Saturday, August 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Package for farmers soon: CM
Tours drought-hit areas in Muktsar, Mansa, Bathinda
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Harkishanpura (Bathinda), August 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said a relief package, including the deferment of loan recovery would be announced shortly for the drought-affected farmers.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was on his first tour to drought-affected areas in Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts, said he was moved to see the plight of farmers. He said the Punjab Government would leave no stone unturned to lessen the burden of farmers. The relief package was being worked out in consultation with all departments concerned, he said and hinted that the relief package might include some waiver of loans also.

The Chief Minister, who listened to problems of various panchayats in connection with the inadequate water for drinking and agriculture use, directed officials concerned to ensure the desilting of the canals and distributaries criss-crossing the region within five days so that water supply could be ensured to fields located at the tail-ends.

Two ministers — Mr Gurchet Singh Bhuller and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa — will undertake a tour of these districts to solve problems of farmers on the spot and to ensure the implementation of his directions”, the Chief Minister told farmers.

A strong case would be sent to the Centre to seek adequate compensation to drought-affected farmers. He would meet the Union Agriculture Minister for getting adequate maximum support price for paddy and other crops keeping in view the drought conditions.

The Chief Minister while taking a serious view of the complaint about the fact that some patwaris were forcing the farmers to plough in their crops in Muktsar area if they wanted to get an interim relief of Rs 700 per acre as announced by Punjab Government warned that such officials would not be spared. He directed the civil authorities to put a check on this trend.

Most of the complaints confronted by the Chief Minister, who was accompanied by the Irrigation and Public Health Minister and a battery of secretaries, were in connection with inadequate water for drinking and agriculture purposes, delay in grant of power connection to tubewells, irregularities allegedly being made by Revenue Department officials while conducting girdawari and non-functioning of those minors which had been completed to enhance the irrigation facilities in Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda districts.

Farmers of various villages of Muktsar district pointed out that though canals and distributaries were passing through their villages but they were not getting even a drop of water.

They also alleged that some influential persons had been getting canal water supply and additional water from the lift water scheme with the connivance of Irrigation Department officials. A section of farmers complained that they were not getting water according to their turn and their repeated pleas to the Irrigation Department officials had fallen on deaf ears.

Capt Amarinder Singh directed the Irrigation Minister, Mr Bhuller to conduct an inquiry into the functioning of XEN, Irrigation, Abohar. He also asked the Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, Ms Usha R. Sharma, to look into the matter.

He directed officials concerned to expedite those works relating to the setting up water works and irrigation facilities at the earliest, construction of which had already been started.

In this village, residents, who had put the entire land of village on sale, demanded that a factory should be set up in their area to generate enough employment as they were in a debt trap. They also demanded that Rs 5000 per acre should be given as compensation for the losses caused to their crops by drought.

Out of total 1137 acres of land of this village, farmers could not sow any crop in 221 acres due to shortage of water while they were forced to plough in paddy and cotton crops in 80 acres and 75 acres, respectively.

Muktsar: Capt Amarinder Singh launched “Jantak Darshan” Programme (Public Interaction) from Bhangewala village on the Muktsar-Ferozepur Road on Friday. He spent more than four hours and listened to grievances of more than 30 panchayats of Gidderbaha, Malout and Muktsar subdivisions.

Uddat Saide Wala (Mansa): The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on Friday strongly pleaded that the Centre should announce Rs 100 per quintal as bonus and considerable increase in the minimum support price (MSP)of paddy because due to failure of monsoon, farmers had suffered heavy losses and their cost of inputs had gone up many times.

Capt Amarinder Singh was addressing a public meeting after reviewing the impact of drought in villages of Budhlada subdivision situated on tail ends in the Boha area in the district where the ground water was not up to mark for irrigation purposes.

The drought spell ha cost the state more than Rs 2000 crore in the agricultural sector only, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government had signed a deal with world international (juice manufacturing company) Tropicana to identify citrus varieties for commercial growing in Punjab. The committee on diversification in agriculture constituted under the Chairmanship of renowned economist Dr S.S. Johal, would submit its report so that the farming community can be advised for growing high value cash crops.

He also said sincere efforts would be made for the privatisation of the Budhlada Coop. Sugar Mills Limited with enhanced capacity so that the farmers of the area can divert to sugarcane.

Later the Chief Minister listened the grievances of gram panchayats and farmers and directed the district administration to redress their problems.

Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Minister of State for Public Health, Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, MLA, Mr Ajitnder Singh Moffar, former MLA, Mr Rajesh Chhabra, Principal Secretary Irrigation and Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa were also present.


Power situation gloomy: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh while painting a gloomy picture of power generation in the state today said his government would take steps to improve the situation.

The Chief Minister, while addressing mediapersons said as per the prevailing situation, it was being apprehended that within two to three months, the hydro-electric generation would also cease as the level of water in the Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams had been falling at an alarming rate.

He said the Punjab Government was waiting for the report of the Tariff Regulatory Authority to improve the power situation.

The thermal power plants had been surviving on the limited stock of coal as the Punjab Government had been facing problems to gather enough stock of coal due to fact that the PSEB owe Rs 137 crore to coal companies.

He said the PSEB also owe Rs 220 crore to the railways in lieu of transportation charges of coal. The government had been exploring the possibilities of setting up the Goindwal thermal plant and two units of phase-II of the Lehra Mohobat thermal plant by private parties as these had been cleared by the Centre. He added that global tenders for the same would be floated shortly.

