Thursday, September 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Panchayat secretaries ‘can be reinstated’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
There is good news for about 450 panchayat secretaries in Punjab whose services were terminated by the previous Akali Dal-BJP government on October 12, 2001, as the legal hurdles have been cleared by the office of the Advocate-General, Punjab.

In his legal opinion, as asked for by the Rural Development and Panchayat Department, Mr Harbhaghwan Singh, Senior Advocate-General, Punjab, has opined that there was no legal hurdle in re-appointing them.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Harbhaghwan Singh, admitted that he had submitted a legal opinion to the government. Now it was up to the state government to take a decision in this regard. He said: ‘‘The government has two options in this regard; one, the terminated panchayat secretaries can be directly re-appointed by the government, but a written undertaking should be taken from them that they will not demand any back wages. Secondly, the government can re-appoint them as panchayat secretaries through an Ordinance or an Act. However, it should be made clear to them that it would be a one-time measure in order to meet the extreme hardships of the persons involved in the case.’’

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayats and Agriculture, admitted that the government was committed to take a positive decision in this regard, once the legal hurdles were cleared. Earlier, Mr Ashok Aggarwal, Additional Advocate-General, Punjab, had said: ‘‘It was not proper for the previous government to dispense with the services of the panchayat secretaries when the case was pending in the Supreme Court.’’

It may be noted that the previous government had terminated their services at the fag end of its term, though the Supreme Court had granted a stay in a case that was referred by the state government, at the time of their termination. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Incidentally, the terminated panchayat secretaries are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike here for over ten days. Two members of the Terminated Panchayat Secretaries Union are struggling for their lives at General Hospital, Sector 16, after they were admitted by the police on Saturday last. The condition of two other members, sitting on hunger strike further deteriorated today.

Mr Desh Raj, Press Secretary of the union, made it clear that they would continue their agitation till they were reinstated by the government.


Tough week awaits Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
A tough week awaits Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who returns here tomorrow from Patiala where he has been resting after angioplasty.

The procurement of paddy is a major issue. The Union Government has neither fixed the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy so far nor it has advanced the procurement date to September 21. The Chief Minister will meet the top brass of his administration tomorrow on this issue. A strategy will be planned to put pressure on the Union Government to revise the MSP and to advance the date for procurement to September 21 instead of October 1. “We are in touch with the Haryana Government for building joint pressure on the Centre on this issue,” said a top Punjab Government functionary. When asked whether Capt Amarinder Singh will approach his counterpart, Mr Om Parkash Chautala in Haryana and Mr Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh to meet the Prime Minister jointly on the paddy issue as was done last year by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he said “let us see what course of action is adopted tomorrow.”

The state government is already in contact with the PM office on the issue. Food Minister Lal Singh has talked to Union Food Minister Sharad Yadav on the MSP and procurement issues. Mr Yadav’s response is positive to start early procurement of paddy but the final decision will be taken by the Cabinet. The Union Government’s decision to pay only 4 per cent as taxes and levies on procurement of foodgrains in Punjab is another issue to be taken up by the Chief Minister. The state government’s annual net loss will be to the tune of Rs 300 crore because of this decision.

The distress sale of paddy, which has started arriving in some markets, has been reported from certain places. Farmers, who are awaiting the MSP have by and large deliberately delayed the harvesting of paddy to avoid distress sale.

Another issue that will be taken up tomorrow is pertaining to free power to farmers. The dominating opinion in the state government is to continue free power to farmers for some more months. How the PSEB should be compensated in lieu of providing free power to farmers has not been decided yet. There are political compulsions for the Chief Minister to continue free power to farmers who have faced drought in recent months. All opposition parties have started agitations — though at the small level at the moment — against the levying of power tariff on the agricultural sector. The government feels that these agitations can get bigger ones in the days to come. Capt Amarinder Singh will have no other alternative but to continue free power to the farming sector. The issue of the on-line lottery is becoming another cause of concern for the state government. In fact, it has started taking the shape of a scandal as the company concerned has a different story to tell. The Punjab Government, which has got a case of fraud registered regarding on-line lottery with the Union Government has not liked the handing over of this case by the latter to the CBI. This issue will also crop up at tomorrow’s meeting.

Besides, the file prepared to sack 39 PCS (Judicial) Officers is awaiting clearance from the Chief Minister. It may be put up before him tomorrow.


CM should lead team to Delhi: CPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The Punjab CPI has urged Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi to press the Union Government to revise the minimum support price of paddy and to advance the paddy procurement date.

CPI Secretary Joginder Dayal said today that the Chief Minster should rise above “false prestige and narrow political considerations” and take the support of opposition parties to build pressure on the Centre to concede all demands pertaining to the farming community. All political organisations should join hands to save the state from economic ruin.

He lashed out at the Union Government for not announcing the MSP though paddy had started arriving in grain markets.


Gurdwara Bill may clip SGPC’s wings
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 18
The whimsical approach of any ruling party or the SGPC to appoint jathedars may come to end if the proposed Sikh Gurdwara Bill, 2002, becomes an Act.

The proposed Bill has laid down certain procedures for the appointment and removal of the Sikh clerics in accordance with the Sikh “rehat maryada”. However, the educational qualification of the jathedars has been fixed as graduation.

According to Mr Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba, an advocate and member of the seven-member committee which drafted the Bill, told TNS that the jathedars would become supreme in the real sense if the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, 1999, becomes an act as they won’t be taking oath before the SGPC chief.

It is now proposed that a jathedar would perform ‘ardas’ at the time of his installation as part of his oath taking ceremony. He said the committee members considered that the earlier proposal regarding the oath taking ceremony was aimed at lowering the status of the Sikh high priests.

In yet another significant proposal the Bill suggested an end to all types of reservations for the Scheduled Castes or women as Sikhism considered all human beings equal irrespective of their caste and gender.

Though there was unanimity among the members on almost all clauses of the draft, yet Mr Lamba made two suggestions (the dissenting note has been added in the draft Bill).

Mr Lamba suggested that the qualification for being a voter for the SGPC elections should be “amritdhari” as is the case of the Patna Sahib Gurdwara Committee. In another suggestion he demanded that for any post under the proposed All-India Gurdwara Act a person’s dependent children should not be “patit”.

The nomenclature of the SGPC, which was written as “board” in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, would now be written as SGPC.

The Bill also proposes to reduce the number of SGPC members from the existing 190 to 75 only. However, as part of the three-tier system there would be central, regional or state and local committees.


Badal to take Punjab’s cause with Centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, came down heavily on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today for sleeping over a letter from the Union Government regarding its refusal to pay various taxes and levies on the procurement of foodgrains for the Central pool from Punjab.

Mr Badal said he would take up this issue with the Prime Minister and request him to withdraw such a letter. However, the state government should also do something on this issue, he added.

He said the Union Government had made clear that it would pay only 4 per cent as taxes on foodgrains procured for the Central pool. At present, the state government charged about 11.5 per cent as various taxes and levies on the foodgrains procured for the Central pool or by any private buyer. With the denial of payment of taxes beyond 4 per cent, the state would suffer a big financial loss.

“How could they (Punjab Government) treat such a serious matter in such a casual way? This is a question of life and death for the overall development of the state. The government wakes up to such realities only after the media bring these into focus,” said Mr Badal in a statement. Mr Badal said the letter had been received by the state government about a month ago but such an important matter was kept under wraps for so long. Moreover, the Chief Minister did not take Opposition parties into confidence on the issue.

He also criticised the state government for treating roughly students doing ETT coure. “Lathi charge on ETT students was a barbaric act”, Mr Badal said.


Hailstorm, rain increase farmers’ misery
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 18
Hailstorm and downpour in certain areas in the region this evening threw life out of gear for city dwellers damaged standing paddy crop and increased moisture of paddy in mandis delaying its procurement for a few days.

Reports of downpour followed by hailstorm have been received from different parts of the district. Rain at this time would prove ‘fatal’ for the farmers who are to harvest paddy, and who are waiting for the procurement of paddy.

The farmers who harvested paddy in a hurry in the past few days due to uncertainty of weather have to speed up harvesting after today’s hailstorm and rain.

Besides paddy, cotton crop would also be affected by today’s rain and hailstorm. Even yield of vegetables down due to bad weather, says farm experts.

The worst-hit would be the farmers who harvested paddy and brought it in mandis. As proper arrangements for protecting paddy from rain are not there in most of the mandis, the farmers are helpless in saving the produce. The procurement would be delayed for some days as the farmers would have to dry paddy before selling it.

With rainwater stagnant in fields harvesting would have to be done manually as combine harvester would not be used in the fields. Mr Harbans Singh, owner of a combine harvester working in the Nathana area said that they would have to wait at least for a week before the machine could be used. He said that for many days they would have to remain without work.

Residents in the city were taken unawares by the hailstorm. City roads were flooded due to poor drainage. The downpour added to the woes of commuters and the residents of low-lying areas of the city.

Several parts of the city, some of which are commercial centres or thrice populated get submerged even with scanty rain and with today’s downpour there was no outlet for water to flow.

Faulty sewerage that becomes non-functional whenever there is rain was choked today. The sewerage relaid five years ago after digging up the old system collapsed some years back due to faulty design. An inquiry into the matter is pending.

The worst-hit are Ganesha Basti, Nai Basti, Amrik Singh Road, Mall Road, Ajit Road, Veer Colony, Power House Road, DAV College Road, Guru Nanak Puara Mohalla, Sirki Bazar and the Civil Lines area. Roads in these areas have became nightmare for drivers of light vehicles.

The downpour today also hit commercial activities in the city as several shop and large areas would not be reached by people till the water was drained away. Rickshaw-pullers had a hey day and raised their charges to ferry passengers across the inundated areas. Mechanics engaging in repairing the stranded vehicles also overcharged.


Funds crunch hits social security plans
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Paucity of funds has cast a dark shadow on social security schemes of the Department of Social Security, Women and Child Development in Punjab. It encompasses such schemes, as old-age pension and financial assistance to widows and destitute women, dependent children and disabled persons. But for the release of old-age pension, — Rs 200 per person — per month, for the first quarter, the department has no money for other schemes.

Out of nearly 10.50 lakh beneficiaries under all these schemes, old-age pension is availed of by 843,918.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was recently apprised of the activities and difficulties encountered by the department, mainly on account of lack of funds, at a special presentation made by Principal Secretary, Tejinder Kaur. She had pointed out to a shortfall of Rs 126 crore in respect of old-age pension and financial assistance to widows and destitute women. She also said though allocation of funds had been made for the current financial year, no money had been released. The Centre has now asked Punjab to prepare an action plan for some more schemes like working women hostels, food and nutrition, advocacy and sensitisation of women about anaemia and breast-feeding.

The department seems to be doubly unblessed: it faces an acute financial crunch and also faces swindling/embezzlement of welfare money. There is not a single district social security office, which does not have skeletons in its cupboard. Recently, the Patiala district officer was found to have opened 5,000 ‘’fake’’ accounts to swindle money meant for old-age pensioners. ‘’We are now consolidating a statewide report on such cases’’, says Ms Tejinder Kaur.

Due to such instances of fake registration of old-age pensioners and also objections by the Planning Commission’s working group on social welfare, Punjab has ordered a fresh 100 per cent verification of all old-age pensioners. It is now proposed to revert to old quarterly system of payment, rather than on a monthly basis.

Though Punjab had introduced free bus travel facility for women above 60 years, the allocation of funds has been rather tardy. For the current year, for instance, only Rs 1,000 has been provided in the Budget against Rs 4 lakh each the two previous budgets. Under the supplementary nutrition programme (SNP), the target group is children below 6 years and expectant, nursing mothers from below poverty line families. Against a budget of Rs 5 crore in 2000-01 and Rs 1 crore in 2001-02, the budget provision is ‘’nil’’ for the current year. Another problem faced for implementation of social security schemes is that grants released by the Centre are not given to the department by the state Finance Department.


Three undertrials escape from court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 18
Three undertrials escaped from the district courts complex here today after removing bricks from the room in which they had been housed.

Sources said the room was crammed with undertrials, with as many as 61 undertrials being put in it even though it had a capacity for 40. They said the undertrials made good use of the overcrowding to make the hole in the wall.

The undertrials — Rajesh, Hari Ram and Sukhpal — are all involved in cases of robberies. The sources said the escape was not discovered for a few hours due to which the undertrials were able to get a head start over the police which started searching for them only in the evening.

Meanwhile, the sources said a full-fledged search operation could not be launched immediately after the escape was detected as police personnel guarding the prison first tried to find them on their own. The SSP, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, when contacted, said he had directed the SP (City) to visit the spot and search operations had been started.

Mr Umranangal said information had been relayed to ‘naka’ points in the district. He said police personnel had also been deputed to the local bus stand and the railway station.


‘Primary education lacking in Punjab’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 18
Though the campaign launched by the government against corruption has yielded results at the higher level, results at lower level are not encouraging and people are yet to benefit from it. The government had chalked out a comprehensive plan for the lower level as well, said Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA and senior Congress leader, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. He was here to attend an official meeting on development projects for villages in his constituency.

Lashing out at the education system in the state, he said if the present infrastructure of elementary and secondary education was not reconstructed, the entire system would collapse. He said there should no political interference in posting and transfers of teachers and the transfer policy should be result-oriented. A teacher applying for a transfer should also attach his or her record of results in the school, he said.

Besides this, there should be a separate wing to assess results of the teachers, he said, adding that usually each MLA, on an average, gets more than 1,000 applications for posting and transfers.

He said the primary education in the state was not up to the mark and at present only those students were attending government primary schools, whose parents could not afford to send them to private schools.

He said the mushrooming of the so-called public schools was a matter of concern. Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the dropout rate of students in the rural areas had acquired alarming proportions. He called upon social and religious organisations to donate and construct buildings for schools and urged the government to not upgrade any school without providing adequate infrastructure.


New population policy on anvil
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 18
The Punjab Government will soon prepare a population policy on the pattern followed by Haryana.

Talking to mediapersons at the local Canal Rest House today, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab said the formulation of a population policy was the need of the hour. Accompanied by Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Mr Dogra stated that special incentives would be provided to those who would follow the proposed policy, while the violators would face action.

Mr Dogra said he had already discussed the matter with Dr Sharma and other top officers of the Health Department. With regard to the privatisation of the health services in the state, Mr Dogra said no decision has been taken by the state government so far in this regard. He added that the government was not considering the issue of granting permission to government doctors for private practice.

Mr Dogra told the Director, Health Services, Punjab, Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, to issue an order disallowing the medical representatives from entering Civil Hospitals during the working hours as this affected the functioning of the OPDs.

Later, Mr Dogra inaugurated the PP unit building, operation theatre and a laproscopic surgery unit at the Civil Hospital here.

He also opened a pilot project for the district on rheumatic fever and heart disease, which has been started at the hospital here in collaboration with Jai Vigyan Mission, ICMR, New Delhi.

Mr Dogra announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the construction of a Lions Bhavan.


20 enteritis cases in Jalandhar areas
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 18
As many as 20 residents of the local Phagwari mohalla and the Garha locality were hospitalised last night due to gastroenteritis allegedly caused due to the consumption of contaminated water as the local municipal corporation had failed to check underground mixing of sludge with drinking water.

Panic spread in the area last night, as several residents of the Phagwari mohalla and the Garha locality started showing symptoms of gastroenteritis. While 10 persons were admitted to the local S.G.L Charitable Hospital. 10 others were admitted to other private hospitals.

Residents showed this correspondent contaminated water being supplied through the MC supply lines.

Showing a sample of contaminated water collected from the MC tap in her house, Neetu, a resident of the Phagwari mohalla, alleged that contaminated water was being supplied to them for the past 20 days, even though they had made several complaints to the authorities concerned in this regard.

The Chairman of the hospital, Baba Kashmira Singh, said they were providing treatment and food free of cost to patients since they belonged to poor families.

Satpal, a labourer working in a bat manufacturing unit, said his wife and daughter-in-law were admitted to the hospital in a serious condition last night.” He alleged that despite several complaints, the authorities concerned had done precious little.

The district health authorities, meanwhile, despatched a rapid response team, comprising doctors and paramedical staff, to the affected areas last night. The team also examined the patients.

Mr O.P. Chabra, Civil Surgeon, said during preliminary examination of patients it was found that the disease had broken out in these localities due to contaminated water.


Each state to have model ESI hospital
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 18
Mr R.K. Tripathi, a member of the Employees State Insurance Corporation and head of the high-powered Central team of the General Purpose Sub-Committee of the ESI Corporation, New Delhi, yesterday disclosed that soon a model ESI hospital would be set up in every state.

In Punjab, the model hospital would come up at Jalandhar, said Mr Tripathi who was here to inspect the local ESI Hospital. He disclosed that at present 140 ESI hospitals were providing health services to 88 lakh employees and their families in the country. There were seven ESI hospitals in Punjab, he said.

Mr Tripathi said ESI funds were being used for non-health purposes in many states.

Dr Harcharan Singh, CMO, ESI Hospital, told the team that the 50-bed hospital catered to the referral needs of 145 industrial units, including JCT Mills, Sukhjit Starch Mills.


Qila Mubarak being given facelift
Romesh Gupta

Keeping in view the dilapidated condition of Qila Mubarak here, the Maharawal Khewaji Trust, an institution constituted by a former ruler, Maharaja Harinder Singh, has taken up an ambitious plan to revive its grandeur to make it a focal point of life.

Under the scheme, initially rejuvenation of Darbar Hall, Sheesh Mahal and its adjoining areas, including gardens, will be taken up. Masons and raw material would be brought from Rajasthan to restore its pristine glory. The project report has been prepared by renowned architect, Ratish Nanda, and the design cell in New Delhi.

Work on the first phase, which would cost more than Rs 55 lakh, would start in the first week of October. According to Mrs Deepinder Kaur Mahtab, chairperson of the trust, on completion of the project, the Darbar Hall would be converted into a museum where all antiques related to the erstwhile state would be displayed.

Similarly Sheesh Mahal will also be opened to the general public. Sheesh Mahal, constructed by Chaudhary Hamir Singh between 1732 and 1735, was used by the ruler to hold ceremonial functions. The remaining portion of complex would be taken up on completion of the first phase.

The fort also has more buildings like Moti Mahal, a gurdwara and Toshakhana built over two centuries.

The construction of the fort was started by Raja Mokal Dev, a Manja Rajput, in the 12th century. The Sufi saint, Baba Sheikh Farid, came to this place, Mokalhar, on September 23, 1215. During construction of the fort, labourers struggled as mud rose many inches above their head. On seeing this, officials informed him. The saint begged pardon from Almighty for any sin that might have been committed by the people and got the level to come down. Thus Mokalhar came to be known as Faridkot after the saint. The tomb of the Sufi saint stands a few metres away from Qila Mubarak. After the death of Raja Mokal Dev, many people ruled the state, which was captured in 1743 by Chaudhary Kapoora, a Jasal Bhatti Rajput, one of the ancestors of Maharaja Harinder Singh.

There is also a passage around the fort which linked it to Circular Road. After the creation of Faridkot as a district the Punjab Government established many of its offices at the fort and used it for over 20 years. Gurdwara Tilla Baba Farid celebrates a nine-day festival from September 15 to commemorate the “aagman purab” of the Sufi saint.


Probe paddy scam by IPS officer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Taking a serious view of allegations on paddy embezzlement by a Budhlada-based rice mill, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled that the “matter requires investigation by an IPS officer, to be nominated by Mansa’s Senior Superintendent of Police”.

Issuing directions on a petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail to one of the rice mill partners, Mr Justice Goel further ruled: “Let the new investigating officer have a prima facie look at the matter and submit an interim report to this court either in writing or by being present on the next date of hearing”.

In his detailed order, Mr Justice Goel clarified: “This direction is being issued on account of the large amount of public money, not only in the present case, but also in several other cases”.

The Judge added: “The allegations in the first information report are that 11,947,34 quintal of paddy were misappropriated by Gupta Rice Mills and its partners. The allegations are very serious and one of the questions involved in the matter is how no safeguard against misappropriation was provided for such a large quantity of paddy given for milling. The matter requires investigating by an officer of the rank of IPS....”

Regarding grant of bail, Mr Justice Goel held: “I am not inclined to grant interim anticipatory bail till I consider the report directed to be submitted”. The case will now come up for on September 30. The FIR in the matter was registered by the Punjab Police on August 13 under Section 406, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

Another scribe summoned

In less than two months after Hindustan Times correspondent Maneesh Chibber reached the residence of a High Court Judge to enquire about CBI raids that were never conducted at his house, a Division Bench of the High Court today summoned another correspondent of that daily, Munish Tiwari, in the on-going contempt case.

Issuing directions, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall also asked Chibber to appear in person. The case will now come up on October 25.

Taking up the case, the Bench had earlier asked the Advocates-General of Punjab and Haryana to assist the court. The Judges also held that the issue was of far reaching significance as far as the independence of judiciary, besides the fair functioning of the system pertaining to the administration of justice, was concerned.

In their detailed order, the Judges had observed that they were prima facie convinced that the reporter — describing himself as a senior correspondent — had intentionally tried to interfere with the administration of justice. The Judges had also observed that as per the Chief Justice’s orders, one of the Judges addressed a letter to him apprising him about an incident that took place at his residence on the night of July 19 at about 11 pm.

The Judges had further observed that after considering the contents of the letter, the Chief Justice ordered the initiation of suo motu Contempt of Court proceedings.

Contempt notice to Punjab DPI

Taking up a petition filed by a JBT teacher alleging that a decision on his claim for promotion was not taken within the specified period of time, Mr Justice N.K. Sud of the High Court today asked Punjab’s Director of Public Instructions (P) to show cause why proceedings for contempt of court should not be initiated against her.

In his petition, Mr Hans Raj had contended that a Division Bench of the High Court had directed that his claim for promotion should be decided within three months, but action was not taken. The case will now come up on October 16.


Stand united, young Bar members urged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
In less than 24 hours before the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association was to hold its general house meeting, members today requested young lawyers to stand united in their fight against alleged corruption in the judicial system.

In a two-page circular, members asserted, “Come what may, let us maintain the unity of the Bar at all costs”. A member, Mr Tahar Singh, claimed that the ongoing movement was not new. “In fact it started in 1993. The efforts of the Bar Association, headed by President Hawa Singh Hooda led to the implementation of the transfer policy for checking the judge-relative nexus”.

Quoting a news article published in The Tribune on August 29, 1993, Mr Tahar Singh added that Mr Hooda, in his speech, had regretted that although the government had framed a transfer policy as early as in 1981, it had not been implemented. “He has been a true fighter and if we stand united we are sure that he will lead us with same fervour,” he added.


Lawyers abstain from work
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, September 18
As many as 800 lawyers of the District Bar Association today observed a protest against the failure of the government to consider the objections raised by the Bar Council of India in the CPC (Amendment) Act.

Litigants expressed concern over the new “trend” among lawyers to abstain from work in support of their demands.

Mr Ashok Gandhi, president of the District Bar Association, said they were fighting for their rights and if the amendments to the CPC were implemented in toto, it would cause difficulties to the litigants as well. “The litigants should cooperate with the lawyers,” he said.

SHIMLA: Work in the district courts came to a standstill on Wednesday as the Bar Association observed a protest day on a call given by the Bar Council of India.


Anticipatory bail plea by Kang
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 18
Kiranbir Singh Kang, a senior Youth Akali leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, today filed anticipatory bail application in the court of District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, in connection with Siau murder case in which the bodies of two minor Dalit children were found floating in a pond of Siau village near Kharar on June 22, 2001.

In the anticipatory bail application, the counsel for Kang has sought pre-arrest bail for Kang in connection with a criminal complaint (No. 5 of 6.2.2002) titled Dhani Ram versus Swaran Singh in which the petitioner (Kang) has been summoned alognwith other accused under Sections 302, 201, 120-B and 34 of the IPC through non-bailable warrants of arrest for September 9, 2002 vide order (dated 7.9.2002) passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ropar.

The anticipatory bail application will now be put up before the Sessions Judge here tomorrow for further proceedings.


Rs 7.04 cr for rural water schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has finally released Rs 7.04 crore to make the collapsed rural water supply schemes functional in the Malwa belt. There are about 200 such schemes.

The government has taken a long time to realise that people in villages of the Malwa belt have to drink muddy water in the absence of availability of potable water from government run schemes.

Punjab Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa, who had an extensive tour of the area along with his Cabinet colleague, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, said today that there were 615 canal-based rural water supply schemes catering to the needs of 1288 villages and out of these over 200 were required to be made functional to ensure potable water to ruralities. Water schemes near the tail-end of distributaries are the worst affected.

Mr Randhawa said the water charges per connection in the rural areas would be raised to Rs 50 per month from Rs 40. The quantity of water will be enhanced to 70 litres per head from 40 litres. The government would reqularise 7,000 illegal water connections in rural areas after realising certain charges.


Rs 66.33 lakh cheque for development

Jalandhar, September 18
The Local Bodies Minister, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, today handed over a cheque of Rs 66.33 lakh to the city mayor for initiating development works.

Various new development projects in the corporations would be initiated and funds provided to the MCs accordingly, Choudhary told reporters here.

He added that all mayors of the four corporations would leave for Thailand on September 21 to participate in a workshop of mayors from Asian countries. During their 12-day tour they would visit Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, he added.

Regarding the ongoing anti-encroachment drive, Choudhary said that over 12,000 establishments have been identified for encroachments across the state and a committee has been formed to finalise the action plan against them. PTI


Soldier attains martyrdom in J&K
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 18
After the sacrifice of PAP commando hailing from the city, reports of an Army jawan from the district, attaining martyrdom fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir, was received today.

As per information the Army jawan belonged to Chak Fateh Singhwalha village near Rampura Phul town of the district. The 23-year-old jawan, Veerpal Singh sepoy of 28 Rashtriya Rifles of Indian Army was posted in the Baramula sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Veerpal Singh laid down his life on September 16 while on duty in the disturbed area.

Veerpal Singh is the second person from the district falling to militants’ bullets in Jammu and Kashmir where election is being held.

Jarnail Singh commando of 5 PAP battalion who laid down his life while on poll duty was cremated yesterday.

Veerpal Singh joined Army three years ago. His body has been flown to Delhi from Jammu and Kashmir and it would reach his village tomorrow for cremation with honours.


Committed to cause of theatre
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, September 18
Fresh out of Punjabi University’s Theatre and Television Department, a group of around 20 students is all set to make a difference in the theatre scenario here, and prove that training in theatre is not just a platform for acting on the silver screen as perceived by many.

With registered groups Creations and Performers Association floated by them and several original and translated scripts lined up, Surjit Singh, Kulwant Sidhu, Pintu Bhardwaj and Sarabjit Kaur are optimistic that they would be able to earn enough moolah from theatre and would not be tempted to sign for obscure roles in Punjabi serials.

Surjit Singh, the man behind Creations and a recent passout from the department, says theatre is not a stepping stone for television and films as it is a distinct art form, characterised by a unique style of presentation.

Members of the groups have started working on different scripts, including classics, besides holding workshops for school children and slum-dwellers and organising street theatre in rural areas. They have also invited theatre enthusiasts from around the region to join them.

Pintu Bhardwaj, a member of the Performers Association, which had staged Shanker Shesh’s “Fandi” under the direction of Rana Ranbir a few days ago says, “It’s not that I am against working for television but my priority has always been theatre despite the fact that its hard to survive in theatre for lack of any financial incentive.”

Over the years, the university’s theatre department had become the favoured place for small-time Punjabi serial directors to hire actors at ridiculously low rates. Underpaid and given ludicrous roles, most of the aspiring artistes had no other option but to act in these serials. Patiala despite its culturally rich image, cannot boast of regular professional theatre groups. As Surjit says “there are hardly any committed theatre groups in the city. After passing out, none of us had any idea how to continue with theatre, this is how creations was conceived.”

The head of the Theatre and Television department at Punjabi University, Dr Yogesh Gambhir sees this as a positive development. “ This is what we have trained them for, its an encouraging trend that theatre students are coming back to their roots.” In order to encourage students to take up professional theatre after passing out from the department, Dr Gambhir has promised students infrastructure, including, auditorium, lights, costumes and technical assistance, to facilitate their productions.


Play highlights social evils
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 18
The play, “Khulla Darbar,” written by Kuldip Singh and directed by Gurcharan Singh, was staged during the National Punjabi Drama Festival on the fourth day of the celebrations of 17th Aagman Purb of Sufi saint Baba Sheikh Farid organised at Amar Ashram here.

However, the Chandan Kala Manch, Muktsar, and the Azad Kala Manch, Dhanaula, which were to stage “Chirian” and “Bukkal di Agg”, respectively, backed out.

“Khulla Darbar” depicted the Dharamraj Darbar (Hindu mythology) where a few characters were shown confessing to their sins before the Dharamraj to seek a berth in heaven.

Vulgar music, growing population, plight of farmers, widespread corruption among politicians and many other evils prevalent in society were depicted in a beautiful way.

Earlier, Mr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, while addressing a gathering as chief guest, said the couplets written by Baba Farid hundreds of years ago were still recognised as hidden truths of life. He asked the people to follow his teachings.


Poll plea dismissed
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 18
The Election Tribunal, Ropar, has rejected and dismissed a poll petition preferred by a defeated candidate, Mrs Manmeet Kaur, from Municipal Ward 7.

Giving this information at a press conference here today, the Municipal Councillor for the ward, Mrs Manmohan Kaur, said the petition was dismissed by the ADC, Ropar (Election Tribunal), Mr Vikas Garg, yesterday.

Mrs Manmohan Kaur was elected from Ward 7 on August 2, 2002, in a face to face contest by securing 56 per cent votes.

Mrs Manmohan Kaur said it was a long and fruitful wait for justice. She said the tribunal had upheld the verdict of the people. Right from the beginning, she was confident to win and was having full faith in the tribunal.


Probe into pensions begins in Faridkot
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 18
The Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, Mr A. Venu Prasad, said at a press conference here today that the district administration had begun a probe into all old age pension cases sanctioned on and after April 1, 2000. This work would be completed latest by October 15.

He said that 22 teams had been constituted to probe the cases in Faridkot and Jaito subdivisions. Each team included a gazetted officer, a doctor and the supporting staff. He had also asked the SDMs of both subdivisions to ensure the presence of the patwari and nambardar concerned during the investigations.

The investigating teams would check pensions sanctioned to 15,270 beneficiaries. They would compile their reports on a weekly basis and hand these over to the SDMs concerned.


‘Give possession of plots to farmhands’
Our Correspondent

Lambi (Muktsar), September 18
Mr Lachaman Singh Sewa Wala, state general secretary, Punjab Khet Majdoor Union, has alleged that the officials concerned were not giving the possession of plots allotted to farmhands.

In a written statement issued here today, he alleged that even after two days of continuous protest at the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, their demands were not heard

He said the SAD-BJP government had marked some plots for landless farmhands, but the Congress government was not giving them the possession of the plots. He urged the authorities to give the possession of the plots to the farmhands.


Two briefings for single catch
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 18
Soon after nabbing Nisha, Pradeep and Neeraj on charges of smuggling 185 gm of smack, Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Abohar, hurriedly called a press conference on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Abohar.

As soon as Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, Ferozepore, got wind of the press conference, he called mediapersons to his office here at 6.30 p.m. Not only this, he asked the ASP, Abohar, to bring the suspects to his office.

The ASP complied with the order. A few scribes sought the SSP’s permission to put a few questions to the suspects. But the permission was refused.

A case of publicity lust or overenthusiasm?


Remand of scam accused extended

Ferozepore, September 18
The judicial remand of seven officials of the state procurement agencies, who were arrested on September 4 in the multicrore ‘Guru Har Sahai paddy scam’ during the 1994-2000 period, was today extended till October 1.

All seven accused — four Punsup inspectors, R.K. Monga, Baldev Singh, Balraj Sharma and Amarjit, former District Food and Supply controller Makhan Singh, former district Food and Supply officer Amin Chand and another Punsup inspector — were produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate Gurnam Singh on the expiry of their current remand today. The eighth accused in the case, former Markfed District Manager Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon, would be produced before the judge tomorrow. UNI


Move to make cops people-friendly
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, September 18
Mr Major Singh Dhillon, SSP, said today that action would be taken against the police personnel who would be found taking bribe while performing duty.

In a press note issued here today Mr Dhillon said the police personnel posted in different police stations had been instructed to deal with people properly. He said residents of the district could approach senior police officials if they had any complaints. However, sources said these were routine instructions.

Mr Dhillon further said keeping in view the incidents of robbery in various districts of the state night patrolling had been intensified in the district. He said special check-posts had been setup and an eye was being kept on persons with criminal record.


PUDA plantation drive
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 18
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority celebrated the commencement of vanamahotsava by planting saplings at Government Middle School, Phase VII, here yesterday.

The plantation programme aims at achieving the set targets in all urban estates, especially SAS Nagar. There is a programme of planting approximately, 6,500 saplings of various kinds of shady and ornamental trees and flowering shrubs in various urban estates.

Besides developing various parks in the town, PUDA has so far planted 60,000 plants and shrubs. To maintain an eco-balance the green belts separating the residential sectors from industrial phases have also been developed.

The work going on in the City Park and other sectors will also be completed soon.


Ministers missing at lecturer’s funeral
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 18
The body of Jeevan Parkash Sharma, a Punjab Government lecturer, who died of heart failure on Monday night at Madarkala in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir while performing poll duty, was consigned to the flames at Dilbagh Nagar here today. None of the six Congress ministers belonging to Jalandhar attended the funeral.

The funeral was attended by representatives of various educational and social associations and senior civil officials. Even as hundreds of teachers from all over the state turned up for the funeral, the Adhyapak Dal, Punjab, expressed dismay over the failure of any minister or MLA to attend the funeral.


Centenarian dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 18
Lal Chand Nagpal of Bhagsar village in Muktsar district died yesterday in Malout. He was 103. He had been ill for the past few days.

He is survived by four sons and four daughters. The ‘kirya’ will be held on Sunday, September 29, at 1 p.m. at Jhamb Guest House in Malout.


Freedom fighter cremated

Moga, September 18
Veteran freedom fighter Mal Singh, who died following a heart attack at Baghpurana in the district last night, was cremated with full state honours here today.

Baghpurana SDM Bakhtawar Singh placed wreaths on his body on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner.

The Punjab State Freedom Fighters Association president, Capt Ranjit Singh (retd), also placed a wreath on his body. A large number of freedom fighters from all over the district attended the funeral.

Mal Singh was 80 and is survived by two sons and three daughters. He had spent more than seven years in prison during the freedom struggle. UNI


Freedom fighter dead
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 18
Mr Tek Chand Kansal a freedom fighter, of Rampura Phul town in the district died at the Chandigarh, PGI, today after a brief illness. He was 75.

He had participated in the Jaito Morcha. He was jailed for taking part in Parja Mandal movement and Faridkot Morcha. He remained a secretary of the Punjab Sutantarta Sangrami Sangathan for a long time. After Independence he became a municipal councillor in 1971.


Video shops raided
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 18
The police raided almost all the video parlours here yesterday. As many as 360 video cassettes of T-Series were taken away. The cassettes were returned after a dealer of T-Series verified the cassettes were original.


Area under wheat to be decreased

Moga, September 18
To encourage Punjab farmers to follow diversification of crops the area under wheat from the next season will be decreased from the present 34.20 lakh hectares to 32.50 lakh hectares and its production will also go down from 155 lakh metric tonnes to 146 lakh metric tonnes, Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Dinesh Chander Jain said today.

Addressing a gathering of progressive farmers of the district here, Mr Jain said the area under barley would be increased from 7,000 hectares to 20,000 hectares. The area under oilseed would also be increased from 50,000 hectares to 75,000 hectares and sunflower from 15,000 hectares to 25,000 hectares, he said. PTI


Chandumajra for paddy MSP hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal leader Prem Singh Chandumajra has called for an increase of minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 750 per quintal from the existing Rs 560 per quintal.

In a meeting with Union Minister for Agriculture Ajit Singh and Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs Sharad Yadav, Mr Chandumajra said after a prolonged dry spell leading to drought in several areas, the situation had worsened further for farmers by incessant rain leading to floods.

He also called for preponing the procurement date from October 1 to September 21.


Wife of ‘smuggler’ cries foul
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 18
Mr S. S. Srivastva, SSP, here last evening, presented Ranjit Kumar before the media. The police had seized poppy husk, “sulfa” and smack from his possession on September 16. He admitted to have smuggled “sulfa” and smack from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Smokers of smack and their parents were also produced by the police. Some of them said they used to buy smack form the accused.

The police would conduct raids on chemist shops for the recovery of “intoxicants}, the SSP said.

Meanwhile Ms Raj Rani, wife of the accused, submitted a representation to Mr Justice V. M. Jain who was here to inspect the local courts yesterday. She alleged that an ASI of the CIA staff, along with a police party, raided there house on September 15 and searched the house in the presence of neighbours but nothing was recovered. She alleged that the ASI demanded Rs 50,000 from her husband, failing which he would be implicated in a false case.

She said he was booked in a false case after he refused to pay the money.


Three die as tanker, van collide
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 18
Three persons were killed in a road accident between a tanker and a van near Bahar Majara village, 8 km from here, on the Phagwara-Banga road tonight. Those killed were occupants of the van and were going to Behram while the tanker was coming from the opposite direction.

The Banga police has reached the accident site.


2 killed in road mishap

Jalandhar, September 18
Two persons were killed while one was seriously injured in a collision between a car and a three-wheeler on the GT Road, near Phagwara, today.

The accident occurred around 4.30 p.m. when a three-wheeler, coming from Goraya to Phagwara, was hit by a car at Gohawar village.

While two car-borne persons, who were yet to be identified, died on the spot, the driver of the car was admitted to a local hospital in a serious condition. PTI


2 arrested for CD piracy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 18
The police arrested a music shop owner and his son and booked two others in connection with the piracy of compact discs (CDs). As many as 146 duplicate CDs were seized.

In a raid conducted by the police on Bains Market this afternoon, and seized the CDs from the premises of Prince Radio and Video. The owner of Amit CD Collection Joginder Pal and Maninder Singh Sahni of Sahni Radios were also booked following the recovery of such CDs from their premises.


Varsity to review building projects
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 18
Schemes of the former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, may be put on hold for sometime with the university authorities forming a committee to review the building priority of various construction projects started during the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia.

Among the building projects started by him was Kala Bhavan, which is being constructed adjoining the VC’s office where there once was a small park, Information Technology Bhavan at Damdama Sahib in Bathinda district and the construction of first phase of the Bed College at Damdama Sahib. Both Kala Bhavan and Information Technology projects were started even though there was no demand for the same.

The former VC was not above maneuvering funds for his ‘pet projects’ as has now been revealed through documents now. According to the documents, funds were diverted from the Correspondence Studies Department and that during the fag end of his tenure he tried to divert Rs 1.50 crore meant for the construction of a hostel for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students for which money had been earmarked by the Centre.

Without consulting the Correspondence Department or its Academic Council a case was prepared which stated that a ‘’committee’’ had decided that money meant for the construction of the hostel be used for completing construction of Kala Bhavan, I T Bhavan and the college. The file so prepared said the state government would also give money for the construction of the hostel and that pending arrival of that money it be used for the other institutions.

In the past many months the University Executive Engineer has addressed at least three letters to the Head of the Correspondence Department stating that contractors were asking for money for cement and steel besides other construction work and that he should release Rs 1.50 crore available with him for the purpose. The department head, however did not oblige the Executive Engineer nor the Finance Officer.

The new management wants to prioritise building work according to the immediate needs of the varsity. The construction of a hostel is one of them. Presently boy students of the varsity are facing a severe accommodation crunch with one of their hostels being appropriated by girl students during the tenure of Mr Ahluwalia. With boy students short of one hostel and opening of a private information technology institute in the varsity, the situation has come to such a pass that the varsity authorities are refusing hostel accommodation to students even though it has all but been officially regualarised.

The sources said a six-member Committee had been constituted to make a review of the priority laid down for construction of building earlier and whether it should be changed or not. The committee has also been asked to proposed cuts where needed and give detailed recommendations on how money should be spent on infrastructure development. The members of the Committee are the Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, who will be its convener, the Registrar Dr K.S. Sidhu, Dr Suchha Singh Gill, Dr Baldev Singh, Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira and Dr Chandan Singh.


DIET students stage dharna
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, September 18
A large number of DIET and ETT students from Kapurthala, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar districts today took out a procession from Sapror village on the GT Road to Phagwara.

They staged a dharna on the GT Road at the local Sugar Mill Chowk and blocked traffic for about two hours, resulting in hundreds of passengers being stranded.

Addressing the protesters, students leaders served an ultimatum on the state government to accept their demands by September 22, failing which they would intensify their agitation.

Flaying the lathi charge on ETT and DIET students in Amritsar on September 16, the protesters demanded withdrawal of cases against the students, scrapping of the new education policy, besides acceptance of their other demands. The local SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, and the Tehsildar, Mr Vijay Sharma, visited the dharna site and were given memorandum by the protesters.

ROPAR: Hundreds of students, including a large number of girls, of the local District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), on Wednesday took out a protest march in the town and blocked traffic for about half-an-hour at Bela Chowk here in support of their demands and against the new education policy of the Punjab Government. They also blocked traffic for some time near the canal bridge here.

The protesters raised slogans against the government.

Later, they held a demonstration in front of the local Shivalik Public School where the Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, and the Minister of State for Health, Dr Romesh Dutt Sharma, were attending a function.

After the function, both ministers met the protesters and received a memorandum from them. Mr Dogra assured them that he would take up the matter with the Education Minister.


Teachers oppose education policy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 18
Members of the Government Primary Teachers Association, Punjab, at a meeting here today rejected the government’s new education policy.

Mr Gian Chand Nayar, spokesperson for the association, in a press note said the education policy would affect 50,000 primary teachers in the state.

With its implementation, the promotion channel of headteachers, centre headteachers, and block primary education officers would be discontinued and all of them would come under the Director (Secondary).

He said by giving the control of primary education to panchayati raj, the government had tried to privatise it.

The association would hold a dharna in front of the office of the DPI (Primary) in Chandigarh on October 9, he said.


Traders remind govt of poll promises
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 18
Resentment prevails among traders here against the state Congress government’s alleged failure to fulfil poll promises like the abolition of octroi, steps to check harassment of traders at sales tax barriers and putting an end to the “inspector raj”

Members of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, who voted for the Congress in the last Assembly elections, alleged that instead of fulfilling its promise of abolishing octroi, the Congress government had restarted collecting octroi.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, said as the government had failed to fulfil promises they were forced to start an agitation to get their demands accepted.

He said the previous Akali government was “shown the door” as it had taken many anti-trader decisions.

Mr Kapoor said now the Congress government was falling in the footsteps of the previous government.

Mr Kapoor said due to recession they were finding it difficult to run their businesses.

He said to bring the traders of the state on one platform a Beopari conference would be held in the first week of October at Rampura Mandi in the district.

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