Monday, September 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSERC verdict on tariff revision likely today
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Association to go to court

The PSEB Engineers Association said if the Punjab Government tried to block the implementation of the verdict of the state electricity regulatory commission regarding tariff revision, the association would approach the high court and file a contempt petition against the government. The association said there were sufficient grounds for filing the contempt petition against the government in the light of the December, 2001, judgement by the court in a case regarding PSEB’s revenues.

Chandigarh, September 1
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) is expected to announce its verdict regarding tariff revision either tomorrow or day after. The commission has reportedly prepared a 140-page order. In this regard Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has been quoted as saying that the decision to implement the recommendations of the commission on tariff will be taken by the Cabinet. However, officers in the PSEB say the government has no legal authority over the commission and it can’t block the implementation of the order.

“Of course, the government has political authority over the board to stop the charging of revised power tariff but not legal powers, a top functionary of the PSEB said. The government can only challenge the commission’s order in the high court.

Listing three reasons, he said first of all the state government has signed a memorandum of understanding regarding power reforms with the Union Government. Under that MoU, the commission was set up by the Government to carry out the duties assigned to it (commission) under the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act. The Government now can’t back out of its commitments with the Centre.

The petition for a revision of the tariff before the commission was filed by the PSEB. Hence the verdict on the petition will be sent to the PSEB and not to the state government by the commission. It will depend on the PSEB whether the government should be consulted or not before going for the implementation of the tariff revision.

And then there is a decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of December, 2001, on a petition filed by certain engineers of the board. While disposing the petition, the Court had directed the respondent board to ensure the compliance of section of 59 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948 and to adjust its tariffs so as to ensure that the total revenue in each year leaves a surplus of not less than 3 per cent of the value of the fixed assets in service at the beginning of the year.

Hence, the PSEB filed a petition before the commission asking for a 3 per cent rate of return on its fixed assets. The PSEB in its petition projected its revenue requirement at Rs 7858 crore of which Rs 7438 crore to be realised through tariff. However, the state government did not agree with the PSEB’s projections. The revenue requirement of the board calculated by the Government has been put at Rs 5981.20.

Meanwhile, the PSEB engineers Association has written an open letter to the Chief Minister, saying that the “book adjustment of the subsidy” to be paid by the government was not acceptable. The government wanted that Rs 571 crore — which the PSEB is supposed to pay to the government as interest on various loans — should be retained by the PSEB as subsidy.

However, the association says that the government was supposed to give. a total of Rs 4890 crore as subsidy to the board for supplying free power to farmers in the past five and a half years. The outstanding loan of the government against the board is Rs 4743 crore.

It should be adjusted against the unpaid subsidy in the past five years and henceforth the government should pay the board in cash against the subsidised power supply to any category of consumers.


PSEB engineers flay Finance Dept
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
The PSEB Engineers Association has condemned the role of the Finance Department of the Punjab Government by alleging that the department had “sabotaged and derailed the tariff proposals pending before the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission (PERC)”.

In an open letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the association claimed that the Finance Department, in its objections filed before the PERC on August 22, had committed a fraud by trying to make book adjustments on paper to the extent of Rs 571 crore as subsidy on power to the agricultural sector whereas such an adjustment was violative of section 67A of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948.


PSEB official shown gun by angry farmers
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, September 1
In a setback to the drive launched to check power theft, a senior official of the PSEB, who had raided villages to find out farmers who had installed motors illegally, faced a threat to his life and was allegedly shown a revolver in the office.

Mr Hardeep Singh Sidhu, regional secretary, PSEB Engineers Association, in a written statement issued after a meeting of the association here, said Mr B.D. Bansal, Additional Superintending Engineer (Operation), who had conducted raids on some villages of Badal division to check power theft a few days ago, was threatened of dire consequences, when he found some “influential” persons using ‘kundi’ connections to steal power and tried to register cases against them.

Mr Sidhu said even though the motors were given free power for agricultural purposes by the state government, some farmers stole power causing losses to the PSEB and putting at risk the functioning of the transformers installed for distributing power. He said Mr Bansal detected two motors installed illegally at Mitrhi village in Badal division and when he tried to lodge a formal checking report on the spot, he was threatened of dire consequences by the culprits.

