Sunday, July 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Women run illicit liquor business
Contractors say business down by 20 pc
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 27
At least 50 women in the border district run illicit liquor business posing a challenge to the state Excise Department and liquor contractors.

More than 20 cases have so far been registered against Banso and her two sisters of Buteanwali Basti on the Ferozepore-Zira road under the Excise Act but she has not stopped the illegal business. Inquiries revealed that terrorists murdered her husband in the late eighties and to feed her family, she resorted to selling of illicit liquor.

Senior officials of the Excise Department revealed that Passo Bai of Fattewala village, Rani Bai of Amuncharh Kalan village, Amro Bai of Karahewala village, Reshma Bai of Chugge Pallihwala village, Balbiro of Jandwala village, Parmjit Kaur of Budhoke village, Purho Bai of Fattuwala village, Shilo Bai of Sukhera Bodal village, Bharawan Bai of Kaleanwale village, Banso Bail of Pallwala village, Channo of Mahalam village, and Taro of Manjwala (Makhu) village, against whom at least 25 cases each under the Excise Act had been registered.

The distillation of countrymade illicit liquor continues unabated in Ferozepore district despite efforts initiated by the department. As many as 405 legal cases have been registered under the Excise Act against persons selling illicit liquor this year. At least 100 of them have been registered against women.

According to Mr H.S. Bedi, Excise and Taxation Officer of Ferozepore, the department has tried to stop women from involving in such acts, but in vain. “The Excise Department has taken an initiative to rehabilitate them by providing easy O term loans from co-operative banks to start dairy farming. Camps are being organised in this connection at Nikangan-de-Chugge, Harike, Jalalvarha and many other areas,” Mr Bedi said.

Sometimes the police and officials of the Excise Department have to face opposition from the politically supported persons involved in the business. A police head constable, Ramesh Kumar, among few others were injured when they were severely beaten up by Baljit Singh, Bilkar Singh and Nachattar Singh at Basti Sekhanwali (Ferozepore) when a police party raided the house from where illicit liquor business was being run. A police party was again beaten up when it tried to arrest the culprits last week.

Pawan Kumar, a liquor contractor of Ferozepore, told TNS that the menace enjoys political patronage and both contractors and the excise officials often complain against the interference of the ruling party.

Mr Janak Raj, another liquor contractor of Makhu, said with the sale of illicit liquor on the rise their business has gone down by more than 20 per cent.

The distillers are mostly economically poor and rely on this profession for living.


Employees decide to wait for CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The representatives of 20-odd unions of employees today did not put forth any demands before three Cabinet ministers, the Chief Secretary and others as they decided to wait till the return of the Chief Minister from abroad.

The meeting dispersed after paying tributes to the Vice-President of India, Mr Krishan Kant, who passed away in New Delhi this morning.

After brief introductory remarks by the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra the representatives were assured by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal that the government would sympathetically consider their demands and problems.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had met the representatives of the public sector undertakings on Friday, has announced the constitution of two minister-level panels to hear the grievances of the employees. He had assured them that the final word on the recommendations of the advisory committees and the disinvestment Commission rested with the government. The same way employees were today assured that the government was not “anti-employee”.

Mr K.K. Jindal, general secretary, Punjab State Ministerial Services Union, said the government should withdraw all “anti-employee” steps to create a conducive atmosphere for further talks.

Two panels were constituted for the welfare of employees. The first committee has Mr Sardul Singh, Mr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Rana Gurjit Singh, MLA, and Mr Harchand Singh Barsat as members. The second has Ch Jagjit Singh, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Mr Ashwani Sekhri and Mr G.S. Atwal, as members.


Ratra leaves for Malaysia today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, and the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K R Lakhanpal, will leave for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tomorrow to meet the Director, United Nations Office for Project Services Asia-Pacific, Mr Sunil Bhargav.

The purpose of the visit is to negotiate a $1 billion packet under the project, “Poverty alleviation and improving quality of life”. Rural water supply, sanitation and sewerage treatment are important components of the proposed project to be implemented in phases in towns and villages over a period of five to six years.

The project has been prepared, as per the guidelines of the UNOPS.

The two officials return to New Delhi two days later only to join the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who heads a delegation to New York to talk to the International Financial Consortium for the proposed $1-billion project.

The consortium comprises Swiss Bank, Deutsche Bank and the Grant Foundation of South Africa.


Holiday in Punjab tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab Government today announced three-day state mourning and declared a public holiday on July 29 as a mark of respect to the Vice-President, Mr Krishan Kant, who died in New Delhi this morning.

A press note by the state government said that there would be no official entertainment or state functions from July 27 to 29. All government offices, educational institutions, boards and corporations throughout Punjab and at Chandigarh will remain closed on July 29.


Heritage board in offing
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 27
The Punjab Government has decided to form Punjab Heritage Board, which may take over the development of various tourism and heritage projects started by the previous government.

Highly placed sources told The Tribune that a proposal to this effect was being mooted for the forthcoming Cabinet meeting.

