Friday, June 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



MoU to develop agri-business signed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation (PAIC) and the ICICI Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding here tonight to develop agri-business in the state by encouraging investment in infrastructure development, post-harvest technologies, value addition to agri-produce and allied areas.

The memorandum was signed by Mr P.K. Verma, Financial Commissioner, Development, and Mr P.H. Ravi Kumar, Senior General Manager, ICICI, in the presence of the Punjab Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Minister of State for Cooperation, Mr A.S. Samra, and the Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Mohinder Rinwa, besides the MD of PAIC, Mr Himmat Singh.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, could not attend the programme as he was away to Patiala.

Mr Verma in his welcome address, said the state government had taken upon itself the responsibility of gradually taking 10 per cent of the cultivable area out of wheat-paddy rotation and encouraging other profitable crops. The government and the PAIC, he said, would act as facilitators and help the farmers tackle problems. He said attempts in the past on diversification, though limited in scale, had failed because of lack of market support.

Mr Himmat Singh made a presentation on the perspective plan of Punjab agriculture, highlighting the need for diversification from high-volume low-value crops to value-addition crops. In the absence of in house processing, post-harvest infrastructure, updated technology and marketing support, there was high level of wastage and low-value addition to agricultural produce in the state.

Mr P.H. Ravi Kumar said the new instrument of crop insurance would be in the market within the next four to six months.

Ms Bhattal reiterated the government’s commitment to make agriculture economically remunerative again. “We have taken it as a challenge. The Congress governments in Punjab have been successful in meeting previous challenges, including ending terrorism in the state,” she said.

Mr Lal Singh said because of the poor fiscal health of the state, it was necessary for the farm sector to look up and the state would provide all support to make agriculture profitable.


Akalis at the receiving end
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Akalis were at the receiving end in the Budget session of the Punjab Assembly that ended last evening. Congress legislators had a clear strategy. They systematically attacked the previous SAD-BJP government, making the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the main target.

The Akalis had no definite strategy or plan to counter the Congress attack. In fact, there was a whole lot of opportunities available to the Akalis to put the Congress on the mat. But they failed to do so. The issue of the freezing of certain allowances of employees is a burning issue. Of course, Akalis pitched in for the employees in the Assembly,. But they had the opportunity to do a lot more on the issue.

Confrontation between the Akalis and the Congress in the House is a clear pointer that the political temperature will go up further in the days to come. Mr Badal, and his senior party colleagues like Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Adesh Partap Singh and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder made several efforts to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to Capt Amarinder Singh and his party in the House. But there was no response.

Instead, Capt Amarinder Singh said that he would continue to pursue his “Vigilance Bureau line” to root out corruption, the political meaning of which is to “set the Akalis right.” The Congress approach is to demoralise the Akalis associated with Mr Badal to the extent possible. As the issue of corruption appeals most to the public, to whip Akali leaders on the issue fits in with the scheme of things of the Congress.

Mr Badal and his nephew, Mr Manpreet Badal, tried their best to put the Congress on the defensive on the corruption issue. The senior Badal swore on the floor of the House that he had not taken a single penny as bribe to get any work done for anyone. In fact, Mr Manpreet Badal was the first to raise this issue. Appearing emotional, Mr Manpreet Badal was the first to swear that he had not taken even five paise as bribe till date and would keep the slate clean in the future.

He challenged the Congress Ministers sitting on the two front rows of the Treasury Benches to say on oath that they had never taken a bribe. Except for Mr Avtar Henry, no Minister stood up to accept Mr Manpreet Badal’s challenge.

Most of the questions came from Congress MLAs during question hour. And it provided them with an opportunity to take to task their own Ministers. Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi was the best in doing so. He did not spare anyone while asking supplementaries to Ministers. He came to the House after doing proper homework and asked pointed supplementaries to put Ministers in an awkward position.

Mr Birdevinder Singh also did the same. Both Mr Birmi and Mr Birdevinder Singh asked sharp supplementaries to the Public Works Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, who is said to have emerged as a close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh in the recent past. In fact, in the absence of Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Bajwa replied to questions on Capt Amarinder Singh’s behalf, though Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh used to be present in the House.

The Akalis came out with a few questions and supplementaries. Most of the questions were asked by two Congress legislators, Mr Joginder Singh Mann and Prof Darbari Lal . From the SAD, Capt Balbir Singh Bath asked the maximum number of questions.

All Bills presented in the House were passed without discussion. In a democracy this should not happen. Akali and BJP legislators had staged a walkout before the taking up of Bills by the House. There are several clauses in the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, that will affect people in the state, especially businessmen. But no one from the Treasury Benches stood up to seek clarifications from the Minister concerned.

A Congress MLA, Mrs Razia Sultana’s maiden speech created a flutter among the Treasury Benches. Pleading the cause of the minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, in chaste Urdu, she said that justice had not been done to them in the Budget. It proved a bit embarrassing for the Finance Minister. She also made a veiled but pointed attack on Mr Parkash Singh Badal without naming him.

Certain members used words during their speeches which, though not unparliamentary, indicated the lack of decency. There were objections to the use of such words which were later expunged. But they left a bad taste and set the wrong precedent. Mr Bhunder pointed out repeatedly that such bad precedents should not be set.


PWD workers oppose Budget proposals
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
Election session of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, Bathinda zone, was held here today at the main office of the Water Works Sewerage Board. The session was presided over by Mr Karamjit Bihla, president, Mr Gurmez Singh, chairman, and Mr Ved Parkash Sharma, secretary of the union.

At the session, the union passed main resolutions and demanded that anti-employees recommendations, in the Budget like freezing of DA, abolition of posts lying vacant and cess on petrol be reversed.

Addressing the session, Mr Satpal Bharti, secretary, Lal Jhanda Bhatta Mazdoor Union, said all employees should unite and fight against the anti-employee policies of the state government.

Office-bearers of the union demanded that services of employees working in different departments on daily wages or ad hoc basis for the past three years should be regularised.


Owner locks school building
Teachers, parents lodge complaints
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 27
Students of Government Primary School, Sirhind-2, would find them homeless after the summer vacation as the school premises has been encroached upon by the owner of the building by breaking open the locks and has constructed a wall to block the entry of the students. The DEO(P) has lodged a complaint with the SSP in this regard. The residents of the area have also protested and submitted a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner.

According to information available, for the past 30 years, the Government Primary School had been running in this building situated near octroi post No 4 on the bypass road, Sirhind. More than 40 students, whose parents cannot afford to send them to any other school, are studying there. The owner of the building sold it and the new owner had set up a marriage palace there and for a long time, he had been trying hard to get it vacated. He had been making representations to officers and politicians to get his building vacated.

The owner is a BJP leader, but he could not get the building vacated because of strong protests by residents and the parents of the students. The then Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, had directed the then DEO(P) to shift the school from there.

Recently he submitted a representation to the Deputy Commissioner to get the building vacated. He marked an inquiry to the ADC and the ADC to the SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib. The ADC wrote to the DEO(P) that the SDM had reported that till an alternative arrangement for the building of the school was not made, the building should not be vacated.

The Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, Sirhind, also wrote in his reply that the school should not be shifted keeping in view the age of the students as the new proposed building is away from the area and any untoward incident can happen.

He has suggested that the school should continue in this building.

As the district administration refused to help him in vacating the building, the owner, taking benefit of the summer vacation, encroached upon the building and constructed a wall there. The residents of the area brought the incident to the notice of Ms Kulraj Kaur, DEO(P), and she wrote to the SSP. Ms Surinder Kaur, Block Education Officer (P), also filed a written complaint with the Sirhind police. In the complaint she has mentioned that due to summer vacation the school was closed and on June 25 the in charge teacher of the school informed her that Dr Krishan Lal had encroached upon the school building by constructing a wall there and had put up his own locks on the doors and action should be taken and the possession restored as the school would open on July 1. The BEO(P) has also sent copies of the complaint to the DC, DEO(P) and the SSP.

When contacted, Ms Kulraj Kaur, DEO(P), said that it was very unfortunate that the owner had encroached upon the school building by breaking open the locks. She said that the entire record of the school was missing.

She said that she had called the owner many times to show her the original documents of his ownership, but he had not turned up.

She said they did not know whether they were the real owner or not. She said that she had written to the SSP to take action.

When contacted, Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, he said that he was not aware of the incident and said suitable action would be taken if any one had tried to encroach upon the school building forcibly and illegally. In spite of the best efforts the owner of the building could not be contacted.


Notice issued to Punjab on Jagman’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Taking up a petition filed by approver in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam Jagman Singh seeking the grant of interim bail, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab for July 3.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, Jagman Singh had earlier contended that his wife was in “advanced stage of pregnancy” and the expected date of delivery was July 17. He had added that except for him there was no one to look after her.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner had contended that he was taken into custody in a case registered in the PPSC scam under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act by the State Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on March 25. Claiming to have been implicated in the case, he had added that his name had not been mentioned in the first information report registered by the Bureau

Counsel for the petitioner had added that Jagman Singh was later projected as a tout of Commission’s under-suspension Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. He had further added that the petitioner had already made a confessional statement before a Judicial Magistrate at Kharar and was allowed to become an approver in the case. The case will now come up for further hearing on July 3.


