Wednesday, July 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Centre yet to respond
Punjab’s plea for package on drought
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Punjab is in the grip of crises due to delayed onset of the monsoon which has affected finances, the power supply and kharif prospects.

The Centre has, so far, not responded to Punjab’s request for a Rs 800-crore package to meet the drought-like situation. The government has demanded Rs 400 crore under the Calamity Relief Fund, Rs 200 crore for the digging of deep tubewells/hand-pumps for providing drinking water in the rural areas, Rs 100 crore for drought briefing and micro-management (providing minor irrigation) and Rs 50 crore each for green fodder and medicines for cattle and deep tubewells in the urban areas for providing drinking water.

Even as Punjab continues to be in the grip of a serious financial crisis, the state electricity board has sent the SOS to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, asking for more money to buy power and explaining the position of generation, cuts and the water level in the reservoirs at the Bhakra, Pong and Thein dams.

Faced with a grim situation, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is all set to go to the USA on August 2 to explore funding from international agencies (the World Bank and the International Financial Consortium through the United Nations Office for Project Services) to seek help for projects in the social sector.

The truant monsoon has resulted in reduction in hydroelectricity generation. Therefore, power availability has been less by 40 per cent in July. The board has cautioned the government that the overall reduction shall be 30 per cent (about 1880 million units) from July, 2002, to March, 2003, due to incomplete filling of reservoirs. The overall inflow into the reservoirs has decreased, as on July 28, 2002, against the corresponding July 28, 2001, by 9,493 cusecs (Bhakra), 20,210 cusecs (Pong) and 6,472 cusecs (Thein), affecting the generation.

To make up for this deficit in the PSEB would have to purchase additional power, involving an extra expenditure of Rs 470 crore (July, 2002-March, 2003).

The diversion of power from the paying (urban/industrial) to the non-paying (agriculture) sector, to save paddy from irreparable loss, will mean a revenue loss of about Rs 350 crore. The total estimated loss to the board is about Rs 800 crore.

Even if the monsoon revives at this stage, paddy yield loss would still be there. Despite Captain Amarinder Singh having apprised the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu of the situation, there is little hope of Punjab getting more power. The board has already purchased additional power worth Rs 100 crore (from April till July 28). This purchase is 15.39 per cent more over the corresponding period. Punjab is now making efforts to buy around 200 mw power from Goa, the UPCL and another 200 mw from the Eastern region, through the Power Trading Corporation.

Meanwhile, the imposition of long power cuts, restrictions, compulsory closure of induction furnaces and arc furnaces and the closure of educational institutions (till August 4) have further pushed Punjab into darkness and hardship. All this has been done to save paddy. The three-phase power availability is, on an average, for 10 hours per day.

Due to power regulatory measures taken after July 15 to run tubewells for 10 hours per day, the board shall be diverting around 150 lakh units per day from the urban sector, resulting in a daily revenue loss of Rs 4.75 crore.


Unsown area to be included in ‘drought list’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The unsown area in Punjab will also be included in the “drought-hit” area list to be sent to the Government of India, so that the farming community affected due to the failure of the monsoon could be compensated.

This was stated by the Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, at a meeting of Chief Agriculture officers held here today.

Mrs Bhattal said crops in Mansa, Sangrur, Bathinda and Faridkot districts had been badly affected whereas vast areas in Ropar, Muktsar, Patiala and Jalandhar districts remained unsown.

The Government of India would be asked to withdraw 4 per cent hike in sales tax on fertilisers and insecticides.

Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, State Minister for Revenue, said that a multi-pronged strategy had been chalked out to meet the onslaught of the drought. 

Drought: farmer commits suicide

Sangrur, July 30
Drought in Punjab has taken its first toll when a farmer of Patti Dulat village in the district committed suicide by jumping into a canal two days back, official sources confirmed here yesterday.

The body of the victim Mukhtiar Singh, was discovered on Sunday night from the canal near Ratla village in the adjoining Mansa district.

Bereaved family members said Mukhtiar Singh had been under mental stress due to the failure of his paddy crop.

The police have registered a case and started investigating into the matter. UNI


Govinda’ a boon in flood-prone areas
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

While farmers have been suffering owing to the failure of the monsoon thousands of refugee families settled alongside the Ghaggar 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, Patiala and Sangrur get flooded in early July. Farmers are able to save their crops only if they harvest these before the flooding takes place. This year they did not have to bother about any floods with the state remaining practically rainless till now.

