Monday, October 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Security for Badals reviewed
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
Punjab is in an uncomfortable political position with Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal showing few signs of reducing mutual tensions. They are heading for a major conflict.

The latest is the “murder plot’’ charge by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against present Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. If the former has talked of “definite information’’, the latter has reacted saying that he would get “whatever evidence’’ is available on the charge with the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister. In this charged situation, the use of political invectives is commonplace.

Capt Amarinder Singh has said that on “corruption charges’’ the state agencies are “zeroing in’’ on Mr Badal. This is now official though one had learnt about a special task force having been set up to establish the veracity and authenticity of Mr Badal’s properties in his name or benami before he could be proceeded against. Now the “murder plot’’ allegation has armed the Chief Minister enabling him to further tighten the net on Mr Badal in the name of “security’’ and actually gather more intelligence — political and otherwise.

This is apparent from the “review’’ of security arrangements of Mr Badal and his immediate family members ordered today by Mr Rajinder Singh, IG, Security. He has despatched Mr Sham Lal, DIG, to New Delhi to beef up security there because Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal lives there and the senior Badal usually stays with his son.

Henceforth, one would see a tight ring around Mr Badal with visitors being put through their paces who wish to access him. They will walk through metal detector door-frames with security personnel frisking them physically and hand-held metal detectors and ensuring distant parking of their vehicles.

If the political war of words between the two Chief Ministers is averted, Punjab will still have plenty of challenges and opportunities in which both can play a positive role as much to combat corruption as rejuvenate the state’s economy.

Even prior to the February Assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh had used “corruption’’ as a fulcrum to upstage Mr Badal. But their personalised political machination and manoeuvres over the past months have not helped Capt Amarinder Singh to rein in corruption, much less eliminate it.

There perhaps is a grain of truth in what Mr Badal has alleged and what Capt Amarinder Singh says. There was a meeting in Punjab Bhawan here last week after the Chief Minister and Mr Ravi Inder Singh had reportedly met and had left the place together. Key intelligence/vigilance officials were told there to “zero in’’ on Mr Badal to “politically remove’’ him from the scene — the Akali Dal and Sikh politics. The grapevine says that both Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr G.S. Tohra are desperate to “capture’’ the SGPC and are using the government to their advantage.

Another “strategy’’ was to cajole and pressure those bureaucrats, who had served the Badals in the past five years to extract details of the properties owned by the family. There are reports of some bureaucrats even having been intimidated. Impression is growing in the state administration that Capt Amarinder Singh — despite being “well meaning’’ and keen on resuscitating the Punjab economy and giving a “transparent’’ governance — needs more mature, principled and intellectually honest men as advisers.

“We do not want to clutter the Chief Minister’s Office’’. This prophecy has stood the test of time. Moves to usher in more men in the CMO to handle political and administrative matters have been repeatedly scuttled. This vacuum is believed to have equally contributed to many a political-administrative pitfalls faced by the Chief Minister, whose inaccessibility remains a topic of discussion.

As such, Capt Amarinder Singh is also unwittingly getting alienated from his political constituents. However, the younger generation still looks up to him with hope that is getting belied by the day.

The Chief Minister may have scored a point on the paddy procurement issue vis-a-vis opposition parties, he can’t be oblivious of the fact that Mr Badal still commands influence over rural Punjab and the kisan.


Amarinder drunk with power: Sukhbir
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has reiterated that he would not ask the state government for buttressing his security in wake of threat perception, his son and party general secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal expressed his displeasure at the recent comments of Capt Amarinder Singh in this regard and said: “The CM is so drunk with power that he has forgotten to be civil to the Leader of the Opposition who is a leader of the masses and has been the CM of Punjab for three times.”

The Badals were in the city on a personal visit and talked to TNS at the residence of former MP Amrik Singh Aliwal here today.

Refusing to name the sources which had informed him of the increased threat to his life, Mr Badal said he had faced many such threats during his long political innings. “I refuse to be intimidated and would not write to the state government on the security issue,” he asserted.

Regarding the government statement about 150 personnel guarding him, he said: “The Z-plus security status is not decided by the state government but by the Centre. In fact, the Congress government in Punjab had written to the Centre to withdraw the Z-plus security, which was turned down. It is all on record.”

The security at his Delhi residence was from the Delhi police and not even a single person had been posted from the state force, he said, adding that this was seen by the DIG, Security, during his visit and the orders to deploy Punjab Police personnel has been given only now.

Mr Badal said he had no personal disputes with Capt Amarinder Singh, but the latter had taken everything at a personal level and chosen to politicise every issue since taking over. “He now wants me behind the bars and hand over the reins of the SGPC to Mr Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh”, Mr Badal said.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said: “The threat perception to the SAD chief was at an all-time high but the government was resorting to spreading lies about the security cover. The CM is mistaken if he thinks that we will beg for security, since we know how to take care of ourselves. We managed to do so even during the dark days of militancy,” he pointed out.

“We refuse to be cowed down by the bullying tactics of the present regime. If they (the Congress) think they can do so, they are living in a fools’ paradise,” he asserted.

Commenting on the anti-graft drive, he said it was an anti-Akali drive and after trying to implicate senior party leaders, “they are now training their guns on us.”