Allowing a writ petition filed by senior Vice-President of Sirhind Municipal Council Rakesh Kumar Verma, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday ruled that the petitioner, granted charge on February 4 this year, shall have the right to continue till February 3 next year.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, observed that the issue involved in the present petition had been covered by a judgement of the High Court pronounced on January 30 last year. In it, though the petitioner had been duly elected by a resolution of the Municipal Council, he was not allowed to function in one way or the other. While allowing the petition, the Court had held that the petitioner was entitled to a term of one year.... Referring to the present case, the Judges added that the petitioner was granted charge on February 4 and shall obviously have the right to continue till February 3 next year.

In his petition, Mr Verma had earlier contended that he was elected as senior Vice-President on June 29 last year, but on July 2, 2001, the President, after tampering with the record, had claimed that the elections had not taken place due to disturbances. Soon after, the Director of Local Government had sought a detailed report. On January 1 this year, a letter was sent to an Executive Officer stating that the elections had been carried out in accordance with the rules, counsel for the petitioner had added.

He had further claimed that the petitioner, after taking over the charge on February 7, had sent a representation to the Director of Local Government for granting him a period of one year from the date of his taking over the charge, but his grievance had not been redressed.

Interim bail

Directing the continuation of interim orders instructing that the Chairman of Oil Selection Board, Justice M. R. Agnihotri, will not be arrested till further orders, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the High Court on Thursday fixed July 19 as the next date of hearing in the case.

A former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, Justice Agnihotri, along with two others, were earlier booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation, for cheating and other offences under Sections 120-B, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, besides Prevention of Corruption Act on June 10. His anticipatory bail plea was initially rejected by UT Additional District and Sessions Judge Ms Sneh Prasher.

Taking up his petition, Mr Justice Mohunta, on the last date of hearing, had asked the former Judge to join the investigation as and when required and had also permitted his counsel to accompany him.


Sidhu aide released on bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 27
After Ravi Sidhu, former PPSC Chairman, got bail yesterday, another accused in the case, Surinder Kaur Manchanda, was granted bail today on similar grounds.

The District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Maghar Khan, released Surinder Manchanda, wife of a retired bank official accused of helping Sidhu in hawala transactions, on a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh and an equal amount as security.

Her counsel pleaded that the Vigilance had failed to furnish a challan against her despite the fact that she had been kept under detention for 60 days.

The prosecutor pleaded against her release on the plea that she was involved in the Sidhu case. Due to the addition in Sections in the said case, she could be kept under detention for 90 days.

The judge, however, rejected the plea, saying that she was not directly linked in the case and released her on bail.

Meanwhile in another hearing in the case, judicial remand of Prem Sagar and Randhir Singh, conduits of Sidhu, was extended till July 10.

In another case that came up for hearing before Mr Maghar Khan, Kuldeep Singh, DDPO in the Panchayati Department and an accused in the recruitment scandal, was also released on bail against a bond of Rs 20,000.

Counsel for Kuldeep Singh pleaded that since the other accused in the case, including R. Venkatratam and Chief Engineer Baldev Singh, had already been granted bail, there was no use of keeping him in judicial custody.


Warrants against Langah reissued
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 27
Ms Harinder Sidhu, Duty Magistrate, Kharar, today reissued non-bailable warrants against Sucha Singh Langah, former State Public Works Minister and Sudarshan Lal Kora, a close associate of Langah, for July 8.

Public prosecutor Jatinderjit Singh Punn, on behalf of the Vigilance Bureau, pleaded that though non-bailable arrest warrants had been obtained from the court earlier too, but the accused could not be arrested despite many raids. He said the bureau had already registered a case against Langah in SAS Nagar.


Left’s 25-yr rule in Bengal celebrated
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 27
The Punjab state committee of the CPM organised a function to celebrate the Left Front 25-year-old rule in West Bengal at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar hall here today.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Mohammed Amin, Labour Minister of West Bengal, and a central committee member of the CPM, said West Bengal was a state where communal harmony prevailed.

Listing the achievements of the Left Front government, Mr Amin said West Bengal was the only state where land reforms had been effected in a practical manner by distributing 13 lakh acres of land among ruralites, the poor, and Panchayati Raj institutions. He said more funds had been given for the development of primary education system, adding that the government was framing people-oriented policies.

Mr Balwant Singh, secretary of the Punjab CPM, congratulated the people of West Bengal on the occasion. He criticised the Central Government and the Gujarat government for their failure to check the carnage in the state. Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary, CPI, Mr Chand Singh Chopra and Mr Lembar Singh Taggar also spoke on the occasion.


SSF ‘registered as party’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Election Commission has registered the Punjab-based Sehajdhari Sikh Federation (SSF) as a political party.

A claim to this effect was made here today by the president of the SSF, Mr Paramjit Singh Ranu. He said his party would support the Delhi Akali Dal which was associated with former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra in the elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to be held on June 30.


