Saturday, October 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal sees plot to kill him, son
Blames Amarinder Singh, Ravi Inder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal today charged Capt Amarinder Singh and ex-Speaker Ravi Inder Singh with having joined hands to “physically liquidate” him and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Mr Badal said, “I have definite information from intelligence sources about the conspiracy the two have hatched to eliminate us because the two have failed to finish me politically. If any mishap takes place, the two should be held responsible for our death”.

Mr Badal casually made this startling disclosure towards the end of a press conference at his residence today, after a meeting of the party’s Political Affairs Committee. Having created a stir among the mediapersons, he went on to answer a volley of questions on the threat perception to his security and that of junior Badal.

Mr Badal said: “There is a design to the conspiracy. In all these past 60 years or so of my political career, I have never ever made such a comment though I have weathered many a threat and situation. Why I see a conspiracy today is because earlier the state had recommended to the Centre to withdraw “Z” security accorded to me. To this the latter did not agree when Intelligence review was held. Sukhbir does not have “Z” security. We were even advised not to visit certain parts of the state like Ludhiana district. Since Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr G.S. Tohra could not succeed in their objective to implicate me in any of the cases that the Vigilance Bureau is pursuing against my colleagues or cause me damage politically, their desperation is understandable and a pointer to the conspiracy to kill me”. Asked if Mr Tohra was a part of the conspiracy, he replied, “I do not have any confirmed information of Tohra’s involvement in the conspiracy”.

The SAD President said for the past several months the Congress had only one-point agenda: ‘’Somehow to get to me. That is why Akali leaders are being hounded and framed in false and fabricated cases. The aim of Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Tohra is to capture the SGPC by means fair or foul”.

Mr Badal went on to allege that Surinder Singh Atwal along with policemen was regularly visiting houses of “our” SGPC members to intimidate, create fear-psychosis and threaten to kidnap them. He said inquires with senior police officers, Mr Bakshi Ram and Mr A.P. Pandey, revealed that they were either oblivious or feigned ignorance about Mr Atwal, an SP-rank officer. The two refused to “own him up” despite his telling at least five SGPC members to report at Mohali with certain documents of their property etc. The Akali Dal is now seeking a legal remedy to such harassment.

Mr Badal said the governmental or political interference in the SGPC affairs, a purely religious domain of the Sikhs, was a matter of serious concern. He warned against “terrorising” the SGPC members. This was being deliberately done because of the annual SGPC presidential elections due before November 30. In the present House, the SAD (Badal) claims the support of 120 of the 176 members. While 52 owe allegiance to the Tohra faction, four belong to the Simranjit Singh Mann faction.

Mr Badal expressed resentment over the manner in which the police was “terrorising and torturing” Akali leaders in an “inhuman manner”. This, he alleged, was being done at the behest of Mr Ravi Inder Singh, whom he dubbed as the Chief Minister’s “right-hand man”.

The SAD President would meet Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, L.K. Advani in New Delhi in a day or two to demand “fair and free” SGPC presidential elections and also apprise him of the governmental interference and intimidation of SGPC members.

Earlier, the PAC meeting passed several resolutions. One warned the government against political vendetta and implicating Akali leaders/workers in false cases. The second condemned the government for creating conditions worse than the ones prevailing during the 1975 emergency and pursuing a policy of personalised political vindictiveness while the third held the state responsible for the present mess over paddy procurement and castigated the government for showing laxity. The fourth resolution cast a doubt over government sincerity to pay Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on paddy-2001 and blamed it for delaying procurement till October 1 while the fifth welcomed Rs 20 per quintal as bonus by the Prime Minister and demanded further relief for farmers in view of drought and untimely rain. The sixth resolution sought withdrawal of sales tax on fertilisers and plant protection chemicals, continuation of “free” power and irrigation water to the agriculture sector and seventh condemned the decision to close all 17 DIET and for not being sympathetic to elementary education teachers’ demands. The last resolution mourned the death of Editor Narinder Mohan and an Akali worker Sikandar Singh.

Mr Badal said it was morally incorrect to engineer defection in the CPI. “Though it is an internal matter between the two parties, it is morally incorrect. An elected person must quit the party on whose symbol he/she contests an election and should seek re-election. We are taking up this issue as part of electoral reforms initiated by the Election Commission of India”, he added.


Badal’s charge ‘irresponsible’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
At least four ministers today took exception to the allegations of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, levelled against Capt Amarinder Singh that he had hatched a conspiracy with his friend, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, to kill him.

The ministers, — Mr Sardul Singh, Mr Avtar Henry, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, and Mr Ashwani Sekhri — said in a joint statement that such ‘‘irresponsible and callous utterances’’ by a seasoned politician like Mr Badal spoke volumes for his ‘‘frustration and dejection’’ in the wake of recent political developments in Punjab, which had smeared his image badly.

The ministers said Mr Badal stood fully exposed in the public eye for his dubious role in capitalising on the recent paddy crisis for his narrow and vested political interests. Mr Badal had also been isolated after the support mustered by Capt Amarinder Singh from different political parties and kisan unions and pleading the case of Punjab’s kisans with the Centre for their demands and announcing a bonus of Rs 30 per quintal on last year’s paddy.


Let Amarinder quit first: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
“First Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should tender his resignation on the paddy issue and I will follow him immediately”, said Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, while responding to a question that the Chief Minister has sought his resignation from the Union Ministry for not getting the minimum support price of paddy increased by the Centre.

Speaking to mediapersons, Mr Dhindsa said today that the main responsibility of getting the MSP increased was of Capt Amarinder Singh. But he did not do anything worthwhile on this front. The Chief Minister did not extend any cooperation to him ( Mr Dhindsa) on the paddy and drought issue, Mr Dhindsa alleged. So it would be appropriate to seek the resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Dhindsa said though he was prepared to resign if Capt Amarinder Singh did so there was no “justification for seeking my resignation as I did a lot for Punjab on the paddy issue”.

“I wrote a number of letters to the Chief Minster but neither he nor his officers responded” Mr Dhindsa alleged. He said he would not stay in the Union Cabinet even for a second if asked to resign by his party leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had always responded positively whenever the farmers problems were discussed with him. Mr Vajpayee went out of the way to announce Rs 20 per quintal as a drought relief on paddy even without taking the approval of the Union Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhindsa said that his ministry was trying hard to find a solution to the problem pertaining to the distribution of subsidy on fertilisers to farmers. The dominating view in the ministry was that the subsidy totalling Rs 13,000 crore should be directly given to farmers buying fertilisers.

It was apprehended that the benefit of direct subsidy might not reach small farmers, who are vulnerable enough to exploitation by the authorities concerned given the task of distribution of subsidy. Within a week, the ministry would take a decision in this connection and put the proposal before the Union Cabinet for approval. At present subsidy is given to the fertiliser manufacturing units on the basis of their production. However, there are reports that certain units show excessive production to claim maximum subsidy.


Badal: govt trying to delay SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 4
The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday alleged that the government was making all-out efforts to delay the forthcoming SGPC poll.