Mr Sidhu said when the officer was conducting a meeting of his team at his office, two persons, Jagwinder Singh and Bahadar Singh, came to his office and threatened him by showing a revolver. But the officer did not pay heed to their threat and lodged an FIR at the Lambi police station.

Mr Sidhu urged the state government and the management of the PSEB to initiate proceedings for arresting the accused. He said if the state government was serious about checking power theft, the long pending demands of the association, including setting up of separate police stations for the PSEB and installing power meters outside the premises, should be accepted without delay. He demanded that, if feasible, separate courts to deal with the cases of power theft should be set up at every district headquarter.

While no senior police official could be contacted, sources confirmed that a case under Section 353, IPC, had been registered.


Kin of Badal’s employee got petrol station
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, September 1
After the case of the cook of the former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal getting undue benefits during the SAD-BJP rule hit the headlines, another case in which a relative of another employee of the Badal family had been allotted a PTDC petrol station in Malout has come to light.

The PTDC petrol station in Malout was leased to Mr Kewal Krishan, a relative of Mr Anil Kumar who runs the petrol station of the Badal family in Malout at a lease of just Rs 14,000 per month.

To issue the petrol pump, Mr Krishan was initially made an employee of the PTDC in paper. Though he never drew even a single salary from the PTDC as an employee, his name on the rolls of the corporation was enough to lease him the Malout-based petrol pump of the organisation.

Employees of the PTDC are planning to confront the government over the issue of disinvestments in the company and also to expose the misdeeds of those in power, which was allegedly causing financial loss to the corporation.

Mr Surjit Singh Saini, state president of the Punjab Tourism Karamchari Dal, told this correspondent that another PTDC venture, Ropar-based Water Lilly Restaurant, was given on rent as a fast food restaurant. However, later on the intervention of a local minister, without calling any tenders the persons who took Water Lilly on rent were given the no objection certificate (NOC) for running the bar at the restaurant. At present, the PTDC is getting an annual rent of Rs 60,000 per month for the restaurant. Had the bar NOC been included earlier in the tender for renting out the restaurant, the rent could have been much higher, Mr Saini alleged.

Mr Saini alleged that despite the interference and the abovesaid mismanagement of those in power, the PTDC had earned profits over the last two financial years. Still, the government wanted to disinvest the PTDC, putting a risk the jobs about 500 employees of the organisation.

The employees will hold a protest rally in Chandigarh on September 5.

The workers also condemned the Disinvestments Commission which recommended fast-paced disinvestments in the PTDC. While the commission has recommended the restructuring of the Punjab State Seed Corporation (Punseed), which has been sustaining losses consistently, it has recommended the disinvestment of the PTDC, which has started earning profit, they say.


SAD rally against attack on MC chief
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 1
The SAD staged a rally at the old grain market here today in protest against the attack on Mr Kewal Jindal, acting president of the local municipal council, and alleged excesses on Akali workers and leaders and anti-people policies of the Amarinder Singh government.

Addressing the rally, former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal said people were feeling insecure under the prevailing conditions in the state. He said the Chief Minister was bent upon finishing the SAD, which would not be allowed. Workers and leaders were being systematically targeted with a view to demoralising the party workers.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was ruling the state with the only motive of implicating him (Mr Badal) and his family in criminal cases. He said neither he nor any member of his family were afraid of going to the jail.

He said he had started keeping record of the atrocities being committed on SAD and BJP workers by Congress men and government functionaries and added that whenever they (SAD and BJP) would come to power they (Congress men and government functionaries) would be made to pay a heavy price for unleashing a reign of terror on the SAD and BJP workers.

“Mr Amarinder Singh has introduced a new stream of administration in Punjab, which has endangered law and order. Democracy is being murdered and human rights are being snatched away. Akalis never faced such circumstances”, he said.

Talking to mediapersons at the local rest house, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, former minister, and Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the state BJP, in a joint press conference said the NDA team did not visit the state to assess the law and order situation as the SAD-BJP combine had not submitted its report on the same yet.

They said though six months had passed but the government had not fulfilled single promise made in the manifesto. As promised the government should give Rs 30 as bonus per quintal on paddy, continue free power and water supply to the agriculture sector, pay Rs 10,000 per acre as compensation to drought-hit farmers and also farmhands, restore frozen allowances of government employees, provide 200 electricity units free of cost to Dalits, restore the “Shagun” scheme for them and make regular payment of the old-age pension to eligible persons and also clear pending such cases.