Steps would be taken to check transmission losses, which was about 17 per cent and losses due to theft by “kundi” connections, which was about 10 per cent, he added.


BKU (E) submits memorandum to CM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
The district unit of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) has urged the Chief Minister, Cap Amarinder Singh, to fulfil its demands raised during the Maiserkhana agitation.

It submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister at Harkishanpura village in district, about 35 km from here, today during his visit to the drought-hit villages.

The BKU (E) demand that stern action should be taken against the arhtiya and bank officials be allegedly responsible for the suicide of Mithu Singh a farmer of Sandoha village. Leaders said the loan of the family of the deceased should be waived and a compensation worth Rs 5 lakh be given to them.

Mithu Singh had committed suicide last year when he failed to repay the loans taken from an arhtiya and a commercial bank. The BKU (E) had staged a dharna, near Maiserkhana village, on the Bathinda-Mansa road, in protest against the alleged partisan role of the police and the civil authorities in the suicide case.

The BKU (E) also urged the Chief Minister that the alleged fake cases registered against activists of the party during the agitation should be withdrawn.


No discord in Cong over Longowal’s function: CM
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while claiming that there was no discord in the Congress over the outburst of the Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal over the holding of a function by the Punjab Government to mark the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, disclosed that it was held with the approval of the party high command.

Talking to mediapersons at Harkishanpura village after touring the drought-affected villages, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government had decided to observe the death anniversary every year by organising such functions.

“Sant Harchand Singh Longowal is a martyr as he laid down his life for signing the Rajiv-Longowal pact for bringing peace in Punjab,” claimed the Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Ms Sham Kaur, widow sister of Sant Longowal. He added that martyrs did not belong to any community or political party.

Mrs Bhattal had expressed her displeasure over the holding of function by the Government by saying that the Congress should stay away from Akali “raula rappa”. Mrs Bhattal also did not attend the function organised by the state government at Longowal village on August 20.


CM orders probe into Amarjit Kaur case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
The dowry case registered against senior Congress leader and former MP Amarjit Kaur has taken a new twist with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh asking the Patiala police to hold an inquiry into the case even as Mrs Amarjit Kaur said a senior officer should be associated with the inquiry.

A case of attempt to murder and under Sections of the Dowry Act had been registered against Mrs Amarjit Kaur and her son Pawaninder Singh by Civil Lines Police station on August 18. Both of them were accused of attempting to murder Pawaninder’s wife Amrina Singh, besides pressuring her parents to give more dowry.

SSP Paramraj Singh Umranangal said that SP (City) Kuldeep Singh had been directed to hold an inquiry and submit a report within a week. Both parties would appear before the inquiry officer. He said the parents of Amrina Singh would be asked to furnish evidence with regard to the allegations levelled by them against Mrs Amarjit Kaur and her son. He said the Congress leader had disclosed during preliminary inquiry that a compromise had been worked out with Amrina’s family but said there was no written evidence to support this claim.

She said there was still confusion whether the inquiry should be held by the district police or by some senior officer from outside the district. She said despite clear government instructions that no case of such a nature should be registered against anyone without a proper inquiry, a case had been registered against her.

Congress leader said the inquiry should also uncover the ‘’conspiracy’’ to tarnish her image. She said she had brought these facts to the notice of the Chief Minister, Home Secretary and the Patiala district police chief. She had also demanded that she should be given a copy of the allegations so that she could reply to them.


Pbi varsity teachers feel betrayed
Appointment of new Vice-Chancellor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
Punjabi University teachers today felt betrayed following the appointment of a bureaucrat as Vice-Chancellor of the university in the form of Mr S.S. Boparai despite continuous promises by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that an eminent academician would be appointed to the post.

Most of the teachers who spoke to TNS refused to come out in the open saying “we have to work under the new Vice-Chancellor for three years, we cannot start with a quarell.” However, the convener of the Teachers United Front and former PUTA president, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, said a bureaucrat had been appointed to the post despite a promise made to the front by the Chief Minister that he would only appoint an academician.

He, however, said the front wanted the Vice-Chancellor to provide academic leadership to the university. The front would cooperate with him, he added.

Dr Khaira, demanded that the Vice-Chancellor should restore the sanctity of rules and regulations. He said it was unfortunate that the acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr N.S. Rattan, had not been able to undo the violations committed by former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia in the varsity calendar.

The PUTA president, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, said a meeting of the teachers association had been called for tomorrow to appeal the Vice-Chancellor to run the varsity in an impartial manner.

Meanwhile, a number of teachers also spoke on the condition of anonymity. Speaking to TNS, a teacher said the Chief Minister had belied the hopes of the teaching fraternity and that the necessity of keeping academic bodies in the hands of academicians had been recognised the world over. He said the appointment proved that the government was still treating the university shabbily adding that the appointment was an insult to academic fraternity.

Other teachers said the appointment of a bureaucrat was strange though other academicians had been shortlisted, including Dr Harjit Singh Gill, a linguist, famous writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana and Dr H.S. Virk, an eminent physician. Saying that there was a sea change in the working of academicians and bureaucrats, they said the latter treated everyone as subordinates while in a university a Professor was not subordinate to the Vice-Chancellor.

However, a few teachers felt that the Chief Minister might have gone in for bringing an outsider and a non-academician to the university as Vice-Chancellor to reverse the trend of intense factionalism.


We are open to inquiry: axed ETOs
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
Ms Anjuli Janjua is a gold medallist in MA (psychology). After clearing her UGC, she became a lecturer at KMV, Jalandhar. When opportunity knocked at her door, she appeared for the PCS examination and got into the allied service, as Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO), in 1998. She cleared the department examinations, as also the probation period. She was well into her job at Jalandhar, when the government decided to declare the entire 1998 batch selection made by the PPSC as ‘’null and void’’, thereby, slashing her career.

As she walked into TNS office, in a voice chocked with emotion, she asked, ‘’What do I do? I have been a topper all through my academic career, studying on scholarship. Here I am now out on the road with a social stigma of being ‘tainted’ for no fault of mine’’.

She is not alone. What has hurt her and other colleagues, who accompanied her, is the ‘’exparte’’ decision of the government to sack 63 allied services officers, who were neither heard nor an enquiry was held to determine their background and merit. ‘’We are prepared to face any inquiry by any agency to prove our point’’, they said in chorus.

Take the case of Major Sarbjot Singh Sidhu (retd.), who has spent six years in the Indian Army. As an ex-serviceman, he got the opportunity to get into PCS (Allied) as an ETO. Today, with a five-month-old son and a family to support he does not know where to look for an other job. ‘’Please do not go by figures alone. There is a human side to the numbers’’. He could have continued in the Army for more years, but fate willed otherwise.

Mr Ashu Jain is MBA and LLB. He cleared the IAS (mains) examination three times, besides being selected for the HCS and also as DSP. He had an appointment letter as District Manager, Food Corporation of India, in his pocket. As destiny willed, he appeared in the PPSC-conducted PCS examination and was selected, ‘’on merit’’, as ETO. Today, he is jobless!

These three ETOs and their other four colleagues, Dr Akashdeep Sandhu, Ms Manpreet Kaur, Mr Harwant Singh and Mr Rajesh Bhandari, will seek legal remedy by the high court. But what has hurt them is that their services stand terminated without any ‘’charge or allegation or given an opportunity to explain. ‘’It is clear, blatant denial of natural justice’’, they rue.

Dr Sandhu is credited with the seizure of diamonds worth Rs 2.5 crore. He is a product of medical college, Patiala, and had cleared the IAS (mains) examination twice besides being selected as DSP. Mr Harwant Singh is a student of St. Stephens, Delhi, while, Mr Bhandari has done his master’s in management from Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Manpreet Kaur, incidentally, is a mother of a four-month-old daughter and on maternity leave. The news has come as a shock to her. Moreover, she too had cleared the IAS (mains) exam before joining as ETO. Besides, she is a B.Sc (gold medalist).

For these ETOs, life has suddenly become ‘’agnipriksha’’ being victims of ‘’slow poisoning’’ due to the PPSC scam. In fact, out of 10 the ETOs of the 1998 batch, two left to join IAS allied services, and the third joined as a District Manager, FCI.

The bolt has come on the ETOs and likes of them at a time when the job market is shrinking, age is a bar to appear in competition examinations and are unsure when the re-examination will be held, as to give an opportunity to all those PPSC selected whose services have been either terminated or who have been reverted.

The government is processing the case of 39 PCS (Judicial) to serve termination notices on them as also of 18 others who are awaiting posting orders. In the first instance, 46 PCS officers were sacked. “Court is the only recourse and hope for us’’, the youngsters sighed. 


Dang seeks probe into plot allotments
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 23
Mr Satya Pal Dang, senior Communist Party leader (CPI), has written to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to get investigated the alleged misuse of discretionary powers by former Punjab Governor who allotted prime land to his friends and relatives in Chandigarh and nearby allegedly for pecuniary gains. He also referred to sugar scam in which the former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allegedly pocketed $ 10 million for exporting sugar to India. The scam hit sugar industry of Punjab. The sugar then were dumped into India reportedly evading customs duty from February, 1998 to August, 1999. (Kargil conflict started in May 1999).

Payment of octroi too was reportedly evaded to facilitate the imported item which was sold at lower prices than the local product. All departments played foul while the Pakistan government pocketed the booty.

He referred for the pigeon scam in which SGPC member Tarlochan Singh Dupalpur from Nawanshahr and two Akali Ministers Sohan Singh Jhandal and Sujan Singh indulged in sending human cargo to Canada on Baisakhi. Smuggled persons were referred to as pigeons who disappeared reaching the foreign land.

Case of a bank MD embezzling Kargil funds and appointment scam in the Education Department in the handicapped category including three relatives of ministers when none of the appointees had any disability should also be got investigated.

Mr Dang also raised allotment of Rs 80 lakhs prime land of a club to the mother-in-law of Manpreet Badal, MLA from Gidderbaha and nephew of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Another case is of a former MD of central cooperative bank, Bathinda who allegedly collected Rs 30 crore from paddy growers and rice mill owners as illegal commission.

Mr Dang also raised the issue of the Rs 23 crore scam of the Social Welfare Department.

The CPI leader has urged the government to get these cases probed to unearth the truth.


Romila offers to quit as acting VC of PTU
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
The Principal Secretary, Technical Education, and acting Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Ms Romila Dubey, today expressed her willingness to quit the additional charge as VC at the earliest.

Reacting to a recent statement of the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, that a new Vice-Chancellor of the university would be appointed soon. She said she was least interested to continue as VC.

On the appointment of 120 ad hoc clerks and other officials by the then Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Gurm, allegedly in violation of the rules, Ms Romila said the employees were at present required for the smooth functioning of the university and the authorities might consider giving an extension to them.

On the closure of the distance education programme by the university, she said the matter was pending in the high court. “We are awaiting the report of the Vigilance Bureau for initiating action against those found guilty of committing irregularities in the PTU in the past,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ms Romila today banned the entry of a clerk, Rohit Kumar, into the PTU campus, who despite his removal from the post, was still continuing to work in the university .


Split in SAD youth wing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
A split in the SAD youth wing took place today as a group of youth activists led by Mr Balwinder Singh Nabha announced a parallel 11-member committee of the organisation.

Virtually revolting against the leadership of Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who has been recently appointed President of the Youth Akali Dal by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh said that Mr Dhillon had accommodated only his sycophants while reorganising the wing. The appointment of Mr Dhillon as President of the wing itself was wrong. Mr Dhillon was of about 50 years of age while as per the constitution of the youth ‘dal’ the maximum age of the President should be only 40 years. Those who had made sacrifices for the party had been ignored by Mr Dhillon.

Mr Balwinder Singh, who has been nominated as convener of the 11-member committee, said that he had rejected the office-bearers appointed by Mr Dhillon. He announced Mr Gurnam Singh Thekedar, Mr Mahinder Singh Bagarian, Mr Hardev Singh, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Mr Ravilakmal Singh, Mr Surinder Singh Palahi, Mr Swaran Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh as members of the committee. However, he made it clear that the committee had full faith in the leadership of Mr Badal and it would make all efforts to implement the programmes and policies of the party. The committee would oppose the ruling party’s anti-Akali actions. The first meeting of the committee would be held at Gurudwara Gursagar here on September 3.


Tohra demands third front
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, August 23
The SHSAD wants a third front to be formed in Punjab as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. But the problem at present is that the parties which are having a base in the state are not giving full cooperation in this regard.

This was stated by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, after starting the work of kar seva for building an inn for pilgrims and a divan hall at Gurdwara Shri Amb Sahib in Phase VIII here today.

He said many leaders like Mr Chandershekhar, Mr V.P. Singh, Mr P.A. Sangma were supporting the SHSAD but it was difficult to form a third front in Punjab with their help. He alleged that Communist parties had failed to give support in this regard.

Mr Tohra said the BJP government at the Centre was indulging in discrimination against Punjab and had not given any big grant for the development of the state. The minorities in the country were also not feeling secure.


Bains’ suspension ‘political vendetta’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The SAD has described the suspension of Mr Harcharan Singh Bains, who worked as Media Adviser to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, as a part of political vendetta allegedly launched by the Amarinder Singh Government against those who were part of the SAD-BJP Government in the one way or other.


PUDA panel to regularise unauthorised colonies
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Congress Government in Punjab, has constituted a committee to suggest ways to regularise unauthorised colonies. The committee has been set up by Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA). It will reportedly look into the demands of colonisers including whether there is any need to amend the Punjab Apartments and Property Regulation Act, 1995.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr D.P. Reddy, Chief Administrator, PUDA, disclosed, ‘‘We had received a memorandum from the Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association. A committee has been set up to look into various issues, including how to regularise the unauthorised colonies that have come up in different towns in the state over the past 10 to 15 years. Since it is not possible to demolish all the colonies, the committee will suggest ways to regularise them. The report is expected to be submitted shortly and will be sent to the state Cabinet for approval and will be implemented in a phased manner.’’

The PUDA official admitted that thousands of unauthorised colonies had come up in the state, especially in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar. The only way to solve the problem was to make one time settlement with colonisers. Otherwise the problem would continue to persist for years. Interestingly, under the PUDA Act, though there was a provision of registering a case against the colonisers, who had constructed any colony without getting licence but it had failed to affect on the builders and colonisers.

Criticising the approach of PUDA officials, Mr Kultar Singh Jogi, President, Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association, said,‘‘ The PUDA does not differentiate between the categories of colonies or the colonisers. We are supposed to pay up to Rs 14 lakh per acre for internal and external development charges, resulting in substantial increase in cost of plots. The government should charge these development charges according to the status of colonies and income level of buyers.’’

‘‘Instead of creating obstacles for the development of the housing sector in the state, the government should consider to cancel all the discretionary quota plots allotted by the PUDA and Improvement Trust. The sale of these plots at market rates would fetch crores of rupees to the state exchequer.’’


PSEB does away with extra restrictions
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
The PSEB today removed extra peak load restrictions on category one consumers, including industrial consumers, who had been forced to observe extra peak load restrictions of nine hours during the night.

A board spokesman said this had been done because surplus power was presently available at night. He said the restrictions had now been withdrawn with immediate effect from today and that category one consumers would only face normal three-hour restrictions everyday.


Book Akalis, says Malta mission
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 23
The Malta Tragedy Probe Mission, an NGO working for providing justice to victims of the boat tragedy which took place on December 25, 1996, in the Malta-Sicily Channel, resulting in the death of 300 persons, including 170 Indians, today demanded that the then Akali ministers and office-bearers of the SAD, should be booked for human trafficking as they were allegedly guilty of what has now come to be known as the Kabootar kands (pigeon scandal).

Mr Khera urged the Chief Minister to take steps for the retrieval of the remains of the victims, to set up a special cell for dealing with the case and to grant relief to the affected families.


Bhaniara followers celebrate his birthday
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 23
More than 300 followers of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara last night and early morning today reached the residence of Baba at village Dhamana (near Nurpur Bedi) to celebrate his birthday, though the Baba was not present in the village as he had left the place yesterday when the police persuaded him to do so in view of the tension due to his presence on the eve of his birthday in the area.

Hundreds of his followers also visited his village yesterday to participate in birthday celebrations today but they were sent back by the police to avoid any untoward incident in the area. For security and to prevent Baba followers from reaching Dhamana village, the police also put up nakas at several points yesterday. However, despite this, hundreds of his followers reached Dhamana village till today for participating in Baba’s birthday celebrations as they had been doing every year for the past several years.

Sources said though the followers could not celebrate Baba’s birthday in the traditional way but they felt happy at being in the village of their Baba on the occasion of his birthday. Many of them had langar near the Baba’s residence considering it “prasad”.

This is first time that a few hundreds followers visited Dhamana village on the occasion of birthday of Baba, in the past thousands of followers used to converged only at his dera in hundreds of vehicles.

Sources said the police dispersed Baba’s followers from near the langar site. The police also allegedly used some force which the followers resented.

Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara phoned up this reporter from Chandigarh this evening saying he had left his village for the sake of law and order in the area. He said his birthday was being celebrated throughout the state today by followers as he had appealed them not to visit Dhamana.


IFC credentials suspect, says Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 23
Former Punjab Finance Minister and SAD General Secretary Kanwaljit Singh said here today that the International Financial Consortium (IFC), which had offered Punjab Government $ 1 billion in soft loans and grants for rural development during Capt Amarinder Singh’s US tour early this month, did not exist on the Centre’s list of international funding bodies.

Talking to newspersons here, he said the IFC appeared to be a bogus body, questioning its bona fides since the IMF and the World Bank had denied any link with the consortium.

He said during the Badal government, several international bodies had approached the government for the approval of loans.

However, when their antecedents and background were checked they turned out to be bogus and “we did not do any dealing with them.”

The government had received Rs 375 crore from the National Calamity Fund for farmers but had not given any compensation to them yet, he alleged. The aid was not being distributed due to the tedious parameters for drought relief, he said. Even the paltry Rs 700 per acre had not been given, he said.


Sikh high priests’ meeting today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 23
The “secret meeting” reportedly arranged on behalf of Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Kesgarh Sahib with leaders of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat and the Sikh clergy in Jalandhar, who had levelled serious charges of corruption against the Sikh clergy, is likely to figure in the meeting of Sikh high priests, scheduled to be held at Akal Takht tomorrow.

Though Prof Manjit Singh had also invited Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to attend the “secret meeting” at Jalandhar, he had refused to attend the meeting Jathedar Vedanti had told Prof Manjit Singh that he could meet the members of the Khalsa panchayat at Akal Takht only so that transparency could be maintained with regard to the charges of corruption.


3 nominated to Punjab Arts Council
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
After a gap of five months, the Punjab Government today took the first step towards the reconstitution of Punjab Arts Council, which was dissolved on March 22 this year. As per the constitution of the Punjab Arts Council, the Punjab Chief Minister today nominated three experts from the fields of literature, theatre, and art to spearhead the process of the Council’s reconstitution.

Nominated experts in the respective fields of literature, theatre, and art are MP Kartar Singh Duggal, Neelam Mansingh Chaudhary, and former principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture, Mr I.J.S. Bakshi. With the three experts taking charge of the situation, meeting for reconstitution of the council will be called by the outgoing secretary Mr H.S. Batty on September 18. The said meeting will be attended, apart from three government nominees, by three government level secretaries — Secretary, Cultural Affairs; Secretary, Education; and Secretary, Finance; four Vice-Chancellors of Punjab Universities; three representatives of the Central Akademies and the Director, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The meeting has been delayed in the wake of Ms Neelam Mansingh Chaudhary’s absence from the city. Also the Principal Secretary is out of station for some time. Talking to the Tribune about the issue of the Punjab Arts Council’s reconstitution today, Mr H.S. Bhatty said, “The September 18 meeting will be attended by a body of 14 members who will form the basic committee. In the meantime, we have communicated with 20 associations which are affiliated to the Arts Council. We have asked them to recommend members who can constitute the Punjab Arts Council body. Out of the recommended names, we will choose six on September 18. Apart from these six, six eminent people from the field of culture will also be chosen on the day of the meeting.”

Once the basic body of 26 members (14 basic members and 12 chosen members) is ready, another meeting will be called wherein elections for chairman, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the council will take place. Also the office-bearers of the three akademies of the Punjab Arts Council — Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi, Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi and Punjab Sahit Akademi will be elected in this meeting.

As the process gets started, it needs to be mentioned that the name of eminent Punjabi writer Kartar Singh Duggal as a nominee had surfaced long back when Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu was Director, Cultural Affairs, Punjab. Sources added that Kartar Singh Duggal was also favoured in his capacity as a Rajya Sabha member. As an MP he has a handsome fund with which he can take better care of the Punjab Arts Council, which has not yet been able to become financially independent or even generate funds on its own.


Sewage overflows on Batala roads
Our Correspondent

Batala, August 23
Residents of the city have been facing a lot of inconvenience due to choked sewerage.

A 100-metre stretch of the road from the Khajuri gate to Sekhri Niwas (where Mr Ashwani Sekhri, State Minister for Industries, Cultural and Tourism, resides) is flooded with dirty water. Students of at least seven schools and four degree colleges use this road.

Sewage can also be seen on the road stretch from K.D. Sanan Eye Hospital to M/s Asian Garments.

Riddles of sewage can be seen near Krishna Theatre, Cinema Road, and Radha Krishan Colony. Rickshaw-pullers charge fare at their will.

Mr Gian Chand, President, Municipal Council, said today, that main sewerage had been choked at Nehru Gate and sweepers of the council and the Sewerage Department had been clearing it. It was choked due to empty polythene bags thrown in drains, he added.


MC chief accused of favouritism
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
Mr Mohan Lal Garg, municipal councillor, today alleged that the president of the municipal council had not taken his “dissenting notes” into consideration during the meeting of the House today.

He said the council had auctioned some commercial sites on the Mall Road of the city and as per the terms of the contract, the entire amount had to be paid by December 2000 but a section of allottees had not paid their dues. He alleged that the MC president was helping some of them. He said as per the terms of the contract, if any allottee failed to pay the full amount in the specified time, they had to pay the same within six months with an interest of 18 per cent per annum, failing which their allotments would be cancelled. He pointed out that even though some of the allottees had failed to deposit the money, the council had not initiated any proceedings against them.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, MC President, said the House had passed resolution where the defaulting allottees had been given grace period of one month from today and the rate of interest had been increased to 30 per cent.


Clarification on jobs to next of kin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Punjab Government today clarified that there was no ban on providing jobs to the dependents of those killed during terrorism riots.

A government spokesman said that as per the policy, such affected persons would get jobs on priority. This decision had been conveyed to all heads of departments by the Relief and Rehabilitation Department.

The spokesman said the government had provided employment to nearly 700 persons in the past six months. All departments have been asked to expedite the process of issuing employment letters to the dependents of those killed during terrorism riots and dispose of the files already sent or being sent to them.

The spokesman stated the Council of Ministers has already decided to fill vacant posts against these categories at the earliest. 


Suspension of patwaris hailed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 23
The decision regarding suspension of five patwaris by the Deputy Commissioner yesterday due to dereliction from duty has been hailed by various panches, sarpanches people and leaders of various political parties and criticised the threat of the Revenue Patwar Union to stall the work if they were not reinstated.

In a press release issued here today, many leaders and sarpanches have alleged that the patwaris have become habitual of threatening the government every time as and when the government initiates any action against them for dereliction of duty. They also alleged that these patwaris were not visiting the villages as per “Fard Raftar” to assess the loss on account of drought in the district, which put the poor farmers at the receiving end because in the absence of special girdawri information, no relief was admissible to them.

They said patwaris were conducting the special girdawris while sitting in their offices and some of them were indulging in corrupt practices to register their losses.

When contacted Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, he said they have been suspended on account of dereliction of duty and wilful disobedience of government orders.

He said as per the directions of the government, orders were issued to conduct special girdawri from August10 to 25 in the district.

He said patwaris were directed to conduct the girdawri in the presence of the sarpanches and nambardars, but they never went to the spot.

Meanwhile, no protest activity by the patwaris was witnessed in the district today.


Govt to increase forest cover’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 23
Mr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests and Food and Civil Supplies, has said the state government has drawn up a comprehensive plan to mobilise public support for converting the afforestation drive into a mass movement to ensure ecological balance and tackle calamities like drought and flood.

Addressing a gathering of panches, sarpanches and prominent residents at a function in Balachaur, 20 km from here, today in connection with the 53rd vanamahotsava, he said 6 per cent area in the state was under forest cover and the government was committed to increasing it to 33 per cent during the next five years.

Mr Harbans Lal said the government had introduced the “Rukh lagao, rukh bachao, dhan kamao” (plant trees, save trees and earn money) scheme to motivate farmers to plant more trees.

Mr H.S. Gujral, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Mr Ram Kishan Kataria and Master Dalip Chand, both former MLAs, Rana Kuldip Singh, president of the district unit of the Congress and Mr G.S. Dhillon, OSD to the Forest Minister, also addressed the gathering.


Prayers for Sikhs killed in ‘fake encounters’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 23
The Khalra Mission Commission will organise Ardas at Akal Takht on September 6 for 25,000 Sikhs killed in ‘fake encounters’ by the police and whose bodies were cremated en masse as unidentified. Mr Surinder Singh Ghariala, Balwinder Singh Chabal, chairman and president of the mission, respectively, said here today.

Ardas would mark the sixth death anniversary of Bhai Jaswant Singh Khalra who had exposed mass cremation of these unidentified bodies and raised the issue with the UN, Canada and the USA when militancy was at peak in 1995. He allegedly was kidnapped on this day the same year and presumed killed by the police for the exposure.


Kitu’s bail plea hearing adjourned

Moga, August 23
The hearing on the bail plea of SAD MLA Malkiat Singh Kitu, who was arrested in an excise case following the alleged seizure of 184 cartons of whisky, was today adjourned till August 31 by Judicial Magistrate Tarsem Mangla.

Arrested after he surrendered to the police on August 16, the MLA from Barnala was remanded in judicial custody till August 31 after spending a day in police remand.

The police claimed to have made the seizure of whisky from his house and the house of his brother Gurdip Singh at Bilaspur village during a raid on August 15. The truck, in which it was allegedly smuggled from Chandigarh, too, was impounded. UNI


War widows air grievances
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 23
War widows of the city and Mansa district, who assembled at the annual ‘Veer Naris’ meet at Chetak Corps here today, were promised by the Chetak Army Wives Welfare Association (CAWWA) that their problems regarding monetary benefits would be solved.

However, many war widows termed it as a “routine promise” made every year during the function.

The meet organised today aims at bringing the wives of Army personnel who laid down their lives while on duty on one Platform office-bearers of the CAWWA said that such meetings gave a chance to war widows to articulate their problems.

As many as 70 widows attended the programme. Several of them alleged that the government had not kept promises made to them, monetary or otherwise.


NOC must for marriage palaces by October 1
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 23
All marriage palaces, banquet halls and hotels have to obtain no-objection certificates (NoCs) from the District Magistrate by October 1. This was decided at a high-level meeting convened by Mr Swinder Singh Puri, Deputy Commissioner, regarding their construction and functioning.

Most of the marriage palaces and even nursing homes have been constructed in violation of building by laws. It was also objected at the meeting that most of these palaces were a source of nuisance as these were located in the residential areas and violated the building schemes approved by the government. 


Plea to strengthen theatre movement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
Noted electrical engineer and Member Operation, Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr SK Anand, who is also known as a theatre patron and connoisseur of arts, stressed the need for a common platform for patronising genuine theatre groups irrespective of their identity and belonging. This, he said, would further strengthen theatre movement.

Mr Anand who was discussing the role of government and non-government organisations in promoting the Patiala Theatre movement said he was hopeful of the cooperation of not only the PSEB Chairman and members, but also of the Commissioner, Patiala Division, and educational and commercial organisations of Patiala.

Mr Anand agreed to the proposal of Mr Pran Sabharwal, Director, National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS), Patiala, and a former member of the Punjab State Cultural Affairs Advisory Board, for approaching Mr C.S. Srivastava, Commissioner, Patiala Division, to revive the Patiala Kala Parishad in his capacity as its President for effective results. Mr Anand said besides entertaining, theatre could activate people against social evils including the menace of pilferage and wastage of energy.


Rape case: SSP orders inquiry
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 23
The Patiala district police chief, Mr Paramraj Singh Umarnangal, today directed the SSP (City) to conduct an internal probe into the case of Ambala girl, who had claimed that she has been raped by several persons in the city in June. The girl had made a compliant in this regard before the Kotwali police.

The Kotwali police had registered a case on the orders of a local court against the couple Sanjay Bhardway and his wife Kavita Bhardwaj and three others, who have been identified as Virk, Happy and Pappa for forcibly keeping her confined and raping her. The girl had appeared before the court and given her statement under Section 164, claiming she had not received justice in this case.

Mr Umrananagal said the SP (City) would ascertain whether the girl and her parents had approached the Kotwali police with the complaint, and whether any action had been taken in this regard. He said action would be taken against those found guilty.

Two mounts ago when the alleged incident occurred, Mr Didar Singh was the Station House Officer of the Kotwali Police station. The SHO has been currently posted to the Police Lines after he was charged with accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000 from a person to free his relative whom he was keeping in illegal custody, by the Vigilance Department which set a trap for him in the Kotwali police station.


Seven hurt as neighbours clash
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
Seven persons, including two women, were injured in a clash between two groups of neighbours over teasing of a school girl at Singha village near here today. The injured were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Jitram of Singha village, who was undergoing treatment at the hospital alleged that this neighbours — Mahi and Sabi — used to pass comments on his school-going cousin. When the matter was taken up with the neighbourers, they abused them. Subsequently, there was a clash between the two groups in which sharp-edged weapons and “lathies” were used. The father of the girl, Darshan Singh and her mother Bansi were seriously injured in the clash. Others who were injured include Gulzari Lal, Dalvir, Ramesh Lal and Mindro, all of the same village.

Meanwhile, Dalvir Singh alleged that Jitram was levelling baseless allegations against his sons, who in any way did not try to harass the girl.


Undertrial dies in jail

Gurdaspur, August 23
An undertrial prisoner died in the Central Jail here today under mysterious circumstances, official sources said. Janak Raj was facing trial on the charge of killing his wife.

The death took place when District and Sessions Judge A.K.J. Sharma was on monthly inspection of the jail.

The undertrial prisoner collapsed before the judge, who was inquiring about the undertrial prisoners. He was taken to the Civil Hospital where he was declared brought dead. PTI


Cong workers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
Residents of Bilga village and Congress workers today blocked traffic on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana road near Rama Mandi Chowk for about two hours in protest against the failure of the police to book those who attacked a local Congress leader three days ago.

The protesters, led by the Block Congress president, Mr Virendra Ashoka, staged a dharna near Rama Mandi Chowk and raised anti-police slogans.

Later, the SP, Mr Pawan Rai, reached the spot and assured the residents that strict action would be taken against those involved in the attack.

The dharna was lifted following assurances from senior police officials.


Disease hits basmati crop
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 23
A mysterious disease has hit the basmati crop in the Khadoor Sahib area.

When this correspondent visited Khadoor Sahib, Biharipur, Miglani and Suba villages today, farmers told him that the disease was going to cause great losses to their basmati crops. Plants had turned yellowish. It could decrease the yield by 50 per cent, they added. Dr Paramjit Singh of Agricultural University, Ludhiana, had collected samples from the different fields of the area.

Agriculture Department officials said such type of disease had hit the basmati crop three years ago. It was identified as ‘tungro virus’ which caused 50 per cent loss to the crop yield.


Only 50 opt for J&K poll duty
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 23
Only 50 employees have agreed to go to Jammu and Kashmir on poll duty. The other employees have opposed the move of the state government to put them on duty against their wish.

The Government School Teachers Union said when the employees of Punjab had performed poll duties during troubled times why could the employees of Jammu and Kashmir not perform the duties in their own state?

Mr Gurwaryam Singh, SDM and Additional District Electoral Officer said women staff members were not being sent for poll duty. However, he admitted that only 50 out of 450 (as demanded by the Election Commission) had opted for poll duty. He said each employee would be given Rs 10,000, excluding TA/DA and would be provided free board and lodging. In case of injury, each employee would be given Rs 25,000 as compensation while in case of death, the kin of the deceased would be given Rs 5 lakh. Apart from this, a dependent of each deceased would be given government job.

Mr Satyapaul Gupta and Mr Balkar Singh Valtoha, president and general secretary of the PSTU, respectively, threatened to launch an agitation if the government failed to withdraw the decision of sending the employees to Jammu and Kashmir.


Punjab transfers 2 IAS officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 23
The Punjab Government today transferred two IAS officers, two PCS officers and gave additional charges to three IAS officers.

Mr Karl Reddy has been given additional charge of Presiding officer, Sales Tax Tribunal-I. Ms Rupan Deol has been given additional charge of Presiding Officer of Sales Tax Tribunal II. Ms Harsimrat has been given additional charge of Presiding Officer, State Colleges and Schools Tribunal, in place of Mr Bikramjit Singh, who is on leave.

Mr Mandeep Singh Sandhu has been appointed Secretary, Secretariat Administration. Mr Sukhpal Singh Gill has been posted as Director, Cultural Affairs, in addition to being Chief Executive Officer of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation and Director, Civil Aviation.

Mr P.S. Mand has been appointed Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, and Mr Arvinder Singh Bains has been appointed as Additional Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, in place of Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, whose posting orders will be issued separately.


Man stabs father to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
A 29-year man reportedly stabbed his father to death in the Ramnagar area of the city late this evening.

According to the police Sonu, repeatedly stabbed his father Ram Singh in his abdomen which led to his death. The man is said to be a drug addict and was also abandoned by his wife some years ago.

The police had arrested the accused and a case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered against him.

A property dispute is said to be the reason behind the murder.


In-laws booked on charge of killing newlywed

Amritsar, August 23
The police today booked four members of a family for allegedly killing a newlywed girl by pushing her from the first floor of the house. According to the police, the victim, Davinder Kaur, had married Baljinder Singh four months ago. Immediately after the marriage, her in-laws allegedly started harassing her for bringing insufficient dowry.

Last evening, her mother in-law and husband, along with the other members of the family, allegedly beat her up and pushed her from the first floor of the house. Davinder Kaur died on the spot. PTI


GND varsity to introduce essays on AIDS in syllabi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 23
To create awareness among the students about environment pollution, AIDS, and foeticide, Guru Nanak Dev University had introduced special essays of eminent scholars in syllabi of English and Punjabi of BA-I. This was stated by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, while addressing the first meeting of the Syndicate here today.

Releasing the proceedings of the meeting, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said the Syndicate had approved the recommendation of the committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor to provide facilities to the disabled students studying in the centres of the university at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur.

The disabled students would get education and special coaching free of cost. Besides, books and study material up to Rs 1000 and scholarships at the rate of Rs 250 per month would be given to them.

The Vice-Chancellor said the university had adopted the historic village of writers, Preetnagar, for its overall development. The university, from this academic session, had started one-year courses in cutting, tailoring and dress-designing for unemployed women of the village.

The meeting also approved the names of Raminderbir Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Navdeep, S. Jaya Kumar, Jiwan Jyoti, Sanjeev, Hardip Kaur, Babita Kumar, Gurmit Singh and Manjula Uppal for awarding Ph D degree under various faculties.

Earlier, the Syndicate mourned the death of former MP, Kirpal Singh and observed two-minute silence as mark of respect to the departed soul.


College teachers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 23
On a call given by the PCCTU, hundreds of teachers of private colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University ceased work after the first period and participated in a rally in protest against the policies of the government today.

The president of the district unit of the PCCTU, Prof Mukhtiar Singh, criticised the government for its failure to release Rs 18 crore as last quarter grant for 2001-2002 to private colleges, thus depriving the teachers of their salaries for the past more than six months.

Dr V.K. Sharma, Secretary, PCCTU (GNDU area), alleged that the Congress government had backtracked on its poll promise to implement the pension and gratuity scheme passed by the Vidhan Sabha in 1996.

The teachers rejected the notification issued by the Education Department on July 7, pertaining to the pension scheme and termed it anti-constitutional. The union demanded that all posts in private colleges should be brought under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

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