said that a few lines on employment in the Budget speech alone were not enough .

Mr Hari Jaisingh intervened to say that “unemployment” was a major area of concern and ways and means must be found to offer qualified and eligible youth remunerative jobs.

Mr Jaisingh said that a number of avenues of revenue generation, including levying taxes on growing entertainment and service industry, working out tariffs in accordance with the services used, rationalisation of Sales Tax and vehicle tax could be looked into so that the load was uniformly distributed and no particular class or section of society was targeted singularly.

Mr Jaisingh felt that “good points of the present Budget were not good enough” to restore the fiscal health of the state and wanted that both politicians and bureaucrats must practice before they preach.

Mr Surinder Singla said that there was no investment in Punjab during the past five years. It was during this period that indebtedness of the State multiplied four to five times. Immediately after coming to power, the SAD-BJP government increased bus fares by 42 per cent simply to benefit private transporters who own 54 of the total fleet but do more than 70 per cent of the total business.

Mr Singla described it as a bold, dynamic , daring and reformist Budget.

Mr Sucha Singh Gill expressed his concerns and said that keeping people out the of agenda would not help. He said that several issues raised in the white paper on the state of economy in the State are not reflected in the Budget. He talked about the size of the Plan, loopholes in tax collection, recovery of PSIDC and PFC loans . He also felt that new emerging class of neo-rich was spared in the Budget while employees had been targeted.

Mr Gill’s concern as to how the state plans to divert one million hectares from wheat-paddy rotation was shared by other economists also.

Dr Ghuman, Dr P.S. Raikhy and Dr H.S. Sidhu also talked about revenue collection, streamlining and rationalisation of taxation system, and due attention being given to agricultural sector.

Dr Kesar Singh had his doubts as to whether there would be devolution of powers to democratic institutions at grassroots level and uninterrupted flow of funds to panchayats and municipal councils or not as promised in the Budget.

Mr J.P. Gupta talked about the work done by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board.

Mr Lakhanpal and Mr Singla also highlighted certain other salient points of the Budgetary proposals, including the newly provided for Action Taken Report (ATR) and follow-up on budgetary proposals on long term basis.


Ravi Sidhu formally re-arrested
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 22
Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), who is in judicial custody, was today formally rearrested by the Vigilance authorities under the newly added Sections 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC to the FIR registered against him on March 25 under the Prevention of Corruption Act at SAS Nagar. These Sections were added on May 21 in connection with the preparation of a forged will for the Masonic Lodge, Kasauli allegedly by Sidhu.

Mr Jaskaran Singh, SP, Vigilance Bureau, disclosing this here to the mediapersons also stated that the Challan in the case could not be presented against Sidhu in the court today as it had been sent to the President of India for obtaining his sanction.

The In-charge Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Kuldip Singh, had ordered the previous day that the police, if so, desired, could record the formal arrest of Sidhu under the newly added Sections, mentioning that there was no provision under which the police could be disallowed from recording the formal arrest for added offences.

Meanwhile, Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, Ropar, today extended the judicial remand of Ravi Sidhu till June 26 in the PPSC recruitment scam. In his order, the Sessions Judge mentioned that the challan had not been presented as yet. For pending investigation, the accused was remanded in judicial custody till June 25.

The Judicial remand of Surinder Kaur Manchanda, wife of retired bank officials G.S. Manchanda, an alleged hawala operator, was also extended till June 27 by the Sessions Judge, Ropar, today as Challan had not been presented as yet.


Notice to govt in bail case
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 22
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, Ropar, issued notice today to the state government for June 26 on the bail application, moved today by Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), in the ‘jobs for sale’ case, registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Earlier his bail application was rejected by Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar on June 1 on the ground that the Bureau had already added Sections 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC on May 21 to the FIR in the corruption case registered against him on March 25 last. After the inclusion of these sections he could be kept in detention for 90 days.

Today’s bail application moved by his counsel on the ground of expiry of 90 days in detention and non-presentation of challan in the court against Sidhu in 90 days. Bail application has stated that Sidhu was produced in the court of Ilaqa Magistrate, Kharar, on March 26. Thus 90 days in detention expire on June 22/June 23. As June 23 is Sunday and June 24 is also a holiday in Punjab, so the bail application is being moved today i.e. June 22 praying that applicant be released on bail.

Ms Surinder Kaur Manchanda, another accused in the corruption case related to the PPSC recruitment scam, also filed her bail application today in the court of Sessions Judge, Ropar, on the ground of non-submission of challan against her in the court with in 60 days in the corruption case. She was produced in the court on April 19, thus period of 60 days after her production in the court expired on June 17, her counsel stated.

The Sessions Judge also issued notice for June 27 to the state government on the bail application of Surinder Kaur Manchanda.


Bedi’s police remand extended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 22
Mrs Harinder Sidhu, Duty Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Kuldeep Singh Bedi, a close associate of a former PPSC chairman Ravi Sidhu, who was arrested by the SAS Nagar police for his involvement in hawala transactions in further police remand till June 25.

The police had arrested him under Sections 471, 467, 468 and 120 of the IPC and he was remanded in police custody till June 22 by the same court on June 19.

Mr M.P. Shahi, public prosecutor, and SHO Rajinder Pal Singh Sohal, pleaded for police remand for Bedi as the accused had been helping Ravi Sidhu in conducting hawala transactions to transfer his money abroad. They alleged that the accused, a bank manager opened fake accounts, including in the name of the mother of Ravi Sidhu.

They alleged that during the police remand the accused had disclosed that he had kept Rs 20 lakh in Mumbai and the prosecution wanted to get more information about this money. They also wanted to interrogate him regarding the whereabouts of another accused, G.S. Manchanda, who was absconding.


Langah aide’s bail plea adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 22
The bail application of Amrik Singh Mohali, a SAS Nagar Municipal Councillor and an alleged “tout” of former Punjab PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah, in a case registered against him and others by the Vigilance Bureau under various Sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, was adjourned to June 25 for consideration by Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today.

The Sessions Judge also directed the investigating officer in the case to be present on June 25 along with the record of the case.

Earlier, the public prosecutor stated that the record of the case were produced by Inspector Bakhshish Singh but he was not conversant with the facts of the case and sought an adjournment.


Singla gets bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 22
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, Ropar, today granted bail to J.P. Singla, former Additional Director, Development, Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab and Principal, Extension Training Centre, Nabha, in a case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau, SAS Nagar.

Singla had sought bail on the ground that he had acute diabetes and blood pressure ailment. He had also stated that he was innocent.

Singla had been accused of sending his stenographer Manjit Singh to Kamaljit Kaur for her selection as mukh sewika if she paid Rs 2.5 lakh. He was then chairman of the selection committee for the selection of mukh sewikas and appointment of panchayat secretaries.

After hearing the arguments, the Sessions Judge ordered that he deemed it a fit case to grant bail to the applicant. Singla was ordered to be released on bail on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 with a surety of like amount.


Moga councillor held in Tota Singh case

Moga, June 22
A Punjab Vigilance Bureau team from Chandigarh here today raided the houses of two nagar councillors and some other suspected aides of arrested former Education Minister Tota Singh and nabbed a councillor as part of its findings into a corruption case in which the former Akali minister had been arrested earlier this week.

The Vigilance sleuths, assisted by local colleagues, began raiding several places in the wee hours and rounded up nagar councillor Rakesh Bhalla, official sources here said. The other councillor, whose house was raided, has been at large, along with a few other associates of Tota Singh, the sources added. UNI


Bhikhiwind seeks probe against Kairon
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 22
Coming to the rescue of Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has sought a thorough probe against Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP and relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is allegedly involved in a number of ‘unlawful’ activities. The party has also alleged that Mr Kairon has been directly involved in a number of killings in the Majha region.

In a press statement, the party’s General-Secretary, Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, described him as a turncoat. The SAD (A) leader alleged that Mr Kairon had first used the influence of his father to get a Congress ticket and had later joined the SAD. During the Janta Party regime, he had turned in their support and had then again shifted to a Congress constituency, where he had been defeated twice by Jathedar Niranjan Singh.