Farmers who had sown “Govinda” and other varieties which ripen within 60 days have started thronging the markets of Samana and Patran. And surprisingly they are getting good returns for their harvest. “Saathi” varieties which used to sell for around Rs 250 to 300 per quintal earlier are now selling for Rs 460 with sheller owners being keen to buy their paddy, said Mr Krishan Garg, a Samana resident.

However, farmers in the belt are hoping the monsoon will arrive vigorously soon. This would enable them to transplant “basmati” crop as well. “This would be a double blessing”, say farmers of the area. Sources said scores of farmers in Kangthala, Gurunananpura and Tejpur near here, 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, farmers who 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 PSEB was giving eight to nine hours of power to the farming sector, local breakages kept occurring because all substations were overloaded, leading to frequent trippings.

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 these get started with the help of diesel. Farmers said one gas cylinder could run a tubewell motor for nearly 12 hours.

Many farmers owning land near rain-fed rivulets like the Tangri and the Markanda are planning vegetable cultivation if the monsoon does not come in a few days. Farmers are also finding it difficult to maintain their milch animals with green fodder being scarce due to the non-arrival of the monsoon.


Langah’s ‘torture’: CM hits out at Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today hit out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal for wrongly advocating the case of Sucha Singh Langah and making false allegations of ‘’torture’’ by the Vigilance Bureau.

Replying to a question on the issue at a press conference, Capt Amarinder Singh said the history of Langah was not unknown to anyone, as he was a declared bad character. How he was made a minister was Mr Badal’s concern.’’ Did Mr Badal not know of the corrupt practices his colleague indulged in? Or was he unaware of the manner in which surrender of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was stage-managed? This is a national security breach’’.

The Chief Minister said the real reason why Mr Badal was showing undue concern for Langah was simple: ‘’He fears that on Zaffarwal issue he (Badal) too will be involved. If the needle of suspicion points towards him and the Vigilance Bureau feels the need to question Mr Badal, certainly it will do so. His utterances will not derail the campaign against corruption. We will break the back of corruption in the state’’.

Asked about the holding of shares by a brother-in-law of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal in a company favoured by Langah, the Chief Minister said he did not interfere in the Vigilance work on day-to-day basis.

He would see when the report came to him. Whosoever, the Vigilance Bureau felt was to be questioned and investigated, it would do so.

Capt Amarinder Singh said while the Vigilance Bureau pursued its cases, he would concentrate on the development of the state and work for arranging funds. The financial mess left behind by the Akalis had to be cleared and economy put back on the fast track, he said.

The failed monsoon had put additional burden on the state electricity board for which money from every conceivable source was being scooped out to purchase power to save paddy and help industry turn its wheels, he said.


Sukhbir dares CM to prove charges
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 30
Former Union Minister and SAD general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal today dared the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and Vigilance Bureau to either prove within a week that his brother-in-law had a share in Pearl Company — or, for that matter, any construction company of the country — or quit.

Talking to reporters here in the office of Akali activist Sukhbir Singh Kinra, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal asserted that if it was proved that his brother-in-law had a share in Pearl Company, which was alleged to have been given a contract for Rs 43 crore, then the Badal family would renounce politics forever. He was commenting upon and denying the allegations of the Vigilance Bureau that the then PWD Minister, Sucha Singh Langah, had given a contract to Pearl Company in which his brother-in-law had a share.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said the Capt Amarinder Singh government would fall within the next five to six months due to the excesses it was committing on its political opponents, employees, workers and the people of Punjab. On coming to power, the SAD would restore all those benefits to the employees which the Congress government had withdrawn, he said.


Sidhu’s mother, brother declared POs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
A local court today declared relatives of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, including his mother Pritpal Kaur, brother Reetinder Singh and sister-in-law Ajinder Kaur as proclaimed offenders even as former Secretary of the commission, Pritpal Singh, filed an application for regular bail in the same case.

The court took the decision following an application by the State Vigilance Department that the accused should be declared proclaimed offenders under FIR number 24 registered against them here on April 30.

The Vigilance Department had earlier started the exercise of getting the relatives of Sidhu declared proclaimed offenders by pasting court orders at their residences in Chandigarh giving them 30 days’ time to appear in the court here. This period expired today.

Meanwhile, in another development, Pritpal Singh , who is at present under judicial custody in the same case, today filed an application under Section 439, Cr PC, for regular bail in the case.

As tomorrow is a holiday, the application will be put up before the District and Sessions Judge for hearing on August 1.

In his application Pritpal Singh claimed that he was the son of a prominent surgeon, Dr Jagdish Singh, and belonged to a prominent family of the city. He said his entire service record was without blemish.

He has also claimed that he had been made a scapegoat in the fight between the suspended Chairman and the members of the commission.

The application also claimed that there was no witness to state that Pritpal Singh had demanded any money from a non-meritorious candidate for selection to any post advertised by the commission. It said Pritpal Singh used to take answer-sheets to the house of the suspended Chairman at Chandigarh only after signing the relevant registers and that no conspiracy charge could be proved against him and that he used to do this work only on the orders of the Chairman.

It said the former Secretary had been called to various places by the Vigilance Department and had also been questioned in the presence of Sidhu at Central Jail.

It said before this the police had taken information about the case by recording his statement under Section 161, Cr PC, and that he had provided all the information in his possession about the case to the police.


Badal sets agenda for stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today outlined the agenda for dharnas to be organised by the party at the district headquarters on August 9.

In a statement here, Mr Badal said people were suffering under the disastrous and short-sighted policies of the Congress regime. He said government and PSU employees had been delivered crippling blows by an insensitive administration. Certain decisions taken by the government were unprecedented.

Similarly, farmers had also been made targets of the government’s wrath. Deliberate power cuts were being announced to punish them for opposing the anti-people and anti state policies of the government. People in the urban areas had been burdened with unbearable taxes and a virtual absence of domestic and industrial power supply.

In addition, an unprecedented reign of repression had been let loose in the state with SAD leaders and workers being made the target of vendetta. Mr Badal said the SAD would against the anti-people policies of the government and the policy of repression and suppression of human rights and civil liberties in the state. The August 9 protests would focus on all these issues.

Mr Badal said the so-called confessional statements extorted under duress from detained SAD leaders by the Vigilance Bureau were nothing more than pathetic attempts to help the state government survive on a petty dose of publicity gimmicks.

Mr Badal took the Vigilance Bureau to task, saying its head was not only working as a publicity adviser to the Chief Minister but was also cooking up raw material daily to hit the headlines. Even in the latest instance involving atrocities on Mr Sucha Singh Langah, the bureau had timed its “confession farce” to help the Chief Minister ward off the onslaught of the media, human rights activists and parties, including its ally, the CPI, on the issue of police repression.

The same pattern was visible when the government was in the dock over the appointment of a judge to inquire into the allegations of corruption or over the rebuff it got from the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court over the deliberate loss of direction in the investigations into the PPSC scam, or the damning disclosure of the complicity of the highest quarters in the disappearance of Rs 2 crore from bank lockers or over the mysterious transfers of upright and efficient Intelligence Wing officers.

Regarding the allegations of Mr Langah allotting a Rs 43 crore project to a company that allegedly had Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal’s brother-in-law as a shareholder, the SAD president challenged the Chief Minister to stake his credibility and political career versus Mr Badal’s own on the issue. “If he can bring forth an iota of proof on this allegation, I and my son will quit politics for good. Conversely, let Captain Amarinder Singh have the moral courage to make a declaration to follow suit if his government is proved to be a liar on this issue.” 


Defer recovery of payments, PSEB to ask Centre
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 30
A cash-strapped Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to ask the Union Power Ministry to defer the recovery of payments due from it on account of power and coal purchases as well as the railway freight bill because of an acute financial crisis. Besides, the board has also put up before the ministry the issue of charging the agricultural sector.

Sources said PSEB Chairman Sudhir Mittal was due to meet the Union Power Secretary in this regard on August 1 in Delhi.

They said the PSEB management wanted to apprise the Centre of the special circumstances due to which it had to purchase power much above than projected otherwise. The board was likely to emphasise that it had purchased nearly 20 per cent more power from the central agencies in July as compared to the corresponding period last year.

The sources said the board had purchased power to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore last year and had fixed a target of Rs 1,500 crore this year. In case the monsoon continued to evade the state, its power purchase would go up to Rs 1,800 crore. The board was likely to apprise the ministry that its bills were pending due to pressing circumstances under which it was forced to ensure 10 hours’ uninterrupted power supply to the agricultural sector.

The board has accumulated liabilities of Rs 380 crore on account of power purchase, Rs 122 crore on account of freight charges and Rs 71 crore on account of coal besides purchase Rs 123 crore on account of other supplies. The sources said though this came round to a total liability of Rs 700 crore, the figure would touch Rs 1,200 crore in case the board also added to it the bills under process for months due to certain objections. These were still to be paid to the suppliers.

The board is hopeful of getting some relief from the Centre as its revenue receipts picture is also bleak. This is because it has imposed power cuts on the highest-paying induction furnace consumers as well as urban consumers since July 15 in order to provide adequate power to the agricultural sector from which it would not earn any revenue. The sources said it was likely to result in a steep fall in its revenue receipts by as much as Rs 100 crore next month. The board earns an average revenue of Rs 420 crore every month. It has also projected that it may continue to have to buy power from the Central agencies besides continuing optimum generation from its thermal plants as generation from hydel projects has also reduced. It has projected a shortage of 1,800 million units due to the failure of the monsoon in the region.

The sources said the issue of free power being supplied to the agricultural sector would also figure in the talks with the Power Ministry. They said as the government had already made its stand on freebies known earlier, the ministry could also take up the issue with the state government. Stoppage of capital funding by the State government will also be taken up. According to the sources, the state government had been funding the board to the tune of Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore from 1992-96. After 1997 not only had the capital funding completely stopped but the board also lost the revenue generated from the agricultural sector.

The board management will also submit before the ministry the presentation made by it before the State Power Regulatory Commission. It will stress the necessity of an immediate tariff hike in all categories so that it could earn an annual revenue of Rs 2,600 crore. It will also submit a report on the steps taken by it to improve efficiency as well as the cost-cutting measures introduced by it.


Show cause to Punjab in Kaunke case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Punjab’s Home Secretary to be present in court and explain why an undertaking regarding examination of Kaunke disappearance case by an “independent senior officer” within two months had not been honoured.

In an undertaking, state counsel had on April 24 sought two months’ time for getting the matter pertaining to the alleged disappearance of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke examined.

Earlier, in his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Kiran Anand Lall, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP had sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to make public the report of the inquiry conducted by Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police regarding the alleged murder of Jathedar Gurdev Singh.

The petitioner had further stated that the Jathedar was shown to have escaped from police custody on January 3, 1993, and since then his whereabouts were not known. In all probability, he had been killed, the petitioner had claimed. His counsel had contended that the ADGP, in a statement after submitting the report to the then Chief Minister, had stated that he was being pressurised for giving findings against the authorities. The case will now come up for hearing on August 25.

Lok Adalats can’t decide cases

The High Court, in a significant judgement, today ruled that Lok Adalats could not assume jurisdiction and powers of a regular court.

In a ruling, Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the High Court held that the Lok Adalats prima facie could not assume the power to “decide the case by adjudicating upon the issue on facts and law”.

The ruling was issued on an application filed by Ms Anita Chauhan for staying the operation of orders passed by a Lok Adalat on October 8 last year in a service matter. After going through her application and another plea filed by the state of Haryana, Mr Justice Mittal observed: “The averments made in the present application as well as the other plea lead to a prima facie conclusion that in fact state of Haryana was not a consenting party to the order passed by the Lok Adalat”. The Judge also stayed the operation of the Lok Adalat’s orders.

No pre-arrest bail for Tangri’s son

Dismissing anticipatory bail application filed by Sunil Tangri, son of All-India Shiv Sena Rashtravadi Party President Jagdish Tangri, in an alleged murder and rioting case, Mr Jusitce K.S. Garewal on Tuesday held that the petitioner was entitled to meet his counsel at 5 pm for an hour daily.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Garewal added that in case of complaint regarding the manner of investigation, the petitioner could approach the area magistrate.

Sunil Tangri, along with his father, were booked by the Punjab Police in a case registered on July 6 under Sections 302, 384, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code, besides the Arms Act and the Explosives Act. Jagdish Tangri’s plea had been rendered infructuous following his arrest.

According to the prosecution, the two, along with the other accused, had conspired to launch a murderous attack on a police party. Opposing Sunil’s bail plea, state counsel stated that his custodial interrogation was essential.

Counsel for the petitioner, on the other hand, contended that the accused was being implicated in the case due to political vendetta.


Baba Dhanwant ready to reappear before Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
In a significant development Baba Dhanwant Singh, chairman, Noor Vishav Roohani Charitable Trust, who is facing rape charges, has said he is ready to reappear before Akal Takht to prove his innocence.

Talking to TNS here today Baba Dhanwant Singh refuted the allegations that he had bribed Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, for seeking personal favour as alleged by the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat. He, however, said he was in touch with Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, in this regard.

The Baba said he was ready to be “burnt alive” before Akal Takht, if proved guilty, otherwise the complainants would have to face the same fate.

Meanwhile, the monthly magazine, Sant Sipahi, edited by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, SGPC, has mentioned that one of the former Sikh head priests was instrumental in starting the move to pronounce exparte directive which had asked the Sikh sangat to sever all links with the Baba till he presented himself before Akal Takht.

When contacted, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur admitted that the former Jathedar, whom she had mentioned in her magazine, was Giani Kewal Singh, the then Jathedar, Damdama Sahib.

The excerpts of the meetings between the Khalsa panchayat and Sikh clergy are revealing. An inside report has mentioned many missing links regarding the serious allegations levelled by the panchayat against the Baba.

During his interview Baba Dhanwant Singh claimed that Prof Manjit Singh, Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale, Bhai Nihal Singh Harianwelanwale, Bhai Pinderpal Singh Ludhiana, Principal Surinder Singh, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, vice-president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, and Mr Jang Bahadur Singh, an SGPC member, visited his dera many a time. He said he had performed “katha” at the residence of Dr Jang Bahadur Singh, yet he had connived with the complainant, Dr Satnam Singh Deep and Mr Sewa Singh.

The Baba also refuted the allegations that he had visited England along with Jathedar Vedanti as alleged by the panchayat. He alleged that the complainants wanted to grab the property belonging to the trust.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajinder Singh, Chief, Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, has announced that he had concrete proofs of corruption against Jathedar Vedanti. He said if Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, failed to take any action in this regard, then the panchyat would go to the Sikh sangat to seek justice. “We are not going to give it up,” he added.

It may be mentioned here that the SGPC chief had already stated that the “proofs” submitted by the panchayat was just a sequence of complaints and nothing else.


Poll, not police, will work in J&K: Mann
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 30
Abandoning the military and police approach, a political solution to the vexed Kashmir problem is the only answer to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Expressing his views on the Kashmir problem while talking to this reporter here, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, member of Parliament as well as President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said he was in favour of a free and fair poll in Jammu and Kashmir and suggested independent observers of the stature of Mr Nelson Mandela, Mr Jimmy Carter and Mr Bill Clinton for the same.

Mr Mann also sought the release of Mr Vaiko, a senior and seasoned parliamentarian, who was being “maltreated” in prison.

Pleading the case of farmers belonging to the border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur, Mr Mann demanded adequate compensation because the farmers of these districts could not till their land which was occupied by the Indian Army. Land mines laid by the Army did not allow farmers of these districts to carry on farming operations.

On the unfortunate drought-like conditions in Punjab, Mr Mann, sounding a note of caution, said his party was against any change in the riparian principle. It wanted the riverwaters issue to remain a state subject instead of bringing it on the concurrent list.

Mr Mann said Punjab could not afford to offer a single drop of water to any other state in the wake of the current power crisis, he suggested that Punjab set up atomic power stations to strengthen power grids if Punjab’s agricultural economy was to survive.

Mr Mann urged the Union Government to waive loans of Punjab farmers.


Mann likens SGPC to Taliban
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 30
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and MP, today equated office-bearers of the SGPC with “the Taliban who had been destroying their own heritage.”

Mr Mann said those responsible for destroying the Sikh heritage in a most barbaric way should be tried in the United Nations International Court. He said while the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had preserved the Sikh heritage during the kar seva of Sikh shrines in Pakistan, the SGPC did not pay attention to this significant aspect. The Pakistan Government had preserved the marks of bullets fired by Mahant Narain Dass in 1921 (before the formation of the SGPC) on Gurdwara Nanakana Sahib whereas the SGPC had put cement on the bullet marks made at Golden Temple and Akal Takht during Operation Bluestar.

Reacting to the disappearance of the 150-year-old hand written granth, “Bir Mrigesh” from Gurdwara Baba Bir Singh, which is under the SGPC control, Mr Mann said those responsible for this must be booked. He expressed concern that many invaluable frescoes in the gurdwara were destroyed during the kar seva.


Punjab tourism to get fillip: Khanna
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 30
Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism while addressing a gathering at Institute of Hotel Management Catering and Nutrition here today said the Central Government has accorded top priority to the tourism sector. Even the Prime Minister of India had mentioned this in his various speeches.

Mr Khanna said the Tourism department has decided to select five tourist destinations every year. These destinations will be developed and provided with World class infrastructure and all finances in this regard will be provided by the Central Government.

He said he would focus on developing tourism in Punjab since he is an elected member of Lok Sabha from the state. In this regard, the Ranjit Sagar Dam has been earmarked alongwith Patiala. The other places shortlisted for providing World class infrastructure for tourism development included the Jallianwala Bagh and the Golden Temple at Amritsar. The work on these will be started during the current year.

Mr Khanna said the inflow of tourists in India has gone up. The priority of the government is to bring back the Kashmir valley to its old glory. The unexpected rush for the Amarnath yatra during this year has encouraged the government, he said.

He said the Punjab government is being asked to give priority to set up industry in the border district of Gurdaspur even if it involve giving incentives. This will help reduce unemployment in the most backward district of the state.

Mr Khanna called upon the students of the institute to give top priority to hospitality, which is the hallmark of Punjabis. He also advised them to take interest in developing way side dhabhas on the highways.

Two minutes silence was observed on the occasion to condole the death of the Vice-President of India, Mr Krishan Kant.

Earlier, Mr Khanna inaugurated the building of the institute.


Fertility level falls further in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
A woman in Punjab can now bear only 2.2 children during her lifetime, which is 0.1 per cent more than the national goal of 2.1 children per woman required to achieve the replacement level of fertility.

At present, Punjab has the sixth lowest fertility rate in the country.

This was revealed at a seminar on national family health survey held here today in which 120 delegates from all over the state participated.

The Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, said that though the fertility level had fallen, the strong preference for a son was still very high. He also expressed concern about rampant anaemia among children as 80 per cent of children under the age of three were suffering from this disease.

The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr Rajan Kashyap, said surveys carried out by the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) were extremely useful as they helped formulated new strategies. He said many more women in Punjab were utilising services for immunisation, prophylaxis against anaemia and institutional deliveries. Overall 29 per cent of children in Punjab were underweight.


HC notice of motion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Taking up a petition filed by a Ludhiana resident claiming that he was being threatened by the CBI to become a witness against Chairman of Dealer Selection Board Justice M.R. Agnihotri in petrol station allocation case, Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion for August 12.

In his petition, Mr Kishan Chand — running a petrol pump in New Delhi — claimed that even his family was not being spared. Arguing on his behalf, his counsel submitted that the petitioner had nothing to do with the allotment of petrol station to Saroj Rani and had never met Justice Agnihotri. He added that false allegations were being levelled that the petitioner had given Rs 30 lakh to Justice Agnihotri for the allotment of the petrol station to Saroj Rani.

Seeking directions to the CBI not to harass Mr Krishan Chand and his family in connection with a case registered by the premier investigating agency under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, the counsel added that the petitioner was apprehending danger to his life and liberty. 


Tota Singh’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 30
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, today extended the judicial remand of Tota Singh, former Punjab Education Minister, until August 13 in a case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on June 14.

In his order, the Judge said the challan against Tota Singh had not been presented. The public prosecutor had requested for adjournment for the presentation of challan.

The Judge, on the request of Tota Singh’s counsel, allowed Tota Singh to travel from the court premises to the jail in a private car under tight security. The Judge adjourned the bail application of Tota Singh to August 9 for consideration.



Definition of ‘ex-servicemen’ expanded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
In a major concession to defence services personnel who had been released from the armed forces on their own request, the Punjab Government has decided to accord them the status of ex-servicemen for all purposes.

According to the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, this concession would, however, be restricted to those officers and jawans who had earned a pension on account of their service in the armed forces. He clarified that although short-service commission officers were recognised as ex-servicemen when they were released from service after completing the specific period of engagement, irrespective of the pension criteria, the former category was hitherto not included in the list.

Mr Sidhu said that a statutory legal notification would be published in the official gazette soon, whereafter the amendment shall have the force of law. 


JEs wear black badges
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 30
Junior Engineers today observed protests in front of all subdivisional offices of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) against the board management’s decision to defer payment of 25 per cent their salary for the months of July and August.

Council of Junior Engineers Association president Rupinder Kumar and secretary Bhupinder Singh said if the board did not restore parity immediately, they would be compelled to intensify the agitation.

The leaders alleged that the board management had taken this step on the pretext of financial crisis which was highly unjustified and would lead to serious financial hardships for the families of the employees. They said this step was unwarranted because the board was giving free power to the agriculture sector and also providing subsidised power to various categories of consumers.


Jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 30
Twentythree-year-old Sukhbir Singh of the 11 Sikh Light Infantry was cremated at Bunadala village with full military honours today.

Sukhbir Singh was killed while fighting infiltrators in Kupwara sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, Sukhbir’s brother Satbir was killed during the Kargil operation.


Power cut in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 30
There will be a power cut from 9 am to 5 pm tomorrow in the Sultanwind Gate area and nearby colonies, East Mohan Nagar, Chatiwind Gate, Ravidas Road, Ghee Mandi, Kesri Bagh and bus stand area.


Bank ex-MD booked in fraud case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 30
The police here today filed a charge sheet against Mr Surinder Pal Singh Chhinna, former Managing Director of the Central Cooperative Bank, in a case of embezzlement of more than Rs 3 lakh collected in the name of Kargil fund.

According to Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City), the charge sheet was filed under Sections 420 and 409, IPC, and Sections 13(1)C of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The police has been investigating the alleged links of the former MD with Parmjit Singh Panjwar of Khalistan Commando Force. However, top police officials refused to comment on the issue.

Interestingly, at least two Superintendents of Police had given a clean chit to Mr Chhinna in earlier investigations when the inquiry was conducted on the allegations of embezzlement of Kargil funds collected by the bank employees.

The investigations in the case are being led by a team of officers headed by the SP (city) under the supervision of the SSP Narinderpal Singh. The high court had also directed the ADGP (Crime) to monitor the activities of Mr Chhinna after he was arrested.

Even when the former MD was let out on bail the police arrested him after procuring production warrants against him in the Kargil fund embezzlement case on May 9. The accused was now in judicial custody. The police has examined at least 60 witnesses in the case and about 17 of them have recorded their statements in the court under Section 164, Cr PC.

The case was registered on August 25, 2000, against Mr Chhinna, but was cancelled twice. The bank staff had also filed a writ petition against the cancellation of the report.


Case against SI for torture
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), July 30
On the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Bareta police has registered a case under Sections 323 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code against Sub-Inspector Jalor Singh, former Station House Officer of Bareta police station, on a complaint of Kala Singh.

The complainant who belongs to the Scheduled Castes said on January 14, 2000, a constable took him to the police station from a shop where he was working as a paledar, saying that the SHO wanted to question him in connection with the theft of a bag of sarson from a shop. He said at the police station, Mr Jalor Singh tortured him.

He said the next day his family members approached the police officer and told him that he was innocent. He was released from police custody after the SHO obtained thumb impressions of his family members on blank papers.

He said he was unable to walk due to the torture and was taken to Budhlada for treatment. The Sub Inspector reached there and did not allow his medical examination. He also threatened to implicate him in a false case.


Man, 3 sons get life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 30
Balwant Singh and his three sons, all residents of Gill Patti village were today sentenced to 20 years’ life imprisonment after they were found guilty of murdering their close kin, Kuldeep Singh, by Additional Sessions Judge Jaspal Singh.

According to Mr G.S. Khedal, an advocate, the Additional Sessions Judge, while sentencing the accused to life imprisonment, also directed them to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 each.

Kuldeep Singh, a resident of the village, was allegedly murdered on July 17, 1998, by his paternal uncle and his three sons with sharp-edged weapons to grab his land situated on the Bathinda-Goniana road.

Earlier, Balwant Singh and his three sons, namely Balwinder Singh, Harbans Singh and Malkit Singh, had falsely implicated Kuldeep Singh and his mother, Amarjit Kaur, in the case of murder of Jaggar Singh, father of Kuldeep Singh,.

After this incident, Sukhjeet Kaur, elder sister of Kuldeep Singh, started living with Balwant Singh and his three sons as Amarjit Kaur and Kuldeep Singh were arrested in connection with the murder of Jaggar Singh. She even approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to live with her paternal uncle after his mother and brother were arrested.

After Kuldeep Singh and Amarjit Kaur secured bail from the court in the murder case registered against them, Balwant Singh and three sons, who by that time had possessed the property of Kuldeep Singh and Amarjit Kaur, suspected that both of them would force them to vacate their property.

On July 17, 1998, when Kuldeep Singh came to his village, he was killed by Balwant Singh and his three sons.

After listening to the arguments of the prosecution and the defence, the Additional Sessions Judge sentenced Balwant Singh and his three sons to life imprisonment and imposed a five of Rs 10,000 on each of them.


Man kills wife, father-in-law
Tribune News Service

Bager Mohobbat (Bathinda), July 30
In a bizarre incident Iqbal Singh, a resident of the village, today killed his wife Chinderpal Kaur and father-in-law Bhajan Singh with a spear following a quarrel.

Police sources said a few months ago, a case under the NDPS Act was registered against Bhajan Singh, a resident of a village under Jhunir police station of Mansa district. Bhajan Singh had been recently released on bail and he had to this village come to meet his daughter and son-in-law.

Following a heated exchange over some issue Iqbal Singh killed his wife and father-in-law.

Sources said senior police officials, including the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, reached the spot. The accused, however, managed to escape. A case had been registered in Kotfatha police station and the bodies sent for a post-mortem examination.

In another case, the Maur Mandi police arrested three persons namely Khalil, Quber and Ryes Ahmad for allegedly transporting cattle to another state for slaughter. The truck, along with the cattle, had been seized and a case under Section 295-A of the IPC and Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act registered.


Rs 2 lakh looted from bank
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 30
Three armed robbers looted Rs 2 lakh from the Punjab and Sindh Bank near Halwara this afternoon. The robbers who came in a car were armed with a stengun and a pistol.

They locked the entire bank staff in a room and looted the bank.


Two sarpanches booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 30
Even as the investigation being conducted into the alleged misuse of funds given during sangat darshan programmes by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is yet to be completed the district police has booked two sarpanches, a panch and a president of the mahila mandal for their involvement in the misappropriation of funds.

As per official information Surjeet Kaur and Ajaib Singh, sarpanch and panch, respectively, of Babanian village, sarpanch of Gurusar village Balwant Singh and Pritam Kaur, president of the mahila mandal of Mahabadhar village, had been booked.


Staff shortage may lead to cut in seats in dental colleges
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 30
Even as the authorities are contemplating a cut in the seats of private dental colleges in Punjab following a shortage of faculty, students who had appeared for entrance tests for admission to medical colleges are a worried lot as some of these colleges are still awaiting approval by the Union Ministry of Health.

“We will be forced to enforce a proportionate cut in the number of seats in dental colleges if they fail to maintain the required strength of faculty members,” said Dr P. S. Sandhu, Registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, which controls all medical institutes in the state.

Mushrooming of private dental colleges in the state over the past few years has resulted in a shortage of qualified teachers. Dr Sandhu said inspections conducted by the university authorities had revealed a staff shortage to the tune of 30 per cent in some of the institutes. “This results in lowering of academic standards,” he added.

Presently there are 11 dental colleges in the state, including two government dental colleges at Amritsar and Patiala, offering a total of 495 seats. Of these seven colleges are recognised, where as three others are still awaiting recommendation from the Health Ministry. These are Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Ludhiana; Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar and Luxmi Bai Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Patiala. Admissions to another college, Khalsa Dental College and Hospital in Mansa have been completely barred.

University authorities say that last year no candidate was admitted to the Dasmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences as the institute had failed to obtain the requisite recommendation from the Dental Council of India and the Health Ministry. This year, however, the institute has been recommended.

Non-recommendation of Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar last year, had also led to a controversy and the matter was taken to the court. Admissions were subsequently carried out following a court ruling. University officers, however, say that the institute is still to forward them the details of the admissions carried out. They added that they are still to receive a copy of the court orders.

Dr Sandhu said the basic reason for non-availability of qualified staff is the limited number of seats for postgraduation in dental sciences. “There are only four seats each at the Amritsar and Patiala Medical colleges for postgraduation and there is no guarantee that those passing out would taking up teaching as a profession,” he said.

Though inspections are carried out by the University, Dental Council of India and the state government, some of the institutes resort to underhand means to show adequate staff strength or hire part time and “fly-by-night” teachers, generally from institutes located in the south.

There have been instances where teachers come to these institutes to teach for a week in a month, officials claimed.

Although the institutes should ideally have obtained recommendations from the Health Ministry in December 2001 for the 2002-03 session, university officials said even if they obtain the recommendations by August 31, it would be accepted. Counselling for admissions are scheduled for the first week of September.


Punjabi varsity results out
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 30
Punjabi University today declared results of examinations of M.Sc II Botany, M.Sc II, (Sports Science), M.Sc II (Statistics) M.P.Ed (second semester), MFC, (second semester), M.A., Part-I (Education) M.A. I (Dance) M.A. II (Folk Art and Culture) B.P.Ed I, BSc (Home Science) Part one and Two, BSc III (Agriculture) and B.A. (Honours).

Controllor of Examinations Paramjit Singh Khaira said results of M.Sc II (Zoology) M.A. I & II (Philosophy) Defence Studies (I) and M.Sc I (Statistics) will be declared on July 31.


MCA students meet CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 30
A delegation of more than 200 MCA students of various institutions affiliated to Punjabi University met the Chief Minister at the Punjab Bhavan and urged him to take immediate steps to solve the problems related to the validity of degrees to be awarded to them by the university.

The delegation while appreciating the CM’s efforts in withdrawing disaffiliation notices issued to different institutions by university authorities, also urged him to issue NOCs to these institutions. The Chief Minister assured them of all possible help. He asked the Principal Secretary to look into the matter and take appropriate decision.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |