Sunday, July 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tax on fertilisers unjustified: Badal
Warns of mass struggle against ‘anti-people’ policies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Pakash Singh Badal, today described as totally unwarranted the tax imposed on fertilizers and pesticides by the Punjab Government and said that this would break the back of the farming community in the state. Mr Badal also criticised entry tax on several goods that would affect the common man.

In a statement here, Mr Badal asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to roll back the government’s anti-people policies affecting employees, Dalits, senior citizens, the urban populace and the farmers or be prepared for a protracted mass struggle.

“SAD will lend all its force and support to the people who have been compelled to come out on the streets against the disastrous impact of the policies of the government. We are setting up a special cell in the party to co-ordinate efforts to undo the regime of economic repression let loose in the state.” Mr. Badal also warned the state government of serious consequences if it decided to burden the farmers with electricity bills waived by the SAD-BJP government.

Mr Badal said people were being made to suffer because of the utter lack of economic planning, fiscal management and prioritising allocation. “There is no attempt at rational revenue mobilisation or at curtailing wasteful expenditure. Instead, they want to raise money by robbing the people of the means for fulfilment of their basic needs,” he said.

As a result, people from every section of society are reeling under the crippling impact of the economic policies of the present regime and the intensity and magnitude of popular resentment against the government was unprecedented in the history of the state.

“In just four months, they have brought the state to the brink of disaster. No development activity is taking place , except on projects already started by the Akali-BJP government. All the social welfare schemes started by previous government are being discontinued,” he said.

Mr Badal said that the present government’s hypocrisy on Dalits had been fully exposed in just four months. The “shagun” scheme was being dismantled, the grants at the birth of girls to the Dalits was being withdrawn and people belonging to backward classes were finding it hard even to get their yellow cards. The old-age pension and other benefits for the elderly people were being withdrawn. He asked the Chief Minister to explain why the common masses were being made the target of economic austerity while he (the Chief Minister) himself and those close to him were spending crores on luxuries like house renovation etc.

Mr Badal was particularly severe on the government’s anti-employee policies. He described as “economic murder” the government’s decision to freeze the DA, deny LTC, curtailing leave encashment, stopping doctors’ non-practising allowance, withdrawing hardship project allowance and making adverse changes in the retirement schemes.

The SAD President felt amazed at the sheer brazen-facedness of the present regime that had promised so many things to the people of the state, especially to the employees, during the February election campaign. Where have all those promises gone? Where is the Rs 30 a quintal bonus on paddy? Where is the re-imbursement of the so-called inflated domestic electricity bills? They said they would double the “shagun” scheme amount and triple the old age pension. The facts? They have abolished both. They promised the 4-9-14 promotion scheme to the employees. And what are the employees getting in its place? Retrenchment and salary and allowance cuts, he said.

The SAD President dismissed as “rubbish” the government’s charge that they had inherited a poor economic legacy. “Everybody knows that we kept spending on development and public welfare schemes till the last day of our government. Where was that money coming from? Capt Amarinder Singh had been demanding the imposition of Financial Emergency in the state for the past four years, saying that the SAD-BJP government would not be able to pay even salaries to the government staff. The fact, however, is that not only the salaries were never delayed, leave aside their being stopped, but we gave unprecedented incentives to the employees, including the implementation of the Pay Commission report which involved a bonanza of Rs 1400 crore.

The fact, Mr Badal regretted, was that this government had neither the will nor the ability to give good governance. “Their Budget is the proof of their anti-people vision of governance,” he remarked.


Drought-like conditions in Punjab, Haryana
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 13
The normal onset of the monsoon in Punjab is around the first of July. However, it has been delayed this year in the region comprising Punjab, Haryana and some adjoining areas. Compared to last year when 430 mm rainfall was received here between June 5 and July 12, this year only 45 mm rainfall has been received during this period. During 1987, 1982 and 1973 also there was less rainfall during this period which was 30, 32 and 37 mm, respectively.

According to Dr L.S. Brar, Head of the Agronomy and Agrometereology Department, PAU, the current outlook seems bleak as the monsoon is still active in the eastern parts of the country and there is very little possibility of its becoming active in Punjab in the next few days. The primary reason for the delay in the onset of monsoon in the region is the lack of development of a strong low-pressure system in the plains in the vicinity of this region.