The SAD (A) leader said the state government should conduct a thorough probe into the ‘baseless FIRs’ against Kairon’s political rivals during the SAD regime. Mr Bhikhiwind also mentioned the name of young Congress leader Tejpreet Singh Peter, against whom ‘fabricated’ FIRs had been lodged at the behest of Mr Kairon. He said an attempt had been made on the life of Mr Peter by the son of Mr Kairon on the eve of the recent Assembly elections.

The SAD (A) leader alleged that Mr Naunihal Singh, brother of senior Akali leader Mr Gurdial Singh Sidhu, was not in town when Sidhu, along with five others, was gunned down at Bhikhiwind on May 19. The FIR lodged by Mr Naunihal Singh could not be true, he claimed. He said the facts did not support the actual incident and the issue needed a thorough inquiry. He sought registration of a case against persons found guilty of filing ‘false FIRs’.

He claimed that the only grievance of Mr Kairon against Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar was that he did not defect from one party to another at the behest of Mr Kairon. He added that all activities undertaken by Mr Kairon at the time of militancy and Mr Badal’s chief ministership needed a thorough probe.

Mr Bhikhiwind said though Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Capt Amarinder Singh were related, the Chief Minister’s wife did not campaign in Mr Mann’s favour during the 1989 Lok Sabha elections. The late SAD leader Gurdial Singh had not raised funds for the election of Mr Mann, as claimed by Mr Kairon, he stated. The SAD (A) sought a thorough probe into the killing of Gurdial Singh and five others.


Offer attractive VRS, tourism staff union tells government
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
The Punjab Tourism Officers’ Welfare Association has urged state government to evolve an attractive voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for to surplus staff in the state corporations and boards. It would help government to push the restructuring of the economy without giving any problems to the employees and blunt the hard criticism of trade unions and political parties.

Mr R.N. Goyal, president, Punjab Tourism Officers’ Welfare Association, said,‘‘The winding up of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) should be pursued so as to serve the common good of employees, society and the economy of the state. However, the government should announce an attractive VRS package to motivate employees to go in for retirement like in the banking sector.’’ The state government should build up a consensus to wind up the loss-making public sector undertaking (PSUs) on the pattern of the Centre and the interests of the employees should be taken care of before starting on the difficult path, he added.

The association has pointed out that there are ways to achieve privatisation without tears, as has been done by many Central PSUs such as Maruti Udyog, Hindustan Machine Tools, State Trade Corporation and number of banks.

Therefore, said Mr Goyal, the state government should evolve a sound privatisation policy, which would not only generate funds for the cash starved state but also enable it to provide handsome voluntary retirement package to employees in case of retrenchment. Keeping this in view, the surplus employees should be offered uniform package without any distinction whether a PSU, board or cooperative society is wound up, restructured or downsized.

The association, at a recently held meeting, has proposed to the government to consider that winding up of the PTDC and other PSU properties and assets could generate thousands of crores of rupees for the cash-starved state, but the downsizing or restructuring would bring results only in the long term. The government should look after the interests of all segments of society, including employees of PSUs, which are being privatised, to boost the restructuring of the state economy.


Cong flays Centre’s Kashmir policy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 22
The Congress today sought a clarification from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, over his recent statement that India had tasted victory in the recent showdown with Pakistan without waging a formal war.

Talking to this correspondent at the local Circuit House today, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader, Dr Manmohan Singh, said that the people of the country should know the facts and the steps taken by the Central Government to ease tension at the Indo-Pakistan border.

Flaying the Central Government for its failure to come up with a comprehensive policy on tackling insurgency in Kashmir, Dr Manmohan Singh said that NDA leaders, including the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister, were issuing statements on the Kashmir issue in contrast to each other, thus, confusing the people.

Dr Manmohan Singh observed that the lack of spread of education at the grass-roots level and the failure to attract investments into industrial sector in the past had resulted in backwardness in Punjab. “You see, no serious effort was made to improve education level of the people of the state causing unemployment. Moreover, big industrial houses in the country have always refrained from investing in Punjab due to large scale corruption prevailing in government offices, he said.