Mr S.K. Mishra, retired IAS officer, who has considerable experience in managing heritage sites, was being tipped as chairman of the proposed board.

The Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Punjab, Ms Geetika Kalha, when contacted on the phone, said the Punjab Government had decided to form the board within this week. It would look after the functioning of various tourism and heritage projects in the state.

Sources, however, said the Congress government had decided to form the board to wrest control of important projects from private organisations headed by SAD ministers. The development of one such prestigious project, Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, at Anandpur Sahib was with the Anandpur Sahib Foundation. The former Chief Minister, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, was a permanent lifetime chairman of the foundation.

After the change of government in the state, development work of Khalsa Heritage Complex had slowed down considerably due to paucity of funds. The sources said the present government wanted to wrest the control of the project from the Anandpur Sahib Foundation headed by Mr Prakash Singh by forming the Punjab Heritage Board.

Ms Kalha, when asked if the board would take over the development of Khalsa Heritage Complex, said it would be done if the state government assigned the duty to the board.

The sources said instead of disbanding the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, the government may allot the supervision of Khalsa Heritage Complex to the board. In that case, the role of Anandpur Sahib Foundation in the development of the complex would automatically be reduced to that of an appendage.

Though the government had made a provision of Rs 15 crore for the development of Khalsa Heritage Complex in the Budget, it was not enough to sustain its development. The project was to be completed by August 2002 as per the schedule. However, it was highly unlikely that it would be completed on time.

With donations for the project not forthcoming, the Punjab Government was hoping for aid from the Union Government. The Government was hoping for aid for the project during the forthcoming visit of Tourism Minister Jagmohan to the state on August 3.


Punjab tourism board on anvil
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab Council of Ministers, at a meeting held here today, decided to constitute a 12-member Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, an autonomous body as a public charitable trust under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Besides the official members (the Finance Minister, Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Tourism, Principal Secretary Culture, Principal Secretary PWD (B&R), Principal Secretary Finance, Chief Town Planner, Chief Architect and Director Cultural Affairs as its member secretary), three other members would be coopted for a period of two years, extandable by one year, says a press note.

The council has also approved Cabinet Minister rank for Dr S.S. Johal, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Planning Board.

The council constituted a state-level Advisory Committee to the Chief Minister headed by Mr S.K. Mishra, IAS (retd) at present Vice-Chairman, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi, for advising on cultural affairs and tourism matters.

The Council of Ministers also decided to amend the Punjab Recruitment of ex-servicemen rules, 1982, thereby enlarging the definition of ‘‘ex-servicemen’’. The definition of ‘‘ex-serviceman’’ is proposed to be amended to be the same as adopted by the Government of India. As per the revised definition, the Armed forces personnel retired/released at their own request but after having earned their pension would be included in the term ‘‘ex-servicemen’’, as defined for the purpose of reservation in posts in the government.

The council has also approved the annual administrative reports of the departments of industries and commerce, local government soil and water conservation for the year 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2000-01, respectively.


Organic farming in the offing
P. P S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
To the variety of crisis, neither new nor unknown, that Punjab agriculture today faces, the most plausible way out that experts recommend is—diversification, which itself involves diverse ideas and solutions.

The Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation (PAIC) has one such idea—’’organic farming’’— in view of the socio-economic and export benefits it offers, besides providing sustainability, viability and profitability to agriculture.

As a first step, it has carved out the Punjab Agro-Food grains corporation (PAFGC) giving it a paid up capital of Rs 5 crore, saving it self all hazards of procurement and marketing of foodgrains and focusing on organic farming.

The concept of organic farming does not permit use of ‘’synthetic’’ fertilisers or pesticides or growth hormones. The demand for organic produce/products around the world is at an all-time high. The retail trade in organic farm products was more than $ 20 billion in 2000, as per the International Trade Centre of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and WTO.

The organic market is growing because of detection of chemical toxicity in animal and human milk and food samples having tested positive in traditional farm produce/products. High levels of chemical poisoning have made consumers more conscious of health, ecology and environment protection and safety.

The Managing of the PAIC Director, Mr Himmat Singh, says the corporation is making a beginning with organic basmati rice and vegetables to be followed by Durum wheat. It has a tie-up with some private companies engaged in organic farming. This season of 500 acres organic basmati rice is being experimented. This new concept is not without ‘’risk factors’’ because initially losses in yields and losses due to transition period are high, till the time an organic produce certificate is granted during the first two years. But Punjab has to take this ‘’risk’’ and the will have to government provide cash grant and subsidies to the farmers during these years. This will off set the deterrent and help promote the concept.

There are certification agencies, which monitor and certify organic farms/produce after three years. The PAIC is in touch with them.

Is it a practical proposition? The Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, is sceptical.

‘’Insect, pest and plant diseases’ pressure is so high that it is not feasible to do away completely with synthetic chemicals. Both food and fibre are highly susceptible to a host of predators. Then yields will be very low in the first few years. It will be a hard task preparing farmers and the government to adequately compensate the farmers adopting organic farming’’, he added

Punjab soils are low in organic matter—.3 per cent—and poor in nutrients. Hence over dependence on synthetic fertilisers.

