Thursday, June 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab Budget passed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
After a three-day-long debate, the Punjab Assembly today passed the Budget, approving the Punjab Appropriation Bill, 2002, authorising the payment and appropriation of Rs 28340.79 crore.

The Bill was moved by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh. Interestingly, Akali legislators who had opposed several Budget proposals did not move a single amendment seeking modifications in the proposals. However, while taking part in the debate they criticised various aspects of the Budget’.

“I am surprised why the Akalis did not move any amendment”, said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while interacting with mediapersons after the passing of the Budget. If they had any objection to any specific proposal, they should have moved an amendment, he added.

Before the passing of the Appropriation Bill, discussion was held on certain demands mentioned in it . The discussion remained confined to demands relating to the agricultural and health sectors. Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Sunil Jakhar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal participated in it.

Mr Jakhar said there was need to critically evaluate the performance of Punjab Agricultural University which had failed to tackle problems faced by the agricultural sector. He said PAU should be closed down as it was serving no purpose while the government had to spend Rs 100 crore every year on it. The university was making no worthwhile contribution to agricultural research, he added.

The Assembly also passed the Punjab Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill that replaced the ordinance issued in this connection earlier. It also passed the Punjab State Legislature ( Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2002, replacing the ordinance issued earlier in this connection. This has been done to protect those MLAs who have been appointed to certain positions in the Punjab Government, from disqualification.

The House also passed the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2002, that authorises the state government to withdraw certain facilities which were given to former Chief Ministers by the previous government.

The Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2002 was also passed by the House to allow the participation of the private and public sectors in the development, operation and maintenance of infrastructure facilities in the state. Mr Lal Singh said the Bill had been passed to give high priority to infrastructure development to accelerate economic and industrial growth. The Government wanted that the private sector should supplement its efforts in the development of infrastructure.

Earlier during the question hour, Capt Amarinder Singh, replying to a question by Mr Gurjant Singh, (CPI), said there was no ban on the recruitment of one member of each of the terrorist affected families. He said 729 applications for jobs from such persons were pending besides 429 applications were being processed.

He said his government would provide jobs to these persons on top priority but he did not specify the time-frame. Replying to a question by Mr Joginder Singh Mann on behalf of Prof Darbari Lal, Capt Amarinder Singh said there was no possibility of paying subsidy worth Rs 469 crore that was due against the state government to the industrialists concerned in the immediate future. He said he would call a meeting of such industrialists to discuss the issue with them after the announcement of the new industrial policy. Their dues might be cleared in instalments, he added. The Chief Minister said the government was not in a position to provide temporary power connections to tubewells at this stage.


Punjab House passes Infrastructure Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, which is to be set up under the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, passed by the state Assembly today, would have the power to levy fee to raise infrastructure fund in the state.

According the provisions in the Act, every dealer would be liable to pay a fee levied under the Act on the sale or purchase of the goods specified in Schedule-111 within the state at the rate not exceeding Rs 6 for every Rs 100 value of goods as the state government may, by notification, direct. The fee would be levied when the act is enforced in the state by issuing a necessary notification by the state government.

With respect to the fee, the accounts would be maintained and the returns submitted in the manner prescribed by the state government.

Whoever contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, the rules and the regulations made with respect to filing of true returns and the payment of fee shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with which may extend to five times the fee to be paid.


ESMA invoked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The Punjab Government today invoked East Punjab Essential Services ( Maintenance) Act -1947 ( ESMA) in the state. A notification in this connection was issued by Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary, in view of the agitation call given by certain employees’ organisations of the PSEB.

The notification says that “ in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub Section (1) of Section 4 of the East Punjab Essential Services ( Maintenance) Act, 1947, the Governor of Punjab is pleased to authorise the Secretary, Punjab State Electricity Board, all the Superintending Engineers, and Additional Superintending Engineers, Senior Executive Engineers of the PSEB in the field to make orders directing persons engaged in the Department of Power not to depart out of their assigned places of work during duty hours, under their charge”.

It further says that “in exercise of the powers conferred by Subsection (3) of Section 7 of the said Act, the Governor of Punjab is further pleased to authorise the aforesaid officers to make complaints in writing for the offences punishable under this act”.

It may mentioned that certain employees’ unions had given a call for agitation in the second week of July. Besides, in protest against the order issued regarding fixing new parameters for the generation allowance, employees of thermal plants have also threatened to resort to agitation.


House for CAG probe into ‘sangat darshan’
Resolution on Sonia rescinded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Amidst a walkout by Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP legislators, the Punjab Assembly today passed a resolution recommending to the state government to order a probe by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India into the “ misutilisation” of funds during the “sangat darshan” programmes that used to be held under the command of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Obviously, the resolution has been passed to build further pressure on Mr Badal and demoralise the rank and file of the SAD. If investigation is started, as has been sought by the Treasury Benches, not only Akali workers but also a large number of government officers will come within the purview of the probe. The CAG had earlier investigated the fodder scam in Bihar.

