Saturday, August 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Three-pronged attack on govt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
A testing time is ahead for the Capt Amarinder Singh Government in Punjab. Resentment among farmers is spreading fast. Thousands of farmers, who held protest for two days here under the banner of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta group), returned to their homes today after issuing an ultimatum to the state government that if their demands were not accepted by September 23, they would launch a long-drawn agitation against the government.

However, the BKU is not alone in serving the ultimatum. The principal Opposition party, SAD headed by, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while issuing an ultimatum a few days ago had warned the government to either implement the promises made in the election manifesto by September 10 or face the agitation the next day. The BJP has also become active against the government. It announced the third phase of its agitation against the government from September 3, when its activists would hold dharnas in all assembly constituencies in the state.

The main demands of the BKU are free power to farmers, payment of bonus on paddy before the elections, financial help for drought-hit farmers and the fixation of a remunerative minimum support price (MSP) for paddy, not announced so far by the Union Government.

The Commission on Agriculture Costs and Prices had recommended the MSP of Rs 530 per quintal for common and Rs 560 for Grade A variety of paddy paid last year. However, the final authority to announce the price is with the Union Government. Capt Amarinder Singh will have to lobby hard at the Central level to press it for making a substantial increase in the MSP this time when farmers have spent a lot to save the paddy crop at least in Punjab as well as a major part of Haryana.

In fact, there is no major difference among the demands made by the BKU and the SAD. The announcement regarding a revision in the power tariff is expected from the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission on Monday. Revision in tariff rates for almost all categories at this stage would add to the resentment of people of all sectors, particularly farmers.

On the other hand, various sections of employees are up in arms against the government. They have been pressing the state government to restore their frozen allowances and lift the ban on promotions and start fresh recruitment.

All these factors have made the political atmosphere hot in the state for the moment. How Capt Amarinder Singh will tackle such a situation remains to be seen.

Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur and Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, president and general secretary of the union told this reporter that the government had not extended any financial help to drought-affected farmers so far. It has even failed to make arrangement for drinking water in several villages where handpumps have been redundant because of a fall in subsoil water.

To a query, Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra said the situation in the state was different from other parts of the country. Under the parameters fixed for declaring drought, Punjab was not covered. In Punjab farmers had saved their crop at a high cost. The state government was constantly pressing the Centre to change the parameters to enable the government to extend financial and other help to drought-affected farmers.

Meanwhile, the BKU today handed over a memorandum listing its demands to the Public Health Minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, today. A spokesman of the BKU said Mr Randhawa came to the Matka Chowk to receive the memorandum. However, he did not give any assurance.

The minister, who addressed the BKU activists, talked about the poor financial condition of the state government. However, he said they were powerful enough to get their demands accepted.


Fresh exams for vacant PPSC posts soon
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 30
The acting Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh (retd), today declared that the commission would conduct a fresh examinations for the selection of candidates to those posts which were lying vacant after the removal of the officials appointed during the tenure of PPSC former Chairman Ravi Sidhu by the state government.

The PPSC acting Chairman, who was in the city to participate in a function at the local Kanya Maha Vidyalaya, talking to the correspondent said the re-examination of those candidates who were removed from their respective posts by the government would be conducted soon by the commission.

“The papers will be set by intellectuals and academic personalities and full secrecy will be observed in the whole process,” he claimed.

Assuring that the prevailing system would soon be revamped, he said it would take some time to get rid of corruption, while all weak points, which had previously given birth to the corrupt deeds in the commission, have been identified and no efforts would be spared to eradicate them. He refused to divuldge the weak points identified so far, adding that he could not reveal the details at this juncture.

“In fact, we will invite suggestions from the sacked PCS officers as to how the selection process can be improved. It is my duty as a committed soldier to maintain the credibility of the constitutional body, which has direct bearing on socio-economic situation of the state,” he added.

The chairman of the managing committee of the college, Mr Chandar Mohan, also spoke on the occasion.


Review catches state on wrong foot
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The system of quarterly performance review of state Plan schemes, introduced for the first time by the Planning Commission, caught Punjab on the wrong foot in the very first meeting held recently. The meeting did not prove very useful due to lack of details regarding various schemes, it is reliably learnt.

The commission's Principal Adviser, Mr P.K. Mohanty, wants Punjab to be better prepared for the second quarterly review as well as for the working group meetings on the tenth Plan and 2002-03 Annual Plan.

A look at the minutes of these two meetings, held on August 13 and 14, reveals the grey areas on which the commission has expressed its concern to Punjab. The state has been depending heavily on borrowings, as its performance in mobilising its own resources to finance Plans in recent years was not satisfactory. Of the borrowed funds, only 13 per cent were spent on the capital account. Punjab, with 16 government employees per 1,000 population, the commission noted, bears a heavy burden of salary bill. While Punjab's per capita income is very high, its tax — gross state domestic product ratio — could be higher than the reported level of 9.18 per cent.

The growth of economy was slow in the ninth Plan period. The commission, expressing its concern over the supply of free power and water, asked Punjab to reorient its policies to sustain agriculture as well as electricity by imposing power tariff. The average power tariff covers only 65 per cent of the unit costs. The commission's caution is that Punjab must give up ''populist measures'' and ''freebies''. The Commission was told that government would realise water charges from users and likewise abide by recommendation on power tariff by the Regulatory Commission. The state electricity board has filed a petition for 43 per cent hike in power rates.

In the 10th Plan, the commission wants Punjab to log a growth rate of 6.42 per cent, as projected by the commission with sectoral growth percentages of 4.07 (agriculture), 8.06 (industry) and 8.0 (services).

The points that emerged from discussions on various key working groups showed that in agriculture and allied activities, Punjab has to focus on organic farming, nurse sick soils, use water judiciously (water wastage is estimated at 85 per cent) and improve the level of micro-nutrients. On the scheme of integrated development of one village, per block, the commission called for peoples' involvement and desired that first a cost-benefit analysis of the scheme be done.

On irrigation, while concurring with government efforts, the commission suggested enacting legislation for regulating ground water exploitation. As regards transport, Punjab does not yet have a perspective plan for roads and bridges and has allocated for it just 4.8 per cent of the total allocation in the tenth Plan.

On power, the commission expressed concern over heavy transmission and distribution losses (26 per cent in 2000-01), which is understated. In respect of social welfare, the commission is unhappy that 95 per cent allocation went into pensions and balance for meeting share contribution for central schemes. The same holds true for schemes meant for the Scheduled Castes and other backward classes. The school dropout rate of 63 per cent among Scheduled Caste students is serious concern to the commission, as is that against 7.2 lakh persons the ones who received pension was 8 lakh under old-age category.

The commission's direction to Punjab is to ''realign'' its 10th Plan priorities on suggested lines to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure greater participation of panchayati raj institutions and NGOs. As such, the commission said given the limit of agreed outlays of Rs 18,657 crore for the tenth Plan and Rs 2,793 crore for annual plan, the must put its schemes in new order.

Referring to Ninth Plan outlay and expenditure, the Commission noted that against approved outlay of Rs 12,805 crore, expenditure was 76.69 per cent (Rs 9,820 crore). The shortfall in balance on current revenue realisation, huge deficit of the electricity board and under realisation of externally aided projects were responsible for less expenditure. In respect of Annual Plan 2001-02, the state could realise only 49 per cent of projected level. Negative contribution of electricity board was Rs 737 crore.

The commission expects Punjab to brace itself for new challenges through good governance.


Baba’s arrest embarrasses clergy
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 30
Baba Dhanwant Singh, Chairman of the Noor Vishaw Ruhani Trust, was arrested in a “swift and dramatic action,” a day after a meeting of the Khalsa Panchayat with the Chief Minister in Chandigarh in connection with the activities of “godman” Ashutosh.

Though Mr Rajinder Singh, convener of the Khalsa Panchayats, clarified that the meeting with the Chief Minister was held on a single-point agenda — Ashutosh, sources close to the Sikh clergy said it was aimed to pre-empt the action of Akal Takht which had summoned Mr Charnjit Singh Channi, senior member of the panchayat, and four others on September 2. Mr Rajinder Singh said the summons issued by Akal Takht had been received by Mr Channi which reads “The proof of corruption against the Sikh clergy had been found baseless by the SGPC chief and hence you have been summoned after a marathon meeting of the Sikh clergy.”

The arrest of Baba Dhanwant Singh is enough to embarrass the Sikh clergy which had pronounced a mild tankhah (religious punishment) despite a serious charge of raping the daughter of his former follower against him. The panchayat had levelled serious charges of corruption against the Sikh clergy and the then personal assistant to Giani Joginder Singh Vendanti even as Baba Dhanwant Singh had completed the tankhah.

Mr Rajinder Singh said the panchayat had deputed its activist near the residence of the baba at Gurdaspur yesterday to keep an eye on his movements. He claimed that he had been arrested with the help of the Khalsa Panchayat.

However, Sikh scholars say that the Sikh high priests, who were signatory to the decisions of Akal Takht, will have to own moral responsibility for the mild tankhah and hence Jathedar Vendanti could not be singled out for any decision which was taken unanimously.

There were allegations that Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, had been in touch with members of the Khalsa Panchayat and held “scret” meetings with them during the proceedings of corruption charges against the clergy. The refusal of Jathedar Vendanti to hold such meetings at places other than Akal Takht had resulted in a “cold war” among the high priests.