Citing the cases framed against party general secretary B. S. Bhunder, he said in their haste to slap charges against Mr Bhunder, they forget that the arms recovered from his residence were licensed ones. About the alleged commission received by Mr Bhunder from the grants sanctioned out of the MPLAD, he said it is well known that the MP only conveys his approval about the projects to the district authorities who execute the same and the payment is released to the contactor by the administration, he added.


Badal compulsive liar: Ravi Inder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
Senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, Ravi Inder Singh has described Mr Parkash Singh Badal as a compulsive liar, who had looted the state and emptied its coffers during his regime.

Talking to newsmen, Mr Ravi Inder said today that Mr Badal was responsible for the total decay of the Akali party and the SGPC.

The former Speaker said he was going to seek legal advice and file a defamation suit against Mr Badal, who had alleged that Mr Ravi Inder was involved in a conspiracy to kill him. He said Mr Badal had lost his balance and was trying to adopt diversionary tactics to confuse the masses. Mr Badal was responsible for the collapse of the Punjab economy, he added.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh said the former Chief Minister should be punished for his misrule and destruction of various Sikh institutions like the SGPC. He said Mr Badal should give up politics.

He said the morcha was totally intact and there was no factionalism in it. All parties should work to strengthen the morcha, he added. He pointed out that there was no misunderstanding among allies and Mr Tohra continued to be their guiding force.

Talking about the MSP fiasco and the delay in paddy procurement by the government agencies, he said Mr Badal had hatched a conspiracy with the NDA government to delay the announcement of MSP and the subsequent procurement of paddy. He alleged that the SAD leader wanted to take credit while the others would get flak from the farmers.

Taking a dig at Mr Badal, the former Speaker said during his rule he never took up the issue of the release of Sikh youths languishing in jails, Chandigarh and the river water dispute sincerely.


Sonia wants Amarinder to act
Representation by 60 MPs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 6
“The increasing incidence of young married girls being deserted by their NRI grooms is a serious matter and urgent action needs to be taken,” reads the letter Congress President, Sonia Gandhi wrote to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on October 4.

Referring to a recent representation made to her by the Lok Bhalai Party President and a member of Rajya Sabha, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has suggested to the Punjab Chief Minister that “raising awareness among the people on this social problem is particularly necessary” and expressed the hope that the state government would look into the issue expeditiously.

It may be mentioned here that 60 MPs cutting across party lines had signed a joint memorandum highlighting the problem of young married girls being left in lurch by their NRI grooms. The number of such girls, says Mr Ramoowalia, runs not in hundreds but thousands. In most of the cases, the victims have neither been with their husbands after “honeymoon” nor have they been “accorded a respectful status of daughters-in-law” by their in-laws.

“Instead they have been left to fend for themselves. Even the offsprings of some of these victims have never seen or met their fathers. We met the Punjab Chief Minister at Chandigarh in August and gave him a copy of the memorandum signed by 60 MPs.

“Since a majority of the cases are from Punjab, we wanted the Punjab Government to register FIRs on the complaints of the victims or their parents. We also wanted that cases of cheating and other relevant laws be registered against those NRI grooms who present false documents about their marital status, including the decrees passed in divorce cases, to get married again.”

“The third issue of governmental intervention suggested by us to the Chief Minister was that these victims should be given their share in the movable and immovable properties owned by their NRI grooms. Other important demand was the setting up of fats-track courts for trying all such cases of NRI grooms deserting their spouses here. The demand for a complete ban on all unauthorised marriage bureaux was also made in the representation,” Mr Ramoowalia said.

He said that in one case, a victim, carrying a 12-year-old son, had been moving from pillar to post for justice. She was deserted almost 13 years ago.

In some cases, says Mr Ramoowalia, he has intervened to get the victim some justice in the shape of a monthly sustenance allowance and some share in the movable and immovable property owned either by her spouse or by her in-laws.

A thorough study of such cases makes starting revelations. In most cases, the parents of the victims had sold their land holdings or taken loans to “marry off their daughters to NRI grooms with the fond hope of sending them to greener pasteur’s abroad.”

“Unfortunately, in many cases, they never met their spouses again after they left them soon after marriage. Letters too stop after a while and then victims are gradually forced to be on their own,” said Mr Ramoowalia.

Mr Ramoowalia has meanwhile taken up this issue with the leaders of several other parties for garnering their support. These leaders include Mr A. R. Bardhan (CPI), Mr Somnath Chatterji (CPM), Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi party) and Mr H.D. Deve Gowda (Janata Dal-U).

“Now that the party President has issued directions, we hope the Punjab Government would now take some administrative measures to check this social problem,” Mr Ramoowalia added.


400 vacancies of teachers
J. S. Malhotra

Even as about 400 selected candidates for the post of primary teacher in the state had failed to join duty over the about nine months, the Education Department has adopted an indifferent approach by not filling the vacant posts from the waiting lists of deserving candidates prepared by the various district departmental selection committees (DDSCs).

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had in a judgement on April 26 last year directed the department to fill 7,230 JBT teacher posts in districts, carrying a grade of Rs 4550-7220, through DDSCs which, as per court orders, were constituted by the government comprising representatives of the Education Department, two university subject experts, district administration and sainik welfare boards.

Subsequently, the process of selection of candidates for 7230 JBT teachers posts started in July last year and selected candidates given appointment letters in December. Interestingly, the waiting lists prepared by the selection committees were never made public.