Revenue officers strike work
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
The registration of criminal cases against the President, Municipal Council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, certain municipal officials, tehsildar Anil Garg and bidders in connection with the alleged irregularities in the open auction of milk booth sites seems to have snowballed into a major controversy.

Revenue officers of the district, who observed a two-day strike in protest against the alleged implication of the tehsildar in the criminal case, have today called a meeting of revenue officers of Faridkot division to decide the future course of action. They joined their duties today on the assurance of Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma that justice would be given to them.

A section of municipal councillors, who held a meeting, recently, offered their resignation to Mr Bhuller to lodge their protest against his false implication and other municipal officials in the criminal case.

A case under Sections 408, 409, 467 and 471 of the IPC against Mr Bhuller, Mr Garg, former Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Bathinda, Bohar Singh and others were registered a few days ago after they were found guilty of making irregularities in the auction of milk booth sites in the inquiry conducted by SP (H) I.K. Yadav.

A section of revenue officers, when contacted, pointed out that Mr Garg had performed his duties well as he had gone to the site of the auction as per the directions of the then Deputy Commissioner. They added that the officer was only asked to be present on the site and was not asked to conduct the auction. They added that no complaint was filed with the Deputy Commissioner or any other higher authorities in this connection.

They said no site was sold below the minimum reserve price fixed by a committee of competent officers constituted by the then Deputy Commissioner. They alleged that if it seemed that the shops had been sold at throwaway prices, those who had fixed the minimum reserve prices should be held guilty and not the Tehsildar.

The revenue officers pointed out that earlier the district police authorities had moved an application in the court to cancel the FIR registered in this case against the bidders, but that was not accepted. New sections were added to the earlier FIR for implicating Mr Garg in the case. They added that the police official, who moved an application for the cancellation of the FIR should also be taken to task.

They also pointed out that the claim of police authorities that Mr Garg did not sign one of the documents pertaining to the auction of a shop was not correct. Had there been any malafide intention of Mr Garg, the auction of that site could have been executed on the reserve price.

They demanded that the police authorities should also take caution against the then Deputy Commissioner, Director and Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, who approved the auction of milk booth sites.


Toll tax irks residents of Punjab-HP border
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 27
The recent toll tax imposed by the Himachal Government on vehicles crossing the state border at Kandwal has become a source of inconvenience for border-area residents of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. These residents have to cross the state border almost on a daily basis for various purposes. The Himachal Government rates for crossing the border are Rs 5 for scooter Rs 20 for car and other light transport vehicles and Rs 50 for truck and other heavy transport vehicles.

Mr Yogeshwar Vaidya, a resident of Jawali subdivision of Himachal Pradesh working as a legal practitioner here, says he has stopped using his scooter for going to the courts. “If I use my scooter for the purpose, I will have to shell out about Rs 130 per month as toll tax. Mr Sanjay, a resident of Nurpur who is doing contract business here, alleged that he had to pay Rs 520 per month as toll tax for his car.

Those employees who want to evade the tax are now following the kutcha tracks through the Chakki river.

Hundreds of employees from Pathankot and Nurpur areas come daily to work in various institutions of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh by crossing this barrier. Similarly, many residents of border areas of Pathankot and Himachal have to cross the barrier for business or other purposes after paying this tax.

Even college students have not been spared the tax. Most of the students from Himachal Pradesh come from border areas for studies to Punjab. Many of the students who come on two-wheelers will now have to pay the toll tax.

The tax has also affected business in the border areas. A shopkeeper who runs a department store in Jassur, a border town of Himachal Pradesh, alleged that earlier many of his customers used to come from Pathankot and adjoining areas. However, after the imposition of the tax, they preferred to do transactions in their own areas rather than paying extra tax for entering Himachal Pradesh. Similarly, restaurant owners have reported the adverse effect of the tax on their business.

People of the border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have urged their elected representatives to get tax exemption for private vehicles.


Water shortage in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 27
With the heatwave continuing to engulf the Northern region, residents of the city are facing an acute shortage of water and unannounced power cuts.

Residents of almost all parts of the city, including those living in posh localities like Model Town, New Jawahar Nagar and Mota Singh Nagar, are experiencing a shortage of drinking water as a number of water pumps have been non-functional for the past two months. Though people in some localities are getting water once or twice a day at a very low pressure, residents of congested localities like Bhargo Camp, Pucca Bagh, Khodian Mohalla and “bastis” have to get up early in the morning to fetch water.

The power supply situation is no different unannounced power cuts and voltage fluctuations are causing a lot of inconvenience to people. As the supply of water and power is not regular, people have installed pumps, invertors or generators.

The shortage of water quite often leads to squirmishes between women at public water posts in slum areas and localities like Gandhi Camp and Bhargo Camp. “We have no option but to stand in queue for hours to fetch a bucket of water. While waiting for their turn, some women even lose temper, resulting in fights between them,” said Shanti Devi, a resident of Bhargo Camp locality.

If the situation is pitiable in slum or backward areas of the city, even posh localities have not been left untouched by water and power problems. People living in Model Town, Master Tara Singh Nagar, New Baradari and Old Baradari are also facing water shortage and power fluctuations.

Sources in the civic body and the Electricity Department said while the power supply network was incapable of bearing enhanced loads in summer, no effort had been made to augment the water supply during the season. A number of sanctioned tubewells had not been installed and existing ones not repaired, the sources said.


83 pc milk in Amritsar adulterated: survey
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
The milk testing campaign organised by the Rotary Club, Amritsar Central, in collaboration with the Verka milk plant concluded that residents in the city were paying as much as Rs 3.5 crore per month for water, which was being used to adulterate milk.

The fortnight-long drive found 83 per cent or the 1752 samples, collected from various parts of the city, adulterated with water.

The random testing also found that 10 per cent milk samples were adulterated with soda.

The daily consumption of milk in the city was found to be about 5 lakh litres, costing Rs 60 lakh to consumers. Out of this, the survey found 4.15 lakh litres and 0.50 lakh literes milk adulterated with water and soda, respectively. Mr S.K. Mahajan, General Manager, Verka milk plant, said they would assist in such campaigns in future too. Mr Sanjeev Mahajan, president of the Rotary Club, said the club would conduct another campaign for awareness of residents.


Villagers detain PSEB officials
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
Mr Rajesh Kumar, junior engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), and some of his colleagues were allegedly detained by a section of residents of Lehra Khana and Lehra Bega villages in their office located at Bhucho Kalan, 15 km from here, in association with the activities of BKU (Ekta) as a mark of protest against irregular supply to these two villages.

A large number of villagers, including women, sat on dharna in front of the office of the PSEB and did not allow anybody to move in or out from the office.

The residents were agitating over the fact that 24-hour power supply to these two villages had not been provided despite the fact they had deposited the required amount and fulfilled all other formalities for the same in 1997. On the other hand, the villages which completed the same formalities in 1999, had been provided the 24-hour supply by the PSEB authorities, they lamented.

Though a police team reached the spot and tried to defuse the situation for the safe exit of PSEB employees from their office, they could not succeed and the dharna continued for more than five hours. The dharna was lifted around 6 pm after an assurance was given by PSEB officials that their problem would be redressed on priority.


Resentment against anti-encroachment drive
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
Residents of the local Kamla Nehru Nagar have alleged that the authorities concerned were discriminating against in cases pertaining to the removal of unauthorised constructions and making minor changes in their site plans.

Mr Bhim Kansal, Secretary, Kamla Nehru Nagar Welfare Society in a statement issued here yesterday said the authorities of the Improvement Trust had issued notices to a few residents under Section 81 of the Punjab Town Improvement Act for the removal of encroachments. He said the residents had made some minor changes in the construction of their dwellings from the sanctioned plans, but more encroachments had taken place in the city, which were being ignored by the authorities.

Mr Kansal said representations regarding discrimination being made by authorities had been sent to higher authorities. He said while the authorities had sent these notices they had failed to provide civic amenities and health facilities in the area despite repeated requests of the residents and assurances given by the authorities.

He said while various agencies of the state were fully authorised to enforce the Act, the same should be applied to the entire city without any discrimination.


Ban on digging of tubewells
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 27
The water table in many parts of the district is going down by 8 to 9 inches per year. Alarmed by this, the district administration has banned digging of tubewells in the district.

The Department of Forest has been told not to go for plantation of eucalyptus, as it absorbs lot of water, and cut trees that had completed their life span.

The Agriculture Department has been told to educate farmers of adverse effects on soil by following the wheat and paddy cycle.

The Public Health Department has been asked to make schemes for rainwater harvesting. The ponds should be cleaned up for this purpose, the department has been told.

These suggestions were made by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari, at a meeting of government official here.


4 killed in road accidents
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 27
Four persons were killed and four others sustained injuries in two road accidents that took place near Malsian and Talwandi Sangherra village yesterday.

Two children, Simant (3) and Najaat (6), died on the spot, while four persons were injured in a collision between a car and a private bus near Malsian yesterday evening.

In another accident, Amarjit and his sister, Baby, were killed on the spot when their motorcycle collided with a tractor trailor near Talwandi Sangherra village yesterday evening.


Action sought against SI
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
Agitated residents of Islamabad along with councillors of the area blocked traffic for nearly three hours in a dharna at Islamabad here today. The residents were protesting against the alleged atrocities committed by the Sub-Inspector (SI) of Islamabad police station.

Mr Ravi Chatrath, leading the dharna, alleged that the SI Baldev Singh, in connivance with Chadda, had registered a false case under the NDPS Act against Manwinder Singh, a dairy owner.

In another case, the SI was alleged to have taken Rs 30,000 for delaying a challan in court in a rape case due to which the accused succeeded in getting bail.

The dharna was lifted after an assurance that an inquiry would be held and action taken against the SI.


Amrita Pritam to be honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the state government would honour Amrita Pritam, noted Punjabi writer, with a cash amount of Rs 15 lakh, besides reimbursing the medical expenditure incurred by her on personal treatment. For this purpose, Rs 5 lakh had been offered by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University.


Lashkara music awards today
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar June 27
The Sunsilk-Lashkara Punjabi music awards would be presented at a function in the local Lilly Resorts on June 28.

This was announced by Mr Jarnail Basota, spokesman of Lashkara channel. He said the nominees had been finalised and the winners would be announced during the extravaganza of dance and music.

The panel of judges comprises singers Mahendra Kapoor, Abhijit Bhattacharya, video director Ken Ghosh, music director Kuldip Singh, veteran lyricist Gulshan Bawra and choreographer Ganesh Hegde.


Area under cotton production falls by 25 pc
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
Even as the state government has been making efforts to boost cotton production in Punjab to revive the economy of a major section of farmers, the area under cotton cultivation has fallen by more than 25 per cent as compared to last year.

Official sources said in the current season the farmers had sown cotton on about 4.5 lakh hectares as compared to 6.10 lakh hectares last year. In Bathinda, Mansa, and Muktsar districts, the area under cotton cultivation has been reduced by about 17,000 hectares, 25,000 hectares and 45,000 hectares, respectively. In other districts of the cotton belt — Faridkot, Ferozepore, Moga and Sangrur, the area under cotton crop has been reduced by about 15,000 hectares.

Sources added that the fall in the area under cotton crop was due to two factors. First, the cost of cultivation had gone up high and second was that over the past few years the yield had declined considerably. Both these factors had been pushing farmers into the debt trap.

At a meeting of Chief Agriculture Officers (CAOs) of seven cotton-producing districts of the state held here today it was pointed out that though the area under the cotton crop had been reduced drastically because the farmers had to sow the same again as the cotton plants grown earlier by them in the beginning of the season withered due to the severe heat.

Though the state government tried its best to motivate the farmers to indulge in intensive cultivation of cotton by increasing the area under it to a large extent during the current season, a sizeable section of farmers became doubly cursed as they were not able to get adequate canal water for sowing the cotton crop and when they sowed the same with the use of underground water a major portion of the newly germinated plants of cotton withered due to unprecedented heat spell in the cotton belt. The farmers suffered losses ranging between Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,600 per acre.

Agriculture experts of Punjab Agriculture University had recommended the optimum period of sowing of cotton from April 15 to May 15. However, most of the farmers could not sow the same due to unavailability of canal water. Cotton sowing was completed by May 30.

They further pointed out that ballworm attack and very low yield of cotton last year had forced the farmers to shift to some other crop and it was the main reason that the area under paddy cultivation in the cotton belt had increased.


Punjab to have AEZ for potatoes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Punjab will soon set up an agricultural export zone (AEZ) for potatoes to give a boost to the exports and ensure a remunerative return to the farmers and to induce them to produce international quality product.

This was stated here today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. In this connection, he pointed out that Markfed which had been declared nodal agency had already signed an MoU with Apeda for setting up the AEZ to facilitate potato export from the state.

Under the Agri Export Zone Policy, the state government would evolve a comprehensive package of services, which included pre-post harvest treatment, protection, processing packaging, lab testing, storage and related research and development.

The main objectives of the AEZ would be to strengthen backward linkage with the market-oriented approaches, value addition to basic agricultural produce, better price for the product, improvement in product quality, packaging, promote export and increase employment opportunity.

The move had been initiated to encourage the farmers to diversify from the traditional wheat-paddy rotation. Farmers’ major hurdle in growing quality potatoes and marketing would be solved once the export zone became functional.

The Chief Minister said the agri export zone would have satellite centres mainly in potato producing areas like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Bathinda and Patiala.

The project would be implemented in two phases costing Rs 10.41 crore and Rs 102 crore, respectively.

The agencies which are funding the project in the first phase are NHB Rs 44 lakh, MoA 690.50 lakh, the Punjab government Rs 74 lakh and APEDA Rs 233 lakh. Markfed would arrange potato exhibitions and festivals in different potential potato importing countries in collaboration with Apeda.

Meanwhile, Markfed organised a workshop on the executions of agri export zone for potatoes in its office here today in which representatives

of various central and state agencies and farmers participated. Addressing the workshop Mr S.S. Channy, Managing Director, Markfed said the potato export zone was being established so as to facilitate export operations by providing all pre-requisites and logistics to the exporters with strong forward and backward linkage.


Mann seeks Rs 600 as paddy MSP
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 27
Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann today rejected the paddy MSP of Rs 530 per quintal as announced by the Central Government and demanded that it should be increased to Rs 600.

In a statement, Mr Mann accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Punjab Chief Minister of turning a deaf ear to issues concerning Punjab and trying to save his skin in corruption cases. He said Mr Badal was camping in Delhi but not taking up with the NDA government the issues of paddy MSP sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan and the withdrawal of troops from the border. Mr Mann said since tension had eased on the Indo-Pakistan border, the ban on sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan should be lifted.

On the Congress government’s anti-corruption campaign, Mr Mann alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was softpedalling Mr Badal’s involvement in corruption cases.


Send foodgrains to deficit states: federation
Our Correspondent

Moga, June 27
Foodgrains worth several rupees stocked in the government godowns and in the open in the district Ferozepore, Muktsar and Faridkot had been rotting for the past several years whereas some states are suffering from an acute shortage of foodgrains.

Stating this here today a spokesman of the All-India Foodgrains Federation said in the northern region foodgrains worth Rs 250 crore got damaged during the last year and the government had miserably failed to save them from rotting. When a huge quantity of foodgrains was rotting in the godowns for the past several years why it was not sent to deficit states is a mystery, he said.

Reports suggests that these stocks were kept for transportation but the government could not do so as there were sufficient stocks available in neighbouring states. Food lying in these godowns had been rendered unfit for human consumption. Taking advantage of such situation a large number of employees of the government procuring agencies in convince with officials of these agencies particularly the FCI had stolen foodgrains worth crores of rupees from these godowns and sold at marginal profits to traders. At several places employees posted at some godowns to guard them also have been stealing foodgrains and selling them to the consumers or the traders.


Get water connections regularised: DC
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, today instructed the officials of Public Health Department to launch a campaign from tomorrow in rural areas of the district to check illegal connections for potable water. He ordered the department officers to visit the sites.

Addressing public complaints at a Lok Adalat held today at Goniana, he said persons having illegal connections should be directed to get the same regularised immediately otherwise cases would be registered against them.

Mr Verma also ordered the Health Department to undertake investigations after residents of Goniana pointed out that certain persons had opened slaughter houses in their residences, causing health hazard in the locality.

Villagers of nearby Mahima Sarja village also complained about the scarcity of water. The Deputy Commissioner ordered the junior engineer concerned to visit the village and solve the problem by tomorrow. During the Lok Adalat, it was decided that the remaining problems would be solved within 15 days.


7 sarpanches booked for misusing grants
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 27
The police has registered cases against seven sarpanches and five presidents of youth clubs, besides Vikramjeet Singh and Baldev Singh, panchayat secretaries, and Maghar Singh, Panchayat Officer (Block), on the charge of misutilising funds given to them at a san gat darshan programme to the tune of Rs 59.27 lakh.

Mr Amardeep Singh Rai, SSP, Sangrur, in a press note here today said the cases had been registered against them after an inquiry by Mr Rahul Tiwari, Assistant Commissioner, indicated them.

He said the sarpanch of Khetla village Amrik Singh, received Rs 7.96 lakh as grant and the panchayat earned Rs 3.10 lakh from its own sources. Likewise, the sarpanch of Rogla village Lila Devi received Rs 4.98 lakh as grant while the panchayat earned Rs 1.61 lakh, the sarpanch of Rampur Gujran village Dev Singh received Rs 7.50 lakh as grant while the panchayat earned Rs 1.91 lakh, the sarpanch of Sihal, Sinder Kaur got an amount of Rs 5 lakh as grant, the sarpanch of Kammalpur Bilu Singh got Rs 4.93 lakh as grant,the sarpanch of Karlal Gurtaj Singh received Rs 3 lakh as grant while the panchayat earned Rs 2.02 lakh, the administrator of Kahanpur Maghar Singh got Rs 3 lakh, and the sarpanch of Chatha Nanhera Surjit Kaur got Rs 6 lakh as grant.

The president of Dashmesh Sports Club, Bishanpura Sukhvir Singh, received Rs 3 lakh, Harnek Singh, president of New Podda Youth Club, Chhajil, received Rs 5 lakh, Kuldeep Singh, president Dashmesh Sports Club, Rampur Gujran, got Rs 3 lakh, Mukhtiar Singh, president, Youth Services Club, Baghrol, received Rs 3 lakh and Balbir Singh, president, Baba Jiwan Singh Club, Kammalpur, also got Rs 3 lakh.

During the inquiry, it was found that the funds given at the sangat darshan programme had been misutilised by the accused.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, DSP, Sunam, said police had registered cases. He said though the police had conducted raids, no arrests had been made so far.


Gang of vehicle thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 27
The police has busted a gang involved in the theft of vehicles and arrested one person in this connection.

According to Mr P.K. Sinha, SSP, the police raided a place near Brar Marriage Palace in Mudki and arrested Major Singh and recovered a new stolen vehicle without registration papers from him.

On further investigation, the accused admitted that he had another vehicle in his possession which he had stolen from Kurukshetra in Haryana.

The modus operandi of the gang was that they would hire vehicles from other states and after entering Punjab throw the driver out of the vehicle and sell it in some other place.

The police is trying to locate accomplices of Major Singh. A case has been registered in this connection.


10 held for smuggling
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 27
Four members of an inter-state gang of poppy husk smugglers Som Pal (Chandigarh), Sat Pal, Ashok Kumar and Major, all from Denewal village in Garhshanker, have been arrested.

The police has seized 80 kg of poppy husk from them at the Balongi barrier naka, near SAS Nagar, a Maruti van, being used by the smugglers has also been impounded.

The Ropar police has also arrested six persons, Gulzar Singh, Ashok Kumar, Balraj Singh, Amarinder Singh, Sheesh Pal and Harjinder Singh on the charge of smuggling liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab. Giving this information Mr S.P.S. Parmar, SP (D), said the police had also seized 1,80,050 ML of liquor from them.


SI booked for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 27
Pritam Singh, SI, and in charge of police post Sur Singh, has been booked under the Corruption Act by the Bhikiwind police for accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 to release persons involved in selling duplicate cassettes.

Police sources told this correspondent that the accused SI rounded up Beant Singh and Malkiat Singh residents of Sur Singh who were allegedly involved in selling pirated CDs’ and duplicate cassettes. The SI demanded Rs 20,000 each to release the accused. An amount of Rs 10,000 was given to the SI. Mr Major Singh, DSP, Bhikiwind, was deputed to investigate the matter. The SI was found guilty of torturing Malkiat Singh and Beant Singh. The SI has been arrested.


2 held for selling adulterated diesel
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
Two persons have been arrested by the district police for selling diesel allegedly adulterated with kerosene to local farmers. The accused have been identified as Kewal Singh of Govindpura village and Som Nath of Bucho Mandir, near here.

According to the police, the accused were mixing kerosene with diesel at their depot before selling it. Following a large number of complaints from the farmers, that the engines of their tractors were getting damaged due to the adulterated diesel, the police raided their premises and seized stocks of kerosene. They have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.


PTU, Thapar counselling dates clash
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
First it was Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, and now it is the turn of Punjab Technical University, (PTU), Jalandhar, to frame rules that seem to favour mediocre students.

The PTU cancelled the counselling date at the eleventh hour and issued a public notice on June 25 stating that the counselling for B. Tech/BE and B. Arch courses, scheduled for June 26, had been postponed to July 8. The new date clashes with the counselling date of Thapar College of Engineering and Technology, Patiala.

Information revealed that this year Thapar College had disassociated itself from the Punjab common entrance test conducted by the PTU for admission to various engineering colleges and had announced that the students would be admitted on the basis of their ranks obtained in the All-India Common Engineering Entrance Test conducted by the CBSE. The authorities of Thapar College entered into an understanding with the CBSE to declare ranks of the students from Punjab separately. The result of the CEET conducted by the CBSE was declared on June 19 and the students were given two ranks, one All-India rank and the other the Punjab one.

A session of parents and professors contacted by The Tribune pointed out that Thapar College had disassociated itself from the Punjab CET as the examination had lost its credibility over the past few years. They added that even after adopting the CEET ranks, the college would be admitting 85 per cent of the students from Punjab.

They alleged that the PTU authorities had changed the date of counselling deliberately to penalise brilliant students who wanted to get admission in Thapar College.

“Unlike the MBBS course where only the quality of education provided by the medical college matters, in case of an engineering college, the line in which a student was admitted also mattered,” Mr Mohit Aggarwal, father of a student, said.

Some engineering aspirants who have scored decent ranks in the CEET said if they went for the counselling of Thapar College and were not able to get admission in good courses, they would miss out on PTU courses also.

No senior official was available for comments at the PTU and Thapar College.


Printing technology entrance test
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
The entrance test/interview for admission to PG diploma in printing technology and management of Guru Nanak Dev University will be held on July 8.

Applicants should have a minimum of 45 per cent marks in BA/B.Sc to be eligible for the course and the last date for submission of application forms is June 30.

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