He said that lack of proper infrastructure, poor communication means and power shortage were other major reasons which restrained industrialists from investing in the state.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the state government should make efforts to create an investment-friendly atmosphere by removing corruption in its offices and introducing the single window system in the industrial sector to promote labour oriented industrialisation in the state.

“Infact, Punjab needs a second generation of green revolution to improve the agriculture sector, which is facing a dim future due to wrong policies of the previous government. The new agriculture technologies should be introduced to improve the yield and quality of the produce. Besides, the farmers should be imparted special training to ensure diversification in agriculture since the wheat-paddy crop pattern had virtually failed to garner profits for the farming community in the present scenario,” he added.


BJP seeks probe into ‘sale’ of Cong ticket
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 22
The Punjab unit of the BJP has demanded a probe by an independent agency into the alleged sale of party tickets by the Congress high command to its candidates in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections held early this year.

Talking to the TNS here yesterday Mr Balbir Chand Kapila, senior vice-president of the state unit of the BJP said the leaders of the Congress were the most corrupt in the country as they do not even spare their fellow colleagues. It is shameful on part of the state government comprising such MLAs as had paid to their party high command to get party tickets to talk about rooting-out corruption from Punjab. He alleged that probe into the recruitments during Mr Ravi Sidhu’s tenure in the office under the SAD-BJP tenure was unilateral. The government should also order probe into the selections made during the tenure of Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Lashing out at the Congress Mr Kapila said if Capt Amarinder Singh was really interested in exposing the tainted politicians and bureaucrats, he should ask Congress ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats to voluntarily declare their assets.

He alleged that the Congress was not supporting the Union Government to pass the Lok Pal Bill in Parliament for its own vested interest.


PSHRC seeks report on rise in cancer cases
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 22
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Director, Health Services, Punjab, and Secretary, Department of Environment, to submit a report in connection with the unprecedented increase in cancer related cases in the area.

The commission took this action on the complaint of Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi. Mr Bakshi mentioned that issue pertaining to the rise in cancer related cases was reported in The Tribune on April 25, 2002.

He added that there had been a rise in cancer related cases because of unhygienic conditions in the area and the underground water being unfit for human consumption. In spite of the wide prevalence of cancer, the dispensary at Talwandi Sabo had no facility for detecting cancer. The state government had made no proper plan for countering the disease.

He said a family suffering from cancer must be treated by a team of expert doctors. The state should be called upon to explain why no action had been taken in the matter so far.

On April 25, a news report on two deaths due to cancer in Jajjal village of this district was reported. About 30 deaths due to cancer had taken place in the past three years in this village. In Giana village, 10 km from Jajjal village, about 75 deaths had taken place due to cancer in the past 15 years.

As most of the patients had been living in extreme poverty and could not afford treatment at private hospitals, they had been preferring treatment from a hospital at Bikaner.

The commission held that allegation of inaction by the authorities did prima facie make out a case of the violation of their rights.

The copy of the complaint and of the press cutting would be sent along with a copy of this order to the Director, Health Services, and the Secretary, Department of Environment, so that the report of the state was submitted by both departments before the next date of hearing.

The Secretary, Department of Environment, was directed to ensure that the authorities concerned immediately obtained samples of drinking water to ascertain any unhygienic content therein and a report on same be submitted to the commission.


Poor anganwaris
Gayatri Rai
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 22
Children sitting on floor with no mats, no chair for the teacher, no black board, no fuel for cooking food is what constitutes an anganwari centre in a nearby village here.

The condition of the anganwari centres, which are considered as kindergartens for poor children, is bad throughout the district. Anganwari centres at Pullah, Bajjuana, Tungwali, Gillpati, Sivian and Deon villages are in a shambles. There are about 634 anganwari centres in the district.

The anganwari scheme was started with much fanfare in 1975 with tall claims that anganwari centres would work as creches and play schools for poor children in the rural areas. Children in the 1-6 age group were the target group of the scheme. Children in the 3-6 age group were to be given basic education to prepare them for school education. Pregnant women or mothers of weak children below three years were to be given health education and ration, including milk powder, sugar and cereal.