It was an official resolution moved by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh. Opposing the resolution during the discussion on the issue, Akali and BJP legislators staged a walkout from the House. The SAD and the BJP objected to some words used in the resolution. However, Mr Lal Singh withdrew certain words and replaced these with the words “party workers “.

Opposing the resolution, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder said the Congress government was setting the wrong precedent by using objectionable words against supporters of the former Chief Minister. He said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had upheld the holding of “sangat darshan.”

The passing of the resolution amounted to challenging the decision of the high court, he added. He said it was the first time in the history of the state that a Chief Minister had moved from village to village under the “sangat darshan” programme to gear up the process of development. He said the government should not resort to the politics of mudslinging. All right-thinking members should oppose the resolution, he added.

Mr Tikshan Sud (BJP) supported Mr Bhunder. He said Mr Badal changed the system of development of the state and introduced a democratic element in it. There was unprecedented development during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government.

Mr Birdevinder Singh and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi of the Congress and Mr Gurjant Singh of the CPI supported the resolution. Mr Lal Singh said money was spent using illegal methods under the “sangat darshan” programme.

He said three main aspects of the programme should be probed. First, whether the money distributed through the programme was approved by the competent authority. Second, whether the works on which the money was spent had been completed. Third, whether the agencies and organisations which got the money were legally approved bodies.

The House also rescinded the resolution which was passed against Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee, by the Punjab Assembly on March 26, 2001, condemning her for her “utterances against the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.”

Moving the resolution for rescinding the March resolution, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh said the previous SAD-BJP combine had a brute majority in the House. It passed the resolution even after Mrs Sonia Gandhi had clarified that she had not used offensive words against Mr Vajpayee. No Akali or BJP legislator was present in the House when Chowdhary Jagjit Singh moved the resolution.


Class IV employees burn copy of Budget
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, June 26
Activists of the class IV Government Employees Union, Punjab, burnt a copy of the Budget, tabled recently in the state Assembly, to protest against anti-people and anti-employee policies of government.

Activists from other employees’ unions including the PRTC, the Government School Teachers Union and the Multi-purpose Health Workers Union, also participated in the rally.

The activists criticised the government for its decision to withdraw various allowances and voluntary retirement scheme, freeze the DA, ban fresh recruitment and privatise the PRTC. They urged the government to reverse these decisions failing which they threatened to intensify their agitation.

The activists also issued a written statement of their demands signed by Mr Daler Singh, district president.

HOSHIARPUR: On the call given by the Punjab Class IV Government Employees Union, members of its Lcal unit burnt a copy of the state Budget in front of General Bus Stand, here today.

Mr Ashok Kumar general secretary of the district unit, said that the members of the union would stage a protest rally and dharna on July 16.

The Government Transport Workers Union also staged a gate rally in front of the bus stand to protest against the Budget.

The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, the ITI Students Union and the ITI Students Action Committee also staged a dharna in front of the District Courts to protest against the state government’ budget.


Punjab Govt staff to observe ‘black day’ on July 9
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The workers of different departments of Punjab Government, boards and corporations would observe July 9 as a ‘black day’ to protest against the state government’s decision to disinvest its share in number of corporations, and slashing of various allowances.

This was stated by Mr Ajit Singh Bagri, president, Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, here today. Addressing protest rally of workers at Sector 17, Mr Bagri said,‘‘ The workers affiliated to various unions would join the protest on July 9 and would gherao the MLAs and MPs of the ruling party in every part of the state.’’ Further 21 leaders of the federation and the Punjab and UT Employees Action Committee, including five women went on a 24-hour hunger strike from today.

The speakers conjectured that after freezing the DA for one year and ban on LTC, the state government would decrease DA from 49 to 39 per cent, and do away with encashment of leave and commutation of pension. To protest against the government’s anti-worker move, the workers would hold district-wise and tehsil-wise rallies in the state on that day.

Members of the Land Mortage Banks Workers Union, Punjab, also went on pen-down strike today. Mr Gurdev Singh Badochi, president of the union, announced that all employees of the bank would hold a protest rally in Chandigarh tomorrow.

He condemned the government’s decision to slash the salaries of bank employees though they had no direct link with the state government. There was no share of the state government in Land Mortage Bank, and it was less than 5 per cent in cooperative banks. So there was no justification, he said, in decreasing the salary of employees.



Darbari Lal elected Deputy Speaker
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Prof Darbari Lal, a senior Congress legislator from Amritsar, was unanimously elected Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today.

Born in Gujarat, now in Pakistan, in 1942, Prof Darbari Lal migrated to Amritsar in 1947. He taught at DAV College, Amritsar, for 20 years before being elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for the first time in 1980 and later in 1985 and 2002. He has special interest in history and writes for various newspapers.

His name was proposed by the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh. It was seconded by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh. Representing the principal Opposition party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, in the House, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder endorsed the name of Prof Darbari Lal for the office of Deputy Speaker.

After the election, Capt Amarinder Singh, accompanied by Mr Bhunder, Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur, Mr Tikshan Sud of the BJP and Mr Gurjant Singh of the CPI, escorted Prof Darbari Lal to his seat in the House. As per tradition, the Deputy Speaker sits on the bench along with the Leader of the Opposition, who at present is Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Prof Darbari Lal thanked all parties for electing him unanimously.


Cabinet berth on seniority: CM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Seniority as party MLA in the state Assembly will be the main criterion for inducting fresh faces in the Council of Ministers in Punjab.

This was stated today by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while talking to The Tribune.

To emphasise the point, he said it would not be possible to ignore the senior party MLAs to accommodate the junior ones.

When asked whether he had been feeling the requirement to induct more members in the ministry, Capt Amarinder said: “Yes, there is a need to expand the Council of Ministers and I will be doing so at the earliest.”

“There are 43 government departments but only 21 ministers,” he said, adding: “I have a number of departments with me which I will allocate to others following the addition of new faces in the ministry.”

“I will be going to Delhi in the first week of July to meet Ms Sonia Gandhi,” he said, adding that he wanted to take more MLAs in the Council of Ministers in March, but the party high command advised him to wait for three months.

When asked about his programme to go to the USA a meeting with the World Bank, he said it had been postponed till the end of July. “The officer with whom we were supposed to interact for financial aid for various projects in the state has gone on leave for a few weeks. Only after his return we would proceed to the USA”, he added.

He said there was no plan to hand over the Vigilance Bureau to the Chief Secretary as reported in a section of the Press.

He said he would select a retired judge for heading the one-man commission to be appointed to scrutinise complaints for inquiry into various irregularities by the previous government.

However, he said the inquiries would be conducted only by the Vigilance Bureau. There was no plan to change the ongoing process of holding the inquiries, he said, adding: “It is a quick method to handle the cases of corruption while commissions take years to submit the inquiries reports”. 


Seized rice rotting in FCI godowns
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 26
Even as the work of exporting rice has come to a complete halt in Mansa and Bathinda districts after a rice scam in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) came to light in the city on June 18, rice worth lakhs of rupees lying in many trucks detained at its godown here has started to rot.

Information gathered by TNS stated that more than 800 quintals of rice worth 7 lakh, lying in trucks had started rotting as neither the FCI authorities nor the police authorities had made arrangements to save the same.

However, the FCI authorities claimed that the rice did not belong to them now as the gate pass for the same had been issued in the name of the export firm, Sharp Menthol India Limited, against whom a criminal case had been registered by the police authorities for their alleged involvement in the rice scam which came to light after police parties raided the FCI godown and six rice mills located in the district and seized about 36 trucks loaded with rice bags.

The truck operators, whose trucks had been detained, also alleged that as they were not at fault and that their vehicles should be released and they should be given adequate compensation.

On the other hand due to the agitation of the FCI employees in protest against the implication of certain FCI employees the criminal case has led to a complete halt to the storage and acceptance of rice operations in Mansa and Bathinda districts. The state agencies are finding it difficult to meet the deadline of June 30 fixed in connection with the completion of milling of its paddy stock by rice mill owners due to the strike.

A section of exporters and FCI contractors have also suffered huge financial losses on account of demurrage they had to pay to the railway authorities for the delays. The movement of rice to other states from the two districts has also come to a complete halt due to the srike.

Mr V.K. Singh, Senior Manager, FCI, Punjab region, has already said that no senior official of the FCI was involved in the alleged scam and the company, Sharp Menthol India Limited, was a genuine firm which had submitted a bank guarantee of Rs 35 crore to the FCI. He added that a two-member panel had been constituted to probe the role of a certain low rank FCI official in the alleged scam.

However, the police has arrested an Assistant Manager (Depot), FCI, Hardev Singh, for his alleged involvement in the scam, while six FCI officials, who were earlier arrested, had been released on bonds. The police authorities were tight-lipped and declined to divulge the details in connection with the investigation into the matter, which was being handled by senior police officials. They also conducted some raids to arrest the main accused involved in the scam. The FCI authorities had blacklisted the company.

An exporter said if the FCI authorities did not make arrangements for releasing the rice for export their contracts with the foreign buyers would be terminated and they would suffer losses.

Meanwhile, the FCI official along with drivers of trucks, who were arrested by the police authorities, could not secure bail.