The region is facing a serious drought-like situation as it faced in 1987, says Dr Brar. Similarly, Haryana and western UP are also experiencing the adverse effects of a delayed monsoon in the region. From June 1 to July 10, Punjab has experienced 26 per cent rainfall while Haryana and western UP have experienced 43 per cent and 52 per cent rainfall, respectively, as compared to normal rainfall for the period.

The extraordinary delay in the arrival of the monsoon has adversely affected the kharif crops in the region, particularly the crops of paddy, maize and sugarcane. As a result, yield of these crops is likely to be affected. Dr Brar says that deficiency of water has led to problems like micronutrient deficiency for paddy. Salt toxicity has also been observed in the areas with marginal quality underground waters.

According to Dr G. S. Nanda, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, paddy has not been transplanted in a sizeable area as yet due to a delay in the arrival of monsoon and non-availability of water supply. He said the recommended period for paddy transplantation is from June 10 to 20 or latest by the end of June. The delay in paddy transplantation has already taken place. However, farmers in the Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala districts where basmati rice is sown can transplant the same. In fact, now is the time for sowing basmati, he added.


Ravi reservoir level touches new low
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 13
Even as there has been no rain in the catchment of the Ravi, the reservoir level has depleted alarmingly because of a small inflow into the reservoir.

Under the situation, the Ranjit Sagar dam authorities have reduced the outflow from the reservoir to almost one-third of the irrigation requirement of the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system.

The authorities have decided to run the UBDC system on a rotational basis.

The UBDC system irrigates the Amritsar and Gurdaspur areas. The system consists of seven main canals and 247 distributaries and minors. With the construction of the Ranjit Sagar dam on the Ravi, release of water from the dam is under the control of the PSEB authorities.


Soch, IAS officer face Vigilance probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has started investigations against Mandeep Singh, an IAS officer and a former Director of Local Bodies and Rural Development and Panchayats, Dr H.S. Soch, a former Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr H.S. Chahal, Director Animal Husbandry, on the charges of irregularities pertaining to recruitments in their respective departments.

The charges relating to the allotment of study centres for distance education programme by some functionaries of Punjab Technical University (PTU) are also being probed into, according to an official statement released to the press by the Punjab Government.

In a statement, the bureau said that Mal Singh Ghuman, Chairman, Mandi Board, Girdhari Lal Arora, Deputy Registrar, Punjab Technical University, Surjit Singh, DFO and Kaur Singh Sidhu, Xen, electricity board, were also facing charges for possessing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The Director-cum-ADGP, Vigilance Bureau, Mr A.P. Pandey, said today that in pursuance of the government’s crusade against corruption, the efforts had been stepped up by the bureau to nab culprits and bring them to book. The inquiry against all such officers would be indepth and transparent. Mr Pandey said that 11 gazetted officers were being proceeded against for amassing wealth beyond their known sources of income.

Elaborating further, he said that IAS officer Mandeep Singh was facing charges of committing irregularities in the appointments of executive officers and panchayat officers.

Mr Soch was being proceeded against for making appointments of lecturers in GND University violating rules and regulations. The appointments of lecturers such as Harmohan Kaur, Sidharth Shankar, Rishi Raj Sharma, Ashish Arora and Amardeep Kaur Bawa appointed by the former VC were being probed by the bureau. Dr Chahal, was being charged for having made irregular appointments in his department during 2001-2002.

The bureau said Surjit Singh, DFO, was being subjected to investigation for possessing huge wealth and indulging in financial scams of afforestation project sponsored by the Japanese Government. The other investigations being handled by the bureau were allegations of procuring 45000 bricks by Mr Hardyal Singh Mann, an SP rank officer, purchase of medicines for medical colleges at Patiala and Amritsar and charges of collecting Rs 1,22,895 through fake medical bills by SMO, Dr Lalit Mohan Gupta in Fatehgarh Sahib district, according to the bureau.


Vedanti for logical end to Sehajdhari issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 13
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, today declared that he would take the issue of debarring Sehajdharis from the voting rights during the SGPC elections to its logical conclusion.

While addressing the seminar “Why no to voting rights to Sehajdharis”, organised by the Akal Federation and the Dal Khalsa here today, Jathedar Vedanti endorsed the resolutions passed by the gathering.

Earlier, the Jathedar in his letter to the Prime Minister had asked him to prevail upon the Union Home Minister to debar Sehajdharis from the voting right during the SGPC elections.