A worker with matriculation as minimum qualification and a helper manage an anganwari centre. The worker teaches children and the helper brings children from their houses to the centre and then drop them back. The helper prepares the food to be given to the children.

Anganwari centres do not have their own buildings and operate from village dharmshalas. The government provides no furniture or mats to the centres.

The centres are provided 20 kg of sugar, 40 kg of wheat and 3 kg of milk powder to prepare the mid-day meal for children. However, this ration is for a year. Even the fuel and utensils needed to prepare meals are also not given by government. Therefore, the teachers ask the panchayat for the same.

Kuldip Kaur (name changed) working at Nathana centre said the workers at times ask villagers to provide wheat, sugar, milk and fuel.

Another anganwari worker said under the anganwari scheme, a doctor is supposed to visit the centre once a month to examine the children but no health official ever visits their centre. She claimed the situation was same at all centres.

Ms Pushpa, Child Development and Project Officer (CDPO) of Nathana block when contacted said that it was two years that the block got any fund for the anganwari centres. She added that response of poor families towards these centres was good.

An official of the District Programme Office on condition of anonymity said last year a fund of Rs 1.50 lakh was to be given to the anganwari centres of the district but due to financial crisis, it was not released.


Curbs on Amarnath Yatra resented
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
Various non-government organisations associated with providing food and shelter to the pilgrims during Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir have criticised the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s decision imposing various restrictions on them.

In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, they have demanded the withdrawal of all these restrictions otherwise they would be forced to launch a nationwide strike.

Listing these restrictions, Mr Rajan Gupta, president of the Bhole Bhandari Charitable Trust, which has been providing food and shelter to the pilgrims for the past so many years, said some conditions indicated that the government was discouraging the NGOs to set up langar and provide shelter. Quoting a circular issued by the Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Mr Gupta pointed out that a condition says “the NGO shall not provide accommodation to any yatri whether free or on payment basis inside langar premises”.

He alleged that this was being done to facilitate the business of the local traders. He said some local traders would exploit this condition as was done in 1996 when during heavy rains some local traders had charged Rs 500 per night per person in a tent and sold a single cup of tea for Rs 20.

Similarly, referring to another condition which says that “the NGO shall proceed to the permitted langar sites, along with men and material, in one go with the original copy of the langar permission to avoid any inconvenience”. He said, the government had fixed the number of sevadars at 25 per langar. The NGOs said it was not possible for them to transport the huge material, required for at least 40 days, to the langar site together and it was usually transported in various phases.


Jail without proper medical facilities
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 22
The death of two prisoners in the Central Jail here in two days speaks volumes about the lack of sufficient medical facilities in the jail where hardcore criminals including foreign nationals, are kept.

Raj Kaur (64), who died on Thursday after she complained of pain in the chest, was taken to the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital where she died of cardiac arrest. She had been under detention for the past about one-and-a-half years and was arrested under the NDPS Act.

According to sources, the Central Jail lacks sufficient medical facilities and when a patient is referred to a government hospital, it gets too late. Another prisoner Gurdip Singh (72), who was sentenced to seven-year rigorous imprisonment, died at the government hospital. Earlier too, a number of inmates had complained about the lack of proper medical facilities and some of them had even lost their lives.

Mr H.S. Chabba, Jail Superintendent, said that every effort was made to save the lives of the inmates. However, he admitted that there was lack of medical facilities in the jail and as a result difficulties are faced to get proper diagnose for serious patients. Mr Chabba said he would urge the higher authorities for setting up laboratories to conduct ECG and other routine tests.

Mr Chabba said that there was a need for senior and specialist doctors as at present there was only one doctor at the jail and is unable to give round-the-clock duty.

Meanwhile, Mr Izhar Alam, Additional Director General of Police (Jails), visited the jail and reviewed the medical and other facilities. Mr Chabba said that the jail authorities had brought to the notice of the Mr Alam the need to improve the medical facilities. However, the Civil Surgeon was not available for comments.


