Monday, September 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CPI outsmarts Amarinder
Calls all-party meeting on Oct 1; Badal ready
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
Paddy politics is at play in Punjab. Political developments are taking place on this front, thick and fast. The CPI, which contested the Assembly elections as an ally of the Congress in Punjab, today distanced from it at least on the paddy issue.

The secretary of the state unit of the CPI, according to informed sources, has decided to call an allparty meeting a day before such a meeting has been called by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. The meeting called by Dr Dayal will be held in the CPI’s office here on October 1 at 11 a.m. whereas the Chief Minster has called the all-party meeting on October 2.

Confirming the all-party meeting, which obviously has been convened to be one up on the Chief Minster, Dr Dayal said he would make an announcement in this connection tomorrow. He said that he would also explain the reasons for holding such a meeting a day before the one called by the Chief Minister.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal said he had got an invitation to attend the meeting by Dr Dayal. He has accepted the invitation and senior leaders of SAD would be deputed to attend the meeting.

It may be mentioned that SAD had also participated in such a meeting called by the CPI, about a month ago, and had endorsed the resolutions passed at that meeting.

Sources said the Congress today made efforts to convince Dr Dayal to participate in the meeting called by Capt Amarinder Singh. However, Dr Dayal replied that it should first attend the all-party meeting called by him on October 1. He has, according to sources, told the Congress to send Mr H.S. Hanspal to the meeting called by him, it is learnt.

Dr Dayal said he would not attend the Congress meeting till four questions posed by him to Capt Amarinder Singh were answered. The questions are: Will Capt Amarinder Singh make his stand clear on the WTO? Is the CM prepared to openly oppose the WTO? Will Capt Amarinder Singh’s government make a commitment to pay within a stipulated period Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on paddy as promised before the Assembly elections? Will the Congress government continue to give power free of cost to the farm sector? What steps will be taken by state government to put a check on the WTO-related policies affecting the agriculture sector in Punjab?

Dr Dayal said that he would await the answer of these questions from the Punjab Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the emerging political scenario in the state indicates that at the meeting called by the CPI leader, a decision might be taken to send an all-party delegation to meet Central leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal will meet tomorrow BJP general secretary Rajnath Singh, Telugu Desam leader in Parliament Y. Naidu and Agriculture Minister of Andhra Pradesh.


Cong urges SAD to pull out of NDA
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 29
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee today alleged that the BJP-led NDA government was indifferent to Punjab farmers and the issue of minimum support price (MSP) of paddy was one example.

Addressing a press conference here today, PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal said the NDA government had failed in its duty towards the farmers. “Farmers are suffering as their paddy is lying in mandis, but the Central Government did not take any step to advance date of procurement, forcing them to resort to distress sale of the crop,” said Mr Hanspal.

On the Punjab Chief Minister’s recent meeting with some Union Ministers, Mr Hanspal said like other ministers, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani expressed concern over the state of farmers, but he did not gave any assurance on the MSP, “I feel he was rather indifferent to the Congress delegation led by the CM,” said Mr Hanspal adding that even the Prime Minister was not very forthcoming on the issue of the increase in the MSP.

He said a further action would be planned only after the all-party meeting on the issue in Chandigarh, for which BJP and SAD leaders had been also invited.

Meanwhile, Punjab Ministers — Mr Santokh Singh Chaudhary, Mr Sardool Singh and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa in a joint statement have urged leaders of all political parties, especially the SAD, to rise above politics and deliberate on the issue jointly.

Rejecting the paddy MSP Punjab Agriculture Minister Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, urged the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) to withdraw support to the NDA for its failure to do justice to Punjab farmers.

Ms Bhattal, speaking at a function here today, said farmers had to spend three times more on inputs and drought-like conditions to save their crop in the state, but this failed to move the Central Government. She said in view of the heavy losses suffered by farmers this year, the state government had demanded a hike of Rs 100 in the MSP and Rs 2300 as bonus to farmers.


MLA wants anti-Cong forces exposed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 29
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, has urged the Chief Minister to conduct an inquiry to expose those forces, which are trying to create confusion and rake up unnecessary controversies in the party rank and file by floating baseless rumours of division and dissidence in the Cong legislative party for their vested interests. He claimed there was no dissidence or division in the CLP. He said that state was facing a financial crunch and in this hour of crisis ''it is our moral duty to wholeheartedly support the Chief Minister''.

Lashing out at the Central Government, he said that it was for the first time in the history that the minimum support price (MSP) had not been increased. He said the cost of inputs of farmers had been very high due to drought, so the hike in the MSP should have been made. He said it was unfortunate that Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, representative of the Akalis, was party to the Cabinet decision of not increasing the MSP. He said if Mr Parkash Singh Badal ''claims to be the champion of the cause of the farmers, he should withdraw the SAD support to the NDA government and recall Mr Dhindsa also from Cabinet.

Mr Bir Devinder was here to preside over a lok darbar organised to solve the problems of panchayats of seven villages of the district falling in the Kharar constituency.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that on his demand, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, had constituted a committee to suggest changes in the Punjab Periphery Capital Act to make it a people-friendly Act. He said that in the coming assembly session this Act would be amended. He said that after the amendment, the people living out of the red line area would also get all the facilities.

He declared that Chuni Khurd and Chuni Kalan villages had been adopted under the Integrated Rural Development Scheme. He said that under the scheme, solar streetlights would be installed. The Council for Science and Technology would clean the village ponds through the duck weed technology. The Chief Minister would inaugurate the development campaign next month.


Farmers to block traffic
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
Activists of five organisations of farmers have decided to block traffic on main roads in the state to protest against delay in the procurement of paddy and failure to announce minimum support price (MSP).

Mr Shingara Singh Mann, district general secretary of the BKU (Ekta) in a press note issued on behalf of five kisan organisations said here today that farmers had been mobilised and block level leaders told to ensure maximum response to dharnas.

He said while the farmers were finding it difficult to repay debts, which had increased due to drought, the state government announced charging for power to tubewells and the Union Government announced imposition of cess of Rs 42 per quintal of paddy.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president of the union, said lop-sided policies of the government, pressure from the international financial bodies and vested political interests were responsible of the bad state of the agriculture.

He pointed out that even the government knew that the farmers’ financial position was not good still it did not release the payment of the sugarcane procured in the last season.

He said dharnas, rallies, protests of the farmers would continue to press the government to accept the demands.

The leaders demanded that the MSP of paddy and sugarcane should be announced immediately and procurement of paddy started at the earliest. They also demanded compensation for the losses the farmers had suffered.


BKU rejects MSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) today rejected the minimum support price for paddy announced by the Central Government.

In a statement BKU President Bhupinder Singh Mann ex-MP, said the Central Government had fixed the MSP at the same level as last year.

He said the order to absorb 11.5 per cent taxes within the MSP would bring down the price to less that Rs 470 per quintal.

The BKU would agitate against this “grave injustice and mischief” by organising “rail roko” from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at Rajpura tomorrow.


Hike MSP to Rs 600: BJP
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 29
The state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today demanded that the Central Government should raise the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 600 per quintal from the current price of Rs 530 per quintal. It has also demanded that the state government should announce bonus for the farmers as promised in its election manifesto.

A unanimous resolution to this effect was passed here today at the state executive meeting of the party, which was presided over by the party state president, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, and attended, among others, by the party in charge for Punjab, Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, the national vice-president of the BJP Kisan Morcha, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, the organising secretary, Punjab, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Lala Lajpat Rai and several other leaders.

The resolution was moved by Mr Grewal and passed by a voice vote. It urged the Central Government that the MSP should be enhanced to Rs 600 as the farmers had to suffer huge losses on account of drought-like conditions. The state BJP leaders, MPs and MLAs will soon be meeting the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, to press for enhancing the MSP.

The resolution also reminded the ruling Congress to fulfil its electoral promise of providing a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal as contained in its election manifesto.

It criticised the state government for its failure to implement the crop insurance scheme in the state. Mr Grewal said due to the failure of the state government to provide 25 per cent share, the scheme was gathering dust as the Centre had already provided its 75 per cent share. The scheme had already been implemented in 19 states of the country.

The resolution also declared to bring out a white paper on the performance of the Punjab government, particularly with regard to the non-payment of drought relief to the farmers which the Central government had already released. Besides, the party would also publicise the rural development schemes which had been launched by the Centre but were not being implemented by the state.

Another resolution passed at today’s meeting expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and suggested to the government that it should focus attention on the problem lest it assumed alarming proportions.

Today’s executive meeting was held at the conclusion of the three-day training camp which was attended by about 300 workers. Mr Jaiswal told The Tribune that it was decided that the party would constitute booth-level units in all 117 assembly segments of the state. It would coincide with the Gaon Chalo Abhiyan of the party. The process would be carried out in three phases in all 12,850 villages of the state and the progress would be reviewed from time to time.

The party also declared that Anti-Terrorism Day announced by the Prime Minister would be observed on October 1 by all 150 party units in the state. Besides, the party would also mobilise cadres for the December 8 rally being organised in Delhi which, Mr Jaiswal said, would be attended by at least 10 lakh persons from across the country.


Centre may not disturb state taxes
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
There is some good news for Punjab. The Centre may not disturb the existing system of state taxes and levies (11.5 per cent) on foodgrains in the current kharif season. This means besides the ‘’MSP plus 4 per cent purchase tax’’ that the Centre has announced, Punjab will continue to realise the other taxes/levies — 2.5 per cent commission from arhtiyas, 2 per cent each market fee and rural development cess and 1 per cent infrastructure cess.

Punjab earns Rs 1453.95 crore as revenue on wheat and paddy. The denial of other taxes would have meant a loss of Rs 948.25 crore, completely de-railing rural development projects as also the maintenance of existing infrastructure of rural link roads, mandis etc on which over Rs 15,000 crore have been invested.

According to sources in the Union Ministry of Agricultrure and Co-operation, this concession, however, may not be available in the next rabi season. The state is expected to ‘’rationalise’’ its taxes and levies. A particular mention is made of 2.5 per cent commission arhtiyas, who do not provide the corresponding services to farmers.

The Centre treats the MSP and bonus or relief as two different issues. It is learnt that when special concessions are announced shortly, the MSP will not be touched. This is because having recalculated the cost of production with regard to the impact of drought or untimely rain later, the Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices does not find much change. Therefore, the MSP will remain the same as per the supplementary draft it has submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. But it has suggested some ‘’special measures’’ that relate to payment of bonus (say Rs 20 or so per quintal for paddy) and other kharif crops and deferment of re-payment of interest on loans. The crop loans may be converted into short-term or medium-term loans and their repayment re-scheduled, say from 1 year to 2 years. The ministry is making calculations on the quantum of interest relief that will accrue as a result of this.

May it be as a consequence of intense political pressures or apprehension of social unrest, there is a strong indication that Punjab is being guided to reframe its memorandum on drought relief seeking Rs 3529.44 crore.

The sources say that ‘’empathising’’ with Punjab, the ministry is delaying the departure of a central team to assess crop loss and cross-examine the submissions made in the memorandum. Punjab is being advised to tailor its demands keeping in view the broad guidelines that the Centre has drawn up for giving relief in the face of natural calamities. Howsoever different view Punjab may have taken while arriving at its conclusions in the Memorandum, the perception of the Centre is totally different. ‘’We do not want to send a team that returns to New Delhi recommending no relief. Therefore, a friendly word of advice is being sent to Punjab shortly to re-draft its memorandum,’’ say the sources.

In fact, the sources say, a meeting of the National Development Council is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in mid-October to approve the 10th Five Year Plan. That forum is likely to be used by states like Punjab, Haryana, UP, Andhra Pradesh and some others to air their views on the pricing of foodgrains, levy of state taxes, clearance of buffer stocks, revamping of the targeted public distribution system and adequate compensation in the wake of natural calamities.

(To be concluded)


Hari Jaisingh pins hope on kids
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 29
It was a day with a difference for the tiny tots of the local Swami Sant Dass Public School as they had an opportunity to freely express their concerns on the contemporary world order besides having an interaction with Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor of the Tribune group of newspapers.

That the little ones were upset over the increasing menace of terrorism and that they were conscious about its being the biggest threat to world peace was evident from their efforts — a replica of the World Trade Centre and depiction of the September 11 events through paintings. At the same time, they successfully gave a message that everything was not melancholic and that the next generation was optimistic about the future by giving impressive performances in the form of jungle dances, lively skits, and by displaying their colourful robes and playing the “little orchestra”, they had formed.

Striking an instant rapport with the children, Mr Hari Jaisingh, who was the chief guest at the 17th annual prize distribution function of the school, said since the younger generation was so promising and a potent source of hope, utmost priority should be given by everybody, at his or her level, to create the right and a positive atmosphere for it in schools and at work places. “A vicious atmosphere at home or elsewhere can spoil the right spirit and the age-old value system. Our scriptures are full of values and fully attuned with the scientific temperament, but the only problem is that though most of us perform the ritual by reading these, we don’t practise it in our lives. Practise what you read and see the difference,” said Mr Hari Jaisingh.

Asserting that every citizen has the right to collect information, Mr Hari Jaisingh said children should be encouraged to develop a spirit for asking more and more questions. “More questions fetch new answers. We must raise issues as public pressure can make a big difference. Not being submissive all the time is not indiscipline. We should ask ourselves why should we be afraid as long as we say things in public interest. Development of a positive frame of mind is another requirement towards building a healthy nation as negativism brings destruction. I have lots of hopes from these tiny tots and I have a strong belief that they will make India a superpower one day. The only requirement for this is that you give them opportunities and a good environment,” Mr Hari Jaisingh observed.

He was, however, of the view that reforms could not be brought about overnight. “It is a long process and we must make our contribution to it and to make the system transparent for a better tomorrow,” suggested Mr Hari Jaisingh, who was all praise for the students of the school for coming up with what he called, “performances, which he enjoyed the most.”

Earlier Swami Ishwar Dass Shastri, chairman of the management committee of the school, lit the lamp while Ms Neena Jaisingh gave away prizes to the students who had excelled in studies and related fields. Swami Shanta Nand, secretary of the committee, said the school not only maintained 100 per cent results in the secondary and senior secondary examinations, but the students also brought laurels to their institution by bagging various national and international scholarships.


Trust headed by SSP ‘encroaches’ on PWD land
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 29
The Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore, Mr D.K. Tiwari, has called a special meeting of the district-level committee formed to remove encroachments on October 17.

The DC said encroachments along the natinal highwy at the behest of Mr Praveen Kumar to extend the premises of “Astana Auhliya Dargah Hazirat Baba Sher Shah Wali Peer” would especially be taken up at the meeting to restore the previous situation. The SSP Ferozepore is the chairman of profit-earning institution. Baba Sher Shah Wali Public Welfare Trust that manages affairs of the dargah.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the SSP had been told to stop construction work going on in the dargah till a decision of the committee. The PWD (B&R) Department authorities have also been called in the meeting to make their representation relating to encroachment on their land.

The Country and Town Planning Department of the Punjab Government issued a notification (No 17/17/2000-1 HG-11/3577) on August 14, 2001 following instructions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh to set up district-level committees to check encroachments along the scheduled roads the national and state highways. But so far, the district administration has ignored this notification. For the first time a meeting of the district-level committee has been called after one year of the issue of the notification.

According to this notification, local authorities, Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils shall be responsible for the enforcement restrictions of five metres and 10 metres within the Municipal limits of towns along scheduled roads and enforcement of 100 metres restriction along the bye-passes.

The notification also says that no water or power connection, building permission by the local authorities and other necessary permissions shall be given by the agencies concerned in respect to any construction which is in violation of the provisions of the Act.

Treating it a criminal offence, the Punjab Government had notified that prosecution shall also be launched for the violations of the Act and registers maintained indicating upto date position of such violations.

Power and power supply to the ‘dargah’ is continuing uninterrupted even as the authorities have violated the instructions of the state government to check encroachments. The dargah authorities have also constructed a few rooms and a ‘langar’ hall on the PWD land without permission of the authorities concerned.

It has also come to light that for the past one-year the authorities concerned have maintained no records of encroachment along the scheduled roads in the district and the dargah in particular.

The SSP reportedly is trying to approach the members of the district-level committee using his influence, to allow him to beautify the ‘dargah’ by encroaching on the land along the national highway.

The Cantonment Board is not aware of the issue though the ‘dargah’ is situated within its limits. Sources in the Cantonment Board said that the matter was discussed by Army authorities but did not reach any conclusion. The Cantonment Board reporters would prefer to remain silent, as the Deputy Commissioner has already taken up the matter.

Meanwhile, the PWD Department so far has not filed a suit against the SSP in the Collector’s (SDM’s) court even though orders to this effect have been issued to the officials concerned.


Bill on Gurdwara Act denounced
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
A seminar organised by the World Sikh Council, Amritsar zone, on “Sikh traditions and the all-India Sikh Gurdwara Act (AISGA)” here today unanimously denounced the proposed Act and sought to highlight that the Act was detrimental to Sikh interests and inadequate to resolve the problems being faced by the Sikhs.

Coming down critically on the present Sikh leadership, speakers alleged that the glorious Sikh traditions were being ruined by the weak and self-serving management of the SGPC. Speakers demanded a change in the leadership of the SGPC to resurrect Sikh institutions and traditions.

The seminar which was attended by Sikh intellectuals here included Baba Sarabjot Bedi, president of Sant Samaj, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, Bibi Baljit Kaur, Historian, Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon and many university professors and principals of colleges.

Dr Dhillon stated that the Act was being formed to exercise control over Sikh religious affairs by the Centre. Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, said persons with dubious records were at the helm of Sikh affairs and hence were poor role models for giving directions to the Sikhs. Denouncing the Draft Bill of the AISGA, he said Sikh traditions of sacrifice, labour, sharing and non-discrimination had been sidelined to confine them in the circles of eligibility via education and age limits while ignoring personality, capability and leadership qualities of those who will lead the ‘panth’.

Justice Ajit Singh Bains contended that the sanctity of Sikh ‘maryada’ and traditions had been violated time and again for the narrow interests of some politicians.


Kang confesses to selling wood
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 29
The beleaguered former Chairman of Punjab Forest Corporation, Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, has confessed before the Vigilance Bureau that he had sold the forest wood to the owner of a saw mill in Amritsar.

Mr Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu, SP (Vigilance), said he had been receiving a number of affidavits and written complaints against Mr Kang who had amassed huge properties, disproportionate to his known sources of income. He claimed that Mr Kang confessed that he had sold the forest wood to one Amarjit Singh, the owner of the local saw mill at a throw away price. Mr Kang has also admitted that he had purchased two plots in ‘new Amritsar’ after becoming the Chairman of the Forest Corporation, leaving aside a palatial residence purchased in the name of his wife by evading stamp duty to the tune of lakhs.

Meanwhile, Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a Congress MLA and general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress, has said that his party would move the Punjab and Haryana High Court for withdrawing the ‘shaurya chakra’ awarded to Mr Makhan Singh Kang, father of Mr Manjinder Singh Kang posthumously for waging a war against ‘militants’. Mr Dimpa alleged that the family of Mr Kang had ‘concocted a story’ that Mr Makhan Singh was killed while fighting terrorists while the fact was that he (Mr Makhan Singh) was killed in the rivalry of militant outfits. He alleged that the person whose name figured in the FIR could not be awarded the ‘shaurya chakra’. He further alleged that the name of Mr Makhan Singh, his younger brother Mr Jagir Singh also figured in the FIR when seven trucks of paddy were stacked in their rice sheller in the year 1991.


Wife, mother-in-law kill man
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 29
In a bizarre incident, Lalita Rani, a drug addict, murdered her husband with the help of her mother Raj Rani last night by reportedly giving him poison.

The body of the husband, Satish Kumar, was found on a roadside near bus stop at Buladhewala village on the Bathinda-Muktsar road by some policemen who were on routine patrolling.

Mt Sat Pal, cousin of the deceased, who registered an FIR in this connection told TNS that Satish Kumar was working as part-time employee at a dairy shop and earning very little.

He said that Satish married Lalita Rani about eight month ago in the town. Lalita Rani was a divorcee. In the initial months of marriage, Lalita Rani lived with Satish at his house at Kot Bhai village.

About one-and-a-half months ago, Lalita Rani, who used to take intoxicants, came to Bathinda town and started living with her mother at a house in the trans-railway colony.

About a week ago, Lalita Rani came to her in-laws house and stayed for two days there. After that she brought Satish Kumar with her to Bathinda on the pretext that she and her mother had made arrangements for him to do business. Satish Kumar stayed at Bathinda for about two days and today his body was found on a roadside.

The body was sent to the local Civil Hospital for post-mortem examination. A case has been registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC against Lalita and Raj Rani. So far no arrest has been made.

Meanwhile, in another case, Asha Rani, who had been battling for life for the past about four years after an acid attack on her died today.

Asha Rani was raped and subsequently acid was thrown on her by Shoba Ram and Bhagwan Singh in 1998. Asha Rani, who was a widow, is survived by five children. 


Plea to end caste quota
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, district president, General Categories Welfare Federation, while addressing a meeting of activists at Goniana Mandi, near here, late last evening said the present system of caste-based reservation was not in the national interest as merit was being ignored to promote the interests of a section of society.

The members of the federation opined that as the present set up of caste-based quota promoted not the ‘downtrodden’ but individuals of certain castes and compromised on quality and merit, it should be done away with. They pointed out that originally introduced for 10 years the caste-based discriminatory reservation system was being extended by the successive governments to gain political mileage.

The activists said while the wards of the freedom fighters, who had played an effective role in the freedom struggle, were given the benefits of reservations only for three generations the caste-based quota was endless. They added that those in government service, even wards of class-I, IAS, PCS, IPS officers etc was given these benefits, even as they could not be classified under the ‘downtrodden’, ‘Dalit’, or ‘depressed’ categories. The activists alleged that a large section of employees belonging to the general categories were feeling frustrated due to the present reservation policy. The lamented those who had joined the service along with them, in the same departments with the same set of qualifications had been made their officers, not because they were more competent — but because they belonged to the reserved categories.

Mr Jaspal Singh Jassi, senior vice-president of the federation, said when some government employees were being given jobs and promotions only on the basis of their castes rather than qualifications it was worthless to expect efficiency, dedication and competence from them. He added that under the present set up, those who belong to the so-called reserved categories and had barely managed to get their degrees were being admitted in the government, professional colleges and were also given jobs, even as more qualified, talented and deserving candidates from the general categories were available.

Mr Sidhu alleged that the present set up of caste-based quota was even discriminatory against the ex-servicemen, who had devoted the prime of their life in the service of the nation. He pointed out that while all children of the ex-servicemen were not eligible for availing the benefits of the services of their parents, there was no bar on the number of children of senior officers belonging to the reserved categories who could avail the benefits of reservation.

He claimed that while as per the Constitution every citizen had been given the right to contest elections from their place of permanent residence, some of the seats had been reserved on caste basis, which prohibited those belonging to the general categories from contesting elections from such places, even if it was the place of their permanent residence.

The people were being forced to elect their representatives from candidates thrust upon them, he alleged.

Mr S.P. Goyal, finance secretary, of the federation, said the move to implement the Mandal Commission report should be dumped.

Later, the activists of the federation urged the authorities concerned to dismantle the caste-based quota and demanded that poor students belonging to the general categories be given education and books free of cost.


Misuse of funds: DC orders probe

Moga, September 29
The Deputy Commissioner has ordered a regular inquiry for alleged misuse of Rs 20 lakh flood relief fund allocated by the state government in 2000.

Deputy Commissioner G. Ramesh Kumar has entrusted the inquiry to Bakhtawar Singh, Sub-divisional Magistrate, Baghapurana, and also directed him to complete the probe within a month. The SDM yesterday started the probe by summoning record from the Deputy Commissioner officer.

The inquiry follows an anonymous complaint made to the Chief Minister that Rs 20 lakh was allocated to the district administration in 2000 to provide flood relief to the affected village situated along the Sutlej river in the Bet area of Dharamkot.

However, in that year there were no floods and the district administration utilised the amount in some other villages and that, too, for providing drinking water facilities by constructing new tubewells.

When inquiry was conducted as per the complaint it was found that no new tubewells were constructed in the villages and moreover these villages already had drinking water facilities and it was found that with the connivance of the respective Panchayat, officials got the certificates of the construction of tubewell.

The Deputy Commissioner on the other hand has also asked the Executive Engineer, Public Health, to initiate a separate probe to see if the then authorities properly utilised the amount for the construction of new tubewells.

According to preliminary inquiry by the Public Health Department it was found that in Dosanjh village near Moga no such tubewell was constructed. PTI


3 MC officials suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 29
The Punjab Government has placed three officials including a Planning Officer, an Assistant Municipal Engineer (AME) and a Junior Engineer (JE) under suspension without assigning any reason in the suspension orders issued by the Secretary, Local Bodies, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal.

Those placed under suspension included Mr Jalaur Singh, Assistant Municipal Engineer, Mr Yashpal Garg, Junior Engineer and the name of the Planning Officer could not be known.

Though in the orders issued by Mr Kaushal, the only thing which was mentioned that these officials were placed under suspension and the charge sheet against them would be served later on. Information gathered by TNS revealed that state government had taken this step after it received complaints regarding the illegal sanctioning of site plans in the Bhupindra Flour Mill premises by municipal council officials.

Sources said in 1998-99, Bhupindra Flour Mill, located in the heart of city was sold off to some known land dealers of city by its owners and the area was subsequently converted into residential area, violating the provisions of PUDA laws.

A case was registered against some land dealers, who were involved in converting the area into residential area, breaching PUDA laws. The then SAD-BJP government failed to take action against the guilty as they allegedly wielded considerable influence in the corridors of power.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that in the Bhupindra Mill land deal, stamp duty worth lakhs of rupees was evaded with the active connivance of the authorities concerned. Certain politicians belonging to ruling parties did not allow the higher authorities to take any action against the guilty.

A senior municipal council official, on the condition of anonymity, said the then municipal council authorities were directed to sanction the site plans by certain ruling party politicians and municipal council officials were left with no other option than to follow their “diktats”.

Official sources said few months ago, the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO), Local Bodies Department, Punjab, Mr Kansal visited the Bhupindra Flour Mill site to see the spot in connection with the sanctioning of site plans.


Immunise kids, women told
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

THE All-India Women’s Welfare Committee organised a five-day women camp at Mamun, near here, in which hundreds of women drawn from the villages of Mamun, Kuthed, Seunti and Chhatwal participated.

Experts in many fields like the environment, panchayati raj institutions, family planning, de-addiction, cleanliness and legal matters apprised the participants about their duties and rights. They asked the women to minimise their requirements for materialistic things to create an healthy atmosphere and home. Doctors at the camp exhorted the need of immunising children to keep them healthy and free from disease. Women should know how to bring up their children in a situation when even pure drinking water was not easily available as most things were polluted.

They urged them to keep their living areas clean and green so that children are brought up in a pollution-free environment.

Dr R.R. Sehgal advised them against abortion of the female child. The woman is not just a daughter, but the mother of the further generation as well. She said the government has taken a right decision to ban pre-natal sex determination tests which led to foeticide and was a social crime against women.

Mrs Pinki Manhas and Mrs Pushap Lata, members of the Mamun panchayat, were honoured for their contribution to women’s welfare programmes.

* * *

The State Bank of India has plans to increase the business target of all its 23 branches in Gurdaspur district from Rs 672 crore to Rs 802 crore by March 2003.

This was stated by Mr J.C.Bhutani, Assistant General Manager of the Chandigarh zonal office, at a meeting of bank branch managers of the district. He said the bank had started many schemes to promote agronomy in this border district. The bank had made advances in personal segments also and in this respect the bank had introduced the kisan credit and gold cards and tractor financing schemes. Apart from this, the bank had introduced housing and car loans under which the people can get loans at a nominal interest.

Mr Bhutani said nine branches out of the 23 in the district had been computerised. Four more branches at Sujanpur, Bungal, Mamun Cantonment and Air Force station would be computerised by next March .

* * *

Lt Gen Parkash Suri, Director-General of the Border Roads Organisation, visited BRO units, Western Base workshop, Western stone division and 1326 Base Depot. He saw work on the repair and overhaul of vehicles undertaken the workshop. He also applauded the efforts of the Heavy Equipment Repair wing which has overhauled major construction equipment like dozers, road rollers, heavy earth moving machinery to the tune of Rs 800 lakh during the year ending 2002.

* * *

The Brahmin Sabha organised a function at Sujanpur to honour brilliant students. More than 60 students drawn from various schools in Sujanpur were given mementoes and prizes.

Mr Charan Dass Shastri, president of the sabha, criticised the caste-based reservation policy of the government and said such policies had become worthless with the advancement of society. He urged the youth to keep themselves away from alcoholics and work for the development of the society.

* * *

Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma, professor at the local A.B. College, was honoured by the Assembly’s Deputy Speaker, Mr Darbari Lal, for his achievements in the education field. Dr Sharma’s book on entitled “Communication Skills: Theory and Practice” was released at the function. In his book Dr Sharma focussed upon the psychological aspects of technical communication along with four major components of communication, namely reading, writing, listening and speech skills.


138 ‘Pashu Dhan Pinds’ to come up
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, September 29
The Punjab Government has drawn up a comprehensive plan for developing one village in each block of the state as “Adarsh Pashu Dhan Pind” (Model livestock village) to bring “white revolution” in the state and to achieve international standards in the quality of milk production for exporting the same from here to the foreign countries on a large scale.

While the state government has planned to develop one village each in all 138 blocks as the “Adarsh Pashu Dhan Pind” during the current financial year, it will develop two such villages in each block during 2003-2004.

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy, and Fisheries, Punjab, will ensure 100 per cent vaccination and artificial insemination for the animals in these villages. For artificial insemination, the department has imported 125 lakh doses from abroad so as to improve the breed of local animals. Besides, small milk chilling plants will also be set up, and loans at low interest rates will be made available to the dairy farmers.

Launching a state-wide campaign of “Animal welfare-cum-livestock farmers awareness camps” at the Charan Ganga stadium here today, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy, and Fisheries, Punjab, said setting up of “Adarsh Pashu Dhan Pind” would help the state government in building a campaign for the diversification of crops.

Mr Kang said Punjab was number one in milk production and produced eight million tonnes of milk annually, while per person availability of milk in Punjab was 855 grams. He said Punjab was unable to export milk to foreign countries as its quality of milk was poor and did not meet the global standards.

He said the Department of Extension, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, was preparing a project report for setting up these villages, and it would submit its report to the government in 15 days. He further said that in each village a computer system would be provided to maintain daily records with regard to the livestock.

Terming the BJP-led NDA government as a “government of smugglers”, Mr Kang said this government was “anti-farmers”. This was the main reason for the Union Government not hearing to our hue and cry over the issue of low MSP for paddy, he added.

Mr Kang also emphasised on the diversification of crops stating that now a saturation point had come in the production of paddy and wheat. He appealed to the farmers to adopt dairy, poultry, and fisheries trades as these were profitable as compered to crops.

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, appealed to the wards of the farmers to work in the fields to get more profit from their produce. He also asked the farmers to adopt dairy farming to make the state prosperous.

Mr D.S. Jaspal, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy, and Fisheries, Punjab, said his department had prepared a draft of the “Herd Registration Bill” to make it an Act to get every animal registered for the proper maintenance of livestock in the state. He said the Punjab Chief Minister had accepted this proposal as it would improve the quality of livestock.


Get documents for relief, truckers told
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
The truckers of the area whose vehicles were destroyed in a fire near Bikaner in Rajasthan on January 11 while on Army duty have been asked by the authorities to prepare necessary documents till September 30 for claiming compensation.

As per the press note issued by the Army authorities of the 81 Sub-area Headquarters, today, the owners of the trucks would be given compensation soon.

As many as 161 trucks belonging to the area were destroyed in the fire that broke out in an ammunition depot near Bikaner.

The Army authorities said the owner should keep ready the documents regarding the cancellation of the registration of the trucks from the RTO or DTO concerned, a certificate that there was no loan pending against the truck, power of attorney if necessary, attested copies of affidavits from DTO/RTO and if the truck was insured, a certificate from the insurance company that no compensation for the truck was paid.


Cockfighting continues as administration sleeps
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, September 29
Notwithstanding tall claims of the district administration, cockfighting, banned under the SPCA Act, still takes place under the full glare of the administration at a dusty spot near Sular village, on the outskirts of this town. The fights are held on the last Sunday of every month.

Last year, when a newspaper report exposed the fights, the administration clamped ban on these fights. However, since the fights are patronised by the rich and the famous of the town, the activity has now once again reared its ugly head but at a different venue.

Behind all this excitement is the sadistic pleasure that fans and fanatics patronising the “sport” derive and to top it bets worth thousands of rupees are placed on every fight.

Ram Singh, a regular on the circuit says: “It is not the money that matters. It is the perverse thrill that we derive that matters.” No wonder, the bird on which Ram Singh placed a bet ran out of the ring leaving the man poorer by Rs 500. That was a big sum for Ram Singh, a carpenter by profession, yet that has not deterred him from buying another rooster for next Sunday’s fight.

During training, fighter cocks are not allowed to mate and are kept in isolation. The cocks’ fed on a special diet of cereals’ are thrown in water tanks with their feet tied so that they have no option but to remain afloat — an act that helps the birds gain in strength.

Some cock owners could even be seen feeding drops of ‘arrack’ and other stimulants to their cocks before the fight to make them more aggressive. And for some die-hard fans, coming as they are from places as far as Saharanpur and Meerut, rearing fighter cocks has become an obsession of sorts.


Metal-free ceramic teeth
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 29
There is good news for people living in those areas of Bathinda, Sangrur and Rajasthan, where high flouride content in water commonly leads to discolouration of teeth. They would now be able to flash a perfect smile and have sparkling teeth, thanks to the introduction of metal free ceramic teeth technology in the northern part of the country.

The technology, till now was being used in foreign countries or in Mumbai by select film stars, actors and celebrities.

Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Andrew Hubbens, a Germany based dentist and senior ceramist who was here to attend a workshop on metal free ceramics, organised by the Punjab Chapter of the Indian Dental Association here today, said discoloured or broken teeth could effectively be treated with the help of this new technique. “Even missing teeth can be replaced,” said Dr Hubbens. He said consumption of water, having more than permissible limit of flouride content, was the main factor responsible for discolouration and deterioration of teeth. The problem was more acute in South East Asian countries.

According to Dr Vivek Saggar, a Ludhiana-based dentist and ceramist, the new technology could be a boon for people living in Faridkot, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Sangrur districts and parts of Haryana and Rajasthan. He pointed out that the situation was so alarming that half the population of these districts was suffering from the malady, which generated inferiority complex, particularly, among the youngsters. He said some medicines taken during childhood could also cause damage to teeth.

The Indian Dental Association (IDA), will organise a number of workshops at various district headquarters on the subject to create awareness about dental care among people, said Dr Puneet Girdhar, the Secretary of the organisation.


Intach team visits Kapurthala
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 29
The two-day visit of an Intach team headed by Mr S.K. Mishra, vice-chairman, Intach, and chairman, State Advisory Committee on culture, heritage and tourism, here concluded today.

The committee visited various heritage and historical sites in Kapurthala namely Royal Palace, Kamra Kothi, Moorish Mosque, state Gurdwara, Shalimar Garden, Jublee Hall, Bhoot Bungalow, Kanjli wetland Nasir Khan’s tomb etc.

The committee later held deliberation with various district officials, prominent citizens at Sainik School to work out an action plan and strategy for the restoration, conservation and promotion of heritage of the town.

Mr S.K. Mishra said Intach would explore the possibility of adopting the town and prepare project reports for various conservation projects for heritage buildings. Various government and non-government agencies could then be approached to fund the projects.

The Deputy Commissioner gave a detailed presentation on the behalf of the Kapurthala Heritage Society to the team and other participants. A project to bring fresh flow of water in Kali Bein, development of Kanjli wetland, restoration of Palace building emerged as priority areas.

The meeting was attended by Ms Geetika Kalha, Secretary, Cultural Affairs, Mr G.S. Aujla, ADGP, Punjab, and Patron, Kapurthala Heritage Society, Mr S.S. Gill, Director, Cultural Affairs, local MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh, MC President.


Plea to hold theatre festival in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Punjab Government should come forward to organise a national theatre festival at Patiala to arouse love for the theatre among the people of Malwa and to acquaint them with the national theatre standards. These were the views of the Director of the National Theatre Arts Society, (NTAS), Patiala, and other theatre activists at the conclusion of a week-long National Natya Festival at Chandigarh organised by the North Central Zone Cultural Centre, Allahabad, and the Haryana Public Relations and Cultural Affairs.

They said the organisers were doing well to give importance to Chandigarh for the past so many years in this regard, but at the same time they should not ignore Patiala, which is known as the seat of education, art and culture, having the headquarters of the NZCC, the Department of Languages, Punjab, Punjabi University and National Institute of Sports. They urged the NZCC, that sponsored two shows of two different Chandigarh groups at the National Natya Festival, to repeat at least those ready-made performances at Patiala.

NTAS Director Pran Sabharwal, who attended the Chandigarh Festival travelling to Patiala daily, said the chief of the National School of Drama Repertory Company, Delhi, Mr Suresh Sharma, who is organising a theatre festival of their seven plays at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh, which concludes tomorrow, gave a positive response to the idea of organising a festival of their plays at Patiala, but said there must be some initiative from the Punjab Government or the NZCC etc.


Rajasthan to get power from PSEB
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 29
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will supply 50 mw of power (12 lakh units) a day to Rajasthan from October 1.

Sources in the PSEB said this evening that the board would sell 50 mw of power a day to Rajasthan at higher rate after getting its share from the central pool at a lower rate. At present the PSEB was underdrawing its share quota from the central pool.


Seminar on dental care
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 29
The Indian Dental Association, Faridkot district unit, and its Punjab branch organised jointly a state-level seminar here today on the latest developments, techniques and methods for making dentures.

Inaugurating the seminar Dr SPS Sodhi, president of the state body, said a decision had been taken to train school teachers in primary dental care in collaboration with Colgate India Ltd in three phases particularly in the Malwa belt. First function in this connection will be held in the third week of November. Dr Andreas Hubben from Germany, stressed for providing metal-free treatment under the continuing dental education programme for dental surgery.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
A meeting of the New Niyukat Science Mistresses Association, Punjab, will be held on October 2 at Chatar Singh Park in Ludhiana in which a strategy for stopping the government from implementing arbitrarily the recommendations of the Lokpal, sacking them from service, would be framed, says a press note.


Nabha urban estate plan cleared
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has approved the lay-out of the 110-acre Nabha Agricultural Seed Farm, transferred to it earlier and now being developed as an urban estate.

It has been decided to start work on the boundary wall of the estate. PUDA has also acquired one acre of land belonging to the Nabha Municipal Corporation and contiguous to the seed farm land and situated on the main road to make the project viable.

The Urban Estate, is being established at Nabha, 25 km from here, after taking over the seed farm transferred to PUDA under a scheme wherein underutilised government land was identified for exploitation is 1 km from the city.

Additional Chief Administrator PUDA Hussan Lal said 745 plots of various sizes had been planned and space for commercial areas, Primary School, Senior Secondary School, Community Centre and Water Works earmarked. Land along the main road for the construction of the SDM’s office complex in the same compound has been marked.

The estate situated on the Bhawanigarh road, will be connected to the grain market at its rear. He added PUDA wanted to offer the estate to the people at right price for speedy development.

PUDA has also selected a site on the Grand Trunk road for Urban Estate at Sirhind. The site includes 60 acres owned by the Sirhind Municipal Council and 22 acres owned by Agricultural Department. It proposes to establish the estate by acquiring only 10 acres from private parties to integrate both pieces of land.

The development authority has already written to the government to transfer the land owned by the Agricultural Department to it under the Other Government Vacant Land Scheme under which underutilised government land is being developed by PUDA in the state. It proposes to buy 60 acres from the council for the estate.

Steps are also being taken to revive the Barnala Urban Estate Project. Mr Hussan Lal said PUDA had bought 140 acres of land near the city for urban estate. He said on a petition by some land owners the Supreme Court had excluded certain pieces of land from acquisition. He said PUDA was also in the process of appealing to the Supreme Court that it needed adjacent pieces of land to make the estate viable because it had paid the land owners their dues after acquiring the land and could not start development due to this problem.


Integrated township project takes off
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
The Integrated Township Project, proposed to be set up here under the Counter Magnet Towns scheme of the Central Government has finally taken off with the Patiala Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) identifying 300 acres of land in Baran village, 5 km from here, as the site on which the project will be established.

The Section 4 notification, under which the government will acquire the land needed for the project, has been prepared and is being sent for approval. The Patiala Subdivisional Magistrate has been notified as the Land Acquisition Officer for the project and the PUDA has been made the nudal authority for development of the township and entrusted with the responsibility of initiating and coordinating the process.

Patiala was among the five locations in the country which were identified as counter magnet towns to the national Capital territory by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCR-PB). The NCR-PB provides financial assistance for projects undertaken by the respective state authorities of the identified towns to provide impetus to economic development of the region.

As part of its initiative, the PUDA proposes to develop an integrated township comprising of a warehousing park, an agro park and an electronics and information technology park along with residential and commercial components. The main thrust of the township would be on IT electronics and agro industry which are being projected as thrust areas for enhancing economic profile of the city. Giving details of the township, the Additional Administrator of the PUDA, Mr Hussan Lal, said that the Software Technology Park of India was being roped in and would establish an earth station to encourage setting up of IT projects in the township. He said the Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation would utilise land available in the area for establishing agro processing Industries. Besides this, all procurement agencies were being asked to establish plinths and godowns to encourage private entrepreneurship in the project.

Mr Hussan Lal said Rs 66 crore had been earmarked for the project in the first phase and out of the total area of 300 acres, the Urban Estate would comprise 175 acres, the IT and electronic park 50 acres, warehousing park 50 acres and agro park 25 acres. The project is planned to be completed in 10 years with developmental activity in the first 3 years.

Other unique points of the project would be maintenance of wide green belts of 60 m and 100 m, respectively, on both sides of the state and national highway and would also have open spaces.

It is also proposed that certain part of the surplus generated from the project be used for the conservation of cultural heritage of the city.


Woman nabs chain snatcher
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 29
Devinder Kaur, a resident of Jalandhar, caught hold of one of the chain snatchers near the Civil Hospital here yesterday afternoon.

In a press note issued here today, the police said Devinder Kaur and her mother Daljit Kaur were returning to Jalandhar after meeting their relatives here and were about to take a rickshaw for the bus stand when two scooter-borne robbers suddenly stopped near the rickshaw and one of them snatched the gold chain of Devinder Kaur. He then tried to flee but she caught hold of him and raised an alarm.

A police party on patrol near the hospital rushed to the scene and nabbed both the chain snatchers and recovered the chain from them.

The police have identified the chain snatchers as Amandeep Singh and Paramjit Singh and recovered one knife and scooter from their possession. They later confessed to have committed three chain snatching incidents in the town.


Woman molested in public
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
A woman was molested and her clothes were torn in full public view by Nandu Baba and Seeta under police station B division here last evening. According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred after a scuffle over a minor dispute. The victim alleged that she was paraded naked, but the police refuted it.

The police has registered a case under Sections 392, 294, 323, 354, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Both the accused have been arrested.

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