The speakers alleged that since 1947 the Indian Government had been interfering directly or covertly in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. Two major developments — sponsoring “neo-Nirankari movement” and giving the voting rights to Sehajdharis — had left a deep impact on Sikh psyche. They alleged that in 1959 the then Central Government gave Sehajdharis the voting right in violation of the letter and spirit of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

The gathering strongly advocated that no voting right should be given to any non-Sikh. Speakers warned that giving voting right to Sehajdharis could snowball into a direct confrontation between the Centre and the Sikhs.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS, Mr Joginder Singh Talwara from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Prabandki Panchayat), Bhai Baldev Singh, Akhand Kirtani Jatha (International), Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, a spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, Mr Narain Singh, convener, Akal Federation, and Mr Swarn Singh, a Sikh scholar, were also present at the seminar.

The speakers said if Hindus and Muslims did not allow any outsider to interfere in their religious matters why should Sikhs allow non-Sikhs to administer their shrines.


Challan presented against Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 13
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today presented a challan in the court of Sessions Judge in charge, Mr J. S. Khushdil, here, against Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), in a corruption case registered against him vide PIR No 7 on March 25.

Sidhu was caught in a trap laid by the Vigilance Bureau on March 25 while allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from an Assistant Excise Inspector, Bhupath Singh, as part of a Rs 35-lakh deal to select him as a PCS officer.

The Vigilance Bureau presented the challan through Mr Gian Singh Jhikka, Deputy District Attorney, Ropar, in the court. On the occasion, Mr Jaskaran Singh, SP (Vigilance), and Mr H.S. Kang, another Deputy District Attorney, Ropar, were also present.

After the presentation of challan before him, the Sessions Judge in charge ordered to put up the challan before the Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, on July 15 for further proceedings in the case.

Later, talking to the newspersons, Mr Jaskaran Singh, SP (Vigilance), said they had presented the challan in the court after obtaining permission from the President of India two days ago. However, Mr Jaskaran Singh declined to give the details mentioned in the charge sheet presented against Sidhu in the court.

Mr Jaskaran Singh said all relevant documents relating to this case had also been submitted to the court. Sidhu was granted bail in the corruption case on June 26 by the Sessions Judge on the ground that the prosecution had failed to present the challan against the accused within the stipulated period.

The Sessions Judge in charge also extended the judicial remand of Jagman Singh, an accomplice of Sidhu and an accused in the PPSC recruitment scam.

Jagman was produced in the court here after the expiry of his earlier judicial remand today.


Police remand for 2 ‘touts’ of Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 13
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today remanded Dr Shamsher Singh and Gurdeep Singh Manchanda, two alleged accomplices of Ravi Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, in police remand till July 18. Both the accused yesterday surrendered before the court and they were remanded in judicial custody till today.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecuter, pleaded for police remand of Dr Shamsher Singh as he had been named in FIR No. 7 dated March 28 as per the statement recorded by Mr Bakhshis Singh. He said the accused was a tout of Ravi Sidhu and used to collect money from the candidates and give it to Ravi Sidhu.

He said information was yet to be collected from him how much commission he used to get from bribes and where he had kept the money. It was yet to be known about the total amount of bribe taken by Ravi Sidhu.

Similarly, Mr Punn pleaded for police remand of the other accused. He said the accused had sent Rs 1.50 crore of Ravi Sidhu abroad through Havala transactions.

He said there was no information yet on how much more money he had sent abroad and to which countries.

The defence counsel refuted the charge and said till how they had not given any name from whom the accused had received the alleged bribe money. Dr Shamsher Singh was reportedly very close to Ravi Sidhu and was posted in Dera Bassi tehsil as Veterinary Pharmacist.


CM’s assurance to PCMSA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 13
The Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association today claimed that State Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had assured it that services of no batch of officers of the State Services selected during the tenure of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu would be terminated in entirety unless it contained substantial number of tainted candidates who had secured their selections by using corrupt means.

The PCMS Association Patron, Dr M.S. Randhawa, who is also convener of the Punjab State Services Officers Confederation, said a delegation led by him had pointed out to the Chief Minister that the apex court in its several judgements had laid emphasis that punishment to an innocent was the worst thing to happen in law. Mr Randhawa said the delegation was assured by the Chief Minister that his government did not intend to go in for any witch hunting.

Meanwhile in a separate statement here, the PCMS Association President, Dr M S Gill and General Secretary Dr Manjit Singh, maintained that the selection of doctors had not been vitiated during the tenure of the suspended PPSC Chairman.

