Thursday, August 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM uses police to harass Akalis: Badal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 21
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president has decried Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for using intemperate language for Akali leaders at a press conference at Amritsar yesterday. Mr Badal demanded an apology from Mr Amarinder Singh for using unpleasant words for SAD leaders. The SAD chief was on his way to Amritsar to sympathise with the family of Mr Kirpal Singh, president, Chief Khalsa Dewan, former MP and freedom fighter, who died at Jalandhar yesterday, was talking to reporters at the residence of local MLA Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon here today. Mr Manpreet Singh Badal MLA and spokesman of the party, Mr Mantar Singh Brar, MLA Kotkapura, and many other senior SAD leaders were also present.

Accusing the Amarinder Singh government of adopting vindictive attitude towards SAD leaders. Mr Badal also charged him with politicising the police and using it to harass Akali leaders under fabricated corruption charges for political mileage. He demanded that a commission headed by a retired High Court Judge be set up to look into the entire matter.

The former Chief Minister said that with the privatisation of Punjab Roadways and the PRTC more than 30,000 employees would be rendered jobless swelling the rank of the unemployed whose number already was over 8 lakh in the state.

FEROZEPORE: Mr Badal today after a long time again rejected the Rajiv-Longowal Accord for solving the inter-state disputes saying that Punjab had no surplus water for other States.

Talking to the mediapersons here, this evening Mr Badal admitted that he opposed the Rajiv-Longowal Accord during the lifetime of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, arguing that he did not believe in the assurances given by the Congress Government that the interstate problems could be solved.

He said that the interstate disputes could not be solved in accordance with the Rajiv-Longowal Accord in the present day situation. There was no need to seek amendments to the river waters part of the accord, as there was no surplus water with Punjab he added.

In reply to a question the SAD chief said that transfer of Hindi-speaking areas to Haryana was not possible without proper survey. A separate commission was the need of the hour to assess the Hindi-speaking areas. Only then transfer of the area could be considered.

On the policies of the Congress Government in the State he said that the SAD was preparing a list of all SAD workers/leaders who had been victims of the ruling party’s such policies. The report will be forwarded to the NDA Government at the Centre so that a high level team of NDA leaders could be constituted to verify the facts.

He declared that a “lok lehar” would soon be started from all corners of Punjab to oust the Congress government. “The response of the district level meetings and then protests in front of all DC offices against the policies of the state Government was signal that all sections of the society were unhappy with the Congress Government”, said Mr Badal.


SAD MLAs’ notice to Home Secy, Vigilance chief
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Ten Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislators today served legal notices on the Principal Secretary (Home) and the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, to demand action against four members of the former Council of Ministers headed by Beant Singh who had been indicted by the Lok Pal, an independent statutory authority.

The notice has been served on behalf of Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, Mrs Satwant Kaur, Mr Malkiat Singh, Mr Sohan Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Bhag Singh Malha, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, Mr Balbir Singh Miani, Mr Desraj Dhugga and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal.

Alleging that there had been a sharp contrast in the action taken by the Vigilance Bureau on the basis of complaints against several SAD leaders, including Mr Tota Singh, MLA; Mr Ajit Singh Kohar , MLA; Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, MLA; Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, while no action has been initiated against those who had been indicted by an independent statutory authority.

The SAD MLAs held that they had sent a similar notice more than a month ago, but no action was taken on that also.

In their notice, the SAD MLAs said that complaints filed against Mr Lal Singh, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo and Mr Lakhmir Singh, all members of the previous Congress government in the state headed by Beant Singh along with the findings of the Lok Pal were sent as an annexure to the earlier notice. The Lok Pal had recommended that action be taken against them against the relevant provisions of law.

The MLAs wanted that their first representation be treated as information under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal procedure so that cases are registered and prosecution launched against the public men concerned. They also held that if no action as warranted by law was taken against the public men concerned, they would be constrained to initiate appropriate legal action against the department.

They have also quoted from the June 18 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the Ashok Chaudhary, Member Lawyers Initiative vs State of Punjab case, in support of their contention of taking the action on the basis of the recommendations of the Lok Pal. The June 18 order wanted that progress of all such cases, pending for investigation, must be brought before the court .

The MLAs maintained that in view of the binding directions of the High Court any further inaction on the part of the Home Department or the Vigilance Bureau in accordance wit the law qua, the four public men indicted by the Lok Pal may even render them — the Home Department and the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, liable — to contempt of court.

The MLAs also alleged that the conduct of the Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau had not been such as to inspire confidence. Accusing the Chief Director of playing to the tunes of his political masters, the MLAs further alleged in their notice that by his indiscriminately doings, the department had been reduced to a willing instrument to settle political scores .The MLAs called upon the Chief Director, Vigilance, to register cases, arrest and bring to book the public men against whom the Lok Pal has recommended registration of cases under the relevant provisions of law.


Give funds or privatise generation: PSEB
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 21
Lack of funds for power generation has forced the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to impress upon the state government either to provide funds for capacity generation projects, including the Shahpur Kandi hydel and GHTP — Stage II thermal project at Lehra Mohabbat, or get the works done by the private sector.

A representation of the board in this regard will be decided on by the Chief Secretary and top-level board officials on August 23.

According to details available with The Tribune, the gap between demand and availability in the current season and the huge amount of power it had to buy from central agencies to meet this gap has forced the board to take this step. The board has told to the government that additional Rs 500 crore worth of power will have to be purchased from central agencies in the current year and that it was imperative to go in for capacity generation if future power needs were to be met.

The Shahpur Kandi project, which was to be built along with the Ranjit Sagar dam, it is necessary to make optional use of the dam and run its power house to its maximum capacity of 600 mega watts during peak load timings.

If the power house is run to full capacity 22,000 cusecs of water will flow to the Madhopur Headworks. As the Upper Bari Deob Canal (UBDC) channel and the Madhopur Beas Link can only take 7,000 cusecs and 5,000 cusecs of water each, the rest of the water will flow to Pakistan. The board wants the project to be implemented so that it can meet the demand of power in peaking hours.

The scheme for the setting up the Shahpur Kandi project envisages Rs 1,200 crore being spent by the Punjab government to carry out civil works and Rs 500 crore being spent by PSEB by taking loan from the Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC). The board now has proposed that the project should be executed through International Competitive Bidding if the government cannot provide funds for doing it internally.

The board management is stressing start of work on the GHTP Stage II 500 MW thermal project at Lehra Mohabbat. This project is estimated to cost Rs 1912 crore. The board has already spent Rs 122 crore on the creation of common facilities and is likely to spend Rs 192 crore more on the provision of manpower and machinery.

However, it is not in a position to put up equity demanded by the PFC due to which the project is stalled. The board has requested the government for funds for starting of the project which will take around three and half years to complete.

The board has recommended that if funds are not available for the project it could be handed over to private parties on a build-own-operate basis. Board sources said at least two parties — a Canadian firm — SNC Lavalin and a British Non-Resident Indian — had evinced interest in the project.

Sources said under the circumstances the state government may have to turn to private parties for the cost of execution of both projects. However, they said this would have its own disadvantages as the state government was paying wages to around 15,000 employees idle after the completion of the Ranjit Sagar project. In case both projects are given to the private sector they said there would not be any hope of utilising the services of these employees in board’s capacity addition projects.


Coal supply to Punjab power plants resumed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 21
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had cleared the payment of Rs 31 crore of the more than Rs 130 crore due to subsidiaries of Coal India Limited which had stopped the supply of coal of the board’s thermal plants to realise the dues.

According to board sources Rs 22 crore payment has been released on behalf of the Ropar Thermal Plant, Rs 7 crore on behalf of the Bathinda plant and Rs 2 crore on behalf of the Lehra Mohabbat plant.

Sources said though the major creditors — Central Coal Fields Limited to which board owed Rs 67 crore and Eastern Coalfields to which it owed Rs 3.1 crore had started reloading coal for board’s thermal plants after assurance that payment would be paid soon. Other three subsidiaries will also now start loading coal from their mines for the board’s thermal plants following part payment of the dues.

Sources added the board had issued cheques for Rs 15 crore to its major creditor — Central Coalfields Limited — followed by Rs 7 crore to Western Coalfields, Rs 4 crore to Bharat Coking Coalfields and Rs 3 crore to South Eastern Coalifields and Rs 2 crore to Eastern Coalfields.

The sources said though the coal stock with all thermal plants in Bathinda, Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat had been depleted to some extent following the stoppage of loading from the mines, the situation would stabilise in four to five days as it took this long for the coal rakes to reach the state.

Meanwhile, pressure on the thermal units of the board is likely to decrease in the near future with a board spokesman disclosing that flow of water in Ranjit Sagar Dam and the Shanan project had increased. He said flow of water in Ranjit Sagar had increased from 3261 cusecs to 12000 cusecs and from 500 cusecs to 863 cusecs in Shanan.

The board said it had resulted in an increase in power generation at both dams from 50-60 lakh to 80-90 lakh units per day in the past few days. It said water level in Ranjit Sagar dam had increased in August from 490 metres to 495 metres.


Sunil Dutt not to act as mediator
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 21
Film star and MP Sunil Dutt today said he would not act as a mediator for talks with militants of Jammu and Kashmir. Talking to reporters here, Mr Dutt, however, said he would have no objection to any militant wanting to talk to him when he reached Jammu and Kashmir heading the ‘sadbhavna yatra’ from Harmandar Sahib - Vaishno Devi to Hazratbal in Srinagar.

Earlier, speaking at a function organised by the local Congress MLA, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, in his honour, Mr Dutt regretted that the vision of Indian people was becoming narrower day by day. After 55 years of our Independence, we are getting estranged from one another, he regretted. Even 57 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, 6,000 persons were still dying there every year due to the after effects of nuclear bombing.

Calling the spirit of ‘sadbhavna’ a universal feeling, Mr Dutt said his yatra, launched yesterday had evoked a good response from all sections of society, including intellectuals. Calling “Sadbhavna ke Sipahi” a non-political organisation constituted by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC president, Mr Dutt said the objective of the yatra was unification of the country. We have fought too much and waged many wars; now let us give peace and love a chance, he pleaded. He regretted what had happened in various parts of Gujarat and the happenings in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir.

Calling each district in the country to adopt people in distress, he gave the example of his constituency, north-west district of Mumbai, where people had adopted 1,000 orphans after the Gujarat earthquake. We would spend Rs 25 lakh on their education, he said.

Children tied “rakhi” to Mr Dutt who was given a cordial reception by the local residents. Mrs Santosh Chaudhary, Congress MP from Phillaur, Mr Mann, local MLA, Mr Sadhu Singh, DCC president and Ashok Prashar, block president, also spoke at the function. An MLA from Mumbai, Mr Baldev Khosa, a monk from Japan, Mr Hayoshima, were among the group of yatris accompanying Mr Dutt who later left for Hoshiarpur.


‘Be on my right side, scribes’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 21
Mr Sunil Dutt, actor-turned -politician, today indulged in banter and pun with media persons. Addressing reporters sitting on his “right” during a function here today, he pleaded with them to remain on his right side vis-a-vis ‘sadbhavna yatra”.

Mr Dutt also bantered with children who had waited for two hours to honour him by playing a bando. Before starting his speech, he made sure that he was visible to the children in the crowd.


Bibi appears before gurdwara panel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 21
Bibi Jagir Kaur, MLA, appeared in person before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission here today as respondent, in two cases relating to her tenure as the SGPC President.

The counsel for the Bibi presented affidavits in both cases, the contents of which were not divulged.

As cross-examination could not be conducted in both cases, they were adjourned for August 27 by a commission panel comprising President of the panel, Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, and members, Mr Dara Singh and Mr Raghbir Singh.

The Satpal Singh Wadali versus Bibi Jagir Kaur case relates to the alleged misappropriation of gurdwara funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for a trip that the Bibi undertook to South Africa as the SGPC President accompanied by her son-in-law and two daughters, including Harpreet, and some SGPC members to attend religious conference.

It was alleged that the Bibi had misused her powers and gurdwara funds as the SGPC chief.

The second case, Harbax Singh versus Bibi Jagir Kaur, relates to the appointment of two persons by the SGPC chief without fulfilling the requisite conditions laid down by the service rules of the SGPC. It was alleged that the posts were never advertised and the rules of appointment and procedure were not followed while appointing the two. Mr Jagtar Singh was appointed as media director while Mr Kirpal Singh Chauhan was appointed as in charge of the Sub-Office Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Chandigarh.

Both petitions were admitted under Section 142 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. The previous hearing for both cases was on August 7.


Bibi’s no to Haryana gurdwara panel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 21
Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former President of the SGPC, today sought the enactment of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act for proper management of the historical Sikh shrines in various parts of the country. She, however, rejected the demand for forming a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana.

Talking to the mediapersons here today she said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, will have to pay a heavy price for the ‘unparliamentary language’ used against the Akalis.

Ridiculing the holding of a conference by the PPCCI on the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, Bibi Jagir Kaur alleged that it was the same party which was responsible for his (Sant Longowal’s) assassination as the much hyped ‘Rajiv-Longowal accord’ could not be implemented in toto.


Bhaniarawala’s bid to hold akhand path foiled
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 21
A group of about 35 Sikhs, including an SGPC member from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh, and some employees of the SGPC, today foiled a bid by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala to begin akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib at his house at Dhamana village near Nurpur Bedi. The group took away the “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib from his house to Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib.

Sources said Baba Bhaniarawala wanted to organise the akhand path from today before his birthday which falls on August 23.

Besides, Mr Aulakh, two Head Granthis of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh and Giani Mann Singh, Additional Manager of the Takht Partap Singh and Deputy Manager of the Takht Jagir Singh also accompanied the group to the house of Baba Bhaniarawala to prevent the starting of akhand path.

Talking to The Tribune this evening, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Head Granthi of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, said Baba Bhaniarawala could not be allowed to organise akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib as he had been excommunicated from the Sikh Panth by Akal Takht.

He said as the Takht received information today from the gurdwara at Dhamana village that some supporters of Baba Bhaniarawala had come to take Guru Granth Sahib for organising akhand path at the house of Baba Bhaniarawala, they immediately rushed to Dhamana village. But later Piara Singh’s family arranged the “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib from some other place, which was now in the possession of the Takht authorities, he added.

Neither any member of Baba Bhaniarawala’s family nor any of his followers offered any resistance to the SGPC and Takht authorities.

However, the police has beefed up security at the village and around the house of the Baba.

The sources said Baba had earlier assured the police authorities that he would not celebrate his birthday this year and would not stay even in his native Dhamana village during that time. But it seemed that Baba had made a false promise to the police, they added.

AMRITSAR (TNS): The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on Wednesday took exception to carrying of the holy Guru Granth Sahib to the dera of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala to mark his birthday.

In a press note issued here on Wednesday, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar said Baba Bhaniarawala was excommunicated from the Sikh panth for his “anti-Sikh” activities and hence he could not be allowed to take the holy Guru Granth Sahib at his dera. He warned that if Baba Bhaniarawala was allowed to disrupt the hard-earned peace in the state, the state government would be held responsible for it.


Prof Manjit flayed for ‘secret’ meetings
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
The Dal Khalsa and the Human Rights Democracy Forum today took Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Keshgarh Sahib, to task for holding “secret meetings” with activists of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat.

Both organisations alleged that the meetings were aimed at hushing up the allegations of corruption levelled against the Sikh clergy. They said such meetings had lowered the prestige of the high seat which Prof Manjit Singh was holding.

In a hard-hitting statement, leaders of both organisations said it was ridiculous on the part of Prof Manjit Singh to go out of the way to meet those who had levelled charges against “Singh Sahibans”.

They took exception to the statement of panchayat leaders that congregation would be held at a Akal Takht where the evidence against the Sikh clergy would be placed before the Sikh sangat to substantiate the charges.

Questioning the propriety of dragging only Akal Takht Jathedar in corruption charges, they said since the verdict was pronounced by five head priests, each of them would have to own moral responsibility for the unanimous decisions on the sensitive issue.


Sehajdharis’ plea to Advani
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 21
The All-India Sehajdhari Sikh Pratinidhi Sabha today urged Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani to ensure that no amendment was made in the Sikh Gurdwara Act barring Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in the SGPC elections.

A meeting of the sabha, presided over by its chairman I.S. Chawla , was held here. It urged the Gurdwara Judicial Commission to allow Sehajdharis to be enrolled as members of the SGPC as long as the Gurdwara Act was not amended by the Union Home Ministry.

Mr Chawla said the sabha would seek a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister regarding the issue and urged that no decision be taken on the issue without involving the sabha.

He said Sehajdharis believed in the Guru Granth Sahib and any attempt to wean them away from the Sikh scriptures by taking away their voting rights in the SGPC elections was against the interests of the Sikh religion.

The sabha president appealed to the Sehajdharis to approach the Tehsildars in their respective areas and get themselves enrolled as voters for the SGPC elections. He also appealed to SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar in this connection.


Noormahalias seek pardon
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 21
To ease tension among followers of Panthic organisations and the Noormahal based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan over the alleged distortion of Sikh history by the latter, the sansthan authorities today sought pardon from the Jathedar of Akal Takht for the controversial comments made by one of its followers.

In a letter to the Jathedar, which was released to mediapersons here, the secretary of the sansthan, Mr Subash Kumar, said it was found that one of its followers, Shradhnand, had made some comments over Gurbani at Tarn Taran.

He said they sought pardon for the comments which had hurt the religious sentiments. We always pay respect to all religions and faiths. We have never worked or preached against anybody. “We never believe in hurting religious sentiments of other communities and religions”, the letter said.


Minister justifies Railways bifurcation move
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 21
Union Minister of Sate for Railways Bandaru Dattatraya has ruled out the possibility of handing over the issue of bifurcation of Eastern Railway to experts committee as demanded by the West Bengal Chief Minister.

Talking to mediapersons after flagging off 12400-th coach manufactured by Rail Coach Factory here, Mr Dattatraya said since the issue had been decided by the Cabinet Committee, there was no question to refer the matter to experts committee before dividing the zone.

He, however, admitted that formation of zones had put a burden on the exchequer of the Railways but the formation of zones was necessary for the decentralisation of administration for its efficient working.

He alleged that the Trinamool Congress chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee, and the Chief Minister of West Bengal had been raking up the issue for political gains.

He said the decision on the bifurcation was taken to give better railway services to people though the Rakesh Mohan Commission and CAG reports had opposed the move.

The Central Government had released Rs 2 crore for the Abohar-Fazilka section, Rs 15.20 crore for the Chandigarh-Ludhiana section, Rs 3 crore for the Tarn Taran-Goindwal section, Rs 10 crore for the Nangal-Talwara section during this year.

He announced that computerisation of reservation facility would be completed at Kapurthala, Moga, Faridkot, Gurdaspur, Muktsar, and Pathankot by March, 2003.

The minister ordered an inquiry into the breakdown of computerised reservation centre at the Jalandhar railway station.

He said Rs 72 lakh were being spent on the Jalandhar railway station to provide better facilities to the passengers.

The minister said the railway would give priority to Punjab in the release of funds for completion of railway projects.

When the attention of the minister was drawn towards the cut in the production of coaches being manufactured in Rail Coach Factory here from 1,000 coaches to 700 during this year, he said it was due to financial crisis being faced by the railways.


Farm hands, too, feel the drought pinch
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), August 21
Ajmer Singh, a farm hand, has been without work for the past four weeks. He finds it difficult to feed his family of three daughters, two sons and other members.

A resident of Daipai village, Ajmer Singh says he used to work for farmers on a daily-wage basis. Now, farmers have stopped engaging him since they, themselves are in a crisis owing to the drought. “I used to earn Rs 70 daily and that was sufficient to feed my family on a day-to-day basis. But for the past one month, I am without work. Since then life has become miserable. I do not know were to go”, says a dejected Ajmer Singh.

Ajmer Singh is not the only one caught in such a situation. His fellow labourers, Kala, Pala, Meeta and Mela, are facing a similar situation. Earlier farmers used to have small amounts in cash with them. They used to hire our services to remove weeds from the crops, But now they don’t have cash with them and even commission agents have stopped advancing loans. They have stopped hiring daily-wage workers, says Pala. Moreover, farmers are spending what they had with them to buy diesel to run tubewells. Other things have become secondary to them.

Though political parties’ focus is on farmers because every politician wants to win their sympathy, poor sections of society especially dalits have been hit hard by the drought in the rural areas. Most of them have become unemployed. “Even those who all of a sudden, get work on a daily-wage basis are not getting payment in cash for that work. “Farmers hire us but promise to pay wages later. It adds to our problems as we have to pay many visits to collect money from them”, say daily-wage workers in the villages.

The worst part of the whole situation is that the Punjab Government is making no effort to help poor sections not to speak of the farming community. “No one has come to us, so far from the government’s side to extend any financial help. The government should also realise that we are also struggling for survival”, say daily wage workers when asked whether the government had implemented the “food-for-work” scheme for them. Implementation of such a scheme is part of drought management stipulated by the Union Government for all states.

Even poor people in every village own livestock especially milch cattle and goats. They are finding it difficult to feed such animals. Green fodder is not available in villages”, says Mr Mukhtiar Singh. Poor people have to depend on dry fodder to feed the livestock. They take it on credit from farmers.

Summing up the situation in the rural areas, Mr Bikramjit Singh, owner of an STD booth at a bus stand in a nearby village, says that “those who come to my booth to make calls do not pay in cash. They ask me to note the call in a register and payment will be made later when the money will be available.”


NDA govt won’t last long, says Bhinder
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 21
The NDA government will not last long due to widespread resentment against the Centre from all sections of the societies. Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister and a senior Congress leader, said this while addressing a function organised by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Punjab, in honour of Mrs Bhinder at Sujanpur yesterday.

Describing the NDA government as ‘anti-farmer’ she said despite the peasants facing hardship the Centre had hiked the prices of fertilisers.

Referring to the recent riots and carnage in Gujarat Mrs Bhinder said such incidents posed a threat to the country.

She said her priority would be to strengthen the party and to remove differences between various leaders.

The gathering was also addressed by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Mr Khushal Behal both Punjab ministers, Mr Tripat Bajwa, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Mrs Aruna Chaudhary, Mr Romal Chand all Congress MLAs, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehal district Congress chief and others.


Left parties hold demonstration
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 21
More than a thousand workers of the Marxist Communist Party of India (M.C.P.I), CPM (Pasla), CPI (ML) Liberation, and the All-India Forward Bloc organised a demonstration and day-long dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today in protest against the “anti-people and anti-employee” budget proposals of the Punjab Government. Speakers of various Left parties alleged that the proposals of the state budget had put a massive burden on the people of the state. Opposing the proposed privatisation of the Punjab Roadways and the PRTC, the parties stressed that all these measures would have an adverse impact on the common man.

Urging the state government to release compensation to the tune of Rs 10,000 to the drought-hit farmers, the demonstrators asked the government to waive the loans given to these farmers. The Left parties also demanded that a dam on river Ghaggar be constructed near Pinjore and that the river be given the shape of a canal so as to control the colossal damage caused by floods every year in the district. They also demanded that the damaged road link in the district, particularly in Ghanour and Rajpura, be repaired and all vacancies of teachers in schools be filled.

Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, polit bureau member of the MCPI, said the parties are determined to launch an agitation in the state against “rampant corruption” and “anti-people” policies of the present Congress regime. Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, state secretary of the CPM (Pasla), stressed on the need for a third front in the state to oppose the Congress and the Akali-BJP coalition.


PPCC to send 15,000 workers for Delhi rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
The PPCC has decided to send 15,000 party workers to the union Capital on August 24 to participate in the national rally being held in protest against “nepotism and favouritism in allotment of petrol pumps and LPG agencies” since 2000.

The national rally would be addressed, among others, by Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Addressing a meeting of the party MLAs, MPs, district presidents and other senior leaders at Punjab Congress Bhavan, the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, said after the Delhi rally, the party would organise similar rallies at all district headquarters on August 28. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, also addressed the meeting.


Bairagi mandal announces state panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Releasing the list of office-bearers of the Bairagi Maha Mandal, Punjab, its President, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, said today that Mr Bal Kavi Bairagi, a member of the Rajya Sabha, had been made chief patron of the mandal. A meeting of the state committee announced today would be held at Amritsar on September 1, according to Mr Bawa.

Patrons of the mandal are: Mahant Soraj Mani (Phillaur), Mahant Naranjan Dass (Zeera), Mahant Gian Das (Maksoodan), Mahant Uttar Das, Mahant Lal Das (Handayaya), Mr Ved Parkash (Jalandhar), Mahant Garib Das (Patiala), Mr Bishan Das (Ludhiana), Mahant Nirmal Singh (Raikot) and Mahant Harbhajan Das (Barnala).

The Office-bearers are: senior vice-president: — Mr Hari Dass Bawa ; vice-presidents — Mr Mohinder Das Bawa(Mullanpur) and Master Kartar Singh Bawa; secretary-general — Dr Rajinder Pal Singh (Assi Kalan); general secretaries — Bawa Ravinder Nandi (Ahmedgarh), Prof Jeewan Dass (Mansa), Mr Naseeb Bawa (Moga) and Mr Rajinder Bawa (Amritsar), secretaries — Mr Ashwani Bawa, Dr Jagdish Kothar, Mr Ram Sharan Dass, Mr Vikramjit Singh, Mr Jagdish Bawa, Mr Charanjit Bawa, Mr Narinder Bawa, Mr Bhagwan Das Bawa and Mr Ved Swaran Das; organising secretaries — Mr Megh Raj Bawa, Mr Raj Ram Changli, Mr Kewal Dass Dharonki, Bibi Gurnam Dass Sahina, Mr Onkar Bawa, Dr Ravinder Bawa, Mr Mohan Das Bawa, Mr Amarjit Bawa, Mr Sat Narain Cheema and Mahant Balwant Dass.

No change has been made as far as the appointment of district presidents is concerned.

The following is the list of Presidents of the mandal in various assembly constituencies. Mr Tarlochan Das Doraha (Payal), Mr Mohinder Singh (Patiala), Mr Dayal Das (Dakala), Mr Naresh Bawa (Ghanaur), Mr Raj Kumar Bawa (Rajpura), Mr Jagan Nath Bawa (Banur), Mr Jagroop Dass (Shatrana), Mr Dara Dass (Nabha), Dr Charan Das (Sangrur), Dr Ram Das (Dhuri), Dr Krishan Baldev (Sherpur), and Mahant Jaspal Singh (Malerkotla).

Mr Kahan Dass (Sunam), Mr Ramji Dass (Lehragaga), Mahant Bhoj Raj (Barnala), Mr Mangal Dass (Dhanula), Mr Pritam Das (Bhadaur), Mr Dilbagh Singh (Dirba), Mr Beant Singh (Sardulgar), Mr Gurbachan Dass(Gidderbaha), Mr Jagdish Bawa (Muktsar), Mr Jeet Das Bawa (Moga), Mr Dwaraka Dass (Zeera), Mr Boota Ram (Dharmkot), Mr Tarlochan Das (Noormahal), Mr Subash Bawa (Jagraon), Mr Balbir Bawa (Raikot), and Mr Harinder Singh Bawa (Joga).

Mr Baldev Singh Dhudike will continue as chief of the Baba Banda Bahadur Brigade. He has been authorised to make other appointments in the brigade.


Highest number of road mishaps in Patiala
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 21
Patiala has the highest incidence of road accidents in the state with 740 accidents recorded in 2000.

Trucks are involved in most of the accidents followed by cars, buses and tractor-trailers. This was stated by Dr Prem Prakash Khosla, convener of the Social Sciences and Health Forum , Punjab.

A report prepared by the forum states that Patiala is followed by Ludhiana, Ropar, Amritsar and Sangrur in the number of accidents reported in Punjab. On the basis of interviews of doctors conducted by the forum, it was concluded that most of the deaths were caused due to delay in bringing the victim to the hospital.

The reason sighted is harassment by the police of the person who brings the accident victim to the hospital.

On the basis of annual number of accidents per thousand of vehicles registered in the district , the forum has stated that Fatehgarh Sahib is the most accident-prone district in the state with 6.073 accidents, followed by Moga(5.344), Nawanshahr (4.5936) and Ropar (4.4689).

The forum has concluded that trucks were responsible for a maximum number of accidents(29.02 of all accidents) followed by cars(25.85) and buses(14.8) in 2000.

The spokesperson for the forum, Mr Malkiat Singh, stressed on the need to launch a massive educational drive about road safety in the state.

He said immediate steps should be taken to broaden roads in the state as traffic had increased immensely. He also called for strengthening trauma care and emergency facilities at all district headquarters, besides banning drinking joints and liquor vends on the main roads.


Plan to improve infrastructure
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh sahib, August 21
With a view to provide pollution-free environment and better facilities to rural people, the government would launch a special programme to improve infrastructure in villages. This was stated by Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies, at Bachat Bhavan here today. He was presiding over a function to distribute cheques amounting to Rs 11 lakh to 72 people belonging to weaker sections of society under the Indra Avas Yojna.

He said a scheme would be launched in the state in the current financial year under which one village, in each block, would be covered in the first phase and all facilities like drinking water, sewerage, concrete roads and streetlights would be provided. Madhopur village in Sirhind block, Fatehpur Arian village in Bassi Pathana block and Khera village of Khera block had been selected for this purpose, he said.

The minister said the farmers could also benefit from the Farm Forestry Scheme. It would ensure good income to the farmers in the coming years. Under the scheme, farmers, whose land was situated along the link roads, would be asked to grow at least 20 trees, each, and to protect them at least for two years. The government would pay 100 per cent of the value of trees to such farmers on the maturity of those trees.

He said the scheme was like a gift to the farmers and it would also help in checking pollution. For better environment 33 per cent or the total area of the state should be under forests, but it was only 6 per cent at present, he said.

He said Rs 1.75 crore would be spent in Fatehgarh Sahib district for the betterment of schools. It would be insured that all schools were covered under the scheme. An elementary teachers’ training college would also be set up in the district. Move to allot land for this purpose was under process.

Mr Baldev Singh Sidhu, ADC (D), spoke about various schemes for rural development.


‘Ban defaulters of loans from poll’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 21
Hundreds of supporters of various unions under the banner of the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) today held a march in the city to press the Central Government to make a provision for imposing a ban on the defaulters of bank loans from contesting parliamentary and Assembly elections and declare wilful default a criminal offence.

Mr Pawan Jindal, general secretary, AIBEA, while addressing the rally said the association, which had launched a campaign for improving the health of the banking industry, had also been pressing the Central Government to increase the rate of interest on small saving and deposits, expand banking services and accelerate flow of bank credit to the agricultural sector.

He pointed out that the association opposed the Assets Reconstruction Company as it was a shrewd attempt to whitewash the banks’ balance sheets and the government’s policy of disinvestment in the public sector in its bid to promote the entry of foreign capital in the financial institutions.

He added that the association would keep on pressurising the Central Government to publish a list of people who had defaulted on bank loans over Rs 10 lakh and take penal measures to recover all bad loans.

Later, the association submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner here along with a list of those people who had defaulted on bank loans over Rs 1 crore. Mr Ashok Sharma and Mr Binder Pal also addressed the rally.


Institute opens hospital wing
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 21
Fortis Heart Institute today announced the opening of a full-fledged multi-speciality hospital. The existing multi-speciality medical centre attached to the institute has now been transformed into a full-fledged hospital with its own critical care wing, operation theatres, rooms and the ability to do surgeries and procedures in 18 specialities. The institute will henceforth be known as Fortis Heart Institute & Multi-Speciality Hospital to reflect its enhanced capabilities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Harpal Singh, Chairman of Fortis Healthcare Ltd, said: “Just over a year back we inaugurated India’s finest cardiac care facility. Today, we are the largest cardiac hospital in the region, having treated patients across the complete range of heart ailments. This has now generated a demand amongst the community to extend the same excellence to other specialities and the multi speciality hospital is in response to this need.”

The hospital is spread over a centrally air-conditioned area of 70,000 sq ft and has its own set of multi-speciality operation theatres, a dedicated ICU for critical care, neurology, pulmonology function & ENT labs, a dialysis centre and even a psychiatry and dental clinic amongst others. The hospital also has one of the most advanced and comprehensive diagnostic facilities in the region. In fact, its pathology lab is the first to be certified by NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibrating Laboratories - the government body which certifies quality and accuracy in pathology testing) in this region.

Well known specialist doctors are associated with the hospital and are offering comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in 18 specialities under one roof. The hospital is also equipped with 24-hour service emergency ambulance, blood bank and a chemist shop.


Woman beaten up by in-laws
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 21
Ms Kirpal Kaur, a 50-yer-old woman of Bhagwan Garh village, near here, suffered as many as 14 injuries, including a fracture, after she was allegedly beaten up by her brother-in-law at her house yesterday.

“I was beaten up first. When I resisted, they tied my hands and again started beating me till I fell unconscious,” alleged Ms Kirpal Kaur when this correspondent visited her at the local Civils Hospital where she was undergoing treatment.

The doctors in the emergency wing, on condition of anonymity, said so far about 14 injuries had been counted on the body of Ms Kirpal Kaur, adding that the number of injuries could increase as at first the bleeding wounds had been stitched. They added that the wounds were there on her entire body and included some injuries caused by blunt-edged weapons. The condition of Ms Kirpal Kaur was stable and she had been responding to treatment, they said.

Ms Kirpal Kaur said this was not the first time that she had been subjected to cruelty by her in-laws and claimed that her husband, Sukhdev Singh, had also been beaten a number of times, but they had not reported the matter to the village panchayat or the police authorities. She said they were being denied their rightful share in the assets owned by the family.

In another incident, Ms Jaswinder Kaur (34), a resident of Pakka Kalan village, about 35 km from here, who was allegedly given poisonous tablets by her father-in-law and brother-in-law died at the Civil Hospital this evening. It is learnt that celphos tablets were given to her forcibly.


Youth Akali Dal leader acquitted

Moga, August 21
Judicial Magistrate K.K. Bansal today acquitted senior Youth Akali Dal leader Nadharak Singh Brar of charges of stealing Panjab University question papers and answer sheets from the office of the Principal of Guru Teg Bahadur College at Rode village in this district in 1984.

The case under Section 458, IPC, was registered against him in 1984 but he was released on bail in August 1985. Later, when he failed to appear in the court he was declared a proclaimed offender in 1990. He was again arrested in the case four months ago.

The court today recorded the statement of the accused when he denied the charges levelled against him. The prosecution could produce only one witness as the other three eyewitnesses died during the trial. UNI


JE gets police remand
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 21
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Amrik Pal Singh, Junior Engineer (Irrigation), in police remand till August 23.

The public prosecutor and the DSP (Vigilance) appeared in the court and pleaded for 10-day police remand. The court was informed that an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the accused at SAS Nagar. The accused had a house in Bathinda, two shop-cum-flats in the Urban Estate, land in a village, the prosecutor alleged adding that he had plots in Bathinda, SAS Nagar and Chandigarh.

Defence counsel said the father of the accused had 36 acres and the properties had been purchased out of the income of his joint family.


Youth say no to drugs
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 21
Motivated by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, the youth, mostly students of the local Guru Nanak College, today took a pledge to abstain from ‘nashas’ (intoxicants and drugs) at a function organised by the circle to welcome students to the college.

Mr Meharpreet Singh, Zonal President of the circle, disclosed that the students presented a signed pledge scroll to the college Principal, Mr Inderjit Singh. The students pledged not to go near ‘nashas’ in their life and also to create awareness among others against this evil.


J&K poll: incentives to Punjab staff

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 21
The Punjab government employees have been offered incentives to do poll duty in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir.

The offer has come in the wake of refusal by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) to perform the election duty. The federation, which claim affiliation of 42 employees’ bodies, at a meeting on August 19, had declined to do the poll duty in the troubled state.

The federation had said the Punjab government was thinking of sending 4,000 employees to the troubled state for poll duty. The government, it is understood, has now decided to pick up volunteers from among the employees by offering a handsome package.

The decision to send the state employees was taken because of their experience in handling polling by electronic voting machines (EVMs) which were used for the first time all over Punjab in the February Assembly elections.

Deputy Commissioner Vikas Pratap said today that selected volunteers would be away to Jammu and Kashmir for 25 days to do the duty in the three-phase elections to be held in September-October. He said while volunteers experienced in handling EVMs would be preferred, others would be trained here before they were sent to the state.

The Deputy Commissioner said those deputed for all three phases of poll duty would be paid a lumpsum amount of Rs 10,000 and those who work in two phases would get Rs 7,000. He said the roll of duty and other incentives would be decided by the Election Commission. He said DA would be paid at the rate of one-and-a-half time of the Rs 135 applicable to the Central government employees. UNI


Senior assistants’ selection ‘irregular’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 21
A number of aspirants for the post of senior assistant in the Punjab Government today alleged irregularities in the selection procedure for the post saying that merit was being compromised in return for material gains by certain corrupt elements.

In a signed statement, they have stated that the Subordinate Services Selection Board, Punjab, had invited applications for 36 posts of senior assistant in various departments in May 1995. Out of these, 18 posts were filled by candidates who had three years’ experience in a government department or a private firm.

The board again invited applications for these posts in January 1998. The minimum qualification for the posts was graduation. Besides, the candidates were required to qualify in the senior assistant grade examination.

The aspirants further stated that a test was conducted in April 1999, the result of which was declared in July 2001. In the selection list, the aspirants alleged, neither experienced nor “deserving” candidates, who scored high marks in the test, were included.

Alleging that only favoured candidates were shortlisted by the board, the aspirants have demanded an inquiry into the selection procedure and scrutiny of the examination records to bring out the truth.


Punjab may impose new toll tax
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
Punjab Government today discussed with Rail Minister Nitish Kumar ways of raising finances for the construction of 65 rail over bridges (ROBs) in the state at a total cost of Rs 650 crore in the next five years.

At a meeting here with Mr Kumar, the state’s Public Works Minister Pratap Singh Bajwa suggested various financial models for raising resources. These were in addition to the permission given by the Railways to the state to impose toll tax and commercially use the land below the bridge except the land belonging to the Railways. The Punjab Government is also planning to impose toll on inter-district movement of vehicles which could earn it a revenue of Rs 55 crore.


Mr A.S. Bains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 21
Mr Arvinder Singh Bains has been posted as Director, Information Systems and Administrative Reforms and ex-officio Additional Secretary, relieving Mr N.S. Kalsi of the additional charge.

Meanwhile, Mr Roshan Lal Kapoor, Special Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, will also look after the work of the Special Secretary, Vigilance, in addition to his present assignment, an official press note said today.


Five patwaris suspended
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 21
The Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Vikas Partap, has ordered the suspension of five patwaris in subdivision Fatehgarh Sahib, for the negligency of duty to conduct special girdawari for drought-hit area. These patwaris are Mr Hakam Singh, halka Baras, Mr Harwinder Singh halka Cholti Kheri, Mr Gurinder Kumar, halka Khera, Mr Gian Singh halka Jameetgarh and Mr Mandheer Singh, halka Balahra.

During a random check by the Deputy Commissioner, these patwaris were found guilty when they did not reach on the spot for special girdawari ordered by the Deputy Commissioner.

Tehsildar Rajesh Tripathi, who was the supervising authority for this purpose, was also found guilty because he did not perform his duty as per instructions. The Deputy Commissioner recommended to the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) to take stern action against the tehsildar.

Mr Partap further directed all patwaris in the district to perform their duty honestly. Any negligency, if found, would not be tolerated and stern action would be taken by the district administration in this regard.


Staff threaten mass leave
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 21
If Employees of the office of the Deputy Commissioner have resolved to go on mass casual leave for 12 days from September 2 if the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, did not change his behaviour towards them.

The employees took this decis- ion at a meeting held here on Monday under the presidentship of Mr Binder Paul, president, Deputy Commissioner’s Office Employees Union.

In a resolution passed at the meeting the employees criticised the behaviour of Mr Verma toward employees.

The association has sent copies of the resolution to Chief Secretary and other higher officials of the state government.

Mr Verma, when contacted, denied the allegations of employees. He said he had issued a circular to the employees that if work assigned to them was not completed within time, action would be taken and had sought explanation from some employees in cases missing files and delay in court cases. He said the employees were pressing for the withdrawal of the circular.

He said he had never misbehaved with any of the employees.


Ex-minister, 7 others booked for faking will
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 21
A case has been registered against Mr Harbans Singh, former Minister and resident of Rampura, and seven others in connection with their alleged involvement in acquiring a piece of land on the basis of fake documents, including a will.

Police sources said the seven booked in the case were Inder Kaur, Nar Singh, Devinderpal Singh and Rajinder Kaur, residents of the Civil Lines area, Banwari Lal, Ramsarup Bishnoi and Nardev Singh.

The sources said the case had been registered on the directions of Mr Surinder Mohan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, in connection with a complaint of Mr Mohinder Singh and Mr Surjeet Singh. The dispute was over the ownership of a piece of land in the Ganesha Basti locality in the heart of the city.

The sources said the accused were trying to possess the land allegedly on the basis of a fake will of its owner, Saraswati, which was procured by them from Sriganganagar. This was despite the fact that Saraswati was a resident of Tilak Nagar in Delhi.

Saraswati, who became the owner of the land in 1953, prepared a power of attorney in the names of some persons in 1963. After that she started living in Delhi. She never made a will in favour of the accused, the sources said.

A senior functionary of the police said no arrest had been made so far as necessary documents for proceeding further were being collected.


Escaped undertrial held
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, August 21
Gurdas Singh, alias Buga, a local resident who escaped from police custody at the Sangrur bus stand on July 13 has been arrested. Gurdas Singh escaped while he was being taken back to the Sangrur jail after he attended the court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Bathinda, in connection with a case pertaining to smuggling of poppy husk.

The sources said Gurdas Singh remained in hiding at his relatives’ house at distant places after his escape. Today he came to see his parents as one of his brothers had died recently.

The accused was arrested from the local bus stand while he was going to meet his parents.

The sources said Gurdas Singh, who was hardly 25, years of age, was facing four criminal cases, including smuggling of poppy husk in Punjab and Haryana. A case had been registered in the city police station, Sangrur, on July 13 when he escaped from police custody. They said departmental inquiries had been initiated against Mr Darshan Singh and Mr Iqbal Singh by the district police authorities for their alleged negligence in the case.


4 held for selling drugs without prescription
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
The Gurdaspur police yesterday arrested four chemists for selling scheduled drugs without prescription.

Mr Varinder Kumar, district police chief, Gurdaspur, said these drugs were used by drug addicts who later indulge in fighting at public places. These were being sold at higher rates clandestinely due to prohibitory orders issued by the District Magistrate, Gurdaspur.

Mr Varinder Kumar said Raj Kumar was sent as a decoy to the chemists who gave him drugs without any prescription.

Karndip Singh, owner of a medical store at Adda Kanwan, and Jaspal Singh of Pal Medical Store, both from Pathankot, Sanjiv Kumar of Gupta Medical Store, Taragarh, and Subash Chander of Subash Medical Store, Adda Saili Kullian, were arrested under Section 188 of the IPC.

Their shops have been sealed.


SFI stages dharna, seeks elections
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 21
Students of some educational institutes in the region today sat on dharnas in their respective towns and districts in protest against the alleged anti-student education policies of the government and demanded that the elections to the student bodies be conducted.

Mr Swaranjit Singh Dalio, state general secretary, Student’s Federation of India (SFI) in a press note issued here today said the elections to the student bodies were banned in the state in 1983 for some specific reasons but now that the circumstances had changed they should be conducted. He alleged the successive governments were not accepting even the genuine demand of the students.

He said the government was initiating steps to cease the concessional bus pass facility offered to the students.


Varsity declares withheld results
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
Baba Farid University of Health Sciences has declared the results of 150 MBBS students of Government Medical College here. The results had been withheld due to a tussle between two internal examiners.

The results have been declared on the basis of recommendations by a two-member inquiry committee.

The committee had given a clean chit to the head of the department (external examiner) and reported to the university that no award lists had not been tampered with.

Dr Kuldip Singh Sodhi, one of the internal examiners, had refused to sign the award list, stating that the external examiner had tampered with the list.


Army interviews engineering students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 21
The Army (Engineering Corps) interviewed 27 engineering students of Guru Nanak Dev University for placement in the services here yesterday.

The interviews were conducted by the Army under its university entry scheme by the placement unit of the varsity.

Brig K. Babbayya Chief Engineer, 11 Corps said there were a number of opportunities for engineering graduates in the Army.

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