Tuesday, October 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



All-party meeting tomorrow
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Punjab is in a state of crisis as a hostage of Congress-Akali politics. This permanent stranglehold of politics has adversely affected its economic growth, caused social unrest and vitiated peace and communal amity by invoking religious sentiments. Yet, the two major parties refuse to learn any lessons from their past unhealthy, competitive politics. The latest example is the blame game over the pricing and procurement of paddy.

The question is not if the Congress “slept” over the matter, as the Akalis charge or if the Akalis ‘’conspired and connived’’ with the BJP-led NDA Government, as the Congress accuses.

The question is one, why should the Centre create an impasse over announcing the MSP and date for procurement of wheat/paddy every year or expect the political party in power in Punjab to lobby in New Delhi? Two, why is it that the MSP is not announced by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices before the sowing of rabi/kharif crops? Three, why can’t the Centre and states arrive at a consensus on identifying parameters to determine natural calamities like drought and floods for the purpose of relief? Four, why can’t the “targeted” public distribution system be overhauled to take care of the Centre’s bufferstock so as to minimise the suffering of states like Punjab that bear the liability to stock foodgrains?

Today, it is the Punjab Government, not the Congress, which is in a confrontation-mode as much with the NDA Government as with the Akalis. A wrong precedent has been set by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his colleagues by staging a dharna in front of the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi and calling for a “rail roko” stir, which fortunately was later called off.

Now an all-party meeting has been called in Chandigarh on October 2. The broad agenda of the meeting is said to be evolving a political strategy to exert pressure on the Centre again in the interest of farmers.

Sources in the government and the Opposition say that what the meeting should, in fact, be discussing is to chalk out a joint strategy on 1) diversification of agriculture and saving Punjab from becoming a desert; 2) saving agriculture that is fast becoming economically unremunerative; and 3) saving small/marginal farmers from becoming farm labourers.

The meeting should focus on getting Punjab rid of paddy, which has depleted subsoil water, rendered thousands of tubewells dry (necessitating their replacement at a high cost) and wheat-paddy rotation — a threat to ecology and environment.

The meeting should focus on the setting up a chamber of agri-business to safeguard the interests of farmers, on the pattern of the CII or Assocham etc. Punjab should lead agriculturally progressive states to make the voice of farmers heard in New Delhi, just as the corporate sector influences government policies and governance.

The meeting is expected to draw up a road-map of economic development of Punjab, taking into consideration its fiscal difficulties and proposed reforms, rather than ending as yet another political gimmick, as kisans sweat it out on the streets.



CM to inaugurate procurement today
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 30
While farmers’ protests blocking railway tracks continue, the government is all set to start the procurement of paddy from tomorrow. Chief Minister, Punjab , Captain Amarinder Singh will inaugurate the procurement in the grain market here considered to be the largest one in Asia.

The announcement about the Chief Minister’s visit brought cheer to farmers who expect that he might announce some relief in the form of bonus. Most of the farmers did not sell their paddy today in the hope of better price tomorrow when the Chief Minister himself will supervise the procurement process.

According to Market Committee sources nearly 40,000 tonnes of paddy has arrived in various grain markets of Ludhiana district, most of it have been unloaded in Khanna market only. Since Khanna’s grain market is the biggest, most of the farmers from placed in the region as far as Nawanshahr and Kapurthala bring their produce here for better price compared to other places.


Dayal takes CM to task
Paddy MSP and procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab CPI, is not in a mood to spare Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on important political issues, especially paddy and drought. At one stage, Dr Dayal had played a crucial role for an electoral alliance in the assembly elections with Capt Amarinder Singh, who was then heading the PPCC.

Attacking Capt Amarinder Singh Dr Dayal said today that the Chief Minister should not have staged a dharna in front of the residence of the Prime Minister. “It is not the job of Chief Ministers to stage such dharnas. It would have been far better, if the Congress party had staged the dharna”, he added.

Questioning the Chief Minister, Dr Dayal said why did he (CM) withdraw the “rail roko” programme without assigning any reason immediately after the government announced to retain the minimum support price of paddy at last year’s level. Had the Chief Minister accepted the MSP announced by the Centre? he asked.

When asked whether his party would attend the all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister on October 2, Dr Dayal said he had called an all-party meeting tomorrow in which almost all main political parties had confirmed their participation. What was the need for holding an all-party meeting by the Chief Minister on October 2 after tomorrow’s meeting? he asked. Dr Dayal said if the Chief Minister wanted to call an all-party meeting on the paddy issue, he should have first invited the leaders of main recognised political parties for talks as was done at the national level by the Prime Minister.

Moreover, the Chief Minister had not respond when repeated requests were made to him a month ago to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi on drought, MSP and other issues related to the farming community, said Dr Dayal.

On the one hand, the Chief Minister had called an all-party meeting but on the other hand, his government was giving official advertisements against the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Was it a right step to create a conducive atmosphere for holding an all-party meeting? he questioned.

Dr Dayal was also critical of Mr Badal and said the Leader of the Opposition had not played the role he should have played to get the MSP enhanced. However, he said that it was a wrong on the part of the Chief Minister to say that Mr Badal had stopped the Union Government from enhancing the MSP.

The state government, the CPI leader said, was entirely responsible for the distress sale of paddy in the past two weeks. The government was in a position to make its procurement agencies enter the grain markets but it did not do so.


Kanwaljit assures farmers of bonus
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 30
A delegation led by SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal would meet the Prime Minister tomorrow and demand an immediate bonus of Rs 100 per quintal as compensation for farmers.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, while talking to the mediapersons here today said the Prime Minister would most likely accept the demand.

The former minister was here to preside over the annual Gurmat Chetna camp, organised by the AISSF (Peer Mohamad) faction.

He said the state government had failed to make arrangements for paddy procurement and the farmers had been left on the mercy of private traders.

“ The chaos regarding the MSP and procurement process of paddy had been created due to the certain clauses of the WTO which adversely influenced agriculture sector and was dangerous for farming community,” he added. He claimed that while the SAD had always objected to these clauses, the present Chief Minister had advocated the WTO.

He said the SAD started a public debate in the country and succeeded in creating a national and international opinion terming these clauses as suicidal for farmers of underdeveloped countries.

“On our demand during the second world conference in Doha, 67 countries supported our cause and agreed for renegotiation and stayed the implementation of WTO till 2003,” he said.

He said 70 per cent population of the country was dependent on agriculture and the SAD would urge the Central Government to frame a agriculture-specific policy.

Lashing out at the Congress, he said their policies had always been anti-farmer which was why farmers all over the country had fallen under debt trap.

He said Punjab was in a peculiar situation where on one hand stocks of food grain were rotting in the godowns due to lack of customers, and on the other hand as many as 40 crore people in the country were starving. As per a UNO report 5,000 children die every year due to this, he said.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh stressed that to solve this problem the government should provide food grain on reduced prices to customers and to compensate the farmers a direct subsidy should be given to them.

He said at present the government was giving an indirect subsidy worth Rs 1700 crore on pesticides, fertilizer and PDS, a major part of which goes down the drain while the farmers get minimum benefit.

Addressing workers of the AISSF, he cautioned them from conspiracies by certain forces to weaken Sikhs economically, politically and religiously.

AISSF (Peer Mohamad) faction chief Karnail Singh Peer Mohamad said that the Sikh youth would play a positive role and assured cooperation to the SAD.

Mr Dilraj Singh Raja, Mr Gursev Singh Harlalpur, Mr Swarn Singh Chanarthal, district president, SAD, and Mr Tejinder Singh Salana also addressed the function.


Agriculture Dept fails to implement cotton project
Punjab unable to contribute its share
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Despite tall claims by the state government about its seriousness to put the agriculture economy back on rails, the Agriculture Department has been finding it difficult to implement the intensive cotton development programme (ICDP) for the past three years as the Punjab Government has failed to contribute its share in the funds required for executing the programme.

Under the ICDP, the major share of which was to be financed by the Centre, farmers were to be provided with all modern equipments and latest know-how to make the cotton cultivation profitable. The Centre took up this project to increase area under cotton cultivation on the one hand and on the other hand to increase output.

Official sources said about three years ago, the Centre gave more than Rs 6 crore to the Punjab Government, 75 per cent of the total cost, for implementing the project in one year. The Punjab Government was to contribute more than Rs 2 crore as its share.

The sources added that as the state government had repeatedly failed to contribute its share, the money given by the Centre for the implementation of the ICDP had been lying unspent for the past three years.

Over the past few years, the production of cotton in Punjab, which used to produce 20 per cent of the total cotton produced in the country, has declined drastically. About two years ago, the situation came to such a pass that only 4.5 lakh bales were produced in the state against 26 lakh bales produced in 1989-90.

Pest attack, including attack of American bollworm in the past seven years has affected the production of “white gold” and the cotton belt of Punjab comprising seven districts — Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar, Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur — witnessed large number of suicides by the cotton growers as they came under huge debt due to repeated failure of their crop. The failure of cotton crop also led to the reduction of area under its cultivation.

Official sources pointed out that to increase, the cotton cultivation area farmers were to be given power operated spray pumps, tractor mounted spray pumps, certified seeds, pheromone and light traps and bio agents at subsidised rates. Apart from it, they along with extension workers of the Agriculture Department were to be given training in different aspects of cotton cultivation.

Field demonstrations, field teams of surveillance of disease and pest, field demonstration of the integrated pest management (IPM) and assured canal water supply were also major components of the ICDP.

Mr Jasvir Singh, Deputy Director (Cotton), Punjab, when contacted, said the ICDP scheme had again been sent to the state Planning Department for approval. He added that if the scheme was approved, it would open a new chapter in the cotton cultivation and would certainly help increase the area and production of cotton crop in Punjab. The Agriculture Department had planned to increase the area under cotton cultivation up to six lakh hectares next year if the Planning Department approved the project.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that last year, the Punjab Government released about Rs 1 crore under this project to the Agriculture Department but the bills submitted by different offices regarding expenditure on different components of the project were still not passed by the Treasury Department.

Meanwhile, Mr Jasvir Singh said the production target of cotton in the current season had been brought down to 11 lakh bales from 16 lakh bales which was fixed earlier. He added that production target had been revised as area under cotton cultivation had come down to 4.58 lakh hectares from the 6.07 lakh hectares of last year.


Punjab Govt to issue NRI bonds: minister
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 30
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister, talking to mediapersons as Sekhwan, 25 km from here, today said the Punjab Government would raise Rs 1,000 crore by issuing NRI bonds to the public and HUDCO for widening state highways. All arrangements to issue NRI bonds were in the process and these would be issued soon.

The minister said the government had decided to levy integrated toll tax for construction of roads and by this process the government would collect Rs 75 crore annually.

Mr Bajwa said the construction of link roads in the border belt of 15 km in the districts of Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Amritsar was being taken on priority. All villages up to border fencing would be connected with pucca roads. The estimated cost of construction of these roads would be Rs 112 crore in Gurdaspur district, Rs 132 crore in Ferozepore district and Rs 150 crore in Amritsar district. The Punjab Government had sent the plan in this regard to the Defence Ministry.

Mr Bajwa said the Punjab Government had planned to connect Amritsar with Jalandhar by four-way lanes involving an expenditure of Rs 450 crore. The target of construction during this year would be completion of 20 km involving an expenditure of Rs 100 crore.

Mr Bajwa said the state government in consultation with the Central Government had decided to construct 65 railway over-bridges in the state. The expenses in this regard would be shared equally by the Centre and the state government. During the current year construction of 25 over-bridges will be started.

He said the total expenses in this regard would be Rs 200 crore. He said the government had requested the Centre to contribute its share of Rs 100 crore.


BBMB quota: Punjab’s decision too late
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 30
The decision of the Finance Department to fill Punjab’s quota of employees in the BBMB has been welcomed by the state employee unions of the organisation. The Finance Department had recently sent a proposal to the Punjab Government to fill its quota of employees in the BBMB. The decision would save Rs 8 crore per annum for the state, officials of the Finance Department have maintained in the proposal.

However, experts feel that the decision has come too late for being really beneficial to the state. The apathy of the Punjab Government has, over the years, reduced the quota of its employees in the BBMB, to bare minimum.

According to the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966, the Punjab Government has a share of about 55 per cent in the BBMB. The quota of the state employees in the organisation also had to be in accordance to its share in the BBMB. According to the last administration report of the BBMB is at present about 15,000 employees were working in the BBMB.

As per the share quota of the state about 8000 employees of the state should have been working in the BBMB. However, at present the strength of the Punjab employees in the BBMB is about 1100.

At present the strength of the BBMB employees in the organisation has gone up to about 11,000 thus minimising the scope for the partner states to send their employees to the organisation. The BBMB raised its own quota of employees as per the resolution passed in a board meeting held in 1974. According to it the BBMB was allowed to recruit its own cadre of class III and IV posts upto a maximum of 20 per cent.


Dal (Mann) to attend Cong, CPI meetings
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 30
The Dal (Mann) headed by Simranjit Singh Mann today decided to participate in both all-party meetings convened separately by Dr Joginder Dayal, Punjab CPI general secretary on October 1, and Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh on October 2 at Chandigarh on the issue of MSP of paddy.

Talking to mediapersons Mr Jaskaran Singh, party’s general secretary said the decision was taken today at an emergency meeting held at the residence of Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general secretary of Dal (Mann).

Though our party totally differed with the Congress and the CPI ideologically, we have decided to participate in the meetings in the general interest of the farmers and for building pressure on the Centre to hike paddy price.


BJP yet to decide on meeting
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, September 30
Though Punjab BJP has formally received the invitation of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, to attend the all-party meeting on October 2. The party is yet to take a decision. The state BJP President, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, while confirming the invitation said here today, that he would take up the matter with BJP national general secretary Raj Nath Singh and BJP Punjab affairs in charge Sangh Priya Gautam.

Meanwhile the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) will participate in all-party meeting, summoned by state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh on October 2, at Punjab Bhavan in Chandigarh to discuss the paddy issue. This was stated by Morcha’s national president Satnam Singh Kainth here on Monday.


Badal’s ex-OSD refused bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 30
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today dismissed the anticipatory bail application of Mr Hardeep Singh, former OSD to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in a case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Hardeep Singh, who had filed the anticipatory bail a month ago, was on an interim anticipatory bail till today.

Arguing on the anticipatory bail application, Mr H.S. Kang, public prosecutor, emphasised on the dismissal of the bail application of Mr Hardeep Singh stating that the investigations could not be completed without taking him into custody. He further said the vigilance had yet to gather lot of information from Mr Hardeep Singh about his benami properties and assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The prosecution had records that he had properties worth more than Rs 10 crore both moveable and immoveable. But the prosecution agency is of the view that they could dig out more details of his properties, which could be more than Rs 10 crore, after taking him into custody.

The counsel for Mr Hardeep Singh pleaded that the vigilance had implicated Mr Hardeep Singh in the corruption case due to a political vendetta as he was an OSD to Mr Parkash Singh Badal during the previous Akali regime. Besides, Mr Hardeep Singh’s properties were on record which he had made by selling the purchased houses one after the other or by procuring gifts from his relatives.

The counsel pleaded before the court that keeping in view the circumstances and the records of properties and assets of Mr Hardeep Singh, presented by him in the court, Mr Hardeep Singh should be granted anticipatory bail.

After hearing the arguments, the Special Judge observed that as the documents produced on records show that the accused applicant was holding properties worth more than Rs 10 crore, and he was required to explain them before getting the bail in anticipation of his arrest, otherwise the court had to investigate his sources of income as well as his sources of gifts and loans so as to complete the investigation and if the accused was allowed anticipatory bail, the proper investigations were likely to suffer.


‘OSDs can’t hold sangat darshan’

Ferozepore, September 30
Punjab Chief Minister’s political secretary Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi today said no Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Chief Minister’s office could organise ‘ sangat darshan’.

He said this after three OSDs — V.P. Chhinna, Capt Vikramjit Singh and Major H.S. Bhullar — made an abortive attempt to organise ‘sangat darshan’ at Guru Harsahai, the constituency of Sodhi, on September 28.

Mr Chhinna, while admitting that they had scheduled the programme, said it had been cancelled when they found that Mr Sodhi was not available in the constituency.

District police chief Parveen Kumar Sinha, too , confirmed having received fax messages for making security arrangements for the programme.

Mr Sodhi, who had been kept in the dark about the ‘sangat darshan’ programme in his constituency, learnt about the schedule from his supporters, who held a noisy demonstration against Mr Chinna when he arrived in the town at his in-laws’ house on September 28. UNI


Notice on FIR against 4 Cong leaders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
Taking up another petition filed by Dr Rattan Singh and seven other MLAs seeking directions for the registration of a first information report against Punjab minister Lal Singh and Shamsher Singh Dullo (MP), besides former ministers Balmukand Sharma and Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and the four leaders for December 10.

In their petition, the MLAs claimed that the FIR should be registered on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the Lok Pal in its reports. An order for investigating the matter before submitting the challan in a court of competent jurisdiction was also sought, along with a direction for prosecuting the four in accordance with the law.

The MLAs added that the investigation should be conducted by an independent agency and by officers of integrity as the “present set-up of the Punjab Vigilance Department did not inspire confidence and its functioning had been adversely commented upon by former Chief Justice of the High Court.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioners asserted that the Lok Pal, acting on a number of complaints alleging misconduct, had submitted separate reports “indicting four Congress ministers of the Beant Singh government for misconduct and abuse of power. The petitioners added that the Lok Pal had also recommended the registration of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, against the leaders.

Arguing on their behalf, counsel for the petitioners stated that separate representations were sent to the Chief Director of Vigilance Department seeking the registration of cases. Legal notices were also sent to the respondents but the government failed to act. He concluded that “inaction on part of the respondents in registering the cases and not starting investigation against the four amounted to grave dereliction of statutory duty. Just because they belonged to the Congress party, an effort was being made to shield them due to mala fide political reasons”.

File reply on SGJC members

Acting on an application claiming that advocates Dara Singh, Kashmir Singh and Raghbir Singh were liable to be restrained from functioning as Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission members, a Division Bench of the High Court today issued notice of motion for October 13.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Kiran Anand Lall, also directed that a reply to the application should be filed within 10 days.

In his application, former member Manmohan Singh Brar claimed that the notification dated July 5, whereby the earlier Judicial Commission was restored after rescinding another notification appointing him as member, was liable to be stayed. Giving details, he added that the stay orders were liable to be passed in view of the judgement pronounced by the Special Bench on September 13 holding that the term of a judicial member was co-tenuous or co-terminous with that of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

PCS candidates can see record

Allowing an application filed by the state of Punjab claiming privilege of certain documents including police diaries and reports submitted by the Vigilance Bureau in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, a Division Bench of the High Court today allowed PCS candidates to go through the answer sheets. Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, observed that the parties had agreed that the record would be made available to counsel for the petitioners on October 2 between 10 am and 2 pm.

Notice to minister

On a petition filed by a senior assistant with Amritsar’s Government Mental Hospital and Institute, challenging his third transfer in less than five months due to mala fide reasons on part of his superiors, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal today issued notice to Punjab’s Health and Family Welfare Minister and other respondents for October 11. Lakhwinder Singh had contended that he was transferred to Faridkot from Amritsar after he refused to comply with the civil surgeon’s wishes.


SHO’s bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 30
The District and Sessions Judge, Moga, today dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of a police official booked for torturing a person and taking bribe to release the victim.

After hearing the accused, Inspector Sandip Kumar, the judge dismissed his bail plea holding that a criminal case had been framed against him. He has to surrender before the court or the police for investigations.

An FIR under Sections 342 and 323 of the IPC and Sections 13 (2) and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against him at the Nihal Singhwala police station in Moga district. However, he has eluded arrest.

According to details available from the Moga police, Bhupinder Singh of Khai village in Nihal Singhwala subdivision, in a complaint filed before the SSP, alleged that the then SHO of the Nihal Singhwala police station, Mr Sandip Sharma, picked him up from his residence on June 6, 2000, and tortured him for a couple of days before releasing him after taking a bribe of Rs 20,000. Later, he further demanded a sum of Rs 30,000 from the victim. The SSP marked an inquiry into the complaint to the SP (D), Moga. The SHO was found guilty. Following recommendations of the investigating officer, a criminal and corruption case was filed against him.


Delegating power to panchayats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
The Punjab Government will hand over the monitoring of primary health centres to panchayats.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Ramesh Dutt Sharma, here today. He was giving a speech after inaugurating the state-level dissemination workshop of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Research (CRRID)- Local Initiative Programme (LIP) project.

The minister also released a document on “Community Taking Charge of Their Health on CRRID-LIP project” published by CRRID.

The project provides an assured reproductive and child health coverage of Noorpur Bedi and Khamano blocks of Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.

Prof B.L. Abbi extended a welcome to the participants and Dr B.K. Pattanaik, project co-ordinator of CRRID-LIP, Khamano block, presented a summary of the project.


Dissolve Pak gurdwara panel: Badungar
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 30
The SGPC president, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, in a letter written to the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has urged him to ask the Pakistani President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, to dissolve the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee He has also demanded that all the gurdwaras in Pakistan be brought under the SGPC.

Speaking to the media here, Mr Badungar stressed that the condition of gurdwaras in Pakistan was declining. He alleged that the committee formed by the Pakistan Government to look into the alleged financial misappropriation of Rs 20 crore of gurdwara money in Pakistan had been delaying its report and did not not have any member of the SGPC. He demanded that steps be taken to include a member of the SGPC (Amritsar) in the committee formed by the Pakistan Government.

The SGPC chief also said that the recent controversy regarding Baba Ashutosh could have had serious ramifications and that the state government should take the requisite measures to ascertain that such incidents, where the religious sentiments of a particular religious community are hurt, are not repeated. Demanding that the report of the committee, which was set up to look into the controversy involving Baba Ashutosh be made public, Mr Badungar stressed that the state government should immediately ban the Ashutosh sect and place him under house arrest. He also said the book written by Ashutosh had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community and, therefore, it should be banned.

The SGPC president said he had written several letters to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, seeking permission for Sikh jathas to visit Pakistan, but the same had been denied due to the tension on the Indo-Pak border.

Mr Badungar said despite several requests to the Central Government regarding the early commencement of the SGPC poll, no reply had been received in this regard.

He demanded that the Congress should apologise for Operation Bluestar.


Labourer, 9 buffaloes buried alive
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 30
A migrant labourer and nine buffaloes were buried alive today under the debris of a house which collapsed, while a mason was rescued in the Avtar Nagar locality here. The body of the labourer was retrieved from the debris after about four hours of a rescue operation jointly launched by the police and the Fire Brigade Department of the local municipal corporation.

Even as the owner of the house, Mr Ashok Handa, got a head injury due to sudden collapse of a major portion of his house, which was being used as a dairy, the remaining members of his family had a miraculous escape since they were not present in the house at the time of the mishap.

Raghu, the mason, said they were yet to start the repair work on a pillar, which was the main support of the whole structure, including the first floor of the house, when the wall of the house collapsed leaving no room for escape. “My arm and hands were crushed under the iron beam and the labourer died after being buried under the debris for about four hours,” he said.

During a visit to the site of the mishap, it was found that the house was in dilapidated condition and the remaining structure could collapse any moment.


Seminar discusses state’s economy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
A seminar on “Punjab Economy — Some Emergency Trends” was organised at Mansa Government College, on Saturday. Noted economists of Punjabi University, Patiala and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, discussed different aspects of the state’s economy.

Dr Sucha Singh Gill, from the Department of Economics, Punjabi University, said agriculture in the state was in a mess and many aspects of crisis in agriculture, needed to be dealt with separately. He said that with proper guidance, the farmers could do wonders.

Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman also from Punjabi University, said that it was not possible for a country to do without the WTO agreement. He, however, favoured the developing countries make a pressure group for a fair treatment from world economic powers. He added that in place rejecting the WTO agreement outright, the developing countries should benefit from the emerging international economic order.

Dr Sukhpal Singh, from PAU, spoke on farmers indebtedness. He identified the causes and suggested remedies also.

Mr K. K. Sharma, Head, Department of Economics, Mansa Government College, said today that the seminar would make students and people of the area aware of the problems faced by farmers.

Speaking on ‘Politics of Power”, Mr Sharma said the previous government for the votes of farmers, ignored the state’s interests. He said the farmers never wanted power free of cost.


Challan presented against ex-member of PSSSB

Mansa, September 30
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) today filed a challan against Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board’s (PSSSB) former member Kulbir Singh Randhawa in a case of corruption, amassing disproportionate assets and bungling in recruitments made through the PSSSB registered against him by the bureau.

The challan was presented under Section 173 of the CrPC in the court of Sessions Judge L. R. Roojam here by Public Prosecutor Mohinder Singh Khokhar. Its copy was provided to Randhawa, who was present in the court. The Sessions Judge entrusted the challan to the court of Special Judge Amrik Singh Kathuria for trial. UNI


Railway unions hold gate rally
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 30
Members of the Northern Railwaymen Union and the Northern Railway Mazdoor Union held a gate rally here today in protest against the recent decision of the railway authorities to allot work pertaining to construction of bridges to private contractors.

Addressing the gathering the spokesman of the union, Mr Sawaran Singh, alleged that the railway authorities were trying to privatise the construction work in a phased manner even as the employees were fully competent to execute the same work.

He said despite the objections raised by the union in the regard, the authorities had invited bids for various such work, including fabrication of steel beams, supply of PRC slabs and the construction of a thrust bed at the Jalandhar cantonment railway station.


Music artistes enthral audience
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 30
Classical music artistes, including vocalists Ujesh Partap Singh of Rampur gharana from Delhi, Master Hari Dev from Goraya and Kamaljit Kaur from Chandigarh besides Mahavir Prasad, a flutist from Delhi and Master Kala Ram, a tabla player from Jalandhar, mesmerised the audience here last night at the Seventh Annual Classical Sangeet Conference held in memory of Sangit Davakar Master Ratan of Sham Chaurasi gharana.

Harminder Sharma, sitar player from Kalka, Krishan Kumar, harmonium player, Surinder Sharma and Rohit Sharma, vocalists, Jai Dev from Jalandhar, Jagjit Singh from Phillaur and Sharanjit Singh from Domeli also earned applause from the audience.


All set for paddy procurement
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 30
The district administration is all set to start procurement of paddy from tomorrow onwards. All arrangements in this regard have been completed and the entire paddy will be purchased as per MSP without any problem to the farmers.

This was stated by Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of district officials, representatives of purchase agencies, agriculture officers, Mandi Board officials, commission agents, representatives of labour unions, transporters and harvester combine owners in the Bachat Bhavan here today. The meeting was convened to take stock of the arrangements and to sort out problems, if any.

He said commission agents would have to play an important role in the process. He urged them to educate farmers to bring only dry paddy for sale. He said in case heaps of paddy having higher moisture contents than prescribed were found on the premises of any commission agent strict action would be taken. He asked the commission agents to maintain proper record of the paddy purchased at a rate less than the MSP and to mention reason for the same.

He said approximately four lakh tonnes of paddy was expected to come to the mandis in the district. Last year, the figure was only 3.79 lakh tonnes. He said 35 purchase centres had been set up in the district and six purchase agencies, including Food and Civil Supply Corporation, Markfed, Warehousing Corporation, Punjab Agro and FCI, had been allotted different mandis. The Deputy Commissioner took stock of the availability of gunny bags with the purchase agencies. He assured that there would be no shortage of gunny bags.

He directed the heads of purchase agencies to make proper arrangements for the storage of procured paddy. He urged them to hold meetings with transporters, labour contractors and commission agents for the smooth procurement of paddy. He directed market committee officials to make proper arrangements of drinking water, lighting and shelter for the farmers.

He said the paddy should not have more than 18 per cent of moisture contents. He advised farmers to reap paddy manually instead of using combines. Paddy reaped manually always had better quality, he said. He urged the farmers to get their crops registered with the market committee and to get ‘J’ forms from commission agents. He said the commission agents were entitled to unloading and cleanliness charges and if any of them demanded anything extra, farmers should report it to the respective SDM.

He warned the combine owners against operating their machines during night and late evening hours. If anyone was found violating the guideline, strict action would be taken against him, he said. He urged farmers to get their disputes, if any, settled through the dispute redressing committees formed at every purchase centre.


Wheat area to shrink
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, September 30
The area under wheat would be reduced by 4.25 lakh acres this year compared to last year and the same would be utilised for cultivation of pulses, cereals, oil seeds and vegetables, as per official information.

The Agriculture Department of the state is making efforts to motivate farmers to reduce the area under wheat and adopt diversification of crops. The department is holding special training camps for the farmers in different parts of the state to educate them about farm activities related with sowing of cereals, oil seeds and vegetables.

The area under wheat cultivation in the past year was 34.2 lakh hectares, which is aimed to be brought down to 32.5 lakh hectares this year. The department has set the target for production of wheat this year at 1.47 crore metric ton, while the production last year was 1.55 crore metric ton.

Although the farm experts had been advising the farmers for a long time to reduce the area under wheat cultivation and to increase area under oil seeds, vegetables and pulses, but the farmers were virtually not paying any heed to their advice.

The senior officials of the Agriculture Department are motivating farmers to cultivate different crops so as to reduce the burden on land by breaking the paddy-wheat-cotton crop rotation.

Although the Agriculture Department is motivating farmers to reduce the area under wheat, but they are also arranging to provide pure and certified seeds of wheat to them.

Even during the training camps the farmers are advised to purchase certified seeds of wheat, although they are simultaneously asked to cultivate oil seeds, cereals on some area, that was under wheat cultivation last year.

Dr Ram Pal, Director of Agriculture Department, while addressing the farmers at one such training camp here on Saturday said the department was making gradual efforts to reduce the area under wheat every year and to promote the cultivation of oil seeds, vegetables etc. He said the aim was to reasonably divide the area under cultivation between different crops to make agriculture profitable.

Dr Pal claimed that the department would provide 2.25 lakh quintals of certified seeds of wheat to the farmers in the state at subsidised prices. He claimed that flying squads have been formed to keep a check on the sale of spurious and duplicate pesticides and insecticides. He assured the farmers that there would be no shortage of fertilisers and pesticides in the state.

Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner said the farmers should also cultivate those crops for which marketing was not very difficult.

Mr Major Singh Brar, District Agriculture Officer said there was a target of producing 8.57 lakh metric tons of wheat, 16,000 tons of barley, 9,000 metric tons of oil seeds and 2,000 tons of gram in the district this year.


Implement CACP report on drought: Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, has urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to implement the recommendations made by the Commission of Agriculture on Cost and Pricing (CACP) to give relief to the drought affected paddy growers and other farmers.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Singla pointed out that CACP in its report submitted to the Centre had well recognised the fact that a number of states had suffered drought and had made recommendations accordingly to bring relief to the farmers.

The CACP had recommended to the Centre to reduce the price of fertilisers, make arrangements for waiving off interest on all types of commercial loans taken by the farmers and also give drought bonus to the farmers.

The CACP has made these recommendations in the background of drought and delayed excessive rains. The CACP has also appreciated the fact that farmers could save their crop by using their own resources and thus creating a huge debt for themselves,” pointed out Mr Singla.

He added that as the farmers had to resort to fresh loans for saving their crops from drought, they were unable to make payments of the loans taken previously. As a result the economic conditions of the farming community had worsened.

He said if the Centre was serious about improving the plight of farmers, it should immediately implement the recommendations of the CACP.


Woman burnt to death by in-laws
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 30
Bir Paul Kaur of Khiali Chahila Wali village in Mansa district was reportedly burnt by her in-laws on Saturday.

She was rushed to the local Civil Hospital for treatment where she died.

According to information reaching here the deceased was set ablaze allegedly by her husband Jagsir Singh and mother-in-law Tej Kaur against whom the Jhunir police has registered a case under Section 304-B of the IPC.

The accused were demanding more dowry and they burnt her when she failed to fulfil their demands.

The accused have absconded.


Man held for brother’s murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
The police today claimed that it had solved the mystery shrounding the murder of Harpal Singh of Ghuman Kalan village, by arresting his brother Buta Singh. The accused had reportedly confessed the crime.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in a press note that a case under Section 302 of the IPC was registered on the complaint of Jaswinder Kaur, the victim’s wife on August 20. The body was found on the Mansa-Maur road the next day.

The victim was suffering from polio. His brother Buta Singh used to work as a labourer. According to the police, the duo had a quarrel and Buta Singh murdered his brother by hitting him on the head with an iron rod.

The accused had reportedly confessed the crime to a village panchayat member. He was later arrested from a relative’s house at a village in Rajasthan. He was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody till October 12.


Granthi held for child abuse
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 30
The police here has booked a priest for abusing sexually a five-year-old boy.

According to the police, Karamjit Singh, son of Bakhtawar Singh of Nathoke village, a granthi abused sexually a five-year-old boy in a gurdwara of Kaleke village. The boy lived with his maternal grandfather. The accused was a granthi in the village gurdwara. The Baghapurana police registered an FIR (No 208) against the granthi under Section 377 of the IPC.

When the reports last came, the Baghapurana police had arrested the granthi and taken him to produce in the district court.


Gang of thieves busted, 3 held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 30
The police has arrested three members of an inter-state gang of thieves and recovered 11 photostat machines and one computer. In a press note here yesterday the SSP, Mr R.N. Dhoke, said police parties had been sent to arrest the fourth member.


Case registered
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 30
A case has been registered against the husband and mother-in-law of Harjit Kaur (26) of the local Muradpur locality who was allegedly burnt alive by them on Friday. She had been admitted to the local civil hospital with serious burns where she succumbed to her injuries.


Another case against Bhunder
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 30
The Sardulgarh police yesterday registered cases under the Arms Act against Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sardulgarh MLA and a close confidant of the former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his brother Mr Bhag Singh.

It is learnt that during raids conducted by the Vigilance Bureau at the residence of Mr Bhunder and his brother, the police recovered one carbine and one 30 Springfield rifle and some cartridges.


Scrap new education policy: ETT students
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, September 30
Hundreds of DIET and ETT students burnt copies of the 2002 education policy in front of the office of the District Education Officer (DEO) in protest against the dilly-dallying attitude of the government in accepting their demands.

Mr Surinder Singh Sodhi, secretary-general of the DIET Students Welfare Association, in a statement said that according to the new education policy, ETT teachers were required to do two years’ internship resulting in an increase their course duration from two years to four years. This was unfair as teaching practice was undertaken by them during their course.

He further demanded that the government must appoint teachers phasewise to stem the rot in education, especially at the government primary level, which in turn would not only benefit students and uplift their quality of life but would also provide employment to hundreds of qualified jobless teachers.

MANSA: DIET students of the district held a demonstration here on Monday and raised slogans against the new education policy. Many of them were carrying black flags. They were not allowed by the police to go near the district administrative complex. The students burnt copies of the new education policy in protest. They said there were no conditions at the time of admission of ETT students regarding two years’ internship after completion of the course and requirement of 55 per cent marks in the plus two examination before appointments.

They said according to the new policy, the maximum age limit has also been reduced from 42 years to 32 years. The union leaders while addressing the demonstrators said the Punjab Government did not consult the Central Government and the Ministry of Human Resources Development before announcing the new education policy.

They said the new education policy would deprive the candidates of job opportunities resulting in unemployment among the youth. They demanded scrapping of the new education policy. Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, Budhlada MLA, also addressed the students and assured the demonstrators of his cooperation. He said he would raise the matter in the next session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

HOSHIARPUR: Agitating DIET students of Ajowal burnt copies of the new education policy of the Punjab Government in front of the office of the District Education Officer on Monday in protest against the policy. A spokesman for the students told mediapersons that if this policy was not withdrawn, the students would further intensify their agitation. The students also held a demonstration and a rally.

KAPURTHALA (PTI): Students of Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) here blocked vehicular traffic on Monday for more than an hour on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar road near Mansoorwal to protest against the new education policy.

They staged a dharna in the middle of road and also held a rally which was addressed by their union leaders.

They also presented a memorandum to local MLA Rana Gurjit Singh who reportedly expressed sympathy with the striking students.

The students are demanding the scrapping of new education policy.


DIET students block traffic
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 30
Students of the DIET Fatehgarh Sahib, organised a protest march, blocked traffic and staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today. They were protesting against the new education policy and raised slogans against the government.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Mandeep, president, DIET, criticised the new education policy and demanded its withdrawal it immediately. He said that till the acceptance of their demands they would continue to stage dharna and the students appearing in the examinations would join the dharna for one hour daily. They urged the government not to increase the percentage of marks for the ETT from the existing 50 to 55 per cent. They also criticised the move of the government to lower the age limit for ETT job from 42 to 32 years. They demanded withdrawal of the policy under which every DIET student had to do an internship in a school for two years.

Thus would make the ETT course duration of four years. They demanded that the ETT teachers should continue to teach up to Class V and not up to Class III as recommended under in the new policy. They said that by scraping the post of head teacher and centre head teacher all the chances of promotion of ETT teachers would end and they would continue to be the ETT teachers.


Institutes’ closure: students approach VC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 30
Even as the Punjabi University Syndicate decided yesterday to close down the controversial Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information and Technology (MRSIIT) and Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information and Technology (GGSIIT), students of the GGSIIT today threatened to move court against the decision. The matter is already pending in the court.

The students of these institutes were shocked when they learnt today that the institutes would be closed because on September 4 the university authorities had regularised their admissions and formed a committee to work out the modalities of admissions for the next session.

Reassured by the decision of the university, the students who had passed their first year (two semesters) in various courses of information and technology, had taken admission in second year (third semester) and had also deposited the fee.

The students of the GGSIIT have written to the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar of the university urging them not to close down the institutes as the future of at least 500 students was at stake. They said the results of first year had already been declared and admissions to second year had been done. As they had already taken admission in the institutes, they could not seek admission to any other institute.

The students alleged that the university authorities were not taking care of their interests. They said the decision of the syndicate had caused harassment to them.

They said if the syndicate wanted to close down these institutes, it could have informed them in advance before admissions for next session started. They alleged that due to their uncertain future, their studies had suffered.


School lecturer beaten up, seriously injured
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 30
Mr Sat Pal Garg, vocational lecturer, Government Senior Secondary School, Nathana, 35 km from here, was injured seriously when he was beaten up in broad daylight at the Mall Road here this afternoon.

Mr Garg, admitted to the local civil hospital after he suffered a leg fracture, a head injury and bruises, was declared unfit to make any statement to the police by the doctors attending on him in the emergency ward.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that about 15 boys, who were yet to be identified, up him while he was going to the bus stand after attending a meeting at the office of the District Education Officer here.

Sources said the condition of Mr Garg was stable and he had been responding to treatment.

Police sources said efforts were being made to identify the culprits and a case would be registered soon.

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