Monday, August 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong govt worst since Independence: Badal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 25
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President and a former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today termed the Amarinder Singh government the worst since Independence.

The SAD President said law and order had collapsed, peace and harmony was in jeopardy and development stopped in the state. He was talking to newsmen at the residence of Dr Des Raj Sharma, Chairman, local Peace Committee and the NRI Sabha. He came here to sympathise with Dr Sharma whose wife Mrs Kalawati Sharma was attacked and robbed yesterday and is in hospital. Former PSSSB member Jarnail Singh Wahid was also present there. SAD President predicted that the Congress government would fall due to the weight of its sins. In six months Mr Amarinder Singh had done nothing towards governance, he alleged. Mr Badal suggested that power can be had from J&K, Himachal and Central pool.

On the campaign against corruption, Mr Badal said that Mr Amarinder Singh was surrounded by corrupt coterie. Mr Badal said that one kg of opium and Rs one lakh was recovered from the house of Station House Officer (SHO) of Lambi who was caught while getting bribe of Rs 1,000. On the cases against Akalis Mr Badal questioned the method of the Vigilance Bureau’s working. Mr Badal predicted if polls were held today, the Congress would be defeated. The move to withdraw the facility of free power and water to farmers would be resisted, he said.

On why was the NDA team not visiting Punjab, Mr Badal said the delay was not on the part of the NDA team but on our preparing the case. We could not prepare the case systematically for presenting it before the team, he said. We are doing it now, he disclosed.

Mr Badal termed International Financial Consortium $ 1 billion loan a fraud. Several such finance companies had approached us but we did not entertain them, claimed Mr Badal. Even the IMF and the World Bank had denied any link with the IFC, said Mr Badal. Punjab Chief Minister was befooling public on the IFC loan-cum-grant, added Mr Badal. Akali leader Jarnail Singh Wahid and party activists welcomed Mr Badal.


SAD to sue CM for defamation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has decided to file a defamation suit against Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for using unparliamentary language against its leaders.

Talking to the press here today, Mr Badal, former Chief Minister, said Akali MLAs had been directed to serve a legal notice to Capt Amarinder Singh for calling them “badmash” (rascals). He said it was unbecoming of a Chief Minister to use derogatory language against his political rivals. He clarified that he had already filed a suit against the Chief Minister after getting a loan of Rs 5 lakh from State Bank of Patiala.

Mr Badal said the “anti-people” policies, pursued by the Chief Minister had turned people against him. Even leaders of his own party were not happy with his style of working.

Mr Badal was here to attend the bhog ceremony of Mr Kirpal Singh, former Member of Parliament and president of the Chief Khalsa Dewan.

The former Chief Minister said that if the Congress government withdrew the free power given to the farming community, his party would oppose the decision.

Commenting on the drought situation in the state, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had not been able to prepare a proper fact-finding report for presentation to the Central government. The delay would add to the woes of the farmers who had suffered due to inadequate monsoon and shortage of power. The government had recommended only Rs 700 per acre as compensation which was cruel joke on the farming community. He said during his tenure, his government had provided Rs 100 crore to drought hit farmers.


Cong sees politics in Indo-Pak stand-off
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 25
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today alleged that the tension on the Indo-Pakistan border was “politically motivated”.

Without naming any party, Mr Hanspal alleged that the Kargil conflict was also the outcome of politics. He was speaking at a Shahid Parivar Fund function, organised by the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers here today.

The PPCC chief highlighted the sacrifices made by Punjabis during the freedom struggle and during conflicts with Pakistan. He said the current border standoff between India and Pakistan was resulting in huge expenditure, running into thousands of crores, for a developing country like India. “Punjab could have been converted into a dreamland, had only a few hundred crores been spent here,” said Mr Hanspal. He said if it was foreign-sponsored terrorism which had cast its shadow on Punjabi youth some years ago, now it were drugs being pumped into the state, which were causing harm to youngsters.

He also spoke of his association with the late Ramesh of the Punjab Kesri Group of Newspapers.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, reiterated his government’s commitment to eliminate corruption, to provide a government that works and to bring the “shattered” economy of the state back on the rails. He said the $ 1 billion aid given by a “UN body” would be utilised for the development of villages and for providing basic amenities to people living in rural areas. He asserted that the government would support police officials who had fought terrorism, but were embroiled in legal battles or were facing charges of committing atrocities on people during that period.

Reassuring the youth that merit would prevail, the Chief Minister said his government would create an atmosphere where jobs would not be purchased by those who had money. “About 12 lakh youth are roaming unemployed, but we have a few thousand jobs to employ them. The situation is gloomy and we have to do something to drive frustration away from the youngsters and to save them from falling into wrong hands. We have already started the process. We will expose more Ravi Sidhus,” said Capt Amarinder Singh. The Chief Minister said his government has created a cell to extend help to police officials who had fought terrorists during the decade-long militancy in the state. “We have already reinstated four SPs and have made provision for a monthly stipend ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 to families of such officials,” he added.

A former DGP of Punjab, Mr K.P.S. Gill criticised the treatment being meted out to police officials who had worked hard to eliminate terrorism from the state and defended promulgation of POTA as an instrument against terrorism.

“Terrorism cannot be fought with ordinary laws since police officials fighting terrorists need strong state support,” said Mr Gill. He observed that growing corruption during successive governments helped terrorism gain roots. “Pakistan alone cannot be held guilty for this,” said Mr Gill.

A former Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Bhajan Lal, said a number of Congress leaders, including Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh, sacrificed their lives to save the country from the clutches of terrorists. He advocated rehabilitation of those who had shunned terrorism.

A senior Congress leader, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, said India had been successful in preserving its democratic character due to the leadership and vision of leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Earlier, a Rs 18.5-lakh aid, collected by the newspaper group, was given to 125 terrorist-hit families.

Others who spoke included the Himachal Pradesh Congress chief, Ms Vidya Stokes, and a former Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber (retd).


Slight power tariff hike likely
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission is not likely to give ‘’tariff shock’’ to its consumers. Its report is expected next week. Much will depend on how soon the state government replies to lost week’s queries of the commission.

The commission has desired to know from the government the ‘’class of categories’’ and the quantum of ‘’subsidies’’ it intends to give to them. Not that the commission cannot proceed without this information, but the information will facilitate the fixation of tariff for agriculture and domestic consumers, which are subsidised categories.

The moot issue before the commission is supply of ‘’free’’ power to the state’s about 8.50 lakh tubewells. It has to decide the tariff to be charged, both on BHP as well as metered supply. At the time of giving ‘’free’’ power to the agriculture sector to operate tubewells, the flat rate was Rs 50 per BHP, in February, 1997. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has now demanded a rate of Rs 240 per BHP.

The metered supply is limited to a around 3,200 tubewells. The PSEB is keen that the per unit rate should be Rs 2. In all probability, the commission is likely to agree to charge Rs 2 per unit, but may settle for a flat rate of less than Rs 200 per BHP

For domestic consumers, an across-the-board tariff hike between 8 per cent and 13 per cent is expected. There are three slabs in this category. The other two categories is non-resident supply and industry, which has several sub-categories.

The PSEB has also clearly told the commission that it favours ‘’withdrawal of relaxation’’ given to Scheduled Caste consumers, which is costing the board a loss of Rs 100 crore.

Informed sources have said the commission has reconciled to the ‘’demands’’ made by the PSEB in its annual revenue requirement petition, ‘’objections’’ against it by the state government and ‘’objectives’’ — over 80 — submitted by the general public.

Since this is going to be the first tariff recommendation by the commission, it is likely to recommend a ‘’judicous’’ and ‘’reasonable’’ hike, which will protect the interests of the public, the government and the PSEB. The commission has found ‘’merit’’ in the state government’s 30-page rejoinder to the PSEB’s annual revenue requirement that the PSEB must improve its housekeeping rather than passing its inefficiency to the consumers.

The commission has independently collected data from the field and crosschecked and correlated the same with the claims and counter-claims of the public, the government and the PSEB. It has also relied heavily on the World Bank report on Haryana, tariff orders of all states and data supplied by the Punjab Agricultural University. The PSEB has found fault with the World Bank data and given its own explanation in a 50-page rejoinder to the government’s ‘’objections’’.

Meanwhile, the commission’s queries have given enough hints to the government on the tariff hike to be recommended. Consequently, the PSEB is reportedly preparing to bill the consumers under revised tariff.

The commission, sources say, is not confining itself to only making tariff recommendations. It is all set to put down in black and white several benchmarks for the PSEB to adhere to. Since it has ‘’monopoly’’ when it comes to providing electricity, the commission will ensure that the PSEB’s ‘’inefficiencies’’ are not passed on to the consumers as a result of the hike in power tariff. The ‘’theft’’ and ‘’distribution and transmission’’ losses of the PSEB are grey areas on which the commission is likely to pass strictures and make recommendations requiring the PSEB to improve its housekeeping.

The main consideration before the commission is that if the consumers have to pay hiked tariff, the ‘’quality’’ and ‘’quantum’’ of power supplied to them must also correspond to the money they spend. ‘’After all, consumers do not pay the PSEB for darkness, unscheduled or scheduled power cuts, voltage fluctuation and outages’’, say sources. The tariff issue is bound to have a politically electrifying effect in the state.


Contract labour system may go
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 25
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, has assured that the state government would consider the abolishing of the contract labour system and adoption of direct payment system to the labourers in all state procurement agencies. The recommendations of the Power Regulatory Authority would be taken up at the next Cabinet meeting, he said while addressing a gathering of FCI workers Union and All-India Food and Allied Workers Union here today.

The Chief Minister said the labour force of the state had played a major role in development. He said contractors would not be allowed to exploit the labour force. The FCI had abolished the contract labour system in 1993.

He said the farmers of the state was passing through a hard time. With landholdings decreasing, the economic condition of the marginal farmers had gone down. Long-term planning needed to be initiated to revive the economic condition of the farmers. Diversification of crops was the best possible solution of this. A committee has been set up by the government under the chairmanship of the Sardara Singh Johal to compile a study report to bring reforms in the agriculture sector.

Later, addressing mediapersons, he claimed that the International Financial Consortium was a recognised organisation of the IMF and World Bank and there was no confusion about the agreement signed with it for bringing in Rs 5000 crore for rural development. “Our agreement is well within the limits of financial assistance laid down by the World Bank and IMF, he added.

He admitted that there was pressure on the government to reduce subsidies in order to seek financial assistance. Earlier, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, while addressing the gathering asked the Chief Minister to scrap the contract system prevailing in the state government agencies to root out socio-economic exploitation of the labourers.


Height of ignorance
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 25
A majority of the members of the FCI Workers Union and the All-India Food and Allied Workers Union, who came here today to attend a rally addressed by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, did not even know whether they were holding flags of the Congress or the National Flag.

The Tribune has taken a few snaps of the workers holding the National Flag.

Asked what he was holding in his hand, Teja Singh, a palledar, said he was holding the flag of the Congress. He was not able to differentiate between the two flags. Similarly, Shama, an illiterate, was also captured by the camera holding the National Flag.


Sack orders may mar marriage vows
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 25
The sacking of PCS Officers, including judicial, allied and others, has unexpected fallout. The development may lead to matrimonial disputes in certain cases.

It is common belief that the in-laws of the officers had spent huge money on the marriage of their daughters. A good amount of dowry was also given depending upon the status of the officers.

It is said the suspended chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), Ravi Sidhu, or his touts told the aspirants that they would get much more in terms of dowry than the cash they were going to give to get the job.

According to sources, the in-laws of one of the sacked PCS officers, who had paid Rs 50 lakh at the time of engagement, has asked him to return the amount as the money was given on the pretext of getting the job.

A PCS (allied) Officer, who was engaged in a well-to-do family on condition of anonymity, said his marriage was unlikely to be materialised. He said the engagement was done keeping in view his status. After his sacking from the service, he was unlikely to get a good job.

Another sacked PCS Officer had decided to withdraw his children from a convent school as he could not afford to bear the expenses anymore. They would be admitted in ordinary schools where fee structure is reasonable.

Mr Balwinder Singh, who was sacked as the Assistant Registrar, said his father (working as a handloom labourer) had been bed-ridden for the past two months but he resumed his work on the same day when he had heard the news of his sacking from the service.

Many PCS Officers who had taken hefty amount of loan from banks or from relatives to bribe Ravi Sidhu or his touts are now unable to repay it. Some of them had decided to dispose of their properties for this purpose.


Junk dealer dead in crude bomb blast
Tribune News Service

Nathana (Bathinda), August 25
Mal Ram, a local resident was killed and his 10-year-old daughter Jaggo injured here today when a metal pipe fitted with a meter, suspected to be a crude bomb, exploded in his house while he was hammering the same to extract brass metal.

The blast was so loud that it shook the entire town. The body was badly mutilated. The daughter of Mal Ram, a junk dealer suffered injuries on her forehead and stomach.

Sikander, an eyewitness, said Mal Ram was sitting in the courtyard of his kutcha house and hammering the metal object. When suddenly, a big blast took place and they ran for safety.

After the blast, senior police officials, including district police chief Ishwar Singh, SP (City) Nilabh Kishore and DSP (R) Jagmohan Singh reached the spot. A team of forensic experts of the Punjab police also reached the spot.

Jaggo, the injured daughter of Mal Ram, was in a state of shock. On repeated questioning she said the bomb had exploded in her house killing her father. She added that her father had brought the object yesterday from a nearby village.

Though the wound on her forehead had been dressed but she was still crying of pain due to the pellet injuries on her stomach.

A team of Army experts led by Capt Jagat also reached the spot and examined the material in the house of Mal Ram. A search was also carried out in the nearby areas.

Neighbours told the Army personnel that Mal Ram was a junk dealer.

Mr Jagmohan Singh, DSP (R) said a case under Section 174 of the Cr. PC had been registered.


CPI (M) threatens “chakka” jam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (Pasla group) here today threatened to “jam traffic” across Punjab and Chandigarh against “anti-people” policies in Punjab.

Its Secretary, Mangat Ram Pasla, said this while paying tributes to Bhag Singh Sajjan, a prominent Communist scholar and freedom fighter, on his ninth death anniversary.

Mr Pasla lashed out at both the BJP and the Congress for pursuing “anti-people” policies saying the third front in the state was being revived.

He took a dig at the veteran Marxist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet terming him “close to the ruling class” than the working class.


BSP’s list for council poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 25
Punjab BSP Secretary Satish Bharati today released a list of nine candidates for the local Nagar Council poll, declaring that the party would not tie up with any party and contest the September 8 election on the party symbol “Elephant”.

Names of the candidates are: Ward No 1-Surinder Kaur, Ward No. 2-Harbans Lal, Ward No 4-Seema Rani, Ward No 8-Arjun Dev, Ward No 11-Ramesh Kaul Ward No 12-Gurmel Singh, Ward No 14-Gurnam Singh, Ward No 15-Rajan Basra, Ward No 26-Gurmukh Singh Chana.


‘Balance professional, personal lives’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 25
“Hypertension, acidity, diabetes, obesity and insomnia are some of the diseases afflicting young Indian managers as they have failed to maintain a balance between their professional and personal lives”, opined Dr V.K. Chopra, Director, Delhi Business School.

Dr Chopra while addressing members of the Bathinda Management Association (BMA) at a seminar, “Success that succeeds” late yesterday said an increasing number of young managers were paying the price for their success in terms of health and deteriorating personal relations. He said the trend of working couples and those not wanting kids had increased over the past few years.

He said increasing materialism and stressed personal relations had been eating into our cultural values.

Criticising the Indian education system, Dr Chopra alleged that innovation was being suppressed among students.

Dr Prem Kumar, president, BMA, said a balance must be created between life and spiritual needs and personal relations should not be overlooked while pursuing one’s careers.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, also attended the seminar.


Generation loss in thermal plant trip
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 25
Two units of the Ropar Thermal Plant today tripped, leading to power generation loss for about seven hours.

Sources said unit No. 2 of the thermal plant tripped in the morning and started operation only in the afternoon while unit No. 5, which also tripped today, started power generation after an hour. However, unit No. 1 of the thermal plant which was shut down on August 21 due to boiler leakage, started power generation today.

The sources further stated that the plant and the Bathinda thermal plant had coal stocks for just eight days each while as per the norms of the Central Electricity Authority every thermal plant is required to maintain minimum coal storage for 10 days.

One of the coal companies had reportedly not yet resumed coal supply to the thermal plants on account of non-payment of arrears.

Giving further details the sources said the Lehra Mohabat thermal plant had 1.24 lakh metric tonnes of coal, which was sufficient for 16 days.

They said despite making payments worth Rs 31 crore to Coal India Limited a few days ago, the PSEB had yet to pay more than Rs 80 crore against bills to it.


Boparai’s appointment welcomed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 25
Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann today welcomed the appointment of Mr S.S. Boparai as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, saying that the appointment was the need of the hour in view of intensive factionalism and also to uplift the standard of the university.

In a statement here, Mr Mann said the new Vice-Chancellor was a no-nonsense man who had proven administrative skills. Besides, he had a good track record. He said the appointment of Mr Boparai was necessary to ensure that the university regained its reputation, which it lost recently by the ‘’unbecoming’’ actions of former Vice-Chancellor J.S. Ahluwalia.

Thanking the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for the appointment, he said Mr Boparai should endeavour to raise the standards of the university, besides enforcing discipline on the campus.

In another statement, former MP and senior Congress leader Sant Ram Singla said Mr Boparai was a man of proven intellect, integrity, competence and was known for his impartial behaviour.

Meanwhile, a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Gursewak Singh, has said the appointment of Mr Boparai had sent out positive signals to all right-thinking individuals.

The World Sikh Council, in a statement issued by its president B.S. Balluana, hoped that Mr Boparai would provide a congenial atmosphere in the university.


CM condoles deaths of accident victims
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has expressed his shock over the road accident near Macchhiwara in which 11 persons were killed and six others were injured seriously. The accident took place this afternoon when a Matador in which the victims were travelling fell into Doraha canal.

Expressing his condolences with members of the families of the bereaved, he instructed the district administration to provide best available medical care to the injured and organise cremation of those killed.


CPI leader Joga cremated
Our Correspondent

Joga (Mansa), August 25
Body of Mr Jagir Singh Joga, senior CPI leader who died at Mansa yesterday was cremated at his Joga village near Mansa today. His son Dr Gurdarshan Singh Joga lit the pyre.

A police contingent reversed arms as mark to respect to the departed leader. Dr Joginder Dayal, General Secretary, of the state unit of the CPI and Professor Balwant Singh, General Secretary, of state unit of the CPM placed wreaths on the body besides the DC and two SPs. Earlier the body was placed in Teja Singh Swatantar Bhavan (CPI Office) at Mansa till 10 am to enable people to pay respects to their leader. Thereafter the body wrapped in CPI flag was taken to Joga village in a bedecked vehicle.

Mr Nathu Ram MLA Malout, Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, MLA Mansa, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, both former ministers, Punjab, Mr Jaswant Singh Phaphre Bhaike, former Deputy Speaker, Punjab, Principal Jagjit Singh, Mr Baldev Singh Makha, both SGPC members, and Mr Chatin Singh Samoho, former member of Parliament, attended the cremation. Bhog ceremony will take place at Joga on September 3.


CPI mourns Joga’s death

Amritsar, August 25
Flags of the CPI were flown at half mast today at all party offices as a mark of respect to Jagir Singh Joga, a Communist leader. Senior Communist leaders, including Mr Satya Pal Dang, Mrs Vimla Dang and Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, and others also mourned the death. OC


Grant received
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 25
Out of the total allocation of Rs 103.90 lakh, a grant of Rs 37.67 lakh has already been received for providing adequate facilities to primary schools and to help families of Schedule Castes under the “Swaran Jayanti Sampuran Rozgar Yojna” (SGRY) for the year 2002-03.

This was disclosed by Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa in a press meeting here. The amount will be spent on providing potable water, electricity and toilets in the primary schools of the district and out of it Rs 8 lakh will be given to the families of the Schedule Castes.


Man found dead in hotel room
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 25
Mystery shrouds the death of Daljit Singh, a resident of Patiala, who was found dead in a hotel room near the Golden Temple here this morning. The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

According to information, Daljit Singh came with a woman whom he called his wife, and booked a room in Krishna Lodge, near the Golden Temple last night. After dinner they went into the room. However, this morning the woman left the hotel on the pretext of paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, but did not return.

Sources in the hotel said at about 9.00 a.m. when a sweeper went into the room he found the body of Daljit Singh lying on the floor.

The police found an address slip in his pocket and informed his family about the death. The family disclosed that Daljit Singh was unmarried. The body had been sent for an post-mortem examination.


ST on life-saving drugs may go
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 25
The Punjab government is considering to abolish Sales Tax on life-saving drugs and a proposal will be placed before the Cabinet soon for approval.

This was stated by the Health and Medical Education Minister, Punjab, Ramesh Chander Dogra at a function organised by the Wholesale Chemists Organisation here today.

Mr Dogra said his department, in consultation with the Excise and Taxation Department, would prepare a comprehensive draft in this regard very soon.

On delay in issuance of chemist shop licence to the unemployed and deserving candidates, the Minister assured that he had instructed the health authorities to issue licences within one month of the submitting all relevant documents. On the long-pending demand of the various chemists’ associations to stop police raiding chemists’ shops to check alleged “illegal” sale of psychotropic substances, Mr Dogra said he would take up the matter with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. “We are considering to authorise health authorities only including drug inspectors to raid medicine shops to avoid harassment to the chemists,” he added.

Later, the Wholesale Chemists Organisation presented a memorandum of demands to the minister.

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