Friday, August 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Interest on farmers’ loans may be waived
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 8
The Punjab Government has decided to defer the recovery of loans taken by farmers from cooperative institutions for two years in view of the drought-like situation in the state.

Stating this at a press conference here today, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Agriculture Minister, said the decision had been taken to provide relief to the farmers. The government was also considering waiving the interest on loans taken by farmers from cooperative institutions and banks. The minister said the state government had already urged the Centre to postpone the recovery of loan amounts extended to state cooperative banks for two years. The government was in the process of making an estimate of loans due towards farmers.

She alleged that the Centre was discriminating against Punjab as far as the disbursement of drought relief was concerned. Only a single instalment of Rs 101 crore had been extended to Punjab against its demand for Rs 800 crore, whereas some other states had been given two or three instalments of the Central aid. “We have spent Rs 229 crore taken from the “Apda Rahat Kosh”. An amount of Rs 10 lakh has been placed at the disposal of each Deputy Commissioner to deal with any exigency,” said Ms Bhattal.

She said an estimated 2,500 hectares of crop had been damaged in the state.

Referring to the power crisis in the state, she said the government had urged the Centre to provide three lakh units of power to Punjab from the Central pool.

Ms Bhattal earlier presided over a function held by the Punjab Mandi Board to disburse aid to the tune of Rs 50 lakh among families of 208 farmers and farm labourers who had died in accidents related with the use of threshers or combines.

She said the government had decided to get 18,000 km of link roads repaired at a cost of Rs 860 crore during the current financial year.


Govt to seek higher paddy price
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
The Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) is reported to favour the same price as last year — Rs 530 per quintal for common and Rs 560 per quintal for grade A variety of paddy in 2002-03.

This is unacceptable to Punjab, which has demanded Rs 660 per quintal for common and Rs 726 per quintal for grade A variety of paddy.

The government has conveyed to the Union Agriculture Minister that the prices recommended by the commission are “low and unremunerative” for Punjab farmers. Punjab is a major paddy growing state and contributes nearly 70 per cent to the Central pool every year. The state demand for higher prices for the two varieties of paddy, the government says, is a merely 0.8 per cent higher than those proposed last year.

But since the ground situation has widely changed due to the deficit and delayed monsoons, resulting in a drought-like situation in the state, Punjab, it is reliably learnt, will make a fresh representation to the Centre for upward revision of the price it has already sought. The first task before Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on return from abroad will be to get a briefing from his colleagues, who constitute the special Cabinet committee on kharif prospects and take up the matter fresh with the Centre to refix higher and remunerative prices for paddy.

Punjab has also demanded Rs 800 per quintal for maize (against Rs 400 per quintal last year) and Rs 3,400 per bale for cotton (against Rs 1,675 last year).

Meanwhile, the Cabinet committee comprising Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, has been closely monitoring the situation on a daily basis. The ministers have been visiting different pockets to arrange the feelings of farmers.

According to the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Mr Bhagat Singh, the Union Government norms for relief due to loss of crops do not serve Punjab’s purpose. As per these norms, where crop loss is 50 per cent and above, the relief is Rs 1,000 per hectare in respect of rain-fed-areas and Rs 2,000, per hectare in areas with assured irrigation. This norm covers agricultural and horticultural crops and also annual plantation crops. For perennial crops, the norm is Rs 4,000 per hectare.

Since 1995 Punjab has followed its own norms. Several measures have been taken to give immediate relief to farmers as a “special girdawari” commences on August 10.

As per the state norms, relief on account of damage to crops in respect of re-ploughed and re-sown areas is Rs 1,750 per hectare. Where the damage has occurred at an early stage of the crop which has not been resown, it is Rs 2,500 per hectare. Besides, free seed is being given to the farmers. “This relief”, Mr Bhagat Singh explained, “is by way of input subsidies”.

The State Calamity Relief Fund has Rs 355.50 crore out of which the Centre has given Rs 101.47 crore as part of its 75 per cent share.

The Cabinet committee, it is learnt, is looking into several factors while assessing the impact of the delayed monsoon and how it has shot up the per hectare cost of cultivation of paddy by nearly Rs 8,000 per hectare. This is just one aspect. The delayed and scanty rain has had a cascading adverse effect on the ground water, power and diesel consumption and tubewells. It is estimated that water discharge is below 75 per cent in nearly 5.50 lakh tubewells and pump sets out of a total of 11.50 lakh.

Punjab received 52 per cent less monsoon rain between June 1 and July 30 this year as compared to the corresponding period last year. The season’s rainfall chart shows that in all 17 districts, the deficit rain percentage varies from 20 (Ferozepore) to 99 (Faridkot). In most of the districts the deficit is between 50 per cent and 75 per cent.

Because of the failure of the monsoon, even in the catchment areas, the water level has dipped in the reservoirs in the three dams —Bhakra, Beas and Thein — resulting in less water in canals, affecting tail-end south-western districts, and causing low power generation. The rain-fed Kandi area has also suffered.

The drought-like condition have put a great financial burden on the farmers and the state.


2 thermal plant units shut: power crisis worsens
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 8
With the closure of two units (210 mw each) of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP), the power crisis deepened further in the state today.

The unit I of the plant was shut down yesterday by authorities after a boiler leaked while unit VI of the plant was shut down this morning due to a leakage in main steam pipe. Closure of these two units leads to a power generation loss of 100 lakh units daily. Besides, unit II of the plant also tripped today for some hours due to a technical snag, thereby making the power situation extremely critical.

Sources in the plant said the repair of unit I would take two more days due to a major fault in the unit besides the leakage in the boiler. This unit could only be recommissioned by Saturday while unit VI may start generating power by tomorrow evening.

When contacted Mr V.K. Mohindroo, General Manager of the RTP, admitted the closure of the two units of the plant but claimed that both units (I and VI) would start generating power by tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, the 400 kv Dadri to Mandola transmission line, supplying power to Delhi and parts of Haryana, was also shut down today, making the northern grid very fragile. An attempt by state to overdraw power from the northern grid may lead to the failure of the northern grid, sources added.

The sources further said that due to the closure of these two units, the duration of power cuts in the state would increase by one to two hours daily. On the other hand, the PSEB had divided the rural feeders into four zones and each zone would get power for six hours daily.


Thermal plant staff to go on strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
Employees owing allegiance to various unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), have started criticising the successive governments for their populist policies that have led to the poor financial health of the board.

Earlier, a section of employees from the Engineers’ Association and the Field Staff Unions and now the Operation Union, Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda have accused the government of extending political patronage to certain sections of the society. The unions have alleged that ministers were accusing the employees of the PSEB for financial losses even as they had no role to play in the decisions that led to these losses.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, general secretary of the union, in a press note issued here today alleged that the political parties with a view to secure and widen their vote bank, had been playing games with the financial health of the board and that various departments of the state government had not paid their dues towards the board. He alleged that free supply of power to the Agriculture sector and transmission and distribution losses were some of the main reasons responsible for losses to the PSEB.

He alleged that the management of the board was not serious on stopping the theft of power and infact some senior officials had also been caught stealing power. He added that the employees of the board have decided to go on strike on August 13, to protest against various anti-people and anti-PSEB policies. He said these strikes would be held at division/ shift levels.


Demonstration by PSEB employees
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 8
A large number of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees under the banner of council of Junior Engineers, Gurdaspur circle, held a demonstration at Qadian yesterday to protest against the alleged high-handed attitude of the Punjab Government. Among the main speakers were Mr P.S. Bhatti, organising secretary of the state unit, and Mr Joginder Singh Sanowalia, President of the Gurdaspur circle.

The speakers condemned the Finance Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhan Pal, for the language he used against the board employees and its management. They threatened to drag him to the Punjab and Haryana High Court if he did not apologise.

The leaders expressed their anguish over the decision of the government to impose a cut in their salaries. Keeping in view their service conditions, the government must withdraw the cut at the earliest. These leaders also flayed the Congress legislators for managing the transfers of more than 50 employees of the board on political grounds.

The other demands of the employees include grant of time-scale promotions after 4, 8 and 13 years of service, implementation of their pay scales, enhancement of medical and duty allowance. They said that if their demands were not conceded to immediately, the council would organise a district-level dharna on August 14 at Gurdaspur.


Commercial AC users get notices
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
The PSEB has issued notices to commercial consumers, warning them not to use air conditioners, failing which their connections would be disconnected for two days on the first default. Checks would be conducted from tomorrow. They said the connections would be cut for four days each on subsequent violation.


LeT militant held in Mukerian
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 8
The police has arrested a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant from Mukerian, who was wanted for his involvement in several acts of crime including two bomb blasts carried out in the district and also for his links with another LeT militant who is already in custody a senior police officer said today.

Kashaddin, alias Rashid, a resident of Niacil in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested from Mukerian yesterday, DIG Police Range Jalandhar Rohit Chaudhry told reporters here.

He said the militant’s involvement in two different bomb blasts carried out in a crowded bazar here on February 23, 2001, and another inside a Punjab Roadways bus at Padrana Garshanker in January 2002, had been established after Kashaddin’s interrogation.

Mr Chaudhry said the militant had also revealed that he was trained in the use of sophisticated arms, including AK-47 and AK-56, in the Sehooz Dhar area of Basantgarh in Udhampur.

“He obtained training for six months and was offered Rs 3 lakh to join the ranks of other militants. After that he was sent specifically to Punjab so that he could familiarise himself with the terrain and the people,” Mr Chaudhry added.

Rashid was arrested on a specific information after a special operation was carried out in coordination with the Kathua police Mr Chaudhry said, adding, that the militant was presently residing in Nangal village in Kathua.

“For the past two years, the activities of Rashid were carried out from his base at Niacil village in Kathua, which is his in-laws house,” Mr Chaudhry said.

LeT militants recently arrested by the Punjab police include Abdul and Makhan Gujjar. According to the police, their involvement has already been established in various acts of crime including firing on army personnel in Damtal in January 2002, an incident in which some army personnel lost their lives.

Abdul has already confessed to his involvement in a bomb blast inside a train in Doraha (Ludhiana) in March 2002. He has also confessed about his involvement in the Kaluchak massacre near Jammu. Some of the associates of the arrested militants are still at large. 


DD Jalandhar to woo sponsors
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 8
In its bid to earn more revenue in this age of stiff competition, the Jalandhar Doordarshan authorities have decided to adopt a new strategy, involving soliciting of private sponsorships for a few of its existing technically sound programmes of immense archival value, and for a host of other fresh programmes, depicting different aspects of Punjabi culture and music.

