Friday, September 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



State to make back reference to HC
Removal of 1998 batch PCS (Judicial) officers
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Punjab Government has decided to make a back reference to the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek certain clarifications and make queries in respect of the removal from service of PCS (Judicial) officers of the 1998 batch. The government, however, has decided to implement the direction of the high court in respect of PCS (Judicial) officers of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 batches, according to authoritative sources.

All these selections were made during the tenure of Mr Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu as PPSC Chairman.

Following investigation by the Vigilance Bureau, the high court had withdrawn all work from these judicial officers, including the daughter of a judge, on August 12 after a full court meeting. A week later, it recommended the removal of all PCS (Judicial) officers, including those awaiting posting orders.

The Department of Personnel has been processing the case since mid-August. It was then put up to Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra, who sent the file to the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, recommending the issuing of orders for removal from service of these officers. The matter was discussed at the level of the Chief Minister where it was decided to refer back to the high court the case of the 1998 batch because there was no evidence of any “tainted” officer. The court has also written to the government asking as to why the PCS (Judicial) posts should not be withdrawn from the purview of the PPSC, placing the same under the high court. 


Trading of charges mars ‘gurgaddi divas’
Our Correspondent

Khadoor Sahib (Tarn Taran), September 26
Even as the Congress and Akali leaders traded charges against each other at their political conferences held here to mark the “gurgaddi divas” of Guru Angad Dev the police had to resort to a mild lathi-charge to control Congress workers, who went berserk when Punjabi singer Satwinder Bitti started her programme. She was engaged to pull the crowd for the political conference.

Addressing the Akali conference, Mr Parkash Singh Badal lambasted Capt Amarinder Singh for adopting confrontationist attitude with the Central Government. He alleged that by doing so Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to cover up his “mistake” of failing to plead the case of paddy growers regarding the announcement of minimum support price.

Flaying Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Badal said he was hand-in-glove with the Congress to defame Akali Dal.

The Akali leaders, including Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura — all former Akali ministers and Mr Manjit Singh Manna, Akali MLA, criticised the Congress for allegedly interfering in the Sikh affairs.

However, the SHSAD conference, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, was poor as compare to the impressive SAD gathering. Mr Tohra alleged that Mr Badal had denigrated Akal Takht and Sikh tenets during his five-year rule as Chief Minister. Mr Ranjit Singh Chhajjalwadi, a former MLA who represented the Khadoor Sahib constituency was conspicuous by his absence, while Mr Prem Singh Lalpura presided over the conference.

On the other hand, except for Mr Buta Singh, a former Union Home Minister, and Mr Sardul Singh Bandala, Cabinet Minister, no senior leader of the party attended the political conference today. However, the Congress leaders condemned the alleged anti-farmer policies of the Central Government.

The CPI and BSP(A) also held their conferences on the occasion.


New Akali Dal by Nov: Tohra
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 26
While denying reported differences among the various constituents of the Panthic Morcha over the formation of a new Akali dal, former SGPC chief and a senior morcha leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra today stated that they were preparing a comprehensive draft in this regard and the new akali dal would be constituted positively by November.

Mr Tohra, while addressing a press conference here, said they had decided to hold a Panthic conference very soon where the convener of the morcha, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, would announce the name of the president of the proposed Akali Dal, after consulting the leaders of the various constituents of the morcha.

He reiterated that even former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal could join the proposed akali dal only after tendering an unconditional apology before the Akal Takht and reinstalling of Bhai Ranjit Singh as its Jathedar. “The new akali dal will act as a major political force to oust the anti-people Congress government”, Mr Tohra added.

He denied that there was any difference among the various constituents of the morcha and said he was misinterpreted in a section of the media recently where he was quoted as saying that he had nothing to do with the morcha.

Even as the SAD (Amritsar) chief and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, had time and again asserted that he was not part of the morcha, Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, who was sitting alongside Mr Tohra, tried to clarify by saying that as on date SAD(A) was a constituent of the morcha since Mr Mann has never discussed the issue of disassociation with him so far.

Attacking Mr Badal for his alleged role in getting the announcement of the MSP for paddy delayed, Mr Tohra said he was playing cheap politic by prevailing upon the BJP-led Central Government on the issue.


MSP disappointing, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Reacting sharply to the Union Government's decision to retain the minimum support price of paddy at last year's level, the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, described it as "disappointing and inadequate".

It may be mentioned that the Punjab Government had sought Rs 660 per quinta lfor common and Rs 726 per quintal for grade-A variety. Later,it had sought Rs 100 per quintal as bonus because of the increase in the input cost on paddy due to drought. Mr Badal said that he would rush to Delhi to take up the issue with the Prime Minister and request him to revise the MSP as the cost of production had gone up manifold this year because of the drought.

However, the Commission in a separate report yesterday had also recommended bonus on paddy because of the increased cost of production owing to drought but the Union Government has remained silent on this issue.

Blaming the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for not presenting Punjab's case regarding the MSP properly, Mr Badal said that in August the Chief Minster kept himself busy in Scotland and the USA.

He said that for the distress sale in the past days, the Chief Minister was responsible.The state government could procure paddy on last year's msp through its agencies,butdid not do so,thus allowing private traders to fleece farmers.

Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the state Unit of the CPI, rejecting the MSP announced by the Union Government, said it amounted to playing a joke on the farming community.

He said the WTO had not allowed the Union Government to increase the MSP. The Vajpayee government had submitted before the wishes of the WTO regime, he added. Expressing similar views, Prof Balwant Singh, Secretary of the state unit of the CPM, said the Vajpayee Government was anti-farmer. The left parties leader said they would revise their strategy to intensify the agitation on MSP and paddy procurement.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, senior leaders of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, said the BJP government had humiliated the farmers by not increasing the MSP. They said the farmers were expecting a substantial hike in the msp but the government had dashed their hopes.

The three main groups of the BKU led by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann and Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur said that their ongoing agitation would continue. Another group of five kisan organisations, which ison a dharna at Patiala, said the Centre was playing into the hands of the anti-farmer lobby. Mr Maghar Singh Kulrian said that the farmers, who were under debt, would be financial hit further because of non -increase in the MSP.


Govt move blow to farmers: BKU (E)
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
Farmers here seem to be doubly cursed. Even as debt, drought and agitations have failed to impress the government to accept their demands, the new proposal of the Union Government to charge 7.5 per cent of the 11.5 per cent taxes imposed on farm produce from the farmers has added insult to their injury.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, Punjab Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), in a statement issued here today alleged that the state and the Central governments were implementing anti-farmer policies under pressure of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The additional burden on farmers would benefit the government by Rs 500 crore while the farmers would lose Rs 42 per quintal less in the MSP. He pointed out that the state government had Rs 236 crore in the relief fund and had also received a grant of Rs 100 crore from the Centre, but failed to release even a single rupee for the affected farmers. He said that the state government was not paying Rs 93 crore to the farmers for the sugarcane purchased last year.

Speaking on behalf of five farmers’ organisations, Mr Kokri Kalan said it had been decided at a state-level meeting of the unions held today that a ‘rail roko’ dharna would be held all over Punjab and rail and road traffic jammed on September 30 from 12 noon to 3 pm.

He demanded that all pending payments of the farmers should be released immediately and the MSP of sugarcane announced at Rs 125 per quintal, and that of paddy at Rs 760.


MBBS students prefer money to ethics: survey
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 26
A seven-member team of the local doctors conducted a survey on 100 out of 600 students who were selected for different medical courses particularly in MBBS and BDS during a counselling organised by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, last month. A team comprising Dr Harmesh Mittal, Dr Ramnik Sidhu, Dr Rohini Mehta, Dr Vikas Setia, Dr Samir and Dr Harjot Singh found that students wanted to earn more money.

This strange trend among the participants came to light while giving them a questionnaire on different related issues. Nearly 90 per cent of the candidates wanted to join these courses only to earn their livelihood. Half of the aspirants preferred to start their own practice rather than to seek government jobs. Some of them wished to become an IAS and IPS officer.

While talking to the reporter here yesterday students of both BDS and MBBS, including Ms Navjot Kaur, Mr Aditya Khichi and Mr Avinash Garg admitted that the medical profession was meant for serving the humanity but the money power had compelled them to change their views. Moreover, parents of a medical student spends lakhs of rupees on their studies. A student had to deposit a fee of Rs 2 lakh yearly in a private institution to complete PG course as against Rs 22,000 in government institutions. To get admission under NRI quota the aspirant had to spend Rs 37 lakh. Some students demanded that the reservation quota should also be minimised so that students getting higher rank could avail the chance.

Dr S.P.S. Sodhi, Assistant Professor, Dashmesh Institute of Dental Sciences, said private institutes running medical courses should be closed immediately. He further stated that the reservation should be allotted on economic basis. A senior doctor of the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital said doctors had to grease the palm of officers of a particular department to get their work done.

Dr R.C. Garg and Dr Puneet Girdha, state president of the Indian Medical Association and Dental Services Association, respectively, underlined the need to make the new generation aware of the medical ethics. Dr P.S. Sandhu, an ophthalmologist and Registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, laid stress on increasing the seats in government institutions for the welfare of students. Steps should also be taken to provide free education to the poor. Mushrooming of private institutions particularly in this field should be stopped.


Truckers allege bungling in NFL tenders
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
A number of truck operators shouted slogans near the administrative office of the local National Fertilisers Limited, as the officials of the unit did not open the tenders for the transportation of fertilisers scheduled for today, allegedly to favour some of the bidders.

The truckers alleged that although the time for opening the tenders was 3 pm but officials concerned did not allow them to enter the office till 3.30 pm which they alleged was done to favour some of the bidders. They alleged that although the officials should have started the process of opening the tenders, but they delayed the same on the pretext that they were awaiting the orders of the court as a case had been filed by some of the truckers for getting a stay on opening of the tenders. The officials of plant had invited the Punjab police personnel, as they feared that the situation could take an ugly turn.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, Vice-President, Truck Operators Union of the city, alleged that the officials wanted to give the tender to particular truck operators therefore they did not open the tenders as per schedule. He alleged that the awaiting of orders of court was only an excuse.

Mr Gurmukh Singh, cashier of the union, said an employee of the NFL plant who was present in the court had allegedly asked the officials to delay the opening of the tenders by using the mobile phone of the party, NFL officials allegedly wanted to favour.

However, he alleged that if the officials had no intention for favouring particular persons, they might have opened the tenders as per schedule. He said the court order was passed after 4 pm which stated that if the tenders were not opened by that time, status quo should be maintained.

The truck operators who were shouting slogans against the administration wanted to meet the General Manger of the plant, but the security personnel did not allow them. They security personnel also did not allow mediapersons to meet the General Manager.

The General Manager said as the case was prejudice, therefore the tenders were not opened. He said they were waiting for the decision of the court. He said only one representative of each party that had filed the tenders was allowed to enter inside the office. He also refuted the charges that the bidders were not allowed to enter the office till 3.30 pm. He also said the allegations of favouritism were baseless. He said he had not asked the security personnel not to allow the mediapersons to meet him.


Board authorities seize 116 help books
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 26
Mr C.S. Gill, district manager, Punjab School Education Board, Textbook sale depot led a team of officials who raided Shaheed Sipahi Sandeep Singh Government Senior Secondary School here and seized as many as 116 help books which were allegedly being used to teach students instead of using books prescribed by the board authorities.

Sources said instead of teaching students the books published and recommended by the PSEB teachers of certain schools had been using help books and guides published by private publishers. This practice encouraged rote memory and discouraged logical thinking amongst the students. Some of the teachers had been pressing the students for joining private coaching to mint money.

The sources said these help books offered readymade answers to the problems and questions given in the text books prescribed by the PSEB. Certain teachers allegedly accepted commission and specimen copies from private publishers to recommend their books. The sources added that the same school earlier raided on August 28 and about 108 help books were recovered. Report about the “recovery” of help books from students of the government school had been sent to the higher authorities for necessary action, the sources added.

Mr Harjit Singh, Principal of the school, when contacted confirmed that a ‘raid’ had been conducted at his school and some ‘guides’ were recovered from the students. He said there were about 1,100 students and only a handful of them used these help books.

He said a similar ‘raid’ was also conducted a few days ago but the board authorities returned the ‘recovered’ help books to students. He said that if the PSEB authorities were sincere in checking the use of ‘guides’ in schools the recovered help books should either be sent to the PSEB headquarters or should be burnt to discourage the students from using them.

The District Education Officer (S), Mrs Surinder Kaur Kataria, could not be contacted for her comments.


PHRC summons health official
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 26
Coming down heavily upon the Director, Health Services, (DHS), Punjab, for his failure to hold a probe into allegations levelled by a woman that she was left unattended while she was undergoing labour pains by doctors at Jalandhar Civil Hospital, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has ordered the DHS to appear before the commission along with the inquiry report on October 23.

Ms Balwinder Kaur, the victim of the alleged apathy of doctors, was admitted to the hospital for delivery on April 30, 2002. But instead of treating or attending her when she developed acute labour, the doctors, according to her husband Kashmir Singh, left her unattended to attend a farewell party hosted for their colleague. Kashmir Singh had alleged that though his wife wailed and cried for about three hours, hospital staff told him that doctors, including the House Surgeon, Dr Neelam, could not be disturbed for they were attending a party. When Dr Neelam returned, she allegedly asked him to bring cotton, injections and gloves from the market.

Citing the report about the plight of woman, published in The Tribune, Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi, a Chandigarh-based advocate and social activist, had filed a complaint with the PHRC, seeking justice for the victim and action against the doctor and other hospital staff for negligence.

Taking up the complaint, the commission Chairman, Mr N.K. Arora, had ordered the DHS to get the matter probed through a senior doctor and submit the report to the commission by August 21. But the DHS failed to comply with the order.

Taking note of the failure of the DHS to comply with its order, the PHRC chief Mr N.K. Arora, has issued fresh orders, directing the former to appear before the commission.


12 new members for Punjab Arts Council
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
A high-powered committee meeting under the leadership of Ms Geetika Kalha, Secretary, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Punjab, finally set the ball rolling towards the formal reconstitution of Punjab Arts Council. Twelve new members for the Council was selected during the first meeting of the Council at Punjab Kala Bhavan in Sector 16 here today.

Among the prominent personality category, the six individuals selected today are litterateur D K Tiwana, Krishna Sobti, Harbhajan Kaur, artist Satish Gujral, Punjabi state singer Hans Raj Hans and famous film and TV personality Jaspal Bhatti. The six cultural organisations which will have representation in the Council are Punjab Sahitya Akademi, Ludhiana, Bhasha Akademi, Jalandher, Kendriya Punjab Rangmanch Sabha, Amritsar, Triveni, Chandigarh, Heritage, Patiala, and Intach, Punjab.

Earlier, the Punjab Government had nominated three prominent persons, Mr Kartar Singh Duggal, member of the Rajya Sabha from Amritsar, noted theatre personality Neelam Mansingh Chaudhury and former Principal of Government College of Architecture Col I J S Bakshi as members of the Council.

More than 14 affiliated organisations had submitted their nominations for representations in the Council. The official authority of Punjab Kala Bhavan are hopeful that the newly formed Council will take up the responsibility of completing the auditorium which was to be completed by December, 2001.


SC welfare: Punjab pulled up for laxity
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Union Government is annoyed with the Punjab Government for not showing seriousness in the implementation of the poverty alleviation programmes and schemes meant for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes.

At a recent meeting of the top brass of the Punjab Government held here, Mr C. Gopal Reddy, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Union Government, conveyed his displeasure to the officers concerned. According to informed sources, he conveyed that criminal negligence “is being shown in spending the money meant for below poverty line people in the state.” The Union Government, he reportedly said, would not be a silent spectator and take to task those responsible in this connection.

What has made the Union Government livid is the non-utilisation of funds provided to Punjab under the special central assistance (SPA). The SPA for which 100 per cent funding is made by the Union Government is meant exclusively for the welfare of Scheduled Caste families living below the poverty line. The Centre provides funds to the state Finance Department for further allocation to the Welfare Department which acts as the nodal department.

At present, there is unspent balance of Rs 14.43 crore with the Finance Department under this scheme. In fact, this balance has accumulated over the years. For instance in 1998-99, the Centre allocated Rs 11.19 crore to Punjab which had then an unspent balance of Rs 10.02 lakh. However, the Finance Department released only Rs 4.45 crore that year which led to an unspent balance of Rs 6.84 crore at the end of the financial year. The Centre allocated Rs 12.80 crore the next financial which became Rs 19.64 crore by adding the previous balance. However, the Finance Department released only Rs 2.60 crore out of it as a result of which the unspent balance shot up to Rs 17.04 crore at the end of the financial year.

In 2000-2001, the Union Government allocated Rs 17.84 crore. By adding Rs 17.04 crore, the unspent balance lying with the state government, the total amount touched a figure of Rs 34.88 crore. However, the Finance department released only Rs 1.36 crore, thus leaving the unspent balance of Rs 33.51 crore at the end of the financial year.

According to informed sources, the Union Government has stopped the allocation, taking the plea that first submit the utilisation certificate of the money allocated during the previous years.

Punjab’s performance on implementing the scholarship scheme is also dismal. Under this scheme Punjab’s committed liability is only Rs 2.80 crore while the remaining funds are to be provided by the Union Government. The scholarships are meant for post-matriculation studies to students belonging to the Scheduled Castes. Punjab has covered 9,245 students during 2001-2002 and released only Rs 173.30 crore under the scheme. However, the Centre’s share, which was Rs 3.20 crore, was not released.

The sources said that Mr Reddy had also directed the officers concerned to promote the maximum number of NGOs for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes. Mr Reddy said the Union Government had a budget of Rs 250 crore for NGOs working for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes. While almost every other state in the country got between Rs 10 crore and Rs 20 crore, Punjab got almost nothing from the budget meant for NGOs.


Rs 3.25 cr watershed project launched
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 26
The Union Ministry for Rural Development has earmarked Rs 10,000 crore for the current financial year for various development schemes in the rural areas. Under such a scheme a Rs 3.25-crore project, “Budhki ki Rao watershed”, has been launched recently in Majri block of the district, which will benefit 35 villages. This was stated by Dr D. Ramakrishniah, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry for Rural Development, Government of India, today while addressing a training-cum-awareness seminar on the project at Majri village, about 25 km from here.

Of Rs 3.25 crore the district has already received Rs 43 lakh as the first instalment, under which about 5,000 acres of barren land will be made cultivable, earthen dams will be constructed, and forests will be developed in a big way.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, Punjab, who was also present, later laid the foundation stone of a bus stand at Khijrabad village in Majri block at an estimated cost of Rs 5 lakh.

Experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and senior officers of the Rural Development Department highlighted various aspects of the watershed project.


Siau murder: Kang denied bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 26
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Additional Session Judge, here today dismissed the anticipatory bail application of Kiranbir Singh Kang, a senior youth Akali leader of SAD, filed by him in connection with the murder of two Dalit children at Siau village, near Kharar, on June 22.

The Additional Sessions Judge also dismissed the anticipatory bail application of Mewa Singh, another accused in the Siau murder case.

Both applications were dismissed after hearing the arguments of the counsel for Kang and Dhani Ram, father of one of the children whose bodies were found in the village pond, and the public prosecutor. The defence counsel argued for anticipatory bail for Kang while Dhani Ram’s counsel and the public prosecutor opposed the bail application.

Dhani Ram had filed a criminal complaint against Kang and others on the basis of which the Ropar Chief Judicial Magistrate had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Kang on September 7 for summoning him to the court. Kang had filed an anticipatory bail application in the court of the Sessions Judge on September 18. On his anticipatory bail application the Additional Sessions Judge issued notices to the state and Dhani Ram for September 25. But his anticipatory bail application was adjourned till today by the court yesterday.


Wall adjoining ‘mazaar’ demolished
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 26
Miscreants demolished a wall adjoining a ‘mazaar’ near the Sanauri adda here today even as the local police moved effectively to affect a compromise between both parties after nabbing the miscreants.

Miscreants broke down a wall adjoining a ‘mazaar’ near the Sanauri adda on the Chhoti nadi. According to Jafar Ali, who is a sevadar of the institution, miscreants used a truck to demolish a wall adjoining the ‘mazaar’ this morning.

He claimed that this had been done deliberately to disturb the communal atmosphere in the city. He said the miscreants broke down the wall by hitting it with one side of the truck. He, however, said the miscreants could not do further damage because the people of the locality opposed them.

According to colony residents, the police swung into action immediately after the incident with Deputy Superintendent of Police G.S. Bedi reaching the spot along with a police force. Around 10 persons who were allegedly responsible for the incident were rounded up and the truck was confiscated.

The DSP, when contacted later in the evening, said the ‘mazaar’ was completely safe and had not been touched during the incident. He said the incident was not related to any act of communal violence and that some people had razed the wall due to a personal dispute. He said a compromise was effected between both parties in the evening and the persons who had demolished the wall had given an undertaking that they would reconstruct it.


Linemen denied promised job
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 26
On a call given by the Berozgar Lineman Union, Punjab, members of its district unit today held a march in protest against the failure of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to recruit them for the past six years.

The march started from the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall and moved through main lanes of the city before concluding at the Deputy Commissioners’ office. They raised anti-government slogans and alleged that though they had been given assurance by the PSEB that they would be given jobs as lineman after completion of the course, no steps had been taken in this regard for the past six years.

The state government has forced them to resort to agitation by not acceding to their demands, Mr Paramjit Singh, president of the district unit, alleged. He said there were about 500 unemployed linemen in Jalandhar alone, who were living a miserable life due to wrong policies of the PSEB.

Later, they submitted a memorandum of demands to the DC, Mr K. Siva Prasad, and the Chairman of the PSEB, Mr Sudhir Mittal, who was in the city.


Canal minor inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 26
“If the saline lands of farmers are not reformed and they are not paid remunerative price for their produce by the Central Government, the state government will arrange for its export through Mumbai port instead of sending it to Delhi” said Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Punjab.

She was addressing a meeting of panches and sarpanches at Bakshiwala village in the district today after inaugurating canal minor to provide irrigational facilities to Kahangarh, Kalia, Bakshiwala and Chotian villages of Mansa and Sangrur districts. These villages are situated at the tail ends and could not get sufficient canal water for irrigation. Eight more such schemes would be launched shortly to provide more water to another 15 villages of Mansa and Sangrur districts.

She said Punjab had been divided into five zones for diversification of crop. 


Meters to check power theft
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 26
To curtail revenue losses due to power theft, the cash-strapped Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to install electronic energy meters at all distribution transformers in the state.

Addressing a meeting of senior officials of the North Zone, the PSEB Chairman, Mr Sudhir Mittal, issued instructions to install electronic energy meters at all distribution transformers and at consumers’ end in the zone within two months.

The meters would help identify areas more prone to power theft for appropriate action.

The Chairman also asked the officials to ensure that the first bill to a new consumer is issued within the stipulated time limit. 


Govt to enforce tariff order

Decks have been cleared to stop “free” electricity to the agriculture sector for operating tubewells and pumpsets, with the Chief Minister recommending the billing of agriculture power.

A formal decision on the implementation of the tariff order will be taken by the Cabinet, which is expected to meet here next week.

This issue is highly politicised. However, in the larger interest of the PSEB, the state and in conformity with the decision of the Congress high command’s Guwahati conclave of the Chief Ministers, Punjab has no choice but to bill the farmers for operating tubewells.

The commission has recommended Rs 60 per BHP per month and 57 paise per unit as power charges.


PSSSB ex-chief’s plea dismissed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 26
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today ordered the issuance of proclamation for October 31 for the arrest of Tajinder Pal Singh Sandhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board.

The court also dismissed an application moved by counsel of Sandhu in which he has pleaded that non-bailable warrants issued by this court against Sandhu earlier should be cancelled. He has written in the application that Sandhu was at present in the USA and was ill and the doctor had advised him not to travel for two months.


SAD MLA Bhunder’s house raided
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
A police party raided the residence of SAD MLA Balwinder Singh Bhunder at his native Bhunder village near Sardulgarh in Mansa district late this evening.

Informed sources said the raid was probably conducted to arrest Mr Bhunder, against whom a case was registered by the Vigilance Bureau at Ferozepore. Mr Bhunder is also the general secretary of SAD and former member of the Rajya Sabha.


Amend ‘galliara’ scheme: SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 26
The SGPC has decided to approach the Centre to get the “galliara” (beautification of the Golden Temple surroundings) scheme amended to pave the path for getting the status of a world heritage site for Golden Temple.

In a press note issued here today, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, SGPC, said the local municipal corporation must ensure that the proposed flyover being built between Burj Akali Fula Singh and Jallianwala Bagh should not become hurdle.


MC men found absent from duty
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 26
In a surprise check today on the municipal corporation premises by Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner, MC, as many as 82 MC employees of various departments were found absent or had arrived late. The maximum number of absentees was reported from the water and sewerage wings. The erring employees were let off after a warning as many stated that they were late due to the VHP bandh. Meanwhile, in the continued cleanliness drive by the corporation at least 90 persons were fined for inappropriate disposal of garbage.


Farmers to get new variety of wheat seed
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 26
The Agriculture Department has estimated 146.74 lakh tonnes of wheat production in the coming season from 32.50 lakh hectares of the expected net sown area.

Inaugurating a district-level farmer’s training camp here, yesterday, Mr Dinesh Chandra Jain, Joint Director, of Agriculture said PUNSEED, IFFCO, KRIBHCO and Punjab Agriculture University had prepared 2.5 lakh quintals of impoved variety of wheat seed out of which 78 lakh quintals would be supplied to the farmers at just Rs 200 per quintal.

He said during the current season, wheat was sown in 34.20 lakh hectares of land. For the coming season, the area under wheat cultivation is being reduced to propagate diversification of crops.

Mr Jain said with the efforts of the Agriculture Department, the net sown area under oil seeds cultivation was expected at one lakh hectares that was 35,000 hectares more than the last season.


Ban on polythene bags in Ropar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 26
The manufacture and use of polythene bags, made of virgin plastic or recycled plastic with a thickness of less than 20 microns, have been banned by the District Magistrate, Ms Seema Jain, till November 7.

The District Magistrate has also banned the use of loudspeakers without permission till November 21 throughout the district. However, in the case of places of worship the use of loudspeakers has been allowed at low volume.


Husband booked in dowry death case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 26
A woman was strangled to death by her in-laws for more dowry on September 12, but a murder case was registered only last evening on the complaint of her brother, who had gone to meet her at Lopoke. Four persons, including her husband, have been booked in this regard.

Earlier, a case under Section 174, CrPC, had been registered. But after a post-mortem examination it was found that she had been strangled to death and the case was changed to a murder case.

Kulwinder Singh, in his complaint had stated that when he and his cousin Gurbachhan Singh reached his sister’s house they saw Balwinder Singh and Manna, husband and brother-in-law of the deceased, trying to strangle her. On seeing them (Kulwinder and Gurbachhan) Manna ran after them with his kirpan, but both managed to escape. He said the next day the family was informed that Harjinder Kaur had died. Manna (brother-in-law), Swarn Kaur (mother-in-law) and Rajinder Kaur (sister-in-law) have also been booked.


Primary kids to get mid-day meal
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 26
The Punjab Government has decided to provide midday meal to all the primary school children in the state. This was disclosed by Mr Som Parkash, Director, Social Security and Women and Child Welfare, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He said nutritious cooked edible items worth Rs 3.50 each would be given to all primary students during school hours daily. These items would be given to them for 200 days in a year for which Rs 700 would be spent on each student yearly. This scheme would be introduced in one block of each district and extended to all blocks in around three months.

He said that funds would be given to the village-level education committees which would arrange the material for providing it to the beneficiaries. In Hoshiarpur district, this scheme would be introduced in the Talwara block.

The Director said the verification of all pension cases, sanctioned after March 31, 2000, was being done by teams of government employees who would submit their reports within a month. Rs 40 crore had been released for the disbursement of all types of pensions, including old age, dependent children, widows and handicapped, for the first quarter of the current financial year. A similar amount would soon be released for the second quater.


Seminar on AIDS awareness
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 26
There is an urgent need to go to the masses and educate them rather than just organising seminars, symposiums and lectures, said a social worker, Mr D.P. More, at the AIDS awareness seminar organised by the NSS at Punjabi University.

Exhorting the NSS volunteers to develop a network between NGOs and AIDS patients, Mr More said that the need was not just to provide the AIDS patients with physical treatment but also to ascertain that they did not withdraw from society and develop psychological disorder.

Laying stress on the need to provide counselling to such patients, the social worker, who has been actively participating in several projects initiated by different NGOs in the region, said that the social handicap attached with the dreaded disease sometimes led to a condition where the patient felt that society in some way was responsible for his pathetic condition, which could have serious ramifications.

Organised under the leadership of the NSS Programme Officer, Dr H.P.S. Walia, the main thrust of the seminar was to devise techniques and methods for making the public in general and students in particular aware of AIDS and its prevention.

Dr Walia said that the activities of the NSS unit of the university would not be limited to holding lectures and seminars but they would soon start a crusade for making the people, especially students, aware of AIDS and visit different educational institutions in this regard.

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