The authority of Akal Takht could be eroded if the rape charge is proved by the police. This is for the first time that a person who was forgiven by Akal Takht after completing the tankhah, has been arrested in the came case.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, said the state government must ensure that Baba Dhanwant Singh must get deterrent punishment if found guilty. He said the clergy had no business to deal with cases involving heinous crimes.

Meanwhile, the forthcoming meeting of the clergy on September 2 is likely to be stormy as the stand of the panchayat had been vindicated with the arrest of the baba.

Mr Rajinder Singh said Mr Channi and others would appear before the high priests and present their case that the allegations of corruption against the clergy were true since an IPS officer had indicted the baba but he was allowed to go “scot-free” by the high priests.


Row over 20 PUTA members’ removal
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 30
The cancellation of membership of 20 lecturers of local Guru Kashi College and Punjabi University College of Education, Bathinda, from the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) by the Registrar of the Punjabi University, Patiala, Mr Karamjit Singh Sidhu, without any notice allegedly to favour a particular group in the elections to its Executive Committee to be held on September 6 has triggered a controversy.

The affected lecturers approached the Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Mr S.S. Boparai, against the decision of Mr Sidhu. They said that if justice was denied to them they would move court.

Mr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, president of the PUTA, said that the action of the Registrar, who himself was a member of the Executive Committee of the PUTA, was illegal. He added that when the president and the secretary, the PUTA, had enrolled lecturers as members after taking membership fee from them, the returning officer had no power to cancel the same. He added that he had taken up the issue with Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University.

However, Mr Sidhu said he had cancelled membership of lecturers of these institutions as per the constitution of the PUTA. Dr. D.K. Madaan, a lecturer of Guru Kashi College, who along with Mr Jasbir Singh Sandhu has been deputed by others to take up the matter with the Vice-Chancellor to get wrong done to them undone, alleged that Mr Sidhu had taken this arbitrary decision to extend favour to a particular group in the coming elections of the PUTA.

Dr Madaan pointed out that Section 4 of PUTA constitution provided that general body of PUTA shall be the supreme controlling and policy-making authority of the association and the Registrar had no authority to cancel the membership. He added that PUTA renewed their membership to enrol them as voters on August 14, 2002. But in the voters’ list issued by Registrar on August 24, 2002, their names were deleted.

Dr Madaan alleged that though they were members of the PUTA last year and exercised franchise in elections as they were lecturers of the constituent college of Punjabi University, Patiala and drew salary from the university. They thus had right to be member, the Registrar, of constitution, Mr Sidhu, cancelled their memberships wrongly.

He said that the Registrar had cancelled their memberships, as they were lecturers of a college being run by the governing body, they were members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), there was no rotation of heads in the college, they did not fall within the definition of teacher and the voters list could be decided by the Returning Officer.

He pointed out that all reasons of Mr Sidhu for cancelling the membership of lecturers from PUTA were wrong. He added that Mr Sidhu himself had admitted in writing that Guru Kashi College was a constituent college of Punjabi University. Apart from it, the lecturers, whose membership has been cancelled, were not members of the PCCTU, he added that Mr Sidhu had, himself enrolled as a voter for elections to PUTA. But he was only a Returning Officer.

The affected lecturers were covered under the definition of teacher as per the calendar of Punjabi University. The Returning Officer had no power to decide the voter list. The provision of rotation of heads in the college was not relevant as per constitution of the PUTA.

Mr Sidhu said that he had cancelled membership of these lecturers after obtaining legal opinion. He said that the lecturers, whose membership had been cancelled, were not eligible to become members of the PUTA. However, despite that they became members of PUTA last year with the help of vested interests. He added he took this step to undo the wrong done last year.

Dr Madaan, however, pointed out that Mr Sidhu contested election to the Executive Body of PUTA last year as a candidate of one of the groups. During those elections, Mr Sidhu came to Talwandi Sabo to seek votes of the lecturers, whose membership was cancelled by him on August 24, 2002.

Meanwhile the teachers of local Guru Kashi College passed a resolution condemning the action of Registrar, Mr Sidhu.


Longowal’s relatives deny joining Congress

Sangrur, August 30
The 17th death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on August 20 has sparked off a new controversy in view of the recent utterances in a section of the media by Longowal’s sister Sham Kaur and nephew Bhai Roop Singh.

The denial of the two regarding joining the Congress has put the party at the receiving end. It had to face embarrassment despite declaring money and other sops, including government jobs, to five family members of sant longowal.

Their declaration that they are “Panth Prast” has also hung the Akali Dal and Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) in the balance, as the two parties too had left no stone unturned to woo the family of Sant Longowal.

Akali circles maintain that both the relatives are in a dilemma over siding with the Akali outfits commemorating the anniversary.

The SHSAD had declared a purse of Rs 3 lakh for them, besides the Rs 5 lakh announced by RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav from the stage of the SHSAD. The Tohra faction also came forward for the commemoration for the first time.

That Longowal’s sister shared the dais failed to put a dent over the legacy of Sant Longowal, as SAD has been commemorating the anniversary since 1985, after his assassination, sidelining the kin of Longowal. SAD continued to woo the legacy of Sant Longowal by projecting Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, MLA and former minister, as successor and protege of Longowal.

However, the war of nerves has been intensified between Mr Gobind Longowal and the kin of Sant Longowal. Reacting to the claim of Mr Gobind Longowal, Bhai Roop Singh the nephew of the Sant, said he had no certificate issued by the Sant to inherit his legacy.

He also denied joining the Congress at the state-level function in Longowal. He declared he would follow in his footsteps and be “Panth Prast”.

He said he respected Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for helping the family.

Meanwhile, Mr Gobind Longowal has maintained that Sant Longowal always distanced himself from his family members.

He said that the kin of Longowal fought a legal battle for years to withdraw Rs 16 lakh lying in a bank in the name of Gurdwara Kaimbowal Sahib, adjoining Longowal, where Sant Longowal spent his life. PTI


Badal’s confidant Bhambra booked

Chandigarh, August 30
The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, has booked Mr Hardeep Singh Bhambra, who was Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. Mr Bhambra has been a close confidant of the Badal family for a long time. Earlier, his son-in-law, a “tainted” PPSC officer, was sacked.

Official sources say the FIR against Mr Bhambra was registered yesterday. The raids were conducted today after the Vigilance Bureau reportedly got the nod from the powers that be. These continued till late in the night. The team landed at his Phase 3B1 house (H. No. 815) in SAS Nagar at 6. 30 p.m.

A raid was also conducted at a three-storeyed shop owned by him. It is learnt that Mr Bhambra was not home when the raids began. His whereabouts are not known. Sources in the Vigilance Bureau said they first zeroed in on a property dealer who led the team to Mr Bhambra. The Vigilance team recovered documents of properties worth Rs 1.29 crore, Rs 40,000 in cash and jewellery. TNS


New dyke for plant ready
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 30
Built at a cost of Rs 5 crore on 200 acres, a new ash dyke will be available to the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) in a week for depositing fly ash of phase three (comprising unit numbers 5 and 6) of the plant. The new ash dyke will help increase the life of phase two dyke, where the fly ash is being deposited at present.

In the new dyke, 170 acres are for the storage of ash and remaining 30 acre for the construction of central and surrounding bundhs. The central bundh has been constructed to a 12 metre height, whereas surrounding bundhs are at 4 metres. This means that the total capacity of the dyke, comprising two separate ponds, will be 28 lakh cubic metres. Initially, the life of the new dyke will be about three years as it will receive at least 2000 cubic metres of ash per day. However, its capacity can be enhanced later by raising the outer bundhs.

Sources in the PSEB told The Tribune today that besides the two ash ponds, a clear water chamber had also been constructed adjacent to the two ponds of the dyke to give adequate sedimentation time to the water so that supernatant clear water might be discharged in the nearby Sutlej. Another salient feature is that the entire area of the ash ponds had been lined with impervious lining, comprising 1-foot thick good earth containing 15 per cent to 25 per cent of clay in an area of about 40 acres. In the remaining 130 acres, 150 micron thick LDPE (polythene) lining, has been laid to prevent pollution of underground water and water-logging in the adjoining agricultural lands.

The PSEB had spent Rs 8 crore on the acquisition of land for the dyke and Rs 2 crore on shifting the 220 KV and 132 KV transmission lines which were passing through the area.

Residents of the villages surrounding the RTP had been agitating for the past about five years against the authorities as their agricultural land has been allegedly water-logged due to the presence of phases one and two dykes. Now, the problem will be curbed to some extent.


Settle disputes out of court: CJI
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, August 30
“Ninety per cent of the disputes can be settled through conciliation as they hardly involve any law point,” says Mr Justice Bhupinder Nath Kirpal, Chief Justice of India, while stressing the need for strengthening the institution of lok adalats for “expediting trials of cases pertaining to public utilities”.

Inaugurating a Special Lok Adalat here this morning, he said after an amendment to the Legal Services Authorities Act, permanent lok adalats would be constituted to deal with cases pertaining to public utilities.

Among those present were sitting and retired judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice S.S. Sodhi (former Chief Justice, Allahabad High Court), district and sessions judges and chief judicial magistrates of Punjab and Haryana, presidents of district bar associations of the two states and members of the bar associations of Hoshiarpur, Dasuya and Garhshankar.

For Mr Justice Kirpal, whose parents and grandparents hailed from Garhshankar, near here, it was not only “homecoming”, but also a “nostalgic experience”. He became the first Chief Justice of India to visit this remote and backward district. Accompanying him was another “son of the soil” — Mr Justice Ashok Bhan — also a Judge of the Supreme Court.

“It should not be necessary to have fanfare to highlight the working of these lok adalats. The idea should be to ensure speedy settlement of disputes through conciliation or mutual settlement,” said Mr Justice Kirpal. He said that landlord-tenant disputes and disputes over repayment of loans hardly involve any law point and could be settled through conciliation or mutual settlement. By utilising the services of retired judges, bureaucrats and others, lok adalats could serve an effective role in minimising litigations.

“We should not take disputes to courts as they lead to acrimony and more litigation. They should be taken out of courts and settled through conciliation,” he said by referring to the recent amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and impending amendments to the Legal Services Authorities Act.

He said that a two crore cases had been settled in lok adalats. He said that it was heartening that a number of banks had come here for quick settlement of their cases.

Earlier, Mr Justice Ashok Bhan called upon jurists to act honestly, not to react and act positively.

Mr Justice A.B. Saharya, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said that the State Legal Services Authorities of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh were doing an excellent job not only in settling disputes at the pre-litigation stage but also educating litigants through seminars and legal literacy campaigns.

Mr L.R. Roojam, District and Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, in his address of welcome said that 35 Benches were set up to handle nearly 5,000 disputes today at the special lok adalat. Hoshiarpur, he said, had done very well as far as lok adalats were concerned as more than 7,440 cases had been decided and claims worth Rs 13 crore settled.

Mr H.S. Bilga, president, District Bar Association, welcomed the guests. Mr Justice H.S. Bedi appreciated the work of the Department of Labour of Punjab which by organising special lok adalats had decided 18,000 labour disputes.


IG holds probe into attack on Jindal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The Inspector-General of Police here, Mr Anil Kaushik, today visited Malerkotla to inquire into the murderous attack on the then officiating President of the municipal committee, Mr Krishan Kumar Jindal, on August 26 and made an on-the-spot investigation into the incident.

Sources said the IG visited the place outside the committee office where a group of persons assaulted Mr Jindal. He also enquired from people there if they knew about the incident which had occurred that day.

Later the IG also visited Mr Jindal at the Civil Hospital here. Mr Jindal told the IG that the persons who had attacked him had left him for dead. It was sheer providence that he had survived such a murderous assault. After taking Mr Jindal’s statement, the IG was told by some persons in front of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr A.S. Rai that the local police was a mute spectator to the goondaism which had been let loose against Mr Jindal.

Meanwhile both Malerkotla legislator Mrs Razia Sultana and her husband, the DIG, Ludhiana, Mr Mohammad Mustafa have been put in a spot with their rivals making arrangements to ensure that a rally to be organised on October 1 is a success. The protest call has received a fillip after former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has also come out in support of Mr Jindal.

Former Congress men as well as disgruntled party men who are not happy with the style of functioning of Mrs Sultana are also expected to attend the protest rally. The rally has also got a boost with a Nationalist Congress Party losing candidate and former Congress minister Abdul Ghaffar openly coming out in support of Mr Jindal. The NCP candidate had polled around 15,000 votes in the last Assembly elections.

Talking to TNS over the phone, Mr Ghaffar said representatives of all parties were expected to participate in the rally, including those from the Shiromani Akali Dal, SAD(A), BJP and Communist parties. He said a wrong impression was being given by some vested interests that the issue was one of Hindu — Muslim discord, adding that this was far from the truth. He said the issue was whether the people of Malerkotla could adopt a democratic way of life and whether anyone demonstrating peacefully against an injustice done to him was to be given “punished” like this.

He said the people of Malerkotla wanted an impartial inquiry into the case.


House tax scam in Bathinda MC
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 30
A house-tax scam, running into crores, has come to light in the local municipal council, already mired in controversy pertaining to awarding of “benami” contracts for sanitation and development works to a select few.

The Punjab Government has ordered a high-level probe into the scam, detected after an inquiry by the district administration recently. The Chief Vigilance Bureau, Local Bodies, has been deputed to hold the probe.

Mr Survesh Kaushal, Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, said today that a report had been sought within 30 days. The records pertaining to the levying and waiving of house tax by the municipal council authorities would be inspected.

A sub-committee for assessment of house tax had caused a loss of Rs 1,37,20,828. In 199 cases, house tax had been reduced by more than Rs 10,000 each. In 17 cases, the sub-committee had not passed speaking orders.

The report also mentioned that two municipal councillors, who were members of the sub-committee, were responsible for reducing the house tax without reason. The executive officer of the council, who was also a member, was responsible for cases in which he had reduced the house tax.

The report mentioned that the government had ordered that house tax should not be reduced by more than 30 to 35 per cent of the total amount being levied from the assesses at the time when this assessment was made. The sub-committee had violated these directions.

In certain cases, house tax was reduced though the assesses had never moved a formal application for the same. The matter had been raised in the House by councillor Krishan Kumar Garg.