To support its ongoing efforts to meet the challenge posed by private channels on the revenue front and to offer a variety of its programmes to people living in the remote areas, who don’t have cable connections in their homes, the Doordarshan authorities have also decided to increase its daily transmission time by one and a half hours on “DD Jalandhar”, its non-cable channel, from next month.

Following the new strategy, the DD authorities, which have already held a series of meetings with leading sponsors and marketing people, have selected a number of good and popular programmes of archival nature apart from producing a host of new programmes, which would be aired on DD with the help of sponsors. A premiere of such programmes was also organised at DD Jalandhar’s premises on Tuesday.

“Our idea is to give an opportunity to people of this region to view a few of those programmes, which have been very-very popular among them for the content and technical aspects, on one hand and to earn more revenue for DD by seeking sponsorships,” said Mr Ashok Jailkhani, Director of Jalandhar Doordarshan, adding that a number of new programmes such as “Public Time” involving youth, their concerns and their choices, would be introduced by DD from next month. “Actually, our objectives is to reach to the people not having cable connections, with more and more programmes, which are currently running on our DD Punjabi channel. For this, we have decided to increase transmission hours by one and a half hours from 2.30 to 4 p.m. on our non-cable DD Jalandhar channel,” said Mr Jailkhani.

The DD authorities, according to Mr Jailkhani, have selected “ Akhara”, Virasat”, the two folklore-based popular programmes, and “Gallan Chon Gallan”, for re-transmission on DD with private support, while “Sunehe” and “Public Time” are the two new productions to be aired alongwith these programmes. “Sunehe”, is a unique live programme where in NRIs can communicate with their relatives or can give messages to them through phone-in facility. “Akhara” is a very interesting programme in which the DD team goes to a village, catches hold of a singer and records him singing live amidst people of that village and of surrounding villages on the tune of “Akharas” (Public Concerts). “Since the quality and content of the programmes are good and since these will be aired across 42 countries, the response of sponsors during the premiere of these programmes was very encouraging,” said Mr Santosh Mishra and Mr Daljit Singh Sandhu, Executive Producer and Producer of the DD, Jalandhar, respectively.


Foreign scholars interact on Punjab
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Participants at a summer camp on Punjab being organised by Columbia University and University of California, Santa Barbara, in Chandigarh on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, August 8
There is something in the “blood and life” of the land of five rivers to attract researchers from various parts of the world to come here to study the life, customs and traditions.

At least 10 researchers from the USA, Canada and Germany are participating in a six week summer camp being organised in the city jointly by Columbia University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the mid 1990’s, Prof Gurinder Singh Mann, teaching in the Religion Department at Columbia University, perceived the need for a summer programme. It was planned not only as an intensive language programme but as a focus for study of Punjabi history and culture within the state itself, drawing on academic sources available here, it was pointed out.

The trip has been an annual feature since 1997. This time an advisory note of the US authorities had asked for cancellation of the workshop in the wake of incidents of international terrorism. However, the camp organisers were undeterred and went ahead with the camp programme.

Professor Mann specialises in Sikh history. However, the programme gives equal attention to the contributions of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and other communities during different stages of Punjab history.

Dr Mann accepted newly created professorship of Sikh Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1998.

A student described his experience as “critical for any student working on Punjab, providing crucial language training, a comprehensive overview of the region, as well the opportunity to follow individual interests”.

One of the most important components of the workshop is visits to various sites in the region. These include ancient Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples at Baijnath, Jwalamukhi, Kangra, Masroor, Naina Devi and Sanghol, Islamic monuments at Batala, Kapurthala, Nakodar, Nurmahal, Sirhind and Sikh sacred places from Anandpur Sahib to Sultanpur.

The programme includes interaction with leading academic lights from different fields to give more depth to the agenda. Some leading names include Prof Indu Banga, Prof J. S. Grewal, Prof B. N. Goswamy, Dr Rana Nayar and Neelam Mansingh, to name a few.

It has been pointed out that “the programme aims at working towards an educational agenda where traditionally held dichotomies between western scholars and their eastern counterparts are more carefully examined. Both Indian and western scholars with post-modern and post-colonial commitments and research interests meet with traditional scholars, students from the Indian diaspora, graduates from the world over, local activists and leaders.’

Daniel Michon, a research scholar at University of California, said religion being his subject , a visit to Punjab gave him an opportunity to see in person a land which was a common meeting ground of different prominent religions in relation to the Sikhs. Prof Constance M Elsberg, Northern Virginia College, Arlington, said the visit was of immense help in her subject (Sociology). This batch also had a student from Panjab University.


Unions oppose en masse removal
‘Tainted’ PSSSB, school board selections
Tribune News Service

Various employee unions will meet on Tuesday to press the state government to withdraw its order pertaining to the banning of promotions. Employee leaders, including Mr Oma Kant Tewari and Mr K.K. Jindal said that they would meet the Secretary, Personnel, and others concerned as the banning of the promotions was not acceptable to them.

Chandigarh, August 8
Various employee unions have come out in the support of clerks and other non-gazetted employees who have either been removed or are to be removed because their appointments have become “suspect” following investigations made by the Vigilance Bureau.