Reconsider decision, VC told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Taking up a petitions seeking directions to Punjabi University at Patiala for the completion of the M.Sc (information technology) course, besides directions to the respondents not to withdraw any of the facilities given to the students of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology, a Division Bench has asked the Vice-Chancellor to reconsider the decision regarding the withdrawal of the university’s relationship with the institute.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, ruled; “We do not propose to interfere in this writ petition at this stage. The prayer is that vide letter dated June 6, the relationship with the university of the petitioner’s institute has been withdrawn.... We consider it appropriate to direct the Vice-Chancellor to reconsider his decision of June 6. In view of the averments made in this petition, let appropriate orders be passed within two weeks from the date of receiving a copy of the order”.

Punjab gets notice in mill case

Acting on a petition accusing the police of taking forcible possession of a Mansa-based agro-mill and preventing the owner from milling, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

Pronouncing the orders on the petition filed by proprietor of Mansa-based Bansal Agro Mills, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, has also asked the respondents to show cause why the petition should not be admitted. The case will come up for further hearing on July 1.

Claiming the action of the respondents to be illegal, unjust and unreasonable, proprietor Tarsem Chand, in his petition, had earlier alleged that their fundamental right to work had been infringed upon and it would not be possible for them to complete the milling process by the due date.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner had asserted that the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation had transferred 52,359 bags of paddy to the mill for milling. However, Markfed was wrongly claiming ownership of the paddy. Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, Mr S.K. Garg had added that on June 5, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, along with the Station House Officer of a police station, had raided the mill before taking its forcible possession. He had further added that paddy worth Rs 1 crore would be damaged as the monsoon season was fast approaching.


NTAS seeks help for dead artistes’ kin
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 22
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, other theatre enthusiasts of Patiala, Chandigarh and the authorities of Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, including its Registrar, Mr M.L. Kosar, have made a strong plea for providing relief or compensation to the kin of three young theatre artistes who died along with Harpal Tiwana in a road accident near Dera Gopipur (HP) last month.

The artistes assembled at the kendra after the performance of the NTAS play, ‘‘Daire’’, to condole the death of those who met their end on their way back from the shooting of a tele-film under a theatre-cum-film project, ‘‘Ik Akh Ik Nazar’’, on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The artistes argued that since the project was assigned by the concept committee for the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the moral and legal responsibilities of paying compensation or relief to the kin of the victims came on the shoulders of the Concept Committee/SGPC.

The artistes made a fervent appeal to the committee, SGPC, and the Punjab Government to look into the matter sympathetically to ensure the provision of relief and well-being to the kin of the victims. The three victims are Manjit Kaur (19), Harpreet Kaur (20) and Jatinder (21).

NTAS Director Pran Sabharwal said they had sent telegrams and written letters to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and associates of the Concept Committee, including the SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, MP, the script-writer of the play, ‘‘Ik Akh Ik Nazar’’, and the Deputy Commissioners of Patiala and Ropar for immediate relief to the kin of the deceased artistes.


Stress on voluntary blood donation
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 22
A seminar on “Rational Use of Blood” was organised by the Bhai Ghanhaiya Ji Charitable Blood Bank here today. Speaking on the occasion, Mr R.C. Dogra, Health Minister, Punjab, said unavailability of adequate blood was a recurring problem as only 40 lakh units of blood were being collected against the requirement of more than 75 lakh units of blood in the country.

Mr Dogra stated that India always regarded its population as a stumbling block in development, but with a population of more than 100 crore we had the potential to produce 200-300 million units of blood if only 5 per cent of our population donated blood just twice a year.

Mr Dogra appealed to make blood donation a way of life as it was the best service to humanity. Appreciating the services of Mahant Prithpal Singh, Mr Dogra said that other religious leaders should follow the example of the Mahant and arrange medicines etc for poor patients in hospitals.

Dr Ajay Bagga an outstanding blood donor, in his, keynote address highlighted risks associated with blood transfusion, need for safe voluntary blood donation and judicious use of blood and its components. He said efforts should be made to make blood transfusion as safe as possible.

Dr Kuldeep Nanda, President District Congress Committee, Dr Kiranjit Kumar, Civil Surgeon, Dr D.B. Kapoor, Mr Tejinder Singh Sodhi social activists, Dr S.K. Narad, Administrator, Mr Bhupinder Singh Pahwa, President of the Blood Bank, Dr Dilip Kumar, DMC, also addressed the gathering. They said blood should flow not in drains, but in veins as blood donation helped nurture feelings of love and brotherhood.

Mahant Prithpal Singh, Baba Balwant Singh Harkhowal, Sant Ajit Singh honoured blood donors of the city.


Decision on water supply deferred
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 22
The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board has deferred the decision to hand over the maintenance of drinking water supply and sewerage disposal system to the local municipal council due to intervention of the Deputy Commissioner.

The board had given an ultimatum in this regard to the council for non-payment of monthly maintenance charges for the past few months. As per the ultimatum, the board was to take the step on June 17 as the council had failed to pay Rs 10 lakh. The matter had been brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner and Mr Sunil Jakhar, the local MLA.

The Deputy Commissioner had then asked the officiating Deputy Director, Local Government, to resolve the issue immediately. The sewerage disposal system at Abohar had been deteriorating and might further deteriorate if handed over to the council, the Deputy Commissioner had observed.

The officiating Deputy Director had then summoned the officiating Executive Officer of the council and had expressed concern over the attitude of the council. The council had issued a cheque for Rs 2 lakh to the board and had promised to pay another Rs 1 lakh by June 30. An undertaking had been given that a minimum of Rs 2 lakh would be paid to the board every month.


Setting up of food zones announced
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 22
To encourage farming of vegetables and to give a boost to the sale of vegetables and fruits, the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today announced setting up of special vegetables and fruits zones in all parts of Punjab.

She said the Agriculture Department of the state had contacted more than 100 shops in London to facilitate the sale of fruits and vegetables abroad. She informed that vegetables were already being exported to several countries, including USA and Canada and the government would take necessary steps to ascertain that the export market of vegetables and fruits from Punjab increased. To make this scheme a success, help of NRIs would also be sought, she added.

The minister also informed that bio-gas plants will be set up in villages around the state.


Nambardars accused of cheating
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 22
Ms Surinder Rani, a woman of Ambala city, in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, has demanded action against some nambardars who allegedly got clearance for the mutation of a land by showing her dead husband as being alive.

She said her husband Prem Chand had a joint property in Mauli Baidwan village near Kharar. He died on July 8, 1990, and the mutation was sanctioned on July 26, 1990, by the Circle Revenue Officer of Kharar. It was done “at the instance of one of the partners and the village nambardar. Also, somebody else had been presented in the office in place of a woman who had a share in the property.

A man called Muni Lal died on March 18, 1996, and the nambardar got the mutation documents prepared on May 6, 1996, fraudulently by ignoring the two daughters of Muni Lal, who were the legal heirs. The ‘kursi nama’ prepared this way was attested by another nambardar on May 7, 1996. She has alleged that the nambardars are committing grave irregularities.


Teams sent to nab absconding cops
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 22
The district police chief of Faridkot has sent two police teams to different places in the state to arrest DSP Bhupinder Singh Khatra along with three junior police officers, Mr Major Singh, Mr Rajbir Singh and Mr Balbir Singh, who have been absconding following the disclosure of their involvement in a cheating case for sending Amarjeet Singh and his wife Gurmeet Kaur to the USA after tampering with police documents and detaching their passports from the records after allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from them.

This action has been taken following the submission of an inquiry report. A case under various sections of the IPC has been registered against the erring police officials. Ms Pal Kaur had filed a complaint in June last year that her husband Amarjeet Singh had married Gurmeet Kaur.


Spurious petrol factory raided
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 22
A joint raid by the police and the Food and Civil Supplies Department detected a factory of spurious petrol and diesel here today.