They said the first selection under Mr Ravi Sidhu was made in 1997 during which a written test was held which was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. They said the candidates were selected by different groups of members of the PPSC and the selection was approved by technical experts.


High-ups are big bank defaulters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Many of Punjab’s high-profile functionaries, industrialists, bureaucrats and their family members figure in the list of 284 beneficiaries who as on March 31, 2001, owed Rs 2753.32 crore to various public , private sector and foreign banks and financial institutions, says the Punjab Bank Employees Federation.

Releasing the list of 284 who owe money to the banks or financial institutions, Mr N.K. Gaur, general secretary of the federation, told newsmen here today that the All-India Bank Employees Association, which had undertaken a countrywide campaign on the “Health of banking industry”, would oppose all attempts by the government to privatise the banking industry by observing July 19 as “Save Public Sector Banking Day” throughout the country.

Mr Gaur said that in spite of numerous representations made by the association, the Union Government had not published the list of defaulters as the number of such defaulters , owing Rs 1 crore or more, was 12,090 and the money they were to pay Rs 80,246.46 crore.

The other demands of the association include declaring wilful defaulting as a criminal offence, stringent penal laws against the defaulter borrowers, attachment of the properties of wilful defaulters, directors, guarantors, their kith and kin; radical legal reforms for prompt recovery of loans; no loans to groups that had been defaulters once; setting up of debt recovery tribunals with more teeth and mandate to dispose of all cases and setting up of an independent statutory audit commission on the lines of the CAG.

Mr Gaur said bank employees were opposed to the dilution of government’s stake from a minimum of 51 per cent to 33 per cent in public sector banks. In case the government persisted with its decision, the bank employees would resort to indefinite strike throughout the country.

The bank employees would also oppose allowing of 49 per cent of foreign equity as against the existing 20 per cent.

Assailing the proposal of establishing the asset reconstruction company, Mr Gaur said this was a clever move of buying the banks’ bad debts through public money and make balance sheets of banks clearer before handing them over to the private sector. This way the liability would be transferred from one head to another and would continue as public liability. This too would be opposed, he added.

Major borrowers owing huge amounts

Arihant Group

  Rs 327.90 cr

PUCs (Punjab)

  Rs 140.43 cr

PUCs (Punjab)

  Rs 86.36 cr

Thapar Group

  Rs 60.19 cr

Lakshmi Overseas

  Rs 46.78 cr

PUCs (Haryana)

  Rs 38.85 cr

PUNWIRE, subsidies

  Rs 35.61 cr

Rom Industries

  Rs 34.50 cr

Electronics System

  Rs 31.99 cr

Telephone Cables

  Rs 23.22 cr

Atma Tubes

  Rs 24.06 cr

Steel Strips

  Rs 21.14 cr

Harpartap Steels

  Rs 10.53 cr

Bagrian Shoes

  Rs 7.51 cr

Century Sheet metals

  Rs 3.12 cr

Avi Packaging

  Rs 30.32 cr

Asian Alloys

  Rs 29.28 cr

Tegs Mesrado

  Rs 6.21 cr

Reacting sharply to list of those who owe money to banks and financial institutions, Mr Raninder Singh, son of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said he was a debtor and not defaulter and had also filed a recovery suit of Rs 28.9 crore from Bank of Baroda.

In a statement, he said he had taken a loan of Rs 1.97 crore from the Bank of Baroda for his 100 per cent export-oriented unit in collaboration with a Dutch company to produce mushrooms purely for export. Because of sharp and upward fluctuations in the currency, the Indian rupee stood greatly devalued. As such his loan amounted to Rs 3.26 crore, making the project commercially unviable. “But, still, we have already cleared Rs 2.9 crore. The question of the remaining amount is subjudice as matter is before the Shimla High Court,” he added.


Punjab withdraws docs from BBMB
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, July 13
The Punjab Government has decided to withdraw all its medical officers from the hospitals of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). In a letter to the BBMB Secretary, Deputy Secretary (Health), Punjab, has stated as per the orders of the Personnel Department of the state, 30 doctors of Punjab posted at the BBMB should report to their parent department within 15 days otherwise disciplinary action would be taken against them.

Citing the reason for the transfer of doctors, the letter states that the Personnel Department has decided all Punjab Government employees who have either completed five years’ service in the BBMB or have just two years’ service before retirement should be called back to the state. While implementing these orders, the service rule of the Punjab Government — according to which the employees are not transferred in last two years of their service — should also be ignored, the letter states.