‘’The organic farming refers to methods of growing and processing foods that rely on earth’s natural resources. Pests and weeds are managed using earth-friendly means, such as beneficial insects and mechanical controls. Organic farmers work to build natural nutrients in soil, which help fertilise plants without reliance on synthetic fertilisers’’.

The organic farming has its own advantages: it keeps air, soil and water free of toxic chemicals. And animals are humanely raised without synthetic hormones or antibiotics and only fed organic feed. Punjab’s agriculture is highly toxic. Dr Aulakh, therefore, feels that this application should be tried on vegetables and high-value addition crops, where even screen-houses etc. would be required.’’Necessary controls shall have to be developed to promote and sustain organic farming’’, he added.

To this Mr Himmat Singh says, ‘’Punjab agriculture will eventually have its own equity and brand name in organic produce/products. Farm produce will be made competitive and state’s enterprising farmers put on the organic world market. We are making a beginning, as part of diversification road-map. The PAIC will set up organic agro export zones’’.

Meanwhile, ‘’Punjab agro-preferred farmers clubs’’ will be established to act as focal points to produce quality organic produce and products.

At least 16 projects have been identified for ‘’integrated processing’’ of wheat, rice, potato, tomatoes, chilies, corn and sugarcane, poultry and milk, soft and hard wood for black-boards, plywood sheets, frozen (dehydrated ready-to-serve fruit and vegetable products, juices and soups), grain-based distillery for IMFL, malt complexes, potable alcohol from potatoes for Vodka, vegetable oil seeds and edible oil units, aromatic, spice oil manufacturing and power generation from biomass (rice husk, paddy straw) etc.


Forced to run tubewells on diesel
Tribune News Service

The Punjab Government may be still waiting for ‘‘bad’’ news to be announced by the metrology department, to prepare their action plan to fight the drought-like situation in northern states. However, farmers in the state have already started taking measures on a war-footing to save their crops. Most of them are now banking on diesel engines to save the paddy crop.

In fact, despite daily announcements by the Punjab State Electricity Board about adequate power supply to the agriculture sector, the farmers are facing severe power cuts in the state. A visit to Dera Bassi, Banur and adjoining areas revealed that most of the farmers were now depending on diesel engines to run their tubewells.

Mr Lal Singh, a farmer of Mubarkpur village, stated that power was erratic and in short supply. ‘‘I had planted paddy on five acres in mid-June, expecting that the monsoon would reach in time. But now I am repenting and wondering whether I would be able to recover costs. I have to purchase two drums of diesel to run my tubewell. The PSEB has not done anything to save us and power is being supplied for just six to seven hours a day.’’

Mr M.L. Toora, Chief Divisional Manager, Marketing Division, (Punjab), Indian Oil, Punjab region, admitted that oil companies were witnessing a spurt in diesel demand in the rural areas due to a delay in rains. ‘‘We are witnessing a sharp increase in diesel demand in the whole state, especially in Sangrur, Bathinda and Mansa areas. The total demand for diesel in Punjab has increased by about 50 per cent on a pro rata basis as compared to the preceding paddy season. If the state does not have sufficient rain in the next few days, the total supply of diesel would reach about 2,00,000 MT in the state in July against 1,34,000 MT during the same period last year. However, we are ready to meet any emergency and their would be no shortage of supply from our side.’’

The farmers lamented that despite adequate supply of diesel in the market, the cost of paddy transplantation had touched alarming proportions. Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the Bharti Kisan Union, Punjab, said: ‘‘ The state government and the PSEB may boast of taking measures to meet natural calamities, but the fact is that the farmers are the worst sufferers. While the board claims to provide eight hours’ power supply but we need at least 10 to 12 hours’ supply to meet the situation.’’

He claimed that the state government seemed to be indifferent to the problems faced by the farmers. In most areas, paddy and sugar cane crops had already been lost due to poor supply of electricity. In other areas, due to running of diesel engines, the transplantation costs would increase by at least 40 per cent this year. Who will pay for these increased costs, he asked.


BKU men to block traffic today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 27
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union will block traffic tomorrow between 12 noon and 4 p.m. to express their resentment against inadequate compensation announced by the government for the drought-hit farmers.

BKU activists would observe dharnas on roads in different districts to press the government to accept their demands.

The traffic jam plan was announced a few days ago before the Central Government had announced a package for the drought-hit farmers.

The main demand at that time was that some compensation should be paid to the farmers whose paddy and cotton crops were damaged due to delayed monsoon.

But after monetary help for the affected farmers was announced by the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, the BKU demanded that the compensation was not sufficient.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, President of the BKU (E), in a press note issued here today said Rs 1,000 per acre compensation announced by the government was not sufficient as the loss was many times more. He said the compensation should be at least Rs 15,000 per acre.


Over 7-hr cut in Punjab cities
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today announced seven-and-a-half hour power cuts each for all major cities to meet the power demand in the state following reduction in hydro-electricity generation.