According to sources, about 400 teachers, mostly B.Ed qualified, who had been appointed on the basis of merit, had failed to join duty at different schools affecting the studies of students. The sources revealed that these teachers had lost interest in joining JBT teacher posts due to their simultaneous selection to the master and lecturer cadre posts in different government schools and colleges.

Inordinate delay on the part of department in appointing deserving candidates from the waiting list has caused disillusionment. Such candidates were running from pillar to post to redress the issue. Besides, it had put a question mark on the functioning of the Congress Government, which claimed to provide good governance.

“I have made several rounds of the DPI’s (Primary) office in Chandigarh for six months to know about the current status in this regard, but the officials concerned had always told me that the file pertaining to appointment of waiting list candidates was pending with the state Education Minister for approval,” said Ms Kulwinder Kaur of Jalandhar. She said those who had failed to join duty should be dismissed without delay.

“We have been facing mental agony for a long time due to the faulty and ailing system in the state, which deprives deserving candidates of their rights even as the Chief Minister always claims to be concerned about the future of outstanding students. Will the Chief Minister take the initiative to instruct his minister, who had kept in limbo the fate of hundreds of candidates, to clear the file? asked Jaswant Singh, an aspiring candidate for the post. 


Sikh conference decries ‘dera’ culture
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, today expressed dismay over the failure of various Sikh organisations, including the SGPC and the Chief Khalsa Dewan for failure to end illiteracy in the state. Addressing the concluding session of the All-India Sikh Educational Conference, he said that inspite of large resources at the disposal of these organisations literacy level in the past 50 years had not crossed 60 per cent while in Kerala it was nearly 100 per cent.

He said that all Sikh organisations, including the SGPC which had the responsibility for spreading Sikhism had not fulfilled its duty and was involved in activities not attuned to its basic character. He urged the Sikh scholars, academics, educationists and philanthropists to undertake a serious review of educational needs of this area and spread education to all corners encompassing all sections of the society, making the education the fundamental need for the progress of this region.

He appealed to all Sikhs to introspect and find solutions to the ills in our society which was causing immense damage to all of us. He regretted that no one had learnt lessons from history.

The three-day educational conference passed five resolutions on the aspects going to be the most crucial for the Sikhs in future. In a political resolution, it was resolved to thwart unitedly the designs of certain forces trying to undermine Sikhism. It was critical of the ‘dera’ culture which had mushroomed in the state and was creating confusion among the innocent.

In second resolution the Chief Khalsa Dewan would pay special attention to the spread of education among women and resolved to take up the matter with the Punjab government and other social organisations for imparting education free of cost to girls up to plus two level. It demanded liberal grants and other assistance to accomplish the task.

On the state of Punjab economy the conference expressed serious concern and its impact on the society and the farmers. It appealed to all right-thinking Punjabis and the Sikh brotherhood to join hands to save economy of Punjab. Challenges posed by WTO and GATT agreement need to be fought courageously.

The conference proposed to establish a World Sikh Educational Trust.

In a significant resolution it appealed to all Sikh organisations that the appointment of the jathedars including that of Akali Takht Sahib, should be based on consensus as per Sikh traditions. It was also resolved that a minimum educational qualification be fixed for them and person with a high spiritual background should be selected to posts of Sikh high priest.


Language Dept in doldrums
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 6
Working in Punjabi may be top on the Punjab Government’s agenda, but the state Language Department is not on its priority. Power to the department headquarters here has been disconnected due to non-payment of electricity dues even as the Plan budget for the current financial year has not been released to it.

The department is also facing problems in implementing schemes under the non-Plan budget, with the government still not having released any money for celebration of “Punjabi Saptah” from November 1 to 7 and not making any provision to give shiromani awards in various categories to eminent writers for the past two years.

The department has received only Rs 1 lakh for publication of books and magazines brought out by it so far, even though it normally accrues an expenditure of Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh on this head annually. Its public schemes, including grants for various works to propagate Punjabi in the state, have also come to a standstill.

The department, whose budget has been cut drastically in the past few years, suffered another jolt two days back when the electricity connection of its headquarters situated in the Sheranwalan Gate area was disconnected due to non-payment of dues by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Sources told TNS that the PSEB had given prior notice of its intentions. They said the government had been informed about the issue, but no money was released, following which the electricity was disconnected. The PSEB has also disconnected power to the department’s office at Bathinda for the same reason.

The sources said the State Language Department needed Rs 6 lakh for paying the electricity bills of its headquarters building as well as the offices in each district of the state. They said the government had sanctioned Rs 3 lakh for this purpose, but even this amount was not released.

The department is also likely to face problems in organising the Punjabi Week for which funds have not yet been released. While earlier the government used to give Rs 10 lakh for this purpose, the grants had been slowly scaled down, with the department getting only Rs 3 lakh in 2000. The Advisory Committee which selects the shiromani awardees who get a prize money of Rs 1 lakh each in around 13 categories has not been constituted due to which awards for 2001 and 2002 have not been given. The department needs around Rs 30 lakh for this purpose itself.

The Language Department is also not able to do justice to many of its welfare schemes, including pension to writers and financial aid to the other needy, besides commitments to Punjabi sahit sabhas and grants to libraries in villages. Other activities include holding seminars and “kavi darbars”.

Department Director Madan Lal Hasija chose not to come on the telephone when contacted by TNS on the issue. Other officials also avoided questions on when the power supply to the headquarters will be restored as it is likely to affect the scheme started by the department to transfer its valuable manuscripts on compact discs.


CPI wants 2 MLAs to seek re-election
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, district secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), in a press note here today said that the Congress had engineered defections and the two CPI MLAs who joined the Congress recently should seek re-election on Congress ticket to prove their popularity.

Mr Joga, in his statement issued after a meeting of the district executive committee, said that the MLAs were chosen because of the CPI which gave them the ticket.

He said the party was united to fight corruption and claimed that the CPI enjoyed people’s support. 


SAD meeting on October 10
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 6
To discuss its strategy during the special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, which is called on October 11, the Shiromani Akali Dal has called a meeting of its legislators on October 10 at the Sri Kalgidhar Niwas in Sector 27 at Chandigarh.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, the spokesman for the party, said the meeting would be presided over by the party chief Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Cong-backed members wrest temple control
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
Amidst confusion and pandemonium, Congress-supported members took over the management of the ancient Durgiana Temple here today. Congress activists and members stormed the office of the Durgiana Committee and forced the BJP-backed members to give up the control over the temple and hand over the entire record, cash offerings and other items to them as they had managed to get an order from the court in this regard.

Congress spokesman Surinder Arjun and Councillor Rajinder Bhalla, while briefing newsmen, said the court had restrained the new members of the committee since 1997 from interfering in the affairs of the committee. The president, Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia, who had filed the petition under Section 151 of the CPC, had sought order against the BJP-supported members who had taken over the control over the management of the temple in 1997.

Citing the court order issued on March 31, 2001, the Congress-supported members staged a coup to oust the BJP-supported members and managed to take control over the temple. The heated argument over the court order led to scuffle among workers of both factions.

Former BJP MLA Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who was present on the occasion, tried to settle the issue peacefully. Talking to newsmen, she alleged that the whole episode had taken place at the behest of state government.


Noormahalias put off function
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 6
The row between followers of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan of Ashutosh Maharaj and certain Sikh organisations over the holding of a function by the former here on Sunday was resolved with the intervention of Deputy Commissioner K. Siva Prasad here.

There was tension in the city following a threat by the 51-member Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising representatives of certain Sikh organisations yesterday to stop the function at a Municipal Park in here on Sunday.

Members of the JAC and SHSAD secretary-general Sukhdev Singh Bhaur reached the Central Town Gurdwara here in the morning and discussed the issue even as the District Magistrate has imposed Section 144 CrPC banning rallies and marches within the Municipal limits. The JAC was scheduled to defy the ban by holding march today against the alleged distortion of Sikh history by the Noormahalia sect.

The police had made elaborate arrangements around the venue of the function at the Ladowali road and the Central Town Gurdwara.

The DC held discussions with representatives of both parties this morning and asked the Noormahalias to postpone the function. They agreed to the proposal to defuse tension in the city.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Corporation here, it is learnt, has decided not to allow Noormahalias to hold any gathering at the Ladowali road park venue for the function. The DC conveyed the decision postponing the function to the JAC members, who deferred the protest march, Mr Jagjit Singh Gaba, a spokesman of the JAC, said that the timely action of the Deputy Commissioner would ensure peace in the city.


Shift ammo depot, say residents
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 6
More than 10,000 families residing within 1,000 yards of 2, Ammunition Sub-depot ( 2A S D) Mamoon, cantonment, 18 Field Ammunition Depot and Air Force station here are worried over the government proposal to notify the area for the purpose of acquisition.

Sources reveal that after last year’s fire incident in 2 ASD Mamoon in which ammunition worth crores of rupees was destroyed, Army officials and the civil administration had decided to acquire the land within 1,000 yards of the crest of the outer perimeter of the ammunition depot and Air Force Station here.

The Ordnance Transit Group recently requested the Tehsildar of Pathankot to submit the report along with market value of the land and constructions in the area around the ammunition depot when the Tehsildar failed to supply the requisite information in time the Army officials reported the matter to the Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur and the SDM of Pathankot.

The Tehsildar has directed his staff to demarcate the land and locate the khasra numbers around the depot, the number of houses and other properties and the amount of compensation of the area for gazette notification. This exercise has left the people of the area confused about their future. They are opposing the government move and have demanded the removal of the ammunition depot.

Members of the Gramin Vikas Parishad have appealed to the government to shift 2 ASD Mamoon as it is surrounded by settlements at Mamoon, Lamini, Siunti, Manwal, Kuther, and part of Pathankot, where more than 60,000 people are residing.

Adjoining 2 ASD, there are three residential schools, 12 public schools, 15 government schools and a post-graduate college, said Mr Jatinder Dev Sharma, president of the local BJP unit.

Mr Hardeep Singh, Sarpanch of Lamini, has also said that keeping in view the civil and Army residential areas and educational institutions, the depot should be shifted to some other place.


Phillaur gets upgraded hospital
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 6
Residents of Phillaur have been provided better medical facilities with the shifting of the local Government Civil Hospital to a new and upgraded 50-bedded hospital constructed with a cost of Rs 141.24 lakh.

Punjab Social Security and Welfare Minister Santokh Singh today inaugurated the new building. There is provision of seven OPDs, one delivery operation theatre, gynaecology wings, a diagnostic wing, one main operation theatre, one small operation theatre, private rooms and four wards, were being provided in the new hospital.

Addressing the gathering, the minister said previous Congress government had set up Punjab State Health System Corporation and brought Rs 425 crore from the World Bank to upgrade 154 civil hospitals in the state. The present Congress government led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had prepared a special component plan of Rs 400 crore to provide basic amenities to the downtrodden and poor people of the state.

Regarding the pension schemes and various irregularities being found in this scheme, the minister said a thorough screening had started on September 15 throughout the state. It would be completed within one month, and pension benefits given to only genuine persons. Mr Santokh Singh expressed his satisfaction over the lifting and purchase of paddy in various mandis of the state.


Wrong food habits ‘cause colon cancer’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 6
About 1.6 lakh persons fall victim to colon cancer in the USA every year, mainly due to the excessive intake of meat-based products and the use of alcohol and tobacco, while the incidence of the disease is much less in India, where people generally have vegetarian food.

The biggest killer in the western world is, however, the lung cancer, which claims about two lakh lives annually.

This was stated by Dr Manoj K. Mittal, a USA-based gastroenterologist and expert in liver and internal diseases, who was here to visit the local Central Hospital.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, he said wrong food habits and lifestyle had made colon cancer and lung cancer two most dreaded diseases in the USA. He said the biggest factor behind such diseases was the overuse of meat products, particularly the semi-baked ones, and other fibre-rich foods, which continue to damage the food pipe, subsequently leading to colon cancer in most cases. “Not only this, the excessive use of alcohol also contributes to the malady, while smoking has been detected to be the single-biggest factor behind lung cancer in the USA and elsewhere in the world,” Dr Mittal said, adding that the spread of the disease at such a fast pace had made the US Government lay stress on preventive measures. The situation is much better in India and south-east Asian countries, where most people adhere to vegetarianism,” he observed.

The biggest tool against the colon and lung cancer was an early diagnosis, he said. “The emphasis of the government there is to make people aware about the dangers being posed by the excessive use of alcohol, meat products and smoking. At the same time, the medical fraternity there is making an effort to make it mandatory for every person to undergo a routine health check-up,” Dr Mittal said, adding that people had started responding to the efforts. He said hepatitis-C was also emerging as another fatal disease, even as its treatment was available.


Expanding Hoshiarpur’s green cover
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Traditionally known for its thickest green cover, this city of saints has got another green belt, thanks to the efforts made by the Department of Forests, which has beautified the Dhussi bundh along the Bhangi choe by planting nearly 12,000 saplings of different species of trees.

The bundh area of the choe passing through the city was used by the civic body for dumping garbage till recently before the site was taken over by the Forests Department for creating a green belt and strengthening the bundh encircling the city from three sides.

The vast choe banks used to be natural green belts till the late sixties when the process of deforestation got initiated by some unscrupulous elements. The situation had turned so bad that the choe banks were left totally bereft of trees and bushes which once used to prevent the choe from wrecking havoc on the city, particularly during the monsoon. “We have planted various species of trees like bamboo, eucalyptus, bougainvillea and bottle-brush along the choe,” said Mr R.R. Kakar, Divisional Forest Officer, Hoshiarpur, and the man behind the “make-Hoshiarpur green” project. “Our emphasis is not only to provide a green cover for combating pollution but also to make the city more beautiful. That’s why we are planting the maximum number of flowering trees,” said Mr Kakar a similar drive was being carried out in those villages of the kandi area, which had lost their wild vegetation due to deforestation during the past few decades.

Residents have welcomed the drive initiated by the Department of Forests. Mr Anurag Sood, convener of the Sarv Dharam Sadbhavana Committee, said the city needed such a drive. He suggested that the residents should also take such initiatives to make the city more beautiful. Mr S. Bhardwaj, a veteran teacher, suggested the entire residential area of the city should be taken over by the Department of Forests for creating more such green belts.


US doctor performs knee surgeries
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The noted US-based knee replacement specialist, Dr Kant Samuelson, performed knee replacement surgeries at Amandeep Hospital here today. Earlier addressing a largely attended international conference on knee replacement, Dr Samuelson, who has designed the latest total knee implant, said the new medical technology in the field of orthopaedics had revolutionised the cure of joint problems.

He said they had been working with the manufacturer of implants to produce quality equipment and make them available at most economical prices so that the poor and the needy could use them. Dr Samuelson offered to give up operation fees for the most poor patients seeking knee replacement.

Dr Avtar Singh, organiser of the conference, said it was their endeavour to provide information about the latest developments taking place in the world in the field of joint replacement. He said more than 60 doctors from this region participated in the daylong deliberations. Later, a live audio visual presentation of total knee replacement was conducted.


Afghan Sikhs seek permission to return
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
As many as 25,000 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who had taken shelter in India during the Taliban region have sought permission from the government of India to return to their homeland.

The Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had taken up their cause with the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Yashwant Sinha, said here today said that the minister had assured them that as soon as the situation improved in that country, they would be given visas to go back to Afghanistan.


Building cries for repair
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

The building of the primary health centre situated in the heart of the city opposite the Gandhi Chowk has been waiting for an organisation or a government department, which could give a facelift to its shabby structure.

The former Akali-BJP government had last year decided to hand over the building to the Municipal Council to develop it into a shopping complex but with the fall of the Akali-BJP government the scheme seems to have been shelved.