The BBMB runs three 100-bed hospitals at Nangal, Talwara and Sundernagar. Besides, several small hospitals and dispensaries are also operated by the BBMB at Ganguwal, Kotla, Chandigarh, Salapar and Pandoh. These hospitals cater to the BBMB employees as well as the local populations. In some areas such as Nangal and Talwara, the BBMB hospitals are the only medical institutions taking care of the health services.

In Nangal, even the local health centre for vaccination of children and controlling insects is also being run by the BBMB.

As per the recent orders, 12 of the 15 doctors of the BBMB Canal hospital at Nangal, 10 of 12 doctors from the Talwara hospital and eight other doctors from various dispensaries would be transferred.

The present move to transfer the doctors follows the decision taken by the previous government to withdraw its employees from the BBMB. At present, nearly 1,200 employees from the Irrigation, Finance and Health departments of the Punjab Government are working with the BBMB.

The recent order regarding the transfer of doctors might once again bring the employees’ unions at loggerheads with the state government. Doctors posted here, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the decision of the government to transfer them was arbitrary. The doctors of the Punjab Government posted here were getting their parent department scales. So, the reason for which the government wanted to withdraw employees from the BBMB was not applicable in their case, they added. 


Touts ‘sell B.Ed. entrance test paper’
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 13
While the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) course candidates have been striving hard to succeed in the competitive entrance examination and have joined many academies and coaching centres to ensure their success, some unscrupulous persons have been trying to cash in on their aspiration and have started selling the question paper of the entrance examination to make a fast buck.

Sources said some persons claiming to be close to a section of employees of Punjabi University, Patiala, which was going to conduct the entrance examination tomorrow, had been collecting money from the students on the pretext of giving them the entrance test paper tonight.

These persons had asked the students, from whom they had allegedly collected Rs 40-50,000 each, to gather a pre-determined place tonight to collect the question paper. The candidates would be allowed to appear in the examination tomorrow after being properly “trained”.

The sources said for about 4,000 B.Ed. seats all over the state, more than 45,000 candidates would be competing this time. The paper would be conducted at 11 centres all over Punjab. A section of the academies and coaching centres contacted by this correspondent at Muktsar, Bathinda and Ferozepore admitted that some persons had tried to sell them the question paper of the B.Ed entrance test. They denied having bought any question paper.

Dr. S.K. Sidhu, Registrar, Punjabi University, Patiala, when contacted denied having any information about the alleged leakage of the B.Ed entrance test paper.

Dr Baldev Singh, coordinator, B.Ed entrance cell, Punjabi University, when contacted on phone at Patiala said the university had taken adequate steps to ensure that such things did not happen. He added that he had also received such complaints on the phone from Ropar and some other parts, but none of these was found true. He admitted that some unscrupulous persons were trying to cash in on the situation due to stiff competition.

Dr Baldev Singh said even the paper setters could not know which of the papers set by them had been accepted by the university. He said the questions in the multiple choice question paper had been jumbled to prevent copying and strict action would be taken against those found guilty. He said that the paper would be objective type and there would be negative marking of 25 marks for every wrong answer.

A section of students demanded a high-level inquiry into the allegations and urged the authorities to cancel the entrance test if these were found true.


Presidential poll: Tota Singh allowed to vote
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 13
The court of the Special Judge here has allowed Jathedar Tota Singh, MLA, from Moga and former Punjab Education Minister, who is now-a-days in judicial custody in a criminal and corruption case, to cast his vote in the election for the President of India to be held on July 15.

The counsel for Jathedar Tota Singh told this correspondent today that the court ordered to take Mr Tota Singh to Punjab Vidhan Sabha amidst tight security to enable him to cast his vote.

Jathedar Tota Singh had moved an application in the court, requesting that he should be given permission to cast his vote which was his constitutional right.


CPI executive for meet on July 18
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, has urged all democratic forces to unite against the Capt Amarinder Singh's government to force it to withdraw its anti-people, anti-employee and anti farmer policies.

What is surprising about Dr Dayal's statement issued today is that his party was an ally of the Congress in the Assembly elections held in February this year. Besides, the Congress had extended an allout support later to the CPI's candidate in the Malout Assembly constituency where elections were held in April.