Disclosing this here today, an official press note said power cuts would be imposed in Patiala, Muktsar, Khanna, Ferozepore and Jalandhar circles from midnight to 1.30 am, 6.00 am to 8.30 am, 12.30 pm to 3 pm and 8 pm to 9 pm. Power cuts would also be imposed in Kapurthala, Ropar, Faridkot, Amritsar, Mohali and Hoshiarpur circles from 1.30 am to 3 am, 8.30 am to 11 am, 1.30 pm to 4 pm and 9 pm to 10 pm in Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Bathinda and Ludhiana (suburban) circles from 3 am to 4.30 am, 10.00 am to 12.30 pm, 3 pm to 5.30 pm and 10 pm to 11 pm. And in Tarn Taran and Ludhiana circles from 4.30 am to 6 am, 11 am to 1 pm, 5.30 pm to 8 pm and 11 pm till midnight.

Besides this, the board has also announced the schedule for three-phase power supply for tubewells and power cuts. Patiala, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Tarn Taran, Ferozepore and Amritsar circles labelled as ‘Night A’ will get three-phase supply from 8 pm to 6 am and face power cut from 6 am to 6 pm. Mohali, Ropar, Khanna, Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala circles which have been labelled as ‘Night ‘B’ would get three-phase supply from 10 pm to 8 am and face cuts from 8 am to 4 pm and from 6 pm to 10 pm. Similarly the former districts in ‘Day A’ would get power from 6 am to 4 pm and face power-cut from 10 pm to 6 am and from 4 pm to 8 pm. Similarly ‘Day B’ groups would get power from 10 am to 8 pm and face cuts from 8 pm to 4 am and 6 am to 10 am. Border areas would get supply from 8 am to 6 pm and from 5 am to 8 am and 6 pm to 8 pm.

The PSEB has also announced 12-hour cuts in 24-hour Rural Supply Feeders which provides domestic power in the rural areas. The Board has extended Peak Load Restrictions on industry to a total of nine hours and also announced that staggered weekly day off for industry would continue. Restrictions on arc furnaces industry will also continue with furnaces running and closing in two groups for two days in rotation.

The PSEB has also announced that the ban on the use of air conditioners for commercial purposes will continue and street lights will remain off from 11 pm each day till further instructions. All regulatory measures will be applicable till July 31.

Meanwhile, to meet the additional requirements of the farmers due to prevailing dry spell and to save paddy crop from damage, the Board has decided to ensure 10-hour three-phase supply to the farm sector from today onwards.


Truant monsoon boon for some
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
While the people of the state are reeling due to the failure of the monsoon in keeping its date with them, thousands of refugee families settled alongside the Ghaggar river in Patiala and Sangrur districts are reaping the rewards of a floodless year by harvesting “Govinda” and other 60-day paddy crops known as “Satthi” in local parlance.

Every year thousands of acres of land in the vicinity of Shutrana, Patran and Samana besides across the river in Sangrur get flooded in early July. Farmers are able to save their crop if they harvest it before the flooding takes place or if it is still not ripe when the floods come. This year they did not have to bother about any floods with the Ghaggar empty and the state remaining practically rainless till now.

Farmers who had sown “Govinda” and other varieties which ripen in 60 days time have presently started flocking the markets of Samana and Patran. And surprisingly they are getting a very good deal for their harvest. “Satthi” varieties which used to earlier sell for around Rs 250 to Rs 300 per quintal are now selling for Rs 460 per quintal.

Sources said this was because sheller owners were buying the crop as the weight of paddy stored with them by procurement agencies had decreased due to loss of moisture content present during procurement. “With millers eager to buy the paddy crop, there are more buyers than sellers in the mandi”, said Krishan Garg, a Samana resident.

However, farmers in the belt are hoping the monsoon will arrive vigorously in the next few days. This, they said, would enable them to transplant “Basmati” crop and reap that also. “This would be a double blessing”, say farmers of the area who are more used to government officials coming to their rescue each year. Sources said scores of farmers near here in Kangthala, Gurunananpura and Tejpur besides Badhshahpur, Nial, Panwala, Tambuwala, Lalwa, Burar, Ghagga, Dhur, Bras, Daftriwala and Bahmanmajra near Patran and Fatehpur and Rajla near Samana had sown “Satthi” ignoring the appeals of the government not to sow any paddy variety earlier than June.

Meanwhile, those farmers who have transplanted paddy recently in the belt are paying through their nose to nurture it. Most shallow tubewells have given up pumping water and only deep tubewells are functioning. Farmers said though the state electricity board was giving eight to nine hours of power to the farming sector, local breakages kept occurring because all the substations were overloaded due to which tripping occurred frequently. This, they said, reduced the power actually received by the farmers to a great extent.

Farmers have adopted novel ways to ensure they do not have to spend more money than required to water their fields. Many of them are running their tubewells on cooking gas cylinders which are fitted after the tubewell is started with the help of diesel fuel. Farmers said one gas cylinder could run a tubewell motor for nearly 12 hours. However, small and marginal farmers are having a harrowing time with some having left the fate of their paddy fields to God with they not being able to get money for buying diesel from various commission agents, who are not lending money as they feel chances of its return are bleak in the present circumstances.

Meanwhile, many farmers adjoining other monsoon rivulets like the Tangri and the Markanda are veering towards going in for vegetable cultivation if the rains do not come in a few days which will make it impossible for them to transplant paddy. Farmers are also having trouble maintaining their milch animals with green cover being scarce due to non-arrival of the rains.


District BJP unit refuses to accept new chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 27
The district BJP unit has revolted against the decision of the state leadership to replace its President Kanwar Jagdip Singh “unconstitutionally”. At a meeting held at the residence of Mr Harish Shah, general secretary of the district BJP (rural), it was decided not to accept Mr Anil Joshi who was appointed district unit president in place of Mr Kanwar Jagdip Singh. The meeting which was attended by presidents of six mandals, including Majitha, Verka, Ajnala, Rayya and Patti.

It was also decided to send a message to the national party president against the “arbitrary” decision of Mr Avinash Jaiswal, state general secretary who had replaced three elected district presidents. However, Mr Jaiswal said the state president had the power to replace any office-bearer of the party who indulged in “indiscipline”.

Mr Kanwar Jagdip Singh said the party district unit (rural) had boycotted the state level meeting of the kisan cell held at Tarn Taran as the district unit was not taken into confidence before deciding the venue of the meeting.


No plan to launch stir against CM: Badal
Our Correspondent

Samana, July 27
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD (B), and former Chief Minister, Punjab, said today that the Akalis don’t have plan to launch an agitation against the anti-people policies of the Amarinder Singh’s government. He was talking to media persons at the residence of Mr Joginder Singh. Panjrath, executive member of the S.G.P.C.

Prior to his visit Mr Badal paid homage to Akali worker late S.Palwinder Singh. He said the Amarinder Singh’s government had crushed farmers, employees and public and alleged that Mr S. Tohra had connived with the Chief Minister and defrauded people.


Civil Hospital sans surgeons
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 27
The Civil Hospital here has been functioning without a surgeon. The three surgeons of the hospital have been transferred in accordance with the Punjab Government policy.

According to details available, Dr Rajesh Kumar Sharma and Dr M.M. Singh, both surgical specialists, were transferred to the primary health centres at Ferozeshah and Guruharshai in May. Subsequently, Dr V.K. Mujral, Senior Medical Officer and a surgeon, was also transferred about a fortnight ago to Sardulgarh leaving the hospital without a surgeon.

The state government has again released two lists of 63 and 222 senior officers and medical officers. Surprisingly, no surgical specialist has been transferred to the Civil Hospital here, although it caters to the residents of the town and villages of the border belt.

Interestingly two surgeons have been posted at the primary health centre, Dabwala Kalan, 22 km from here, and the primary health centre, Khui Khera, 14 km from here. Meanwhile, two of the seven veterinary hospitals and the fodder distribution centre here remain closed for the past four weeks due to miscellaneous duties assigned to veterinary officers posted in these hospitals.

According to a memorandum submitted to the Minister and Secretary, of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Department, Punjab by Dr Karan Arya, president, Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association, Ferozepore district, and nine others they were asked to distribute compensation among landmine blast victims, prepare voter lists and verify them and perform election duties.

The fodder centre of Fazilka is also not functioning as Dr Gurcharan Singh, Agriculture Development Officer (fodder), has been put on such a duty. Besides, the work of vaccination of livestock and attending to emergencies has also been affected. The veterinary officers demanded that they should be exempted from such duties.


Army board to go into truckers’ claim
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
The Western Command of the Indian Army has constituted a board to go into the issue of payment of compensation to the owners of 161 trucks, belonging to this region and damaged in the fire which broke out near sub-ammunition depot at Bikaner on January 11, 2002 while ammunition was being transported to the borders after tension built up on Indo-Pakistan Border after an attack on Parliament.

The board of officers constituted was likely to submit its report shortly, official sources said.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, member of Parliament, who raised this issue in Parliament, said that reply given by Union Defence Minister, George Fernandes in connection with award of compensation to the affected truck owners was not satisfactory. Mr Mann demanded that compensation to the truck owners be paid immediately so that they could restart their avocation.

Mr Mann raised the matter in Parliament when a section of truck owners whose vehicles acquired by Army authorities through district administration concerned from this city and surrounding areas were burnt were threatened suicide in front of the Parliament House during monsoon session if the authorities concerned failed to pay compensation to them for their damaged vehicles. Mr Mann also had appealed to the affected truck owners not to take any extreme step.

The affected truck owners have been feeling humiliated and harassed as the authorities concerned have not been hearing them as they had been visiting the local cantonment and Army authorities based at Chandigarh.

Mr Shavinder Singh, Chairman, of the Truck Operators Sufferers Action Committee, pointed out that transporters whose entire fleet had been damaged in the fire had not option but to commit suicide as the authorities concerned had been delaying payment of compensation to them. He added that more than six months had passed since the tragedy took place, the authorities concerned had not yet completed formalities for the payment of compensation to them.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that 161 trucks acquired by Army authorities from Bathinda, Goniana, Bhucho, Jaito, Mansa, Rampura and other towns of this region, were damaged in the fire. Most of the truck owners had been rendered without work after the incident. They had even employed two persons on every vehicle.

The affected truck operators have also approached Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Union Defence Minister, George Fernandes, Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Blawant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP and Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab for help but without avail.

Mr Bhushan Kumar, President, The Goniana Truck Operator’s Union, most of the affected truck operators had rendered paupers and the companies, which financed the vehicles, had been pressing them hard for the repayment of loan.


Sidhu’s plea dismissed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 27
A local court today dismissed the plea moved by the suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, to direct the Punjab and Sind Bank to issue him 10 loose cheques to fulfill his daily needs. Earlier, on July 22 the Punjab and Sind Bank had maintained before the court that the bank could not issue loose cheques to Sidhu as his account had already been frozen by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Meanwhile, acting on the application moved by Sidhu in the court of UT Judicial Magistrate(First Class), Mr Sanjay Sandhir, to direct the Chief Secretary Punjab to take the possession of government accommodation of house number- 914 in Sector-39 allotted to him by the Punjab Government and also to direct the S.P Vigilance, Punjab, to deliver the goods inclusive of everything lying in the house was adjourned for August 1. The counsel for the Chief Secretary, Punjab and S.P Vigilance, Punjab, today appeared before the court and sought time for filling reply.

Sidhu stated in the plea that he was forcibly taken away from his house in Sector-39 by police personnel on March 25, 2002 without affording any opportunity to him to talk to any of his relatives or acquaintance or friends. The police had also taken away some of the documents also. He also stated in the plea that the possession of government house was taken over by the Vigilance Bureau police from that day and they had not delivered till not the articles and valuables lying in the house or in the possession of the police. He further stated that the authority letters from time to time in favour of four individuals were got attested from the court for the delivery of goods but he remained unsuccessful in getting back his belongings.


Police remand for Mukhija case accused
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The prime accused in the murder of Congress worker Harmesh Singh Kukhija in November, 2000, Gurbaksh Singh Kukoo, was remanded in police custody till July 30 by Special CBI Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer here yesterday.

The accused had earlier surrendered in the same court through his lawyer Kundan Singh Nagra on Thursday. The CBI had registered a case against Kukoo, who is a resident of Khamalak in Dharamkot in Moga district, in connection with the murder of Mukhija on November 13, 2000. A case had been registered under Sections 302,307,148 of the IPC by the Punjab Police but the matter was referred to the CBI after relatives of Mukhija made this request, claiming they apprehended they would not get justice at the hands of the police.

Sources said the CBI had also started the process of making a few persons government approvers in the case and that the statement of one such person had already been registered under Section 164 in the Special Court.

The other accused in the case — Kuldeep Singh, Kulbeer Singh, Sahib Singh, Jagmohan Singh and Surjit Singh — are already in judicial custody in the Central jail here.


Four PSSSB ex-members remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 27
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, here today remanded four former members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board Manuwar Masih, Ashok Loomba, Jarnail Singh and Virsa Singh Valtoha in judicial custody till August 9 and ordered that they should be produced before the Special Judge, Ropar, on that day.

The Public Prosecutor pleaded for police remand for Virsa Singh Valtoha and judicial remand for the remaining three, but the court rejected it.


Manchanda’s bail plea dismissed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 27
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today dismissed an application moved by the counsel of Gurdeep Singh Manchanda, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on the charge of sending money of Ravi Sidhu abroad through hawala transactions, for granting bail to him.

The counsel in his application moved yesterday had stated that Manchanda was in custody since July 13 and that he should be released on bail.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecutor, appeared on behalf of the state in the court today.


Son killed due to ‘negligence’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 27
Mr Nirmal Jit Singh, father of three-and-a-half years old Sehjpreet, is heart-broken over the death of his minor son in a school bus four days ago. Sehjpreet was thrown on the one side and suffered a brain hemorrhage when the driver of the school bus took a sharp turn.

He died a few hours later. Mr Nirmaljit Singh says the authorities at Harkishan Public School, Golden Avenue, took no notice of his and other parents’ complaints against the bus driver who often indulged in rash driving. He said the school authorities failed to terminate the services of the driver even after this incident. The school authorities could not be contacted.


Labourer dies in workshop collapse
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 27
A migrant labourer was killed while two others were seriously injured when a workshop in the under construction Central Town locality collapsed here today. According to the police, the victim, who was identified as Suresh Kumar, died on the spot, while Jai Ram of Pholriwal village and Bahadur of Dhina village were admitted to the local Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

The contractor of the building, Jagdish Kumar has been arrested.


2 numberdars removed, patwari sacked

Kapurthala, July 27
Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Rakesh K. Verma, has removed Bachan Singh and Hansraj numberdars of Bhullarai and Phagwara city, respectively. The DC after an inquiry found that Bachan Singh was guilty of connivance in attesting shajra nasab in the name of fake heirs while real heirs were settled abroad. Similarly the DC found Hansraj guilty of wrongly identifying the dead persons and those living abroad before Sub-registrar, Phagwara for the execution of power of attorney.