Residents of the town and nearby villages participated in the rally. They raised slogans against the police and the administration.


SAD (A) threatens stir over Jathedar issue
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, September 1
The case pertaining to the alleged torture of circle Jathedar of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) Bhola Singh by an ASI of the Joga police station, Mr Paramjit Singh, and others took a new turn today when dal leaders held out a threat that if the authorities concerned failed to take action against the accused, they would launch an agitation from September 6.

On the other hand, the dal leadership has also appealed to all political parties to come on a common platform to fight against police atrocities which, it claim, are on the rise ever since the Congress government was installed in Punjab.

Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala, General Secretary, Akali Dal (A), while addressing a press conference here today, said the main demand of the party included the registration of a criminal case against Mr Paramjit Singh, ASI, and others for hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs and kidnapping Jathedar Bhola Singh. The authorities concerned should also hold a probe to find out why the ASI and others tortured the Jathedar, he added.

Mr Barnala said a seven-member committee comprising former Akali minister Baldev Singh Khiala, district president of the Dal, Mansa, Mr Gursewak Singh Jawaharke, district secretary of the CPM Amarjit Kaur, Mr Balbir Singh Mander, Mr Parhlad Kumar, vice-president of the dal, Mansa city, Mr Harcharan Singh and Mr Jaswinder Singh had been constituted to deal with the case.

Jathedar Bhola Singh was allegedly tortured at the Joga police station yesterday by ASI Paramjit Singh and others. He was released from the police custody when hundreds of the dal activists led by Mr Jawaharke gheraoed the police station. He was later admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Mr Barnala alleged that the ASI not only tortured Jathedar Bhola Singh but also used derogatory remarks against his caste. His “siri sahib” (sword borne by the baptised Sikhs) was removed and his hands were tied with its belt before torturing him. His beard was also allegedly pulled by the ASI.

He said the Jathedar was also tortured for five hours at a secret place besides at the police station. Meanwhile, the district police chief, Mr S.S. Srivastva, said an inquiry into the case was being conducted by DSP Mukhtiar Singh and action would be taken against the accused policemen if they were found guilty.


REC students lathi-charged
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 1
The police today resorted to lathi charge on students of the local Regional Engineering College (REC), who were staging dharna outside the residence of the Minister for Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, here.

The students have gone to meet the minister at his residence this afternoon to discuss the issue pertaining to delay in grant of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) status in the REC by the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.

As soon as the students reached the minister’s residence and tried to express their views on the issue, Mr Kaypee told them to meet him at his Chandigarh office and assured that he would take up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. The minister left the place immediately.

The students, however, alleged that the minister did not listen to them and had failed to take up the matter with the HRD Ministry even as several other engineering colleges in the country had already been granted the status of the NIT six months back.

Mr Kaypee has no time to listen to the problems of the students and probably is least concerned about the whole issue, which will have great bearing on the future of the students,” a student rued.

Later, the students staged dharna outside the minister’s residence and raised anti-government slogans. According to sources, someone from the minister’s residence rang up the police division No. 6 authorities, who reached the spot immediately and asked the students to leave the place immediately.

Though students were sitting in a peaceful manner, the police party led by SHO Harjinder Singh resorted to indiscriminate lathi charge on the students causing injuries to two students. The students were seen running for shelter even as the police personnel were chasing them with lathies. The whole drama continued for about half an hour. The police party reportedly detained about six students, who were later let off at the police station.

The students said it was their democratic right to protest against the wrong policies of the state government and the police intervention, at the instance of the minister was highly deplorable. They demanded the SHO Harjinder Singh should be suspended immediately for ordering lathi charge on them.

They said a deputation of REC students would be meeting Capt Amarinder Singh during his visit to the city tomorrow to demand the suspension of the SHO.


Probe into naib tehsildar case begins
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 1
Case of alleged appointments of naib tehsildars by promotion by the Commissioner, Ferozepore division, during 1995 to 1999, in violation of the rules and norms, have come to light.

According to available details, Mr Sham Lal, the then Commissioner of Ferozepore division, during his tenure allegedly promoted 10 district revenue accountants (DRAs) and senior revenue accountants (SRAs) as naib tehsildars in an arbitrary manner even as only one incumbent was to be promoted to the post. Now the Revenue Department has initiated a probe into the irregular promotions on a complaint filed by Mr Mahavir Parsad, a retired patwari. Mr Parsad, in his complaint to the Chief Minister and Revenue Minister of Punjab, stated that his son Mr Mohinder Kumar, working as a kanungo was not promoted as naib tehsildar even though he deserved it.

It has also been mentioned in the complaint that according to rules 50 per cent of the naib tehsildars are appointed directly while the remaining are appointed by promotion from field kanungos, sadar kanungos, DRAs and SRAs.

Among the DRAs and SRAs, 10 persons, instead of one, were promoted as naib tehsildars in utter violation of the rules. These included Hans Raj, Hukum Chand, Balwant Singh, D.K. Jain, Nathu Ram and Khushwans Rai. All six were shifted to the newly created Faridkot division. The remaining four, Tej Singh, Jagmail Singh, Major Singh and Madan Mohan, remained in Ferozepore division.

The story of promotions dates back to 1996 when the Commissioner, Ferozepore division, sought lists and record of those kanungos who had cleared the departmental examination for promotion as naib tehsildars. The name of the complainant, Mr Parsad’s son Mr Mohinder Kumar, appeared at serial number six of the list whereas the names of Mr Gurmail Singh and Mr Pal Singh were listed at serial numbers three and four, respectively. Both of them were junior in service by about five months to his son Mr Mohinder Kumar. It has been alleged that Mr Gurmail Singh and Mr Pal Singh, both working as patwaris earlier, were reportedly promoted as kanungos from back date “illegally” by the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, even as no post of kanungo existed. An aggrieved Mr Mohinder Kumar had sent two memoranda in this regard on June 12 and August 17, 1998, but he is yet to get any reply. As new districts of Muktsar and Moga were carved out from Faridkot, the Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, vide his order No. 31 dated April 17, 1998, considered their appointment as kanungos from August 26, 1993 as correct while surprisingly the Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, had promoted them as kanungos on March 10, 1992, even as there was no post of kanungo at that time. Similarly Mr Gurmail Singh, Mr Pal Singh and Mr Baldev Singh, now working as naib tehsildars in Moga, were earlier posted as kanungos. When the irregularities in their promotions were pointed out by another senior kanungo, Mr Resham Singh, the Deputy Commissioner, Moga, in response to order No. 123 dated July 7, 1995, of the Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, had reportedly admitted omission in back-dated promotions.

In yet another case, Mr Jagsir Singh, a kanungo, was temporarily promoted as naib tehsildar on December 9, 1996. He had got the job on compassionate grounds following the death of his father on March 23, 1991. He worked as a patwari till February 16, 1995, but, surprisingly, the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, promoted him as kanungo from the date of his training as a patwari. The Deputy Commissioner’s action was resented by other kanungos. They submitted memoranda to Mr Satish Chandra, the then Deputy Commissioner, who admitted to omission in the promotion and considered him as kanungo from February 16, 1995, instead of his date of joining. In his order No. 3476 dated August 26, 1996, he said as Mr Jagsir Singh worked as patwari from 1990 to 1995, then how could he be promoted as kanungo from retrospective effect? Hence he considered his promotion from February 16, 1995, only. However, the Commissioner, ignoring all these facts and setting aside the seniority of other kanungos, promoted Mr Jagsir Singh temporarily as naib tehsildar on December 9, 1996, even as the latter has completed about two years of service as kanungo.

Another interesting aspect of the promotion scam is that Mr Dharmvir, the present Commissioner, Ferozepore division, vide his letter No. S/2001/3944 dated August 22, 2001, addressed to the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, admitted that the promotions from the DRA and SRA quota in Ferozepore division were erroneous. In this regard he issued show-cause notices on August 12, 2001, to Major Singh and on September 5, 2001, to Jagmail Singh as to why they should not be reverted on their old posts as they were wrongfully promoted as naib tehsildars. Likewise Mr R.N. Gupta, a former Commissioner of Ferozepore division, had on October 22, 1998, issued a similar show-cause notice to Mr Madan Mohan. However, this issue still remains unsettled.

The Commissioner, Ferozepore, has also admitted that Jagmail Singh and Major Singh were promoted out of turn as naib tehsildars on October 6, 1996. The complainant laments that if the promotions were not made exceeding the fixed quota, then his son would have been promoted as naib tehsildar as he fulfilled all departmental conditions for promotion. Mr Parsad has demanded a probe into the promotion scam by the state Vigilance Department.


Show-cause notice to online lottery agent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Punjab Government today issued a show-cause notice to M/s Venture Business Advisers Pvt. Ltd Consortium, Mumbai as to why the agency for on-line lottery granted to them (vide agreement dated 5.8.2002) should not be terminated.

Since the on-line lottery project involved a huge financial amount Rs 9301 crore, the government decided to meticulously scrutinise each and every document, submitted by the firm, including the bank guarantees. On verification, the State Bank of India indicated that they had not issued any bank guarantee in favour of the party. This guarantee was thus found to be bogus and fabricated, says a press note

According to Finance Minister, Lal Singh, M/s Venture Business Advisers Pvt. Ltd. Consortium, Mumbai, had submitted a bank guarantee for Rs 5 crore valid for six months. Since the bank guarantee had to be valid for a seven years, the period of on-line lottery contract, the firm was asked to submit another bank guarantee valid for seven years. The same was done. It was issued by M/s Western Co-operative Bank Ltd, Mumbai.

In response to queries by the government, the RBI, Mumbai, indicated that the bank’s licence was cancelled on 27.10.2001 and the bank was precluded from doing any banking business, including issuing guarantees.

Following action against the agent has been taken, says the press note: (a) A show-cause notice has been issued for the termination of the agency under clause 10.3 (1) of the agreement and they are required to file a reply within 15 days.

(b) As the agent has, prima facie, fabricated the bank guarantee and has furnished bogus and illegal bank guarantees knowingly and with the intention of defrauding the government and public at large, they are also liable for criminal action under the law of the land. Therefore, FIR No 543 dated September 1, 2002, has been lodged against them at Central Police Station Sector 17 Chandigarh; and

(c) A Public Notice is being issued through the Press cautioning the public against fraudulent practices the agent may indulge in.

The government which had till the other day made all claims that the Akalis had bungled on the “on-line lottery” contract and had painted a rosy picture of having struck “gold” by giving the same on a higher bid (Rs 9,301 crore) is now ducking for cover. It had simply spurned the offer of former Minister of Excise and Taxation, Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, made on the floor of the House to “help and assist” the government in the matter of signing the “on-line lottery” contract and cautioned it against being taken for a ride by non-discript firms.

There are indications that the government is now looking for alibis as also replacements of key functionaries in the Finance and Industries Departments to give a facelift to its image, which has suffered a setback in recent weeks due to wrong or premature policies.


Drinking water may cost more
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, September 1
After hiking the power tariff, the state government has started contemplating to increase the drinking water charges also.

While giving an indication to this effect, Punjab Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa said to generate enough funds to meet the expenses for the maintenance of rural water works the state government was working on a proposal to increase the water works charges.

Mr Randhawa, who along with state Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar and other functionaries of the Punjab government made a tour to drought affected areas of the district to listen to the grievances of people, said water works charges might be increased to Rw 50 per month from the existing Rs 40 per month.

He said by doing so the state government would earn Rs 18 crore per annum more and the same amount would be spent on the maintenance of rural waterworks to ensure adequate supply of potable water to the consumers. Apart from it, the Public Health Department had launched a campaign to regularise the illegal water connections and in this way it had been earning lakhs of rupees every month. Any consumer having illegal water connection was being penalised.

The Minister said state government was also working on a proposal to reduce the size of cluster of villages from six and above to two to three for setting up water works for them. He added that it should ensure better service and adequate quantity of potable water to the consumers.

He said the irrigation department authorities had been urged to maintain uninterrupted supply of water to rural waterworks so that consumers could be given the same after treatment daily. The minister said the state government would also arrange Rs 54 lakh required for changing the filter media of all rural waterworks falling in Talwandi Sabo subdivision.

Mr Bhullar while talking to mediapersons said the state government was planning to desilt all distributaries and canals so that these could carry water to their full capacity to ensure supply of adequate water at the tail ends. He said in the past few years, desilting operation could not be carried out as the previous government never made a provision for the same in their budgets.

He added that the irrigation department had allowed special shoots (for drawing water) to farmers on temporary basis for six months. However, certain farmers had not removed the shoots and had been drawing water continuously and thus affecting the supply as the tail ends of distributaries. The state government had been carrying out a special checking for the same and it could ban the same from next year.

To a question, he said the state Vigilance Department was holding an inquiry into the irrigation scam and the state government would take action as per the report of the inquiry.


Drought hits Rajpura, Dera Bassi most
Tribune News Service

Patiala September 1
As much as 1.05 lakh acres out of total of 7.54 lakh acres of area under paddy in the district has been affected due to drought.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejvir Singh, said here today that Rajpura and Dera Bassi tehsils, 45,000 and 35,000 acres, respectively, had been affected by drought. He said rainfall from June 1 till August this year in the district was 193 mm as compared to the normal figure of 456 mm.

The Deputy Commissioner said the decline in water table had been considerable in the district and ranged from 1.5 metres to 9 metres. He said a total of 12,800 tubewells of the 1.16 lakh tubewells in the district were reported to have gone dry. He said 31,980 tubewells had been deepened or debored and 3,900 new tubewells had been sunk in the district this year.

Mr Tejvir Singh said consumption or diesel in the district had also shown a marked increase of 41.6 per cent from last year. He said between June and August this year, 98,285 litres of diesel had been consumed compared to 69,376 litres during the same period last year.


Population rise blocks welfare plans: Dogra
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 1
Terming the increasing population in the country as a stumbling block in the way of implementation of welfare programmes for the downtrodden, the Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, today admitted that the government had failed to improve the standards of living of people even after 55 years of Independence.

Mr Dogra, while addressing the gathering at a function organised by the Nishkam Seva Bharti Trust at the Red Cross Bhavan here today, said though scores of welfare schemes for uplifting the status of the Scheduled Castes, poor and those living below poverty line were being prepared by the state government, but these were not properly implemented at the grassroots level.

“In fact, the governments, irrespective of their political affiliations, are unable to cater to the needs of such a huge population, which is virtually working as a stumbling block in way of implementation of such programmes. The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should join hands with the government for the welfare of the people,” Mr Dogra added.


Panel for general category demanded
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 1
The Punjab State General Categories Welfare Federation today urged the Union Government to constitute a national commission for the general categories on the pattern of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, so that the interests of the general categories, especially the general category employees, could be protected. The federation also asked the Amarinder Government to set up a state-level commission for the welfare of the general categories.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Shyam Lal Sharma, state president of the federation, also asked the Punjab Government to establish a department on the pattern of the SC/ST Welfare Department for the general categories so that they could also air their grievances to get them redressed.

Mr Sharma also urged the Punjab Chief Minister not to implement the 85th Amendment in the state because the number of scheduled caste officers was already more almost in every department, especially education, health, and excise and taxation, than the prescribed quota.

He also stated that in Punjab the benefits of reservation had already been enjoyed by the SC/ST in every cadre and at every stage, including class I and class II level, and further concessions to SC/ST employees through the 85th Amendment would ruin the social fabric of society.

He also demanded sincere implementation in Punjab of the ruling of the Supreme Court given in the cases of R. K. Sabharwal and Ajit Singh Janjua on September 16, 1999, which had balanced the rights of the SC/ST as well as the general category.

He also stated that the Mandal Commission report should not be implemented in Punjab as all castes had already been enjoying the benefits of reservation. He demanded an end to caste-based reservation in employment, education and election to the village panchayat.


Tributes paid to Babbar Akali martyrs
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 1
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the, SGPC paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the Babbar Akali Lehar — Jathedar Babbar Karam Singh (editor) and his associates Uday Singh Ramgarh, Mohinder Singh Pandori, Ganga Singh and Bishan Singh Mangat — who sacrificed their lives on September 1, 1923, at “shardhanjli samagam” organised by the Babbar Karam Singh, Editor Yadgari Trust at his native village Daulatpur, 12 km from here, today.

He said the SGPC would chalk out a programme to propagate the ideology and contribution of the Babbar Akalis in the freedom struggle.

Henceforth, the Shardhanjli Samagam of the martyrs of the Babbar Akali Lehar would be observed by the SGPC. Besides, the SGPC would bear all expenses for constructing “Shaheed Gate”, Mr Badungar said.

Mr Badungar said the SGPC would launch an awareness drive against the use of narcotics by the youth and to channelise their energies towards sports the SGPC would prepare Khalsa teams for different sports events in the schools and colleges being run by the SGPC.