Criticising the imposing of Sales Tax on certain items related to farmers, Dr Dayal said that the CPI had called a meeting of its state executive on July 18 here for chalking out a strategy to launch mass movement against the disinvestment and the anti people budget proposals of the state government. Dr Dayal said that the increase in the Sales Tax on pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, cement and purchase tax on milk would adversely hit people in the state.


21 BSF officers get police medals
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 13
Infiltration of militants is still continuing in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the BSF has foiled various such attempts. This was stated by Mr Ajai Raj Sharma, Director-General of the BSF, talking to media persons at the Subsidiary Training Centre of the BSF at Kharkan, 12 km from here, yesterday.

He said he would soon visit the border areas to find out the working conditions of jawans, besides meeting people residing near the border to know about their difficulties.

He said 15-km fencing in the Jammu and Kashmir sector had already been completed. Work on the remaining 43 km was under progress and would be completed shortly.

Earlier Mr Sharma took the salute from 377 recruits at the passing-out parade. The Director-General awarded trophies to nine cadets. Recruit constable Rajen Bhagat was adjudged the overall best cadet. Mr Sharma also gave away six Police Medals for Gallantry and 15 Police Medals for Meritorious Services.


Gurdaspur is Khanna’s priority
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 13
Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, while talking to newspersons here today, said India was in touch with countries, which had advised their citizens not to visit India due to the Indo-Pakistan stand off, to allow them to do so now. He said the tourist inflow from abroad had declined and hoped that it would pick up soon.

Mr Khanna said the Kashmir valley, described as heaven on earth, was out of the reach for foreign tourists due to infiltration and cross-border terrorism, and would be revived to its previous glory. He said the Army had considerably contained infiltration and cross-border terrorism which was reflected in the increase in the number of aspirants for the Amarnath yatra. He said more than 2.5 lakh persons had been registered for the yatra and there were pending applications also.

Mr Khanna said the Ranjit Sagar Dam near Pathankot in the district and one such place suggested by the Chief Minister of Punjab in Patiala district would be developed for tourism. The initiative in this regard would rest with the Punjab Government which would have to submit a project report to the centre for approval.

Mr Khanna said his first priority would be the development of Gurdaspur for tourism.

Earlier, Mr Khanna was given a reception in Mohan Plaza on Kalanaur Road here. Several hundred workers owing allegiance to the BJP and the SAD, including Mr Satpal Saini, former BJP minister, Mr Balkishan Mittal, president, district unit the BJP, and Mr Rakesh Jyoti, president, nagar council, were present on the occasion.


Minister accepts SGPC demand on Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 13
Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism, yesterday accepted the demand of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee regarding project the Golden Temple as a great tourist centre of the country.

Mr Khanna assured that efforts would be made to display pictures and models of the Golden Temple in all tourist guides of the Tourism Department.


Bar flays strike by revenue staff
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 13
The district Bar Association has taken the lead in the state by opposing, criticising and declaring the on going strike of revenue officials in the state as unwanted and anti-people step. The District Bar Association in its meeting held here today passed a resolution in this regard and condemned the decision of the revenue officials to go on strike against the raids of the Vigilance Department. It is worth mentioning that due to the strike all type of revenue work in the district had come to a standstill and the people, who come for registration work, are the worst sufferers.

Mr Gian Singh Saini, president of the district bar, in a press release said that the bar, through a resolution has termed the on going strike as a step causing a harassment to the public at large and to allow the officials to make money through corrupt means. Appreciating the anti-corruption campaign launched by the Chief Minister in the state, the president urged the government to take stern action against these type of corrupt officials. The bar also demanded to hand over the cases of corruption against revenue officials to the state vigilance, so that the “assets amassed by them may be ascertained.”


4 die in mishap

Sangrur, July 13
Four persons, including Ajinder Singh, Kiranjit Kaur and Amitej, were killed when their jeep collided with a truck at Bahadurpur, near here, in the early hours today.


PSEB to ensure 8-hr power for tubewells
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 13
In an effort to save the paddy crop in the state, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today decided to ensure eight hour power supply to tubewells daily. The PSEB will also impose additional power cuts on industry and other sections of consumers due to the delay in the arrival of the monsoon in the state.

With the failure of the monsoon and rising temperature, the demand for electricity has been increasing drastically in the state. The demand for power, according to sources in the PSEB, has exceeded 1,200 lakh units per day against the average supply of 1,125 lakh units per day during the last fortnight.

Yesterday, the power supply in the state was only 1,065 lakh units, out of which 468 lakh units came from the state’s thermal plants, 296 lakh units from hydroelectric projects and 300 lakh units from the Central pool.

Due to shortage of power, heavy power cuts in the urban and rural areas are being imposed, varying from three to eight hours, daily besides the unannounced power cuts at the local level.

The sources also claimed that with the tripping of a thermal unit, an additional power cut of one hour had to be imposed on all sections of the consumers.

They added that one unit of the Ropar thermal plant was not functioning today, increasing the demand and power supply gap by more than 50 lakh units.


‘Form co-ops for self-marketing’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 13
Punjab will give incentives to its farmers for coming out of the wheat-paddy cycle by adopting diversification. This is according to what Mr A.R. Talwar, Registrar of the Co-operative Societies of Punjab, said at a workshop on ‘Organising Vegetable-growers Co-operative Societies’ here. About 100 vegetable growers of 35 villages of the district attended the workshop.

Mr Talwar answered the farmers’ queries on the subject. He said the Centre had announced minimum support prices of many crops, but Punjab, now, wanted a good agricultural infrastructure and right returns for its farmers. “Crop production is becoming expensive, but the income from it is decreasing due to marketing problems. Vegetable farmers should form societies and set up their own cold-storages for self-marketing and reasonable prices,” Mr Talwar said.

He said only quality products would survive in the world market. “Vegetable growers can keep peas in cold-storages in February and March, when the price is low, and sell these after some months, when the price goes up,” he said.

He said Punjab could produce many export-quality vegetable varieties for sales abroad at high prices. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vikas Pratap, talked about the growth of the co-operative movement. He said co-operative societies supplied 65 per cent of fertilisers used by farmers of the district, to whom these had also given Rs 100 crore in loans.

Dr S. K. Batish, Deputy Registrar of Co-operative Societies at Fatehgarh Sahib, said vegetable growers were in favour of setting up such societies.


Palledars hold rally
Our Correspondent

Sunam, July 13
Thousands of palledars engaged for the loading and unloading of stock at various FCI depots in Sangrur district marched in procession through the main bazars of Sangrur and organised a rally in front of the main gate of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, 14 km from here, yesterday to press for their demands.

They were demanding the abolition of the contractorship system from the FCI and the implementation of the direct payment system.

Mr Harnek Singh, president, Punjab Palledar Union, told this correspondent that there were a total of 140 FCI depots in Punjab of which eight were permanent, 83 were implementing the direct payment system, while in the remaining 49 the stock was handled by contractors. He said the contractors did not make payments to palledars as per the rate agreed with the FCI.

Mr Harnek Singh demanded that 100 “palledars”, who were sacked by a contractor at the Malerkotla FCI depot, should again be engaged in work. He also demanded compensation for 38 palledars who were injured at the Pharwari FCI depot during an attack on them allegedly by persons hired by a contractor.

Later, the palledars also submitted a memorandum to Mr Sarbjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner.


Enumeration to begin tomorrow
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, July 13
To prepare amended voter lists, house-to-house enumeration will be started from July 15 to August 14 in the district.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, at a meeting here on Thursday said names of youths who would turn 18 on January 1, 2003, would be added to the list. The draft list would be published on October 16, 2002. Claims and objections could be filed from October 16 to October 31. The final list would be out on January 16. The identity card number of voters would also be printed along with their names in the final list.

ROPAR: The district administration has also made similar arrangements to enlist new voters, the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, Ms Seema Jain, said.


Forest Bhavan to come up
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 13
The Punjab Government would construct Banda Singh Bahadur Forest Bhavan in Harbans Pura village of the district at a cost of Rs 1 crore, for which 20 acres had already been acquired, said Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests, here today.

He said a state-level afforestation drive would be lauched from the village on July 18. He urged everyone to grow more trees and said social organisations should help the government take the campaign to grass roots.

The minister said a campaign had been launched to free the Forest Department land of encroachment and a special court would soon be set up to deal with cases related to the Forest Department.

Mr Subhash Sood, Mr Varinder Takyar, Pt Naresh Sharma (a former president of the Sirhind Municipal Council), Mr Sadhu Ram (president of the Block Congress committee) and Mr Sushil Sood were the other speakers on the occasion.


Cyber cafes or dens of vice?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 13
With police raids on cyber cafes at a plush shopping complex and other areas in the city, several “startling” facts have come to light.

Not only closed cabins in many such cafes encouraged students to watch pornographic sites and download them onto their private e-mail sites or make credit card payments to view blue films.

It also made way for them to mail these to various other e-mails belonging to big industrial concerns, firms, various government and other department websites, newspaper e-mails etc on their e-mail addresses to create nuisance.

Many of the cyber cafes including those without cabins, operate till early hours of the day. It also came to light that school and college students on the pretext of attending tuitions or going for sports training went to these cafes early in the morning to view such sites .

In one of the areas that was raided cafe owners mostly pulled half the shutter down and stationed a guard to monitor entries into the cafe. Further investigations revealed that the cafes were being used for the purpose of facilitating flesh trade in the city.

The flesh trade racket operating in the city found the cafes a convenient place to let the prospective clients meet and approve their partners.


Two posing as police officials held

Hoshiarpur, July 13
The police here arrested four persons allegedly for impersonating and blackmailing by posing deputy superintendents of police and assistant sub inspectors of police, from Ludhiana from near the local bus stand last night.

According to police sources Jasbir Singh posing as DSP and Sarabjit Singh posing as assistant sub- inspector of Ludhiana police along with their two accomplices went to the house of Balbir Singh son of Piara Singh resident of Parlhad Nagar at

10-30 pm in a Maruti car. Jasbir Singh and Sarbjit Singh entered the

house with a revolver and told him that they had come to arrest his son for making telephone calls to a senior police officer Ludhiana. Balbir who is a lecturer in Government senior secondary school at Khun Khun Gobindpur requested both of them not arrest his son for which they demanded Rs 20,000/- to hush up the case. Later Balbir Singh gave them Rs 10,000/- and promised to pay the remaining amount with two-three days left. When they left Balbir Singh suspected their identity and informed the city police. The police chased the car and arrested Jasbir Singh and Sarabjit Singh. Their accomplices escaped. UNI


Rs 43,000 looted from Spice showroom
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 13
Two armed robbers looted Rs 43,000 from a showroom of Spice mobile phone company situated on the premises of Morris Mosque here today. They also took away a mobile phone handset from the office.

Mr Raman Kumar Joshi, owner of the showroom, told newsmen that two scooter-borne youths posing as customers came to the showroom around 4 p.m. He said one of the robbers took out a revolver and asked him to hand over the cash.

Mr Joshi alleged that the robbers decamped with Rs 43,000 and a mobile phone handset. A police party arrived at the scene within 10 minutes and cordoned off the area.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP and Mr Daljit Singh Sahota, DSP (subdivision) also reached the site.


College staff not paid salary
Our Correspondent

Batala, July 13
Members of teaching and non-teaching staff of S.L. Bawa D. A. College, Batala are agitated. They have not received the salary of June, 2002.

Prof Dilbagh Singh, President College Teachers Union, a unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) said that they were paid salary of November, December 2001 and January 2002 in the month of March and April 2002, for June 2002 they are yet to be paid.

Salary bill of the teaching and non teaching staffs of the college is Rs nine lakh. He said the government released only 65 per cent grant-in-aid-to the college and not 95 per cent.

Mr V. K. Bhatia, principal of the college, said that for December 2001, January and February 2002 — 95 per cent grants for the staff had not been released by the Punjab government. However, the college made arrangements with the help of local-management and the DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi to give the said months’ salaries to the staff members from their own resources and efforts.

The Principal Mr Bhatia said that at present the Punjab government was giving grant in-aid to the college staff @ 65% and not of 95 per cent. 95% grant to the privately run college agreement was made in the year 1978 between the college teachers’ union, Punjab and government Punjab Chief Minister and headed Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Bhatia alleged that the majority of colleges of the Punjab were facing hardship due to non-release of grant by the Punjab government.


DAV girls win UK dance title
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 13
Students of the BBK DAV College for Women here were declared world champions at an international music and dance festival held in North Waves, United Kingdom, on July 10. The 21-member college team has been honoured with the title of “world heritage artistes”.

The students presented “ghoomar” jand “kaal belia” to the tune of “been” player. Jogi Kashinath and “dholki” Baljit Singh.

The dance was choreographed by Shobha Kausar, Director of Art and Culture Centre, Punjab, Dr S. Arya, Department of Hindi of the college, and Dr Rajpal and Ms Tiwana from the Punjab Art Council.

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