Mr Verma said that due to fraudulent acts on the part of numberdars, unscrupulous persons were usurping NRI’s properties. He got cases registered against the numberdars and their accomplices.

In a separate case of forging the revenue record, Mr Verma has dismissed Jaspal Singh, patwari from service. The patwari lifted the orders of tehsildar in mutation no 1065 of Mayo Patti and pasted the same on a mutation no. 5755 of Pachta village in Phagwara tehsil. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, found the patwari guilty of the charges.

The DC has also written to the Government against Parminderjit Singh Sodhi, Secretary, Zila Parishad for removing him from the district as he has not been attending office for the past 20 days. Mr Verma hinted the Secretary may be absconding as a case against him had been registered by the Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepore and the VB authorities were requesting the Deputy Commissioner to direct him to join investigation.


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 27
Three car-borne miscreants allegedly looted Rs 5,200 from a petrol station situated near Gagra village in the district last-night. According to reports, they arrived at the petrol station at 9.30 p.m. and asked Narinder Kumar, salesman, to full the petrol in their car. They later threatened the salesman to hand-over cash box.

Narinder Kumar, later, informed the nearby police station. A case under Sections 382/34, IPC, has been registered. In another case the district-police has arrested eight robbers. During interrogation they confessed that they had earlier looted Rs 8 lakh from employees of certain government department in Makho Colony of the district.


Case against orphanage for selling child
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, July 27
The oldest and most famous orphanage in the city, founded by former Patiala State Dewan Rajindra Dewa, which still goes by the same name, has come under controversy with the local police registering a case against its management for selling a child to a Ludhiana-based family for Rs 50,000.

A case has been registered under Sections 408, 372, 120 (b), IPC, after a long drawn-out agitation by the newly formed Yateemkhana Bachao Sangharsh Committee headed by Mr Harbans Singh Sodhi.

Mr Sodhi disclosed that he had come across children belonging to the Orphanage when they had gone to lodge a protest with the Deputy Commissioner against the sale of a child by the chairman of the Institution, Mr Devinderpal Singh.

The former warden of the orphanage, Manjinderpal Singh Sodhi, while relating the sequence of the events said on March 10 this year the railway police informed him about a child having been abaondoned near the Railway pulley in the city. The child who had been lying on a heap of garbage for eight to ten hours was seriously ill and was admitted to Rajindra Hospital. He said the child recovered after 15 days’ treatment and was brought to the orphanage on March 25. The warden alleged that barely a week earlier on April 2 the wife of the chairman, Mrs Sat Parkash Kaur, came to the office and took away the child saying that it was not being looked after properly at the orphanage and that she would look after the child better at home. He said following that the child was handed over to a Ludhiana based family on April 4.

The warden alleged that Mrs Sat Prakash also asked for all the applications the orphanage had received for the child’s adoption. He said among the applications was one recommended by Patiala MP, Preneet Kaur, and her sister in law, Mrs Harpriya Kaur.

Meanwhile, Miss Manjit Kaur, who used to earlier teach at the orphanage, said they were surprised when a messenger arrived in the Orphanage premises April 26 and said he had come to deliver Rs 50,000 on behalf of the Ludhiana family which had adopted the child. She said Mrs Satprakash Kaur, who was present in the premises at that time, took the money home. She said the receipt for the same was cut only on May 1 when the matter came into public notice. She said following this she stopped going to the orphanage and Mr Sodhi’s services were terminated which had resulted in an agitation by students of the Orphanage who had also met the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.

Action Committee member Darshan Singh Ghuman said the case had been marked to Superintendent of Police Bhupinder Singh Virk who had found glaring irregularities during a prelimary investigation into the running of the orphanage. The SP himself disclosed that the chairman of the orphanage had been unable to furnish proper record as well as the income generated from the institution.

The action committee has urged the Deputy Commissioner to take over the management of the orphanage pending inquiry into the present case as well as form a legally constituted trust to look after its affairs.

Meanwhile, Mr Dewinderpal Singh, chairman of the institution, could not be contacted. Mrs Satparkash when contacted said she had never taken away Rs 50,000 from the premises of the orphanage as alleged. She said the money had been given to the Warden to be handed over to the property manager Jaswant Singh. She said moreover this money was for the maintenance of the child who was right now in the custody of a social worker in Ludhiana in his adoption case was still pending.


3 women held in stripping case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 27
Tension has engulfed Dabourji village after an incident of stripping and beating of Paramjit Kaur, a resident of the village, last evening she was paraded all over the village and beaten in full public view allegedly for spreading rumours about “illicit” relations of a village woman.

The police has arrested three women in this regard and registered a case. The arrested women — Preetam Kaur and her two daughters-in-law Jasminder Kaur and Balwinder Kaur — first blackened her face and then beat her up with chappals in front of a gurdwara in the village.

It is alleged that a few days ago Paramjit Kaur had been spreading rumours of her brother-in-law having illicit relations with Jasminder Kaur.