The Punjab Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation today submitted a memorandum to the office of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh through his Political Secretary, Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, opposing the removal of such employees.

Mr Oma Kant Tewari, general secretary of the organisation: said the government’s move to remove all clerks and other non-gazetted employees selected by the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB), the Punjab School Education Board and other organisations was totally misplaced.

It was wrong to conclude that all appointments had been made against money or “sifarish”. There were persons who had been selected on the basis of their good academic record. He gave the instance of such a clerk who had topped in the second year of the law course of a university.

The organisation was fully supportive of the government’s action against those who had used foul means to get selected. The government should first make public evidence against the employees whom it wanted to remove.

The Punjab Ministerial Services Union has stated it will protest against the Government if it sacked any clerk without any tangible proof. Mr K.K. Jindal, general secretary of the union, said in fact the government wanted to remove a large number of employees and it was using one pretext or the other to do so. The government planned to declare 40,000 employees as surplus, besides removing others by declaring them as “ tainted”.

He said it was a failure of the system if any wrong selection had been made. The government should tell people what new system it had put in place to ensure fair selections in future.

Meanwhile, as the top brass of the Punjab Government led by Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, is away to the USA, various agitating employee unions have redrawn their strategies.

From August 12 to 20, almost all government employees will wear black badges to protest against the anti-employee policies of the government. It is the first phase of the “common programme” devised by various unions to press the Government to concede their demands and restore “freezed” allowances and implement the promises made by the ruling party before elections.


2 PSSSB ex-members granted bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 8
Mr Maghar Khan, District and Sessions Judge, today granted bail to two former members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) Kulbir Singh Randhawa and Jarnail Singh Wahid.

Randhawa was booked by the Vigilance Bureau on June 28 last under the Prevention of Corruption Act-1988 while Wahid was booked by the bureau on July 12 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC, and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The judge ordered the release of Randhawa on bail on his furnishing bail bonds of Rs 1 lakh with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the ilaqa Duty Magistrate. The judge also ordered the release of Wahid on bail on his furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs 1 lakh with one surety in the like amount.


Varsity rescinds decision on IT institutes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
Shortly after the State government withdrew the notification disaffiliating from the Punjabi University various Information Technology Institutes offering professional courses the University now has withdrawn the decision by which it had closed two inhouse IT Institutes on the campus here and at Damdama Sahib. The Institutes were started by former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

According to documents with The Tribune, the Vice-Chancellor of the University who had held both Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute on the campus here and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute at Damdama Sahib which offered courses in Distance Education illegal and constituted a committee to recommend modalities for their closure now has backtracked on the issue.

The Vice-Chancellor has issued a notification saying that since the government has reversed the decision regarding IT institutes issued earlier, the Institutes have stronger relationship with the University which has entered into legal agreements with them. The notification says to supervise the functioning of the Institutions and frame the rules and regulations for the Institutes for the academic year 2002-2003 a meeting of the Governing Councils of both Institutes has been called for August 22.

A separate notification has also been issued by varsity’s Registrar Dr K.S. Sidhu asking the Director, Guru Gobind Singh Institute, Director Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute and Governing Body members of both Institutes to submit the agenda for discussion by August 12. Both meetings are scheduled to be held separately.

Varsity Registrar Dr K.S. Sidhu when contacted said the Committee constituted by the VC to decide modalities to close the Institutes had met only once.


Sidhu given copy of challan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 8
The court of the Special Judge here today supplied copies of challan to Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended PPSC Chairman, and Shamsher Singh alleged tout of Sidhu.

The challan was presented in the court of the Sessions Judge on August 6 by the Vigilance against Sidhu and others.

The court issued summons to Randhir Singh Dhira, Paramjit Singh Pammi, Prem Sagar, G.S. Manchanda and Surinder Kaur Manchanda, who were on bail, but were not present in the court today.

The Vigilance also supplied copies of some documents, relating to challan as sought by Sidhu. Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, has fixed August 20 as the next date of hearing for arguments.


Lokpal for another inquiry against Tota Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Accepting 19 complaints, the Punjab Lokpal, Justice D.V. Sehgal, has decided to hold a full-fledged inquiry into the recruitment of art and craft teachers made by the Punjab Education Department.

The selections were made by holding two interviews — first from October 29 to November 11 and the second from November 5 to November 11 last year.

The Lokpal had got the complaints verified through his Inspector-General of Police.


Kairon to attend SAD dharna today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 8
In a significant development Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, a former Congress MP and a close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has decided to join the district-wise dharna being staged by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in front of district courts tomorrow.

Mr Kairon, however, clarified that he was not going to join the SAD and added that he would join dharna to protest against the alleged high-handed attitude of the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government against employees, traders and farming community.

Mr Kairon said he would offer his services to the SGPC Chief for organising dharnas against the Noormahalia sect.

Meanwhile, Dr Rattan Singh, a former Akali Minister, said his party would force the ouster of the Capt Amarinder Singh government which had been violating all democratic norms.


SHSAD meeting
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 8
Workers of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) would hold a meeting in the city on August 12 to discuss issues arising out of the increase in the prices of fertilisers and pesticides. Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the party, would address the meeting. 


538-cr water scheme for villages ‘botched up’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
Though the Central Government announced a Rs 538 crore grant this week to augment water supply in the rural areas due to the dry spell, the accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP), launched to supply drinking water to villages, has drawn flak for failing to meet objectives.

A report released a few weeks ago and made available here by sources has expressed doubts on the implementation of the programme to meet objectives. Programme, launched 30 years ago, was scheduled to be completed by 2004. It envisaged coverage of all rural habitations in the country in the Eighth Plan period. However, this could not be done due to lack of funds and re-emergence of the “Not Covered” habitations. So, the programme continued in Ninth Plan.

“Poor management of funds led to large amounts being diverted or retained in deposits, apart from expenditure incurred in excess over approved norms. Inadequate and inefficient monitoring of the programme at the central and state-level resulted in the extension of the programme from the eighth to the ninth Five Year Plan, putting a question mark on meeting the objective of providing potable water to all villages by 2004,” the report stated.

The Special Task Force headed by Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had, as part of drought relief package, sanctioned Rs 538 crore for the ARWSP on August 4. The affected states, are required to provide a matching grant for utilising these funds.

The inability of the government agencies to implement effectively the programme despite restructuring and added thrusts, stands out due to drought-like conditions especially in the areas of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The basic objective of the ARWSP, launched in 1972-73 was to supplement the state government’s efforts in providing safe and potable drinking water to rural areas on a long-term basis.

“Despite investment of Rs 32,302.21 crore, on the implementation of rural water supply schemes under this programme and the Minimum Needs Programme since the First Five-Year Plan, nearly about 20,073 habitations still did not have any source of water. Nearly 1.55 lakh habitations remained only partially covered. Re-emergence of 73,197 problem habitations, as reported in seven States, negated the impact of the programme further,” the report revealed.

Impact assessment of ARWSP by independent sources also revealed the re-emergence of problem villages and shortcomings in critical parameters of adequacy, regularity, quality and distance of source of water in many states, the report said.

Despite added thrust given to the programme since 1999, planning and implementation suffered due to neglect of priority areas, sustainability, community participation, operation and maintenance, etc. Resultantly scheme worth Rs 107.52 crore was abandoned and water supply modes involving an expenditure of Rs 369.20 crore remained non-operational.

The Ministry of Water Resources and the state governments did not ensure the monitoring of the quality of the water supplied as many water testing laboratories and treatment plants remained non-functional. The objective of institutionalising community participation also appears to have largely been defeated as only Rs 613 crore was spent against Rs 473.15 crore released for 58 pilot projects. “Poor performance of water quality testing laboratories in 11 states defeated the objective of providing safe drinking water to the rural population in the affected areas,” the report observed.


15 lakh earmarked for potable water supply
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 8
The Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, said today that the Punjab Government had earmarked Rs 15 lakh for the augmentation of the drinking water supply system in the district in view of the increasing power cuts.

Mr Dogra, who presided over a meeting of the district level committee to deal with the situation arising out of the drought like situations in the district, said the government had earmarked Rs 10 to 20 lakh for different district for this purpose.

He said since power cuts were being imposed for a longer period, money was being sanctioned for making alternative arrangements for running tubewells and supplying drinking water to urban areas. The gap between the duration of power cuts in rural and urban areas would be bridged and the PSEB had been directed to ensure at least 10 hours of power supply in both rural and urban areas, he added.

Addressing the meeting, the Punjab Revenue Minister, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, said 18 new grain markets would be set up at Phillaur, Nakodar and Noormahal in the district during the current financial year.

Among others who participated in the meeting included Chaudhary Manjinder Singh, president, District Congress Committee (rural), Mr Mandip Singh Sandhu, secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, and Mr S.S. Bains, Additional Deputy Commissioner.


DCs told to provide adequate potable water
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
The Punjab Government has directed Deputy Commissioners of five districts to ensure adequate supply of drinking water in their respective areas, if need be, by requisitioning the services of government or even private tankers.

Addressing a press conference here, Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, said the DCs of Mansa, Sangrur, Patiala, Gurdaspur and Bathinda had been asked to ensure that adequate supply of drinking water was made available in rural areas where drought-like conditions are prevailing due to the failure of monsoons.

He pointed out that at various places drinking water schemes had failed due to the groundwater level receding by 10 to 30 feet.

He also announced that the department had made out a case requesting the Central government to grant Rs 100 crore for carrying out emergency works to cater to the drinking water needs of the people of the state. He said the money could be given to the state under the Calamity Relief Fund or the Rural Development Fund.

The Minister said the government had also decided to privatise drinking water services in the rural areas of the state and had also made a proposal to hike the user charges from Rs 40 to Rs 50 per household. He said this issue was likely to be placed before the Cabinet soon, adding that only 70 per cent of the drinking water supply in rural areas would be covered under the scheme and that stand posts would be maintained free of cost at community places and ‘bastis’ of the weaker sections. He said the department was hopeful of raising Rs 18 crore annually by hiking the user charges.


Dry taps for the past 5 days
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 8
Sirhind has been facing drinking-water scarcity for the past five days because a water pump at the main tubewell here has been out of order. No official of the municipal council has, so far, tried to get it repaired.

Heat has worsened the situation and queues in front of hand-pumps are lengthening every day. Though the town has three tubewells, at least one of these remains out of order at any time — a situation that power-supply failure compounds. Tubewell 1 has a generator for backup power-supply, but it is rarely used, though the diesel bills are regularly cleared.

At a press conference here yesterday, the Deputy Commissioner had said there was no water scarcity in Sirhind, Amloh, Mandi Gobindgarh and Bassi Pathana. However, the situation is different and the town receives water supply for just an hour a day, that too, at low pressure, causing inconvenience particularly to persons living on upper floors.

The municipal council has failed to provide citizens with an adequate water supply. The poor queue up in front of a few hand-pumps that are here. Unscheduled power cuts and a lack of clean drinking water are affecting taxpayers, with whose money this huge generator was installed for a continuous water supply. Now, everyone wants an inquiry into the expenses shown under the head of tubewell maintenance. The tubewell operator says that the generator has never been used, as it often remains out of order.

When contacted, municipal officials said the town had only one generator (at Tubewell 1) which was being used regularly. Three tubewells could not cater to the need of the entire town that required at least two more tubewells. An official said water scarcity had arisen due to power cuts and the water table having gone down.


Drought relief ‘meagre’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
In a joint statement, two Left parties in Punjab today criticised the Union Government for releasing only Rs 101 crore for the drought-hit farmers in the state. Dr Joginder Dayal and Prof Balwant Singh, Secretaries of the Punjab units of the CPI and CPM, respectively, said it was a meagre amount keeping in view the devastation caused by the drought-like conditions in the state.

They said it was clear to all that Punjab was one of the worst-hit states in the country. Its farming community and even urban settlements had been affected most because of the drought-like condition. To release such a small amount to the state where farmers had invested several hundred crores of rupees in paddy and other kharif crops was a joke played by the Union Government.


Student’s death to be probed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 8
A 12-year-old girl, Jagpreet Kaur, student of the local Summer Hill Convent School, died yesterday after taking part in the rehearsal for a parade to be held on August 15 at the local stadium. It is being alleged that she along with other students were made to sit in the scorching sun for several hours.

Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, has ordered a magisterial inquiry. He said the SDM, Mr Upjeet Singh Brar, who would hold the probe, had been asked to submit a report within two weeks.

Though Ms Ramesh, Principal of the school, claimed that Jagpreet had died due to brain haemorrhage, the Civil Hospital authorities said that there was no direct link between sunstroke and brain haemorrhage. Mr Verma pointed out that as per information gathered by him, this was not a case of brain haemorrhage as it had no link with sunstroke.

Navdeep Kaur, younger sister of the deceased, talking to TNS today, alleged that the students had requested school staff members, who accompanied them to the stadium, for water but they were not allowed to leave the stadium. Later they were allowed to go but the water was not potable. After repeated dance rehearsals, they were made to sit in the sun again.

After the rehearsal, Jagpreet complained of uneasiness and went to sleep after returning home. She took some food at about 7 p.m. On August 6, when she and her sister Jagpreet were going to school on a rickshaw, Jagpreet started to vomit. The rickshaw-puller did not accept their request to drop them back home. Jagpreet suffered a fit in school and she was taken to the library where she was offered water which she refused.

Later she made a call to her house and then to the house of her kin as her mother was not in the house. After coming to know about the incident, her mother came to school and took her to hospital. She, however, died yesterday.

Mr Darshan Singh, Jagpreet’s uncle, said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister and insist that proper arrangements should be made for holding rehearsals in schools and no student below the age of 15 should be forced to take part.

Jagpreet was cremated today. Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), DEO (Secondary) and other officials, besides members of the school staff attended the funeral.


Traders give call for bandh
Row with excise officials snowballs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 8
Even as shopkeepers in Wahyian Wala Bazaar closed their shops for the second consecutive day today and gave a call for an Amritsar bandh on Monday in protest against the alleged manhandling of a businessman, the Excise and Taxation Department claimed that it had detected tax evasion worth crores by businessmen during the two-day raids.

The Amritsar Beopar Mandal and other associations of wholesale and retail shopkeepers endorsed the bandh call. Mr Devinder Singh, a leader of the mandal, said the members resolved that if the state government failed to withdraw the “false” cases registered against the shopkeepers and initiate action against the erring officials, they would give a call for a Punjab bandh.

Meanwhile, on the complaint of the raiding party, the Amritsar police has booked eight shopkeepers for deterring government officials from performing duty.

Among those who were booked under Sections 332, 353, 342, 186 and 356 of the IPC were Jaspal Singh, Om Parkash, Manohar Lal, Kewal Krishan, Titu Dhawan, Babbu Dhawan, Trikha and Ramesh Kumar.

Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City), said the complainants (excise officials) had torn the uniforms of the policemen who were accompanying the raiding party. However, the SP said, the raiding party did not take the police into confidence before conducting raids which led to the unsavoury incident. The Bullion and Ornament Merchants Welfare Association while condemning the manhandling of a shopkeeper said many associations of traders, including the Sarafa Association and Swarnkar Association, had expressed their solidarity with the agitating traders.

However, senior officials of the Excise and Taxation Department claimed that they had detected tax evasion worth crores by the shopkeepers, paper, chemical and other mills, factories of soft drinks and a hotel. Mr Krishan Kumar, Assistant Excise and Taxation Officer (Head Office, Patiala), claimed that a shopkeepers had been raising a hue and cry to pre-empt action by the Excise and Taxation Department. He refuted the charge that the raiding party had assaulted any shopkeeper.

He said the records of MK Hotel, Coca Cola, R.C. Mill, Health Aid Ghee Mill, Digent Chemicals, Bharat Trading Company and Sareen Private Limited had been seized by the raiding party. In most cases the owners of these companies evade huge taxes by resorting to underbilling.


Enough cylinders in hospital, says Sekhon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
Government Rajindra Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr A S Sekhon has claimed that there are sufficient oxygen cylinders in the hospital to cater to any eventuality.

Referring to news reports stating there was a shortage of oxygen cylinders in the hospital, he said the reports had been spread by vested interests who are not interested in the welfare of the hospital.

He said there was never any shortage of Oxygen cylinders in the Emergency ward of the hospital.


Scope of panel on Ashutosh ‘limited’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
While hailing the recommendations made by the committee set up by the Punjab Government to inquire into the activities of the Divia Jyoti Jagran Sansthan headed by Ashutosh, the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat today said the scope of the inquiry was very limited.

Mr Rajinder Singh, convener of the panchayat, in a statement said members of the panchayat had met the members of the committee in Patiala on Tuesday. He said they had told committee members that detailed inquiry should be held about the affairs of the “sansthan”. Those who were supporting the organisation should also be identified and brought in the purview of the inquiry. The panchayat has sought legal action against those police officers who resorted to firing on activists of various Sikh organisations.


Muslim body flays Amarnath killings
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 8
A Muslim organisation, Anjumane-Dawtey-Islamia Committee, Punjab, today condemned as inhuman and unIslamic the massacre of nine Amarnath pilgrims near Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. Sayed Nazir Ahmed, president of the organisation, said there was no place in Islam for the killers of the innocent. The Amarnath yatris should be provided a foolproof security and the cross-border terrorism should be crushed with a heavy hand, Mr Ahmed added.


Shatabdi to stop at Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 8
The 2013 Up-2014 Dn New Delhi — Amritsar Shatabdi will stop at Phagwara railway station from August 15. This was stated here today at a press conference by Ms Santosh Chaudhary, Congress MP from Phillaur. She said the train would start at 4.30 pm from Delhi and reach Phagwara at 8.55 pm.

The railway station would be modernised, she said.


Police claim contradicted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 8
Mr Daljit Singh Dhillon, a relative of Ajaib Singh Sandhu, Manager of the local depot of Markfed, in a written statement issued today contradicted the police claim that Ajaib Singh had been arrested yesterday.

A case under Sections 420, 409 and 379, IPC was registered against Sandhu for theft of Markfed wheat on July 27.

Instead, Mr Dhillon said, Ajaib Singh had been in the custody of the police since July 27.


Petro dealers’ threat

Jalandhar, August 8
Over 500 affected petroleum product dealers of Punjab today issued a one-week ultimatum to the Centre stating that if the recent order cancelling the allotment of petroleum agencies was not reviewed, they would sit on an indefinite hunger strike.

Following an emergency meeting of the newly formed Association of Affected Petroleum Products Dealers, Mr Harwinder Singh Sandhu, vice-president of the association, said, “We have no alternative except resorting to a hunger strike in protest against the government’s arbitrary order”.

“We demand an immediate review of the order and, if needed, the government should order a CBI inquiry into each and every allotment, so that genuine allottees are spared from harassment”, he said. PTI


Interview for stamp vending licences
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 8
Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, today said today that the interview of candidates who had applied for stamp vendor’s licence, would be held shortly.

Reacting to the news item “Stamp vending licences unfair selections alleged”, which appeared in The Tribune on August 6, Mr Shekhar said the news item did not give true facts and claimed that the selection of candidates for giving licences would be on merit.


Employees’ panels to hold rally at Pathankot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 8
The Punjab and Chandigarh Employees Joint Action Committee and the Employees Action Committee, Punjab, will jointly hold rally at Pathankot on August 19 in protest against the Punjab Government’s anti-employees proposals finalised in this year’s Budget. They will also stage district level dharna on August 13. Many of the proposals include, no further constitution of a pay commission for the revision of pay scales , freezing of DA for five years, retirement of 50 per cent employees under the VRS schemes, enforcing of contributory pension scheme, privatisation of the PRTC and the Punjab Roadways.

This was stated by Mr Sajjan Singh, Chairman, Punjab and UT Employees Action Committee, while addressing a zonal level conference of the six districts comprising Faridkot, Mansa, Bathinda, Muktsar, Ferozepur and Moga here today.

He said the government should abolish six police district, including Jagraon, Barnala, Majitha, Tarn Taran reduce the strength of senior police officials, send back 104 IAS officers working on deputation to their respective areas, withdraw free power and water supply to big land lords recover crores of rupees as sales tax from 17,000 businessman whose licences were cancelled during the regime of late Chief Minister Beant Singh and Rs 2,753 crore from 284 industrial units according to Reserve Bank’s reports and Rs 30 crore power theft per month besides the unauthorised plying 1,000 private buses owned by politicians in the state. Mr Sajjan Singh charged the state government with forcibly relieving Mr A.S. Bains Additional Commissioner, Department of Sales Tax, from his duties who tried to collect the sales tax from businessman. He said during the united Punjab only one police officials of the IG rank was controlling the entire state whereas a large numbers of senior police officials were now controlling a small state like Punjab. He criticised the Congress government in Punjab for its failure to give employment to one member of each family to check unemployment in the state. He demanded the filling of vacant posts in different departments and the release of instalments of bonus for the past five years and the DA of past eight months in cash on priority basis. He also deplored the former state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for constituting a Disinvestment Committee headed by Mr P.H. Vaishnav, former Chief Secretary, Punjab. The committee had recommended many anti-employees policies though the same were not implemented by the previous government keeping in view the Assembly elections in February, 2002.

Other speakers who spoke on the occasion were Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, convener, state action committee, Mr Baldev Singh Sahdev, Additional General Secretary, Punjab Subordinate, Service Federation.


Bureau asks SSP to produce SHO
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 8
The Patiala Vigilance Bureau today requested the local Senior Superintendent of Police to produce Kotwali Station House Officer Didar Singh, who is accused keeping a person in illegal custody and demanding Rs 1 lakh to free him, before the department within 24 hours.

The local vigilance police had arrested Hari Singh yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000 from the relatives of Sandeep Makkar, who was being kept under illegal detention at the Kotwali police station.

A case has been registered against both the ASI and Didar Singh for demanding money to free Sandeep who had been lifted from Dera Bassi on the complaint of a finance company. Meanwhile, ASI Hari Singh was remanded to police custody for two days by the Duty Magistrate.


68 corporation staffers transferred
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 8
As many as 68 employees of various departments of the corporation were today transferred by the Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti.

Some technical persons who have been shifted have cried foul even as allegations of manipulations and political colourings in the shuffle are being made. It is being alleged that Congress favourites have been given “plum” positions, especially in the Octroi Department. It is also alleged that six technical persons had been transferred in contravention of their appointment rules and regulations.

However, Mr Datti said the allegations were baseless. He said he had put persons with integrity to boost octroi collection.


2 policemen suspended for misbehaviour
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 8
The Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepore district, has suspended an Assistant Sub-Inspector and a Head Constable posted at the cantonment police station on charges of “misbehaving with the public” and not reacting immediately to a complaint brought to their notice by two local advocates.

Advocates Yogesh Gupta and Ashwani Dhingra reportedly went to the police station at 9.30 last night with a complaint that some unidentified persons had forcibly entered the house of a city resident, Mr Gupta, with sharp-edged weapons allegedly to harm him. On hearing Gupta’s shouts his neighbours woke and forced the culprits to flee. Since he was scared, he asked the police to provide him protection.

But ASI Iqbal Singh and Head Constable Jamail Singh allegedly misbehaved with the complainants and refused to register any case.


One dead, 5 hurt in group clash
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 8
Sukhjinder Singh was killed and Jatinder Singh, Manjit Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Karnail Singh, and Daljit Singh all resident of Dhariwal Khichian were injured in a group clash here on Tuesday night.

Lakhwinder Singh and his uncle Inderjit Singh were plying a harvest combine. Inderjit Singh owed Rs. 1.3 lakh to his nephew and when ever his nephew demanded the money he ignored him.

On Tuesday, Sukhjinder Singh and Jatinder Singh cousins of the deceased were going to their village but were stopped by Inderjit Singh and his friends near Gasikot. Sukhjinder some how managed to give the slip but were chased and stopped at the crossing of Dhariwal Khician where they were attacked. Sukhjinder Singh received injuries and died on way to hospital. His friends Jatinder, Manjit Singh and Gurjinder Singh were also injured with sharp-edged weapons.

Karnail Singh and Baljit Singh accomplice of Inderjit Singh who are also admitted in hospital here charged the Lakhwinder group had attacked them.

A case under section 302 of the IPC was registered with the Sadar police station here yesterday.


Drunk, soldier kills 2 jawans

Gurdaspur, August 8
A drunk Army soldier shot dead two Army jawans and wounded five others when he opened fire in a fit of rage at Sadawali post in Dera Baba Nanak sector this evening.

Bodies of the killed jawans were removed to Tibri Cantonment near here. One of the injured was hospitalised at Tibri. The remaining four jawans were admitted to hospital at Dera Baba Nanak.

The Army authorities were silent on the event, but official sources confirmed the brawl and the casualities. UNI


Gang of vehicle lifters busted, 1 held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 8
The local police today claimed it had busted a gang of vehicle lifters by nabbing one person - Charanjit Singh, alias Channi, and recovered two motor cycles and one scooter from him.

Disclosing this here, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, said it had been revealed during investigation that Channi and other youngsters used to steal motor cycles. He said Channi had stolen one Yamaha motor cycle (number PB-11-1482) from Kali Devi Temple about two years back and another Yamaha motor cycle from the Rajindra hospital in the city about two-and-a- half years back. The accused has been remanded to police custody till August 10.


AIFUCTO to hold march to Parliament
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 8
Teachers, workers and students will organise a march to Parliament on August 13 in protest against the “anti-education and anti-national” policies of the Centre and state governments, according to Dr V.K. Tewari, national secretary, All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) here today.

He alleged that the public-funded education system had been wrecked by the wrong policies of the Central and state governments.

He said the march had been planned to seek, among other things, 10 per cent of the GDP and 30 per cent of the state budget for education.

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