The police party arrested Daljit Singh and Bhupinder Singh Arora, who were brothers, in the industrial area on Chamrang road and seized 197 drums of raw material used for manufacturing spurious petrol. The police also seized five drums of manufactured petrol.

The premises of the Aroras were raided and the brothers failed to give licences for the chemicals, thinner or oil used to manufacture the spurious petrol.


Kanjli Lake to be rid of hyacinth
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 22
The district administration has decided to launch a campaign for removing hyacinth from Kanjli Lake from July 1.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma, yesterday held a meeting with various government and non-government organisations to seek their cooperation in the campaign.

Mr Verma said the maintenance and operation of the Kanjli Boat Club and its lawns would be privatised. At present, a committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner was maintaining it, he added.


Porno print seized from cinema house
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 22
A team of police officials from the Kotwali police station, led by SHO Paramjit Singh, raided a cinema house (Naulakha) and seized the print of a film being screened that allegedly contained added pornographic material here last evening.

The raid was conducted after a tip-off that a film with pornographic contents was being exhibited at the cinema house.

The police later registered case under Sections 3, 4 and 6 of the Indecent Representation of Women (P) Act 1986, Section 297 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Cinematography Act.


De-addiction camp
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 22
A two-day de-addiction camp began at the local grain market today.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhatti, Chairman of the Punjab Human Mission, who organised the camp said that over 100 patients were examined during the camp by experienced vaids and medicines were given to them free of cost.


Cane growers’ payment withheld
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 22
Farmers of about two dozen villages of Fazilka and Jalalabad areas who are cultivating sugarcane are disappointed over non-payment of cane supplied by them to Fazilka Cooperative Sugar Mill, Bodiwala Pitha, 15 km from here. It is learnt that the farmers have not been paid for sugarcane they had sold to the mill after March 7.

It may be recalled that cane-crushing in the sugar mill had been stopped after April 12 but the farmers have not been paid about Rs 4 crore from March 7 to April 12, the period during which they had sold cane to the mill. According to rules, it is mandatory for the mill authorities to clear all payment within 15 days. It is learnt that some influential farmers having political clout have been paid out of turn for the cane supplied by them. Besides, those farmers whose sugarcane crop came under the mine fields in the border belt have not been paid by the mill for one trolley each of cane on the plea that these farmers have been unable to supply cane according to conditions of the bond about supplying a specified quantity of sugarcane. The farmers say that with- holding payments of the farmers is most unfortunate. Moreover, they have not received full compensation for their crops under mine fields.

Traditional sugarcane cultivators complain that there was a delay in the payment of sugarcane last year, too, and they had been paid only in May. They said if the trend of delayed payment persisted, the farmers would become disinterested in cultivating sugarcane.


Milkfed chief’s appointment
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 22
The State Cooperative Department authorities have started an inquiry into the controversy pertaining to acquiring the chairmanship of Milkfed, Punjab, by a senior Akali leader, Mr Jagdeep Singh, who has been elected MLA from the Joga Assembly segment in the last Assembly elections, during the previous SAD-BJP government in the state.

Official sources said the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, Mr A.R. Talwar, had asked the Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies here, to submit him a detailed report regarding the alleged irregularities in the appointment of Mr Nakai as chairman of Milkfed.

Sources added that this action had been taken by the department after a news item in connection with the alleged irregularities in the appointment of Mr Nakai appeared in a section of the Press.

According to reports, the alleged irregularities related to the primary membership of cooperative society of Dhadhe village of this district.

Mr Nakai had wrongly been shown as a resident and primary member of the cooperative society of Dhadhe village for making him Director of Milkfed first and then chairman.

However, Mr Nakai had refuted all such allegations by dubbing these as untrue and baseless. Sources added that state cooperative societies authorities would take action as per the report of the Deputy Registrar.


Bathinda boy tops CET (reserve)
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 22
Rakesh Kumar, a city resident, has topped Punjab CET (reserve category) this year. Rakesh Kumar passed his plus two from the local Government Senior Secondary School, Parasram Nagar.

He said he studied for a year for appearing for CET after doing plus two. For three months he took coaching at an academy in Chandigarh.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |