Monday, August 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Power crises due to lack of planning
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 11
The state is facing unprecedented power crises. The state is begging for power from other states, of course on payment.

The immediate reason for the present state of affairs might be the dismal monsoon, but the real cause is lack of long-term planning.

The PSEB, which controls power generation and distribution in the state, has since long been ignoring suggestions put forward by some officers which could have helped in tapping the power generation potential in the state at a minimal cost.

Several suggestions were put forward by officer posted here that could have helped the board in generating 16 mw to 33 mw of extra hydel power at a relatively meagre investment.

At present the Anandpur Sahib hydel canal, which was supposed to feed the SYL canal, is functional. Powerhouses each at Ganguwal and Nakian have been established on this canal. The water flowing into this canal is released in the Lohand rivulet at Kiratpur Sahib, which further flows into the Sutlej.

The 32 mw powerhouse on the canal was built and machinery worth crores purchased for installation. However, due to the indefinite postponement of the construction of the SYL canal, the powerhouse project was abandoned.

It was suggested if the SYL canal made functional from Kiratpur Sahib to Sirsa Nangal village, a 16 mw powerhouse could be established near the Sirsa river. Water from the powerhouse could be released back into the Sutlej through the Sirsa river. The cost of the project was estimated at about Rs 25 crore.

Had the PSEB worked on the proposal, it could have been able to generate extra power at a comparatively low cost.

In addition, the Punjab Government is not allowing the BBMB to install new generation units on the canals under the control of the organisation. The BBMB had proposed to setup three powerhouses with a generation capacity of 18 mw upstream and downstream of the Narwana branch of the Bhakra mainline.

Punjab being a major partner-state could have been a major beneficiary from the powerhouses installed by the BBMB. However, despite the fact that all other partner-states have given permission to the BBMB to go ahead with the project, Punjab has raised objections to the same.


ACs ‘causing’ power problems
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 11
Nearly 35 per cent of the total power generation by the Ropar Thermal Plant is being consumed by the airconditioners, installed in houses leading to severe power cuts.

Sources in the PSEB said the total power consumed in the state by airconditioners exceeded 100 lakh units (LUs) per day, equal to generation capacity of two units of the Ropar plant. There were more than four lakh airconditioners installed in the state they added.

The sources further added that atleast 25 per cent airconditioners were running on “direct electricity lines” by way of kundi connections, leading to a revenue loss of about Rs 50 lakh per day to the PSEB.

The consumption of nearly 100 lakh units daily by AC users was playing havoc with the grid management. For any overdrawal by the PSEB from the central sector, the board booked costly power from the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) at the rate of more than Rs 3 per unit and distributing the same at subsidised rates and free of cost to some categories in the state, leading to a further loss of lakhs of rupees daily, the sources claimed.

During July, the Ropar Thermal Plant generated 8793 lakh units against the target of 8440 lakh units creating a new record, despite facing coal crisis for the past few months.


PSEB engineers flay bureaucracy
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 11
The PSEB Engineers’ Association today condemned the reported use of indecent remarks against the engineers by Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Finance Secretary, Punjab, in a letter to the State Power Regulatory Commission. It also criticised the wrong projections of the Punjab bureaucracy regarding the financial health of the PSEB.

According to a spokesperson of the association, the state bureaucracy was pushing the PSEB to the brink of bankruptcy by saying the revenue requirements of the PSEB were Rs 5,981 crore, while the actual requirements were Rs 7,857 crore.

The bureaucracy was lying that the PSEB had purchased power from Central agencies to the tune of Rs 910 crore last year, while the actual expenditure on power purchases was Rs 1,550 crore, he added.

He claimed that the above moves were being made by the bureaucracy to enable the state government to corporatise the PSEB.

He also criticised the government for allegedly directing the regulatory commission to allow tariff which could yield only Rs 600 crore per year for the PSEB, against the demand to the tune of Rs 2,600 crore.


Rs 300 cr sought from Japan for afforestation
22 p.c. saplings dry up in four years
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 11
The Punjab government has sought Rs 300 crore aid from Japan to set up new nurseries and strengthen the existing ones for growing enough plants to bring considerable chunk of waste and other lands under plantation for increasing area under forests in the state.

A Japanese government team had visited Punjab and reviewed afforestation done earlier under the Japanese aided project worth Rs 400 crore in the past four years. The team had also examined the case presented by the state Forest Department authorities for more aid worth Rs 300 crore, official sources said.

Punjab Forest Minister, Dr Harbans Lal confirming that Rs 300 crore aid had been sought from Japan for afforestation, at a press conference here late last evening, pointed out that 22 per cent saplings earlier planted under the project aided by the Japanese government had dried up in the past four years due to acute shortage of water and man-made damages. Newly five crore saplings were planted under the Japan-aided project.

The minister said that the Punjab government would achieve the target of bringing 33 per cent of the area of the state under forest cover in a phased manner by making plantation a public movement with the involvement of non-governmental organisations, voluntary organisations, educational institutions and panchayats. Though the department had Rs 28 crore budget, it had sought more money in the next budget to launch a massive plantation drive.

He said that he had ordered an inquiry into how the forest wood reached the house of former Akali minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon after an item appeared in the newspapers in this connection. He said he had directed the field staff to check the trend of cutting forests among the public by making them aware of dangers of environmental degradations. The department also had been drafting some stringent measures to check the cutting of trees.

The minister disclosed that circle office of the Forest Department at Ferozepore had been shifted to Bathinda on the request of its employees. The Samriti Van scheme had been revived. Different varieties of trees would be introduced in Punjab, he added. A state-level committee has been formed to have encroachments on Forest Department’s land removed.


Sarna to quit if links with Sajjan proved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 11
Even as the dinner hosted by Ms Sheila Dixit Chief Minister, New Delhi, in honour of Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, newly elected president of the Delhi Sikh gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), and his supporters has sparked off a fresh controversy, the latter has offered to quit politics if his links with Mr Sajjan Kumar, senior Congress leader (he was allegedly responsible for the anti-Sikh riot), as alleged by Bhai Ranjit Singh, former jathedar, Akal Takht, were proved.

Though Bhai Ranjit Singh has raised an objection over the dinner, Mr Sarna said that it was a tradition that every Chief Minister hosts a dinner in honour of the newly elected president and members of the DSGMC. Mr Sarna claimed that during the dinner, the Chief Minister agreed to construct a parking lot on government land in front of gurdwara Bangla Sahib at a cost of Rs 10 crore. She has also accepted some other demands of Sikhs put up by them.

Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, general secretary of the Delhi Akali Dal, Bhai Ranjit Singh had levelled “baseless charges due to his frustration” as he could not stop his brother Parmjit Singh Sarna from becoming chief of the DSGMC. He said he was not sure that whether Mr Anil Kumar was a son of Mr Sajjan Kumar.

It may be mentioned here that Bhai Ranjit Singh had handed over the bills of cellular phones of Mr Anil Kumar and Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna which showed that they had been in touch with each other during the DSGMC elections. Mr Sarna alleged that there seemed to be a deep-rooted conspiracy behind such “baseless allegations”.

Jathedar Baldev Singh, member of the DSGMC, said that he had confirmed that Mr Anil Kumar was not the son of Mr Sajjan Kumar as alleged by Bhai Ranjit Singh. Mr Sarna said that it was strange how Mr Sajjan Kumar who has no following among the Sikhs could be helpful to him during the poll in which only Sikhs can cast votes.

Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna reiterated that his party would continue to recognise Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as the ‘real jathedar’ on technical grounds since he was a member of the DSGMC as per the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. He dismissed the claims of Bhai Ranjit Singh that he had ensured the victory of his brother (Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna) Three years ago when Giani Puran Singh in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht, had postponed a meeting of the DSGMC.

Mr Sarna claimed that it was he and his supporters who had refused to accept the “wrong decision” of Giani Puran Singh. “Bhai Ranjit Singh had reached the venue only after the announcement that Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna had been elected president of the DSGMC”.

It may be mentioned here that Bhai Ranjit Singh had stated that in his capacity as “real Jathedar’, he had ensured the victory of Mr Sarna three years ago when Giani Puran Singh had tried to support the Shiromani Akali Dal which feared a defeat by the Sarna group.


ISI agent held, 10 RDX packets seized
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 11
The Hariana police on Saturday evening arrested one person alleged to be an ISI agent and recovered huge quantity of RDX from him.

According to Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur, on a tip-off the police raided Gill village and arrested Abdul Rashid, son of Mohammad Hussain, a Gujjar. On interrogation he confessed to his links with the ISI of Pakistan. The police recovered 10 packets of RDX, one battery and wire from his possession.

According to the police the accused had concealed the RDX in a gunny bag and buried in a nearby field.

A case under Sections 3-4 of the Explosives Substance Act has been registered.


NDA promoting communalism: MP
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 11
A Congress leader and Member, Rajya Sabha, Mr Ashwani Kumar, today accused the NDA government at the Centre of promoting communal and separatist forces in the country.

Addressing a rally at Gurdaspur, he said owing to the Centre’s wrong economic policies, industries were in a bad shape and in such a situation, no investment was forthcoming. He said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, had succeeded in generating money for the fund-starved state.

Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA of Pathankot, said district-level dharnas started by the Akalis were a gimmick to divert public attention from the corruption allegedly indulged in by Akali ministers.

He said the anti-corruption crusade initiated by Capt Amarinder Singh would continue till every corrupt person was punished.


No vendetta against Akalis: Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 11
Newly appointed PPCC President H.S. Hanspal will assume office in Chandigarh on August 18. He said this late last night during a brief stopover here.

Mr Hanspal alleged that Akalis were staging dharnas to divert public attention from the skeletons tumbling out of their cupboards. The crusade of the Congress against corruption would continue without any letup, he added.

He denied any witch-hunting or vendetta against Akalis as cases had been registered against SAD and BJP leaders only after getting irrefutable evidence. He denied allegations that the foreign tour of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, was a failure.

Local Congress MLA and former minister Joginder Singh Mann was also present. He denounced the Akalis for their unfounded criticism of the Chief Minister’s fund-raising foreign tour.


Longowal’s anniversary: a test of Akali power

Sangrur, August 11
The 17th death anniversary on August 20 of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, who was gunned down a month after signing the Rajiv-Longowal accord in July 1985 to resolve the Punjab problem, may turn out be a show of strength between the Badal and Tohra factions of Akalis, with activists of both factions mobilising people for the occasion.

Former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal, who is waging grim political struggle to battle the anti graft drive of the Amarinder Singh government against the SAD leadership, will tour this district extensively for two days from tomorrow to enthuse party workers to make the “martyrdom of Sant Longowal” a show of SAD’s political might in this Akalis dominated Malwa hinterland. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD secretary-general and Union Minister has already toured this home district for mobilisation on August 20 when the SAD would observe the anniversary at Longowal village.

Mr Badal and Mr Dhindsa are trying to rope in Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Union Sports Minister Uma Bharati, among others for attending the function to demonstrate NDA support to the SAD.

The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, has decided to observe the anniversary at Sherpur, where Sant Longowal, then president of the undivided SAD, was gunned down by terrorists opposed to the Rajiv-Longowal accord.

Besides mobilising the people, the SHSAD leadership has decided to line up four former prime ministers — V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, H.D. Dewegowda and I.K. Gujral— at the function to demonstrate its national backing. The party leaders said Laloo Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and newly-elected president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Management Committee Paramjit Singh Sarna would also attend the anniversary.

The Akali Dal ( Amritsar), led by Lok Sabha member from Sangrur Simranjit Singh Mann, is likely to stay aloof from the anniversary’s political din as he had opposed both the accord and its Akali signatory.

Uttaranchal Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, perceived to be the inheritor of moderate political legacy of Sant Longowal as it was he who became the chief minister of Punjab in the Assembly election held in the aftermath of the accord, now stand marginalised politically in the competitive Akali politics between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra.

Among Mr Barnala’s political followers, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, the lone SAD rebel who was elected as an independent MLA in the February Assembly poll in Punjab, recently joined the Tohra led SHSAD. Mr Barnala’s two other acolytes, Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian and Mr Baldev Singh Mann, had lost the Assembly poll.

Thus the Akali formations led by Mr Badal, who commands maximum opposition space in Punjab as Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly with 41 MLAs, Mr Tohra, buoyed by the success in recent DSGMC elections, would slug it out at Longowal and Sherpur respectively to shape the future course of Akali polity in Punjab. UNI


Recover House’s loss from allotment accused
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 11
Since Parliament could not function properly for one week due to unfair allotment of petrol pumps and LPG agencies, those responsible for the loss to the exchequer should make good the loss. Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann made this demand today.

Nearly Rs one crore were being wasted daily due to the starting of the proceedings and the those behind it should pay Rs 7 crore for one week’s loss, he said.

Describing the cancellation of the allotments of petrol pumps and gas agencies a good beginning, Mr Jaskaran Singh demanded that the allotments made by Satish Sharma in 1987 should also be cancelled. He wanted that sportsmen should be exempted from these cancellations. Ram Naiks and Satish Sharmas had let the nation down with petrol pump scams as had done authors of Bofors, Hawala and Tandoori scandals, he alleged.


Youth Congress flays Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
The president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, and the senior vice-president, Mr Pawand Dewan, today criticised the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for his campaign against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

In a statement released here today, they alleged that Mr Badal was trying to divert the public attention from the cases of corruption being exposed by the present government. “Having found no issue to criticise the Chief Minister, Mr Badal has now resorted to a malicious and vicious campaign against him”, they alleged.


He pioneered records computerisation
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 11
Many people might not know that Mr K. Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar, himself a computer science engineer, is the man behind the success of the computerisation of land records in the state and the gradual phasing out of 400-years-old manual land records, which had been a major source of land litigation.

Computerisation of land records had already proved to be a big success in southern states like Andhra Pradesh at a time when it has to grapple with one hurdle or the other in Punjab for more than a decade. Encouraged by the success of eight such pilot projects across the country, the Ministry of Rural Development in 1988 devised 100 centrally sponsored schemes to encourage computerisation, though maintenance of land records was purely a state subject.

The slow pace of work in Punjab, which was in dire need of computerisation of land records for thousands of land dispute cases arising out of 15 lakh mutations recorded during every five years by an army of about 5000 patwaris, disturbed Mr K. Siva Prasad, after he came to Punjab with his first posting as SDM at Mukerian. In 1996, he developed software for automatic counting of sugarcane loaded trolleys at the time of their entry into the sugar mill there, resulting in saving a lot of time of both farmers and the mill management.

He took the problems in the way of computerisation of land records as a challenge particularly, after he was made a part of a team headed by Mr Arun Goel, the then Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, for ensuring total computerisation of offices of the Deputy Commissioner and the Sub-Registrar which resulted in 30 per cent hike in the realisation of stamp duty as there were lesser chances of evading stamp duty. Apart from performing his duty as ADC, Mr Prasad studied the problems in the way of computerisation of land records for over two years, but the real opportunity to do something came when he was posted as Deputy Commissioner at Jalandhar two years ago and was entrusted with the task of computerisation of land records by the state government.

“Actually, the problem lay in development of suitable software and this had become difficult due to misconception of professionals, who, formed an opinion that the rules governing land records of Punjab were simple. But, in fact, it involved so many permutations and combinations. This was the precise reason why the project could not take off for about 11 years.

“The core problem of the project was date entry, which in itself was a wrong term, as it should have been referred to as ‘data auditing’. The problem was solved once we were able to develop software that not only entered data but also cleaned it before entry, unlike the process adopted elsewhere. Moreover, contrary to common belief, it was found that the Geographic Information System (GIS) forms only 10-15 per cent of the project, so it was saved from being a GIS-centered project, whereby only maps are digitised for linkage with data,” observed Mr Prasad, while talking to TNS.

“So many changes we made while using the software for the Pholriwal pilot project (Jalandhar), inaugurated by the Chief Minister on July 19, that it was almost redesigned to suit our needs,” he pointed out. All the points, figured during the implementation of project, were adopted by the Centre for Rural Studies of the IAS Academy, Mussoorie. He observed that faulty implementation led to incomplete land records across the country and subsequent loss of Rs 400 crore, incurred by the Union Government during the past 14 years.


Mann supports UN observers for J&K poll
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 11
Akali Dal (Amritsar) is against the imposition of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat. Elections in Jammu and Kashmir should be conducted in the presence of UN observers. This was stated by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the party while talking to mediapersons here today.

Referring to the chaotic situation in Parliament, he said the Congress and Leftist parties were wasting the time of both Houses and had destroyed seven days of the current session for nothing. They did not allow Parliament to function due to which no issue could be raised during question hour and zero hour.

He said Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs had made joint representation to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the setting up of the proposed national defence university at Anandpur Sahib. Mr Manmohan Singh, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and Mr Sunil Dutt, Congress MP from Maharashtra, had also supported this move. Mr Vinod Khanna, Union State Minister for Tourism, had however, opposed this move.

Mr Mann said more than 30,000 Sikh families who had migrated from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to Jammu and Kashmir after the Partition of the country, had not been given citizens yet. They were still depriving the right of franchise and were not allowed to buy property. He had written to the UN in the regard, he claimed.

Referring to the plight of Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus who had migrated to India from Afghanistan a few years ago, Mr Mann said the Indian Government was now compelling them to go back.He supported the campaign against corruption being launched by Capt Amarinder Singh, saying that he should also sack corrupt ministers from his Cabinet and take action against them.

Referring to the drought situation in Punjab, he said he had raised the issue in Parliament and was trying to get maximum aid from the Centre for the state.


Tota Singh’s orders still being implemented!
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 11
The decisions taken by former Education Minister Tota Singh at a meeting of District Education Officers more than a year ago are still being implemented by the Education Department despite the fact that the Congress government has taken over.

The authorities had, in orders issued to all government senior secondary, higher secondary and middle schools, directed principals to implement the decision taken by Tota Singh in 2001. They have been asked to file a compliance report every 15 days.

One of the orders reads that the school authorities had been organising “vulgar” programmes in the name of culture. The schools were asked to stop holding such functions.

A blackboard showing the daily attendance of students, previous results of the school in board examinations and other achievements should be put up.

Some leaders of the teachers’ unions said the letter also highlighted the inefficiency of the Education Department. While Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, DEO (S), could not be contacted, sources in her office confirmed that the letter issued by the Director Public Instruction (S) had been forwarded to all school heads.


Rise in number of drug addicts
Anirudh Gupta

There is abnormal rise in the number of drug addicts in the border area. The drug use is not confined to farmers and rural folks alone but it has also taken its toll among youth, particularly school and college students. The use of drugs has assumed such alarming proportions that in the past few months 400 drug addicts have been nabbed by the police and sent to jail in this border town.

According to Mr Bhajan Singh, Superintendent of Central Jail, in the past four months, 229 drug addicts have been discharged from the jail hospital after de-addiction but the de-addiction centre was still overflowing with such cases.

An undertrial lodged in the Central Jail, Ferozepore, Fauja Singh, son of Mohinder Singh, tried to commit suicide. Mr Bhajan Singh said the jail authorities had to be vigilant for 24 hours to prevent such incidents. Recently, Rajiv Kumar (25) hanged himself to death in the Ferozepore jail as he was unable to sustain himself without drugs. Even, women have taken to drugs. Harbans Kaur of Moga, who was arrested recently with 10 kg of poppy husk, said she used to get her monthly quota from Sangaria in Rajasthan.

The Jail Superintendent admitted that despite their best possible efforts drugs still find their way in the jail barracks. He attributed the fact to the reason that there were around 250 wardens, in addition to clerical and non-clerical staff of 25 people in the jail and it was rather impossible to keep an eye on the movement of each and every one of them.

He said a drug de-addition committee had been set up under directions of the IG, Prison.

Another undertrial Navdeep Kumar of Moga, aged 21, lodged in jail for the past six months said that a son of the owner of a factory in Moga, where he was working, used to give him a single dose of drug in lieu of overtime daily. This is not an isolated case where factory owners exploit them by providing drugs in order to get better output from them.

Sonu (name changed), a young commission agent of Ferozepore City, lodged in the jail and one who belongs to an affluent family said that he had been taking drugs for the past six or seven months. He used to purchase smack at a price of Rs 250 per gm.

Earlier, drugs used to be smuggled through the Indo-Pakistan border. But after the border was fenced the cross-border smuggling was reduced considerably. Later, the drug trade shifted to Rajasthan border by bootleggers where they found a safe haven.

According to Mr Praveen Singh, SSP, students normally start taking drugs to ward off depression and enormous strain of studies, but they soon fall victim to it for ever. According to Dr Anup Singh, Medical Officer posted at the Central Jail, the jail authorities spend Rs 14 or 15 lakh annually on the medicines to cure these inmates. The main drugs prevalent in use are poppy husk, smack and opium.

Mr Bhajan Singh, Jail Superintendent, laments that parents are also responsible to a great extent as they pamper their children and try to cover up their misdeeds. He said whenever a youth was nabbed for drug peddling, the parents instead of reforming the child tried to get him released from the jail.

SSP P.K. Sinha told The Tribune that the police had launched a massive drive to track down both the consumers and the suppliers. He said during the past two months 213.48 quintals of poppy husk, 135 gm of smack and 1042 litres of country-made liquor had been seized by the police during different raids. He added that 24 chemist shops which were selling spurious drugs had also been sealed. He said that the police was determined to root out drug peddlers and smugglers.


Plan to control sale of drugs
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 11
Accusing the previous SAD-BJP government of patronising drug peddlers in the state during its five years of the rule, the Punjab Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, today said that plan to control the open sale of narcotics and drugs would be submitted to the Punjab Chief Minister after his return from the foreign trip.

Speaking at a drug deaddiction camp organised by the Shaheed Banta Singh Sanghwal Welfare Trust here, he alleged that some former Akali ministers had been involved in the smuggling of narcotics during the past five years.

He said comprehensive plan had been prepared to curb the use of drugs by youths, which would be submitted to the CM for approval.

“The illegal sale of narcotics and drugs will come down in the Doaba region following the arrest of former minister Ajit Singh Kohar by the Vigilance Bureau recently. Mr Kohar was involved in the illegal business of the sale of narcotics for the past several years,” he alleged.

He further said that the government would monitor the sale of psychotropic substances by chemist shops by giving more powers to drug inspectors to check this malpractice.

Dr G.S. Gill, president of the trust, in his address, revealed that with the efforts of a team of doctors and social workers at the drug deaddiction centre, they had succeeded in changing the lives of 128 drug-addicts by using latest psycho-medical techniques.

“We are treating each drug addict in a different way proper counselling of the patient is important to motivate the patients to shun drugs,” Dr Gill added.


With VIPs coming, railway station gets facelift
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 11
Residents of Bathinda are cheerful these days as it has rained during the past few days, leading to fall in temperature.

Moreover, the visit of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Mr Harbans Lal, Punjab ministers, has led to a facelift of the city. It is being cleaned for Independence Day celebrations and the visit of Mr Nitish Kumar, Union Railways Minister.

The Bathinda railway junction, one of the largest in the country, is being given a facelift on a war footing. The railway authorities, with the help of the police, cleared it of beggars and sadhus yesterday. The platforms were also got cleaned.

Interestingly, the junction was in the “modern” category, but modern facilities were hardly available. Even self-printing ticket machines were put up a few months back.

Mr R.K. Goyal, general secretary, Railway Passengers Association (North Zone), said the only overbridge at the railway station had outlived its utility and had collapsed once, but the railway authorities had got it repaired instead of constructing a new one. He added that more than 10,000 passengers used the junction daily, but facilities and infrastructure had not kept pace with the increasing passenger and rail traffic.

Mr Goyal said the number of counters selling tickets should be increased and the railway enquiry system should be improved. He alleged that information was not updated on the computerised system and the manual one remained busy most of the time.

Mr K.L. Meena, Station Superintendent, could not be contacted. Sources in the railways revealed that a special team had been called from Ambala for the facelift.

While residents were cheerful about the starting of a train service from the city, they demanded that fares should be kept reasonable. With many persons claiming credit, confusion prevailed as to who was instrumental in getting the train service started from here.


Thandi elected mayor in UK
Parmod Bharti

Narinderjit Singh Thandi, an NRI, who originally belongs to Daultpur village in Nawanshahr district, has done this country and Punjab, in particular, proud by being elected Mayor of Gravesham, UK, for the year 2002-2003.

Mr Thandi, a son of Mr Bachan Singh Thandi, a former INA commander, after graduating from DAV College, Chandigarh, migrated to UK in 1977, where he worked for the British Postal Service for 22 years.

Extremely community minded, Mr Thandi has been an active member of organisations such as Communication Workers Union, Community Relations Council and Police Liaison Group. Besides, he had been working as a councillor for the Northfleet West Ward since 1997.

He has also been involved in the promotion of the Punjabi language and culture in UK. He worked as a head teacher of a Punjabi school. In the latter part of the eighties, he was part of the committee that launched the Baisakhi procession from Gravesham. Mr Thandi, while talking with this correspondent on the telephone, said he lived in a multicultural area and was keen to preserve and promote racial harmony in Gravesham.


Converting garbage dump into rose garden
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 11
Known for its insanitary conditions, congested roads, chaotic traffic, inadequate sewerage, insufficient potable water and haphazard development, the town may have a rose garden in six months.

The district administration, in cooperation with the local municipal council, has started spending lakhs on the conversion of a garbage dump in a corner of the town into a rose garden.

The town, the headquarters of Mansa district, carved out of Bathinda district in 1992, has not witnessed any significant development in the past 10 years.

Tractors and labourers have been pressed into service for levelling the ground for the garden, to be set up at a cost of Rs 80 lakh.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, said fountains, a see-saw, a canteen and parking facility would be provided in the garden. The project was being set up with the assistance of the Centre.

He added that a piece of land outside the city had been taken over by the authorities for dumping garbage. Another piece of land would be taken over for draining out the dirty water of the town.


White Paper on temple accounts sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 11
The Shiv Sena today demanded that the state government should come out with a White Paper over the details of the irregularities in the accounts of the Bajjreshwari Temple here since 1986 and demanded that those found guilty should be booked.

The demand was raised by the state chief of the Shiv Sena, Dr Gulshan Kumar, while addressing a public meeting at the Nehru chowk here yesterday organised by the All-India Hindu Mahasabha and Shiv Sena in protest against the government “inaction” with regard to misappropriation of silver and cash collected as offerings. Dr Gulshan Kumar said nearly Rs 1 crore was collected as offerings annually at the temple, but despite this the temple was running in loss. He added that the temple was organising langar once a day as compared to other government-controlled temples in the state, where langar was being organised twice a day. He alleged the quality of food was poor.

He expressed shock that the temple Act was being violated and the temple officer, a Tehsildar of the Revenue Department, was drawing salary from the temple income.

Meanwhile, the relay fast organised by the All-India Hindu Mahasabha in this regard entered its fourth day today with the sena deciding to support the agitation. Two more sabha members joined the relay fast today at the Nehru chowk.


Sangat darshan’ organised
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 11
A district-level ‘sangat darshan’ programme was organised at Ladhuka village, 15 km from here, today in which 110 applications were received, out of which 30 were disposed of on the spot.

Other applications were given to officers of the departments concerned with directions to dispose these of in a fixed timeframe. Most applications were about irrigation, power and drinking water problems and difficulties as a result of laying of landmines.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Mr Hans Raj Josan, MLA, Jalalabad, and Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepur, said a plan for providing drinking water and irrigation facilities in the district , estimated at a cost of Rs 35 crore, is being worked out.


Morcha workers to donate eyes
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 11
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Punjab, will prepare 50,000 workers for donating eyes. It will hold district-level nettardan (eye donation) camps, said Mr Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal and Arun Khosla, president and vice-president of the state unit of the morcha, respectively, here today.

The district units would also hold seminars in schools and colleges against drugs to wean youths from the evil.

The morcha would also honour ADGP A.P. Bhatnagar and IG S.S. Saini for their exemplary services, they declared.

Morcha workers would also plant trees on their birthdays and other occasions.

The morcha demanded that Punjab should be declared a drought-hit state. It also asked the Punjab CM, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make public the details of his foreign tour. 


Indian spy dies in Lahore
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 11
An Indian spy died under mysterious circumstances in Lahore yesterday. He had been in judicial custody for the past few months after being caught on charge of spying and crossing the international border.

According to sources in military intelligence, Gurdhan Das, a resident of New Delhi, died at Services Hospital, Lahore.

Das had been arrested at the border checkpost near Kasur. He was being kept at the Kot Lakhpat jail and was admitted to the jail hospital on March 28. The body was being kept at the city morgue in Lahore.

The sources further said Das had been spying for military intelligence for the past few years on an assignment basis. He had visited Pakistan on many occasions.

After tension between the two countries increased last year, Pakistani Rangers caught him crossing the international border via a checkpost across the Hussainiwala barrage.

‘It is believed that Das was being tortured since he was arrested in early January this year”, said a senior intelligence official.


Dry spell pushes farmers further into debt trap
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 11
Destiny seems to be playing cruel a joke with farmers in the district first facing drought-like conditions, followed by the severe waterlogging problem and now again a dry spell, pushing them further into the debt trap.

A major part of the district remained waterlogged for more than a decade and farmers, including big landlords were finding it difficult to grow even grass on the lands.

Crores of rupees, a major share of which was allegedly misappropriated by officials with active patronage of ruling politicians were pumped into the district by the previous SAD-BJP combine government in this regard.

Now the prevailing dry spell is so severe in the district that the receding groundwater level has forced of the farmers to leave 26,500 hectares the 2,44,139 hectares unsown. More than 75 per cent land at Man Singhwala village remained unsown.

Some of the farmers are doubly cursed as they had switched to paddy from cotton anticipating good yield. But now they were cursing themselves as their paddy crop had also started wilting due to shortage of water.

Sources added that in about 14,393 hectares the damage to paddy was more than 50 per cent, in 13,494 hectares damage was more than 25 per cent and in 28,000 hectares it was more than 10 per cent.

Damage to cotton crop in 8000 hectares was ranging from 25 per cent to 70 per cent, while on 28,000 hectares it was more than 10 per cent.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who toured the district yesterday, said the state government would construct a minor in the pocket at the earliest as the survey for the same had been conducted.


Farmers’ state-level dharna on Aug 17
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 11
Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, state general secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) yesterday said that the union had demanded a compensation of Rs 15,000 per acre for the crops that had been destroyed due to the drought like conditions prevailing in the state, an added that to press for their demands, the union along with four other kisan organisations would hold a state-level dharna at Patiala on August 17.

Mr Kokrikalan in a written statement issued here said that five Kisan organisations, the BKU (E) the Kirti Kisan Union, the Jamhori Kisan Sabha, the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and the Khetibari and Kisan Vikas Front had resolved that the farmers should be paid a compensation of Rs 12,000 per acre in cases where they had failed to sow the crops due to drought. He demanded a compensation of Rs 5,000 per acre for farmers whose crops had been partially damaged.

He said over the past few years agriculture had become unprofitable and with surcharge on diesel, power failures, drought, debt and reduced profits farmers had been forced to take extreme steps. He said that like Haryana, Punjab should also be announced as drought hit.


Revised voters’ list by Oct 16
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 10
The process of revising voters’ lists in the Bathinda Assembly segment would continue till August 14. The date for eligibility of new voters is January 1, 2003.

Mr Anurag Verma, District Election Officer, in a press note yesterday said that the officials were verifying the names of voters already included in the lists and the names of new voters who attained the age of 18 years were being included.

He said the voters’ lists would be published by October 16 and any objections or claims regarding including or excluding names from the lists would be accepted between October 16 and October 31. The decision about these claims and objections would be taken between November 1 and December 31 and the final voters’ lists would be published on January 3 next year.


Bank manager booked in fraud case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 11
The Majitha police has booked manager of the Oriental Bank of Commerce who was earlier posted in the Jandiala branch for allegedly defrauding a person of Rs 25,000. Ashwani Kumar of Jandiala in his complaint said that about five years ago, he had pledged his house for Rs 25,000 to get a loan from the bank. When he failed to deposit some instalments in time, Mr S.K. Verma, the then manager of the branch, proposed that if he deposited a lumpsum of Rs 25,000 he would waive the rest of the amount.

The complainant alleged that he deposited the amount to the manager in presence of Avtaar Singh of Ballian village in May, last year. A few days later, the manager returned the registry of his house and said there was no amount pending against him. Mr Ashwani Kumar alleged that after the transfer of Mr Verma recently, the new manager, Mr Naseeb Chand, informed him that he (Ashwani) had an amount of Rs 31,000 pending against his name.

A case of fraud has been registered against Mr S.K. Verma. Meanwhile, in another case, an attempt was made allegedly to burn Anu Kapur, a resident of Vijay Nagar, by her mother-in-law and brother-in-law yesterday. However, she escaped the attack.


It’s self before service for MBBS students
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 11
The motto ‘Come to learn, go to serve’ does not apply to the MBBS students of the Government Medical College here, as the majority of the MBBS first year students were candid in their replies and admitted that they had opted for this ‘noble’ profession considering it to be lucrative. Surprising facts came to light in a survey conducted by the Department of Community Medicine of the Government Medical College.

Dr Shyam Sunder Deepti, Assistant Professor of the Department, concluded that the survey had proved that the approach of the MBBS students could affect healthcare in the times to come.

The survey revealed that most of the MBBS students hailed from rich families who could afford to spend enough money on their children to get through the PMT (pre-medical tests). Dr Deepti informed that the questionnaires contained six questions which include the objective of their joining the MBBS course. The questionnaire was distributed among the 150 MBBS students of the first year. It is interesting that 66 per cent students replied that they would opt for opening private nursing homes and were not inclined to join government jobs. Only 34 per cent students wished to join the government jobs.

To a question, if given a chance to join the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or the Indian Police Service (IPS), 55.88 per cent students said that they would leave the medical profession immediately. Those students (33 per cent) who had joined the medical profession voluntarily too replied that they would join the IAS/IPS immediately. If an opportunity came their way.

The survey revealed that 94.27 per cent students were from urban areas and only 5.78 per cent students had rural background. It further revealed that fathers of more than 90 per cent MBBS students were graduates or post graduates while 53 per cent mothers were well-educated. More than 61 per cent students replied that they had joined the MBBS course as per the wise of their parents while rest of them said that they had come to the medical college on their own. Most of the students said that they would go for specialisation in cardiology, cancer or neurology etc. and few desired to opt for specialisation in basic medical sciences which showed that the new generation of the medical students wanted to make money after becoming doctors. 


Teachers from 6 dists to hold rallies
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 11
As the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh has backtracked from its poll promises to government employees, they have decided to hold rallies and dharnas to press for the acceptance of their demands.

The Democratic Teachers’ Front, (Faridkot circle) has planned to stage a dharna at the office of the Commissioner, Faridkot division, on August 13 to press their demands, some of which include the allotment of powers to the Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) for full year. The office-bearers of the front alleged that resentment prevailed amongst government teachers and employees of other departments as well as the Congress government had backtracked from its decision to implement the 4-9-14 years formula for promotions and to remove anomalies created by the pay commissions.

They alleged that the Congress had promised that the dearness allowance (DA) would be paid in cash, vacancies of teachers would be filled, transparency would be ensured in cases of transfers, but after gaining power the Congress government had taken a large number of anti-employee decisions. They added that the government had freezed the DA till June 2003, the vacancies of teachers had been abolished (as per the letter of May 13, 2002), new appointments had been banned and there was a plan to hand over schools to private parties.

Mr Madan Pal Bhagta and Major Basant Kumar, president and secretary, respectively of the front said teachers from Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Moga, Muktsar and Mansa districts would participate in the circle-level dharna to be held at the Commissioner’s office at Faridkot.


Govt decision arbitrary: lecturers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 11
Government lecturers who were selected during the tenure of sacked PPSC chairman Ravi Sidhu are sore over the government’s decision to dismiss even those who were selected on merit.

In a press note today, Mr Shalinder Pal Singh, convener of the association, said the fact-finding committee set up by the state had already given a clean chit to the college lecturers. Hence the “arbitrary” step of the government to sack them was unjust.

It was decided to hold zonal-level meetings, besides protest marches. The meetings would be held in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar and Kapurthala.

New Punjabi varsity VC soon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 11
A decision on the new Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University is likely to be announced soon with senior Congress leader and party in charge of Punjab yesterday presiding over a meeting of the search committee constituted by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to select the new Vice-Chancellor of the varsity.

Sources said the meeting was attended by all three search committee members - former Vice Chancellors Dr R P Bambah, who is also a Member of The Tribune Trust, and Dr H K Manmohan Singh and former PGI Director Dr J S Neki. 

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