Honour to assassin condemned

Amritsar, September 1
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation has condemned the ‘Dal Khalsa’ for honouring an assassin Dilawar Singh at its annual convention. Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu, president of the federation, in a fax message here today said honouring a human bomb who assassinated Chief Minister Beant Singh in the presence of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was uncalled for.

He stated that voter forms for Sehajdharis were burnt by the Dal Khalsa last year in Ludhiana. No action against the organisation encourage it to commit more mischief in the name of Sikhs.

The federation has demanded immediate action against the organisation.


Sikh scholars flay clergy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1
The ‘inept’ handling of Sikh affairs by the high priests, especially after Operation Bluestar and the centenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth, which had come in for criticism at a conference held by the Dal Khalsa here yesterday, has started a debate among Sikh intellectuals.

The first salvo was fired by Dr Gursharnjit Singh, a lecturer of Guru Nanak studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, who said lack of any ‘role model’ had left a common Sikh to become follower of ‘so-called godmen’ who had mushroomed these days.

Though Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, president of the all-India Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (owing allegiance to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra) addressed Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as “Jathedar” (Mr Tohra has been describing Bhai Ranjit Singh as ‘real Jathedar’), yet the ‘inefficiency of the religious leadership had failed to discipline the Akali leadership’.


BSM organises workers’ training camp
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 1
Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), while addressing a press conference here today said the morcha, with a view to strengthen its organisational base so that Dalits, backward classes, labourers, marginal farmers, etc could be brought under its umbrella to provide a formidable “third political force” in the state, had started organising “workers training camps”.

The first such camp was organised here today at Swarankar Bhavan to activate morcha workers for the purpose.

Mr Kainth said the political parties had been using Dalits merely for electoral purposes by raising the issues pertaining to them during elections only. After getting their votes all the issues concerning their welfare were thrown into the dustbin.

He said the ruling Congress at its state-level “Dalit rally” organised at Partap Bagh, Jalandhar, on June 2, had promised to allot plots to dalits, jobs to at least one member of Dalit families, enact the “Reservation Act”, waive off loans up to Rs 5,000, double the amount of pensions and the Shagun schemes, etc, but nothing had been done to fulfil these promises.


Power plant unit shut as coal stocks dip
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 1
The Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) authorities today closed unit No. 1 of the plant due to no demand in the state. This was stated by Mr V.K. Mohindroo, General Manager of the plant, while talking to The Tribune over the phone this afternoon.

However, sources in the PSEB claimed that the plant authorities had closed unit No. 1 due to low coal stock as the Railway authorities had threatened not to transport coal to the power station due to non-payment of hundreds of crores rupees to the railways as freight charges.

They claimed that closure of a unit of the plant on account of “no demand” was an “excuse” as power cuts were still being imposed in the state by the authorities.

In reply to a question, Mr Mohindroo said the PSEB had asked the RTP authorities to close unit No. 1 for five to six days. He said the RTP had 1.5 lakh tonnes of coal in its stock today. He also said the plant had received four rakes of coal today.


Rai Sikhs protest
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 1
Protesting against the police 500 Rai Sikhs staged a dharna in front of sadar police station today.

The postmortem of Phulla Singh was conducted today. Senior Medical Officer Dr Pritam Singh Sauna said besides multiple injuries his both knees were found fractured.


BJP man killed over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 1
Agitated supporters of the BJP today protested outside the SSP’s residence and Sadar police station, seeking the arrest of all four alleged murderers of their party member, Phoola Singh. The protesters also brought with them the body of the deceased and blocked traffic for more than two hours.

Phoola Singh was murdered in his native Bhane Wala Basti village yesterday allegedly by former Sarpanch Darshan Singh of Congress, his sons Kashmir Singh and Manjit Singh and their supporter Balwinder Singh.

Malla Singh, Sarpanch of the village and brother of Phoola Singh, told the TNS that there was a land dispute between his brother and Darshan Singh which was pending before the court. But ever since the Congress government was formed in the state, Phoola Singh had been allegedly threatened by Darshan Singh.


Cop crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 1
Head Constable Jagmohan Singh, posted at Police Chowki Kot Shamir, in this district, was crushed to death by vehicle near Jassi Pau Wali village today.

Police sources said volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, along with policemen of Kot Shamir Chowki, took the body the to Civil Hospital here. The body was handed over to the kin of the deceased after a post-mortem examination.


4 killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 1
Varinder Kumar, gunman of Anil Kumar of Jammu, died on the spot yesterday when a truck hit their car near a resort on the Pathankot-Mukerian road. The driver of the truck managed to flee. In another incident, Surinder Kumar of Chadial village died on the spot when a bus hit his cycle near the village.


Meal not our job: teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 1
The district unit of the Democratic Teachers Front has held that the mid-day meal scheme and the ‘sarv shiksha abhiyaan’, are non-teaching jobs, opposing the appointment of teachers for these.

Major Basant Kumar, secretary of the front, in a statement issued here on Friday, said while the authorities had told the state government that the students of primary classes should be given cooked meals, they had not said the meals should be cooked by teachers. He alleged that the District Education Officer (Primary) had directed primary teachers to cook and serve meals, which was against rules. He added that activists of the front would stage dharnas to protest against the decision.


Teachers’ exclusion from PUTA poll hangs fire
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 1
The prospects of the United Teachers Front (UTF), which presently has a majority in the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA), whose elections are scheduled for September 6, have been severely affected with the varsity authorities not ready to take back a decision whereby names of around 25 teachers in two institutions in Damdama Sahib and Bathinda were struck off the varsity rolls.

The decision to struck off the names of these teachers of Guru Kashi College at Damdama Sahib and the Government College of Education, Bathinda, was taken during the last few days of the tenure of the Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr N.S. Rattan.

A delegation of the UTF, including present PUTA President Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, had met the new Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, immediately after he took over the charge to demand reinclusion of the teachers of both the colleges in the PUTA election rolls. The Vice-Chancellor, while saying he would examine the issue, said he had been informed that the decision against the teachers had been taken after due legal opinion by the varsity administration.

The UTF delegation claimed during the meeting that the legal opinion had been taken by the Registrar, Dr K.S. Sidhu, who was an active member of the rival Teachers United Front (TUF). The UTF representatives alleged that Dr Sidhu had deliberately made out a case against the teachers as he felt they had not voted for his group in the last elections.

The UTF is likely to lose some of the support, which had helped it capture the PUTA elections last year, with the removal of teachers of both institutes from the PUTA poll. The teachers had been made members of PUTA for the first time by the former the VC, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. The move had evoked protest from the TUF, which felt that there was no provision for making teachers of associated colleges members of PUTA.

In fact, TUF convener Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira had claimed that it was the UTF that had entered into a conspiracy with the former VC to illegally make teachers of the two colleges members of PUTA.

Though the UTF may have lost some votes due to this measure, all is not well with the TUF also. There is a feeling that some active members of the TUF have managed to get themselves appointed to important positions in the varsity administration, even as the process of promotions, which could not be completed during the tenure of Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, have still not been completed. Besides, while the TUF seemed to be ruling the roost during the tenure of Dr N.S. Rattan and was even able to reverse decisions taken by Dr Rattan, this may not be the case with the new VC.

Meanwhile, both factions have announced their list of office-bearers for the poll. The TUF team includes Dr Balwinder Singh for the post of president, Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar for the post of vice-president, Dr Balwinder Singh Sandhu for the post of secretary and Dr O.P. Jasuja for the post of joint secretary-cum-treasurer. The UTF has fielded Dr S.S. Grewal as president, Dr Sukhwinder Kaur Bath as vice-president, Dr Hari Singh Boparai as secretary and Dr Kanwal Kinger as joint secretary.


Failed college students seek re-admission
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 1
Students of the local Government Rajindra College who had failed in their BA (I) examinations this year have been staging dharnas for the past few days protesting against the decision of the college authorities denying them re-admission.

Ms Amandeep Kaur (name changed) claimed that she had failed due to poor health during the final-year exams and was not poor in studies as being dubbed by the college authorities. She alleged that due to shortage of classrooms and vacancies of teachers the quality of teaching had deteriorated.

Rajdeep Singh (name changed) pointed out that as per the guidelines of Punjabi University, those students who had failed in BA (I) for the first time were eligible for re-admission to the college, from where they had failed. But, if a student had failed more than once in the same class, the college authorities could deny him re-admission. He claimed that the management of a private college had admitted more than 1,000 students to BA (I) courses, following the university guidelines.

Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president, Lawyers for Human Rights International, said here yesterday that the decision of the college authorities was illegal. He said the students had written to the Vice-Chancellor of the university against the decision.

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