Mr Badal, who was addressing a press conference here today, said the Congress was trying to delay the poll to the SGPC general house to help the SHSAD led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. The SGPC poll is due in November. He said SGPC members, owing allegiance to the SAD, were also being harassed as the Congress wanted to dampen their spirits and discourage them from participating in the poll process.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal condemned the state government for its decision to cancel the admissions of 3,400 ETT students and indiscriminate lathi charge by the district police on the agitating DIET students, particularly girls, here yesterday.

In a press statement issued here today he said it was a shameful act on the part of the Congress government which had instructed the police to resort to an indiscriminate lathi charge on students, which resulted in injuries to 20 students.


Jacob caught on farmers’ wicket
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), October 4
Why does not the Centre announce the minimum support price ( MSP) before the sowing of wheat or transplantation of paddy? Why do the farmers have to agitate for days at Chandigarh to convince the Centre to provide just Rs 20 per quintal as drought relief on paddy, already cleared by the Agricultural Price and Costs Commission? Is it justified that even during the lean period, villages are supplied power for just four to five hours? These were the questions that farmers at kisan mela asked the Governor of Punjab, Lt-Gen. J.F. R. Jacob (Retd) here today.

The Governor was taken aback by these tough questions. But he hastened to give an assurance that he would ask the authorities concerned to redress their problems. He had to rather call the area MLA, Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra to answer the questions of farmers, and the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Tejveer Singh to solve the problem of power.

The Governor was here to inaugurate the kisan mela, organised by the Punjab Young Farmers’ Association. The farmers from the surrounding villages had gathered in good numbers. They were quite happy when the Governor announced that instead of making a speech, he would like to interact with them. But the subsequent events depressed most of them.

Mr Satnam Singh, an old farmer asked the Governor why the state government or His Excellency could not do anything when they had to sell potatoes at less than 50 paise per kg or to throw away their vegetables on the roads. Mr Hardev Singh, another farmer from Uksi village, wanted to know that if General Jacob could force General Niazi of Pakistan to surrender with 90,000 forces in Bangladesh, why could he not tell the Centre about their pathetic situation. He said,‘‘ If Punjabi farmers are forced to agitate on roads, or to commit suicide, what would have been happening with farmers of other states.’’ Understandably, the Governor had to cut his visit short, and the organsiers had to tell the farmers that the Governor was in hurry to reach Chandigarh.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, in his brief speech, asked the farmers to curtail their expenses, instead of looking for alms from the state or the Centre. He wondered why the sale of tractors, building material and other consumer durables was so high in the state, when the rural economy was facing the worst crisis.

Blaming the lack of any social movement in the state, he said,‘‘ The Punjabis are basically an individual-oriented society, always interested in maximising their self-interest. They spend more money than their income. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of good NGOs in the state, which could create awareness among farmers about the social issues.’’

Referring to the agrarian crisis in the state, he said: ‘‘The easy money earned through corrupt methods over the years has affected the spending behaviour of farmers. Further the policy-makers have failed to motivate them to work for the long-term interests of the state or their families.’’ Interestingly, there was not a single woman in the whole fair.

Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, released a souvenir on the Punjab Young Farmers Association. Farmers later visited the stalls of different seed and pesticide companies put up there.


Farmers’ miseries far from over
Poor paddy arrival in grain markets
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, October 4
Farmers of the area, already upset by the MSP announced by the government, are in for another crisis as drought has reduced their yield per acre.

Farmers of Lalru and its surrounding villages are the worst hit since their yield has gone down by 50 per cent this year. The drought-like situation followed by delayed monsoon and unwanted showers have almost “ruined” the farmers of the region.

The situation is so bad that some of the grain markets in this part of the state are still awaiting the arrival of paddy. While those with some paddy have received it far less as compared to the previous years.

Of the six grains markets — Dera Bassi, Samgauli, Amlala, Lalru, Jaroth and Humayaupur Tasimbli — in this subdivision, paddy has arrived in only two — Dera Bassi and Lalru — markets, while the rest are wearing a deserted look.

According to official records, paddy arrival is much higher as compared to the previous year in Dera Bassi grain market, while on the other hand only one third of the previous year’s arrival has been reported in Lalru market so far.

As against 11,500 quintal paddy arrival last year, a record 18,191 quintal paddy has so far arrived in Dera Bassi grain market, while only 9,58 quintal paddy has arrived in Lalru grain market against 2,636 quintal last year as on October 3.

There are only three agencies — Markfed, Punsup and Punjab Warehousing Corporation — procuring paddy as per the government rates. Out of 18,191 quintal of paddy in Dera Bassi market, Markfed and Punsup have purchased 553 and 1,017 quintal, respectively, while the rest has been purchased by other procurement agencies.

At Lalru grain market, Markfed has purchased 347 quintal and the Punjab Warehousing Corporation 198 has purchased quintal of paddy, while the rest has been lifted by other procurement agencies.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, SDM, Dera Bassi, said: “The average paddy arrival in both Dera Bassi and Lalru markets has been almost 50 per cent low this year till October 3”.

He said only 1.5 lakh quintal of paddy was expected to arrive, against previous year’s total arrival of 2 lakh quintal of grain in the local markets.

Mr Dhindsa claimed that best possible arrangements had been made to provide basic facilities to the farmers in the markets and for the safety of their produce.

Three different committees had been constituted under the leadership of tesildar, naib tehsildar and block development project officer that would conduct surveys of different grain markets and submit their reports to the SDM from time to time.

Moreover, to solve any dispute among farmers, middlemen and procurement agencies, a Dispute Settlement Committee comprising some farmers had also been formed under the chairmanship of the SDM.

Mr Dhindsa, along with some officials of the procurement agencies, today visited the Dera Bassi grain market and inspected the quality of the paddy.


Cops sit pretty, courtesy clout
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 4
In violation of rules, a large number of middle-rung Punjab police officials have either been posted in their home districts or have been overstaying the stipulated three-year term in the districts of the Doaba region allegedly with the help of their political or bureaucratic masters.

Interestingly, even head constables or officials who do not fulfil the requisite qualifications have been given plum posts such as SHO or have been made in charge of police chowkis in violation of the Punjab Police Rules-1934 and the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The rules clearly specify that no non-gazetted official should be posted in his home district and should not be allowed to be posted at one place for more than three years. However, there are some middle-rung officials, including sub-inspectors and inspectors, who are either serving in their home districts or have been serving at a place for over 10 years with the “blessings of their superiors.”

Interestingly, some of them have even devised a novel method to circumvent the norms by making minor “changes” in their home addresses or have had a break in their stay by shifting to some other nearby place for a few weeks or months only.

According to highly-placed police sources, Mr Nirmal Singh, currently posted as SHO, Phillaur, and resident of Hoshiarpur, has been serving in Jalandhar district for more than 10 years, while Inspector Nirmal Singh, originally hailing from Kapurthala and now in charge of the anti-fraud wing of the Jalandhar police has been serving in the district since 1993 without any out-of-district posting. Similarly, Inspector Harjinder Singh and Inspector Harpreet Singh have been serving in Jalandhar district since 1994 and 1995, respectively. Mr Kashmira Singh, originally hailing from Amritsar and currently posted as SHO, Noormahl, has been serving in Jalandhar district since 1998, while Sub-Inspector Sukhdev Singh, posted as chowki in charge, Maqsudan police station, has been serving in the district since 1995.

Interestingly, Mr Satnam Singh, Mr Inderjit Singh and Mr Angrez Singh, all head constables, have been working as the in charge, anti-gunda staff, the SHO, Nawanshahr, and the SHO, Mehatpur (Jalandhar), respectively, even as they do not fulfil the requisite qualification, which is a violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court order in the State vs Bachan Singh Randhawa case, saying that no ORP rank or promotion can be given to an official if he does not have the required qualification.

Similarly, Inspector Manjit Singh (posted at Police Lines in Hoshiarpur), Sub-Inspector Swaran Singh (SHO Mukerian), Mr Ashwani Kumar (SHO, Hajipur), Mr Parmjit Singh (Additional SHO, Hoshiarpur), and ASI Jiwan Kumar (Purhiran chowki) have reportedly been serving in Hoshiarpur district for more than six years. Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said she had posted out a large number of officials during her tenure and only those were serving who had made some request on compassionate grounds. On the other hand, the sources said most of these officials managed their stay at the places of their choice despite displeasure shown by their immediate superiors due to their powerful clout with politicians and bureaucrats.


Singla talks unpolitician-like
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 4
It was a session where the key speaker, Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the high-powered Committee on Economic Affairs, did not spare even the politicians — his own class.

The occasion was inaugural lecture on “Political Economy of Punjab” organised by the Centre for Studies of Punjab Politics at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

He said: “The key figure of any change is a politician, who is responsible if nothing has changed in the past half century on the developmental front? A politician, who is the key changer, will have to change himself first before endeavouring to bring reforms”.

He said the politicians who did plain-speaking must be prepared mentally to lose the next election. He emphasised the need for making the politicians accountable for promises made in manifestos.

He exhorted the intelligentsia to come forward and to point out the follies of the politicians and raise social, economic and political issues boldly and help to shape the future of the society which is at stake.

He said no government could afford to annoy the employees. He said if the present state of affairs continued and if they (salaried class) did not allow the state to bring reforms the employees would not be able to get their pensions. The coffers of the state were likely to be emptied in the next few years if the government was not allowed to take corrective measures. “It is in their own interest to take care of finances. Capt Amarinder Singh is thinking of the future of the state so that employees should continue to get their salaries and pensions,” he said.

Giving break-up of the dismal financial crunch, Mr Singla said the pension bill had increased from Rs 300 crore during the previous Badal government to whopping Rs 1,200 crore and would touch Rs 4,000 crore in the year 2010 and at one time the pension bill could be more than the bills of salaries.

He said: “The freezing of the LTC or additional dearness allowance for a year or so should be considered in the interest of employees and they must appreciate the limitations of the government. It is time to think. Give Capt Amarinder Singh space to reform the financial health of the state.”

He said the temporary suspension of the DA or the LTC should not be considered as denying any right to the employees. “He (Capt Amarinder Singh) wants to save your tomorrow’s salary,” he said.

He said 90 per cent revenue of the state was being spent on salaries, pensions and paying of interest on previous loans, hence the state had to take loans for carrying out developmental works.

Without mincing words, Mr Singla said politicians were not thinking about the future for vested interests.

Emphasising the need to evolve mechanism to cope with the present deplorable state of affairs, he talked at length on the “faulty” tax collection system and suggested to rationalise the same. He said his utterances that raiding parties had more “black money” than the businessmen had caused a flutter but it was the point which was a open secret. By rationalising the tax structure, the temptation for tax evasion could be minimised.

During a question-answer session, Mr Singla touched upon the issues like rampant corruption, the quality of service being provided by the private sector as compared to the government sector and bringing transparency in the working of politicians.

Expressing concern over the present state of affairs of education in Punjab, Mr Singla said the cost per child per month in a government school was higher than that in a private school but the quality of education in a private institution was much better than that in a government school.

On the quality of service provided by the private sector, Mr Singla said the private sector transporters had captured 68 per cent of the total business while Punjab Roadways and PEPSU Road Transport had to be satisfied with 32 per cent business only. He emphasised that revolutionary reforms be made to get the Punjab’s economy back on the rails.


Show cause to Punjab on clerks’ sack
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
In less than a week after the services of 132 clerks working with the Punjab School Education Board were terminated, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the state of Punjab and other respondents to show cause why the petition should not be admitted.

Taking up the petition filed by Sarabjit Kaur and 131 other petitioners, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice S.S. Saron, also directed the issuance of dasti notices to Punjab’s Education Minister Khushal Behal and Principal Secretary K.K. Bhatnagar. The Judges also fixed October 23 for final disposal of the case.

In their detailed order, the Judges ruled that written statements should be filed in the case by the next hearing. They observed that the Education Minister and the Principal Secretary had allegedly interfered in the matter and were present before the Education Board’s meeting took place. “It is also alleged that they directed the board members to reach a definite conclusion resulting in the passing of the impugned order,” the Judges added.

Challenging the orders issued on September 30 terminating their services and employing them on contract basis, the petitioners had also asked for directions to the respondents for allowing them to continue in service from the date of their initial appointment.

The Bench, disposing of their petition last month, had asked the petitioners to present their individual cases after approaching the board, which was to meet on September 18.

The Bench had also directed the board to consider their cases after taking into account their experience and other factors. If aggrieved by the board’s decision, the petitioners could approach the court again, they had added. Challenging the orders initially passed on August 2, the clerks had contended that these were issued without independent application of mind and were “patently illegal”. Counsel had submitted that the order was passed on the basis of “wholly unsustainable” complaints and baseless allegations.

Going into the background of the case, counsel had asserted that soon after a change in government, reports started appearing in the newspapers claiming that the Vigilance Bureau was questioning the board chairman and there were irregularities in their selection. Moreover, a first information report had also been registered against the then Education Minister. Subsequently, the petitioners learnt that the government had issued directions to the board on the basis of which their services were terminated.

Stay on sack of anganwari staff

A Division Bench of the High Court stayed the termination of over 15 anganwari supervisors working in the Directorate of Social Welfare.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, also fixed October 18 as the next date of hearing. The petitioners, belonging to the ex-servicemen’s category, had added that their services were terminated on the basis of a report submitted by Director of Social Welfare.

Notice to Punjab on Commandant’s plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab Home Guard’s District Commandant Daljit Singh Grewal seeking the quashing of a first information report registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a Division Bench of the High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents for November 26.

In his petition, the Commandant had claimed that he was being harassed as he was a prosecution witness in a case against the father-in-law of a Superintendent of Police. The father-in-law was accused of embezzling lakhs of rupees, counsel had added.


SAD mahila wing to fight for justice
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 4
The Mahila wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal will launch a campaign to get justice for the rape and dowry victims in Punjab. This was disclosed by Ms Vinod Chadha, President of the state wing at a press conference here yesterday. She pointed out that atrocities on women were increasing day by day. Cases of rape of teenaged girls and torture of brides for dowry were being reported at various police stations daily. But Capt Amarinder Singh’s govt. had failed to protect these innocent girls and brides. The mahila wing would not only fight the cases of these rape victims but also gherao the in-laws of those girls, who were torturing them for more dowry.

More and more women are taking to intoxication. They would also stage a dharna in front of those shops who were supplying intoxicants to the youths.

She said that mahila wing would stage a dharna on October 8, 2002, in front of the district courts at Hoshiarpur to oppose the anti-farmers policies of the Punjab government. She came down heavily on Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab for not fulfilling the election manifesto of the party.


Siau case: summons for Kang, Mewa Singh
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 4
Mr Ravinder Singh, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) here, today issued orders to summon Kiranbir Singh Kang, a senior leader of the youth wing of the SAD, and Mewa Singh, both accused in the Siau murder case, on November 6 as both have been evading arrest following non-bailable warrants of arrest issued by the court against them on September 7.

In the Siau murder case, the bodies of two minor Dalit children were found floating in a pond of Siau village, near Kharar, on June 22 last year. Mr Dhani Ram, father of one of the two deceased children, had filed a criminal complaint in the court against Kang and others under Sections 302, 201, 120-B and 34 of the IPC to initiate legal proceedings in the case.

On his complaint, after the completion of process for the issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants, the CJM issued non-bailable arrest warrants on September 7 against Kang and Mewa Singh to summon them to the court. Kang subsequently filed an anticipatory bail application on September 18 in the court of the Sessions Judge which was dismissed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria on September 26.

The non-bailable arrest warrants issued against Kang and Mewa Singh were received back by the court unserved. The SHO of Sohana police station today told the court that the warrants could not be served on Kang and Mewa Singh through the ordinary process. He said the police had raided the areas of Amritsar, Delhi, Batala, SAS Nagar and Chandigarh, but the accused were evading arrest.

In today’s order the CJM mentioned that he was satisfied that the warrants could not be served on the accused Kang and Mewa Singh through the ordinary process. Accordingly, they be summoned through a proclamation and the proclamation be issued immediately for November 6.


Siau murder; parties defer proposed blockade
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 4
Various political leaders at a meeting held here yesterday resolved to defer the decision of road blockade here till October 10. They had taken the decision on road blockade in connection with failure on the part of the police to arrest Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, senior vice-president of the Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Badal), despite the issuance of non-bailable warrants against him by the court in connection with the Siau murder case.

The decision was taken after Mr Bir Devinder Singh MLA, explained the position of the Punjab Government and said the police was taking all steps to arrest the accused, while pleading that some more days be given to the police.

Among others, Mr Balwant Singh, secretary CPM, Mr Maan Singh Manheda, secretary BSP, Mr Rajbir Singh, vice-president Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, and Mr Amrik Singh, Advocate participated in the meeting.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, while addressing the meeting, said he had brought all facts to the notice of the Punjab Chief Minister and said he had met with the DGP in connection yesterday. He said the delay in arresting Kang was adversely affecting the image of the state government.


Bodies to oversee forest development
Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

With a view to ensure people’s participation in its ongoing drive to conserve the fast-depleting forest cover in the state and to save forest wealth from falling into the hands of unscrupulous elements, the Punjab Forest Department has decided to constitute Forest Development Agencies (FDAs) in the state.

The decision regarding constitution of the FDAs has been taken in the light of a Central Government directive, envisaging people’s greater involvement in development and conservation of forests. The FDAs, having village-level Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) as one of their major constituents, would start working at the forest division level within two to three months.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr A.S. Dogra, Punjab’s Principal Conservator of Forests, said the department was all set to form FDAs in all 15 forest divisions throughout the state. Central aid for development and conservation of forests would be routed through these bodies. Each FDA would see the participation of about 50 JFMCs, and representatives of JFMCs would either be elected or nominated to FDA, which would monitor work aimed at developing forests, apart from ensuring proper conservation and wider participation.

“Experience has shown that proper conservation of forests cannot be done without public involvement and without inculcating a sense of belonging among them. Moreover, thousands of people, particularly, in the Kandi area are those very poor and entirely dependent on forests,” said Mr Dogra, who visited a number of villages, identified for constitution of JFMCs. These envisage mutual benefit for forests and local people, who would be given a share of the forest wealth in proportion to their contribution.

According to Mr Dogra, the department proposes to earmark Rs 2 crore for training Forest Department employees as well as people in conservation of forests and in setting up forest-based cottage industries. “Under the JFMC plan, we have decided to employ needy people in forests in one or the other form so that they can be involved in conservation. We have also decided to share forest wealth like water, fruit, and even timber with those people, so that they show interest in conservation,” he added.

Mr R.R. Kakar, Divisional Forest Officer, Hoshiarpur, said residents, particularly women, of Niala village, where he had started making ground for constitution of a JFMC, were showing keen interest in the programme.

“Even women have made detailed social maps, showing green patches and places where such patches could be created for development of forests,” he said, adding that the department was also engaging itself at the grassroot level by undertaking social welfare tasks like free repair of tubewells, roads and providing knowhow on use of forest wealth. “People of the area definitely have more knowledge about forests and how to ensure their conservation. So, in place them giving fish for a day, we want to enable them catch the fish,” Mr Dogra said, adding that emphasis would be on more representation to women in the FDAs since they contribute about 36 per cent to the family income.


Rs 11 cr spent without sanction
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 4
In gross violation of rules, officials involved in implementing rural water supply schemes in this region have spent crores of rupees without obtaining the mandatory sanction from the authorities concerned. In some cases funds were spent in excess of the sanctioned estimates without obtaining the requisite clearances.

The unauthorised expenditure over the past five years has accumulated to over Rs 11 crore. This come to light during the checks carried out in Faridkot and Abohar divisions, besides some other areas.

Quoting official reports, sources told TNS here that Rs 7.71 crore were incurred on 53 rural water supply (RWS) schemes without sanction of the proposed estimated and another Rs 3.45 crore were spent in excess of the sanctioned estimates.

According to a senior official involved with the RWS schemes, government rules stipulate that no work can commence unless a detailed estimate of the work is prepared and technically sanctioned by the competent authority. Where the expenditure is likely to exceed the sanctioned amount by more than five per cent, a revised estimate should be got sanctioned, he added.

Sources said that contrary to the provisions, four executive engineers dealing with the RWS schemes, including the one responsible for the Faridkot division, had incurred an expenditure of Rs 7.71 crore on 53 RWS scheme during 1997-2001. These works had commenced without getting the detailed estimates sanctioned from the competent authorities.

During the scrutiny of documents and other pertinent records, it was further noticed that the excess expenditure on 86 RWS schemes by Executive Engineers at Abohar, Faridkot and five other divisions had exceeded the amounts of sanctioned estimates by Rs 3.45 crore. Sources said the hike in the revised estimates ranged from 6 per cent to as high as 155 per cent. Even the revised estimates were yet to be got sanctioned when the works commenced, sources added.

According to the reports, the executive engineers concerned had maintained that detailed estimates as well as the revised estimates were being proposed and would be sanctioned in due course of time. Sources, however, said that no reasons for starting work without prior approval of the detailed estimates were intimated to the authorities concerned.


US Nagar issue ‘dead’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 4
The Governor of Uttaranchal, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today asserted that the issue of Udham Singh Nagar which had generated considerable controversy and almost led to the withdrawal of support by the Shiromani Akali Dal to the NDA government at the Centre was not significant now as the majority of Sikh population in Udham Singh Nagar have accepted Uttaranchal as their home state and were now committed to its overall development. The Dal would not rake up the matter again, he said.

Talking to Tribune reporter on his arrival from Dehra Dun to inaugurate the 61st all India Sikh Educational Conference being organised by the Chief Khalsa Diwan, he said since the Centre had granted special status to Uttaranchal there were no paucity of funds as the Centre was committed to improve the infrastructure.

He said Dehra Dun was being linked to four important religious centres in the state through all-weather roads. The government had embarked upon an ambitious project to bring under tea cultivation over 20 thousand acre of land to revive the green tea cultivation which had diminished over the years.

The Uttaranchal Government was also popularising the cultivation of medicinal and herbal plants. The government would set up an institute for undertaking research for medicinal and herbal plants.

The Uttaranchal Governor said the second phase of Minaira hydroelectric project was under construction with an outlay of over Rs 1200 crore. This hydroelectric scheme would produce 330 mega watts of electricity.

Mr Barnala added that Punjab had shown interest to collaborate with Uttaranchal Pradesh in jointly producing hydro-electric power. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has already discussed the matter with his counterpart Mr N.D. Tewari.

Mr Barnala made a fervent appeal to the Punjabis to invest in Uttaranchal.


HC notice on sale of organs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Acting on a public interest litigation filed by a former MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for checking the sale and purchase of human organs, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for November 11.

In her petition, the former MLA had alleged that the sale and purchase of human organs, including kidneys, was “flourishing at an alarming rate” in Amritsar. A report, published in

The Tribune on September 23, was also enclosed along with the petition to substantiate the contentions.

The former MLA had claimed that organs were not allowed to be sold all over the world and were accepted from either close relatives or cadavers.

She had added that directions should be given to the respondents for making foolproof arrangements to check the trade and nab the culprits, including doctors.


Arts Council office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 4
The newly elected Chairman of the Punjab Arts Council and Rajya Sabha member Mr Kartar Singh Duggal announced the names of the office bearers of the council today. While addressing a press conference in the Punjab Kala Bhavan in sector 16 here, he also announced the heads of the three academies under the council.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Juginder Singh Puar has been elected Vice-Chairman of the council while Col I.J.S. Bakshi, former Principal of Government Architecture College, Chandigarh has been nominated the Secretary General of the council.

Punjab Sahitya Akademi will be headed by eminent writer Dr Dilip Kaur Tiwana, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi by noted TV and film personality Mr Jaspal Bhatti while well known artist Arparna Caur will be heading the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi.

Mr Duggal also added names of those who have made outstanding contribution to the field of art and performing art as patrons for the council. the names include theatre personality Balwant Gargi, literary personality Mulk Raj Anand , Amrita Pritam and Devinder Satyarthi, film actor Sunil Dutt, classical singer Surinder Singh and artist Krishan Khanna.

Talking about the future plan of action Mr Duggal said the council will make Punjab Kala Bhavan a happening place by organising more cultural activities. He also informed that a fair price fast food joint will also be opened in the Bhawan premises to attract more visitors.

When asked whether such busy personalities like Jaspal Bhatti and Arparna Caur will be able to give enough time to bring the stagnant academies into momentum, Mr Duggal said all the nominated persons feel strongly about the deteriorating standard of Punjabi culture and he was hopeful that the council would be successful in reviving its lost glory.

Mr Duggal who has already made an one man crusade against deterioration of culture, has established cultural centres at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Kapurthala to teach classical and folk dance, music, art and informatics. During the next phase two more centres at Patiala and Ludhiana will be opened, he said.

Col I.J.S. Bakshi who was also present in the meeting today said the council would maintain transparency and fairness in all actions.


Noormahalias hold peace march
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 4
Hundreds of followers of the Noormahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan today held a peace march here to express their resentment over the alleged misleading role being played by some social organisations, who were demanding a complete ban on the activities of the sansthan.

The peace march started from the local centre of the sansthan at the Ladowali road and passed through main streets of the city before concluding at the Deputy Commissioner office.

The local centre of the Noormahlia sect had been holding religious gathering every Thursday and Sunday, which was banned by the district administration 15 days ago to avoid any untoward incident.

In a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Siva Prasad, they demanded that the indefinite ban imposed on holding religious congregations by the sansthan should be withdrawn immediately.

The memorandum further alleged that some unscrupulous persons, including Mr Jagjit Singh Gaba, president of the district unit of SHSAD, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Joginder Singh Jogi, Mr Harjeet Singh and Mr Tarlok Singh, had threatened to some of sansthan followers with dire consequences last night. Even a Superintendent of Police received injuries, while trying to disperse them outside the local centre here last night. They demanded that such persons should be arrested.

The Deputy Commissioner assured them that he would discuss the issue with the SSP.


Market panel locks bank building
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 4
The business transactions of a branch of Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) situated at Raman Mandi, 45 km from here, came to a complete halt when the building was locked by officials of the market committee last evening.

Official sources said that market committee officials locked the building of the bank as the management of the bank had failed to shift its premises to another building. The branch, which was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, about two years ago, had been running from the premises owned by the market committee since then.

For the past four months, the market committee authorities had been urging the bank authorities to shift its office to some other building as the premises occupied by it was required by the market committee officials, who had been finding it difficult to function due to space crunch.

When the bank authorities did not take any action on the repeat pleas of the market committee authorities, they locked it from outside yesterday with the help of the police. After the bank premises was locked no business transaction has been done and the customers of the Raman Mandi area have been facing problems.

Mr Raghubir Singh Sidhu, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, when contacted, said the matter had been brought to the notice of the higher authorities. He added that he had taken up the matter with the SDM Talwandi Sabo, for taking some time to shift the office of the bank.

He added that the bank management had been asked to look for some other premises at the earliest so that the bank could be shifted.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said the matter had come to his knowledge and that he would look into it.


Rice mill’s RC cancelled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 4
The district Excise and Taxation department has cancelled the registration certificate (RC) of a controversial rice mill, Luxmi Overseas Industries, Khamano.

In a press release issued here today, Mr V.B. Sharma, Excise and Taxation Officer, Fatehgarh Sahib, has mentioned that the registration certificate (90413314) granted to M/s Luxmi Overseas Industries Ltd, Khamano, has been cancelled with w.e.f. 25.9.2002 Under Section 7 of the Punjab General Sales Tax Act,1948 and Under Section 7 of the Central Sales Tax Act,1956. He has further mentioned that with the cancellation of the certificate, no trader or the commission agent can supply paddy or other food grains to this firm without charging full amount of purchase tax. The company too can not purchase any commodity or machinery without payment of tax.

The company can not conduct any inter-state sale or purchase till registration is re-granted by the department.

The press note further mentioned that the total liability of M/s Luxmi Rice Mill, Khamano, a sister concern of the said company, towards the department is nearly Rs 7 crore including an old liability of Rs 68 lakh. It is also mentioned that attachment proceedings has also been initiated against a sister concern of the said company.


Bhattal’s assurance to millers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, told a delegation of the Punjab Rice Millers Association here yesterday that at the time of physical verification of stocks, 2 per cent variation in weight would not be taken into account.

The stock the assessment of which had been made for the past three years by the local committee secretary would not be checked again, as demanded by the association.

Mrs Bhattal said paddy and rice purchased from outside Punjab and exported directly or indirectly from the state would be exempted from the market fee.

The state government was committed to ending “Inspector raj” so as to create a proper environment for the healthy growth of trade.


DIET association to suspend stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
The DIET Students Welfare Association has decided to suspend its agitation. This step has been taken to avoid the politicisation of the agitation. The Association does not want any political party to take advantage of the agitation. Those who have signed the statement pertaining to the suspension of the agitation are Mr Birinder Singh Khera and Mr Nirbhai Singh, president and vice president respectively, of the association.

The association has also requested Education Minister Khushal Behal to re-open the District Institutes of Elementary Training (DIET) which were closed a few days ago. The association has expressed its desire to sort out issues by holding a meeting with Mr Behal.

Mr Behal said he would soon hold a meeting with leaders of the association. The minister has assured the association that he would try to find a solution to all its problems and demands.


Meat outlets under scrutiny
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 4
Following reports of contaminated meat being sold in the city’s outlets, the municipal corporation yesterday began a survey on these. Nearly 250 meat outlets are operating in the city. Several such outlets are reportedly selling either contaminated meat or meat of animals who died due to disease or accidents.

The Additional Commissioner of the corporation, Mr Kirpal Singh had issued directions to the Medical Officer of the corporation, Dr Subhash Chander, to conduct the survey. It is proposed to issue licences to such dealers to ensure that clean meat is sold.

The corporation is also seeking cooperation from the district Health Department to identify those indulging in such practice and to take suitable action against them.

Meanwhile, encroachments on footpaths and shoppers galleries have been removed by the corporation in several areas of the city. These include Katra Sher Singh, Hussainpura, Plastic Chowk and Tahlisahib.


Female foeticide worries Badungar
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 4
Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar, president, SGPC, expressed his concern over social evils like female foeticide, abuse of drugs, dowry and apostasy among Sikh youths.

Addressing a select gathering at a gurdwara at Kotra Kalan village in the district yesterday Mr Badungar said the ratio of women had fallen to 872 against 1000 men and in the Sikh community it had come down to 793. He said he was pained to observe that of late Sikh youths had started taking drugs. He cautioned the Sikh sangat to prevent youths from drifting away from the principles of Sikhism under the influence of electronic and print media.

He said corruption was rampant in Pakistan Shiromani Gurdwara Parbahdhak committee (PSGPC) managing the Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan.


Judicial remand for OSD to VC
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 4
Mr R.L. Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, has remanded Teerath Singh, Officer on Special Duty to the Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, in judicial custody till October 9.

Teerath Singh was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in connection with the alleged irregularity in the selection of 134 clerks in the Punjab School Education Board. He was a member of the committee that recruited these clerks.

Similarly, Mrs Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded another member of the selection committee Jora Singh in judicial custody till October 12.


SGPC writes to NCM on Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 4
The SGPC has assured the Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, regarding conservation of the historical character of Baba Atal Minar and Ramgarhia ‘bungas’.

In a letter faxed to the Vice-Chairman, the SGPC secretary, Mr Harbeant Singh, has sought to dispel doubts and reassure Mr Tarlochan Singh about the efforts to keep the trellis work intact. He has said care is being taken to conserve the delicate fresco paintings and murals of Baba Atal.


Truck operators block traffic
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 4
Truck operators of the district today sat on dharna on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road and blocked traffic for an hour. They were protesting against the lifting of paddy by an outsider contractor. They alleged that the outsider contractor was forcing the local truck operators to lift the paddy on his terms.

The operators along with the labourers marched in procession to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh K. Verma, and presented him a memorandum. They lifted the blockade after an hour following which the flow of traffic resumed.


Help police in drive against narcotics: DIG
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, October 4
Mr Rajpal Meena, DIG, Ferozepore, police range today urged the politicians not to recommend the cancellation of cases against narcotics smugglers so that the campaign launched against the menace should bring desired results.

Mr Meena while addressing a police-public meet here today said the campaign by the police against narcotics could not be successful until all people participated in it.

He said the NGOs, prominent persons from different fields, social and religious leaders should come together to fight the menace.

He said 200 persons using smack, opium, poppy husk and other narcotics had been identified in the district and efforts were being made to educate them.


400 examined
Our Correspondent

Kurali, October 4
As many as 400 children were yesterday examined at a medical camp organised by the Lions Club Kurali at Chakwal National Senior Secondary School. Nearly 100 children were referred to the Civil Hospital for different tests.


CM seeks 3,000 cr for crop diversification
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 4
In a communication to the Prime Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, has sought a release of Rs 3,000 crore per year for three consecutive years to implement the diversification of crop pattern and to meet the future challenges being faced on the agrarian front, as recommended by the johl committee.

This was disclosed by Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the high-powered committee on economic affairs, while talking to the press here today. He said the CM was going to shortly meet the Prime Minister with a comprehensive plan.

Mr Singla claimed that during his stint as the Agriculture Minister in the Barnala government in 1995, Capt Amarinder Singh had anticipated the agrarian crisis and hence had constituted the ‘johl committee’ to work out the diversification of crop pattern after becoming the Chief Minister. He claimed that the Prime Minister had assured the CM with regard to calling a special meeting on diversification so that a permanent solution could be found for the agrarian crisis. He alleged that it was during the Badal regime that farmers faced the most difficult times and maximum suicides took place then.


Rs 450 cr sugar stocks pile up: Sodhi

Ferozepore, October 4
Punjab Chief Minister’s political secretary Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi said yesterday that sugar stock worth Rs 450 crore had piled up in the state godowns because of poor offtake by Central agencies. This, he added, had created problem for the government which owed payment of Rs 80 crore to sugarcane growers.

The farmers had blocked the national highway for 26 hours last week at Kharar on Chandigarh’s outskirts to press for the payment of their arrears. Finance and Food and Supplies Minister Lal Singh had promised to make the payment by Dasehra, which is on October 15.

Mr Sodhi said payment to farmers was held up because the Central agencies were not lifting the sugar stock. He said the Chief Minister had discussed the issue with Union Food Minister Sharad Yadav but no positive action had been taken by the Centre so far.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister’s political secretary said all ministers and MLAs of the ruling Congress in Punjab would soon submit declaration of their movable and immovable assets to the party Central Office. UNI


Wheat cultivation area to be reduced
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 4
To boost the economy of farmers, the Punjab Government has launched a programme to diversify agriculture in the state during the ensuing rabi season. It is proposed to reduce an area of 1,70,000 hectares under wheat cultivation in the state during the rabi season, 2002. This was stated by Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister of State for Agriculture, Revenue and Rehabilitation and Cooperation, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House here today.

He said 32.50 lakh hectares would be brought under wheat cultivation as against 34.20 lakh hectares during last year. Wheat production was expected to be 147 lakh tonnes during the rabi season in the state as against 155 lakh tonnes during last year. The area under gram crop would be increased from 7,000 to 20,000 hectares, pulses from 10,000 to 20,000 hectares and oil seeds from 50,000 to 75,000 hectares during the ensuing rabi season. As many as 2.22 lakh tonnes of seed wheat would be provided to farmers out of which a subsidy of Rs 200 per quintal would be given on 1.30 lakh tonnes of seed. As many as 2,45,000 mini kits of oil seeds would also be given to farmers.

He said diversification would be done in the 20 per cent cultivated area of the state. He said the winter maize crop would be cultivated in the sub-mountanious area of Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Gurdaspur, Nawanshehr and Jalandhar districts in the state.

Mr Samra said farmers’ training camps at district and block levels would be organised to educate them about the diversification of agriculture from traditional crops in the state.

Later Mr Samra inaugurated the district-level farmers’ training camp and a seminar on agriculture at Kheti Bhavan here. More than 1,000 farmers from all over the district are participating in the camp.


Mandis to remain open on holidays
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
Keeping in view the heavy arrivals of paddy and to save farmers from harassment, the Punjab Government has decided to operate mandis on Saturday, Sunday and other gazetted holidays, says Mr Lal Singh, Finance, Planning, Food and Supplies Minister.

In a press note, the minister said that 980,850 tonnes paddy had been procured till October 3, 830,699 tonnes by the government agencies.

Mr Lal Singh appealed to the farmers to bring paddy after drying and cleaning it to fetch a remunerative price.


Kisan unions to observe bandh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 4
Various kisan unions last evening evolved a plan to put pressure on the state government to accept their demands. They would gherao officials from October 7 to October 13. Deputy Commissioner would be gheraoed on October 14 and Punjab bandh would be observed on October 29.

Punjab bandh and dharnas would be organised by seven farmers’ associations.

Farmers’ union who had been agitating since long for getting monetary benefits from the Centre and the state government had virtually failed to get fruitful results.

The minimum support price had not been increased from that of last year’s, the meagre bonus of Rs 20 announced by the Central Government is described as cruel joke and the Rs 30 bonus for the paddy procured in the previous year by the state government has also been rejected by farmers as it would be given in three instalments in a year.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the BKU (Ekta) in a statement today said a meeting of seven kisan unions was held last evening in which the decision to launch an agitation was taken.

Those who attended the meeting included Darshan Singh Koohli and Jhanda Singh Jethuke from the BKU (Ekta), Hardev Singh Sandhu, Satvir Singh and Nirbhai Singh from the Kirti Kisan Union, Bhupinder Singh Sambhar, Kulwant Singh and Lakhvir Singh from the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Gurmeet Singh Dittupur and Ruldu Singh Mansa from another group of the BKU (E).


Paddy procurement held up
Tribune News Service

farmers rest under a makeshift shelter while waiting for their paddy to be lifted by authorities on a mandi in Bathinda on Friday.
— Tribune photo Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, October 4
Non-availability of labour has held up the procurement and lifting of paddy, resulting in thousands of tonnes of grain stockpiling in various mandis here. As a result, scores of farmers are unable to bring their produce to the mandis.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that since the procurement process formally began on October 1, about 8,000 tonnes of paddy has arrived in five mandis of the district. Of this, only about 800 tonnes has been lifted so far. This accounts for roughly 12 per cent.

Some farmers disclosed that no paddy was lifted today. Till evening, they were still awaiting for the day’s procurement process to begin.

“I have been camping here since September 16, but my paddy is still to be lifted,” said 65-year-old Teja Singh sitting on the cot placed atop a pile of paddy, which he has been guarding day and night. While he brought in the paddy cultivated from about 6 acres, he has stored an equal amount reaped later at his fields as there is no space in the mandi to bring his further produce.

He is not the only one. Market Committee officials state that there are still dozens of farmers who have been forced to store their paddy at other places till some place in the mandis gets vacated.

Officials told TNS that this situation is likely to continue till Sunday, as the labour force meant to lift the paddy stocks has been diverted to clear godowns of wheat stocks, which are being lifted by some agencies who procured them.

Market Committee officials said the labour is contracted by the agencies procuring the food grain and the onus lies on them to make adequate arrangements for lifting the food grains without the process being hampered.

Sources add that even the tenders for contracting labour and transport for lifting paddy from the markets have not been floated by the office of the District Food and Supplies Controller. Ideally, this should have been done by the time the dates for procurement were announced, they added.


Drought: central team coming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 4
A Central team led by Mr P.K. Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Marketing, will visit Punjab next week to have first-hand information on the damage caused by drought. Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), said here yesterday. The team would be taken to the Malwa and Kandi belts which had been hit the most.

The state government has sought a change in the parameters for declaring particular state as drought-hit. Punjab wanted to be treated differently in this connection. The Central team would discuss this issue with state government officials.


Farmers ‘to hold protests’ in Delhi
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 4
A large number of farmers of all five farmers’ unions of Punjab will go to New Delhi in the next few days to hold demonstrations and dharnas in support of their demands if the Union Government did not concede the demands of the farmers of Punjab.

This was stated today by the President of the PPCC, Mr H.S. Hanspal, while addressing farmers here.


Admn faces shortage of officers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 4
Even as the procurement of paddy by the state as well as central agencies has started on a large scale in the district, the administration has been finding it difficult to supervise the same due to acute shortage of PCS-level officers.

Owing to acute shortage of PCS-level officers, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, and the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mohinder Singh Kainth, have been finding themselves fully occupied with the checking of various purchase centres and grain markets from morning till late evening to ensure that procurement should be hassle free.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that posts of General Assistant to Deputy Commissioner and Public Grievances Officer (PGO) were lying vacant. Apart from it, the SDM, Mansa, Ms Indu Melhotra, and the SDM, Budhlada, Mr A.P.S. Sandhu, who was son-in-law of former SSP (Ferozepore) Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, were on leave. The District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) was also on leave.

In the absence of such senior officers, the district administration has been finding it difficult to constitute committees to supervise the day-to-day procurement of paddy, which has occupied almost all the space available in the purchase centres and grain markets.

Official sources said PCS and other senior district-level officials were deputed every year to ensure the timely procurement lifting, transportation and payment of paddy. The Deputy Commissioner has been holding the meeting of those officials, who are involved in the procurement process daily.

Mr Alok Shekhar, when contacted, said he had not granted leave to Mr Sandhu and Ms Melhotra. The applications submitted by them for leave on different grounds had been forwarded to the state government for taking action against them.

He added that though the district administration had been facing problems due to shortage of senior officials, it had been ensuring that no problem should be faced by the farmers, who had unloaded their crops in the markets for procurement.

Mr Shekhar said at present, Mr Kainth had been holding the additional charge of General Assistant and PGO. Ms Melhotra had submitted leave application on medical ground while Mr Sandhu had sought leave for joining the investigations of the Vigilance Bureau.


Bhattal suspends Mandi Board XEN
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 4
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister, Rural Development, Panchayat and Agriculture, during her surprise visit to the grain market Chunni Kalan, suspended Mandi Board Executive Engineer Subhash Mahajan and Market Committee (Kharar) Secretary Narinder Singh due to their failure to provide water facility to the farmers in the grain market.

The waterworks in the grain market was ready but it was not functioning for the past 27 years due to negligence of the officials of the department concerned. The minister discussed with the farmers the procurement and lifting process of paddy. She also reviewed the arrangements made by the market committee regarding the facilities being provided to the farmers.

The minister directed the procurement agencies to check the weights and measures of the gunny-bags. She said the government would make efforts to ensure the procurement of paddy smoothly. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, said he would keep a vigil on all markets in his constituency, so that the farmers might not suffer any problems.

Deputy Commissioner Vikas Partap directed the procurement agencies to make sure that there should be no harassment of the farmers and recommended necessary action FCI Inspector Ashok Manocha for not doing his duty regarding the purchase of paddy.


Move to privatise civil hospitals
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 4
The Punjab Government is planning to privatise some Civil Hospitals in Punjab and to run them as joint venture so as to provide better health facilities to the people.

To begin with the government is contemplating to give Civil Hospital, Amritsar to a private party on trial basis. This information was given by Ms Kusumjit Sidhu Managing Director of the Punjab Health System Corporation while talking to mediapersons here today after inaugurations of the newly set up blood bank facility in the Civil Hospital, Kharar.

Dr Mrs Rana Harinder, Civil Surgeon, Ropar and Dr S.S. Dhanoa, SMO, Kharar, were among those present on the occasion. She also inaugurated a blood donation and a blood grouping camp organised by the Lions Club at the Civil Hospital.

Ms Sidhu said the Punjab Government has written to the Punjab infrastructure development board to search for a private party who can run Civil Hospital, Amritsar, as a joint venture. She said the government wanted some NRIs to come forward to run these civil hospitals on a partnership basis.

She pointed out there was a shortage of 450 doctors in the state. She said the government was formulating a plan to allow the government doctors to do private practice and all three directors of the Health Department had been asked to submit a report on this.


Bela village to have pucca auction yard
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 4
To meet the longstanding demand of the farmers of the Bela area near Chamkaur Sahib, a pucca pharr (auction yard) will be constructed at a cost of Rs 19 lakh before the next wheat procurement season in an area of four acres at the grain market of Bela village.

This was stated by Mrs Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, while checking the paddy procurement arrangements in the grain markets of Bela, Chamkaur Sahib and Ropar in the afternoon yesterday.

The Deputy Commissioner also asked the farmers to explain their problems to her with regard to paddy procurement. However, the farmers expressed their satisfaction over the arrangements but said they resented the low minimum support price (MSP) of the paddy.


DGP inaugurates 2 police stations

Moga, October 4
The Director-General of Police (DGP), Punjab Mr M.S. Bhullar, today inaugurated newly constructed buildings of police stations at Mehna and Dharamkot in the district.

The Punjab Police Housing Corporation has constructed the ultra-modern buildings of the two police stations which were earlier in a dilapidated condition.

The DGP, while addressing the sarpanches and panches, lauded the role of the corporation. The Mehna police station building was completed in one year at a cost of Rs 43 lakh whereas the Dharamkot police station building was completed at a cost of Rs 72 lakh. The police stations have the ultra-modern toilets, kitchens, armouries and lock-ups.

The DGP also last launched a police control room motor cycle city patrolling scheme here.

The DGP flagged off 10 motor cycles each for one beat from the PWD rest house here. UNI


Girl alleges kidnap, rape
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 4
The police here is shielding certain persons allegedly involved in a case of kidnapping and rape and getting a fake marriage certificate issued.

According to police sources a student of a local college studying in B.A. Part II and a resident of the Dhaki area has complained to the DIG, Amritsar that on September 2 while she was sitting in the college canteen, Karan Singh a student of B.A. Part III offered her a cold drink. After consuming the drink she became semi conscious.

After that Karan took her to Mr Krishan Kumar Sharma, where Karan’s mother Bimla, grandmother Preeto, brother Gaurav Pathania along with others were sitting. The grandmother of the Karan told her that she had been married to Karan. At this she told them that she was already engaged.

The girl alleged that they forced her to sign some blank papers.

On September 4 the girl was kidnapped by Karan and his accomplices and she was shown marriage certificates issued by the Tehsildar/Sub-Registrar of Marriages, Pathankot, and taken to an unknown place. She was forcibly detained for a few days.

During the course of investigation, it was revealed by the complainant that she was raped by Karan. She said the Tehsildar, Pathankot, who is also Sub Registrar of Marriages had issued a bogus certificate of marriage in connivance with the accused party.

After recording the statement of the complainant, the police authorities have registered a case under Sections 366/368/420/469/471/ 342/376/511/148/149 of the IPC against the accused.

The police has arrested Bimla Devi, Preeto Devi, Gaurav Singh, and Krishan Kumar in this connection.

Kin of the victim stated that Mr Subhash Padam Tehsildar-cum-Sub Registrar had issued a bogus certificate of the registration of marriage.

When contacted Mr Subhash Padam, said he had validly registered the marriage under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act.


Chain snatchers active in town
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 4
A gang of chain snatchers is active in the town and two cases of chain snatchings have been reported in the town.

Last evening, the gang struck at two different sites. At one place they succeeded in snatching the chain and at second site, they failed in their attempt. In a report lodged with the Sirhind Chowki last evening, Mr Jagdish Kumar Dua, SDO Telephones, has narrated that he along with his wife were going to their house located in Luxmi colony after attending “satsang” at about 7 p.m. On the way, near Vishavkarma Mandir in Prof Colony, Sirhind, two clean-shaven youths between the age group of 20 to 25 came on a grey coloured LML vespa scooter, slowed down and snatched the chain from the neck of his wife with in no time. He said that he immediately raised the alarm and chased the scooterists but they sped away. He said as they reached the police chowki to lodged the FIR, another couple was also present there to inform the police that in Nai Abadi area of the town same attempt was made but they did not succeeded in their mission as they tried to caught them and the public immediately gathered and they run away.

The Sirhind police has registered the case Under Section 356, IPC, and later Mr S.S. Gill, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, visited the spot.


GND varsity youth festival opens
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 4
As many as 1,500 students from colleges of Amritsar and Gurdaspur will participate in the three-dat zonal youth festival that opened on the Guru Nanak Dev University campus here today.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for PWD, while inaugurating the festival expressed concern over the moral degradation and erosion of ethical values in society and said such festivals provided opportunities to enrich personality develop the ability to compete and deal with stressful situations successfully. The minister said on behalf of the Chief Minister that the government would not tolerate any political interference in colleges and universities.

Dr SP Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, while welcoming the guests and competitors laid stress on quality education. He said the university had recently provided a number of incentives to its student artistes.

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