Paramjit revealed that on some pretext the three women invited her to their house. When she went there, she was severely beaten up by them and then let go. After a few hours they again came to her house and asked her to swear in front of the gurdwara that she had not been spreading rumours, she said.


2 women held for kidnapping child
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 27
The police has arrested two women for kidnapping Ishu, a two-year-old child, from his house in the Bhargo Camp locality about four months ago and restored the child to his parents this morning.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP, addressing a press conference here today, said following a tip-off yesterday that Surinder Kaur a resident of Housing Board Colony, had kidnapped a two-year-old child a team headed by inspector Nirmal Singh raided her house last night and rescued the child from her residence. Parminder Kaur of Apra village in Phillaur, who was residing as a tenant at Surinder Kaur’s house, was also arrested for her involvement in the kidnapping.

During interrogation, they revealed that they had kidnapped Ishu from outside his residence in Bhargo Camp locality on March 12. Ravinder Kumar, a chowkidar of the Excise and Taxation Department, who was also involved in the crime is still at large.


Amarnath yatris assaulted

Sangrur, July 27
The Punjab Police arrested three taxi drivers and impounded their vehicles when they allegedly assaulted and injured a few Amarnath pilgrims in Malerkotla here yesterday.

The pilgrims were offering prayer at a local temple before their journey to Amarnath when nearly 20 taxi operators assaulted them. The taxi drivers were persuading the pilgrims to hire their taxis instead of travelling in private vehicles.

The police arrested three taxi drivers but others escaped. A case has been registered and hunt to arrest absconding taxi operators is on. UNI


Markfed manager booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 27
Ajaib Singh Sandhu, the local branch Manager of Markfed, along with three others have been booked for fraud by CIA staff.

Police sources said today that Ajaib Singh Sandhu, manager, Markfed, an inspector and two others namely, Rakesh Kumar and Dharam Pal, were caught while selling 600 wheat bags (each bag containing 50 kg wheat) of Markfed in the open market here.


Pro-VC for liaison between varsities, industries
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 27
A seminar was organised in the city last evening by the Bathinda Management Association (BMA) on the topic ‘Techniques for Improving Organisational performance’ during a general body meeting of the association.

The speakers laid the stress on developing modern organisational techniques if the Indian industrial houses wanted to compete with those in the advanced countries. Techniques inherited from forefathers for running a family business were of no use in today’s world, they said. Dr Harbans Lal Verma, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar, said liaison between the educational institutes and industrial houses was a must in the changed scenario as both would benefit from it.

Giving an example of the textile industry, he said the present recession in the industry was due to the factor that it still used outdated technologies. Mr Verma was of the view that continuous research in all fields of industrialisation was necessary and for that purpose there was a need for better coordination between the industrial houses and academic institutions.

Mr Neeraj Seth, business head of a renowned air conditioner manufacturing company said the organisational performance could be improved only if the meetings conducted for the purpose were given due importance. He said generally the meeting convened by the management of a business establishment end up imposing the policies already adopted by the management.

Dr Prem Kumar, president of the BMA, said the main problem with new entrepreneurs was that they were not clear about their goals.


Painting contest for children
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
Children participated in an on-the-spot painting competition organised by ICICI Bank at its Leela Bhavan branch here.

Students covered themes like environment, modern banking pollution and drug abuse in the painting competition which was also attended by a social worker, Mr Mohan Lal Gupta and the Chairman, Teja Singh Kandhari School, Mr Joginder Singh Kadhari. They commended the contribution of the ICICI Bank in nurturing the talent of students and creating awareness about environment.

Mr Ishtpal Singh, Manager, told the gathering about various social initiatives undertaken by the bank, including medical camp, shramdan at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh and tree plantation drives. He said the bank had introduced a unique online account for children between the age group of five to 12 called “kid-e-bank” for inculcating saving habit among children. Mr Ishtpal said a special savings account for college students called Bank campus had also been started.


Counselling deferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27 
Counselling for nomination to seats in various engineering colleges in Punjab, scheduled to be held on July 28, has been deferred.

According to the Additional Director for Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, the new date for the counselling will be announced later.


Programme in fashion designing
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 27
A development programme for entrepreneurs in Fashion Designing and Garment Construction conducted by city-based Industrial Services International was inaugurated by the General Manager NABARD, Mr S.K. Sharma.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharma said the bank had been providing grant assistance for various training programmes to voluntary agencies for upgrading skills, entrepreneurship development and market arrangements for non-farm sectors. He said seven such programmes had already been held in the district with the help of NABARD. He added that NABARD had also extended help to develop cluster activities through District Rural Industries Project.

Mr I.S. Waraich, Executive Director, Industrial Services International, informed that the society had arranged four such programmes and it was also giving training to the PMRY beneficiaries of the district since last year. He said the organisation had also created employment opportunities by encouraging youth to set up their own ventures.

Mr Waraich said the organisation was also running a free tailoring and embroidery centre at Gobind Nagar in the city and proposed to set up a training-cum- production centre.

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