Woes of procurement agencies
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 26
Less movement of stock, lack of adequate staff, heavy political pressure during the time of procurement, unfavourable atmospheric conditions and sometimes even negligence in duty are the major reasons for huge stocks of foodgrains rotting in Punjab, the food basket of India.

The movement of foodgrains, particularly wheat and paddy stock lying with various agencies in the state, is not even half of what is procured. The accumulation of huge stocks from the past few years along with additional burden of every purchase season has added to the woes of the Food Corporation of India, Markfed, Punsup, the Ware Housing Corporation and the Food and Civil Supplies Department.

For example, 11.12 lakh metric tonnes of wheat is lying with the FCI in Ferozepore district in godowns and 5.86 lakh metric tonnes of wheat in open plinths. An estimated 1.42 lakh metric tonnes of wheat requires to be moved out from the stocks in one month keeping in mind the arithmetic calculations of the quantity of stock lying with the agency. However, on an average less than 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat is moved out from the stocks of the FCI in Ferozepore district, adding an additional burden of at least 11 lakh metric tonnes every corresponding year.

Sometimes the situation even worsens. Last month, only 11,500 metric tonnes of wheat was moved out of the stocks through the PDS system from the godowns of FCI in the Ferozepore district. This means the storage capacity was put under an additional burden of 1.3 lakh metric tonnes in just one month.

A senior official of the FCI told TNS that special trains arranged for the movement of stocks were not sufficient. In Ferozepore district, only 20 special trains were arranged per month as against the requirement of at least 50 special trains. Last month, Ferozepore district got only five special trains to move its stock of rice. The gap between procurement and the movement of stock was widening to an alarming proportion leading to financial losses.

The problem is not limited to one district alone and exists in all districts.

Another problem lies in loading trains. At least 1 per cent of the wheat falls on the platform, which feeds people living in the slums that have developed near all railway stations in the state. Each special train has the capacity of carrying 2,300 metric tonnes of foodgrains. Even 1 per cent loss calculates to 23 tonnes, leading to a financial loss of Rs 2.25 lakh. Recovery of such losses was practically impossible, said the official.

Another main problem of the FCI is the shortage of staff. The official revealed that the FCI was under-staffed by more than 35 per cent in the whole state. And in Ferozepore district alone, there is a shortage of at least 55 to 60 per cent of the existing staff. It becomes very difficult to take care of the stock or ensure prompt procurement of foodgrains in the absence of the required staff. During the procurement season, every Inspector is burdened with an overload of work and has to manage at least five purchase centres. It becomes almost impossible to purchase foodgrains under strict vigilance. The problem of storage of wheat and rice with the FCI results in damage to the stocks. The open plinths are covered with polythene sheets. To keep the stock properly, there is need to remove the polythene sheets daily in the morning to get the stocks exposed to sunlight for reducing the humidity content that damages the foodgrains. Daily covering and uncovering of the stock leads to tearing of the polythene sheets.

The official also blamed the present political system for financial losses incurred in terms of damage to the foodgrains. “The procurement agencies are under immense pressure from the respective state governments and purchase foodgrains beyond their storage capacity from the markets. The purchase of foodgrains should be in accordance to the storage capacity and the storage capacity should be in accordance with the milling capacity”, said the official.

Moreover, the lobby of rice millers and commission agents have a great say in the political system of Punjab that influence the working style of the respective agencies. For example, the FCI never gives the stock of paddy to rice mills in advance for milling as against the working style of all state procurement agencies. It gets rice in hand and then provides the paddy accordingly to the rice mills. Whereas, the state procurement agencies hand over the stocks of paddy to the rice mills in advance and then wait for milling. Every year, rice mills fail to meet the time fixed for milling. Hence, the payments are delayed and the mills become defaulters.


Shun liquor in DSGMC poll: Akal Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 26
The Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today issued a fresh directive to the candidates of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections against the distribution of liquor or any intoxicants during the elections.

In his directive, the Jathedar said he had come to know that like general elections, distribution of liquor etc had become a common sight during the gurdwara elections too which was against the very tenets of the Sikhism. The candidates and their supporters adopt ‘unethical’ methods including distribution of money and intoxicants, to woo the voters.

The personal prestige of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, and Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, Akal Takht, is at stake.

The Takht has reportedly received a number of complaints in this connection. The directive reads: “It has been noticed that degeneration had crept into the election process of the gurdwara as too”.

The Jathedar has directed all candidates not to adopt any ‘anti-Sikh’ method to woo the voters. He has also urged the Sikh sangat to vote for those candidates who were ‘true Sikhs’ so that good management can be given to Sikh shrines.

Senior leaders of the SAD, the SHSAD and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee have been camping in New Delhi.

However, the directive is of general nature which doesn’t specify any faction of Akali Dal or the SGPC which has been indulging in the ‘anti-Sikh activities’ so far as the elections are concerned.


Cong goes back on poll vows: SAD
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 26
Repeatedly addressing the Congress government as “zalam sarkar” (cruel government), a former Punjab Finance Minister and Secretary-General (SAD), Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today declared that Akalis were determined to make any sacrifice for justice and rights of the state. He was addressing 85th Jor Mela at the nearby Palahi village to commemorate the fifth battle of sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Sahib fought in 1634 at the village against the Mughals.

The Akali fight was not for power but was against injustice, he told the congregation. The Congress government was bent upon destroying the state, he added.

The present Finance Minister had burdened the Punjabis with Rs 3,000-crore taxes, said former minister. Denouncing the Budget as anti-people, he alleged that the Congress government had gone back on every promise made in its manifesto. The government had burdened farmers with Rs 250-crore taxes, he added.


Left convention on July 6
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 26
With a view to counter the alleged “anti-people” policies of the Punjab Government leaders of the All-India Forward Bloc, CPM (Pasla group), MCPI, and the CPI (ML) to hold a joint convention on July 6 at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, Jalandhar.

Stating this here today to the media, Mr V.P. Saini, national secretary of the All-India Forward Bloc, said Mr Debabratta Biswas, MP and General Secretary of the bloc, would address the convention. He said the Left parties were planning to organise a movement to oppose the policies of the government.


Tough job ahead for Mayors
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 26
Even as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh promises a clean government, the Mayors have a challenging job in all four corporations in the state.

Blatant encroachments on footpaths, parks, government land, and even road dividers are adding to the woes of the public. As many as 56 parks have been encroached upon. Residential buildings and religious institutions, police chowkis, schools and animal sheds have come up. More than 795 cases of encroachment on thousands of acres of prime government property and agricultural land in the city and in villages are pending with the government.

Over 120 unauthorised colonies have mushroomed, posing a challenge to the corporation resources.

As many as 81 court cases have been pending with the corporation’s legal wing. The Amritsar Vikas Manch, an NGO, has filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with the encroachments.

Nearly Rs 53 crore of the corporation budget is spent on salaries and contingency expenses. About 45 per cent of the budget is devoted to development. About Rs 17 crore is spent annually on sanitation and cleanliness but choked sewers tell another story.

The corporation has at least 10 mechanical units to clean sewerages but the fund crunch has deterred such activities. Absenteeism has also posed a major problem. A recent surprise check by Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, had found at least 46 MC employees absent.

The city’s 181 marriage palaces are also flouting rules with impunity. Fire-fighting provisions are missing in most of them. As many as 176 have no building plans, and 173 are not regularised. A majority of them have been served with notices but no action has been taken.

Obscene posters, banners and billboards line the roads.


Power tariff hits marriage palaces
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 26
Marriage palaces of the city have started closing down allegedly due to the “faulty” power tariff structure of the cash-starved Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). About one-third of them have already closed down or also started holding exhibitions to keep them afloat.

Mr Iqbal Singh, Metro president of the District Banquet Hall -cum-Marriage Palaces association, said their business was largely a seasonal affair and had become non-profitable for the past some time, mainly due to the faulty power tariff structure imposed by the PSEB. He said these palaces were made to pay electricity bills at the rate of 125 kw, which was more than the actual power consumption.

He said that the rate of power tariff and the minimum bills had added to the woes of the owners and contractors of these palaces.

Mr Metro said most of the marriages were solemnised during the October to March period when airconditioners, air coolers, fans, water coolers etc are not used. But, the PSEB did not take this into account and all these were added to account for the total load, much of the disadvantage of the palaces.

He lamented that despite reminders and representations made to the PSEB, no concrete action to solve the problem had been initiated by authorities.

The association has suggested that either these palaces be charged for the power consumed on a day- to- day basis or the existing load of 125 kw should be scaled down to 50-60 KW, to save the business.


PSEB steps to check power theft
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 26
Several consumers of various categories, including large and medium supply consumer, have been found to be indulging in direct theft and meter tampering during the surprise checks conducted by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

Disclosing this, Mr S.K. Anand, Member (operations), PSEB, said in wake of the recent reports of theft, PSEB had taken several steps which can be instrumental in checking the theft of electricity.

He informed that meter of commercial consumers in Akal Market and Gur Mandi in Ludhiana had been shifted outside the premises which made the detection of theft and meter tampering relatively easy.

Mr Anand further said 50 per cent revenue comes from about 3,200 large supply consumers and in order to measure the accurate energy consumption, electronic meters had been installed and PSEB was all set to provide MCB’s on existing single and three phase lines.



Power shutdown
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 26
In an official press note the Punjab State Electricity Board has stated that the electricity supply would remain cut off on June 27 and 28 in certain areas of the city due to technical reasons.

The timings of the power cut would be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m on June 27 and 28. The following areas would be affected by the power cut — Bhagu Road, Shant Nagar, Civil Lines, Mohalla Pujanwala, Bus Stand, Mehna Chowk, old bus stand, Guru ki Nagri, Civil Hospital, main sewerage disposal system, TV station, head waterworks, head post office, residence of DC and SSP and the district courts.


Manhunt launched to catch ‘Mama’
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 26
The police has launched a manhunt to catch Satish Kumar, alias “Mama” who continues to give the slip to the police and judiciary.

The police has sealed his hotel Shivani and palatial house even as he has fled along with his family since the registration of a fresh FIR. According to sources, Satish Kumar and some of his accomplices had succeeded in preparing passports recently so that they could flee to some foreign country. However, Mr Bachan Singh Randhawa, Superintendent of Police, said various police parties had been deputed to conduct raids in different parts of the state to catch the gang.

Interestingly, the family section (an extension of hotel Shivani) was inaugurated by a Congress MLA recently. The police has been probing the links of “Mama” with politicians and the police officials.

In the wake of the reports that he had acquired a fresh passport, the police was likely to approach different Central departments, including airports, in this regard.

Satish Kumar was a share holder in the private octroi posts here, and Batala, Sujanpur, Gurdaspur and Dinanagar. He was also running a number of taxis on fictitious numbers.


Govt ‘forgets’ martyr
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 26
Resentment prevails among members of the family of a martyr, Pargan Singh, of Anandpur Sahib against the district administration and the state government for “ignoring” his sacrifice. Pargan Singh was a jawan in 16 Sikh Regiment of the Army who died fighting on April 6 at the Wagah border.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Balbir Singh, a maternal uncle of the martyr, said it was a matter of concern that no officer of the district administration or any minister of the state has visited the family of the martyr so far to express sympathy. None of them attended the bhog ceremony of the martyr also, he added.

Mr Balbir Singh further said the state government had not set up any memorial in memory of the martyr. Besides, the state government had failed to provide any type of financial assistance to the martyr’s family. He urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take immediate steps for setting up a memorial at Anandpur Sahib.


Seminars mark de-addiction day
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, June 26
The district Health Department today organised a seminar in the Central Jail and two other slum areas of the city on the occasion of World De-addiction Day.

Dr K.K. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, here said about 7 lakh persons died of drug addiction every year.

GURDASPUR: The Red Cross Drug De-addiction-cum-Rehabilitation Centre on Wednesday organised a seminar here as part of celebrations on World De-addiction Day Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, presided. Others who attended included the SSP and representative of various non-governmental organisations.

Meanwhile, the jail authorities here will open a de-addiction centre on the jail premises which will be inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner on Thursday.

HOSHIARPUR: The World De-addiction Day was celebrated here on Wednesday at Government College here by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle in collaboration with the district police. The seminar was presided over the Principal Ram Singh, while Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, was the chief guest.

Prof Sarabjit Singh, Director, Social and Health Services, underlined the need for checking drug abuse.

BATHINDA: The World De-addiction Day was celebrated here on Wednesday by various NGOs, government agencies, Punjab National Bank and social workers.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, appealed to the public to help the district administration in fighting against drugs and their illicit trafficking.

A rally on drug abuse and its ill-effects was flagged off by the Civil Surgeon, Dr S.K. Goel. Adesh Hospital and Research Centre, Muktsar, also organised a drug-awareness programme. Punjab National Bank also organised a free medical-cum-drug de-addiction camp at Mehraj village with the help of Drug Awareness and Counselling Centre and the Brahm Kumaris Ishwariya Vidyala.

Ex-addicts preach de-addiction
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 26
A function in connection with the Anti-Drug Day was organised today in the local Red Cross deaddiction centre with a difference. Some former drug addicts, who have come into mainstream of life after getting treatment from this centre, motivated other addicts to shed drug addiction and each pledged to motivate two drug addicts to shun the evil.

Mr Jarnail Singh (name changed), who left poppy husk addiction after getting treatment from this centre, while addressing the gathering of addicts, pointed out that due to addiction, they had lost their social and economic status, apart from endangering their health.

He also helped organise the function. Mr Sumesh Kumar (name changed) pointed out that it was duty of everyone to attack those who initiated people into the world of addiction. He added that after addiction, the next destination was crime. Most of the addicts said a war against addiction and drug peddlers could be launched only by those who had suffered due to the same. The state government should also make arrangements to check the trend of addiction among schoolchildren.


Arrest illegal, says Mohali
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, June 26
The senior vice-president of the Ropar unit of the SAD and local municipal councillor, Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, today described his arrest by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau as illegal and said it smacked of revenge by the Congress government against SAD supporters.

Mr Amrik Singh, who was rounded up by the Vigilance Bureau on May 16 and formally arrested on May 18, was granted bail yesterday by a Ropar court.

Mr Amrik Singh had been arrested in connection with the disproportionate assets case registered against a former PWD Minister, Mr Sucha Singh Langah. It had been alleged that Mr Amrik Singh had taken money from various persons to get departmental promotions and transfers in the PWD Department. Mr Amrik Singh is said to be a close aide of Mr Langah.

It had also been alleged that Mr Amrik Singh’s name figured in the purchase of 1 crore land by Mr Langah from the Improvement Trust, Gurdaspur.

Mr Amrik Singh said he was a member of the Guru Gobind Singh Educational Society. The land had been purchased in an open auction from the Improvement Trust in the name of that society. An instalment in this regard had also been paid.

He said as far as departmental promotions or transfers were concerned, people used to come to him and he used to take them to the relevant departments. He claimed that no money had been taken from people for getting their work done. He said he used to help them only to win more votes.

Mr Amrik Singh said if the Congress government found some irregularities in the working of certain persons, it should have set up a commission instead of taking revenge through the Vigilance Bureau. People had given affidavits against certain Congress ministers. Why no action was being taken against them, he asked.


Notice to govt on Kehar’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 26
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, today issued notice to the state government for June 28 on the anticipatory bail application of Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, SAS Nagar, against whom the Vigilance Bureau registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 on June 14 at SAS Nagar.

Dr Kehar Singh has filed the bail application claiming that he is innocent, but the bureau has levelled charges on him regarding misuse of official car and recruitment of clerks in the board for his personal gains etc, so he needs anticipatory bail.


Coal crisis in thermal plants
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 26
A hand-to-mouth situation has arisen at the Ropar and Bathinda thermal plants as coal in their stocks is reportedly just enough to generate power with all units for only four to five days.

Sources in the PSEB told this reporter last evening that the Ropar Thermal Plant had just 1.13 lakh tonnes of coal in its stocks, of which only 85,000 MT was useable as the remaining coal was carpet coal. Thus, the plant had coal, sufficient for four to five days, as six units of the plant are running with consumption of six rakes of coal per day.

Sources also stated that the Ropar Thermal Plant had received only 60 rakes, against the requirement of 130 rakes in the current month. The plant had received five rakes yesterday.

The coal position at Bathinda is also critical. The Bathinda plant had 44,000 MT of coal, including 20,000 MT of unuseable coal, last morning, sufficient for only three to four days, the sources added.

However, the Lehra Mohabat Thermal Plant had 60,000 MT of coal, sufficient for 10 days.

It seem that Punjab is heading towards a major power crisis in the days to come because the coal situation in the plants has deteriorated further in the past some days.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
In less than a fortnight after a warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court was allegedly assaulted by Punjab Vigilance Bureau officials, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta on Wednesday accepted their unconditional apology.

After recording their apology, Mr Justice Mohunta also dismissed as infructuous the habeas corpus petition on which the officer was appointed as the detainee had already been released. The Judge also ordered the withdrawal of a complaint lodged by the Vigilance officials against the warrant officer after an undertaking for the same was given by Additional Advocate-General Dharamvir Sharma.

The officer, appointed for securing the release of Sher Singh alias Shera — an accused in the Langah corruption case — was reportedly assaulted by the Vigilance Bureau officials on June 15 after being allegedly detained for over two hours.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Mr Justice Mohunta had, on the last date of hearing, directed Vigilance Bureau’s Superintendent of Police Surinder Pal Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police Gurmukh Singh and Head Constable Baldev Singh to be present in the Court for “explaining their conduct”. The Judge had added that no action would be taken against the warrant officer on the basis of a complaint registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau officers till the next date of hearing.


‘Issue’ guidelines to non-allopathic docs
News Service

Ropar, June 26
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has asked the state government to issue strict guidelines to medical practitioners of other systems of medicine like ayurvedic and Unani not to practice allopathy.

The IMA has also brought to the notice of the government that allopathic medicines can be prescribed to patients only by those whose names exist on the Indian Medical Register under the Medical Council of India Act, 1956, or the State Medical Registers maintained by respective state medical councils.

Ultrasound machines should only be operated by allopathic doctors under the PNDT Act, 1994, it said.

Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the IMA. said a delegation of the association had a meeting with Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, at Chandigarh. The meeting was also attended by Ms Kusamjit Sidhu, Managing Director of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, and Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services, Punjab.

Dr Singla said the Principal Secretary, Health, had assured the delegation that its demands would be considered.

He said as per the Medical Council of India Act, no one could practice the modern system of medicine unless that person possessed a degree recognised by the MCI.


2 sisters, cousin commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 26
A case under Section 306, IPC, has been registered in connection with the suicide by two sisters and their cousin.

Sources said Maya and her younger sister Santosh along with Mohinder Kumar, alias Sat Narain, were found dead in a field outside Choohriwala Dhanna village last afternoon. Some passers-by spotted the bodies and informed the police. Some celphos tablets were found near the bodies which indicated that they had committed suicide. A motor cycle was found lying nearby.

The bodies were handed over to the families today after a post-mortem examination. Sources said Mohinder Kumar had taken celphos from a farmhouse owner yesterday. Earlier, he had gone to his maternal uncle’s residence at Mahianwali village in Sriganganagar district. He reportedly persuaded Maya and Santosh to accompany him on the motor cycle to his village, Choohriwala Dhanna.

The police found a notebook in which Mohinder had written that as their relatives had been expressing doubts about his relations with Maya and Santosh, they were left with no option but to commit suicide.

The police has booked Krishan Lal, Sharda Rani, Shawan Kumar and Bhim Sain in this regard.


Encroachers warned
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 26
Where the municipal authorities have failed to remove encroachments in the city, the police has taken the task in its hand. Mr B.K. Uppal, SSP, talking to newspersons here today said shopkeepers and rehriwalas had been issued notices to remove encroachments by tomorrow or face police action.

He said four-wheelers had been banned from plying in the bazaar. A parking area had been fixed behind Government Senior Secondary Schools for Girls for cars owned by the shopkeepers whereas other vehicles would be limited to use premises behind the Civil Hospital.


SDO arrested on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 26
Mr Surinder Mohan Taneja, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), Telephones, Sardulgarh (Mansa), was caught red-handed by a Vigilance Bureau team, headed by DSP Gurmail Singh, while accepting Rs 1,500 from Mr Kulwant Singh of Jhanda Khurd village for releasing his telephone connection.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), in a press note issued here today, said Mr Taneja had taken Rs 1500 from Mr Kulwant Singh for installing telephone in his house on June 4,2002.

The SDO had been demanding Rs 1,500 more for releasing the telephone connection. Mr Gurtej Singh, Naib Tehsildar, Mansa, and Mr Naresh Kumar, SDO, Canals, Mansa, accompanied the team as witnesses. The money had been recovered from the accused.

In another case, Mr Sarbjit Singh Doomwali, Sarpanch, Doomwali village and a close associate of former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, had been arrested allegedly for committing a fraud of Rs 6,61,616 in grants allocated by the Punjab Government for various development works in the village.

Mr Grewal said from 1997-98 to 2001-2002, grant worth Rs 36, 59,000 was sanctioned by the government for different works and projects in the village. An amount of Rs 33,59,000 had been spent on different works while the remaining Rs 3 lakh were yet to be spent.

He said according to an inquiry conducted by Executive Engineer, Panchayati Raj, it was found that a fraud involving Rs 6,61,616 had been committed by Sarbjit Singh, Narinder Singh, Junior Engineer, and Sukhdev Singh, Secretary. A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against them.

Sarbjit Singh was arrested yesterday and was remanded in police custody till June 27. Mr Narinder Sharma, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, had been investigating the case, he added.


Student ends life
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 26
Failure in the matriculation examination proved fatal for a teenaged boy of Baba Gadhia mohalla, yesterday.

According to reports, Sunny allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance after he learnt that he had failed in the examination.

He was rushed to a hospital in Ludhiana where he died.


B.Sc (IT) part II results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 26
The results of B.Sc (IT) part II held by Guru Nanak Dev University will be declared tomorrow. The results can be accessed on the university website “” after 5 pm tomorrow.

Meanwhile, candidates who appeared for counselling on June 25 and 26 for the LL.B (three years) course are to submit their graduation certificates by July 5. Dr Kashmir Singh, coordinator of the law entrance test, clarified that failure to submit the certificates would result in the chance to be passed on to the next candidate on merit.


Big response to PTU’s course
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Enrolment for the B.Sc (computer science and technology) programme launched last year by Punjab Technical University (PTU) is likely to touch 4000 as the course has received a tremendous response from students.

Reports received from various study centres of PTU across Punjab indicate that the B.Sc. course is receiving the maximum enquiries from students. The two-year programme has been launched keeping in mind the interests of diploma holders.


Withdraw road toll, say traders
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 26
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to order the National Highway Authority of India to withdraw the notification regarding imposition of toll on those travelling between Delhi and Amritsar.

The president of the mandal, Mr A.L. Jain, in a press note here today said the Surface Ministry had already increased the petrol price by Re 1 per litre for maintenance of roads. Besides this, the state government had recently proposed Re 1per litre cess in the Budget, he said.

The National Highway Authority had now imposed tax even though it had failed to construct a four-lane road between Jalandhar and Amritsar, he said.

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