Wednesday, July 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Canal level normal, says Irrigation Dept
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The failure of the southwest monsoon to break over north India even after 17 days of its scheduled arrival notwithstanding, all canals in Punjab are running at a near-normal level, say senior functionaries of the Irrigation Department.

The progress of the monsoon has been far from satisfactory as the entire northern Indian agricultural belt of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and parts of western UP is deficit in rainfall. While in Punjab it is 26 per cent below normal, it is minus 52 per cent in western UP and minus 43 per cent in Haryana. In Himachal, the deficit is 25 per cent.

“We cannot fight nature,” Mr Rajesh Chhabbra, Principal Secretary, Irrigation, told The Tribune today, maintaining that all canals are running above their level compared to this time last year. For example, against 8995 cusecs in Sirhind canal at this time last year, the canal was carrying 11306 cusecs today. Similarly , the Bist-Doab canal was running at 1002 cusecs against 851 cusecs last year and the BML was carrying 11025 cusecs now against 9579 cusecs at this time last year.

“We are doing our best to give farmers as much water as we can for their paddy crop. But the problem is failure of the south-west monsoon. Under normal circumstances, the monsoon used to supplement canal irrigation,” said Mr Chhabbra.

The position was comfortable at Bhakra Dam, where the water level as on July 15 was 1589.35 ft against a minimum reservoir Level of 1462. The position on this day last year was 1562 ft, meaning thereby that it is up by more than 27 ft. The inflow, however, was 38652 cusecs against 48922 cusecs last year. Equally alarming was the rate of outflow or releases from the dam. Against 16948 cusecs last year, it was 32220 cusecs today.

In the case of Pong Dam, the water level had gone alarmingly low, touching 1285.02 ft against 1312.78 ft at this time last year. The inflow was 7304 cusecs now against 37838 cusecs last year while releases from the dam were higher than last year — 7789 cusecs against 696 cusecs last year.

Against the minimum reservoir level of 487 metres, it was 489.95 metres in Ranjit Sagar Dam, which again was a touch-and-go game.

We are releasing as much water as possible in the canal system to mitigate the sufferings of farmers because of the failure of the monsoon. The Rajasthan feeder is carrying 9300 cusecs now against 6400 cusecs at this time last year. Similarly, the Sirhind feeder is carrying 5100 cusecs against 4500 cusecs last year.


PSEB move may plunge roads into darkness
ACs in govt offices may be banned
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
After having resorted to various measures the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have started contemplating switching off streetlights in urban areas and to imposing a ban on the use of air conditioners in the state government offices and in bungalows of its employees if the power situation did not improve.

Official sources said the PSEB, which has been witnessing the worst-ever power crisis has started negotiating with private companies, including Delhi-based Koyla Energy Service, to purchase power from other sources to meet the ever-increasing power demand in the state which has touched 1,200 lakh unit per day.

Mr J. S. Mahal, SE, Power Regulation and Control wing of the PSEB, confirmed move on switching off streetlights. He said the duration of power cuts on industrial feeders had been increased from three hours to nine hours daily, duration of power cuts for villages which fell under the 24-hour supply category had been increased from six hours to 11 hours daily and the duration of power cuts in the urban areas had been increased from four-and-half hours to nine hours daily to divert the power saved through such measures to the agriculture sector to ensure that the farmers could get minimum eight hours power supply.

He added that the PSEB authorities might impose a ban on the use of ACs in government offices and by government officials in their official accommodations.

Mr Mahal pointed out that the demand of power was increasing despite the fact that all 10 units of the three thermal plants had been running to their full capacity. He added that only one unit of Thein dam was running presently as the other units could not be run due to low level of water in the Ranjit Sagar Dam.

Mr Jethu Ram, a senior functionary of the Young Entrepreneurs Association here pointed out that industrialists had been suffering production losses due to the power cuts. The processing industrial units were worst-hit as the quality of manufacturing had been deteriorating due to the cuts. The PSEB authorities should fix one day for the power cuts so that units could be closed for that particular day and the labourers could be put to other works, he added.


Farmers divert Ghaggar to save crops
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chhat Bir (Patiala), July 16
As a last ditch resort — compounded by the erratic power supply — farmers of more than 60 villages in this area have constructed an earthen bundh to divert the water of the Ghaggar, near Shtabgarh village, to save their dying crops. This has been resented by the farmers living downstream and the stage is set for a violent confrontation in the coming days.

The villagers have constructed a one-and-a-half-kilometre long temporary bundh from Shtabgarh village to Bakarpur village, near here. The delayed monsoon coupled with the long dry spell have dried up a majority of artificial and natural water bodies besides the shallow tubewells. This has forced the farmers to turn to tap the trickle in the river to meet their needs.