Mr Garg said he had lost faith in the vigilance team when the officials of the council, against whom he had lodged a complaint, had accompanied it while it was inspecting the development works. Mr Kaushal said he would inquire whether the vigilance officials had carried out the inquiry as per norms or not.


MC meeting put off as officials trade charges
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 30
Due to the reported row between Mr Mohinder Partap Dhingra, president, and Mr Diwan Chand Verma, executive officer, of the BJP-ruled Municipal council, Fazilka, the general house meeting summoned yesterday was postponed.

Mr Dhingra alleged that it was in order to maintain Congress hold in the municipal affairs that the Punjab Government had posted Mr Diwan Chand Verma as executive officer. He said Mr Verma follows instructions given by the Congress.

Elaborate police arrangements had been made at the venue of the meeting. The 21-member House with 16 BJP members is faction-ridden.

On the agenda was a discussion of resolution number 78 in which it is proposed that Mr Diwan Chand Verma, executive officer, had allegedly committed some irregularities and the Local Government Department should suspend him. Also to be taken up was the point pertaining to curtailing his authority to spend Rs 2,000 without seeking permission of the House to Rs 50 only. However, Mr Verma clarified that he had no information of the proposed meeting. Moreover, it is not the president but the executive officer who can call the meeting, he added.

He said on August 20, he had written to the president to call a meeting of the general house, but he received no reply in this regard. He said he would file a suit of defamation against Mr Dhingra for accusing him of indulging in politics, for behaving in a dictatorial manner, misusing Municipal Council funds and not responding to instructions.


‘Rich SCs must shun quota seats’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 30
Mr Udit Raj, Chairman of the All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, while alleging that the Supreme Court was not protecting the rights of weaker sections properly, said Class-I officers belonging to reserved categories should restrain their children from getting the benefit of reservation.

Addressing mediapersons here yesterday, he said that some judicial officials of the Supreme Court had stopped protecting the rights of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by not keeping a check on the decisions of the government which were against the interests of such castes. He, however, did not reveal any such recent instance.

Mr Raj said the economically rich among the reserved categories should voluntarily decide that they or their children would not take the benefit of reservation in jobs or admissions to educational institutes.

Mr Raj was in the city as part of his state-wide tour to enlighten weaker sections about their rights.

Mr Udit Raj, who is also Chairman of the Lord Buddha Club, refuted allegations that members of weaker castes were forcibly converted into Buddhism.

He alleged that the Bhujan Samaj Party (BSP) had ditched the Dalits by joining hands with the BJP.


Tributes paid to Beant Singh
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 30
The District Congress Committee (DCC), under the presidentship of Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, today organised a function on the occasion of the 7th death anniversary of late Chief Minister Beant Singh. It called upon the Union Government to bestow the Bharat Ratna upon him posthumously and declare August 31 a national holiday.

Several Congress leaders and workers including Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, the Transport Minister and son of late Chief Minister, Mr Tej Prakash Singh, attended the function organised at Chhoti Baradari here.

Ms Preneet Kaur said former Chief Minister’s name would always be remembered as he played a decisive role in the elimination of militancy in Punjab.

Mr Tej Prakash Singh stressed that besides the elimination of militancy, the late Chief Minister was also instrumental in keeping the social fabric of the state intact, even when militancy was at its peak in the state.


Surrendered routes to be privatised
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The Punjab Government has decided to reissue routes surrendered by both Punjab Roadways and the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) to private parties.

Stating this here after attending a function organised to commemorate the death anniversary of former Chief Minister Beant Singh here, state Transport Minister Tej Prakash Singh said the PRTC had surrendered routes covering nearly 14,000 km. He said this was because it could not augment its fleet and some buses had served their utility but were still being used.

He said efforts would be made to revive the PRTC and that money owed to it in the form of free travel facility given to various sections of society would be returned to it.

The minister said a new transport policy would be unveiled soon, adding that a sub-committee had been constituted for the purpose and would visit Haryana to study the manner in which it was using its registration policy to its advantage.

He said besides this, the tax system would be simplified to benefit transporters.


‘PSEB nearing bankruptcy’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association yesterday said the board was heading towards a financial crunch. It warned the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that vested interests were trying to derail the proposed tariff hike in a bid to dismantle the board.

In a statement here, association general secretary Rajinder Sarao alleged that the industrial consumers of the board were lobbying to sabotage the tariff proposal of the board.

The association said the board should work towards getting 3 per cent surplus as mandated by the Electricity Act. The total commercial loss of the board for the year 2001-02 was Rs 1633 crore. Besides this, the board had been burdened further due to the poor monsoon. It had to divert 861 million units from the industrial sector to provide power to farmers for the paddy crop at a loss of Rs 250 crore.


Police finds irregularities in orphanage record
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 30
The police, which conducted a surprise check on the record of the Rajindra Dewa Orphanage here today, has claimed to have found irregularities in giving a child to a Canada-based family by the orphanage around 18 years back.

The orphanage, which was founded during royal times, is in the thick of a controversy with arrest warrants having been issued against its chairman Dewenderpal Singh for selling child to a Ludhiana-based family. The property manager of the orphanage, Jaswant Singh Pashauri, had been arrested some time back and is presently in the police custody.

Sources said a PCS officer and a team from the Kotwali police checked the records of the orphanage. The records showed that the authorities had given a child to a Canada-based family without going into proper documentation of the case. They said no detail had been maintained on the adoption case of the child.

Meanwhile the sources said the orphanage authorities had also given away prime space measuring 1,600 square yards next to the bus stand to Mohindpal Singh on ‘’pagri’’ basis. Besides this, it was also accused that the orphanage paid for the cost of the fodder consumed by the milch animals of the chairman of the institution.


Residents protest ‘police inaction’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 30
Residents of Baldev Nagar today sat on dharna in front of police division number 8 for the alleged failure of the district police to initiate action against the anti-social activities of a Congress councillor. Traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road remained disrupted for about half an hour.

The agitators alleged that Congress councillor Balkishan Bali and his sons were involved in anti-social activities and were harassing residents. The police had failed to take any action against the councillor despite several complaints, they added.

They raised slogans against the police. Ms Darshan Kaur alleged that the son of the councillor and his friends had beaten up her son Vicky late last night. When she tried to intervene, they slapped and abused her. She added that though she formally submitted a complaint to the police, no action had been taken so far. She was reportedly asked to agree to a compromise with the councillor by the police. The dharna was lifted following assurances of police officials to take action.

Mr Bali refuted the allegations. He said his son was not involved in any anti-social activities.


Move to upgrade ponds for pisciculture
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 30
The Punjab Government under a scheme will develop ponds in villages and supply these with clean water, to use these for fish-farming.

Mrs Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, stated here today that with the implementation of this scheme, villages would become pollution-free and economic health of panchayats improve following sale of fish.

Mrs Jain said under the first phase of the scheme two villages — Sandhuan and Pipla Majra, of this district had been chosen for the purpose. In both villages, ponds would be divided into two parts for planting duckweed, for treating the water, and fish-farming.

Mrs Jain said Rs 3.19 lakh would be spent in Sandhuan village to develop the pond under the scheme.

She launched the scheme at Sandhuan village yesterday in the presence of scientists from the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology which prepared the project.

The Deputy Commissioner stated that the scheme would be implemented in other villages of the Ropar district in phases.


Murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 30
The police today claimed to have solved the mystery shrouding the death of Daljit Singh of Patiala who was found dead in a hotel recently.

Dr S. K. Kalia, SP (City), said Dajit Singh had illicit relations with his maternal aunt, Simran Kaur of Bhlauth village. He used to give all his earnings to her. Daljit Singh had given Rs 1 lakh to a Jalandhar-based agent for sending him abroad and was to pay Rs 2 lakh more. But his aunt did not want him to give more money to the agent.

The SP added that Simran Kaur hatched a plan. She came with Daljit Singh to Amritsar who introduced her as his wife to workers in the hotel, Krishna Lodge. She allegedly strangled him to death there on the intervening night of August 25-26. On a tip-off, the police arrested Simran Kaur from the bus stand of Beas. A case has been registered under Section 302, IPC.


Wooing voters with milk!
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 30
The distribution of liquor during elections is a common sight. In view of the September 8 nagar council poll here, several candidates are wooing voters with liquor. However, Mr Manjit Singh Khalsa, an Independent candidate from Ward No. 17, serves milk to those who visit his election office.

Meanwhile, a vendor has put up a stall on the GT Road for selling flags, bunting, banners and badges of all parties to cash in on the electioneering.


BKU threatens to stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 30
The Nathana unit of the BKU(E) has threatened to stage a dharna near the office of the Irrigation Department if no solution was found for the shortage of canal water.

Mr Manjeet Singh, general secretary of the unit, said in a press note issued today that due to shortage of canal water even the toria and other crops got damaged. Mr Manjeet Singh said the union apprised the officials about the situation, but nothing had been done so far.


Workers’ relay fast continues
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 30
The relay fast by employees of the local thermal plant entered the fourth day today. They are protesting against the reduction in salary and allowances.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the GNDTP Employees Federation, said the PSEB management had taken many decisions in the past few months that were against the interests of the employees. He condemned the decision of keeping hundreds of posts in the three thermal plants vacant.


Inter-state gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 30
The police has busted an inter-state gang of robbers with the arrest of two persons.

The gang reportedly used to rob passengers in trains and deluxe buses. They used to give them sleeping pills mixed in cold drinks, tea or coffee after taking them into confidence.

The police said the gang was active in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu and Pathankot. The gang had robbed at least 40 persons and looted luggage and cash to the tune of about Rs 20 lakh.

