Thursday, September 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab may lose central funds
Planning commission flexes muscles
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
With each passing day, Punjab is getting mired in more problems. As it struggles with “political discrimination” by New Delhi on a variety of issues comes the news that the Planning Commission has administered a warning. It has told the state that the “non-utilisation” of money already released under centrally sponsored schemes or by other lending agencies can result in reduced releases under various central sector programmes in future, particularly in the current year, say sources.

For everything that has gone wrong with the state’s finances and economy, the ruling Congress has conveniently placed the blame at the doorstep of the previous Akali-BJP Government. It continues to tumble upon so many skeletons left behind in the cupboards that it now finds itself at a loss to either break from the past or make a fresh beginning. Though the Congress lacks the advantage the Akalis had as part of the NDA setup, it has not been able to implement several of its own key decisions on fiscal reforms, financial management decision on tariff order, tax realisation, imposing user charges and accountability.

The latest alarm bell has been rung by the state Planning Department. It has, say sources, drawn the attention of Finance Minister Lal Singh to the warning given by the the Planning Commission at the last quarterly review meeting. The case relates to the utilisation of money by the state released for various components under various centrally sponsored schemes up to March 31.

It is said a sum of Rs 524.26 crore was released by the Government of India and other financial institutions against an allocation outlay of Rs 934.57 crore. Out of this, only a sum of Rs 314.10 crore was released by the Department of Finance to various administrative departments. This means a sum of Rs 210 crore remained unspent with the state government. These figures are for the financial year 2001-02. A summary statement has been submitted to the Finance Minister. The Chief Secretary is expected to review the situation, say sources.

Though the Department of Planning has arrived at these figures on the basis of information given by various departments and administrative secretaries, it has, however, pointed out that the Department of Finance is the “best judge to see whether this position is correct or not”.

Why has there been non-utilisation of money received? It is openly talked that funds were “diverted” to schemes other than the ones these were intended for by the previous government, which threw the financial management into disarray. The non-release of central money to the administrative departments concerned adversely affected various development schemes. Barring some schemes for which money has been released in the current year, a majority of the schemes have not received any money. The affected schemes pertain to urban and rural development, public works, education, welfare of the Scheduled Castes, agriculture sector, Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojna, nutritional support to the children belonging to poor families etc.


Punjab Govt may change protest venue
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The Congress government in Punjab may not stage dharna outside the residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tomorrow.

The dharna, which has been announced to protest against the Centre’s “apathy” to the demands of Punjab Government regarding farmers, may now be staged at Jantar Mantar in the Capital.

Following his meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with Union ministers in New Delhi, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had announced that he would lead a dharna outside the residence of the Prime Minister after his return from the Maldives. The Chief Minister disagreed that the protest had been planned hurriedly, saying his government had been left with no other alternative. Sources said the party was now having second thoughts about its plan in view of the security restrictions outside the Prime Minister’s residence and yesterday’s terrorist attack in Gandhinagar.

Mr Vajpayee, who reached Gandhinagar from the Maldives today, is expected to return to New Delhi tonight. Party leaders, including PCC chief H.S. Hanspal, today consulted senior AICC leaders about the options before the Congress to stage its protest. Sources said the dharna might now be staged at Jantar Mantar, where the police normally allows protests and demonstrations. The final decision about the venue of the dharna, however, would be taken tomorrow at a meeting convened at the Punjab Bhavan. Capt Amarinder Singh would preside over the meeting. 


CM must quit ‘on ethical grounds’
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 25
Former Finance Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) General Secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh today asked for the resignation of the Punjab Chief Minister on ethical grounds “owning responsibility for the non-declaration of MSP for paddy”.

Expressing shock over the decision of Capt Amarinder Singh to stage a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, he said: “The Congress is trying to cover up for the lax persual of the MSP issue and its own negligence which will have far-reaching consequences for the Punjab farmer”.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh told this correspondent that the ruling party had not taken any initiative for the procurement of paddy by its own procurement agencies like Punsup, Markfed, Food and Supply Department and Punjab Agro.

Coming down heavily on the present regime, he said the government had made no prior arrangements for the procurement of paddy which had led to distress sale of paddy by farmers for the past 15 days.

“The FCI procures only 20 per cent of the produce while the rest is procured by the other state agencies. If the FCI has not decided to procure paddy yet, why cannot the Congress, being the ruling party, ask the state agencies to procure the grain”, he said.

“The Chief Minister should have called an all-party meeting, if the Congress felt that it was not getting any positive response from the Centre. The SAD would have definitely joined the meeting as it was in the interest of Punjab farmers. The MSP and the paddy procurement issue should have been jointly taken up with the Central Government after deciding at a joint party meeting’’ he added.

“The government was in deep slumber when it was the time to frame policies for the smooth procurement of paddy. The CM has chosen to sit on dharna only when the situation has gone from bad to worse,” he pointed out.


Cong gears up for CM’s dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 25
Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh will tomorrow become the first Chief Minister to stage a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in protest against the delay in the announcement of the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and subsequently its procurement by the central agencies.

The whole state Cabinet, all Congress MPs and MLAs along with state party functionaries will participate. “How can the centre try to change the 25-year-old policy on the procurement of foodgrain without taking the farmer’s interests into account. Why the Centre is trying to dismantle the centralised procurement system with multiple procurement policy, which was complicated and anti-farmer,” Mr Surinder Singla, chairman, high-powered Finance Committee, said.

Such a step would be detrimental for the agriculture sector and would cause irreparable loss to farmers. The damage would accentuate as most of the states were facing drought and production of foodgrains had fallen by 16 to 18 per cent this year, he added.


SHSAD men burn paddy as protest
Our Correspondent

Activists of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal burn paddy
Activists of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal burn paddy at Mansa on Wednesday. — Tribune photo 

Mansa, September 25
The paddy procurement issue could snowball into a major controversy as now the farmers led by political parties have started burning paddy as a symbol of protest against the delay in announcement of minimum support price (MSP) of the paddy and its purchase by the various procurement agencies.

A section of farmers and activists of the district led by leaders of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) burnt paddy near the Deputy Commissioner’s offices a symbol of protest against the losses being incurred by them due to the delay in procurement. The Union Government is yet to announce the MSP of the crop, and the farmers were being forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices, fearing losses due to the bad weather and untimely rain, the leaders alleged.

Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, former Punjab Minister, and senior leader of the SHSAD alleged that the farmers were being ‘looted’ by the commission agents. He said this was the first incident in the state in the current paddy procurement season where the farmers had burnt their paddy in protest against the government’s apathy.

Mr Jaswant Singh Phaphre, former Deputy Speaker, Punjab assembly and senior leader of the SHSAD said the Union Government should declare the MSP of paddy at the earliest and it should be put at Rs750 per quintal to make it a profitable crop for farmers. He claimed that any MSP which was lower than Rs 750 would put the farmers in a compelling situation. Many activists of the kisan unions were also present in the dharna held here in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, who was also given a memorandum in this connection.

The SHSAD leaders also opposed the new education policy of the state government and the dismissal of Class IV and anganwadi workers by the Punjab Government.

The leaders said if the procurement of paddy failed to start till September 29, they would stage a dharna opposite the Parliament house on September 30, to press for their demands.


BKU ends dharna on ministers’ assurance
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 25
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) ended its dharna and road blockade here this evening after an assurance from two Punjab Cabinet ministers that arrears amounting to about Rs 80 crore on account of the sugarcane supplied to sugar mills in Punjab, pending for about six months, would be paid by October 15.

Mr Gurtej Singh Bhuller and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, while addressing the gathering here, announced that all arrears would be paid by Dusehra. They lamented that the farmers had to sit in dharna for the payment.

Mr Kang said the financial position of the Punjab Government was not good. He alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal was adopting an ambiguous policy on paddy MSP.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhwowal, president of the BKU announced the end of the 28-hour road blockade. He said it was because of the pressure of the BKU that both the Congress government and the Shiromani Akali Dal were in New Delhi for the cause of the farmers.

He said this was for the first time that any Punjab Government was staging a dharna against the Union Government. He announced that the Rajiv-Longowal agreement was not acceptable to it and cautioned against construction of the SYL canal.


Farmers stop train at Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
Agitating farmers belonging to five organisations today blocked rail traffic here, the hometown of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, for more than an hour. They described the blockade as a “trailer” in preparation of a statewide three-hour “rail roko” programme to be undertaken on September 30 in case the Punjab Government was not able to secure a minimum support price of Rs 760 per quintal for the paddy crop.

Farmers started congregating at the railway station here in tractor-trailers and trucks around noon today and were not stopped from going and sitting in dharna on the railway tracts.

Farmers stopped the Fazilka-Katihar goods train in its tracks just outside the railway station. The Dadar Express was made to wait at Dhuri for some time till the track was cleared. Railway officials said the Ambala-Bathinda passenger train had also been delayed due to the dharna.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Khokrikalan urged the farmers to participate in the “rail roko” programme. He said vehicular traffic would also be stopped at various parts in the state.


3 mini-hydel projects get nod
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
The Punjab Government has finally given its nod to three mini-hydel projects worth Rs 102 crore which are to be taken up at various places on the Bhakra Main Line (BML) Canal in the state by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

Informed sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had given an assurance in this regard to the BBMB recently. The three projects are to be situated at Dhablan and Chanarthal in Patiala district and at Saundha in Ropar district.

The projects, which will have a gestation period of two years, will be taken up by the BBMB with Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal who will get generation share of 48 per cent, 35 per cent, 15 per cent and two per cent, respectively. While a 7.50 MW project will come up at Dhablan, a 5.50 MW project will come up at Chanarthal and a 5.1 MW project has been planned for Saundha.

The fate of these projects had been hanging in balance since 1998. The Punjab Energy Development Authority had made a proposal to tap the hydro-electric potential at these sites in 1998. However, the BBMB had objected to the PEDA proposal to give the projects to private parties. The BBMB then decided to take up the construction of the hydel projects itself and has asked the various states to pool in the money according to their share in the generation.

Punjab State Electricity Board (Generation) member H.S. Sahai, when contacted, said the board had been informed by the BBMB that it had conducted feasibility reports of three projects earlier and that it had not started work on the detailed project report. Mr Sahai said following this central clearances would be sought after which work on the projects could be started.

He said the BBMB had identified around 20 falls in Punjab territory but none of them could be exploited so far. He said the PSEB had identified 123 falls in its own irrigation channels of which four had been exploited at Roti and Thuhi near Nabha, at Nidampur near Bhawanigarh and at Doadra on the Abohar canal. He said there were problems in the projects which had been undertaken on state irrigation channels mainly because the water contained a lot of silt which clogged the machinery and resulted in repeated break-downs. He said this problem, however, not would arise on any project started on the BML canal because it was completely lined.

Meanwhile, six more mini hydel projects have been identified which are in the process of being exploited by PEDA. These are at Behrampur and Pasrain in Ropar district which will be of 8.18 MW and 3.13 MW, respectively, at Dhaintal and Datal in Patiala district which will be of 3.10 MW and 4.27 MW, respectively and at Mukerian and Ropar which will be of 18 MW and two mega watts, respectively.

Meanwhile, the PSEB is also streamlining the working of its present hydel projects. There were problems at some of the projects due to monsoons failure. At one of the projects at Roti near Nabha, hydel generation had been stopped for sometime because of the damage to a gear box. A new gear box has been installed there. Due to rain in the last fortnight the three other mini hydel projects at Thuhi in Nabha, Nidampur in Bhawanigarh and Doadra on the Abohar branch are also working at optimum levels.


Dargah land row takes new turn
SSP may be booked under PP Act
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 25
The controversy over the management rights of “Astana Auliya Dargah Hajrat Baba Sher Shah Wali Peer”, between the Punjab Wakf Board and the “Baba Sher Shah Wali Public Welfare Trust” headed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, has taken a new turn with PWD (B&R) coming out openly against the SSP alleging that their land was being encroached upon by him to extend the premises of the dargah. The department has decided to book the SSP being chairman of the trust, under the Public Premises Act before the Collector’s court. A senior official of the department has been deputed to prepare the legal suit against the police officer and file it in the relevant court.

The PWD (B&R) has issued two notices to the SSP the past couple of months to stop illegal encroachment of their land along the national highway but a visit to the dargah by this correspondent yesterday revealed that construction work on the encroached land was still going on. For the first time, when the matter came to the notice of the PWD that their land along the national highway adjoining the dargah in the Ferozepore cantonment area was being encroached upon, they served a notice on the chairman of the trust on the grounds that it was a violation of the Public Premises Act. He was also given a written warning that if the encroachments were not stopped immediately, the department would file a case against him in the Collector’s court for violation of PP Act. But the construction work continued . The department was again forced to serve a fresh notice on September 20, 2002 before finally deciding to book the SSP.

When contacted, Mr DK Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, of Ferozepore admitted that the construction work on the encroached land was going on along the dargah on the national highway but refused to take action against it until the PWD gave a representation to him claiming that their land was being encroached upon. However, senior officials of the PWD said that a copy of the notice issued to the trust chairman on September 20, 2002 was also forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner for action. According to the copy of the notice forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner, a special note was put up demanding from him to ask the SSP to stop illegal encroachment, otherwise legal proceedings would be initiated against the SSP under the PP Act in the Collector’s court.

Meanwhile, Major Gen BC Khanduri (retd), Union Minister of State for Surface Transport told TNS over telephone that the Union Government had already directed all state governments to remove encroachments along the national highways as per the instructions of the Supreme Court. Regarding the particular encroachment of land by the dargah authorities, he said the ministry would soon take up the matter with the state government to take stern action against the SSP.

On the other hand, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha SSP, was of the view that the trust was beautifying the premises of the dargah. He said the matter was discussed with the officials of the PWD and it was mutually agreed upon that the land belonging to the department would be vacated whenever they planned to expand the road. But officials of the PWD denied this. A senior official of the department said that they had never agreed on the encroachment of the land. The Muslim Welfare Forum also lashed out at the SSP for illegally encroaching the land. 


Let experts do ‘kar seva’: minorities panel
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 25
The kar seva being carried out to repair age-old murals at Gurdwara Baba Atal, and repair work of historical Ramgarhia Bungas in the Golden Temple complex has raked up fresh controversy.

The minorities commission in an SOS to SGPC chief has sought his immediate intervention to stop the repair work which has been going on a war-footing. “The work being carried out in Ramgarhia Bunga should be stopped immediately because they are again destroying history. This is one of the very few places left in the complex which has historical background. Cementing of the floor, roofs and walls will spoil the originality”, reads a fax message of Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-President of the commission. He has also raised a serious objection to the cleanliness drive of 400-year-old “jaalis” on the causeways between Darshani Deori and the Golden Temple which are likely to get scratches in the process.

Art lovers, Dr Santokh Singh Sheharyar and Mr Brij Bedi said that the work should be under the guidance of experts lest the rich Sikh heritage should be lost forever. They said much damage had already been done during the various kar seva carried out in the past.

However, Baba Amrik Singh who supervises the kar seva of Baba Atal claims that all attention was being paid to preserve the age-old Sikh heritage while carrying out the kar seva. He showed the damaged portion of the Baba Atal, the 40-metre high building which require immediate repair. He said glasses of the murals were removed so that the art work could be traced on papers. Shockingly, during the previous kar seva carried out in the year 1992, bathroom tiles had replaced the frescos on the walls of the ground floor which had drawn flak from the art lovers.

Interior walls of the first floor were adorned with murals depicting Sikh history. Less than 100 panels of murals had been left on the first floor of the Baba Atal while rest of them have been obliterated beyond recognition.

However, Baba Amrik Singh said that he was not responsible for the kar seva being carried out inside the historical Ramgarhia Bungas. The interiors of the ‘bungas’ are being repaired with cement which do not synchronise with the old structure. Earlier, the bungas were badly damaged during the Operation Blue Star.

Baba Amrik Singh said the murals in Baba Atal would be repaired with colours and material used by the original artists. The art work is being restored by Harbans Singh and Jaswant Singh who had more than 40 years experience in the field while Pandit Mani, a resident of Bihar, has been helping to restore the building work with lime and the material used by the original artists.


12,000 colonies to be regularised 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Allowances of PUDA staff to be restored

Mr Puri said he had cleared the file pertaining to the restoration of all allowances of PUDA employees. Following a letter by the Chief Secretary to bring the salaries of employees of various public sector undertakings on a par with those of their counterparts in government service, PUDA has withdrawn various special allowances given to employees, thus causing a financial loss ranging between Rs 1,000 to 4,000. Asked what was the hitch in the restoration of scales after the clearance of the file by him, Mr Puri said that “file has come back to him again as the officers concerned wanted to take legal opinion before implementing my order”. However, I feel that there is no need for legal opinion and the order should be implemented. I would send the file back soon to the officers concerned to do the needful. I have already discussed the matter with the Chief Minster.

Chandigarh, September 25
The Punjab Government will regularise 12,000 illegal colonies with a view to streamlining development in urban areas which have witnessed a lot of haphazard growth in the past few years.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahay Puri said that he had got prepared a case in this connection from PUDA. “The file is lying with me. I am studying all legal and other aspects. Haryana has already regularised such colonies. Punjab will do the same in due course”, he said.

Once such illegal colonies were regularised, the residents would be asked to pay development charges to provide proper infrastructure such as roads, sewerage system and drinking water. And as these colonies would come under legal purview, those building houses would be asked to get thebuilding plans approved.

“I would put up the case regarding the regularisation of these colonies before the Council of Ministers, as the ministry’s approval was a must for such a vital decision,” said Mr Puri.

The government would also amend the law to streamline urban development a the existing provisions were very weak. There was only as token fine of Rs 10,000 and imprisonment for a few years. So, people violating the law get away after paying the fine in most of the cases. But the government wanted that provisions of the law should be made more strict so that no one could dare to build the house illegally in any part of the urban settlement.

The government would be very liberal in the issuance of licences to private colonisers for the development of colonies in urban areas. At present PUDA as well as the Improvement Trusts have near monopoly over the development of colonies in various urban areas.


Policeman dupes colleague
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 25
In a rare incident, a Head Constable was duped of Rs 2 lakh by his colleague.

According to information, Om Parkash, Head Constable in the Punjab police and a resident of Police Colony, Ajnala Road, in his complaint alleged that Ashok Kumar of the same locality and also a policeman and his wife Manju Bala has duped him of Rs 2 lakh. He said the accused promised him to send his brother-in-law Paramjit Singh to Canada. The deal settled for Rs 7 lakh.

He said he had given them an advance of Rs 2 lakh, but, the accused never sent his brother-in-law to Canada. The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Sections 420, 34 of the IPC.

The district police today caught Narinder Singh here for allegedly possessing a fake passport. he was going to England.

Mr D. Baro, Immigration Officer at Rajasansi airport in his complaint alleged that the accused had pasted his photograph on the passport of one Darbar Singh, a resident of England, but the immigration department succeeded to detect the fraud. A case has been registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471,120-B of the IPC at Rajasansi police station.


Ex-minister’s family alleges misbehaviour
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 25
Family members of Sandeep Singh, son of late Punjab minister Teja Singh Dhillon, who was booked for attempt to murder, on Monday said here yesterday that he was falsely implicated in the case. They also alleged that the SP (City) on the pretext of searching their house misbehaved with them.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur, mother of Sandeep Singh, alleged that the SP(City), Mr Nilabh Kishore came along with a police party to their residence on Monday and told her that their house was to be searched. She alleged that the police did not have a search warrant.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur further alleged that the police took away their servant to know about the whereabouts of Sandeep Singh. She alleged that the person, on whose complaint Sandeep Singh was booked in a false case, had conspired with the police and gave wrong information to the SP.

Ms Amardeep Kaur, sister of Sandeep Singh, alleged that the SP (City) twisted the arm of their servant and asked him about whereabouts of Sandeep. She alleged that the police officer was not bearing any nametag and he refused to disclose his identity.

She alleged that their servant was still in the custody of the police. She said after the search was over the police asked her sister-in-law (wife of Sandeep) to sign some papers in which it was mentioned that the police did not find anything.

Mr Nilabh Kishore on the other hand said the police party had not gone to the house of Sandeep Singh to arrest him or know about his whereabouts in connection with a case registered against him. He said they had gone there to get some documents from Rajinder Kaur in connection with a case registered against her under Section 420 of the IPC.

He refuted the allegation of misbehaviour with Rajinder Kaur or other family members and termed these as an attempt to malign the image of police. Mr Kishore said there was no need to arrest the servant, as the person whom the police wanted to question (Sandeep’s mother) was present. He said the family members refused to submit the required documents that the police demanded from them in connection with case registered against Rajinder Kaur.


Pherurai must surrender: brother
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
“My brother should surrender and present his side of the story since the Vigilance Bureau and the police are bent on fabricating evidence against him taking advantage of his disappearance. This would also ease the pressure on our relatives who have been forced to go underground since the police and vigilance raids,” says Gurmail Singh, a younger brother of former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai who is on the run following registration of cases for amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income during his service. Gurmail is also an accused in the case along with Inderjit Kaur and Gurjit Singh, the wife and son of Pherurai, respectively.

Following the disappearance of the former cop along with his family members, the Jagraon police on September 23 announced a award of Rs 1 lakh for information about the whereabouts of the absconding cop and had also released documentary proof that he had amassed “nami” and “benami” property worth Rs 20 crore. The recovery of over Rs 54 lakh from several Raikot-based commission agents, who were allegedly being used by the accused for laundering his ill-gotten wealth, was also disclosed. The cops had also recovered Rs 5.20 lakh of fake currency from one of his houses in Pherurai village.

Talking to TNS at a predetermined location, Gurmail Singh, attired in a kurta pyjama and sporting a safa, said the police was out to fix them and asserted that the assets disclosed by the cops were false. “Contrary to facts, we belong to well-to-do family and had more than 35 acres of land in 1934. Subsequently, we kept on expanding our ancestral land in the ensuing years and now own about 120 acres which are all accounted for,” he revealed.

Reading from a list prepared by their father, Mr Lal Singh, years ago, Gurmail said the two-storeyed palatial house in the village was built in 1934 at the cost of just Rs 15,000 which had then been evaluated in lakhs. Similarly, the real estate bought jointly by the family more than 20-25 years ago — much before his brother became the Ferozepore SSP — had then been appreciated. The police was not taking this angle into consideration and evaluating the property at the current market price, he added.

Dismissing the claims of the recovery of fake currency, he alleged that the same had been planted by the cops. “The police had checked everything twice during separate raids but had recovered nothing, then where did the money come from now? It was an afterthought on the part of the cops. I could have easily removed the same during my two visits to the house during the past fortnight,” he pointed out.

Regarding the money recovered from the commission agents, he clarified that “only Rs 10 lakh belong to his family — all accounted for — and Rs 20 lakh was given to the agents by the in-laws (residents of Burj Hakiman village) of the former SSP. I do not know whom the remaining money belongs to,” he added.

He stated that their brother Gurtej Singh, who died in June, had separated from them in 1990 and had been living with his family in Ludhiana since then. “Now the cops are pressuring them to reveal our whereabouts and causing harrasment to them along with our relatives,” he disclosed.

He said he had been in hiding and was out-of-touch with his brother. “I last met him about a month ago. “I personally feel that he should come out with the truth and save everyone from further problems,” he added.

He, however, expressed ignorance about the money paid to the then PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu for securing jobs for his nephew and niece. “My brother is the right person for answering such questions,” he added.

It may be recalled that the police has established that Rs 1 crore was recently withdrawn from some of the bank accounts of the former SSP and his close relatives.

Till date the police has no definite clues about the whereabouts of Pherurai and his family members but a look-out notice has been sent to international airports to prevent his flight from the country.


Punjab jails in for marked changes

Amritsar, September 25
The prison administration in Punjab is in for a marked change with the launch of a scheme to improve existing facilities for inmates.

The Participative Management Scheme, introduced by the state’s jail department, aims at improving food quality, medicare and other facilities for the inmates.

Punjab Additional Director- General (Prisons) Izhar Alam, here on a routine inspection of Amritsar Central Jail, told PTI that the scheme would bring in changes in the functioning of the jail kitchen to serve quality food to prisoners.

To make the scheme successful in its real sense, the ADGP said a body of undertrials and convicts was being formed which would work in tandem with the jail administration to check food items, both quality-wise and quantity-wise.

Besides, the elected body would check the functioning of the jail hospital. It would see whether medicines prescribed for the inmates were being delivered and patients attended to properly. Necessary steps were being taken to improve cultural, religious and sports activities, Mr Alam said.

To have first- hand information about the impact of the scheme, he said he would personally visit all jails throughout the state and interact with the inmates.

Mr Alam said now all medical tests on the prisoners would be conducted inside the jails, adding that all suspected aids patients would have to undergo the tests.

To purify minds of the inmates, the Punjab Jail Department had already introduced yoga classes and the Art of Living course in all jails.

On the old Jalandhar jail which has been overcrowded, he said the prison would be shifted from the city. Talks in this regard were already on with concerned authorities, the ADGP said. Mr Alam said to make jails pollution-free throughout the state, the use of wood and coal fuels would be done away with and LPG would be used for cooking.

To curb the increasing drug menace in the jails, he said strict measures had been taken like surprise check of all visitors. Errant jail wardens had been booked, he added.

“It is my best endeavour to make all jails in Punjab as model prisons on par with the best in the world. But revenue is the main constraint. To overcome this, all efforts, including modernisation of factory units in jails, will be made to increase revenue from the sale of products manufactured in these units,” Mr Alam said. PTI


Cong responsible for Gujarat situation: BJP
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 25
Mr Ramzaan Khan, president, All-India Minority Community Cell of the BJP, has underlined the need for destroying the militant camps across the border to check the activities of the infiltrators. There was no other alternative and stringent measures should be taken, he said.

Mr Khan who was on a tour to mobilise party workers of the state was talking to mediapersons at Kotkapura, 12 km from here today. He admitted that due to the NDA agenda, his party was unable to decide the matter regarding the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. However, if the BJP came into power in the next Lok Sabha elections on its own it would review the situation said Mr Khan. Categorically denying any leavings towards the Vishav Hindu Parishad, he said the Ram Mandir Babri Masjid issue would be sorted out amicably through dialogue between the Muslim and Hindu communities.

Lashing out at the Congress for playing with the sentiments of minority communities Mr Khan held the Congress responsible for deterioration of law and order situation in Gujarat. He said the Gujarat Government would follow the order of the Supreme Court for holding Assembly elections in the state.

Mr Khan admitted that there was some misunderstanding between the Muslims and the BJP over its some policies but it would be settled at the earliest, he said. A meeting of the senior BJP and Muslim leaders would be held in New Delhi on October 7 to sort out the issue.


Sack Modi govt, Channi urges
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 25
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MP from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency, has demanded the immediate dismissal of the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat and the imposition of President’s rule there.

In a press note by his office today, Mr Channi condemned the killing of innocent persons, including women and children at Akshardham temple in Gandhi Nagar by terrorists. He alleged that the Modi government had failed in protecting lives of common people in the state. He criticised the gaurav yatra of Mr Modi and said it had sent wrong signals to the people of the minority community on account of which terrorists were trying to foment communal trouble there. 


Mayor flouts house renovation rules
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
The cash strapped local Municipal Corporation has once again landed in controversy for allegedly spending nearly Rs 5 lakh on the renovation and air-conditioning of the office and residence of the Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, without seeking the mandatory approval of the MC House and inviting bids three months in advance.

SAD-BJP combine councillors have demanded that the state Local Bodies Department should order a Vigilance inquiry against the Mayor and the officials concerned for embezzlement of funds. Besides, the contractor, who had executed the work “illegally”, should be blacklisted, they say.

In a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary, Department of Local Bodies, which was released to the press here today, the SAD-BJP councillors alleged that Mr Mahey had instructed the officials concerned to get the renovation work worth about Rs 5 lakh done by a contractor known to him.

Mr Kanwaljeet Singh Gandhi, an Akali councillor, alleged that while two split air-conditioners worth Rs 1.30 lakh, a carpet and new furniture were purchased “illegally” for the comfort of the Mayor, about Rs 1 lakh was spent on other renovation works, including white-washing of his residence and the office, without inviting tenders.

Accusing the Congress-controlled MC of allotting tenders for various development projects to its favourite contractors by throwing all norms to the wind, the memorandum demanded that the Local Bodies Department should order a Vigilance inquiry against the Mayor and the MC officials for alleged financial irregularities in this regard. 


PSEB told to pay 10,000 as relief
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 25
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Kharar, to pay Mr Bhikhari Lal, a resident of Kharar, Rs 10,000 as compensation.

Mr Bhikhari Lal, in a complaint, had urged the forum to direct the PSEB to restore his power connection and also to pay him compensation to the tune of Rs 50,000 for mental/physical torture and agony, suffered owing to deficiency in service and negligence on the part of the PSEB authorities.

In its order, the forum, comprising Mr J.P. Gupta, president Mr S.K. Bhatia and Mrs M.K. Chawla, both members, allowed the complaint against the PSEB, Kharar with cost quantified at Rs 1,000. The forum also asked the PSEB to comply with the order within 30 days from the date of receipt of certified copies of the judgement, failing which the amount of compensation awarded would also carry interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum till realisation.

As per the case history, Bhikhari Lal had a power connection bearing account No. CK 62/2150 (wrongly typed as OK 622150) meter No. 3179633 though the name had been wrongly mentioned as Bhandari Lal. He received the bill dated January 22, 2002, for Rs 4135 for the period May 31, 2001 to January 4, 2002. However, the PSEB, Kharar, after checking the record accepted amount of Rs 2508 against Rs 4135 well before the due date but still power supply was disconnected on March 14, 2002, followed by another bill for Rs 494 for the period January 4, 2002, to March 4, 2002, which amount too he had deposited in time. The supply had been disconnected as above without any prior notice and without any reason leading to negligence on the part of the PSEB, Kharar, resulting in great hardship, and it had not been restored despite various visits.

On the other hand, the PSEB in a written statement to the forum sought to dismiss the complaint with costs, stating connection bearing above numbered account came in to being on the application of the complainant along with a deposit of Rs 1140 for the change of khata from the name of his father Khilawan Ram though name of the complainant was wrongly mentioned as Bhandari Lal and that bills were also issued accordingly in the name of Bhandari Lal. Advice was sent to the Computer Cell, PSEB, Chandigarh, accordingly in the month of May 2001 and the account of Ram Khilawan Ram (bearing No: CK 62/930) was to be deleted but was not deleted and in routine, bills were issued. Since no payment was made (in old khata) a balance of Rs 1194 accumulated on which TDCO was issued on January 18, 2002, effected on the even date followed by the issuance of subsequent TDCO effected on March 14, 2002. However, mistake as above was the result of inadvertence.

The PSEB in its reply raised certain objections, namely the complaint was not maintainable in the form it was presented and complaint did not lie as there was no deficiency in service on its part.

After hearing the arguments, the forum observed that facts showed that disconnection came in being by all means for no fault on the part of the complainant decisively leading to deficiency in service on the part of the PSEB. It also observed that since the connection had been restored on August 1, 2002, during the pendency of the proceedings, so prayer for direction for reconnection thus had become infructuous. However, in connection with deficiency in service on the part of the PSEB, the forum directed the PSEB to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation to the complainant.


Govt ordered to set up high-powered panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The Punjab Government should constitute a high-powered committee, consisting of academicians and administrators for going into the issue of establishing a government college for economically weaker sections of society at Amritsar — a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled.

In a ruling, the Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, said the appropriate decision should be taken within three months.

In their detailed order, the Judges added: “A report prepared on the basis of deliberations made by the committee should be placed before the court at the end of three months and the case should be listed on December 19 for consideration of the report”.


Editor remanded in rape case
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 25
The Sadar police has arrested Harwinder Singh Bawa, Editor of a Punjabi monthly, UPI Sandesh, and his wife, Sarabjit Kaur, on the charge of raping a minor Dalit girl of Chuharwal village near the town. The girl was allegedly raped by Bawa.

In a pressnote issued today, Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said the couple were arrested on Monday following the registration of a case under Sections 376, 342, 506 and 120-B of the IPC on a complaint lodged by the girl.

Bawa and his wife were yesterday produced in the court of Mr A.L. Khichi, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, who remanded them in police custody till September 28.


AITUC holds protest march
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 25
Members of the district unit of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), led by Mr Raj Kumar Tiwari, district unit president of the union today took out a protest march from the old bus stand to the district administrative complex here against the alleged anti-employee policies of the Centre and the State government.

The protesters later held a rally near the district administrative complex which was addressed among others by Mr Bant Singh Brar, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the AITUC; Mr Raj Kumar Tiwari and Mr Mehnga Ram, president and general secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the AITUC, Mr Sukhdev Singh, district unit president of the Class IV Government Employees Union, and Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma, President of the PSEB Employees’ Federation (AITUC).

Speakers asked the government to stop the privatisation of the state electricity boards, coal mines, roadways, and banks.

Later representatives of the protesters submitted a memorandum to the district administration to be forwarded to the Punjab Chief Minister.


Army recruitment rally from Oct 7
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
The Army will organise a six-day rally to recruit soldiers under the clerk, technical and general duty categories at Abohar from October 7.

In a defence press note issued here today, an Army spokesman said the candidates belonging to Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda districts, would be eligible for recruitment. Besides, the candidates should have passed matriculate examination with 45 per cent marks in aggregate.

While those, who would be appearing for recruitment as soldier (general duty) should be between 16 to 21 years of age, the age limit for the soldier (clerk) and soldier (technical) categories would be 16 to 23 years, the spokesman added.

The wards of ex-servicemen should bring along their fathers’ discharge book or a copy of the Daily Order as a proof. The candidates should bring their caste certificate, duly attested marks sheet, educational qualification certificates, character certificate and residential proof certificate in original and two sets of duly attested photocopies of each, he said.


Noormahalias put off function
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
Tempers which were running high for quite sometime between some Sikh organisations, including the SGPC and the Noormahalia sect over holding of a religious function scheduled to be held here tomorrow, got cooled down, with the latter postponing the function till the next week.

Mr Chaman Lal, in-charge of the local centre of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, announced that keeping in view killings of devotees by terrorists in a temple in Gujarat yesterday and the call for a nationwide bandh by various religious and social organisations, they decided to postpone their weekly religious gathering scheduled for tomorrow at a Municipal park here till the next week. 


Tohra to join Left Parties’ “rail roko”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The coordination committee of the CPI and CPM today decided to hold a “rail roko” agitation on September 28 in Punjab to press the Union Government to immediately announce the minimum support price for paddy and Rs 100 per quintal as bonus to compensate the increased cost of production because of drought.

Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab CPI, said the SHSAD headed by Mr G.S. Tohra would also join the agitation. Mr Tohra would lead a dharna at Rajpura. Mr Tohra had instructed all his party units in the state to join the agitation.


Punjab employees to hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
A meeting of members of the Nav Nukat Mulazam Talmel Committee was held at the Rose Garden, Chandigarh, today, according to its general secretary, Mr Bhupinder Singh Somal.

He said at the meeting it was decided to hold a rally at the Matka chowk on September 28 in protest against the move of the Punjab Government to sack 4,700 employees selected by the Punjab Services Selection Board during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government.


Hearing on Kang’s bail plea adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 25
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, today adjourned the hearing on the anticipatory bail application of Kang till tomorrow. The application was filed by Kiranbir Singh Kang, senior Youth Akali leader of the SAD in connection with the murder of two Dalit children whose bodies were found floating in a pond of Saiu village near Kharar on June 22, 2001.

On the criminal complaint of Mr Dhani Ram, father of one of the two Dalit children, the Chief Judicial Magistrate had recently issued non-bailable warrants against Kang. On September 18, Kang filed an anticipatory bail application in the court of the Sessions Judge.


Kohar’s remand extended

Jalandhar, September 25
A city court today extended the judicial remand of former minister and sitting Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Ajit Singh Kohar for 14 days.

Mr Kohar was produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) A.S. Garewal, who extended his judicial custody for 14 days. He will be produced before the court on October 9.

Mr Kohar’s counsel complained to the court that his client was threatened and forced by certain Vigilance Department officials to sign a written statement. The CJM took note of the complaint and asked the Vigilance Department counsel to approach the court if any information from Mr Kohar was needed. PTI


Two killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 25
One person and a child were killed and three others were injured in an accident near Pindi village, about 50 km from here, last night.

Zail Singh (32), a lineman of the PSEB, and resident of Jhok Depolana village was killed when his car rammed into the rear of a truck. Baldev Raj (30) an assistant lineman, his brother Mangat Ram (36) and his wife Rani Devi were injured while Jeenu daughter of Mangat Ram was killed. 


Shop gutted
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 25
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a devastating fire which broke out in a cloth shop at the Bhumsi Maler mohalla last night. The shop was gutted in the fire, which reportedly started due to a short circuit. According to information, the shop was owned by Mohammad Yaseen.

Fire fighters were called from Sangrur as the local Fire Brigade expressed helplessness due to staff shortage, but they failed to turn up. It took four hours to extinguish the fire.


Newspaper distributors’ office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
Mr Puneet Bhaseen has been unanimously elected as president of the newly formed Punjab Newspapers Distributors’ Association at a meeting of the district units of the association held here today.

The patron of the association Mr Braham Dev Kapur, in a press note, said Mr Parkash of Ludhiana was elected chairman, Mr Roshan Lal of Amritsar and Mr Baldev Raj Kapur were elected as chief patron and general secretary, respectively, of the association.


Punjab gets 2.88 cr crop grant
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 25
The Punjab government has planned to bring over 2 lakh hectares of land under cultivation of barley, pulses, oild seeds, toria and sunflower crops under its crop diversification programme to improve the economic condition of the farmers.

A subsidy of Rs 200 per quintal for seeds of each crop will be given to the agriculturists under the macro-management scheme of the Central Government. About 90 per cent of the total expenditure of Rs 3.20 crore will be incurred by the Central Government and the remaining by the state government in this connection. A Central grant of Rs 2.88 crore has already been received, Dr Dinesh Chander Jain, Joint Director, High Yielding Variety Programme, said while addressing a district-level farmers’ training camp here today.

A subsidy of 25 per cent would also be given to the growres on the supply of chloropyriphos. To make the programme effective, district, block and village-level camps would be organised by the Agriculture Development Officers and Block Development Officers who would also train the farmers in the use of latest methods for sowing and cultivation of the crops.

Dr Jain said a high-powered committee meeting chaired by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Agriculture, organised at Chandigarh last week had assigned the job to the Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation for the purchase of the produce and generating markets. Mr A Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, and Dr Sekhon, Chief Agriculture Officer, Faridkot, also spoke on the occasion.


Old Home Guard office to be auctioned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
The old Home Guard office as well as the Civil Surgeon workshop situated in its complex adjoining The Mall has been taken over by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and the process to auction it off has started.

Disclosing this, PUDA Additional Administrator Hussan Lal disclosed that the entire complex, which is situated in an area of around 3.5 acres, had been taken over under the optimum utilisation of vacant government land scheme which had been framed during the tenure of the last government.

Mr Lal disclosed that the area would be auctioned on a chunk basis for either a hotel, corporate office, multiplex or institution. He said PUDA had fixed a reserve price of around Rs 10 crore taking the value at Rs 7,500 per yard.

He said the buyer would be allowed flexible use of the property. Recently the Civil Surgeon workshop as well as the PWD Employees Union office had been transferred out of the area.


8 vehicles recovered from thieves
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
The district police has busted a 10-member inter-district gang of vehicle thieves with the arrest of its five members and recovered eight stolen vehicles from their possession.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP, said here today that they had received a tip-off that a gang of auto-theives was active in the rural areas of the district and was openly selling stolen vehicles by fabricating the documents.

Subsequently, a naka was laid at the Mehatpur-Sanghowal road last night and two motorcyclists were stopped. Both of them, identified as Kulwant Singh and Gurmit Singh, revealed during questioning, that they were the part of a 10-member gang involved in the vehicles theft.

The revelations led to the recovery of seven stolen vehicles from their respective houses and subsequent arrest of three other members of the gang identified as Dalip Singh, Boota Singh and Mangal Singh.

Mr Gill further said the remaining five members of the gang were identified as Sohan Singh, Jagga Singh, Darshan Singh, Jagdish Singh and Meeta. Special police parties had been deputed to arrest them.

The arrested persons were being produced in a court of the magistrate.


4 booked for cheating
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur September 25
Four persons were booked and one arrested on allegations of duping one Gurdev Singh on the pretext of sending his son to the USA.

Mr Gurdev Singh alleged that Jaspal Singh of Indira Colony, Pathankot, lured him to pay Rs 80,000 for making documents for his son, Vikramjit Singh, for sending him abroad. Later, Rs 9 lakh was allegedly paid to process the documents by his step-sister, Prithipal Kaur of Mumbai. When more money was demanded by two of their accomplices, Gurdev Singh reported the matter to the police. Jaspal Singh has been arrested.


Gruesome murder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
In a gruesome incident, a 30-year-old woman was murdered and put into a gunny bag which was thrown among bushes near the Chhoti nadi here. Police sources disclosed that the gunny bag was discovered this morning when a person went near the bushes to answer the call of nature. The gunny bag aroused suspicion because a foul smell was emanating from it. The sources said the hands and legs of the body had been tied with ropes and that it had also been partly burnt. A case has been registered in Kotwali police station.


Punjabi to be taught in all Delhi schools
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
The Delhi Industry Minister, Mr Deep Chand Bandhu, said here yesterday that Punjabi would be taught in all Delhi schools where more than 11 students expressed a desire to learn the language.

Talking to newsmen after attending a seminar on ‘’future of Indian industry’’ organised by the Guru Harkrishan College of Management and Technology, Mr Bandhu said his government was committed to propagating Punjabi in the state.

Mr Bandhu disclosed that three more industrial areas were being developed at Narela, Rohtak Road and Rohini. The government had already distributed 16,000 plots in the Bawwan industrial belt, he added.

Earlier, speaking at the seminar college chairman Jagjit Singh Dardi, who said serious efforts needed to be made to make industries more pollution friendly according to global trends.


M.Ed restarted in govt college
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 25
The local Government College of Education has re-introduced the Masters of Education (M.Ed) course from the current academic session after a gap of three years.

In an official note issued here today, the Principal of the college, Mr Bal Krishan, said the written test and interviw would take place of September 30.

He said the M.Ed course, which was introduced in the college in the year 1955-56, was discontinued in 1999-2000 following the imposition of new administrative policies.

The Government College of Education was one of the oldest educational institutions in the Northern India. It was shifted from Lahore to Jalandhar after Partition.


Mid-day meal for schools
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 25
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said the mid-day meal scheme would be launched in 109 Government Primary Schools of the block. Speaking at a meeting of schools heads at Goniana Mandi. Mr Verma said cooked food would be served in the schools. The food would be cooked by professionals and tenders for the same would be called soon.

Mr Verma said the trials would be conducted for 50 days.

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