According to the farmers downstream, the delayed monsoon and absence of adequate water in the catchment areas of Himachal Pradesh besides the lower Shivalik Hills has cast their shadow on the current crop which will dry up if not irrigated soon.

They have diverted the river course to carry water to their paddy fields in about 50 villages though the Banur Canal that passes through Chhat Bir zoo. The villagers pitched in with voluntary labour for the job which was completed in record time. Ghaggar hardly dries up and the trickle that flows nowadays is sufficient to irrigate hundreds of acres, the villagers pointed out.

The long dry spell has dashed the hopes of the farmers of having a bumper crop. Farmers are praying for rains to quench the parched fields.

The villagers’ woes do not end here. The intensive heat wave has dried up the water bodies forcing the farmers of to construct kuccha bundhs on the bed of Ghaggar to collect water for irrigating their paddy fields.

The problem is acute in the Banur belt — from Zirakpur to Rajpura — where the water level of tubewells has witnessed a drastic decline and the farmers have no option but to invest huge amounts on submersible pumps or harness the river waters.

To keep a watch on the local residents, who may tamper with the bundh, a group of 10 farmers belonging to different villages surrounding Banur have been camping adjacent to Chhat Bir zoo and conducting thekri pehras (community policing) round the clock.

However, the farmers of over 30 villages located on the left bank of the Ghaggar — from Bhankharpur to Ambala — have been affected adversely with the construction of the bundh. The bundh has reduced the water discharge to their fields to a trickle. Whatever water overflows is not sufficient to fulfil their needs.

The farmers here are up in arms at the diversion. To get their due share they made a futile attempt to breach the bundh. Tension has gripped the area and the situation may take an ugly form.

Meanwhile, the farmers camping adjacent to Chhat Bir zoo are also reportedly enjoying police protection.

Residents of the area revealed that the farmers of Banur belt had been resorting to this practice for a long time. They erect a kuccha bundh with the permission of the Drainage Department from June-end till the monsoon sets in.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Dyal Singh, an elderly farmer of Buta Singhpura village near Banur, said the problem had been persisting for the past 50 years. ‘‘Many governments have come and gone. Political leaders have broken the promises. But our demand for regular water for irrigation still remains’’, he lamented.

“We (the farmers of Banur belt) spend Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for the erection of a kuccha bundh on the river bed every year. Some times the monsoon arrives early and washes away the bundh that causes us huge losses,’’ claimed Mr Balwinder Singh, a farmer from Banur.

He maintained that the farmers of this area were ready to contribute if the government came up with a concrete solution to their long-pending irrigation problem.

Sources in the Drainage Department revealed that the 85-km-long Banur Canal distributed water to over 60 villages in Banur belt.

Mr A. S. Sohi, Executive Engineer, revealed that the department had chalked out a plan to solve the problem, but the cost of the project was prohibitive.

He, however, said a spillway had been left on the temporary bundh. Whenever the water level rises, the spillway carries the water to the river bed and the villagers on the left bank of the river use it for irrigation, added Mr Sohi.


Dry spell plays havoc: minister
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
On account of the continuous dry spell and a late monsoon this year, the entire kandi belt of Hoshiarpur district is facing drought like conditions.

Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister Punjab, said here yesterday that the Kandi Canal had become dry. The water level of deep tubewells, catering to the drinking water and irrigation needs of people had also gone down. Unscheduled and intermittent power cuts by the PSEB had further aggravated the situation. He said previously the kandi water supply schemes were always exempted from power cuts. But the SAD-BJP government had withdrawn this facility which had created a lot of problems for people who were facing an acute shortage of drinking water. Water was not available even for animals as almost all ponds had become dry. The entire maize crop had been damaged as most of the area was totally depended on rain. He said he had contacted Mr Padamjit Lal, Chief Engineer of the PSEB to make available regular power supply to the kandi water supply schemes so that people could get drinking water.

He pointed out that the entire area had been facing a drought-situation for the past three years. Farmers had been crying for compensation for their damaged crops. But the SAD-BJP government did not provide them any compensation.

He said the Deputy Commissioner and the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur should visit the affected areas and depute officials to make an assessment of the losses. He urged the Chief Minister to provide immediate compensation to all those poor farmers of kandi who had been facing starvation due to the damage to their crops for the past four years. He said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister.


PPSC ignored merit: charge sheet
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The state Vigilance Department has accused a PPSC member of playing a dubious role in the interview of candidates for the PCS (Executive) and Allied Services examination of 1998 by giving the same marks as awarded by the suspended Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu to “tainted” candidates.

A copy of the charge sheet filed against Sidhu and other accused procured by The Tribune revealed that two members on the interview board gave the same number of marks to two candidates. While the charge sheet reveals that one of them is Sidhu, it is silent on the identity of the other member.

The charge sheet reveals that Sidhu and another member gave 72 out of 75 to Bharat Bhushan and 69 out of 75 to Kamal K. Garg, both of whom were selected and accused of having paid money to Sidhu, according to statements made under Section 164, CrPc, by his alleged touts.

The report also reveals that the suspended Chairman and the member also gave the same marks to about 95 per cent of the candidates. It claims that a deliberate attempt was also made to give fewer marks to candidates who had a chance of getting through on the basis of their merit. It gives the example of Gurkirat Kirpal Singh who later qualified for the IAS examination but was given only six marks out of 75 by the PCS interview board.

It states that deserving ex-servicemen of the 1998 batch were also denied a chance by the interview board which favoured Capt Sukhmohinder Singh Brar (retd) in this category. Brar was given 65 marks out of 75 while Karnail Singh who topped the written test was given only 16. It also listed seven tainted candidates of this batch as Deepak Gakhar, Jeewan Garg, Kamal K. Garg, Mandeep Singh, Capt Sukhmohinder Singh Brar (retd), Kuljit Kaur and Bharat Bhushan.

The charge sheet also claims that the Vigilance Bureau made a comparative study of the 2000 and 2001 record of the PPSC with regard to both PCS (Executive) and Judicial papers and it has come to light that students with a poorer academic record have managed to qualify at the cost of brilliant students. It says ingenious methods were used to ensure that certain candidates got more marks in English and Punjabi.


Badal for judicial intervention
Disappearance of Rs 2 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal today sought judicial intervention to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Rs 2 crore in the jobs-for cash scam.

In a statement here Mr Badal said the sensational disclosures made by former ADGP (Intelligence), A. P. Bhatnagar that he was prevented from getting at the truth about the missing cash showed that the government was going out of its way to hide the truth.

Mr Badal said if an officer of the rank of ADGP claims that money had changed hands at the highest level in the government, it could not be dismissed lightly. “Perhaps suo motu intervention by the judiciary directing the government to hand over the investigation to an independent agency like the CBI has now become essential to expose the guilty in the whole drama,” he added.

The former Chief Minister expressed surprise over the statement of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, describing Mr Bhatnagar’s allegations as the “utterances of a frustrated and disgruntled man”, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had himself described Mr Bhatnagar and other intelligence officers targeted by the government as “upright and efficient officers” only a few days ago.

The Chief Minister had got his dates wrong when he said that these officers had made the allegations about the disappearance of Rs 2 crores because they were dejected at their transfers. The allegations, Mr Badal reminded the Chief Minister, were made before the transfers and, in fact, the fear of these allegations leading to exposure of the involvement of the Chief Minister’s Office was the reason for these transfers.

Mr Badal said the Chief Minister was now haunted by the fear of the exposure of his own involvement in the disappearance of Rs 2 crore. He expressed surprise that the Chief Minister was now running for cover for fear of the whole case being investigated by a federal agency. If the Chief Minister was honest and had nothing to hide, he should himself insist on a probe by a central agency, Mr Badal said. The Akali Dal President warned that the truth about the scam and its handling by the present government would be pursued vigorously and everyone involved in the cover-up exposed.


Officers’ body to oppose PRTC closure
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) Officers Association has decided to protest against the report of the State Disinvestment Committee recommending closure of the corporation claiming that the commission had factually erred in reporting data besides portarying the performance of the corporation in a manner which led to “wrong conclusions”.

Members of the association at a meeting today decided to oppose the report of the commission and take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

The members said commission had failed to appreciate the performance of the PRTC in comparison to the government-run Punjab Roadways, which was also operating under similar constraints. They said the commission had recommended that certain resources of the PRTC, after it was closed down, should be merged with the Punjab Roadways, which was already running into losses.

In their representation to the commission the members said the PRTC was facing losses due to certain government schemes, including free and concessional travel facility to the old-aged persons, students, police personnel and others.

The members of association said the government had not revised bus fares regularly and adequately. The government had revised fares after a gap of four, six and nine years, while it should have done so on an annual basis. This would have earned the corporation an additional revenue of Rs 213 crore, they said.

The members said illegal operations by private transport operators was also causing a loss to the corporation. Speaking about the loans taken by the corporation, they said the PRTC was sanctioned Rs 48 crore out of which only Rs 2.36 crore were received in cash. The balance amount of Rs 45.84 crore was adjusted against taxes payable by the corporation to the State government.

The members has also raised the question of whether the PRTC was public utility service or a commercial organisation. They said the state government had declared the PRTC a public utility service from time to time and on that basis the corporation had provided transport service on economical as well as uneconomical routes and free and concessional travel facility to many sections of society.


Punjab slow in filling top slots
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab Government is rather slow in filling important slots. Take the case of the Agriculture Department. While farmers are battling hard to save their crops in absence of rain, the Department of Agriculture has been headless for the past two weeks.

Farmers weathering a harmful dry spell need the most help of farm experts but in absence of the Director Agriculture, there is no initiative to mobilise such help for them.

Dr Gurcharan Singh, who was given current-duty charge as Director, Agriculture, on May 22, retired on June 30. The post has been lying vacant since then, with none having been given officiating or additional charge of the post.

Informed sources said today that now the case had been moved for appointing an officiating Director either from the department’s Joint Directors on a seniority basis or an IAS officer should be given charge of the post until a regular Director was appointed.

The sources said because of certain legal compulsions, the appointment of a regular Director could not be made. However, there was no restriction on giving current-duty charge of the post or appointing an officiating Director.

The government, the sources said, had moved a case to change the rules to appoint Director from the agritech stream in future. The PPSC had given its approval to amend the rules. However, it would take some time to amend the rules.

However, Agriculture is not the only department to face such a situation. Take the case of appointment of the Vice-Chancellors. The appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University has been pending for the past two-and-half-months.

The charge of the post has been given to Mr N. S. Rattan, a senior bureaucrat, till a suitable candidate is found.

The post of Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University also fell vacant on July 11. The government has constituted a high-level search committee to find a candidate for this post. Meanwhile, Mrs Romila Dube, another senior bureaucrat has been given charge of the post.

Besides, the post of Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission fell vacant yesterday on the retirement of Justice V. K. Khanna. Another member, Justice T. S. Cheema, also retired yesterday. Yet another member Justice J. S. Sekhon, quit about three months ago to become the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections. Now only two members — Mrs Maninder Kaur Mattewal and Mr M.S. Chahal are left in the commission. In fact, Mr Chahal is due to retire early next month. Then, only Mrs Mattewal will be there in the commission which receives about 250 fresh cases every week.


Baba Bhaniarawala out on bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala was released on bail by the Nurpur Bedi police last night. He was arrested yesterday under Section 188 of the IPC for violating the order of the District Magistrate here.

Through an order issued under Section 144 of the Cr PC District Magistrate Seema Jain, fearing danger to public peace, had asked the Baba to leave the district within three days and also banned his entry into the district till September 12.

When the Baba failed to obey the order the police had arrested him.

Mr Varinder Singh, SP (Headquarters), talking to the reporter here today on the phone, said on reaching the Nurpur Bedi police station the Baba expressed his desire to leave the district and promised the police officials that he would neither return to his dera nor enter the district during the specified period.

He said the police ensured that he left the district.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, said the Baba had been released on bail as the offence was bailable. He said the Baba had expressed his desire to go to Chandigarh.

PATIALA: Two cases of controversial dera chief Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala which were being heard at Anandpur Sahib were today transferred to the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Paramjit Singh here.

One case refers to an FIR registered in September last year under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act . The case was registered after the room of the controversial Baba was broken into by the police after search warrants had been issued against him and six 12 bore guns and one other gun were seized. Two of the guns were not licensed while four of them were licensed to other persons. The judge fixed July 29 for the consideration of the charges.

In the other case registered in April this year a case was registered under Section 295(a), IPC, at Nurpur Bedi against Baba Bhaniarawala. The case was registered on the basis of information that the Baba used to tell people coming to meet him that he had more copies of the Bhavsagar Granth and he would start preaching it when he got out of jail.

The papers in this case and the earlier one are being transferred to Patiala on orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


SGJC case for Division Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Taking up Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee’s petition seeking the quashing of a notification whereby the previously constituted Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was ordered to be restored, a Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered that the case would be heard by a Division Bench on July 18.

In a ruling, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Arun B. Saharya, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, Mr Justice V. K. Bali, Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice Nirmal Singh, also dismissed two applications filed by Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Dara Singh.

The committee, in its petition, had earlier sought the quashing of a notification rescinding an earlier notification vide which Manmohan Singh Brar, Ajwant Singh Mann and Amrik Singh were appointed as Judicial Commission members on its reconstitution.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioners had contended that on January 6, 1999, a notification was issued removing Mr Dara Singh, Mr Kashmir Singh and Mr Raghbir Singh as members of the Judicial Commission and appointing other members in their place. Mr Dara Singh and Mr Kashmir Singh subsequently filed a petition in the High Court challenging their removal and appointment of other members. The matter was referred by a Division Bench of the High Court to a larger Bench. The judgement was reserved after the conclusion of the arguments.

However, during the assembly elections in February, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, considered a rival of the Shiromani Akali Dal, joined hands with the Congress party. As a part of the design to enable Mr Tohra regain his lost position, the Congress government has issued the impugned notification.

Describing the notification as a “blatant interference in matters pertaining to the Sikh religion”, counsel for the petitioner had added that the same was “illegal and liable to be quashed”.

Proceedings dropped

Mr Justice G. S. Singhvi of the High Court today dropped proceedings against officials of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the matter pertaining to their failure to produce Punjab Public Service Commission’s suspended chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu in court on time in a habeas corpus petition.

Sidhu, booked by Punjab Vigilance Bureau after conducting raids at his residence in Sector 39 in Chandigarh, was not produced before the High Court on March 26 despite directions by Mr Justice Singhvi. Taking a serious view, Mr Justice J. S. Khehar of the High Court had directed that the matter, with the approval of the HC Chief Justice, should be placed before Mr Justice Singhvi as his orders had not been complied with. The authorities, including Punjab’s Director-General of Police, were, nevertheless, granted liberty to file further affidavits within three weeks.

Baba contests order to leave

In less than 24 hours of his arrest, controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala today filed a petition in the High Court challenging the orders asking him to leave Ropar district. Taking up his petition, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents for September 17.

The Baba was arrested by the police under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for violating the orders of Ropar’s District Magistrate asking him to leave the district within three days. The DM had also banned his entry into the district till September 12 fearing danger to public tranquility.


Badungar moves application against SGJC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, in an application has stated that the present Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) cannot be recognised since a case challenging it is pending with the high court.

The SGPC move is significant as it could have widespread repercussions on all pending cases with the SGJC against SGPC President Badungar till the case of the new judicial commission is decided by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The SGPC chief and others have sent an application to the SGJC, stating that the present three-member commission has been challenged in the high court by the President and Secretary, SGPC, and therefore “by virtue of having challenged the notification issued by the Punjab Government whereby Kashmir Singh, Dara Singh and Raghbir Singh had assumed the office of the SGJC, there is a direct conflict as the notification/orders issued by the state government have been challenged”.

The application further reads “That in view of the above stated circumstances the propriety and ends of justice demand that the matter in which the applicants/respondents are parties before the high court hence should not be decided by the commission. The decision is bound to have a bearing on the fact that the very applicants have been challenged”.

Today’s application was in response to the hearing of a case — Harbans Singh v/s SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar and others, alleging backdoor entry to nine persons by the President, SGPC, and two others in violation of the rules and regulations that govern the SGPC from January to March.


Missing paddy: SGPC member arrested
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 16
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested an SGPC member for the alleged embezzlement in paddy belonging to the Punjab Warehousing Corporation (PWC).

A Vigilance team arrested Mr Tirlochan Singh, SGPC member and owner of a rice mill, from his residence at Mamdot and presented him in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate who remanded him in police custody till tomorrow.

Sources in the Vigilance Department said Mr Tirlochan Singh had been arrested on the basis of a written complaint by the PWC.

Officials of the PWC said the corporation had in 1999-2000 entered into an agreement with Mr Tirlochan’s rice mill for custom milling. As per the agreement, 69,523 bags of paddy were given to the mill. The officials said later 20,000 bags of paddy were found missing.

The then DM of the corporation, Mr N. C. Rana, tried to persuade Mr Tirlochan Singh but in vain. The corporation then wrote to the SSP to register a case against him.

The bureau registered a case against the rice mill in April but Mr Tirlochan Singh could not be arrested as the high court stayed his arrest. The bureau had registered a case under Sections 406, 408, 409 and 120-B, IPC and slapped a case for fraud amounting to over Rs 1 crore.

After the arrest, Mr Tirlochan Singh complained of chest pain and was sent to the Civil Hospital.


Director delaying action in sodomy case?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Despite the instructions of the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, the Director-cum-Medical Superintendent of mental hospital here has failed to take any action against Kaso Ram, who was indicted for allegedly sodomising a mentally-challenged patient.

The incident was first reported in June, 2000. An enquiry was conducted by Dr Ajaib Singh Sandhu, the then Civil Surgeon in Amritsar and now Deputy Director, Health and Family Welfare Department, Chandigarh, in this regard. The enquiry report confirmed the charges.

The letter, dated June 18 available with The Tribune, stated that Dr Ajaib Singh Sandhu, the then Civil Surgeon, was appointed the enquiry officer in the Kaso Ram case, who allegedly had committed sodomy with a mental hospital inmate. It added that in the enquiry report, submitted on May 31, the Civil Surgeon found the charges correct and sent a copy of the enquiry report to the appointment authority of the Class IV employees.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president of the All-India Youth Association, who raised the issue demanded the registration of a case against Kaso Ram.

Meanwhile, Dr B. L. Goel when contacted said he was not delaying action and added that action would be taken according to the rules. He said a letter had been written to the higher authorities in this regard.


CM’s assurance on relief for artistes’ kin
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has expressed sympathies and has assured of immediate attention for providing relief/compensation to the kin of three young artistes who died in a road accident with theatre director Harpal Tiwana near Dera Gopipur, HP, recently.

Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director, National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, and other artistes met the Punjab Chief Minister at a local social function in Patiala in the presence of art patrons like Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, President, DCC, Mr Vishnu Sharma, Mayor, Patiala Municipal Corporation, and Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Chardikala Group of newspapers, and urged him to help the sufferers. They pleaded that the death of artistes occurred while working on a theatre-cum-tele-film project ‘Ik Akh Ik Nazar’ on Maharaja Ranjit Singh, sponsored by the Punjab Directorate of Cultural Affairs.

“It, therefore, becomes the moral and legal responsibility of the Punjab Government to provide relief/compensation to the artistes’ kin. All the three artistes — Manjit Kaur (19), Patiala, Harpreet Kaur (20), Nabha, Jatinder Singh (21), Dassupur (Kharar) — were unmarried and a great support to their families. Therefore their case for relief and compensation deserved all sympathies,” they said in the appeal.


Many carnage victims were from Abohar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 16
Many of those massacred by militants in the Qasimnagar-Rajiv Nagar locality in Jammu on Saturday night originally belonged to the Sansi community of Abohar.

None of the families residing in a locality near Old Fazilka Road cooked food yesterday after they learnt about the tragedy in which their near and dear ones were killed through a telephonic call on Sunday night. Eighteen persons left for Jammu today.

Gango (65), who had gone to Jammu a few days ago to see her ailing nephew, received bullet injuries in the abdomen and on the head, said Jaggu Ram, who returned late last night. According to Reshma Devi (85), two daughters of local resident Lala Ram — Nisha and Neetu — were living there. Their aunt, Sukho Devi, was hit by the militants when she questioned them. Nisha was killed while cooking meals while Neetu and another relative, Rodo of Hanumangarh, were also injured. Another victim, Jyoti, daughter of Nanak Ram, was also their relative. Jyoti’s cousin sister, Geeta, said some of their relatives had migrated to Jammu as the late Rajiv Gandhi had resolved to allot plots to the Sansi community there.

When newspersons visited the locality today, residents were seen wailing for the dead. They said their relatives in Jammu had lost faith in the police.

Male members of the community generally polish shoes on trains or during fairs while women prefer to sell glass utensils or exchange junk.


Mann seeks probe into Pannu’s death
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (A) who is also a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has sought a high-level probe into the death of Balbir Singh Pannu, senior vice-president, SGPC in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh in 2000 under mysterious circumstances. He said, with a view to maintaining transparency, it was imperative to unravel the mystery which shrouded the death of Balbir Singh Punnu along with an unidentified girl.

Talking to TNS on phone, Mr Mann said he would make this demand in the General House of the SGPC. He said it was a matter of great concern that boxes of liquor were also found in the ill-fated vehicle which belonged to the SGPC. The insurance company had not yet paid the compensation for the vehicle due to the liquor bottles found in it. He said if the SGPC failed to order a probe, then the state government should take up the case. He said the Sikh clergy should also probe the circumstances under which the SGPC tickets were distributed to Sadhu Singh Raagi who was arrested on charges of smuggling.


Loomba held on flimsy grounds: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
A meeting of office-bearers of the Punjab BJP took cognizance of the framing of false cases against Akali-BJP leaders by the Congress Government, which has created an atmosphere of terror.

In a press note, the party said that Ashok Loomba, a former Member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board and senior BJP leader, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on flimsy grounds. Cases were being framed against political rivals to get cheap popularity.

The Vigilance Bureau picked up Kulbir Singh Randhawa, a former Member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board. On the basis of the FIR against Randhawa, the police picked up Loomba and two other members of the board.


Use water, nutrients judiciously: ICAR

Moga, July 16
There is a need to recognise the importance of efficient management of plant nutrients and water resources for sustainable agriculture, Assistant Director-General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Gurbachan Singh has said.

Speaking on the topic — “Nutrient and Water Management in Crops and Cropping System” — here yesterday, he stressed the importance of efficient management of plant nutrients and water resources.

He said climactically Punjab has the potential of agricultural production to the tune of 60-80 tonnes per hectare, but even the present level of 10 tonnes per hectare we are facing the threat of depletion of plant nutrients and water resources which is evident from the lowering of water table, particularly in Central Punjab, he added.

“If this trend continues then the days are not so far when Central Punjab will be facing Rajasthan-like drought situation,” he said.

Mr Gurbachan Singh said our focus should be to maximise productivity and to improve of quality of farm produce with minimum resources.

He also stated that there was an urgent need to shift from wheat-paddy rotation to alternative crops like pulses, oil seeds, maize and cotton.

He said the policy on diversification of crops prepared by the Punjab Agricultural University scientists has been appreciated at the national level and circulated to other states to serve as a guideline for developing such paper keeping in view the specific conditions and needs of their respective states. PTI


2 GNDTP employees suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
Karamjit Singh, senior assistant, and Babu Singh, technician, grade-1, of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), have been placed under suspension for their alleged involvement in a fraud with another employee, Mr Avtar Singh Lubana. They had fraudulently secured a loan from a Patiala-based bank by submitting documents of property, owned by Mr Lubana, as security.

Official sources said the two were placed under suspension after their guilt was established in the preliminary inquiry conducted by the local GNDTP authorities.

Mr S.C. Mahajan, Chief Engineer, GNDTP, had also written to the district police authorities for registering a criminal case against both employees. The police has sought legal opinion regarding registration of a case.

The sources added that Mr Lubana had taken a loan from the GNDTP and had pledged the registered sale deed of his property with it. He was then posted at Ferozepore. Karamjit Singh, senior assistant in the establishment section, took out the registered sale deed of the property owned by Mr Lubana from the official files and handed it over to Babu Singh.

Babu Singh approached HDFC Bank at Patiala and took a loan of Rs 2.90 lakh from it by submitting the sale deed and a fake affidavit in the name of Mr Lubana to show that Mr Lubana had no objection to stand guarantee for the loan taken by Babu Singh.

Somehow, Mr Lubana came to know about the incident and reported the matter to GNDTP authorities through a letter. When Karamjit Singh and Babu Singh were summoned by the GNDTP authorities, Babu Singh remained absent. However, later on he handed over the sale deed to the authorities stating that he had found it in some files, which he had taken to his house for official work.

Suspecting foul play, the authorities verified the facts with HDFC Bank and it came to light that the loan had been taken by pledging the property documents of Mr Lubana. The accused had taken back the documents from the bank after depositing the loan amount with interest thereon.


Technical staff threaten protest
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 16
Resentment prevails among members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) against the non-implementation of a decision taken during a meeting of union representatives and the PSEB authorities in June last year.

Mr Amarjeet Singh, President of a subdivision of the union, said in a press note here yesterday that they would launch an agitation against the failure of the authorities to implement the decision.

He said when they had resorted to an agitation last year for getting their demands fulfilled, the then Power Minister and the PSEB authorities agreed to accept a number of their demands, but the decisions were not implemented.

He said as per the agreement, the false police cases which the authorities had registered against the agitating employees were to be withdrawn and other incentives which were withdrawn were to be restored. But none of these had been implemented.

Mr Amarjeet Singh further said the agitation would start in a few days.


SDMs to work as sub-registrars
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner-cum-Registrar, Mrs Seema Jain, has appointed the SDMs of Kharar, Ropar, Anandpur Sahib and SAS Nagar subdivisions as sub-registrars for doing the registration work in the registration offices of their respective sub-divisions as all sub-registrars (tehsildars/naib tehsildars) of the district, on the call of the Revenue Officers Association, are on a pen-down strike since July 6. The SDMs will function as sub-registrars during the period of the strike.

Mrs Jain said the order had been issued in view of the difficulties being faced by the public in the registration work due to the strike.

Mr Daljit Singh, SDM, Ropar, said as per the order, the SDMs of the district would now do the entire registration work, including registration of land sale deeds, mortgage deeds, wills, and power of attorney.


1 killed, robbers strike at deras
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 16
One person was beaten to death in a clash over the sale of wooden stock at Khaira Majha village near here last night.

According to the police, the victim Sawaran Singh along with his nephew Harvinderpal Singh went to the fields of Amrik Singh of Khaira Majha village near here on Monday to clinch a deal involving the sale of wooden stock.

Meanwhile, one Baldev Singh and his son Gurpreet Singh of local Basti Mithu locality reached the spot. They claimed that wooden stock deal had already been finalised by Amrik Singh with them.

They allegedly started beating up Sawaran Singh with wooden sticks till he fell unconscious. Sawran Singh died on way to hospital due to serious internal head injuries.

The police, raided the residence of the accused and arrested the father and the son. A case has been registered under Sections 302, 34 of the IPC. The arrested persons were being produced in the court of magistrate.

Meanwhile, a gang of armed robbers struck at three “deras” Jaganpur and Beas villages in the Adampur subdivision early today and looted gold ornaments and cash from the villagers. According to sources, about seven robbers armed with sharp edged weapons wearing police dresses struck at the residence of Kala Mohammad at about 1 a.m. and told them that they were policemen.

They started searching the house. While, Kala Mohammad got suspicious about them and tried to put the some resistance, the robbers, fled the place after looting valuable items from their residence.

Later, the same gang struck at the residence of Rano of Beas village and beat her up before fleeing with Rs 2000.

The police has rounded up nine persons, including Bihari, Gopal, Shanga, Jamuna, Sarjeet, Vijay, Munna and Sarianath in this connection. The detained persons, however, maintained they were beggars and not involved in the incident.


Undertrial escapes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
An undertrial, Antarpal Singh, escaped from the District Courts here today while he was being produced in the court in connection with charges of liquor smuggling.

His disappearance came to light late this evening when muster roll call was taken in the jail.

Fifty undertrials had left the jail this morning in police custody for the courts. One of them was found missing in the evening.

The police registered a case and the search for the fugitive was on.


School watchman murdered
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Ram Krishan (40), watchman of the local Netaji Model School, was murdered with a sharp-edged weapon by some miscreants in the school last night. He was a physically challenged person.

Mr V.P. Saini, Director of the school, said Ram Krishan had no revalry with anyone. He came to know about the murder when teachers and students informed him about it this morning. 


Teachers decry voters’ list duty, 7 schools closed
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 16
Seven schools have been closed as their teachers have been deputed in connection with amendments in the voters’ list. A large number of teachers in the state have been assigned the duty. As a result of this, the teaching and administrative work in most schools would suffer.

According to a survey, about 60 per cent of the teachers in primary, middle, high and senior secondary schools have been deputed on the job from July 15 to August 14.

Seven primary schools of block 1 and 2 in Fazilka will remain closed as all teachers have been assigned the duty. The schools included the ones in Patti, Muthian Wali, Teja Ruhela, Mohar Sona, Mohar Khiva and Saido ke Hittar villages.

When concluded, the Block Primary Education Officer, admitted that education and administrative work would be affected by the decision. He, however, lamented that they were bound to obey the orders of the Punjab Government.

Reacting sharply to this decision, Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson of the Government Secondary Teachers Union, Punjab, said that if the government continues to ask teachers of the government schools to carry out non-teaching work then the steps initiated to raise the standard of education would prove futile.


Students threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 16
Various student bodies of Punjabi University, after a meeting held on the campus here today, issued an ultimatum to the university authorities to accede to their demands within one week failing which the students would be forced to resort to agitation.

Condemning the “anti-student” policies pursued by the university, the student organisations including the SSF, SFI, PUSH, ABVP, PUSA and the AISF demanded that the cultural quota and reserved seats for rural areas be revived with immediate effect. They have also demanded that the co-accused in the Saru Rana Case, Ms Saroj Rani, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, who has been reinstated recently, be suspended again as she has resumed office without facing any inquiry.

The student unions also warned the authorities against any hike in the fee structure in the coming session. It was also decided at the meeting that the students would not tolerate the allocation of a single hostel room to two students jointly as was being practised in the last session. And if the same state of affairs continues then the hostellers be obliged to pay only half the rent.


Staff of private colleges to launch stir
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 16
The Private Colleges Non-Teaching Employees Union (PCNTEU), Punjab and Chandigarh, has announced its agitation programme and will stage a state-level rally on September 14 in Patiala to express its resentment against the “indifferent” attitude of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Government towards them.

Stating this, Mr Raj Kumar Singla, general secretary, PCNTEU, said today that PCNTEU activists would wear black badges on July 25 and would resort to pen-down strikes of one hour each from 11 a.m. on August 5, 19 and 30.

Mr Singla said the agitation programme was chalked out at meeting of the union executive on Sunday on Arya College, Ludhiana.

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