The building which at one time had been housing the Civil Hospital is in a bad condition. The government had converted the hospital into a primary health centre after the construction of a new building for the Civil Hospital on the Pathankot-Shahpur Kandi road. The women and children are treated for minor ailments at the primary health centre.

However, the centre has turned into a ‘garbage dump’ as heaps of filth and waste material, including polythene bags and cartons etc, can be seen lying everywhere.

The doctors and paramedical staff work under constant fear due to the decrepit condition of the building. The roofs leak during light rains which affect medical services at the centre. Women who come for treatment carrying infants prefer to stand outside instead of sitting on the benches placed in the verandah or a room of the centre to protect themselves from any mishap.

Mr Indu Bhushan Bhatia, Mr Ashok Sudan, Mr Anil Viz, Mr Harish Mahajan and Mr Suresh Gupta, presidents of local social organisations, have urged the state government to chalk out a plan for the renovation of the building which once served as the full-fledged Civil Hospital.


Families relieved as cops return from poll duty
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 6
Families of cops heaved a sigh of relief on their safe return from the poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir and performed “aarti” and showered flower petals on them.

While the poll staff had returned earlier, the security staff (about 3,000 Punjab police personnel) had to wait to two more days as they were waiting for clearance from Union Home Ministry. Many police personnel, along with family members, paid obeisance at gurdwara and temples today.

One of the police personnel, who plead anonymity, said the poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir was very difficult as they were not familiar with the hostile terrain.

However, many cops were annoyed with the state and Central governments for depriving them of incentives for performing poll duty. They said if incentives, including free food and advance, could be extended to civilians why were they being denied the same.

Some of them are planning to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get incentives on a par with their civilian counterparts.


Mystery of missing girl solved
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 6
The mystery shrouding the disappearance of a village girl has been solved. The girl was allegedly forced to commit suicide as her family members opposed her affair with a village boy whom she wanted to marry.

The police has arrested Tirath Singh and Jagtar Singh, father and uncle of the girl, Rajwinder Kaur, alias Rozi. It was learnt today that the girl had allegedly committed suicide on September 17 by hanging in her house at Khurampur village.

Her body was allegedly stuffed in a gunny bag and thrown into Sutlej by her father and uncle. The police woke up to the issue only after Makhan Singh, the lover of Rozi lodged a complaint on September 29 about her disappearance. A case under Section 306, 201 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the father and uncle of Rozi.


Demand to abolish caste-based quota
Jaswinder Paul Singh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
The General Samaj Party said yesterday that caste-based reservation should be abolished and in its place the students from poor families be given help to get education.

Mr Rajveer Singh Sidhu, district president of the party, said in a press note here that caste-based reservation had divided the country into different classes which was against the norms of a democratic country. He said that if so called secular forces wanted to banish casteism from the country, there was a need to end caste-based reservation at all levels.

Mr Sidhu said that political parties for votes were extending caste-based reservations. He said that he feared the outbreak of a civil war if reservation in caste basis was not stopped. He said that if the political parties wanted to help the poor and downtrodden reservation should be given only to those who deserved it. He said that criterion on of economic position should be adopted for reservation.

Meanwhile Ms Amrajeet Kaur, convener of the party, said at a meeting here yesterday, that all poor people should be helped by the government irrespective of the caste they belonged to. She said that the present system of reservation was such that only a handful of persons belonging to creamy layer of the reserved categories were getting the benefits, while those of such castes who were not well-educated or aware about their rights, did not get any benefit.

She said that their party would launch statewide campaign against caste-based reservation to educate the people about its ill effects. She said that they would urge policy makers to abolish caste-based reservation.


PIL on octroi abolition planed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 6
Criticising the Congress government for its failure to seek a review against the high court ruling to reimpose octroi tax in the state during the past five months, the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has decided to file public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court, seeking abolition of octroi tax.

The working committee meeting of the mandal, which was presided over by its president Amrit Lal Jain here today, passed a resolution criticising the state government for backtracking from its poll promise to abolish the octroi tax. The meeting, according to Mr Gupta, also rejected the state government proposal to set up a bureau of investigation for checking revenue losses.


Pledge to remove social evils
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 6
The third congregation of the Punjab Khatri Sabha organised here pledged for the removal of social evils while striving to keep pace with advancements and changes taking place across the world.

Addressing the gathering, the general secretary of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Mr Surinder Kapur, said: “We should respect our culture instead of aping the west”. He said a glance at our history shows a large number of personalities had made sacrifices and shown the correct path to the masses.

The chairman of the high-powered finance committee, Mr Surinder Singla, said given the pace of changes taking place globally, it was necessary to adopt a modern approach to keep pace with the advancing world.

He said if we have to make the future of the coming generation secure, we need to change our outlook and adopt modern methods to achieve our goals.


DTO harassing us, say truck operators
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
Mr Darshan Singh Walia, president, Bir Bhola Truck Union, Bathinda, in a written statement issued here today, alleged that the District Transport Officer (DTO), Faridkot, Mr Manmohan Luthra, had been harassing truck operators repeatedly to get illegal gratification from them.

Mr Walia alleged that ever since the union had filed a complaint against the officer, members of the union were being increasingly harassed. He alleged that a few days ago the officer impounded some vehicles belonging to union members even as these had valid documents.

Mr Navdeep Singh and Kamaljit Singh, truck operators, alleged that their vehicles were challaned “wrongly” by the DTO as he wanted to settle a score with them as the union had filed a written complaint with the Punjab Chief Minister, supported by an attested affidavit.

Mr Manmohan Luthra, DTO, however, denied the allegations. He said he had neither harassed truck operators nor demanded gratifications from them.

Mr Luthra added that on the said date more than 20 vehicles were challaned by him as these were plying without proper documents. He said while one of the drivers was drunk, the other vehicles were plying without proper documents.


Blood donation week
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
The Aasra Welfare Society, an NGO, has observed the first week of this month as the blood donation week with the help of the district health authorities.

Mr Ramesh Mehta, district president of the society, in a press note issued here today said in addition to a blood donation camp the society also organised painting competitions, poster making and paper reading contests for school children.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon speaking at a camp said voluntary blood donations should be encouraged to suppress professional donors. He appreciated the role of the NGO in this regard.

The results of the various competitions held yesterday are:

Paper reading: Gurvinder Kaur (1), Sweety (2), Tannu (3).

Poster making: Mallika (1), Nisha (2), Gurkirat (3).

Painting (under 10 years): Gagandeep Kaur (1), Deepak (2), Jaskirat (3).

Painting (10-12 years): Kuldip (1), Lucky (2), Bindu (3).

Painting (12-15 years): Gagandeep (1), Jaspreet (2), Inderjit (3).


3 accidents in city, 1 hurt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
As many as three accidents have been reported from various parts of the district during the past 24 hours, but luckily, there was no casualty.

An Army Gypsy collided with a loaded truck on the Bathinda-Barnala road, near the cantonment area, late last night after the truck reportedly developed some mechanical snag. Sources said when the Gypsy tried to pass the truck, the front wheels of the truck gave in and its driver lost control of the vehicle. Both the truck and Gypsy were damaged in the accident.

The driver and the cleaner of the truck fled the spot after the accident.

In the second incident, also on the Bathinda-Barnala road, an oil tanker carrying about 3 tonnes of refined vegetable oil collided with a truck coming from the opposite side. The tanker which was going to Ludhiana, turned turtle. Oil spilt on road, creating a traffic bottle-neck.

In the third incident, a cyclist was injured early this morning after his cycle collided with a tanker carrying mustard oil in the city. Sources said that the tanker was coming from Raman Mandi town and was on its way to Amritsar.

The injured was rushed to the hospital by the driver of the tanker. His condition is said to be stable by the hospital sources.

The police has started proceedings in all these cases.


4 killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 6
Four persons, including a child, were killed when a tractor-trolley in which they were travelling was hit by a truck near Jaonake village, falling under the Harike police station.

The victims were returning home after paying obeisance at gurdwara Bir Baba Budha Sahib near Chabal village. The Harike police has registered a case.


Haryana mandis open on holidays
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, October 6
Mr Naresh Chaturvedi, Managing Director of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), has directed officials of the agency to procure paddy strictly in accordance with the specifications laid down by the Government of India.

Mr Chaturvedi, who visited a number of mandis of Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts along with Mr V.K. Singh, the Senior Regional Manager of the FCI (Punjab region), directed the officials to adhere to norms of procurement in every respect. He said the FCI was operating 570 of the total 1,461 mandis in the state, while purchase was being made by other state agencies in the remaining mandis.

Mr Chaturvedi said nearly 15 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in different mandis of the state till October 4, of which 3.20 lakh tonnes, 8.86 lakh tonnes and 2.32 lakh tonnes had already been purchased by the FCI, state agencies and private traders, respectively.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, has ordered the District Mandi Officer to immediately suspend the mandi supervisor and auction recorder of the Dasuya procurement centre for not starting paddy procurement after he visited the centre on Saturday.

The Deputy Commissioner visited Garhdiwala, Dasuya, Alampur, Miani and Jalalpur procurement centres and met a number of farmers there. He said of the 56 centres set up for the purchase of paddy, procurement had started at 40 centres.


Punjab plan on contract farming
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
To give a boost to the economy of Punjab farmers, the state government has drawn up a plan to encourage contract farming of select crops.

Speaking at a seminar here today, Mr Rakesh Khurana, Deputy General Manager, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, said that farmers were being encouraged to grow hybrid sarson (Hyola) and the seed of it were being supplied to them at Rs 500 per acre. The produce would be purchased under the buy-back agreement at a price more than the minimum support price (MSP) of the crop, which would be around Rs 1,400 per quintal.

Dr Kulwant Singh, Joint Director (Agriculture), Punjab, said that the scheme would help reduce area under wheat. He added that under the scheme 20,000 hectares would be brought under hyola-401 variety of sarson, 7,000 hectares under makki (winter corn) and 1,000 hectares under barley. He shared the technique of cultivating these crops with 500 farmers attending the seminar. He said if farmers formed groups in villages then implementation of the scheme would be very easy.

Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, said that the scheme would help conserve subsoil water and rotation of wheat-paddy/cotton pattern would be reduced. He said that the farmers should contact officials the Agriculture Department and agriculture development officers appointed to serve them.

Mr S.D. Tyagi, regional manager, Adventa India, the company that has tied up with state agencies for contract farming and senior officials of the Agriculture Department also attended the seminar.

Later, Dr Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal, district training officer, answered farmers’ questions.


Paddy procurement in full swing: DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
Procurement of paddy was in full swing in the district, claimed Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday.

Mr Verma, in a press note said that 1.44 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in different mandis in the district so far and out of it 1.08 lakh tonnes had been procured. He said that lifting of paddy was also going on. He added that 33,232 tonnes of paddy had been lifted from the mandis.

Mr Verma claimed that a meeting was held everyday with the heads of various procurement agencies. He said further claimed that the grievances of farmers and arhtiyas related with paddy were heard and dealt with on priority.

He said that procurement agencies had been asked to speed up the procurement and lifting of paddy. He said that the farmers had been advised not to harvest green/unripe paddy. He said that stern action would be taken against the owners of combine harvesters harvesting paddy between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. He said if paddy was harvested at night moisture of paddy would be more than the stipulated percentage.


Arhtiyas write to CM on paddy
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 6
Mr Gora Lal Goyal, president of the Federation of Arhtiyas Association here, has — in a communication addressed to Punjab Chief Minister — said loss worth crores was being caused to the state government by making excessive payments for the labour and carting of paddy by various procurement agencies of the state.

He said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had allotted the work at a rate 75 per cent higher than the DFSC schedule for the Mansa centre, whereas the state agencies had allotted this work at a rate 103 per cent higher than the DFSC schedule. The difference in the rate works out to Rs 65.67 per 100 bags of paddy.


Man held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 6
The district police yesterday arrested Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Haibatpur, under the Dhilwan the police station in Kapurthala district for his alleged involvement in taking huge sums of money from innocent people on the promise of sending them to Greece and getting them jobs there with fat salaries.

The suspect is a proclaimed offender in a case registered against him at the Kahnuwan police station in the district on April 10, 2001, under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC. His brother Ranbir Singh, who is a co-accused in this case, was arrested by the police on April 11, 2001.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said the suspects who were travel agents, had taken Rs 1.5 lakh from Suba Singh, a resident of Nimana, under the Kahnuwan police station in the district, on the promise to send his son to Greece.

Mr Varinder Kumar said during preliminary interrogation, the suspect confessed that he, along with his brother, took Rs 1.5 lakh from Suba Singh on the fake promise to send his son abroad. He also confessed to having sent many innocent persons to Greece without valid documents.


Stolen wheat bags recovered, 9 held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 6
The Subhanpur police today arrested nine persons and recovered 120 bags of stolen wheat from their possession near Chowk Bamowal village. They were taking the wheat for sale in the grain market.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said the arrested persons had been identified as Satnam Singh of Habibwal village, Karnail Singh, Gurnam Singh, Harnek Singh, Sema, Benda, Mohinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Kala of Butan village.


Teachers' front threatens stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 6
Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, district president, Berojgar Adhyapak Front, in a press note issued here today said the front had decided to stage a dharna and start relay fast in support of their demands.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh said the state government had adopted an indifferent attitude towards the problems of the unemployed teachers. He said the activists had been holding dharnas in front of the office of the Director of Public Instructions (DPI, schools) but no senior official or representative of the state government had spared time to listen to their grievances.

He said the front had decided to convene a meeting on October 13 in the city, to be addressed by the state president, where schedule of the programmes would be chalked out.

In another press note issued here today Mr Lakhwinder Singh, press secretary of the front, said the government should fill 1,448 vacancies of ETT teachers, which were advertised by the previous government. He alleged that of 7,230 vacancies of ETT teachers advertised last year, 3,311 were to be filled from among the B.Ed degree holders, but only 1,863 vacancies had been filled.


Science Mistresses’ appeal to CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 6
The Punjab Nav Niyukt Science Mistresses Association today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to stall the implementation of the recommendation of the Lok Pal for cancelling their appointments.

In a statement, Ms Anudeep Kaur, association president, said their appointments had been made purely on merit and that no money had changed hands in that process. She said the appointments had been made on the same pattern as was adopted in case of Science Master (medical), Science Master Mistresses (maths, Hindi) and Lecturer cadre posts. She said in spite of this the Lok Pal had discriminated against them.

The association president said many of those selected were gold medallists who had secured more than 80 per cent marks. Meanwhile, a meeting of the association also opposed the stand taken by the Lok Pal that subject experts of the university level should have taken their interviews. It said the post of Science Mistress was a class III post in the grade of Rs 5480 — Rs 8925 and that the university-level subject experts presided over interviews for college cadre posts which were a class I posts.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation has also supported the cause of the association with its secretary Ranbir Singh Dhillon appealing to the Chief Minister to intervene into the matter.


Mid-day meal from today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 6
The pilot project to implement the mid-day meal scheme for children of primary schools will be launched in Rayya block of Amritsar district from tomorrow. Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, School Education, Punjab, will launch the scheme. This was informed by Mr S.S. Puri, Deputy Commissioner, at a meeting held here today.

The scheme will be implemented by the village education development committees being set up under the “sarv shiksha abhiyan” in all villages of the district. Urban education development committees are also being set up. The Deputy Commissioner said children in primary schools would be provided a mid-day meal of Rs 3.50 per child for at least 200 days in a year. Initially, the scheme would be run for 50 days.

The Deputy Commissioner also held a meeting with all MLAs of the district and senior officers to expedite the implementation of the “sarv shiksha abhiyan”, being launched in the district. 

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