Tuesday, September 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Coal supply to plants halved
Railways wants dues cleared
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
The Railways today reduced carriage of coal to the thermal power plants by nearly half even as the Punjab State Electricity Board could not make payment to the freight carrier despite attempts to take short-term loans to meet the crisis.

The Railways had threatened to discontinue supply of coal to the three thermal power plants at Bathinda, Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar till the Board paid its dues of Rs 453 crore by today. The board had contested the Railways’ claim saying that only Rs 260 crore was due.

Sources in the Railways in Delhi said a decision had been taken to slow down the transportation of coal to the PSEB. So supply of coal to Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat plants had been halved and reduced to the Ropar plant.

According to sources, the Railways was using this tactics to make the PSEB cough up dues. The sources said the Bathinda thermal plant was the most vulnerable at present as it had only 50,500 tonnes of coal in stock sufficient only for six days. Board sources said the Bathinda plant, which normally receives two rakes everyday, today received only one rake. The sources said if this trend continued for even one week the board would be forced to close the thermal plant. As precaution the board today ordered closure of one of the four units at Bathinda to conserve coal.

The Board has also decided to keep one unit at Ropar closed to meet fuel crisis. The Ropar plant received four rakes today. Its normal consumption is six rakes. Sources said the Railways was going soft on the Ropar plant as undue pressure on it would result in the collapse of the Board’s power system as Ropar generated the maximum power. The Ropar plant, however, is also precariously placed as far as the coal situation is concerned having only five days’ stock of 1.29 lakh tonnes. The sources said Lehra Mohabbat also received only one rake of Coal out of the normal two days’ supply. It however is better placed as it has coal stock likely to last for 10 days.

Meanwhile according to Railway authorities, the PSEB owes them Rs 453 crore as per their record even though the Board management has claimed it owes the Railways only Rs 260 crore. The difference in figures is attributed to the fact that the Railways withdrew the 15 per cent concession facility to the Board when it started defaulting on payments.

The Railway sources said even if this difference was set aside the PSEB was at present its biggest defaulter. The sources said the neighbouring State of Haryana owed Railways only Rs 1.9 crore, Uttar Pradesh owed it Rs 12.3 crore, Rajasthan Rs 108 crore and the Delhi Vidyut Board Rs 171 crore. Thus the PSEB, earlier one of the best paymasters, was the worst pay master in the Northern region now.

Sources in the PSEB said it had failed to get any short-term loans to make even part payment to the Railways. The board now is likely to release Rs 50 to Rs 80 crore to the Railways in a few days from the revenue collected by it. It was not able to make any payment. 


PSEB deal for Mansa, Bathinda unfair
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 2
Even as Bathinda and Mansa districts have fewer power connections for tubewells as compared to other districts of the state, the new policy of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will further deny new connections to the applications of this region.

Official sources say that according to the policy introduced in July, 2002, only those applicants are eligible for power connection for their tubewells, who had submitted test reports for power connection for their tubewells, who had submitted test reports for same 10 years ago.

The PSEB has been releasing very few connections every year in the area due to an acute shortage of material, including poles, transformers, wire and conductors. The distribution and transmission network of power in this area is also not strong enough to bear extra load. For releasing tubewell connections, the PSEB to erect a has new transmission system.

The figures given by the PSEB reveal that so far, power connections to 31,755 tubewells have been given in Bathinda and Mansa circles while 24,721 applicants are yet to get them. Only those applications for power connection for tubewells have been disposed of which were submitted before 1985. The PSEB had issued demand notices to all such applicants.

A senior board functionary revealed that no applicant in Bathinda and Mansa circles would be able to get connection for his tubewell till the policy was changed. Under the circumstances, a large section of applicants have got the connections under the OYT scheme, Self Financing Scheme (SFS) and Temporary Connection Scheme. In these schemes, the applicants are bound to arrange all materials for getting power connection on their own.

State Agriculture Department sources say that out of total 84,811 tubewells in the state, Bathinda and Mansa had only 25,228 power connections. The rest are running on diesel pumps, thus putting an extra financial burden on the farmers.

As the canal water supply for irrigation purpose is not enough, farmers have to depend on underground water. Some farmers have installed submersible pumps as the normal tubewells have become non-functional in certain pockets where the level of underground water had done down considerably. 


SAD compiling dossier on excesses, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Alamgir (Ludhiana), September 2
“The SAD is compiling a dossier on the excesses committed on Akali leaders and workers in the state and would submit it to the NDA government which will then send a fact-finding mission to ascertain if there were sufficient grounds to impose President’s rule in Punjab, says former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

He was here today to address a meeting of SGPC members and the district youth workers to work out the modalities for the district level rallies to be held on September 11.

As many as 102 SGPC members attended the meeting which was presided over by Mr Badal. Those who spoke on the occasion included SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur and general secretary Bibi Kiranjot Kaur. Later, Mr Badal addressed a gathering of youth Akali workers.

Talking to TNS, the SAD chief said “People are disenchanted with the Congress regime. It’s jungle rule in Punjab. It has two sets of rules. One for Congress workers who can get away with anything and another for the people who are being targeted and framed in false cases. Ground realities are no better those during the Emergency.”

Referring to the Malerkotla incident, he said “What can one say about a government which brutalises its opponents by ordering assaults by anti-social elements as the cops remain mere spectators.

He said Captain Amarinder Singh has frittered away the mandate of the people within six months of his “misrule”. He claimed that no section of society was happy with the Congress. Employees, farmers, entrepreneurs and workers are up in arms against it.

“We are not afraid of going to jails as we have been in and out of them for a long time. The Congressmen should also be prepared to do so when the times comes,” he quipped amidst slogans from the gathering.

Castigating the bureaucrats, he alleged they were behaving like rulers. They should not forget that they are mere servants of the people. “It is not that the Congress will remain in power always. When that day comes, we will punish them accordingly,” he warned.

He also demanded a CBI enquiry into the online lottery episode the deal for which was finalised by the present government.

Earlier, the SAD general secretary moved a resolution condemning the alleged jungle raj in Punjab and the widespread booth capturing in the recent block samiti elections in Jagraon, which were passed by voice vote. The meeting also expressed their condolences for Mr Kirpal Singh and Sant Sucha Singh Jawaddi Kalan, who passed away recently. The death of SGPC member Joginder Singh Pheruman was also condoled.


Badal seeks CBI probe into on-line lottery scandal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today demanded a CBI probe into the scandal pertaining to the allotment of the on-line lottery to M/s Venture Business Advisers Pvt .Ltd, Bombay.

“The government’s claim that it was duped by the said firm was wishy-washy and there appears to be more to the dark deal than meets the eye. And if the government does accept that it was duped by a petty private concern of hundreds of crores of precious money and the fraud came to light only on its being pointed out by the RBI, this is shocking admission of gross inefficiency. Either way, this government has proved to be incapable of safeguarding the public exchequer. It is unbelievable that experienced and reputed officials of the Finance Department simply chose to be befooled for well over half a year and had to be woken up from their slumber by the refusal of the SBI to confirm the guarantees. Such facts are always verified before a contract is duly allotted,” Mr Badal said, adding that the government must tell the people about the details it had about the past record of the said firm while deciding the tender in its favour.

In a statement here Mr Badal said there had been doubts from the very beginning about the way the on-line lotteries issue was being handled by the government. The Akali leader raised a series of questions pertaining to the allotment of the contract to the said firm. “How come the government decided to go ahead with the allotment of such a heavy contract involving massive funds from the public exchequer without first verifying the antecedents of the said firm? Why was the bank guarantee given by the said firm accepted without verification in the first place and why has it taken six months for it to confirm the genuineness of the said guarantee? The government, according to reports, accepted the bank guarantee worth Rs 5 crore and the dispute is said to have arisen only about the duration of its applicability. What would have been the government’s response had the said firm gone ahead and furnished further guarantees? At what stage exactly did the government discover the fakeness of the guarantee and through what source?’

Mr Badal said that the delay in discovery of the fakeness of the bank guarantee has already resulted in a significant revenue loss to the Government of Punjab. How is the government to account for it and who is to be held accountable? The former Chief Minister asked the government to share with the people exact details of the facts and grounds on which it chose to accept the fiscal reliability of the said concern in the first place. Why did it not cross-check the past record and credibility of the Bombay agency? The governments always make independent inquiries about the ability of the private bidders to deliver what they promise. Why was this not done?” asked Mr Badal.


Appointments elude medallists
Rashmi Talwar

Even as a hue and cry is being raised on “genuine” selections in the PCS made by the Punjab Public Service Commission, college lecturers are sore over the government “clubbing them as tainted” despite them having brilliant records.

At least 150 of these lecturers, selected out of 467 from the middle or low income group, plead their case before the government, a majority are those who, despite being selected on merit, failed to get appointment letters in the lecturers’ cadre.

Interestingly four candidates, namely Darya (Punjabi), Shalu Batra (Economics), Ashwani Kumar (Maths) and Sarabjeet Singh (Economics), were selected twice for the 1999 and 2001 batches. However the appointment letters still evade them. “Is it possible to pay astronomical bribes for two selections in the same post”, they ask.

Shalinder Singh (Philosophy), belonging to the OBC category, is a peon’s son. While none in his family have studied beyond matric, he is the sole of the family with MA in philosophy, medallist in political science, besides having qualified in the national eligibility test (NET) under the UGC in both subjects. Shalinder, who is spearheading the movement under the banner of Selected Government College Lecturers Association, has written a textbook on philosophy for BA.

Other brilliant selectees include Amritpal Singh (Maths), honoured by the President for outstanding academic performance. He is a gold medallist in B Sc and M Sc having scored 90 p.c. marks in the latter. Subhash Chander (Fine Arts) is a 10-time university colour holder with five top positions in national inter-varsity youth festivals, besides two state and national awards in paintings by AIFACS and 30 gold and silver medals in various competitions.

About 70 of these are those who were already serving on permanent posts in government-aided colleges and schools and left their jobs to be left ‘high and dry’ after being selected.

Amita Rawlley (English), a gold medallist serving at a government college in Himachal Pradesh, left her job after being selected by HPPSC but left the job after being selected by the PPSC. She was never given an appointment and is jobless today.

The case of Kanchan Bala (Punjabi) is unusual. She was recently selected by the UPSC for a government college in Chandigarh but was “not considered fit” for appointment by PPSC, she remarks sarcastically.

Navneet Kaur (Public Administration) was awarded a British scholarship in London. Pankaj Mahar (Hindi) has been a first divisioner throughout his academic career till masters. While Mandeep Daul (Fine Arts) and Apral (Economics) are double gold medallists in MA, Rupali Razdan (Fine Arts) is a university gold medallist and a university record breaker scoring 85 p.c. marks.

Kanwal Dhanhoya (Economics), too, is a double MA and a gold medallist in economics and statistics. Paramvir Singh (Philosophy) says he was sidelined for appointment even as he was selected and was the only Ph.D holder amongst 20 candidates in the 2001 batch.

Many of them fear that they may get over-age while waiting for their appointments leaving them out for other job opportunities.

Prithal Singh (Chemistry) is M Sc, M. Phil, and Ph.D with four research papers published in two international journals besides presented research study at international conference in Belgium. Similarly Sajla Kalra (Economics) is a Ph.D, who cleared NET and was awarded junior research fellowship for Ph.D, besides two articles in international journals and eight research papers in reputed journals.

Geetanjali Pabreja (Economics) is a university gold medallist, qualified NET, got state and national scholarships. Paramvir Singh (Philosophy) too is a Ph.D and NET (Philosophy and Religious Studies). Besides participating in international seminars he had produced teaching material for post-graduates of Punjabi University. Many more of these enlisted selectees fervently plead for justice in their cases.


Warrants against Jora Singh issued
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 2
A court here today issued non-bailable warrants against Mr Jora Singh a PCS officer and former secretary Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board for September 16.

The Public Prosecutor moved an application in the court, pleading that the accused was on leave from his present post and despite best efforts the Vigilance Bureau could not arrest him. He alleged that the accused was evading arrest.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and certain sections of the IPC were registered against the former Chairman, former members and former secretary of the PSSSB at SAS Nagar on July 12, 2002 and several members of the board have already been arrested but the above named accused remained to be arrested.


2 Babbar Khalsa ultras held
Plan to disrupt J-K election process
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 2
In a major breakthrough, the Tarn Taran police arrested two terrorists who are close associates of Pakistan-based Babbar Khalsa international chief, Wadhawa Singh Babbar. A huge quantity of explosive was also seized from their possession.

Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, Director-General of the Police, while addressing a press conference here today said top journalists, politicians and retired police officials of Punjab and Delhi were on the hit list of the arrested terrorists.

They had also planned to disrupt the on going Jammu and Kashmir election process by making blasts in the adjoining territory of Punjab.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, district police chief, Tarn Taran, who was instrumental in the arrest of the top terrorists said 14 packets of high explosive PETN (used in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh), weighing about 11 kg, four digital binary electrical detonators, codex wire, four mechanical detonators, four electronic timers, a trans-receiver, made in Japan and two multiple electronic switches were seized by the police. Mr Bhargav said multiple electronic switches were so powerful that one could make two blasts at one time by a remote control from a distance upto 5 km. The terrorists have been identified as Sukhwinder Singh and Gurmail Singh, residents of Kapurthala district.

The consignment of sophisticated explosive was sent from across the border by Babbar Khalsa Chief Wadhawa Singh and the ISI from the Punjab border before the deployment of the Army. Mr Narinder Bhargav said two terrorists of the Babbar Khalsa were arrested after the attack on Parliament last year from the Punjab border and one of them was brother of Gurmail Singh. However, they were successful in concealing this consignment at that time.

The interrogation of the arrested terrorists revealed that Pakistan-based leaders of various terrorist outfits, including “most wanted”, are under pressure from the ISI to carry out terrorist activities in India. The pressure was exerted by the ISI after the demand of the Indian Government to hand over 20 most wanted terrorists who had taken shelter in Pakistan.

However, the DGP failed to give satisfactory reply as to how the consignment of explosives reached Punjab while the entire international border with the state had already been fenced.



Computerisation boosts milk procurement
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Computerisation of milk testing by cooperative milk societies in Punjab has led to a windfall for Punjab Milkfed. It has resulted in a 10 to 15 per cent increase in milk procurement worth lakhs of rupees.

So far, automatic milk collection has been introduced at 175 milk centres in the state. In addition, electronic milk-testers have been commissioned in 900 village level dairy cooperative socieites. But this has already started paying dividends.

“Initially, there was a great resistance to the introduction of computers from the societies”, says Dr B.M. Mahajan, Managing Director of Milkfed. “The society officials wanted to continue with the old manual system in which there was a lot of scope for manipulation. There were frequent complaints from milk producers who felt cheated during the procurement. In most cases, it would seem that they were short-changed with regard to determination of the fat content of their milk”.

This was one of the reasons why Milkfed decided to go in for computerisation in a big way. “We found that wherever we installed automatic milk collection Centres (AMC), milk procurement increased by 10 to 15 per cent which was obviously being siphoned off by those who tested the milk before buying it for Milkfed”. Milk collection had now become a quick, transparent and cost-effective process. Dr Mahajan said he planned to cover all the 6565 milk procurement centres in the state.

The increase in the milk yield had resulted in an all-time 120 per cent capacity utilisation by Milkfed. It has hired two plants belonging to private companies, which had been closed, to process the milk. It processed 18 lakh litres of milk during winter as against a capacity of 15 lakh litres.

Milkfed has also introduced the system of paying extra for good quality milk to encourage farmers to improve the quality of milk. Introduction of electronic milk testers has helped Milkfed to win the confidence of the farmers.

In the post-WTO accord period, to compete with major players in the international market and to fetch better price, Milkfed has formulated a comprehensive strategy for the export of Verka milk products. Milkfed has established a ghee market in West Asia where Verka ghee reaches all areas in the United Arab Emirates and is now available in almost all super markets. Last year, Milkfed earned foreign exchange worth Rs14 crore and this year it is expected to export Verka products worth Rs 25 crore.

With the implementation of systematic programmes, ever-widening marketing, increasing exports, tomorrow looks bright for Milkfed and milk producers’. In future, Milkfed plans to expansion of butter manufacturing capacity from 15 M.T to 30 M.T per day; installation of reconditioned butter manufacturing machinery; expansion of ice-cream manufacturing capacity from 5000 ltrs. to 10,000 ltrs. per day and additional ice-cream unit of 5000 ltrs. per day at the Jalandhar milk plant, shall be set up; replenishment of exotic bulls with high pedigree bulls from abroad under its field programme; introduction of value-added milk products as per the consumers’ requirements.


Rain improves water level
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The moderate-to-heavy rainfall in this part of the country in the past 72 hours has not only helped in improving vastly the water level in Gobind Sagar and other important reservoirs but also in the recovery, though to a small extent, of various drought-hit crops. The power situation has also turned better.

Officials in the local regional MET office said today that rain would continue for the next 36 hours almost in the entire region.

Informed official sources said the Bathinda belt, which remained dry for a prolonged period during the current monsoon period, also got a good rainfall in the past few days. Even today the Bathinda region got a good rainfall.

The immediate fallout of the rainfall in this region is that the demand for power crashed by 700 to 800 MW today. It was the first time yesterday in the past two months, which is considered a peak period as far as the power consumption is concerned, that the demand for power supply remained below 1000 lakh units. Otherwise, it hovered around 1100 to 1200 lakh units daily.

What is going to benefit in the long run is rain in the catchment areas of various rivers that feed various reservoirs.

Official sources said today that the level in Gobind Sagar at Bhakra dam touched a mark of 1644.08 feet, which is only about one feet below than that in the corresponding period last year. Good news is that the inflow of water in Gobind Sagar yesterday was 46572 cusecs that was well above the inflow of 33334 cusecs recorded on the same date last year. The discharge from the reservoir yesterday was about 21,000 cusecs. When a dry spell was prevailing in this region a few days ago, the level of water in this reservoir had gone quite low.

Likewise in the Pong dam, the water level yesterday touched a mark of 1325.80 feet against last year’s figure of 1375.84 feet. The inflow in the Pong dam is in the range of 30365 cusecs, almost double the figure last year. The water level in the Ranjit Sagar dam has improved substantially. It was 500 meters yesterday though it was 518 metres during the same period last year. The inflow from the catchment area in this dam is in the range of 7313 cusecs.

Official sources say that though it is the last leg of the monsoon, a good rainfall even at this stage will prove good for the region in the days to come. Rain in the plains will help recharge subsoil water to some extent. Power transmission which was overstretched and overloaded continuously for the past two months will also get some relief.

The rainfall recorded in the past 24 hours in the Ludhiana area was 85 mm while in Patiala it was 19 mm. In the Nagal region, it was12.4mm. Besides, there has been a good rainfall in the catchment areas of various rivers for the past four days.


Rain flattens crops
Tribune News Service

Goniana Khurd (Bathinda), September 2
Heavy rain accompanied by high velocity winds, which lashed the region this afternoon, dashed the hopes of a large number of farmers when their standing paddy, cotton and sugarcane crops were flattened.

A tour of various villages of this district revealed that standing cotton, paddy and sugarcane crops, which were at ripening stage, were damaged in various pockets.

The paddy crop, which was transplanted in advance had suffered more damage than the cotton and sugarcane crops.

A section of affected farmers, who are doubly cursed as first they spent a lot of money to save their paddy and cotton crops from drought and now suffered losses due to rain, pointed out that high velocity winds which accompanied the rain, had caused the damage.

Though today’s rain was beneficial for the paddy transplanted in the recommended period, the stagnant water in the cotton fields, if not drained out timely, would encourage pest attack and damage plants, which had reached the fruiting stage.

A number of cotton fields have been submerged in the water while in many fields, paddy crop, which was at pollination stage, had touched the ground. The sugarcane and fodder crops had also been affected severely in various pockets of this district.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, a farmer of Bhucho Kalan village, said he had sprayed insecticides on the cotton plants. However, the rain had washed away the insecticides and he was forced to carry out the spray again.

Mr H.S. Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, said he was yet to receive the reports in connection with loss of crops from the field staff. He said if the weather remain cloudy, it would encourage pest attack on cotton.

He said the farmers in the district had already ploughed in standing cotton and paddy crops in thousands of acres after it had dried due to drought.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, President, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said the state government should also make arrangements for providing adequate compensation to those farmers whose standing crops had been damaged due to today’s rain and high velocity winds.


Rain exposes poor sewerage
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 2
While the showers lashing Bathinda over the past two days, have brought the much-needed relief to residents from the sweltering heat, they have added to the woes of commuters and those residing in low-lying areas of the city.

Some parts of the city, including commercial hubs and densely populated localities get flooded with virtually no way for the rain water to drain even after light rain.

The city experienced sharp showers for about two and a half hours this afternoon.

The inadequate drainage system and a faulty sewerage structure are primarily responsible for this situation. According to official sources, about five years ago, the main sewerage of the town was dug up to be re-laid. The new sewerage, on which several crore rupees were spent however, collapsed soon after due to faulty design and it had to be re-laid again. An inquiry into this matter is still on.

A new sewerage system was envisaged to solve the city’s problem, but officials say that the problem remains, as there is no way out for the water to flow out as the areas surrounding the city are at a higher level.

Among the areas worst affected by rain water are Ganesha Basti, Nai Basti Amrik Singh Road, Mall Road, Ajit Road Veer Colony, Power House Road, DAV College Road, Guru Nanakpura Mohali Sirki Bazar, Civil Lines, Lal Singh Basti, Jogi Basti Partap Nagar and the area around Government Senior Secondary School for Girls.

The area around the school is so badly affected that the school, which is about 3-4 feet below the road gets completely inundated with water, which flows off the Mall Road, Similar are the problems with the DAV College and the MSD Senior Secondary School.

In some highly populated areas, the sewerage actually begins a reverse discharge leading to dirty overflowing into houses and residential areas, causing great hardship to the residents. At times, residents have to use motor pumps to clear dirty water from their premises.

Rain also affects the commercial activity, as shops and large areas off limits to people till the water clear off.

The only persons who appear to take advantage of the situation are rickshaw-pullers, who hike their rates to ferry passengers across the inundated areas or mechanics engaged in restarting stranded vehicles.


Poor rains hit Hoshiarpur villages
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 2
Standing crops on 25,566 acres of land in 960 villages of Hoshiarpur district have been badly affected due to the poor monsoon during the current kharif season, according to a special girdawari conducted from August 10 to 25.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, said here today that 3,962 acres were in Hoshiarpur subdivision, 8673 acres in Garhshankar, 6024 acres in Mukerian and 6907 acres in Dasuya subdivison of the district.

Due to the drought-like situation, 1 per cent to 25 per cent loss to standing crops on 581 acres had been reported in Garhshankar and 116 acres in Mukerian subdivision, 26 per cent to 50 per cent loss in 1,586 acres in Hoshiarpur, 6,256 acres in Garhshankar, 1,595 acres in Mukerian and 111 acres in Dasuya subdivision, 51 per cent to 75 per cent loss in 550 acres in Hoshiarpur, 338 acres in Garhshankar, 232 acres in Mukerian and 270 acres in Dasuya subdivisions, 76 per cent to 100 per cent loss to standing crops on 1,772 acres in Hoshiarpur, 340 acres in Garhshankar, 576 acres in Mukerian and, 4712 acres in Dasuya subdivision.

He said the report of the loss had been sent to the state government for getting compensation to the affected farmers.


Jaswant Singh is SHSAD gen secy
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 2
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), has appointed Mr Jaswant Singh Phaphare Bhaike, a former Deputy Speaker, Punjab, as general secretary of the party. Giving this information to mediapersons here today, Mr Phaphare Bhaike said the SHSAD would hold public conferences from September 10 to 25 at various places in Punjab. A district-level conference will be held on September 11 at Budhlada, he said.

Mr Gurdip Singh Deep, president of the Mansa unit of the SHSAD, Mr Istpal Singh, president of the Bathinda unit of the SHSAD, Mr Kaur Singh Khara and Mr Jagjit Singh, both SGPC members were among those present on the occasion.


Dismiss Modi govt: CPM
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 2
The Modi government should be dismissed and President’s rule imposed in Gujarat before holding Assembly elections there. These elections were a big challenge for secular forces. The CPM had decided to contest the elections with an understanding with all the major Opposition parties.

These observations were made by Mr Prakash Karat, politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), here yesterday.

He said the party would contest five seats in Jammu and Kashmir. He said there was no need to demand President’s rule in the state.


Probe jobs by Cong: Sood
Our Correspondent

Phagwara September 2
Mr Tikshan Sood, chief whip of the state unit of the BJP, today demanded that the Punjab Government should probe all recruitments done during the Congress regimes. The state government during its six months rule had remained busy in policy of vindictiveness, he alleged.

The state government had not undertaken any development programme and the popularity graph had plummeted as all sections of society were disillusioned with it.

The SAD-BJP combine would win the Nagar Council poll, Mr Sood claimed. He had been addressing election meetings of the party candidates here for the past three days.

Mr Sood said efforts were on to persuade rebel candidates to fall in line.

Disciplinary action would be taken against those who failed to do so. Former Punjab Minister Ch Swarna Ram and Former Chairman of local Improvement Trust Om Gupta were also with him, Mr Sood added.


YC unit dissolved
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, September 2
Taking a serious view of the pandemonium during a meeting of the members of the District Congress Committee held on August 26, Mr Jaswinder Singh Randhawa, president of the District Youth Congress, Patiala, has dissolved the block unit, Dera Bassi, of the Youth Congress and has sacked the unit president, Mr Sanjeev Singh, alias Bobby, for his alleged involvement in anti- party activities.


Sekhri wants shrine on Heritage list
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 2
The Punjab government has chalked out a plan to project the state as a major tourist destination. The Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, said this while talking to newsmen here today after presiding over the state-level committee for the promotion of the Punjab folk art and culture at BBK DAV College for Women.

Mr Sekhri alongwith the Secretary, Cultural Affairs, today met SGPC officers to seek their support for promoting the Golden Temple as a major spiritual and heritage spot in the world. The minister said the SGPC had offered all possible help in this regard.

Mr Sekhri announced today that the panorama project to depict the life and achievements of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was likely to be established in the historic Ram Bagh Garden built by the Maharaja. The centre had provided Rs 5 crore for this purpose. Besides, this the government had sought Rs 1.5 crore from the Central Government for setting up a tourist information centre at Ram Bagh Garden. The Punjab Government had also planned to upgrade and modernise museum dedicated to Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Ranjit Singh Hall in the Garden.

Mr Sekhri said the committee had selected five events, including bhangra, giddha, painting, folk, music and folk songs. He added all colleges, universities and youth clubs would be allowed to participate in the events which would be held at five zonal centres, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Nakodar and Faridkot.

The minister said a panel of independent judges would be finalised and all decisions would be based on merit. The government had decided to give Rs 1 lakh to the best institution at the state level and Rs 50,000 for the best item at the zonal level. The NRI Sabha had already contributed Rs 10 lakh for this purpose.


Panchayat blacklists Dalits
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Moondkheri (Patiala), September 2
Dalits protesting against having been made bonded labourers in this village have been penalised by the panchayat. As many as 15 of them have been blacklisted and lists of the names have been distributed among all traders including milkmen in the village as well as the nearby half a dozen villages.

Traders are in a fix, with the panchayat and the Baba Shampuri Sports Club, which has jointly issued the directive, fining one shopkeeper Rs 2,000 for selling 2 kg of sugar to one of the blacklisted persons. The traders have been warned that they will face social boycott in case they serve any of the Dalits who have been identified in the lists.

The panchayat and the club took this action against the Dalits after a Phillaur-based organisation, working for the cause of bonded labourers, served legal notices on many lanbdlords of the village, charging them with helping the Dalits as bonded labourers.

The persons who have been affected by the panchayat decision say their life has become hell. Jagar Singh, one of the affected persons, said seven of the local milkmen had stopped selling milk to them. He said the lists had also been distributed among neighbouring villages to flour mill owners and shopkeepers to ensure that they could not buy any essential item from them.

Landowners are, however, emphatic that this has been done to identify “mischief makers” in the village because they had filed false complaints against various landlords. They said all 15 Dalits had taken money in advance in lieu of their payments for the whole year or for six months and had stopped working claiming that they were being made bonded labourers.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today asked Subdivisional Magistrate Manjit Singh Narang to visit the village and take steps to end the boycott of the Dalits. The administration is also likely to look into the action of the panchayat to ascertain whether administrative action can be taken against it.


MC chief resigns at last
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 2
The high drama over the resignation of the acting president of the Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, which had been going on for the last one month came to an end today when the acting president accompanied by the local Minister Dr. Harbans Lal submitted his resignation to the Executive Officer. Sources said that the minister himself accompanied the acting president to the council office as he apprehended that he might not back out this time too from his resignation as he did earlier.

It is worth mentioning that last month a piquant situation had arisen as the acting president of the council submitted his resignation to the local minister, Dr Harbans Lal from his post just to save him from the no-confidence moved by councillors. The minister had then forwarded it to the EO of the council, and later the acting president turned hostile alleging that he had never tendered any resignation, but some elements had forged his signatures and submitted it to the EO. This incident has put the prestige of the minister on stake and had become a hot topic of discussion in the district as well as in the administrative circles. Then a majority of the councillors had demanded a thorough probe

The sources said that today the minister held closed-door discussions and consultations with senior party leaders and certain councillors to resolve the issue as it had badly affected the reputation of the minister. The sources said that the minister this time took a stand and declared that he would install a new president and senior vice president in a joint election. He turned down all the other options. Now the council control has come directly under the administration and sources said that the agenda for the election meeting for the posts of president and senior vice president would come up only, then, when the minister would be sure that his supporters have acquired the required number of councillors.


A revolutionary with a difference
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Comrade Jangir Singh Joga, who died on August 24, was a revolutionary with a difference. He believed more in practice, than in theory. That is why he led all the peoples’ movements from the front. He was only 14 old, when he was put behind bars for jumping into the freedom movement.

Most of the farmers in the Sangrur-Mansa-Bathinda belt had no ownership rights over the land they used to cultivate till the early 1950s. They were just muhjaras (serfs) and had to pay a heavy share to the jagirdars (landlords) from the yield of various crops.

It was because of the sustained struggle of Comrade Joga Singh and his other colleagues in the erstwhile Pepsu state under the banner of the Red Communist Party, that the farmers got ownership rights on May 29, 1952. The Government had to enact various laws for land reforms in the area under pressure from Comrade Joga and his associates.

Born on October 11, 1908, in a small farmer family, Comrade Joga got his initial education at his native Joga village, near Mansa and later at Bathinda. However, he left his studies midway to join the non-cooperation movement started by Gandhiji.

He was sent to jail first in February, 1922, at Multan and later transferred to Rawalpindi, Lahore and Kaimbalpore.

He fought two battles simultaneously, one against the British rulers and the other against the local princely states. He was the frontline leader of the Parza Mandal movement and was jailed by the Maharaja of Patiala a number of times for raising the banner of revolt against royalty. He was sent to jail eight times starting from 1922 to even after Independence from September, 1953, to September 1954 at Nabha.

But the most interesting aspect of his personality, which has remained by and large unknown, was his fierce writings against the Britishers and the princely states. He was perhaps the only journalist of his times, who was sent to jail a number of times for writing against the then rulers of the country and their second in command in princely states.

In 1930, a weekly paper Riyasti Dunia was started from Lahore. At that time Shiekh Abdullah, known as sher-e-Kashmir was involved in an intense fight in Kashmir against certain forces. Comrade Joga wrote an incisive piece in the weekly for which he was sent to jail for three months. The weekly was confiscated.

When Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s associate Mahanvir Singh died in Andaman jail, Comrade Joga wrote another fiery pierce for which he was sent to jail for six months. In 1937, as publisher of Kirti press he printed the programme of the Parza Mandal. He was sent to jail again and the printing press was confiscated. He remained the General Secretary of the Parza Mandal from 1928 to 1939 and later became its President.

He remained in the Congress till 1947. However, he quit the party to join the Communist Party when the Congress supported Mr Gian Singh Rarewal, a landlord and relative of the then Maharaja of Patiala, as Chief Minister of Pepsu state. Comrade Joga wanted that the Chief Minster should be from the common people.

Comrade Joga was elected to the Pepsu Assembly in 1954 while in jail. He remained member of the Punjab Assembly in 1962, 1967 and 1972.

Tomorrow his bhog ceremony will be held at his native village Joga where thousands are expected to turn up to pay tributes to him.


Bribe or donation ?
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 2
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s campaign against corruption notwithstanding, some government officers demand money in the name of donation.

Mr Vijay Bagga, a jobless civil engineer, son of late Principal Om Parkash Bagga who was killed by terrorists, has applied to the Director of Factories, Punjab, to get himself declared competent for the evaluation of public properties.

The Joint Director of Factories, Punjab, by letter No. 12180 of August 23, 2002, has informed Mr Vijay Bagga to send bank draft of Rs 10,000/- in favour of the Punjab Industrial Safety Council, Chandigarh to get his name considered for declaration of competent persons for the evaluation of public properties.

Mr Vijay Bagga, being without a job is not in a position to give the said donation. The government has warned its employees against taking money from people in the name of even Red Cross. But the Director of Factories, Punjab, has directed an unemployed Engineer in writing, to send Rs 10,000/- as donation, only then his name would be considered for declaring him evaluator of property.


Villagers stage dharna outside police station
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 2
Residents of Kannian Kalan village and workers of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, staged a dharna at the District Administrative Complex here today in protest against the alleged high-handed attitude of an ASI of Shahkot police station.

Residents alleged that Manjit Singh, ASI, posted at Shahkot police station, was pressurising Chaman Lal, a bonded labourer, to withdraw a case against his former land lady Kashmir Kaur, who had allegedly forced him to work as a bonded labourer in her house for over five months. They alleged that at first the police had registered a case against her after much dilly-dallying after Deputy Commissioner’s intervened. Now, the ASI was pressurising Chaman Lal to strike a compromise with Kashmir Kaur and was threatening him that if he failed to do so he would be framed in false case. “Despite registration of a case, the police is reluctant to arrest Kashmir Kaur and her influential family. Moreover, Chaman Lal is being threatened by the ASI, who calls him regularly to the police station to strike a compromise with her,” alleged Mr Tarsem Peter, secretary, Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab. 


Show-cause notice to MC head, councillor
Our correspondent

Dera Bassi, September 2
The Department of Local Government, Punjab has issued show-cause notices to the president and a councillor of the local Municipal Council in an alleged land encroachment case.

Issuing notices under Section 22 (1) (D) and (E) of the Punjab Municipal Act 1994 to Jagjit Singh Dalli, president, and Paras Jain, councillor, the Secretary of the Department of Local Bodies, Punjab Government, has asked the two to submit their replies within 21 days from the issue of the notices.

Exercising his powers under the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act, for the removal of the two from the membership of the civic body, the Secretary has asked them to go through the records, listing the allegation levelled against them, in Sector 17 office of the Additional Secretary of the department.

Both of them have also been asked to submit two copies each clarifying their status in writing to the Secretary, Department of Local Government, Punjab within the stipulated period otherwise an ex-parte decision would be given.

Earlier, Mr Satpal Singh, a local resident, had complained to the department alleging that MC councillor, Paras Jain in connivance MC President Jagjit Singh Dalli had encroached upon the land by constructing a shop behind the local Jain School and along the Chandigarh-Ambala highway.

The complainant had also alleged that the councillor, belonging to the ruling Akali Dal had grabbed a piece of government land on a prime location causing huge loses to the civic body.



Punjab earmarks 1 cr for ex-soldiers
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 2
The Punjab government has formed a six-member advisory committee to look into problems of ex-servicemen.

Addressing a rally of ex-servicemen organised by the Ex-servicemen Cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said the cell has been formed for quick redress of grievances of ex-servicemen and problems being faced by them.

“The Chief Minister said the government offices had been directed to extend cooperation and honour to ex-servicemen. Any officer showing any laxity would face the music. We will ensure that 13 per cent reservation meant for ex-servicemen goes to them,” said Captain Amarinder Singh adding that no discrimination against soldiers would be tolerated. He announced that his government was making an effort to provide jobs to grandchildren of those soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for nation. “We have already recommended a hike in award money of like Param Vir Chakra,” said Captain Amarinder Singh. He said memorials to all of those soldiers who had laid down their lives for the sake of nation would be set up. He said Rs 50 lakh has already been released by the government for a war museum at Ludhiana. He assured that two ex-servicemen would be inducted as members of District Grievances Redressal Committees.

He said that for the rehabilitation of the soldiers about to attain superannuation provision for vocational training would be made in ITIs at Jalandhar and Bathinda. “We have earmarked Rs one crore for this purpose. Our objective is to create more avenues of employment for retiring soldiers,” announced the Punjab Chief Minister adding that a colony would be set-up near Mohali for ex-servicemen and their families.

Lt. Gen (retd) M.M. Kakhera, chairman of the All-India Ex-servicemen Cell of the All-India Congress Committee and Captain Praveen Davra, secretary of the committee, also spoke.


Fluoride-free drinking water for villages
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 2
Even as the state government has started a scheme for providing fluoride-free drinking water, the campaign launched against illegal water connections in rural areas has started yielding results.

Under the new scheme, tubewells will be sunk 750 feet to 1000 feet deep in the villages of this district. To make water free from fluoride, special treatment mechanism will be adopted.

Initially 49 such projects will be launched in the district and these will provide drinking water to 75 villages.

Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health, at a meeting here today said the aim of the new scheme was to provide pure drinking water.

Mr Randhawa said in addition to this sector reform scheme of Nabard was being implemented in the district.

There is a proposal to install taps providing drinking water in schools, hospitals and dharmshalas.

The minister said a fine of Rs 10 lakh had been collected last month in a campaign against illegal water connections. He said the villagers would be motivated to have personal water connetions.

He said the desilting of ‘rajbahas’ and other water channels had been started so that there was full pressure of water at the tail end.


Residents gherao police station
Tribune news Service

Jalandhar, September 2
Irked over the alleged inaction of Maqsudan police station officials in connection with the beating up of two residents by allegedly taxi drivers. Residents of Maqsudan locality gheraoed the police station and blocked traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road for more than an hour today.

The residents alleged that the police failed to act against the taxi drivers of a nearby taxi stand who had allegedly attacked and injured two residents of the area when they had gone there to caution them against indulging in antisocial activities. They alleged that certain taxi drivers attacked the group of residents led by Mr Des Raj, the area councillor. They alleged that the police officials took the issue in a casual manner and failed to act against the taxi drivers.

On the other hand, the taxi drivers alleged that the councillor had attacked them along with his “henchmen” after they had refused to lend him their taxis.


Barnala to get Punjab Today Award
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 2
The Uttaranchal Governor, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, has been chosen for this year’s Punjab Today Award for his “unswerving commitment to decent and dignified conduct in public life and his outstanding contribution to the propagation of transparency, accountability and sincerity in politics”.

Stating this here today, Punjab Today Editor Kanwar Manjit Singh said the award would be conferred on Mr Barnala at a special function in November, 2002. Earlier, recipients of the award include former Prime Minister I K Gujral, former Union Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, former Test cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and spiritualist Harbhajan Singh Yogi. 


Shagun scheme cheques ‘not issued’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 2
Mr Fateh Singh Mann, general secretary of the state unit of the All-India Ranghreta Dal, in a statement issued here, said the state government was not releasing cheques under the Shagun scheme for Dalit girls.

Mr Mann criticised the government for imposing a ban on recruitments and denying jobs on compassionate grounds.

He said Ranghreta Dal activists would press the ministers concerned to accept these demands. He urged the government to increase the old-age and widow pensions to Rs 500 per month and lift the ban on recruitments.


Residents denied meeting with CM
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 2
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s visit to the city proved to be a bit bitter for a large number of people, including Congress workers, who were not allowed entry into Congress Bhavan here today by some policemen manning the bhavan’s gates.

A few journalists, who had gone to cover the function, were told to find seats in the lot meant for Congress workers. A journalist was also asked to switch off his mobile.

A lare number of people, including some senior citizens, who had come to the venue with request letters and applications for the CM, were allegedly manhandled and rudely asked to return by policemen.


Pensioners resent govt decision
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 2
Members of the Punjab Government Pensioners Association today protested against the Punjab Government’s anti- employee and anti-pensioner decision of withdrawing the orders regarding employment to kin of those government officials who had died while in service on compassionate grounds. Amid heavy rain members of the association gathered in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office and held a rally raising slogans against the state government.

The president of the district unit of the association, Mr O.P. Gaba, expressed resentment over the government’s indifferent attitude towards employees.

Mr Mohinder Singh, general secretary, of the association, also addressed the rally and criticised the state government for adopting repressive policies. Later, the association submitted a memorandum in this connection to the Deputy Commissioner for forwarding the same to the Chief Minister.


When PT proved fatal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 2
Naik Hardama Ram Chaudhary of Signals core collapsed and died while undergoing physical training here on Monday.

According to sources, he had complained of chest pain while undergoing physical training. He was taken to the local military hospital, but could not be saved.

A case has been registered under Section 174, CrPC.


Farm labourers ignored by govt: union
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 2
Mr Sunit Chopra, general secretary, All-India Khet Mazdoor Union, presiding over the concluding session of the two-day golden jubilee delegate conference of the Punjab unit of the union at Banga today, said “wrong” economic policies pursued by successive governments at the Centre were to blame for the plight of farm labourers. He criticised the present government for ignoring farm labourers while announcing drought relief for farmers.

Mr Ram Singh Nurpuri, vice-president of the state unit of the union, raised the issue of registration of “false” cases against 25 workers, including Mr Chand Singh Chopra, a former CPM-MLA, by the Sangrur police. A resolution was passed condemning the action of the police and it was decided that dharnas at district headquarters would be held in protest against police “atrocities”.

Mr Balwant Singh, secretary, Punjab CMP, released a souvenir to mark the golden jubilee of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.

A total of 286 delegates participated in the conference and unanimously elected Mr Chand Singh Chopra and Mr Vasdev Jamsher as president and general secretary, respectively, of the union. A 45-member executive committee was also elected.


Muktsar ready to procure paddy
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, September 2
Compared to last year’s 3.81 lakh tonne of paddy, this year about 4.5 lakh tonne paddy is expected to arrive in various mandis of the district.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Usha R. Sharma, at a meeting held with officials of various purchasing agencies here today claimed that 72 purchase centres had been established to procure paddy. She said the arhtiyas had been asked to reach the mandis so that no delay is made in procurement.


Crop diversification plan discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Punjab Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today discussed the diversification plan and package of practices for rabi crops with senior officials.

While commercial viablility of crops would be the basic criteria for diversification, a marketing mechanism would be provided that would help farmers sell their produce in a competitive market.

Ms Bhattal said both PAU and the Agriculture Department would focus on high-quality seeds in abundant quantity. Other inputs would also be made available. About the draught impact in the state, she said the minimum loss in the farm sector Rs 2367 crore.

Dr S.S. Johl, Chairman, high-powered committee on agriculture; Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University; Mr P.K. Verma, Financial Commissioner (Development), and Mr Ram Pal, Director, Agriculture; attended the meeting.


MLA, councillors make CM shift commissioner
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 2
Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, today ordered the transfer of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr Jagjit Singh, after several Congress Councillors led by local Congress MLA Raj Kumar Gupta complained that the Commissioner, and Mr A. K. Talwar, an officiating Superintending Engineer, and most of the officials of the MC were not giving respect due to them and that the elected representatives were being “humiliated” by the civic body officials.

Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr A. K. Talwar are considered to be very close to Punjab Local Bodies Minister and senior Congress leader Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. Both officials, it was learnt, were able to secure plum posts due to their proximity to the minister.

While Congress MLA Mr Gupta and a number of Congress Councillors levelled allegations against certain officials in the presence of the Chief Minister at the Congress Bhavan here and maintained that the civic body had become a “den of corruption” due to nexus between certain high ups and lower-rung officials, Mayor Surinder Mahey, expressed displeasure over a recent demolition drive by the Corporation staff and maintained that he was not informed in advance of the drive. A large number of Councillors held that since the transfer was no punishment, a probe should be ordered against the Commissioner and other MC officials, who allegedly had made payment to certain contractors for completing works of “dubious” nature in various parts of the city.

“It is not matter of seniority or no seniority. I want to make it clear that any official, who would not do the work of our workers and leaders would not be spared,” asserted the Chief Minister, in response a question regarding the “out of turn” promotion of a civic body Xen to the post of SE. “After all it is an elected body. If officers think that they are above elected representatives, I won’t spare them and rather would deal with them seriously,” thundered the Chief Minister after holding a meeting with local Congress Councillors, organised by the District Congress Chief, Mr Tejinder Bittu. Assuring the Councillors that a probe would be ordered to look into alleged irregularities committed in the civic body, the Chief Minister said corruption would not be tolerated and all efforts would be made to remove it from public life.

Coming to the rivers waters issue and a recent statement made by the former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, that he would seek AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi’s intervention for early completion of the SYL Canal, Captain Amarinder Singh said Punjab did not have a single drop of water for Haryana since the state was already suffering from shortage of water. The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Punjab Ministers, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Mr Avtar Henry and Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, District Congress Committee (Rural) chief Manjinder Chaudhary, District Congress Committee (Urban) Chief, Tejinder Bittu, PPCC member, Mr Manoj Arora, and former DCC chief D. P. Sehgal, also addressed a rally of ex-servicemen at the local Red Cross Bhavan.

Earlier, the Punjab Bakers’ Association, president, Mr Sudesh Vij, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding withdrawal of recently imposed tax on ‘dhabas’ and bakeries.


Transporters resent ‘illegal’ toll posts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 2
A number of transporters from Punjab have resented the “unauthorised” collection of toll by the Himachal Pradesh Government. The transporters have been maintaining that these toll posts set up at various places are against the directions of the Government of India. They said despite clear directions of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, the state government has been continuing with the tax collection.

In a representation some local transporters, led by Mr Naresh Kumar Aggarwal of Phillaur, complained to the Central Transport Ministry about the illegal toll collection by the HP Government through private agencies at Parwanoo, Swarghat, Gobindghat, Mahatpur, Garget and Kunubhati.

Acting on the complaint the ministry deputed Mr S.K. Marwah, Superintending Engineer, to visit these places and have an on-the-spot assessment. Mr Marwah visited Parwanoo on July 27 on National Highway No 22. He observed that the Excise and Taxation Department, Himachal Pradesh, had leased toll collection to private parties from June 1 to March 31, 2003.

The ministry in a communication to the Chief Engineer (NH), PWD, Himachal Pradesh said, “these check barriers are a hindrance to the traffic on National Highways. The policy of the ministry is not to permit erection of check barriers on highways unless its prior approval is obtained”. The communication clearly directed the Chief Engineer to “get these check barriers removed immediately and send the status report by August 23”.

The ministry has clarified that check barriers on national highways can be provided only where permission of the ministry has been obtained. Temporary barriers can also be erected in emergent situation like maintenance of law and order or natural calamities like floods, earthquake, etc.

On the other hand some of the contractors, who belong to Ludhiana have been protesting against any move to stop them from collecting the toll. A few of them told the reporter that they should be compensated by the government for setting up toll posts and bearing other expenses. They said they would knock the doors of the court to get justice.


Dam staff for early release of salary
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Thousands of employees working on the Ranjeet Sagar dam have not got their salaries on time for several years.It was despite the fact that the state government had released Rs 140 crore in its budget to the Irrigation Department. Rather the government was trying to declare thousands of employees as surplus, despite the fact that work on projects downstream was still pending.

These views were expressed by union leaders at a state level rally held here today. The rally was jointly organised by the Joint Action Committee, Punjab and UT.

Addressing the rally, Mr Sajjan Singh, president of the joint action committee said,‘‘ The government should accept the demands of the employees otherwise they would be forced to intensify their agitation.’’

Talking to The Tribune, he pointed out that the Punjab government’s decision to abolish 30 per cent posts of design engineers, draftsmen and other experts working on the Ranjit Sagar dam and projects downstream would affect the completion of downstream projects.They said the move had put a question mark on the Punjab Government’s intention to execute the downstream projects.Most of the remaining experts in the design division are likely to retire in the near future, and the government has no intention to recruit any staff.

Engineers working in the design division claimed that the government had decided to abolish 25 posts of engineers, out of 71 sanctioned posts, though there were only 28 engineers working at present in the rank of SDOs. There were about 50 draftsmen and 40 class IV employees working in the design division of the Ranjit Sagar dam. Out of 7 sanctioned posts of directors, three had already retired. The union leaders urged the state government to consider the problems of the employees in the wider interest of dam and state. 


PWD staff decry promotion denial
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 2
Mr Suresh Sharma, state president of the PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, today lamented that the government was not promoting those employees to the scale of junior engineer, who had cleared the department papers for the same.

In a statement issued here, he alleged that the government was moving towards privatisation of water supply schemes and the services of a large section of the daily wage employees were not being regularised.



Bill to bring village land under forests
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 2
The state government will introduce a Bill shortly to bring 10 per cent of gram panchayat lands under the Forest Department for the plantation of saplings.

Talking to newspersons here, Mr Harbans Lal, State Minister for Forests and Food Supplies, said a 41-member forest committee had been constituted to chalk out programmes for the development of forestry in the state. He said a three-member high-level committee of forest officers had also been constiuted to discuss and resolve some problems with the railway administration with regard to the plantation of saplings on the lands of railways lying vacant along the railway tracks.

Mr Sharma said efforts were being made to get forest land vacated from unauthorised possessions. 


AP panel meets minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
A 10-member committee on welfare of Scheduled Castes of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly accompanied by seven senior officers called on Chaudhary Santokh Singh, social welfare minister, Punjab, here yesterday.

The committee, which was on a study tour, discussed some developmental schemes and ameliorative measures take up by the Punjab Government for the betterment of Scheduled Castes.

Welcoming the delegation, Chaudhary Santokh Singh revealed the state government’s special component plan of Rs 400 crore aimed at introducing various welfare schemes for the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes and also for strengthening the ongoing projects in the state. He said five marla residential plots had also been allotted to 8000 Scheduled Caste families and Rs 20 crore had been spent on this project. The state government had also formulated a scheme to advance loans to the SC/BC youth to start any productive venture on their own.

The visiting delegation appreciated the steps being initiated by the state government to elevate the status of the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and backward communities. 



Non-utilisation of grants invites flak
Our Correspondent

Nangal, September 2
The state health authorities have virtually failed to utilise the grants under various Union Government schemes, thus depriving people of various medical facilities.

The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr Rajan Kashyap, today lamented the fact while presiding over a two-day state-level Civil Surgeons and Deputy Medical Commissioners conference that began here today. The conference has been organised to review the implementation of the various state and centre-sponsored health schemes going on in the state.

Mr Kashyap said the inability of Civil Surgeons to utilise the grants made available to them amounted to their inefficiency. The state was receiving grants from the Centre under various schemes — Reproductive and Child Health Programme, National Family Welfare Programme, National AIDS Control Programme and the National Maternity Benefit Scheme, etc. These grants are generally forwarded to the district through the Deputy Commissioners.

However, despite receiving the grants in time the district authorities had failed to distribute them among the needy. Due to this the Union Government was imposing cuts on the future grants affecting the health services in the state. The National Maternity Benefit Scheme under which poor pregnant women were to be given Rs 500 was the worst implemented, he alleged.

Mr Kashyap also reprimanded certain Civil Surgeons for failing to submit the status reports regarding the utilisation of various grants. He directed those present at the meeting to submit proper data regarding fund utilisation in their respective areas.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, who was also present at the conference told the secretary about the practical problems being faced in funds’ disbursement.

In response to the query of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kashyap said the district administration could give grants to deserving persons at their own discretion. He also urged the Deputy Commissioner to make Ropar a model district under the National Maternity Benefit Scheme.


Old man beaten to death
Tribune News Service

Dhipali (Bathinda), September 2
Gurjant Singh, Veerpal Singh and Gaggi Singh all brothers of this village allegedly beat up Chand Singh an old man, to death when his brother, Mr Kewal Singh did not give a gold ring to Raja Singh, a brother-in-law of accused, for his (Raja Singh) help in the matrimonial alliance of his (Chand Singh’s) niece.

Police sources said that all three accused were arrested and remanded in judicial custody in the court. Mr Major Singh, another brother of Chand Singh also received head injuries when they were attacked.

Sources added on August 22 evening, Chand Singh, Major Singh and others were attacked when they were sitting in their house. They were shifted to Rampura Civil Hospital. Chand Singh, whose condition was serious, was referred to CMC, Ludhiana. However, he succumbed to his injuries when he was being taken to Ludhiana.

Mr Balbir Singh Khaira, DSP, Phul, said today the accused had beaten Chand Singh to death as they felt insulted that their brother-in-law was not given a gold ring for helping in the matrimonial alliance of Chand Singh’s niece.

Mr Kewal Singh reportedly gave gold rings to his son-in-law, husband of Sukho, and father of his son-in-law but not to Raja Singh.

A case under Sections 452 and 302 of the IPC has been registered.


2 cops booked for corruption
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 2
Two police personnel have landed in the police net for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of willow bats for Jammu and Kashmir-based smugglers.

Kishore Chand, alias Kala, resident of Nakki Naroli, was apprehended by the police while carrying poppy husk in a bag. About 10 kg of poppy husk was seized from him.

During interrogation, Kishore revealed that ASI Lakhbir Singh and Head Constable Deepak Kumar helped him smuggle 15 trucks of willow bats. For facilitating the trucks to pass Berian Pattan, they charged Rs 10,000 as bribe for each truck. This had been going on from November last year to February this year when the ASI was posted as SHO of Sujanpur and the Head Constable was also posted there.

Both the police personnel have been booked under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Kishore has been booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPC Act.

Meanwhile, two inter-state vehicle thieves have been arrested and nine mobikes were seized from them. Piara Singh, Sarwan Singh, both residents of Multani and Kamaljit Singh of Batala police district were apprehended during a naka at Raipur village by Inspector Hardev Singh and his team.


Case against ex-ASI, 3 others
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 2
On the directive of the IG (Crime Branch), Punjab, the city police of Fazilka has booked Darshan Singh, a former Assistant Sub-Inspector of this police station, on a charge of beating a local resident.

Anil Kumar Chopra, Sandeep Kumar and Anurag have been booked in a case of medico-legal injuries. Anurag, a resident of Nai Abadi locality, allegedly had a quarrel with Anil Kumar of the same locality and Sandeep Kumar a resident of the village Ladhuka near local M.R. Government College on September 4, 2001. In the dispute, all three persons were injured and admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Darshan Singh, who had been investigating this case at that time, allegedly picked up Anurag from hospital and beat him and pressurised him to reach a compromise with the other two. Aggrieved with the attitude of Darshan Singh, Anurag had then launched a complaint against him (Darshan Singh) before the Crime Branch and the Punjab Human Rights Commission.

After conducting a probe, the IG (Crime) found Darshan Singh, Anurag, Anil Kumar and Sandeep Kumar guilty of offences and directed that a case be registered against them.

According to Mr Jaswinder Singh Gharu, SHO, City Police, Fazilka, a case under Sections 323, 324, 325,218, 219, 506 and 342 has been registered against all the accused who have absconded. 


Theft in hostel, police clueless
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 2
The police and the government college authorities here are clueless about how seven intruders managed entry into the college hostel and stole valuables.

The Principal, Dr O.P. Mahajan, claims that it was ‘next to impossible’ for an outsider to scale the high walls of the hostel.

Dr Mahajan said the SP, Mr S. K. Kalia, had started an investigation into the matter. He said Mr R. L. Bhatia, MP, along with Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLA, and Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, visited the college. The departmental inquiry, being conducted by the committee comprising Vice-Principal Dr Bhola Singh Medical Superintendent Dr H. S. Gill and the superintendent of the hostel, would submit its report shortly, he said.

Flood lights have been put up at the hostel. One of the walls is being fenced by the PWD. 


4 poppy smugglers among 18 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 2
The district police has arrested 18 persons for various crimes, including smuggling of poppy husk, and seized large quantities of drugs and 90 kg of poppy husk.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Sunil Kumar, a resident of Paras Ram Nagar, was arrested for selling medicines and drugs without the prescription of doctors. The accused also overcharged his customers.

Four persons have been arrested for smuggling poppy husk. He said Chand Singh of Dyalpura village was arrested for possessing 70 kg of poppy husk, Ratan Singh of Bhuchu Kalan village for possessing 5 kg of poppy husk, Jeeta Singh of Bhuchu Kalan village for possessing 5 kg of poppy husk and Dhodhi Singh for possessing 10 kg of poppy husk.

Seven persons have been arrested under the Excise Act and lahan was seized from them. Six persons have been arrested under the Prevention of Gambling Act and Rs 1,420 seized from them.


Teenager raped

Gurdaspur, September 2
A teenaged schoolgirl was allegedly raped by a youth at Aliwal village under Gania ke Banger police station in this district, the police said today.

The 13-year-old resident of Aliwal was returning from school when another woman Kamlesh Rani took her to her house where she was allegedly raped by Manga Masih last evening.

A case has been registered against Manga Masih and Kamlesh Rani and the two have been arrested. PTI 


Teachers’ rally on Sept 5
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 2
Under the banner of the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, teachers and parents will hold a joint rally on September 5 to mark Teachers’ Day. The rally to be held at Jalandhar will “expose” the education policy of the government and the alleged discrimination against government schools.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri and Mr Sucha Singh Khatra, president and general secretary, respectively, of the union, said the rally would be first phase of the “lok jagao, sikhiya bachao” campaign.

The second phase of the campaign would be announced after the rally. They also appealed to the unemployed trained teachers to attend the rally.

SSF memorandum on alleged ragging
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 2
The Sikh Students Federation (SSF) today presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in protest against the alleged ragging of a Sikh student at the local Punjab Aircraft Maintenance College and urged him to direct the college authorities to take strict action against the alleged culprits.

The alleged ‘victim’, Harmanjit Singh had alleged that a senior had forcibly got his hair cut following a ragging session.

However, according to an enquiry conducted by the college authorities, the boy had got his hair cut even before the alleged incident on August 19 and had blamed a senior to as he was afraid to face his father. The college authorities had suspended a second year student following a complaint made by the parents of Harmanjit that the alleged culprit, Hamender Kumar, had taken their son to a roadside barber in front of Rajindra hospital and got his hair cut forcibly.

The college Principal, Mr Amrik Singh, had earlier said that some ‘vested’ interests were deliberately trying to create a religious issue out of the incident and that the alleged victim had failed to locate the barber.

In a press note here, members of the SSF claimed that they met the Principal today and alleged that he stressed that no incident of ragging had taken place in the college.

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