The culprits, arrested from Dhariwal, were identified as Kulwant Singh and his son Harpreet Singh of Phagwara. They had reportedly admitted that their accomplices were at large.


Undertrial escapes from police custody
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 30
An undertrial, Jaswinder Singh, escaped from police custody while they were at a local dhaba late on August 28. A resident of Ghumiara village in Faridkot district, Jaswinder, was being taken to the Faridkot district jail from the Ludhiana judicial courts by havildar Jagga Singh and constable Balbir Singh.

The undertrial had been charged with involvement in many cases and had been lodged in jail for the past year. He was being taken back to Faridkot when they stopped at a dhaba for dinner.

The police officials opened his handcuffs so that he could eat. Taking the benefit of darkness due to power failure, he fled. The policemen also fled from the dhaba. Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, district police chief, said a case under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC had been registered.


Another jawan commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Mamdot, August 30
Frustrated over continuous duty hours in the scorching heat wave in the western sector along the border, a jawan of the BSF shot himself yesterday. A case has been registered under Section 174, IPC.

Raj Kumar of 14 BSF Battalion was posted at Mehandi Wala border post. His friends said he had applied for leave to meet his family but it was not sanctioned.

This is the second of its kind of incident in this area. Two weeks ago a Havildar of 11 Kumaon Regiment, frustrated over not being granted leave, killed a Major before committing suicide.

Defence experts say that the jawans are passing through tough times and are under strain.


Case against Principal, Bursar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, august 30
The Nabha Kotwali police yesterday registered a criminal case against the Principal and the Bursar of Punjab Public School at Nabha, near here, on charges of attacking a person staying in the old palace of the former Maharaja of Nabha and evicting him forcibly from the premises.

According to sources, complainant Pritam Singh had charged that 10 to 12 persons attacked him on August 23 on the directions of PPS Principal M.S. Bedi, and Bursar Colonel Dhindsa. He said that was thrown out with his belongings from the old palace.

A case has been registered under Sections 452, 427, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC. The sources said the Principal and the Bursar were being investigated for having registered a false case against Pritam Singh and his son Jabarjang Singh.


‘Fund crunch may hit distance education’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 30
Limited financial resources may hamper development of desired quality study material and programmes under the distance education system in the country. Besides, the system is facing a challenge with regard to the development of job oriented programmes and infrastructure at various institutions throughout the country.

This was stated by the Director of Distance Education Council, Dr M.M. Ansari, at a seminar on “Distance education: challenges and opportunities” organised by the Indian Society of Distance Education at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today.

He appreciated the role of Punjab Technical University (PTU) in running various courses under the distance education mode by providing quality study material through at least 120 study centres throughout the country.

The Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, said various courses under the distance education programme being run by the PTU were aimed at providing education at the grass-roots level particularly in rural areas.

The representatives of other universities, including Punjab University, Punjab Agricultural University, Jammu University, Kurukshetra University, Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences and Punjab Technical University, presented their papers at the seminar.


PCCTU rally on September 5
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
The central executive committee of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union at a meeting today at GTBN College, Dakha, condemned the policies of the Punjab Government which were termed as detrimental to the cause of higher education.

Prof Kanwaljit Singh, zonal secretary, Punjab University Area, said the decision of the Punjab Government to modify the 18.12.96 pension/gratuity scheme — which was approved by the Rajinder Kaur Bhattal government the Bill of which was presented by Mr P.S. Badal in the Assembly on March 30, 1999 and was adopted to which the Governor also gave assent on April 19 and was finally notified in the gazette on April 26, is a violation of the constitutional provisions and was unacceptable to them.

The government decision to continue to impose cuts on the 95 per cent grant-in-aid was unjust and anti-teacher, anti-students and anti-people, he added.

He added recent decision of the government to impose a ban on filling vacancies or which were likely to fall vacant due to retirement or any other reason and which had been endorsed by DPI (Colleges), Punjab, vide Letter No. 111/60-2002 m (6) dated 13.8.2002 was aimed at harming higher education.

The meeting prepared action plan for the current academic session. A dharna by executive committee will be held outside the DPI (Colleges), Punjab, in Chandigarh on September 5, while the zonal rallies of the colleges falling within the jurisdiction area of Punjabi University and Panjab University will be held at Patiala and Ludhiana on September 12 and 24 respectively. On October 10 college teachers from all over the state and Chandigarh will go on mass leave and hold rally at Patiala, the constituency of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, followed by Jail Bharo Andolan to be announced later, he added.


HMCA bags all 3 top positions
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 30
All three top positions in the BHMS final year examination of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences have been secured by students of Homoeopathic Medical College (HMCA) Abohar here. The results were announced today.

Rajeev Mukheeja topped the university securing 739 out of 1000 marks. Meena Mehta and Anupama Kansal secured the second and third positions, respectively, getting 728 and 694 marks.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |